Welcome to week 1 of the 2020 NFL season. Without Husky football games this fall it adds extra importance to the alumni who are balling out in the NFL. Luckily, there are a lot of them thanks to some superb player development on the part of the current and former UW coaching staff.
If you want to figure out which games are worth your time we’ll be previewing all of the contests with former Dawgs participating throughout the fall and running through the major Husky-related story lines. None of the 3 Thursday/Monday games involve a UW player so it’s all about Sunday this week.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers, 1:25p PT
Arizona: S Budda Baker, TE Darrell Daniels, CB Byron Murphy, LB Zeke Turner
San Francisco: WR Dante Pettis
If you’re a Husky/Seahawk fan then this one might be a little painful as division rivals square off. Don’t root for a team, root for specific players. Budda Baker recently signed a contract extension to make him the highest paid safety in NFL history. And one of the main reasons he got paid was to cover TE George Kittle for the next several years in what should be a really fun matchup to watch. We should also be seeing plenty of Byron Murphy in the secondary as he’s being moved to their starting nickel slot after playing all of his rookie season on the outside. Daniels and Turner are both 3rd on the depth chart and may mainly see play on special teams.
This is a big opportunity for Dante Pettis in this one after a rocky year 2 with the 49ers. Deebo Samuel is out and Brandon Aiyuk is questionable which means that Pettis will hopefully get plenty of snaps. He’s had flashes in the NFL but just hasn’t put the consistency together and found himself in the coach’s dog house last year. Hopefully he’ll get back on track and secure a place in the rotation. Also, he may finally be returning punts which what the heck took them so long?!?
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons, 10a PT
Seattle: TE Will Dissly, LB Ben Burr-Kirven
Atlanta: OL Kaleb McGary, CB Jordan Miller*
When he’s been on the field, Will Dissly has been an absolute stud but that time has been few and far between after a pair of season-ending leg injuries in his first two seasons. He appears to be 100% healthy though despite coming back from a torn achilles which is viewed as one of the more difficult injuries you can try to come back from. He’ll share the field with veteran TE Greg Olsen but seems to have locked down the #2 spot in an offense that should run plenty of 12 personnel. The Seahawks drafted another linebacker in the first round which means expect mainly special teams duty for BBK and not a lot of defensive snaps.
On the other side the Falcons are once again starting Kaleb McGary at right tackle. He had a bit of a rough rookie season but will hopefully be more comfortable in his second year. Corner Jordan Miller is suspended for the first 4 games and so won’t be available but is expected to rejoin the 53-man roster once he’s back as their last defensive back.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions, 10a PT
Detroit: TE Hunter Bryant, WR Marvin Hall, DL Danny Shelton, CB Desmond Trufant
The Lions have suddenly emerged as perhaps the most fascinating to watch team for Husky fans after acquiring 3 former UW players in the offseason. They signed Desmond Trufant after he was waived by Atlanta as well as brought in Danny Shelton from New England. Finally, they signed Hunter Bryant as an undrafted free agent. There were some close to the team that thought Bryant would end up on the practice squad after he suffered a hamstring injury late in camp but he’s on the team although out for this game. Shelton and Trufant are both set to start.
Meanwhile, Marvin Hall has made a career out of being an explosive deep threat and with Kenny Golladay doubtful he may see a few extra snaps. He’s averaged nearly 25 yards per reception over the course of his career.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings, 10a PT
Green Bay: CB Kevin King
King took a leap last year and looked more like the shutdown corner we saw on Montlake. He finished last season with 5 interceptions which tied for 3rd in the league. The Packers have invested a lot of early draft picks into their secondary in recent years so there will be competition but he’ll begin the season as a clear starter for them.
The Vikings have no Huskies on their active roster but they do have QB Jake Browning on their practice squad serving as their de facto 3rd quarterback. He’ll get called up if either Kirk Cousins or his backup get injured.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots, 10a PT
Miami: RB Myles Gaskin
There’s hope that we see more of Myles Gaskin out there as the season progresses. By all reports he had an impressive training camp and has won the #3 RB job behind Jordan Howard and Matt Breida. Both are veterans but neither is exactly a superstar level talent so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Gaskin work his way into the rotation more regularly or make a big move if either is injured.
There are also a pair of undrafted free agents lurking on the practice squads for these teams. Salvon Ahmed latched on with Miami after being cut by the 49ers and is hoping to realize the dream of sharing a backfield with Gaskin again in the pros. Meanwhile, Myles Bryant was impressive for the Patriots but they have perhaps the strongest cornerback depth chart in the entire NFL and so it was tough sledding for him to make the roster. Expect it to happen at some point though.
Las Vegas Raiders at Carolina Panthers, 10a PT
Las Vegas: LB Cory Littleton
Carolina Panthers: LB Shaq Thompson
Littleton was the big free agent acquisition for the Raiders after emerging from undrafted free agent to pro bowler during his tenure with the Rams. He signed a 3-year, $36 million contract with Las Vegas this past spring but very recently re-structured the contract to help the team free up some salary cap space. Last year Littleton had 134 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 2 forced fumbles, and 4 fumble recoveries.
Meanwhile, Shaq Thompson is finally able to emerge as the leader of Carolina’s linebacker corps with Luke Kuechly’s retirement. He was named a captain for this year and at the end of last season signed a contract extension paying him $13.5 million annually. It’s the battle of the two best Husky linebacker alumni in the league.
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars, 10a PT
Indianapolis: QB Jacob Eason
Don’t expect to see any Huskies in the game in this one barring disaster for the Colts. Eason will hold down the #3 job and has impressed the team in training camp. But with veterans Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett both under contract for one more season we’ll mostly see Eason learning from the bench hoping to win the job next year.
Jacksonille signed CB Sidney Jones to the practice squad after he was a somewhat surprise cut from Philadelphia. He’s struggled with injuries since leaving Washington and hopefully will be able to make the roster at some point.
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens, 10a PT
Cleveland: OL Nick Harris
Baltimore: CB Marcus Peters
When Nick Harris showed up at Washington, no one expected the 2-star recruit to play his freshman year let alone start. We may seeing something similar in Cleveland. The Browns drafted Harris in the 5th round to compete for their starting center job and since veteran incumbent J.C Tretter missed training camp with an injury, Harris has run with the 1’s. Tretter returned to practice this Wednesday and is listed as questionable. If he plays then he will likely start over Harris but if he misses time then Harris has a chance to show he belongs against a Baltimore front that includes Calais Campbell.
Marcus Peters ruffled feathers this off-season when asking to not be included in any promotional materials by the Huskies. Well too bad, Marcus. Your most recent college was Washington. Deal with it. We’re taking credit even if you still don’t know how to play well with others.
Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals, 1p PT
Cincinnati: WR John Ross, TE Drew Sample
The Bengals have the #1 overall pick to bolster their quarterback position which will hopefully lead to a big year from a pair of Husky pass catchers. John Ross has struggled with injuries in the NFL but flashed at times last season. He has a ton of competition as Cincy is loaded at receiver but he’s currently listed as the 3rd starter on their depth chart. Meanwhile, Drew Sample is the 2nd TE for a team that isn’t expected to run much 12 personnel. But C.J Uzomah is not exactly a stud in front of him so there’s a chance for Sample to take over the starting job.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints, 1:25p PT
Tampa Bay: KR/PR Jaydon Mickens, DL Vita Vea
New Orleans: RB Dwayne Washington*
The headlines in Tampa Bay are because of Tom Brady but a pair of Huskies will see the field for them tomorrow. Vita Vea became one of the more dominant nose tackles in the league by the end of last season and has a chance to become a pro bowler in year 3 in the NFL. Mickens was signed late in camp by Tampa Bay and is a placeholder due to injury but will serve as their primary returner for at least the first few weeks of the season.
Undrafted rookie free agent Benning Potoa’e is also on the Bucs’ practice squad while Dwayne Washington is on the COVID list and thus unavailable for New Orleans.
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams, 5:30p PT
L.A Rams: DL Greg Gaines, S Taylor Rapp, OL Coleman Shelton
The Sunday nightcap features plenty of Husky action as the Rams take on the Cowboys. Taylor Rapp once again will start at safety for the Rams after a nice rookie year when he finished with 62 tackles and 2 interceptions. Greg Gaines is the backup nose tackle but will definitely see play as a part of the rotation. Finally, Coleman Shelton is the backup at left guard and would probably need an injury in front of him to get in the game.
We’re wishing all of them the best of luck this season! Go Dawgs!