By R.L. Bynum
Giovani Bernard was the first of the 14 Tar Heels on NFL active rosters to play on the season’s opening weekend when his Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Dallas Cowboys 31–29 on Thursday night.
Bernard, in his first season with Tampa Bay after playing eight seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, has been dealing with a mild high ankle sprain but still played.
As the Bucs’ third-string running back behind Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II, is expected to get most of his action catching passes. On Thursday, Bernard had no rushes but caught two passes for 12 yards on three targets.
Both catches came at the start of the late fourth-quarter drive that produced the game-winning 36-yard field goal from Ryan Succop with seven seconds left. On first down, quarterback Tom Brady hit Bernard on a short pass to the left for eight yards and the two connected on the same play on third down for two yards and a first down.
Bernard played 17 offensive snaps and seven special-teams snaps.
Here is a rundown of when the rest of the Tar Heels will play this weekend:
Sunday’s 1 p.m. CBS games
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
— Charlie Heck is the Texans’ backup right tackle behind Marcus Cannon.
San Diego Chargers at Washington
— Dyami Brown is Washington’s second-string wide receiver behind Terry McLaurin.
— Cole Holcomb is Washington’s starting outside linebacker.
New York Jets at Carolina Panthers
— Michael Carter is the Jets’ third-string running back behind Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills
— Eric Ebron is the Steelers’ starting tight end.
— Andre Smith is the Bills’ third-string weakside linebacker behind Matt Milano and A.J. Klein.
— Mitchell Trubisky is the Bills’ backup quarterback behind Josh Allen.
Sunday’s 1 p.m. Fox game
Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals
— Chazz Surratt is the Vikings’ second-string weakside linebacker behind Nick Vigil.
Sunday’s 4:25 CBS games
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs
— M.J. Stewart Jr. is the Browns’ third-string strong safety behind Ronnie Harrison Jr. and Grant Delpit.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
— Mack Hollins is the Dolphins’ backup wide receiver behind Jakeem Grant Sr. and was named a team captain on Wednesday.
Sunday’s 4:25 Fox games
Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints
— James Hurst is the Saints’ backup left tackle behind Terron Armstead.
Denver Broncos at New York Giants
— Javonte Williams is the Broncos’ backup running back behind Melvin Gordon III.
Sunday Night Football on NBC at 8:20
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams
— Robert Quinn is the Bears’ starting outside linebacker but is on the injured list with a shoulder issue.
Players on practice squads are fullback Jake Bargas and safety Myles Dorn with the Vikings; wide receiver Dazz Newsome with the Bears; and running back Antonio Williams with the Bills.
Injured Tar Heels are defensive tackle Jalen Dalton of the New Orleans Saints (season-ending triceps injury) and wide receiver Ryan Switzer of the Cleveland Browns (had ankle surgery Aug. 20).