Tar Heels in NFL: Howell plays entire game, looks sharp for Washington; Trubisky solidifies starting spot; Chandler impressive; Newsome, 3 others released

By R.L. Bynum

While Sam Howell, at least initially, isn’t likely to play a significant regular-season role for the Washington Commanders, he took advantage of a chance to show his talent in their final exhibition game.

The rookie quarterback got every snap of Washington’s 17–15 road loss Saturday at Baltimore. Although he couldn’t lead the Commanders to a victory, he was impressive, going 24 of 35 for 280 yards with a touchdown, no interceptions and a 102.1 passer rating. He also had eight carries for 62 yards, including a 13-yard run.

In exhibition play, Howell led the league in passing yards with 547.

Possibly because he wasn’t playing behind the Commanders’ top offensive linemen, he was hit 12 times, tackled eight times and got sacked five times.

Howell enters the season on the third team behind starter Carson Wentz and backup Taylor Heinicke, who both sat out the game.

Washington coach Ron Rivera said that Howell “still has some growing to do,” mentioning command of the offense and mastery of his five-step drop.

Howell had the chance to tie the game late with a two-point conversion pass, but the catchable throw deflected off Matt Cole’s shoulder pad.

Howell connected with former UNC teammate Dyami Brown twice for 42 yards, including a 26-yard reception. But Brown had three drops, including two consecutive third-down passes. Brown caught only six of 14 targets for 65 yards in three exhibition games.

Baltimore defensive tackle Aaron Crawford had one tackle for a loss, one assist, one quarterback hurry and was called for roughing the passer for a hit on Howell. Crawford left the game early with a groin injury, likely an adductor strain, that Coach John Harbaugh said could be serious.

Linebacker Cole Holcomb was one of 32 Commanders inactive for the game.


Any doubts about whether Mitch Trubisky would be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting quarterback for Week 1 were eliminated in their 19–9 Sunday win over the Detroit Lions.

Trubisky, starting and playing the entire first half, was 15 of 19 for 160 yards and one touchdown. In three exhibitions, he was 29 of 36 for 261 yards and three touchdowns, connecting on 80.5% of his passes.

The Steelers scored on four of the six first-half possessions.


Ty Chandler ran for 44 yards on five carries in 14 offensive snaps of Minnesota’s 23–13 Saturday loss at Denver. Vikings Myles Dorn had six tackles and defended two passes in 63 defensive snaps. Minnesota linebacker Chazz Surratt didn’t play.

Projected Broncos starting running back Javonte Williams didn’t play. Rookie Denver linebacker Jeremiah Gemmel had three tackles and an assist in 36 defensive snaps in his first game with the Broncos after San Francisco released him.


Giovani Bernard (ankle injury) didn’t play in Tampa Bay’s 27–10 Saturday loss at Indianapolis. Bucs rookie cornerback Kyler McMichael collected two tackles in 32 defensive snaps.


In Houston’s 17–0 win Thursday vs. San Francisco, Charlie Heck started at left tackle and played 37 snaps. M.J. Stewart Jr. had one tackle and one special-teams tackle in a total of 29 snaps.


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James Hurst, the projected starting left tackle, didn’t play in New Orleans’ 27–10 Friday win over the Los Angeles Chargers because of an undisclosed injury. Saints coach Dennis Allen said he expects Hurst back “sooner than later,” which could mean he will play in their opener against Atlanta.


In his last action for two months, Andre Smith had three tackles (including one for a loss) and three assists in a total of 37 snaps during his Buffalo Bills’ 21–0 road loss to the Carolina Panthers. He is suspended for the first six games of the season for performance-enhancing substance use.


Atlanta defensive lineman Jalen Dalton and Tampa Bay tight end Bug Howard were both released with injuries and, after clearing waivers, are back on those rosters on injured reserve. Chicago released wide receiver Dazz Newsome and fullback Jake Bargas. The Bears had signed Bargas after Minnesota released him. Pittsburgh released offensive tackle Jordan Tucker.


Michael Carter had four carries for 10 yards and a 10-yard reception in the New York Jets’ 31–27 victory Sunday over the New York Giants.

For the Giants, running back Antonio Williams had six yards on two carries, offensive guard Joshua Ezeudu didn’t play (undisclosed injury) and linebacker Tomon Fox had one assist.

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
27–10 loss Saturday at Indianapolis Didn’t play (ankle injury)
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%)
17–15 loss Saturday at Baltimore
Started; 2 catches on 5 targets, 42 yards (26 longest); 15 offensive snaps (20%)
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)
31–27 win Sunday vs. New York Giants
Started;4 carries, 10 yards (4 longest); 1 catch on 2 targets, 10 yards; 12 offensive snaps (17%)
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)
23–13 loss Saturday at Denver
5 carries, 44 yards (25 longest); 1 catch on 1 target, 1 yard; 14 offensive snaps (22%), 4 special-teams snaps (16%)
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
17–15 win Saturday vs. Washington
1 tackle (it was for a loss), 1 assist, 1 quarterback hurry; 24 defensive snaps (32%), 1 special-teams snap (4%)
Season opener — 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at New York Jets, CBS
———————————————
Myles Dorn, Minnesota Vikings safety
Place on depth chart —
Third string at one safety spot behind Camryn Bynum and Lewis Cine
2021 statistics —
2 games, 1 tackle, 1 assist, 1 special-teams tackle, 1 special-teams assist
23–13 loss Saturday at Denver Started; 6 tackles, 2 passes defended; 63 defensive snaps (100%), 12 special-teams snaps (48%)
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
31–27 loss Sunday at New York Jets
Didn’t play (undisclosed injury)
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 weakside linebacker 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
31–27 loss Sunday at New York Jets
1 assist; 46 defensive snaps (67%), 1 special-teams snap (3%)
Season opener — 4:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Tennessee, Fox
———————————————
Jeremiah Gemmel, Denver Broncos linebacker (Denver signed him after he went to camp with 49ers and they released him)
Place on depth chart — not listed
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
23–13 win Saturday vs. Minnesota
3 tackles, 1 assist; 36 defensive snaps (55%); 3 special-teams snaps (12%)
Season opener — 8:15 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12 at Seattle, ESPN, ABC
———————————————
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
17–0 win Thursday vs. San Francisco — Started at left tackle; 35 offensive snaps (61%), 2 special-teams snaps (11%)
Season opener — 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. Indianapolis, CBS
———————————————
Cole Holcomb, Washington Commanders linebacker
Place on depth chart —
Starting middle 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
17–15 loss Saturday at Baltimore
Didn’t play
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
23–6 win Friday vs. New England
Did not play
Season opener — 4:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Los Angeles Chargers, CBS
———————————————
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
17–15 loss Saturday at Baltimore
Started; 24 of 35, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 280 yards (28 longest), 102.1 passer rating; 8 rushes, 62 yards (13 longest); 76 offensive snaps (100%)
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
27–10 win Friday vs. L.A. Chargers
Didn’t play; has an undisclosed injury
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 Dean and Dee Delaney
2021 statistics (UNC) — 12 games, 12 solo tackles, six assists, 18 total tackles, 1 interception
27–10 loss Saturday at Indianapolis
2 tackles;32 defensive snaps (60%), 9 special-teams snaps (31%)
Season opener — 8:20 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at Dallas, NBC
———————————————
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
21–20 win Saturday at Cleveland
Didn’t play
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
21–0 loss Friday at Carolina
3 tackles, 3 assists, 1 tackle for a loss; 26 defensive snaps (42%), 11 special-teams snaps (65%)
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 —
Third string safety behind Jonathan Owens and 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
17–0 win Thursday vs. San Francisco 1 tackle, 1 special-teams tackle; 17 defensive snaps (24%), 12 special-teams snaps (63%)
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
23–13 loss Saturday at Denver Didn’t play
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)
19–9 win Sunday vs. Detroit 15 of 19 for 160 yards, 1 TD; 33 offensive snaps (52%)
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
31–27 loss Sunday at New York Jets
2 carries, 6 yards; 6 offensive snaps (9%), 20 special-teams snaps (67%)
Final exhibition — 1 p.m. Sunday at New York Jets, 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
23–13 win Saturday vs. Minnesota Didn’t play
Season opener — 8:15 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12 at Seattle, ESPN, ABC
———————————————
Participated in camp, released and unsigned
Fullback Jake Bargas, Minnesota, then signed and released by Chicago
Offensive tackle Jordan Tucker, Pittsburgh
Wide receiver Austin Proehl, New York Giants
Wide receiver Dazz Newsome, Chicago
Cleared waivers after release and on injured reserve (likely out for season)
Defensive lineman Jalen Dalton, Atlanta — suffered an undisclosed leg injury in the second Falcons exhibition game
Tight end Bug Howard, Tampa Bay — suffered an undisclosed injury
Out for the season
Marcus McKethan, New York Giants guard — suffered torn right ACL in an Aug. 5 scrimmage

Photo via @Commanders

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