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NFL Hokies: Week 1 preview

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With the NFL preseason within the rearview mirror and all sights now set on the upcoming 2022 campaign, 24 former Virginia Tech football players eye a successful season on the gridiron on Sundays in the autumn. With loads of maroon and orange sprinkled across the league, there are a large number of opportunities to see the Hokies shine week in and week out.

What are a few of those in Week 1? For a full rundown, read Wednesday’s edition of NFL Hokies, presented by Coca-Cola.
 

Week 1 Matchups

Thursday, Sept. 8
Buffalo at L.A. Rams – 8:20 p.m. ET – NBC
The Virginia Tech-to-Buffalo connection will likely be on full display in primetime for Thursday night football.

Possessing two Hokies in the shape of star linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and the newly acquired Tim Settle, the Bills are set to embark on a visit to SoFi Stadium with each former Tech defenders set to play a key role for Buffalo in 2022.

Edmunds, already a two-time Pro Bowler in only 4 seasons on the skilled level, is coming off a yr by which he finished with 108 total tackles and an interception because the cherry on top. While Settle, who inked a two-year deal in Upstate Recent York this past offseason, finished 2021 having notched 13 total tackles and 4 tackles for loss for the Washington Football Team a season ago. Running back Raheem Blackshear, who’s in his rookie yr, is currently on the Bills’ practice squad.

Sunday, Sept. 11
San Francisco at Chicago – 1 p.m. ET – FOX
Running back Khalil “Juice” Herbert is able to take the following big step to be a serious contributor within the NFL.

A former sixth-round draft pick back in 2021, the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida native is coming off a rookie campaign by which he rushed for a solid 433 yards with two touchdowns, while also recording 14 receptions that were good for 96 yards within the air.

A very versatile member of Chicago’s 53-man roster, Herbert looks to further solidify himself within the Bears’ offensive rotation in 2022, and proceed to represent Tech well while suiting up within the Windy City.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati – 1 p.m. ET – CBS
A company just like the Steelers at all times has high hopes every yr. And for the black and gold to perform big things in 2022, starting safety Terrell Edmunds goes to must be a giant a part of that for Pittsburgh within the upcoming season.

Totaling 89 total tackles with a sack and two interceptions a yr ago, the 6-foot-1, 217-pounder has develop into a key piece within the team’s secondary since bursting onto the scene back in 2018.

Commencing in Cincinnati against the defending AFC champions isn’t any easy task. But it surely’ll be a powerful opportunity for the previous first-round draft pick to showcase his capabilities to kick off his fifth full season on the skilled level.

Philadelphia at Detroit – 1 p.m. ET – FOX
James Mitchell’s NFL debut will come within his home stadium to start out off his rookie campaign.

A fifth-round pick on this past yr’s NFL Draft, the 6-foot-4, 249-pounder looks to open some eyes in his debut season after gaining a group of national attention while suiting up for the maroon and orange.

Despite missing the vast majority of 2021, Mitchell accomplished a 26-reception, 435-yard and four-touchdown 2020 in his final full yr on the collegiate ranks. And with the tools the Big Stone Gap, Virginia product naturally possesses, Mitchell has all of the potential to be a productive member of Detroit’s tight ends room for years to are available the Motor City.

Baltimore at N.Y. Jets – 1 p.m. ET – CBS
The heyday of Tech football has been long-connected to “DBU,” a longstanding tradition that also reigns true today when taking a look at the very core of the Hokies’ program that dates all the way in which back to the Frank Beamer days. A minimum of in the meanwhile, a sprinkle of that coveted tradition has made its way up north to Baltimore, where Chuck Clark and Kyle Fuller are able to suit up within the Charm City.

Clark, who has develop into a staple within the Ravens’ secondary, comes into 2022 following a season by which he tallied 80 total tackles that included two interceptions in one other lockdown yr for the 2017 sixth-round pick. Fuller, a latest addition to the purple in black, returns to his roots in his hometown of Baltimore having accomplished a solid 2021 campaign with the Denver Broncos. And with the 5-foot-11, 194-pounder’s capabilities that he’s shown off in each Chicago and Denver, Fuller seems poised to indicate off his play-making skills in 2022.

Making the trip as much as MetLife Stadium to face off against the Jets, each Clark and Fuller are set to line up against former Tech offensive lineman Duane Brown. The longest-tenured Hokie within the league, Brown is ready to start on his fifteenth season within the NFL, and can accomplish that along with his third team after previous stops in Houston and Seattle.

Jacksonville at Washington – 1 p.m. ET – FOX
It’s hard to search out a team that possesses more Tech football grads than the Washington Commanders. The truth is, you may’t. The burgundy and gold currently feature three Hokies on their 53-man roster, including tight end Logan Thomas, cornerback Kendall Fuller and placekicker Joey Slye.

Thomas, a former quarterback in his time in Blacksburg, hauled in 18 receptions for 196 yards and three touchdowns during an injury-shortened 2021 campaign. Each Fuller and Slye each contributed at a serious level, too.

A former Super Bowl champion with the Kansas City Chiefs, Fuller totaled 77 tackles, a sack and an interception a yr ago, and hopes to develop into a mainstay within the Commanders’ secondary in his second go-around with the organization after being chosen within the third round back in 2016. Meanwhile, Slye, a four-year starter while suiting up for the maroon and orange, booted through 23 field goals in 25 tries with a better of 56 yards in a masterful 2021 in his first season within the nation’s capital.

With all three seemingly playing key roles in 2022, expect the trio’s talents to be on full display when Washington plays host to Jacksonville on Sunday for a 1 p.m. kick.

Cleveland at Carolina – 1 p.m. ET – CBS
2021 Pro Bowler Wyatt Teller and the Cleveland Browns will start off their 2022 campaign on the road in Charlotte, facing off against rookie Amarè Barno’s Carolina Panthers inside Bank of America Stadium.

Teller, who recently inked a four-year, $56.8 million-dollar contract extension that’ll keep him in Cleveland through 2025, will proceed to be a serious piece within the Browns’ offensive identity after establishing himself as probably the greatest at his position throughout the NFL. The Manassas, Virginia native has quietly blossomed right into a star offensive tackle, working his way up the ranks after being only a fifth-round draft pick in 2018.

Barno, however, is ready to start out up his skilled profession after Carolina took him within the sixth round on this past yr’s NFL Draft. The 6-foot-6, 245-pounder left Tech having recorded 9.5 sacks over the course of the past two seasons, and has shown flashes the last six months as to why he is usually a productive defensive end within the NFL, including an incredible 4.36-second 40-yard time on the NFL Mix that was the fastest by a defensive lineman since 2003.

Indianapolis at Houston – 1 p.m. ET – CBS
Tasked with traveling to Houston to take down the Texans of their season opener in 2022, each Brandon Facyson and Luke Tenuta will suit up with Indianapolis Colts for the primary time of their skilled careers. Though each different scenarios, each with equal opportunities.

Facyson, entering his fifth season on the skilled level, involves Indianapolis after successful stints with each the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders. Tallying 55 total tackles with an interception a season ago, the Jacksonville, Florida product signed a one-year take care of Indianapolis this past offseason, hoping to further extend his NFL profession within the Crossroads of America.

Tenuta’s situation is a tad bit different. Despite being waived by the Bills after Buffalo took him with its sixth-round draft pick, the 6-foot-9, 322-pounder has latched on with the Colts. And can get his first real shot on Indianapolis’ 53-man roster in 2022.

N.Y. Giants at Tennessee – 4:25 p.m. ET – FOX
Former first-round draft pick Caleb Farley is able to finally star within the secondary for the AFC-hopeful Tennessee Titans. Through limited motion in his debut campaign after suffering an ACL tear early on within the yr, the Maiden, North Carolina native showed some flashes within the Music City before being placed on the shelf that cut short his 2021. A high-level prospect during his time at Tech, Farley has all of the tools mandatory to develop into a big-time NFL cornerback for years to return. And if capable of stay healthy, the parents in Nashville still consider he might be an X-factor in bringing home Tennessee’s first Super Bowl title in franchise history.

The trail to get there starts this Sunday when the Titans play host to fellow Hokie and Recent York Giants. A 3-time ACC champion and former ACC Player of the 12 months during his time in Blacksburg, Taylor looks to develop into a solid depth piece for the Giants in continuation of his lengthy skilled profession.

Green Bay at Minnesota – 4:25 p.m. ET – FOX
Certainly one of the weekend’s higher matchups between these two NFC North foes will feature two Hokies which have develop into regulars on each squad’s offensive lines.

A former undrafted free agent picked up by the Packers in 2019, Yosh Nijman appears on Green Bay’s roster for the fourth consecutive season after a promising stint with Tech from 2014-18. No surprise to many based on his profession in Blacksburg, the 6-foot-7, 314-pounder has quickly worked his way up from hovering across the practice squad, to becoming a consistent contributor over the course of just a few seasons. And with Nijman’s increased productivity yr in and yr out, don’t expect that to alter anytime soon.

Minnesota’s Christian Darrisaw’s journey has been slightly bit different. A primary-round draft pick of Tech in 2021, the Vikings’ star tackle has continued to shine, navigating around a groin injury that kept him sidelined within the early portions of the season, and producing solid results as a rookie starter up in Minneapolis.

Kansas City at Arizona – 4:25 p.m. ET – CBS
Sticking with the theme of offensive tackles, rookie Lecitus Smith is ready to make his NFL debut with the Cardinals playing host to Kansas City this upcoming Sunday inside State Farm Stadium.

Taken at No. 215 overall within the sixth round of this past April’s NFL Draft, the 6-foot-3, 320-pounder arrives in Phoenix as a two-time All-ACC honorable mention during his time with the Hokies, impressing many throughout this past preseason and eventually earning him a spot on Arizona’s 53-man roster.

Las Vegas at L.A. Chargers – 4:25 p.m. ET – CBS
The means of converting from the security position to the front seven within the linebacking corp on the skilled level should not be as easy as Divine Deablo is making it look. A secondary stronghold during his time in Blacksburg, the Winston-Salem, North Carolina native has had a pleasant begin to his skilled profession.

Racking up 45 total tackles a yr ago in 2021, Deablo made some noise in his rookie campaign. And along with his play-making abilities being fully showcased now on the NFL level, the 6-foot-3, 226-pounder could potentially take a giant step up in his second season suiting up for Las Vegas. His first opportunity to indicate just that comes Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles when the Raiders visit Southern California for a highly-anticipated battle with the Chargers that might set the tone within the AFC West. 

Players

NumberNameTeam
90DE Amaré BarnoCarolina
35RB Raheem Blackshear (PS)Buffalo
71T Duane BrownRecent York Jets
36S Chuck ClarkBaltimore
71T Christian DarrisawMinnesota
5LB Divine DeabloLas Vegas
34S Terrell EdmundsPittsburgh
49LB Tremaine EdmundsBuffalo
31CB Brandon FacysonIndianapolis
3CB Caleb FarleyTennessee
23CB Kyle FullerBaltimore
29CB Kendall FullerWashington
24RB Khalil HerbertChicago
57C Brock Hoffman (PS)Cleveland
47Dalton Keene (PS)Philadelphia
82TE James MitchellDetroit
73T Yosh NijmanGreen Bay
99DT Tim SettleBuffalo
3K Joey SlyeWashingon
54G Lecitus SmithArizona
2QB Tyrod TaylorRecent York Giants
77G Wyatt TellerCleveland
76T Luke TenutaIndianapolis
82TE Logan ThomasWashington

Staff

NameTitleTeam
Bruce AriansSenior Advisor to the General ManagerTampa Bay
Malcolm BlackenSenior Director of Player DevelopmentWashington
Corey FullerScouting AssistantCarolina
Cody GrimmDefensive/ST AssistantTampa Bay
Leah JosephAssistant to the General ManagerJacksonville
Jeff KingCo-Director of Player PersonnelChicago
Anthony MidgetSecondaryTennessee
Nick RaponeSafetiesTampa Bay
Johnny SheltonTeam ChaplainBaltimore
Nick SorensonSpecial Teams CoordinatorSan Francisco
Darryl TappAssistant Defensive LineSan Francisco
Todd WashingtonAssistant Offensive LineJacksonville
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