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Terps in the NFL: Week one headlined by Stefon Diggs’ monster performance

17 former Maryland players are on NFL rosters or practice squads to open the 2022 season.

Buffalo Bills v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

While many former Maryland players started off their 2022 NFL seasons this week, none of their starts were as spectacular as Buffalo Bills Pro Bowl wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

In the first game of the NFL season, Diggs showed no sign of rust, breaking out for eight receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown on nine targets against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night. His performance helped the Bills dominate the Rams, 31-10.

Diggs was matched up against Rams All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey for much of the game. Towards the end of the first half, he beat him in coverage, making an impressive catch on the sideline.

In the fourth quarter, Diggs beat Ramsey yet again. This time Diggs went to the ground and hauled in a 53-yard touchdown from quarterback Josh Allen on the run.

Last year, Diggs made the Pro Bowl as the top receiver for the AFC East champs. He finished with the ninth-most receptions in the league (103) and the eight-most yards in the league at the receiver position (1,225). Coming off four straight seasons with over 1,000 yards and with over 100 receptions in three of his last four seasons, it looks like Diggs is on track to be one of the NFL’s top wide receivers yet again in 2022.

Carolina Panthers star wide receiver DJ Moore had three catches for 43 yards in a 26-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns. New quarterback Baker Mayfield only gave the Panthers top wideout six targets on Sunday, as he is still getting used to playing with the former Terp.

Moore is coming off three straight 1,000 yard seasons, and almost reached the 100 reception mark last season with 93. He’s been a reliable target during Carolina’s quarterback carousel the last few seasons, starting six different quarterbacks in the regular season from 2019-2021. Now with Mayfield at the helm, hopefully Moore can find his groove with more consistency at quarterback in 2022.

Even though the Los Angeles Chargers beat their division rival, the Las Vegas Raiders, 24-19 on Sunday, the Bolts were without their marquee free agent pickup in the secondary — cornerback J.C. Jackson.

For the New England Patriots last year, Jackson had the second-most interceptions in the league with eight, and the third most pass breakups with 18. Nicknamed “Mr. INT,” Jackson has been recovering from ankle surgery and has been out the past few weeks. Chargers head coach Brandon Staley remains positive about his status, saying to reporters after Sunday’s game that he “looks good” and the team is excited for his return.

Safety Darnell Savage made his season debut for the Green Bay Packers against the Minnesota Vikings this weekend. He is currently in the second-to-last year of his contract in Green Bay and is coming off a two-interception, 63-tackle season as a starter. On Sunday, he had two tackles as the Packers lost to the Vikings, 23-7.

The two Terps selected in the 2022 NFL Draft both got some playing time in week one and managed to make some plays on the field.

Safety Nick Cross, the Indianapolis Colts’ third-round pick, played every single snap on defense in the first start of his career. He had a nice debut with four solo tackles during a 20-20 tie against the Houston Texans. He’ll look to be a focal point in the Colts’ secondary in his inaugural season in the league.

Tennessee Titans third round pick and tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo was only targeted once in his debut against the New York Giants, but he made it count, gaining 11 yards. As the team’s third-string tight end, he only played 15% of the offensive snaps. The Titans also tried using him in the running game, but it didn’t work out, leading to a four-yard loss on his only rush of the day. Using this as a season to develop, Okonkwo’s speed gives him a very high ceiling.

Other performers

  • Indianapolis Colts defensive end Yannick Ngakoue had a decent outing in his first game as a Colt. He totaled two tackles and a tackle for loss in his debut for his fifth team in four years. Coming off a ten-sack, 28-tackle season for Las Vegas last year off the edge, he looks to recreate that production for a team that ranked 25th in sacks last season.
  • Linebacker Josh Woods recorded an assisted tackle for the Detroit Lions, but really made his mark on special teams, playing 65% of available special teams snaps in a gadget role as they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-35.
  • Rookie wide receiver Jared Bernhardt turned heads weeks ago by making the Atlanta Falcons 53-man roster after his wild journey from Maryland lacrosse to the NFL. However, he didn’t manage to play a snap in the team’s 28-27 loss to the NFC South rival New Orleans Saints.
  • Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Byron Cowart didn’t record a stat on defense, but played 14 defensive snaps and seven special teams snaps as he helped Indy tie against the Houston Texans.
  • Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Michael Dunn didn’t put up a stat, but managed to play 11 offensive snaps and six special team snaps in the team’s 26-24 win over the Carolina Panthers.
  • Los Angeles Rams running back Jake Funk didn’t get any offensive snaps, but was a featured special teamer during the team’s 31-10 blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills, playing 63% of special teams snaps.
  • Running back Ty Johnson got in the game for just five special teams snaps for the New York Jets on opening weekend, playing just 19% of available special teams opportunities as the Jets got crushed by the Baltimore Ravens, 24-9.
  • Linebacker Keandre Jones started the season on the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad, and stayed there during week one.
  • Running back Anthony McFarland Jr. started his season off on the practice squad for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • Rookie defensive lineman Sam Okuayinonu earned a spot on the Tennessee Titans practice squad after going undrafted, and remained off the 53-man roster in week one.
  • Seattle Seahawks tight end Tyler Mabry spent week one on the team’s practice squad.