For much of America, it is like experiencing Christmas morning in September.
Week 1 of the NFL season can conjure the same emotions in adults they first experienced as children, and for fans of the Arizona State football program there were a few alums who starred on Saturdays and now appear to be displaying their talents on Sundays as well.
Here’s a quick look at how some notable former Sun Devils performed in Week 1.
Eno Benjamin - RB - Arizona Cardinals
Only Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray ran for more yards than Benjamin in the Cardinals first game. That isn’t saying too much, however, as the real estate was tough to come by on the ground all afternoon for the Cardinals in a 44-21 loss at home to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Benjamin finished with 28 yards on four carries. Similar to his dynamic abilities as a Sun Devil, he was also a threat as a pass-catcher, where he caught three of his four targets for 33 yards.
The best play of the day for Benjamin was his last touch. He took a swing pass from Murray and scurried past a defender to pick up 22 yards and set Arizona up with a 1st & Goal.
All of Eno Benjamin’s Week 1 touches. pic.twitter.com/9RgVOH1TA8— Zareh Kantzabedian (@ZKantzFF) September 13, 2022
This is all very encouraging stuff for Benjamin. His role was expected to increase this season with the departure of Chase Edmonds to Miami, and Benjamin proved Sunday he can be a nice complement to RB1 James Conner in Arizona.
Rachaad White - RB - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While the game between the Buccaneers and the Cowboys wasn’t very entertaining, it was a cool moment for Sun Devil fans when Rachaad White checked in the game and lined up in the shotgun formation, flanking Tom Brady.
Brady obviously has little to no input as to who Tampa Bay selects in the NFL Draft, but this selection of White was clearly made with Brady in mind. The legendary quarterback loves versatile running backs who can run routes and catch passes. That is White to a T.
Outside of established veteran Leonard Fournette, nobody touched the rock as much as White. The rookie caught two passes and ran the ball six times for 21 total yards.
An inauspicious debut, but one where White was on the field for over 25% of the snaps. In a notable twist, reports from Bucs world are that Fournette may have injured his hamstring last Sunday. White could be in line for an increased role against the Saints.
Fournette being listed with a hamstring is concerning, but he wasn’t even held out today, which suggests it isn’t that significant. https://t.co/b4lyl1IIHw— Greg Auman (@gregauman) September 14, 2022
Brandon Aiyuk - WR - San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers grappled with offensive struggles and nearly impossible challenges from the elements all day, but Brandon Aiyuk still managed to produce in a losing effort for San Francisco.
Aiyuk caught four of his seven targets for 45 yards. His longest catch of the day went for 23 yards early in the contest.
This game was won by Chicago, but the 49ers passing attack was completely neutralized in the fourth quarter in the midst of a torrential downpour. Receivers just aren’t going to perform well when the field looks like a wet airport tarmac.
Current view of Lake Michigan… pic.twitter.com/RKTj59y5i8— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) September 11, 2022
Unfortunately for the 49ers, rain is the forecast again this weekend. But with top running back Elijah Mitchell out for several weeks, Aiyuk’s role could increase even more in this offense.
Some scribbles on some others....
- Zane Gonzalez, the placekicker for the Carolina Panthers in 2020 and 2021 , suffered a season-ending groin injury in August.
- Darien Butler impressed his coaching staff during camp. While Butler didn’t see the field in Week 1, he may get the start in Week 2 as starting LB Denzel Perryman is listed as “questionable” for the game against Arizona.
- D.J. Davidson played in spurts for the New York Giants and recorded two tackles (one solo) in a close win over the Tennessee Titans.
- Chase Lucas (Lions) and Curtis Hodges (Commanders) did not see action on Sunday.
- Lastly, N’Keal Harry’s timeline for his ankle injury continues to track for around an early November return to the Chicago Bears offense.