Package benefits: How former NC State players fared in Week 1 of the NFL

Package benefits: How former NC State players fared in Week 1 of the NFL

The new NFL season is finally here, as teams around the league kicked off for the first time on Sunday.

There were former NC State players playing throughout the NFL, including a few at home in North Carolina where Ikem Ekwonu made his debut and Jacoby Brissett helped lead the Browns to victory.

While not every Pro Pack started their season on Sunday, with new teammates in Denver Russell Wilson and Bradley Chubb taking on new Seahawk Josh Jones on Monday.

Additionally, a handful of former NC State players are starting their years on practice squads. Those players are Juston Burris (Panthers), Dylan Parham (Broncos), Zonovan Knight (Jets), Vi Jones (Seahawks), Dontae Johnson (49ers) and Larrell Murchison (Titans).

Here’s how all the Pack Pros fared during the first week:

Ikem Ekwonu, Offensive Tackle, Carolina Panthers

In his first NFL game, Ekwonu started at left tackle for the Panthers in a 26-24 loss. Ekwonu struggled at times, but he was also tasked with blocking Myles Garrett — one of the best edge rushers in the NFL — for much of the day.

Kentavius ​​Street, Defensive Tackle, New Orleans Saints

Street had two tackles in New Orleans’ 27-26 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Justin Jones, Defensive Tackle, Chicago Bears

In his first game with the Chicago Bears, Justin Jones started at tackle and had two tackles in a 19-10 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Alim McNeill,  Defensive Tackle, Detroit Lions

McNeill started at tackle and had just one tackle on Sunday in the first game of his second NFL season. The Lions lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35.

James Smith-Williams, Defensive End, Washington Commanders

Smith-Williams started at tight end and had two tackles in Washington’s 28-22 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Joe Thuney, Offensive Guard, Kansas City Chiefs

Thuney started at left guard in Kansas City’s 44-21 drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals.

Garrett Bradbury, Center, Minnesota Vikings

Bradbury started at center in Minnesota’s surprising 23-7 win over the Green Bay Packers.

Starting in place of the suspended Deshaun Watson, Brissett helped lead the Browns to a 26-24 season-opening victory over the Carolina Panthers.

Brissett didn’t light up the stat sheet by any means, but he also didn’t kill the Browns with any turnovers. He went 18-for-34 passing with 147 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, Brissett had four carries for 10 yards.

His lone touchdown came in the second quarter and gave the Browns a 7-0 lead, as Brissett threw it to Kareem Hunt from 1 yard out for the score after pass interference by the Panthers gave Cleveland the ball at the goal line.

first point of the season ??@Kareemhunt7 | #Brown pic.twitter.com/jGEJEC6gvc

With his start on Sunday, Brissett has now appeared in an NFL game in seven consecutive seasons, and has started a game in five different seasons for four different teams.

In the first game of his NFL career, rookie quarterback Trenton Gill had to deal with the worst conditions. The field in Chicago was wet and soggy, as Gill had to pitch in less than ideal conditions.

Still, Gill punted the ball six times and averaged 46.2 yards per punt. He caught a punt inside the 20-yard line, and had a long punt of 58 yards in Chicago’s 19-10 win over San Francisco.

Gill also had one of the most unusual penalties ever called against him. The Bears attempted a field goal and Gill, who is also the Bears’ starter, brought a towel with him to mop up the area where Cairo Santos was hitting. Gill was assessed a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Unsportsmanlike conduct on bear keeper Trenton Gill for drying the ground with a towel ??pic.twitter.com/HiGJ4vNgB2

Meyers has fully established himself as the Patriots’ best receiver, as he had a strong personal season opener in New England’s 20-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Meyers had four catches for 55 yards, leading the Patriots in both categories. He also had an outstanding catch on the line.

This is an incredible punt catch by former NC State wide receiver Jakobi Meyers. Fun to see how his NFL career has developed #PackPros pic.twitter.com/CKDsuCkMrU

Dating back to last year, Meyers has now had 50 or more receiving yards in four straight games.

The Colts opened the 2022-23 season with a 20-20 tie against the Houston Texans, and former NC State running back Nyheim Hines had a productive day in the passing game.

Hines had just three carries for 4 yards, but hauled in six passes from freshman quarterback Matt Ryan for a total of 50 yards. Hines caught all six balls thrown at him, as he showed once again that he is a great pass-catching back even with a new pass thrower.

Hines also returned five punts in the game, averaging 6.2 yards per return with a long of 11 yards.

Hill started at defensive tackle for the Bengals in a wild game that looked more like a college game than an NFL one, as the Pittsburgh Steelers beat Cincinnati 23-20 in overtime which featured more late missed field goals.

Hill had a strong game, finishing with three tackles including the Bengals’ only sack of the game. The sack for Hill, which came early in the third quarter, marks the second year in a row that he has had a sack in Cincinnati’s season opener.

BJ Hill gets credit for a sack as Trubisky goes out of bounds for a 2 yd loss #Steelers 17 #Bengals 14 3rd pic.twitter.com/1Myk4FKc84

Now in his fourth season as a starter at linebacker for the Bengals, Pratt opened his season with an eight-tackle performance in the 23-20 loss to the Steelers.

Those eight tackles included a tackle for loss and a deflected pass, which came on back-to-back plays in a pivotal fourth-quarter drive for the Steelers. Thanks to Pratt, the Bengals forced a Pittsburgh punt to give Cincinnati the ball back with 1:27 to play for a game-tying run.

Cole began the 2022-23 season right where he left off after a Pro Bowl campaign last year, throwing two impressive touchdowns in Las Vegas’ 24-19 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Cole’s two points went 56 and 50 yards, with one pinned inside the 20-yard line.

NC State’s resident Cowboys fan was in action at AT&T for Sunday Night Football, as Wolfpack women’s basketball coach Wes Moore got a chance to cheer on his beloved Cowboys in person.

Opening night. Let’s go Cowboys! ?? pic.twitter.com/ffqzZ3kO2f

Unfortunately for Moore, the Cowboys were outscored 19-3 by Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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