On Sunday, the NFL kicked off the season with 26 teams playing and over 20 former Tar Heels
among the NFL teams’ rosters. Included in those rosters are former Tar Heels Mitch Trubisky, Ryan Switzer, Naz Jones, Giovani Bernard, and others. Despite over 20 former Tar Heels being on NFL rosters, fewer than half of them had playing time in Sunday’s games.
Trubisky, was recently named second-string quarterback for the Chicago Bears after an impressive preseason. Mike Glennon, Trubisky’s quarterback competition in the NFL preseason, started on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Glennon went 26-for-40 for 213 yards and one touchdown, while Trubisky received no playing time in their loss to the Falcons.
Naz Jones, former defensive lineman for the Tar Heels, had his first NFL career start for the Seattle Seahawks. Facing the Green Bay Packers, Naz Jones intercepted a throw made by Packers’ quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. Jones finished the game with one interception and one tackle for the Seahawks.
Ryan Switzer, entered his first season in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys. In Dallas’ win over the New York Giants, Switzer made two fair catches on punts as well as two catches for a total of 42 yards.
Former Tar Heel tight end Eric Ebron began his fourth consecutive season with the Detroit Lions. Ebron had two catches for 9 yards in the Lions’ win against the Cardinals.
Giovani Bernard entered his fifth consecutive season with the Cincinnati Bengals. In their shutout by the Ravens, Bernard had seven carries for 41 yards, with his longest run at 23 yards.
Zach Brown began his first season with Washington and his sixth season in the NFL. Brown had a great game with seven tackles and five assists in Washington’s defeat of the Eagles.
Connor Barth, started his tenth season in the NFL and second consecutive season as a placekicker for the Chicago Bears. In their game against the Falcons, Barth made an impressive 54-yard field goal and two extra point attempts.
Julius Peppers made his return home to the Carolina Panthers after seven years. In the Panthers’ win over the 49ers, Peppers applied pressure and came out with one assist and half a sack.
Overall, the former Tar Heels executed in various ways during their first week of the 2017 regular season. From rookies to veterans, it is always a thrill to watch former Tar Heels perform in the NFL. It will be interesting to see how the pro Tar Heels grow and produce throughout the 2017 season. Stay tuned.