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Chris Olave shows out, Denzel Ward shuts down Ja’Marr Chase

A look at how the former Buckeyes fared in the first weekend of NFL action.

Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

With the NFL season finally getting underway this past weekend, we once again got a chance to see a large group of former Buckeyes dominating at the next level. On both offense and defense, Ohio State players can be found on nearly every team across the league. Let’s check out how the guys did in Week 1 of the new campaign.

Saints — Chris Olave, Michael Thomas, Marshon Lattimore

Olave had the biggest performance of the day by former Buckeyes, hauling in eight catches for a team-high 112 yards in the New Orleans Saints’ 16-15 win over the Titans.

A finally healthy Michael Thomas got a chance to catch passes from new Saints quarterback Derek Carr alongside Olave, snagging five passes for 65 yards, including this impressive grab down the sideline.

On the defensive side of the ball, Marshon Lattimore added to a strong showing of former Buckeyes in New Orleans with an interception. The Lattimore-led Saints secondary picked off Titans QB Ryan Tannehill three times.

Browns — Denzel Ward, Dawand Jones

Matched up against one of the best wide receivers in the league in Ja’Marr Chase, Denzel Ward locked up the star pass-catcher. The two-time Pro Bowl corner held Chase to just 39 yards on five catches as his primary defender, as the Browns beat up on the Bengals, 24-3. Joe Burrow passed for only 82 yards against Ward and the Cinci defense.

Coming in to replace an injured Jack Conklin, Dawand Jones performed admirably at tackle. Jones had somewhat of an advantage going up against Sam Hubbard in his first NFL action, as he knows a thing or two about Larry Johnson’s bag of tricks that Hubbard brought with him from Ohio State.

Bengals — Sam Hubbard

Speaking of Hubbard, the former Buckeye defensive lineman had a strong showing despite the Bengals’ big loss. Hubbard finished the afternoon tied for second on the team with eight total tackles, including three solo stops. Hubbard was named one of Cincinnati’s captains prior to the season.

Bears — Justin Fields

Even with Aaron Rodgers gone, the Packers continue to own the Bears, with Jordan Love leading Green Bay to a 38-20 win in Chicago. It was not for lack of trying from Justin Fields, who threw 216 yards with a touchdown and an interception while also rushing for another 59 yards (a team-high) as he ran for his left for much of the afternoon behind some shoddy blocking. It wasn’t his best performance by any means, but the Bears defense really let him down.

Texans — CJ Stroud

Despite not getting much help from his offensive line or the skill talent around him, Stroud put together a strong performance in his first career NFL start. The former Ohio State quarterback passed for 242 yards while also rushing for 20 yards on four carries. He was sacked five times, but did not throw an interception in his debut. Of the top three QBs selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, Stroud passed for more yards than both Bryce Young and Anthony Richardson, and was also the only one of the trio to not throw a pick.

Commanders — Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel

New Washington quarterback Sam Howell has the benefit of tossing to a pair of former Ohio State receivers — and good ones at that in Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel. Samuel led the way through the air for the Commanders with five catches for 54 yards, while McLaurin caught two balls for 31 yards as the home team secured a 20-16 win over the Cardinals. McLaurin being out there already is a great sign, as the star wideout was thought to miss some time with a foot injury.

Seahawks — Jaxon Smith-Njigba

It was a quiet debut for the first-round draft pick, as Jaxon Smith-Njigba totaled three catches for 13 yards in his season debut. However, like McLaurin, it was good just to see JSN back on the field. Smith-Njigba had wrist surgery two weeks ago, and was back on the field for the Seahawk’s first game of the year. His first career catch moved the sticks.

Patriots — Ezekiel Elliott

It wasn’t a huge performance for Zeke in his first game as a Patriot, but he would wind up leading the Patriots on the ground with 29 yards despite receiving only seven carries. Of note, he did also fumble the football. Elliott will continue to split carries with Rhamondre Stevenson, but with the way the Pats use their running backs, there will definitely be opportunities for Zeke to make an impact.

Ravens — J.K. Dobbins

Of course, we can’t discuss former Buckeyes in the league without mentioning the sad news of the day. After scoring the Ravens’ first touchdown of the season on a great dive into the end zone, J.K. Dobbins got his ankle rolled up on later in the game and was helped to the locker room. It was later announced that he suffered a torn Achilles, and will now miss the entire 2023 season. In the last year of his rookie deal, Dobbins has struggled to stay healthy, and this injury is brutal for a guy who was looking for a breakout season.

Still to play on Monday —

  • Garrett Wilson (Jets)
  • Jeremy Ruckert (Jets)