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Nittany Lions In The NFL: Week One Roundup

The first week of the NFL season is in the books. Most Penn State fans’ eyes were drawn to Saquon Barkley’s NFL debut, and understandably so.

Although Barkley may have gotten most of the attention, there were many other players representing the Nittany Lions at the NFL level. Here’s how some of the notables fared during opening weekend of the NFL season.

Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

Going up against the stout Jacksonville Jaguars defense, Barkley didn’t make much noise in the early stages of his NFL debut. The Giants’ offensive line was a big question mark headed into this season. There were hardly any holes to run through, with holding penalties backing up the offense all day long.

It looked like Barkley was in for a rough day, but that was before the 10:52 mark of the fourth quarter. No. 26 juked out multiple defenders and tightroped the sideline on the way to a 68-yard touchdown. The run put him over 100 yards in his first career game. The G-Men will head to Dallas to take on the Cowboys next week, giving Barkley a chance to build on his great start. 

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

Unlike Barkley, Gesicki struggled to gain any traction on his new team. Dolphins coach Adam Gase raved about Gesicki’s skillset in the preseason, but it may take a few regular season games before he’s completely comfortable.

The weather didn’t exactly help, as two separate rain delays made the game last more than seven hours. Gesicki finished with one catch for 11 yards in his NFL debut. Miami will travel to MetLife Stadium to take on the New York Jets next weekend.

Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chris Godwin got off to a quick start to the year as the Buccaneers took down the New Orleans Saints in a shootout. The second-year wideout finished with three catches for 41 yards and a touchdown. He matched his touchdown output from last season with a nine-yard score in the second quarter of the game.

Godwin has solidified himself as a top-three receiver for the Bucs and should improve upon his solid rookie campaign. He finished the 2017 campaign with 34 receptions and 525 yards.

Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers

Jesse James had an efficient, if not quiet, season opener for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He made three catches for 60 yards as the Steelers and Cleveland Browns played to a draw at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The 6’7″ tight end will serve as Pittsburgh’s starter at the position for the third consecutive year and is coming off the most productive season of his career. James hauled in 43 passes for 372 yards and three scores in all 16 of the Steelers’ games last season.

Troy Apke, Washington Redskins

Troy Apke played sparingly in his NFL debut against the Arizona Cardinals. He did find his way onto the stat sheet with one solo tackle on special teams, but did not make much of an impact on defense.

Apke said over the summer that making his name on special teams is a priority before he gets an opportunity to crack the Redskins’ starting lineup on defense.

Other Notables

Longtime Miami Dolphin Cameron Wake made four total tackles in the Dolphins’ season-opening victory over Tennessee. He began his tenth NFL season and ninth as a starting defensive end for the organization in the victory.

Former Nittany Lion corner Trevor Williams made two tackles as part of the Los Angeles Chargers starting lineup. The Chargers lost to Kansas City, but Williams began his third season with the organization and second as a full-time starter.

Undrafted rookie Brendan Mahon is still listed as the backup left guard for the Carolina Panthers. DaeSean Hamilton didn’t make a catch in his NFL debut with the Denver Broncos, and Marcus Allen was inactive for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ tie with the Cleveland Browns.

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About the Author

Austin Smith

Austin Smith is a junior broadcast journalism major. He grew up in New Jersey and is a writer for Onward State. He specializes in football, basketball, and the New York Knicks.

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