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Terps in the NFL: Diggs, rookies highlight opening week of season

Twenty former Terps are either on NFL rosters or practice squads to begin the season.

Buffalo Bills v New York Jets
Stefon Diggs scored a touchdown in the Buffalo Bills’ loss to the New York Jets.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Stefon Diggs made his presence felt in Monday night’s matchup between the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.

The 2022 All-Pro selection finished the game with 10 receptions for 102 yards, along with the Bills’ lone touchdown of the game, coming just past the halfway point of the second quarter.

Diggs was instrumental in keeping Buffalo in the game with less than two minutes left, catching three receptions for 40 yards on the final drive of regulation, helping to set up a game-tying field goal.

In addition to Diggs — Maryland’s biggest star in the league — six rookies from Maryland made NFL rosters, three of which started the first game of their respective team’s season.

Cornerback Deonte Banks, a first-round pick, had a quiet debut in the Giants’ 40-0 blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys, but he still came away with a tackle and an assisted pass breakup in the end zone.

According to PFF, Banks was targeted twice with no receptions allowed.

Fourth-round selection Jakorian Bennett also found himself in a starting position as a cornerback with the Las Vegas Raiders. In his debut, he had seven tackles and an 81.4 PFF grade for run defense. He did have issues covering the pass, giving up four receptions and two penalties, but played all every defensive snap in Sunday’s win over the Broncos.

Chad Ryland was the highest-selected kicker for the Patriots since 1988, and is paired with rookie punter Bryce Baringer to form the youngest special teams unit in the league. Ryland beat out veteran Nick Folk for the starting job, a 14-year veteran who was traded to the Titans. In his debut, Ryland made two extra points and attempted no field goals against the Eagles.

But, not all Terps in the NFL were without mistakes in the first week of the season, as Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson committed an ill-advised penalty that would prove to be consequential in Los Angeles’ game against Miami. Just before halftime, Jackson was flagged for pass interference on a play that would have run out the clock, but the penalty allowed the Dolphins to kick a field goal.

Jackson was part of a Chargers secondary that gave up 215 yards to Dolphins star wide receiver Tyreek Hill, and 466 total passing yards to Tua Tagovailoa. PFF also credited Jackson with 99 yards allowed to go along with a touchdown brought in by Hill. Jackson still left the game with an interception and two pass breakups, but it was overall a rough game for the Chargers’ defense.

On the other hand, Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage had an impressive showing, leading the team with 10 total tackles — six solo.

Savage was graded as one of the best defensive players of the week, with the third-highest PFF tackle rating (87.1). His fifth-year option was picked up in the off-season, and if Savage performs well this year, he could be a marquee free agent in the offseason.

Other players

  • Jets defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson had three tackles and two sacks in New York’s overtime victory against the Bills.
  • Bears wide receiver DJ Moore caught two passes for 25 yards in his Chicago debut.
  • Yannick Ngakoue also debuted for the Bears, accounting for four tackles — two of those for loss — and a sack.
  • Titans tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo was targeted just twice in Tennessee’s 16-15 loss to New Orleans. However, he had above-average blocking grades, according to PFF.
  • With Jonathan Taylor out, Colts running back Jake Funk found a role in the backfield. After being elevated from the practice squad on Sept. 9, Funk rushed for 10 yards on two attempts and caught a 12-yard pass.
  • Rookie Rakim Jarrett recorded one rush in his debut with the Buccaneers. Despite going undrafted, he has found a role as a second-string wide receiver on Tampa Bay’s depth chart.
  • Steelers running back Anthony McFarland Jr. didn’t have a carry Sunday, but totaled 91 yards on three kick returns. He also had two receptions for 11 yards.
  • Cardinals linebacker Josh Woods struggled in his first game with the Cardinals. He received a team-low 25.9 defensive grade from PFF and played just 39% of snaps.
  • Former first-round pick Nick Cross didn’t see the field for the Colts.
  • Rookie offensive linemen Jaelyn Duncan (Titans) and Spencer Anderson (Steelers) didn’t register a snap for their respective teams. Duncan was ruled out before the game.
  • The Terps have three players currently on a practice squad: Ty Johnson (Bills), Matthew Dunn (Browns) and Tyler Mabry (Seahawks).