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NFL Buckeyes season primer: NFC Edition

A look at all the former Ohio State players who will line up for NFC teams this weekend.

San Francisco 49ers Practice Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Yesterday we took a look at all of the former Ohio State players who will be suiting up for NFL franchises in the AFC. Today, we will continue our 2020 season primer with a look at all the Buckeyes on NFC rosters.

Overall, there will be at least one former Buckeye in 15 of the 16 games this opening weekend, with the only outlier being the AFC matchup between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets. There are two crossover games between the AFC and NFC in week one, with the Carolina Panthers hosting the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday and the New York Giants hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night.

Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Seahawks: Carlos Hyde, Jamarco Jones
Falcons: Kendall Sheffield

Carlos Hyde just can't seem to stick around anywhere for very long these days, now playing for his fifth different NFL franchise in his seventh season in the league. He started 14 games for the Texans a year ago, rushing for over 1,000 yards with six touchdowns. Hyde will now play backup to Chris Carson in Seattle. Jones, a versatile offensive lineman, was in the battle to start at either tackle or guard, but it appears he will begin the season as a reserve.

It does not appear as though Sheffield will be healthy enough to take the field this Sunday, as the Buckeye corner was last seen in a walking boot and not practicing for the Falcons. Sheffield, a fourth round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, had been competing for a starting job this year after playing in all 16 games for Atlanta his rookie season.

Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Bears: Ted Ginn Jr.
Lions: Jashon Cornell (IR), Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson, Jeff Okudah

Detroit Lions v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

For what feels like the 20th-straight year, Ted Ginn Jr. will be out there making plays in the NFL on Sundays this fall. A first round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, Ginn will now be suiting up for his sixth different team over his productive 13-year career. Coming off a season wherein he caught 30 passes for 421 yards and two TDs for the Saints, the 35-year-old speedster is expected be a starting wide receiver for the Bears.

The Lions have a cornucopia of Buckeyes on their roster, including a trio of rookies in Cornell, Jackson, and Okudah. Jackson is expected to step up right away and start at right guard for Detroit, while Okudah may begin the year coming off the bench after suffering a minor hamstring injury in practice. Cornell, unfortunately, suffered an achilles injury in practice, and is expected to miss the entire season. Decker, fresh off a lucrative new contract with the Lions, will begin his fifth campaign as the team’s starting left tackle.

Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Packers: Corey Linsley
Vikings: Pat Elflein, Jalyn Holmes

Linsley, originally a fifth round pick back in 2014, has been the lynchpin of the Packers’ offensive line for a while now. An injury in the preseason to Green Bay’s starting center thrust him into the starting job in his rookie campaign, and he has not looked back since. He is entering the final year of a three-year contract with the Packers, having started in all 16 games for the franchise in each of the last three seasons.

Elflein, who began his NFL career as a center, will be the starting right guard for the Vikings to open up the 2020 season. The young Minnesota offensive lineman has struggled a bit at both center and left guard the past two years, and the Vikings are hoping the move to right guard — the position he primarily played at Ohio State — will help right the ship. Holmes has also seen a position change this season, moving over from defensive tackle to defensive end after slimming down in the offseason. He has played in 11 games for the Vikings in his first two NFL seasons.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Football Team

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Eagles: Cameron Johnston
Football Team: Marcus Baugh, Dwayne Haskins, Terry McLaurin, Chase Young

New York Giants v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

After Malcolm Jenkins signed with the Saints, Cam Johnston is the only remaining Buckeye on the Eagles roster. The Aussie punter is entering his third season with Philadelphia, averaging 47.2 yards per punt in his first two years with the team.

Washington, on the other hand, has quickly become an Ohio State satellite campus. Haskins and McClaurin make for a dynamic offensive combo, with the second-year QB earning the starting job this season and McClaurin coming off an impressive rookie campaign. Young, this year’s No. 2 overall NFL Draft selection, is already one of the favorites to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, while Baugh will likely play in a reserve role at tight end.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Carolina Panthers

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Raiders: Damon Arnette, Johnathan Hankins, Raekwon McMillan
Panthers: Eli Apple (IR), Curtis Samuel

Arnette, like the end of his college career, is already battling injuries in the NFL. A limited participant in practice, has both a fractured thumb — remember, he played with a cast on all last season at Ohio State — and a groin injury, although it appears for right now he will still suit up on Sunday. Hankins, a veteran of 98 games played in the league, has been one of the best run-stuffing defensive tackles in the league for a while now, while McMillan was recently acquired in a trade with the Dolphins.

Apple, whose NFL career has been tumultuous to say the least, will begin the year on the injured reserve will nagging lower leg injuries, and will miss at least the first three weeks of the season. Samuel was awesome for the Panthers a year ago, catching 54 passes for 627 yards and six TDs, and will resume his role as one of the teams starting wideouts alongside DJ Moore and Robby Anderson.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

Buccaneers: N/A
Saints: Malcolm Jenkins, Marshon Lattimore, Michael Thomas

New Orleans Saints v Tennessee Titans Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Buccaneers, ironically, have no Ohio State players on their roster despite having the name most similar to the Buckeyes, also being known as the Buc(k)s. Go figure.

The Saints, while losing their status as the New Orleans Buckeyes after the exit of Apple, Bell and Ginn, still have a trio of former Ohio State players that are likely the best collection of the school’s alumni in the league. Jenkins, as previously mentioned, began his career with the Saints, and has now retuned in his 12th NFL season. Lattimore has quickly solidified himself as one of the best players at his position, as the corner has made the Pro Bowl in two of his first three seasons, and the same can obviously be said of Thomas, who led the NFL in receptions each of the last two years.

Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

Cardinals: N/A
49ers: Nick Bosa

The only player in the other 4:25 p.m. matchup on Sunday is the 49ers’ Nick Bosa. The younger Bosa brother won the 2019 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award after racking up a whopping nine sacks and and 16 tackles for loss a year ago. His campaign also included one of the most memorable celebrations of the season, as he mocked Baker Mayfield’s flag plant from Oklahoma’s win over Ohio State in 2017 after sacking the now Browns QB. He was a dominant pass rusher for the Buckeyes in his short stint in Columbus, and that hasn’t changed at the next level.

Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Rams

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET

Cowboys: Noah Brown, Ezekiel Elliott
Rams: Jordan Fuller, Jake McQuaide

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Cowboys are of course led by Ezekiel Elliott, who almost instantly became a top-three RB in the league upon his arrival. Elliott has twice led the NFL in rushing yards, both in 2016 and 2018, and has been named to the Pro Bowl in three of his first four seasons. Outside the 2017 campaign, wherein he missed six games, he has rushed for well over 1,000 yards each year. Brown will likely continue to see a very limited role among the Cowboys’ loaded wide receiver group, catching just five passes for 54 yards last season.

Fuller, who was selected by the Rams in the sixth round of this year’s NFL Draft, has impressed in the team’s preseason camp. Los Angeles has an incredibly deep secondary, and so it is unlikely that Fuller will see many starts this year barring injuries, however he will still see a decent role as he rotates in with John Johnson III and Taylor Rapp at either safety spot. McQuaide has been with the Rams for the last nine seasons as the team’s long snapper, twice being named to the Pro Bowl.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Giants

Monday, 7:15 p.m. ET

Steelers: Cameron Heyward
Giants: Nate Ebner, Austin Mack (PS), Rod Smith (PS), Binjimen Victor (PS)

The lone Buckeye Steeler in Monday night’s contest is long-time defensive lineman Cam Heyward. Bouncing around between defensive tackle and defensive end, Heyward will be Pittsburgh’s starting RDE as he embarks on his 10th NFL season with the team. A veteran of 134 games played, Heyward has amassed 54 sacks and 79 tackles for loss, making the Pro Bowl in each of his last three seasons.

The Giants have a quartet of former Ohio State players in their system, but only one will actually take the field on Monday, as Mack, Smith and Victor are all members of the team’s practice squad. Ebner, the only member of the active roster, spent his first eight seasons with New England before joining the Giants this offseason. He will likely function in a reserve role to begin the year, listed as the backup behind everyone's favorite NFL safety Jabrill Peppers.