Tar Heels in NFL: Williams has best day of four rookies making debuts; Brown starts

By R.L. Bynum

Four rookies out of UNC made quiet NFL debuts Sunday, with Washington wide receiver Dyami Brown the only one who started.

Javonte Williams had the best day with 14 rushes for 45 yards and played 34 snaps in the Denver Broncos’ 27–13 road victory over the New York Giants. In the only time he was a pass target, he caught it and lost four yards.

Williams split snaps with starter Melvin Gordon III, who had a 70-yard run and finished with 101 rushing yards.

Brown had been listed as a second-string wide receiver for Washington before the team put Curtis Samuel on injured reserve last week to recover from a groin injury.

In Washington’s 20–16 home loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, Brown played 51 of 55 offensive snaps, the most among the team’s receivers, but it was a quiet day.

Brown was targeted four times and lost two yards after his only catch, a short pass from quarterback Tyler Heinicke. Two of the incompletions targeting Brown came on a deep passes, one from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who came out with an injury, and one from Heinicke.

Outside linebacker Cole Holcomb, in his third NFL season, also started for Washington, had a career-high eight solo tackles, three assists and hurried the quarterback once.


Michael Carter played 26.7% of the New York Jets’ offensive snaps (16) in their 19–14 road loss to the Carolina Panthers. He rushed four times for six yards and caught one of two passes targeting him for 14 yards. That came on a first-and-10 pass from rookie quarterback Zach Wilson in the second quarter.

Weakside linebacker Chazz Surratt played in the Minnesota Vikings’ 27–24 overtime road loss to the Cincinnati Bengals but had no statistics. He played 13 special-teams snaps and no defensive snaps.

A fifth rookie, wide receiver Dazz Newsome, is on the Chicago Bears’ practice squad.

It was a frustrating opener for the Buffalo Bills, who lost 23–16 at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Quarterback Josh Allen’s performance, 30 of 51 for 270 yards and one touchdown with a 79.7 passer rating, was enough to keep Mitch Trubisky on the bench the entire game.

Tight end Eric Ebron’s only catch for the Steelers was a 19-yard reception on a third-and-four during a drive that led to their first points, a third-quarter field goal.

In the Chicago Bears’ 34–14 loss Sunday night at the Los Angeles Rams, Robert Quinn had one assist, a half-sack an two quarterback hits.

Left offensive tackle James Hurst played in the New Orleans Saints’ 38–3 victory over the Green Bay Packers despite missing Friday’s practice with a knee injury. He played 16 offensive snaps and six special-teams snaps.

Charlie Heck is vaccinated and would have started at right offensive tackle for the Houston Texans, who beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 37–21, but he tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

On Thursday, Giovani Bernard pulled down two key catches on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ drive to the game-winning field goal in their 31–29 home win over the Dallas Cowboys.

Bernard, who has been dealing with a mild high ankle sprain, had no rushes but caught two passes for 12 yards on that final drive.

Giovani Bernard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back
31–29 home win over the Dallas Cowboys — No carries; 2 catches on three targets for 12 yards; played 17 offensive snaps and seven special-team snaps
Up next — vs. Atlanta Falcons, 4:05 p.m. Sunday, Fox
Dyami Brown, Washington wide receiver
20–16 loss vs. Los Angeles Chargers —
Started; 4 targets, 1 catch for -2 yards; played 51 of team’s 55 offensive snaps
Up next — vs. New York Giants, 8:20 p.m. Thursday, NFL Network
Michael Carter, New York Jets running back
19–14 loss at Carolina Panthers — 4 carries for 6 yards; 2 targets and 1 catch for 14 yards; played 26.7% of the Jets’ offensive snaps.
Up next — vs. New England Patriots, 1 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end
23–16 win at Buffalo Bills —
Started; 2 targets, 1 catch for 19 yards; played 47 of team’s offensive snaps (47%) and 1 special-teams snap (3%).
Up next — vs. Las Vegas Raiders, 1 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Charlie Heck, Houston Texans right tackle
37–21 win vs. Jacksonville Jaguars — He’s vaccinated but missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19 last week.
Up next — vs. Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Cole Holcomb, Washington outside linebacker
20–16 loss vs. Los Angeles Chargers —
Started; career-high 8 solo tackles, 3 assists, 1 quarterback hurry; played all 81 of the team’s defensive snaps
Up next — vs. New York Giants, 8:20 p.m. Thursday, NFL Network
Mack Hollins, Miami Dolphins wide receiver
17–16 win at New England Patriots —
2 special teams assists, both on punt coverage; played 7 of the team’s offensive snaps (13%) and 13 of its special-teams snaps (62%)
Up next — vs. Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. Sunday, Fox
James Hurst, New Orleans Saints left tackle
38–3 win vs. Green Bay Packers —
Played after missing practice Friday with a knee injury; played 16 offensive snaps and 6 special-teams snaps
Up next — at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. Sunday, Fox
Robert Quinn, Chicago Bears outside linebacker
34–14 loss at Los Angeles Rams Started; 1 assist, 0.5 of a sack, 2 quarterback hits; played 37 of Bears’ defensive snaps (63%)
Up next — vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m. Sunday, Fox
Andre Smith, Buffalo Bills weakside linebacker
23–16 loss vs. Pittsburgh Steelers — Wasn’t active for the game
Up next — at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. Sunday, Fox
M.J. Stewart Jr., Cleveland Browns strong safety
33–29 loss at Kansas City Chiefs —
3 tackles, 1 assist; 1 special teams assist on kickoff coverage; played 60 of the Browns’ defensive snaps (92%) and 17 of their special-teams snaps (71%).
Up next — vs. Houston Texans, 1 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Chazz Surratt, Minnesota Vikings weakside linebacker
27–24 OT loss at Cincinnati Bengals —
Played but had no statistics; played 13 special-teams snaps and no defensive snaps
Up next — at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m. Sunday, Fox
Mitchell Trubisky, Buffalo Bills quarterback
23–16 loss vs. Pittsburgh Steelers — Didn’t play
Up next — at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. Sunday, Fox
Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos running back
27–13 win at New York Giants —
14 rushes, 45 yards; 1 catch on 1 target for -4 yards; played 34 snaps
Up next — at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Tar Heels on practice squads
Jake Bargas, Minnesota Vikings fullback
Myles Dorn, Minnesota Vikings safety
Dazz Newsome, Chicago Bears wide receiver
Antonio Williams, Buffalo Bills running back
Injured Tar Heels
Jalen Dalton, New Orleans Saints defensive tackle, suffered season-ending triceps injury
Ryan Switzer, Cleveland Browns wide receiver, had ankle surgery Aug. 20

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