Tar Heels in NFL: Heck seizes opportunity in Houston; Stewart on IR; Holcomb on roll

By R.L. Bynum

It’s been a season of opportunity for former UNC offensive linemen.

First, it was veteran New Orleans left tackle James Hurst who broke into the Saints’ starting lineup after an injury to Terron Armstead.

Now, it’s Charlie Heck’s turn in Houston.

Heck started an NFL game for the first time in his career last week at right tackle in the Texans’ 25–22 victory over New England after Marcus Cannon was sidelined with a back injury.

“I thought I played pretty well,” said Heck, in his second pro season. “I mean, there is always stuff you can improve on. So, throughout this week we are going to look at the film, we are going to correct the mistakes. Getting out there for the first time, kind of adjusting to the speed of the game, it takes a little bit, but I felt I did pretty well out there.”

Houston picked the 6–8, 315-pound Heck in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL draft after he was a three-year starter at Carolina.

During the win over the Patriots, the Texans lost left tackle Laremy Tunsil, a Pro Bowler. Heck’s versatility could come in handy since Tunsil will have surgery on a fully torn UCL in a thumb and will be out at least a month.

Heck played both left tackle and right tackle at Carolina and is fine with playing either position.

“I feel comfortable,” Heck said. “Last year, kind of throughout the year, I was switching back and forth. So, I would be comfortable wherever they want me.”

Playing behing Cannon in preseason and the first few weeks, Heck just tried to gain knowledge from the veteran and get better.

“It was awesome to have Marcus with us,” Heck said. “He was somebody I really looked up to. I mean, he’s done such a good job in this league for a long time. So, it’s always fun kind of picking his brain, watching how he practices. It’s a long season, so I was just kind of always preparing each week like I was gonna have to start over there.”

It’s safe to say that Heck’s opportunities will keep coming this season.

Week 6 for Tar Heels started Thursday night when Giovani Bernard and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Philadelphia Eagles 28–22.

Bernard had no carries but caught both passes targeted to him for four yards, with one going for eight. After quarterback Tom Brady threw an interception in the second quarter, Bernard made a tackle.

Cleveland placed M.J. Stewart Jr. on injured reserve Tuesday with a hamstring injury. He’ll be eligible to return to the active roster after three weeks. He has played in all five games this season, mostly on special teams, but also at safety and nickelback, collecting eight tackles and three assists. He’s been a backup safety on the depth chart.

Washington linebacker Cole Holcomb is having a productive season heading into Sunday’s home game against Kansas City. Holcomb’s 48 total tackles rank him seventh in the league and he also had an interception against New Orleans.

Wide receiver Dyami Brown missed Washington’s loss last weekend to New Orleans with a knee injury. He was listed as questionable for Sunday’s home game with Kansas City and was a limited practice participant Wednesday and Thursday but is active for the game.

Eric Ebron’s role with the Pittsburgh Steelers has diminished in the last few weeks with rookie Pat Freiermuth, a former Penn State player, getting much more time at tight end.

In last week’s win over Denver, Freiermuth played 32 snaps at tight end, compared to 25 from Ebron, and 22 for Gentry, although all three were targeted on passes twice. Freiermuth and Gentry have been seen as better run blockers.

Michael Carter’s New York Jets and Hurst’s Saints are off this weekend.

When Tar Heels play in Week 6

Giovani Bernard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back
28–22 win Thursday at Philadelphia — 2 catches on 2 targets for 4 yards (8 longest); 1 tackle after an interception; played 12 offensive snaps (16%) and 4 special-teams snaps (17%)
Season statistics — 5 games, 4 rushes, 21 yards; 17 catches, 97 yards (5.7 average, longest 32 yards), 2 TDs, 1 fumble
Dyami Brown, Washington wide receiver
vs. Kansas City, 1 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Season statistics — 4 games, 5 receptions on 14 targets, 51 yards (10.2 average, longest 22 yards); 1 rush for -4 yards
Michael Carter, New York Jets running back
Off this weekend; next game at New England, Sunday, Oct. 24, 1 p.m., CBS
Season statistics — 5 games, 47 carries, 165 yards (3.5 average, longest 14 yards); 9 receptions, 64 yards (7.1 average)
Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end
vs. Seattle, 8:20 p.m. Sunday, NBC (WRAL in Triangle)
Season statistics — 5 games, 5 reception, 37 yards (7.4 average, longest 19)
Charlie Heck, Houston Texans right tackle
at Indianapolis, 1 p.m., CBS
Season statistics — 3 games, 1 start; 61 offensive snaps, 8 special-teams snaps
Cole Holcomb, Washington outside linebacker
vs. Kansas City, 1 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Season statistics — 5 games, 28 tackles, 20 assists, 2 tackles for losses, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception
Mack Hollins, Miami Dolphins wide receiver
vs. Jacksonville in London, 9:30 a.m. Sunday, CBS (WNCN in Triangle)
Season statistics — 5 games, 1 catch, 10 yards; 1 special-teams tackle
James Hurst, New Orleans Saints left tackle
Off this weekend; next game at Seattle, 8:15 p.m., Monday, Oct. 25, ESPN
Season statistics — 5 games; 2 starts; 137 snaps, 18 special-teams snaps
Robert Quinn, Chicago Bears outside linebacker
vs. Green Bay, 1 p.m., Fox
Season statistics — 5 games, 12 tackles, 3 assists, 4.5 sacks, 2 tackles for losses, 2 QB hits, 1 forced fumble
Andre Smith, Buffalo Bills weakside linebacker
at Tennessee, 8:15 p.m. Monday, ESPN
Season statistics — 3 games, 2 special-teams tackles, 1 special-teams assist
M.J. Stewart Jr., Cleveland Browns strong safety
vs. Arizona, 4:05 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Season statistics — 5 games, 8 tackles, 3 assists, 2 special-teams tackle
Chazz Surratt, Minnesota Vikings weakside linebacker
at Carolina, 1 p.m. Sunday, Fox (WRAZ in Triangle)
Season statistics — 4 games, no statistics
Mitchell Trubisky, Buffalo Bills quarterback
at Tennessee, 8:15 p.m. Monday, ESPN
Season statistics — 2 games; 2 of 2 passing for 9 yards (longest 8); 10 rushes for 27 yards (longest 22), 85.4 passer rating
Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos running back
vs. Las Vegas, 4:25 p.m. Sunday, Fox
Season statistics — 5 games, 54 carries, 247 yards (4.6 average; longest 49 yards), 1 TD; 11 catches, 75 yards (6.8 average, longest 17 yards)
Tar Heels on practice squads
Jake Bargas, Minnesota Vikings fullback
Myles Dorn, Minnesota Vikings safety (played 10 special-teams snaps on Week 2)
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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