Tar Heels in NFL: Sylvester Williams makes season debut, Holcomb returns and Bernard gets more carries

One Tar Heel returned from an injury, another got more carries Sunday because of an injury to his teammate and a third made a huge tackle in his season debut.

Defensive end Sylvester Williams, who the Denver Broncos signed to their practice squad on Oct. 3 after Drew Lock’s injury, was activated and made his season debut. He played seven snaps (12% of the team’s defensive snaps) in their 18-12 victory at New England and tackled quarterback Cam Newton to stop a 2-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter.

This marks a return to Denver, which drafted him in 2013. He started 48 games for the Broncos in four seasons and started for the Super Bowl champions that beat the Carolina Panthers 24-10 on Feb. 7, 2016.

Williams signed with the Tennessee Titans in 2017 and played for the Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins and the Chargers the last two seasons.

After missing four games with a knee injury, Washington linebacker Cole Holcomb played in its 20-19 road loss to the New York Giants and had five tackles and one assist.

A foot injury to Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon meant Gio Bernard was counted on more during Sunday’s 31-27 loss at Indianapolis. After getting only four carries in the first five games, Bernard had eight rushes for 15 yards and a touchdown, his first score of the season, in addition to three receptions for 13 yards.

Carolina Panthers defensive back Tre Boston had five tackles and three assists in their 23-16 home loss to Chicago in which Mitch Trubisky again didn’t play.

How Tar Heels did in Week 6

PlayerTeamPositionRoster statusTeam’s resultWeek 6 statisticsSeason statistics
Tre BostonPanthersFSActive23-16 loss vs. Chi5 tackles, 3 assists19 tackles; 11 assists, 1 forced, 1 recovered fumble, 1 TFL
Gio BernardBengalsRBActive31-27 loss at Ind8 carries, 15 yards, 1 TD; 3 targets, 3 receptions, 13 yds12 rushes, 29 yards, 1 TD; 9 catches for 115 yards
Eric EbronSteelersTEActive38-7 win vs Cle2 catches on 4 targets for 9 yards, one OPI16 catches for 165 yards and 1 TD
Cole HolcombWashingtonLBActive20-19 loss at NYGStarted, 5 tackles, 1 assist6 tackle, 1 solo tackle, 1 assist, 1 special-teams tackle
Robert QuinnBearsLBActive23-16 win at CarStarted, had 1 assist2 tackles, 1 solo, 1 assist, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovered fumble
Sylvester WilliamsBroncosDLActive18-12 win at NEPlayed 7 snaps; 1 tackle on 2-point conversion try1 tackle on 2-point conversion attempt
M.J. StewartBrownsCBActive38-7 loss at Pit2 special teams tackles4 tackles, 1 solo, 2 special teams tackles
Mack HollinsDolphinsWRActive24-0 win vs. NYJNo statistics1 tackle
Mitch TrubiskyBearsQBActive23-16 win at CarDid not play51-86, 6 TDs, 6 INTs, 87.4 passer rating
Charlie HeckTexansOTActive42-36 OT loss at TenNot active for the gameInactive for all six games
Jason StrowbridgeDolphinsDEActive24-0 win vs. NYJNot active for the gameInactive for all six games
James HurstSaintsOTActiveDidn’t play5 offensive snaps, 6 special-team snaps
Sylvester WilliamsBroncosDLActive18-12 win at NEPlayed 7 snaps; 1 tackle on 2-point conversion tryNo statistics
Andre SmithBillsLBActive26-17 loss vs KCDid not playPlayed in 2 games, no statistics
Ryan SwitzerBrownsWRPractice squad
Aaron CrawfordRavensDTPractice squad
Kareem MartinLionsOLBPractice squad
William Sweet49ersOTPractice squad
T.J. LoganBucsRBInjured reserve; out for season with leg injury
Myles DornVikingsFSInjured reserve
Jalen DaltonSaintsTDInjured reserve; triceps injury
Russell BodineLionsCOpted out

Tar Heels in NFL: Ebron with five catches, Hurst plays and Trubisky sits

By R.L. Bynum

After an unexpected week off for his Pittsburgh Steelers because of COVID-19, Eric Ebron was back at it Sunday with a season-high five catches for the second consecutive game to highlight the efforts of former UNC players in the NFL in Week 5.

The Steelers tight end’s five catches came on six targets for 43 yards. He fumbled, which the Steelers lost, after a 12-yard fourth-quarter reception. The pass in which quarterback Ben Rothlisberger targeted him that Ebron didn’t catch was initially ruled intercepted but reversed and ruled an incompletion.

The Associated Press wrote last week about how Ebron, played 77% of the Steelers’ offensive snaps, never stops talking and is loud and proud.

This week marked the season debut of New Orleans Saints offensive tackle James Hurst, who was suspended the first four games for violating the NFL’s PED policy. He was put on the active roster Monday.

Hurst played for five offensive snaps and six special-teams snaps. In all five of his offensive snaps, he reported in as tackle eligible and was the Saints’ sixth lineman. Those plays gained a total of 10 yards with one pass incompletion.

Carolina Panthers safety Tre Boston had a tackle, including one for a loss, and two assists in their 23-16 road victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

As expected, the Chicago Bears started Nick Foles at quarterback in their 20-19 victory Thursday over the Tampa Bay Bucs and Mitch Trubisky didn’t play in the game.

How Tar Heels did during Week 5

Tar Heels in NFL: Trubisky doesn’t play and Bears lose first game

By R.L. Bynum

The big news for former Tar Heels in the NFL this week was what didn’t happen.

After the Chicago Bears went 3-0 in three starts for quarterback Mitch Trubisky, he didn’t start. And, with Nick Foles instead starting Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, the Bears didn’t win.

Trubisky had six touchdown passes on the season before being pulled in the third quarter of Chicago’s 30-26 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Foles relieved Trubisky and threw three touchdown passes to rally the Bears.

In Sunday’s 19-11 loss to the Colts, Foles only had one touchdown pass to go with one interception.

In his three starts, Trubisky had an 87.4 passer rating. Foles’ rating for Sunday’s loss was 76.4. In the win over the Falcons, Trubisky’s rating was 71.8 and Foles’ rating was 95.2.

Who gets the start for Chicago at home Thursday against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs? It figures to be Foles, but who knows?

There was good news for a Tar Heel last week when the Cleveland Browns signed wide receiver Ryan Switzer to their practice squad. The Pittsburgh Steelers released Switzer on Sept. 5.

Steelers tight end Eric Ebron didn’t get the chance to follow up on his big Week 3 game against the Houston Texans because their game with the Tennessee Titans was postponed until Week 7 on Oct. 25.

Not much happened on the field this week for former Tar Heels, highlighted by Tre Boston’s three tackles, one assist and a recovered fumble in the Carolina Panthers’ 31-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Heading into that game, Tre Boston talked to the media about the success of him and the Panthers:

Tar Heels in the NFL

Tar Heels in NFL: Trubisky benched in Bears win; big plays for Ebron, Boston

By R.L. Bynum

Mitch Trubisky’s good start that helped the Chicago Bears get off to a 2โ€“0 start took an unpleasant turn for the former Tar Heels quarterback Sunday against the winless Atlanta Falcons.

The good news for Trubisky is that the Bears moved to 3โ€“0. The bad news is that he was benched in the third quarter and it was backup Nick Foles who rallied Chicago from a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to a 30โ€“26 victory.

Trubisky was 13 of 22 with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham before Falcons cornerback Blidi Wrey-Wilson stepped in front of Graham for an interception. That interception nearly four minutes into the second half led Bears coach Matt Nagy to bring on Foles to end Trubisky’s day.

Foles got off to a slow start but finished 16 of 29 for 188 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. You have to figure that Foles will start next week against the Indianapolis Colts.

Nagy said wouldn’t answer after the game when asked who would start against the Colts: “We just want to enjoy the win tonight,” he said. At Nagy’s press conference on Monday, though, he named Foles the starter.

Here’s what Trubisky had to say after the game:

Trubisky showed his versatility earlier in the game with a 45-yard run, which was Chicago’s longest play of the game.

It was a better day for tight end Eric Ebron, who helped the Pittsburgh Steelers move to 3-0. He caught five of the seven passes thrown to him for 52 yards and a 10-yard touchdown reception. He also had a 17-yard reception.

The Carolina Panthers safety Tre Boston made a nice play to knock away a potential game-winning pass to Keenan Allen in the end zone to help preserve their 21โ€“16 road victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.

How Tar Heels fared in the NFL in Week 3

Tar Heels in the NFL: Trubisky leads Bears to 2-0 start, is top performer so far this season

By R.L. Bynum

As a Chicago Cubs fan, I follow a lot of Chicago Bears fans on Twitter for their Cubs tweets/coverage even though I’m not a Bears fan.

It’s an understatement to say that Bears fans and reporters on that beat have been highly critical of second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Some of the tweets make me wish that his family stays off Twitter.

For the first three quarters of the Bears’ Week 1 victory over the Detroit Lions, there was constant chirping about the former UNC quarterback’s performance. In the fourth quarter of that come-from-behind 27โ€“23 victory and through most of the Bears’ 17โ€“13 home win over the New York Giants on Sunday, that strangely ended. There were even tweets giving him credit.

He’s got the Bears off to their first 2-0 start since 2013.

His performance has easily been the best in the NFL so far this season for former North Carolina players. Here’s a look at how the former Tar Heels are doing: