Tar Heels in NFL: Howell, Trubisky get off to good starts; Chandler makes big impression for Vikings

By R.L. Bynum

It was a good first weekend of NFL exhibition games for the two UNC quarterbacks in the NFL on Saturday, with Washington Commanders rookie Sam Howell putting on a show off the bench and new Pittsburgh Steeler Mitch Trubisky playing well as a starter.

Howell was 9 of 16 passing for 145 yards, completed a two-point conversion pass and ran for 19 yards and two touchdowns. He put up an 86.7 passer rating, playing 45% of the Commanders’ snaps (31) in their 23–21 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Read more on his game and watch highlights in this earlier Tar Heel Tribune story.

Trubisky completed 4 of 7 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown for a 126.8 quarterback rating in the Steelers’ 32–25 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. He put up these numbers despite playing with only one other projected starter in rookie wide receiver George Pickens.

Trubisky connected with Gunner Olszewski on a 13-yard touchdown pass, leading Pittsburgh to a touchdown on the opening drive. He only played 13 snaps and is the projected starter ahead of Mason Rudolph and rookie Kenny Pickett, who played impressively in the fourth quarter.


Rookie Ty Chandler made an excellent first impression in his Minnesota Vikings’ 26–20 road win over Las Vegas. He returned a kickoff 56 yards and had five carries for 50 yards, including a 14-yard gain.

Second-year linebacker Chazz Surratt had three tackles and an assist for the Vikings. Safety Myles Dorn had four tackles, two of which were on special teams.


There are five UNC alums in New York Giants camp, but one won’t play a down this season. Rookie Marcus McKethan suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his right knee in a public scrimmage on Aug. 5 and was placed on injured reserve. He had been battling for a position on the Giants’ depth chart at right guard.

Wide receiver Austin Proehl pulled up lame in practice last Tuesday and didn’t play in the Giants’ 23–21 Thursday win at New England.

Running back Antonio Williams, who spent all last season on the Buffalo Bills practice squad, had a good game for the Giants in 19 offensive snaps. He ran for 61 yards on nine carries, including a 19-yard run and a one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Rookie left guard Joshua Ezeudu played 41 snaps, 39 on offense for the Giants, but reportedly came out of the game banged up and may not practice this week. He is questionable for next weekend’s game with Cincinnati. Rookie linebacker Tomon Fox played 35 snaps, 10 on special teams, getting one tackle.


Gio Bernard started and played 13 snaps in the first two drives of the Tampa Bay Bucs’ 26–24 win over Miami. He rushed seven times for 19 yards, including an eight-yard run before leaving with an ankle injury.

Tight end Bug Howard, who earned an invitation to Bucs camp after having a good season in the USFL for the Philadelphia Stars, had a catch for six yards in 21 snaps. Rookie cornerback Kyler McMichael made seven tackles in 31 snaps.


Wide receiver Dazz Newsome had one rush for 13 yards, as well as a 13-yard touchdown reception in the Chicago Bears’ 19–14 Saturday home victory over Kansas City, playing 22 snaps. Defensive end Robert Quinn didn’t play.


Second-year New York Jets running back Michael Carter played 10 snaps in Friday’s 24–21 win at Philadelphia, running five yards on three rushes and catching one pass for seven yards.


After missing last season as a New Orleans Saint because of a triceps injury, defensive end Jalen Dalton played 43 snaps in the Atlanta Falcons’ 27–23 Friday win at Detroit. He had an assist and ½ of a sack.


Linebacker Andre Smith collected a tackle, three assists, a sack, a tackle for a loss and one quarterback hit in 28 snaps of the Buffalo Bills’ 27–24 Saturday win against Indianapolis.


Rookie linebacker Jeremiah Gemmel debuted with San Francisco in the 49ers’ 28–21 Friday win over Green Bay. He had a tackle and an assist in 20 snaps.


Houston left tackle Charlie Heck started and played 47 snaps in the Texan’s 17–13 Saturday win over New Orleans. Saints left tackle James Hurst started and played 10 snaps.

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M.J. Stewart Jr., in his first season with the Texans after playing for the Cleveland Browns last season, had a tackle for a loss and a special-teams tackle in 33 snaps.


Javonte Williams, projected to start for Denver, didn’t play in the Broncos’ 17–7 Saturday win over Dallas.

Jake Bargas, Minnesota Vikings fullback
Place on depth chart — Backup behind C.J. Ham
2021 statistics —
1 game, no statistics
Exhibition opener — 26–20 Sunday loss at Las Vegas: 1 special-teams tackle; 2 offensive snaps (4&), 7 special-teams snaps (28%)
Next exhibition 7 p.m. Saturday vs. San Francisco
Season opener — 4:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. Green Bay, Fox
———————————————
Giovani Bernard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back
Place on depth chart — Third string behind Leonard Fournette and Ke’Shawn Vaughn
2021 statistics —
12 games, 8 rushes, 58 yards (24 longest); 23 catches, 123 yards, 3 TDs, 1 fumble; 1 kickoff return for 18 yards; 2 punt returns, 7 yards
Exhibition opener — 26–24 Saturday loss vs. Miami: Started; 7 rushes, 19 yards (8 longest); 1 catch on 1 target, -4 yards; 13 offensive snaps (18%)
Next exhibition 7 p.m. Saturday at Tennessee, NFL Network
Season opener — 8:20 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Dallas, NBC
———————————————
Dyami Brown, Washington Commanders wide receiver
Place on depth chart —
Backup to Terry McLaurin at one wide receiver spot
2021 statistics —15 games, 12 receptions on 25 targets, 165 yards (13.8 average; longest 48 yards); 1 rush for -4 yards; 16 snaps (23%)
Exhibition opener —
23–21 home Saturday loss to Carolina: 2 catches on 3 targets for 14 yards (8 longest)
Next exhibition 4 p.m. Saturday at Kansas City, NFL Network
Season opener — 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. Jacksonville, Fox———————————————
Michael Carter,   New York Jets running back
Place on depth chart — Projected starter
2021 statistics — 14 games, 147 carries, 639 yards (4.3 average, longest 55), 4 TDs; 36 receptions on 55 targets, 325 yards (9.0 average; longest 23)
Exhibition opener —
24–21 Friday win at Philadelphia: 3 rushes, 5 yards (2 longest); 1 catch on 1 target, 7 yards; 10 snaps (16%)
Next exhibition 8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22 vs. Atlanta, ESPN
Season opener — 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. Baltimore, CBS
———————————————
Ty Chandler, Minnesota Vikings running back
Place on depth chart — Fourth string behind Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison and Kene Nwangwu
2021 statistics (UNC) — 13 games, 182 carries, 1,092 yards (6.0 average, longest 60), 13 TDs; 24 receptions, 216 yards (16.6 average; longest 75)
Exhibition opener —
26–20 Sunday loss at Las Vegas: 5 carries, 50 yards (14 longest); 1 kickoff return, 56 yards; 9 offensive snaps (18%), 8 special-teams snaps (32%)
Next exhibition 7 p.m. Saturday vs. San Francisco
Season opener — 4:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. Green Bay, Fox
———————————————
Aaron Crawford, Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle
Place on depth chart — Third-string nose tackle behind Michael Pierce and Travis Jones
2021 season — Spent season on Ravens’ injured reserve list with an undisclosed injury
Exhibition opener —
23–10 Thursday home win vs. Tennessee: 2 tackles, 1 assist; 26 offensive naps (42%), 1 special-teams snap (4%)
Next exhibition 8 p.m. Sunday at Arizona, Fox
Season opener — 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at New York Jets, CBS
———————————————
Jalen Dalton, Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman
Place on depth chart — Second-string at one defensive-line spot behind Grady Jarrett
2021 season (New Orleans Saints) — Missed season with a triceps injury
Exhibition opener —
27–23 Friday win at Detroit: 1 assist, ½ of a sack; 38 defensive snaps (48%), 5 special-teams snaps (19%)
Next exhibition 8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22 at New York Jets, ESPN
Season opener — 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. New Orleans
———————————————
Myles Dorn, Minnesota Vikings safety
Place on depth chart —
Third string at one safety spot behind Lewis Cine and Camryn Bynum
2021 statistics —
2 games, 1 tackle, 1 assist, 1 special-teams tackle, 1 special-teams assist
Exhibition opener — 26–20 Sunday loss at Las Vegas: 1 tackle, 2 assists, 1 forced fumble, 1 special-teams assist; 39 defensive snaps (53%), 12 special -teams snaps (48%)
Next exhibition 7 p.m. Saturday vs. San Francisco
Season opener — 4:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. Green Bay, Fox
———————————————
Joshua Ezeudu, New York Giants guard
Place on depth chart — Second-string left guard behind Shane Lemieux
2021 statistics (UNC) —
Played 737 snaps in 12 games, starting 11 and was All-ACC Honorable Mention
Exhibition opener —
23–21 Thursday win at New England: 39 offensive snaps (45%), 2 special-teams snaps (7%)
Next exhibition 7 p.m. Sunday vs. Cincinnati, NFL Network
Season opener — 4:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Tennessee, Fox
———————————————
Tomon Fox, New York Giants linebacker
Place on depth chart — Fourth string at rush position behind Kayvon Thibodeau, Oshane Ximines and Quincy Roche
2021 statistics (UNC) — 13 games, 23 solo tackles, 10 assists, 33 total tackles, 8.5 sacks, 10 tackles for losses, hurried QB six times
Exhibition opener —
23–21 Thursday win at New England: 1 tackle; 25 defensive snaps (40%), 10 special-teams snaps (3%)
Next exhibition 7 p.m. Sunday vs. Cincinnati, NFL Network
Season opener — 4:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Tennessee, Fox
———————————————
Jeremiah Gemmel, San Francisco 49ers linebacker
Place on depth chart — Fourth-string middle linebacker behind Fred Warner, Curtis Robinson and Marcelino McCrary-Ball
2021 statistics (UNC) — 13 games, 44 solo tackles, 31 assists, 75 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for losses, 15 sacks, 1 interception, hurried QB seven times
Exhibition opener —
28–21 Friday win vs. Green Bay: 1 tackle, 1 assist; 17 defensive snaps (24%), 3 special-teams snaps (12%)
Next exhibition 7 p.m. Saturday at Minnesota
Season opener — 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Chicago, Fox
———————————————
Charlie Heck, Houston Texans tackle
Place on depth chart —
Backup right tackle behind Tytus Howard
2021 statistics — 15 games, 13 starts, 709 offensive snaps, 41 special-teams snaps
Exhibition opener — 17–13 Saturday win vs. New Orleans: Started, 43 offensive snaps (74%), 4 special-teams snaps (15%)
Next exhibition 10 p.m. Friday at Los Angeles Rams, NFL Network
Season opener — 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. Indianapolis, CBS
———————————————
Cole Holcomb, Washington Commanders linebacker
Place on depth chart —
Starting weakside linebacker
2021 statistics — 16 games, 83 tackles, 55 assists, 2 tackles for losses, 2 interceptions, 1 TD, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovered fumble
Exhibition opener —
23–21 home Saturday loss to Carolina: Started, 2 tackles, 2 assists; 18 defensive snaps (25%)
Next exhibition 4 p.m. Saturday at Kansas City, NFL Network
Season opener — 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. Jacksonville, Fox
———————————————
Mack Hollins, Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver
Place on depth chart —
Backup behind Davante Adams at one wide receiver spot
2021 statistics (Miami Dolphins) — 17 games, 14 catches, 223 yards (15.9 average, 65 longest), 4 TDs; 5 special-teams tackles; 1 tackle
Exhibition opener —
27–11 Aug. 4 win in Canton, Ohio, over Jacksonville: Started, 1 catch on 1 target, -1 yard; 1 special-teams tackle; 21 offensive snaps (29%), 6 special-teams snaps (24%)
Week 1 exhibition game — 26–20 Sunday win vs. Minnesota: Started, 1 catch on 1 target, 15 yards
Next exhibition 7 p.m. Saturday at Miami
Season opener — 4:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Los Angeles Chargers, CBS
———————————————
Bug Howard, Tampa Bay Bucs tight end
Place on depth chart — Fifth string behind Cameron Brate, Kyle Rudolph, Cade Otton and Ko Kieft
2022 USFL statistics with Philadelphia Stars — 10 games, 8 starts, 30 catches on 49 targets, 371 yards (41 longest), 115 yards after the catch, 12.4 average, four touchdowns (went to 2021 camp with Buffalo Bills but was waived on Aug. 24)
Exhibition opener —
26–24 Saturday loss vs. Miami: 1 catch on 1 target, 6 yards; 19 offensive snaps (26%), 2 special-teams snaps (10%)
Next exhibition 7 p.m. Saturday at Tennessee, NFL Network
Season opener — 8:20 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Dallas, NBC
———————————————
Sam Howell, Washington Commanders quarterback
Place on depth chart — Third string behind Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke
2021 statistics (UNC) — 12 games, 217–347, 9 interceptions, 24 TDs, 3,056 yards (76 longest); 183 rushes, 828 yards (62 longest), 11 TDs
Exhibition opener —
23–21 Saturday home loss to Carolina: 9 of 16, 145 yards (40 longest), 0 TDs, 0 INTs; 3 carries, 17 yards (17 longest), 2 TDs; 31 snaps (45%)
Next exhibition 4 p.m. Saturday at Kansas City, NFL Network
Season opener — 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. Jacksonville, Fox
———————————————
James Hurst, New Orleans Saints tackle
Place on depth chart —
Starting left tackle
2021 statistics — 14 games; 12 starts; 724 offensive snaps, 52 special-teams snaps
Exhibition opener —
17–13 Saturday loss at Houston; Started, 10 offensive snaps (14%)
Next exhibition 8 p.m. Friday at Green Bay
Season opener — 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Atlanta, Fox
———————————————
Kyler McMichael, Tampa Bay Bucs cornerback
Place on depth chart — Fourth string at one cornerback spot behind Sean Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dan and Dee Delaney
2021 statistics (UNC) — 12 games, 12 solo tackles, six assists, 18 total tackles, 1 interception
Exhibition opener —
26–24 Saturday loss vs. Miami: 2 tackles; 26 defensive snaps (58%), 5 special-teams snaps (16%)
Next exhibition 7 p.m. Saturday at Tennessee, NFL Network
Season opener — 8:20 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Dallas, NBC
———————————————
Dazz Newsome, Chicago Bears wide receiver
Place on depth chart —
Fourth string at one wide-receiver spot behind Darnell Mooney, Velus Jones Jr. and Dante Pettis
2021 statistics — 3 games, 2 catches, 23 yards; 4 punt returns, 47 yards; 1 special-teams tackle
Exhibition opener —
19–14 Saturday win vs. Kansas City; 1 rush, 13 yards; 1 catch on 2 targets, 13 yards, 1 TD; 1 punt return, -11 yards; 1 fumble (recovered); 19 offensive snaps (29%); 3 special-teams snaps (10%)
Next exhibition 8 p.m. Thursday at Seattle, ESPN
Season opener — 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. San Francisco, Fox
———————————————
Austin Proehl, New York Giants wide receiver (was on Buffalo Bills practice squad last season)
Place on depth chart — Fourth string at one wide receiver spot behind Wan’Dale Robinson, Richie James and Alex Bachman
2021 season — Spent part of last season, beginning Nov. 4, on Buffalo Bills practice squad
Exhibition opener —
23–21 Thursday win at New England: Didn’t play; pulled up with a leg concern in practice on Tuesday
Next exhibition 7 p.m. Sunday vs. Cincinnati, NFL Network
Season opener — 4:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Tennessee, Fox
———————————————
Robert Quinn, Chicago Bears defensive end
Place on depth chart — Starting right defensive end
2021 statistics — 16 games, 38 tackles, 11 assists, 18½ sacks, 16 tackles for losses, 11 QB hits, 4 forced fumbles
Exhibition opener —
19–14 Saturday win vs. Kansas City; Didn’t play
Next exhibition 8 p.m. Thursday at Seattle, ESPN
Season opener — 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. San Francisco, Fox
———————————————
Andre Smith, Buffalo Bills weakside linebacker
Place on depth chart — Backup strong-side linebacker behind Matt Milano but suspended for first six games (performance-enhancing substance usage)
2021 statistics — 13 games, 4 tackles, 5 assists, 3 special-teams tackles, 5 special-teams assists
Exhibition opener —
27–24 Saturday win vs. Indianapolis: Started, 1 tackle, 3 assists, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 QB hit; 21 offensive snaps (29%), 7 special-teams snaps (30%)
Next exhibition 1 p.m. Saturday vs. Denver, NFL Network
Smith’s first regular-season game — 8:20 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30 vs. Green Bay, NBC
———————————————
M.J. Stewart Jr., Houston Texans safety
Place on depth chart —
Backup free safety behind Terrence Brooks
2021 statistics (Cleveland Browns) — 12 games, 30 tackles, 9 assists, 2 tackles for losses, 1 forced fumble, 4 special-teams tackles, 1 pass breakup; 1 kickoff return, 20 yards
Exhibition opener — 17–13 Saturday win vs. New Orleans: 1 tackle, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 special-teams tackle; 22 defensive snaps (30%), 11 special-teams snaps (41%)
Next exhibition 10 p.m. Friday at Los Angeles Rams, NFL Network
Season opener — 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. Indianapolis, CBS
———————————————
Chazz Surratt, Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker
Place on depth chart —
Third-string behind Eric Kendricks and Troy Dye
2021 statistics — 7 games, no statistics
Exhibition opener — 26–20 Sunday loss at Las Vegas: 3 tackles, 1 assist
Next exhibition 7 p.m. Saturday vs. San Francisco
Season opener — 4:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. Green Bay, Fox
———————————————
Mitchell Trubisky, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback
Place on depth chart — Projected starter ahead of Mason Rudolph and Kenny Pickett
2021 statistics (Buffalo Bills) — 6 games; 6 of 8 passing for 43 yards (longest 15), 1 interception; 13 rushes for 24 yards (longest 22)
Exhibition opener — 32–25 Saturday win vs. Seattle: Started, 4 of 7, 63 yards (25 longest), 1 TD, 126.8 QB rating; 1 rush, 4 yards; 13 offensive snaps (19%)
Next exhibition 7 p.m. Saturday at Jacksonville
Season opener — 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Cincinnati, CBS
———————————————
Jordan Tucker, Pittsburgh Steelers tackle
Place on depth chart —Fourth-string right tackle behind Chukwuma Okorafor, Trent Scott and Jake Dixon
Season statistics (UNC) — 13 games, 709 snaps
2021 opener —
32–25 Saturday win vs. Seattle: 4 special-teams snaps (15%)
Next exhibition 7 p.m. Saturday at Jacksonville
Season opener — 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Cincinnati, CBS
———————————————
Antonio Williams, New York Giants running back
Place on depth chart — Fourth string behind Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell
2021 season (Buffalo Bills) — Spent season on practice squad
Exhibition opener —
23–21 Thursday win at New England: 9 carries, 61 yards (19 longest), 1 TD; 1 catch on 1 target, -1 yard; 19 offensive snaps (22%), 8 special-teams snaps (29%)
Next exhibition 7 p.m. Sunday vs. Cincinnati, NFL Network
Season opener — 4:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Tennessee, Fox
———————————————
Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos running back
Place on depth chart —
Starter ahead of Melvin Gordon III
2021 statistics — 17 games, 203 carries, 903 yards (4.4 average; longest 49 yards), 4 TDs; 43 catches on 53 targets, 316 yards (7.3 average, 42 longest), 1 TD
Exhibition opener — 17–7 Saturday win vs. Dallas: Didn’t play
Next exhibition 1 p.m. Saturday at Buffalo, NFL Network
Season opener — 8:15 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12 at Seattle, ESPN, ABC
———————————————
Out for the season
Marcus McKethan, New York Giants guard — suffered torn right ACL in an Aug. 5 scrimmage

Photo via @steelers

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