VFL’s in the NFL: Stars, Stats, and Surprises from Week One

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    Tennessee NFL

    Former Tennessee DB Cameron Sutton on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL. Photo via @Steelers on Twitter.

    The NFL season is officially in full swing, and as of Monday night, week one is in the books. Like any other year, several players spread out across the NFL are representing Tennessee in 2021.

    In total, there were 27 former Tennessee Volunteers on NFL rosters when the season started. Eighteen of those players were active in week one, and 17 saw action in their team’s first game.

    Two Tennessee players from the 2020 Volunteers team saw playtime in week one. First, Chargers wide receiver Josh Palmer hauled in a 17-yard catch after having an impressive fall camp. The other, to no one’s surprise, was Chiefs lineman Trey Smith. The former sixth-round pick was a starter on the Chiefs offensive line and played every offensive snap. In addition, Smith did lay down a fundamental block during a Patrick Mahomes touchdown run.

    Several former Tennessee players saw action in a new city to start the season, too. One of which was Falcons running back Cordarelle Patterson, who had a nice game in his Atlanta debut. In addition, Malik Jackson, an NFL veteran since 2012, made his Cleveland debut after playing in Denver for the last two years.

    Two former Tennessee defensive players, one much more recent than the other, both made critical fourth-down stops in their respective games. Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton and Seahawks linebacker Darrell Taylor both had moments on the highlight reel in week one. In the Seahawks game, Taylor had a massive sack on Colts quarterback Carson Wentz on 4th and 1 in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Sutton made a 4th and 1 stop when he took down a Bills running back deep in the backfield after a blitz from the corner.

    Below are the stats from the former Tennessee players who played in an NFL week one game over the weekend. A star next to a player’s name indicates a starting position in the game. Also under the player’s name is a percentage. That number represents the percentage of the total offensive, defensive, or special teams snaps that the player played in for their team. For example, Marquez Callaway played in 84 percent of the Saints’ total offensive snaps on Sunday.

    VFL’s in the NFL – Week 1

    Packers @ Saints

    Marquez Callaway* – NO WR

    • Receiving: 1 reception, 14 yards
    • 84% offensive snaps

    Shy Tuttle – NO DL

    • 2 total tackles
    • 39% defensive snaps, 5% special teams snaps

    Alvin Kamara* – NO RB

    • Rushing: 20 carries, 83 yards, 1 TD
    • Receiving: 3 receptions, 8 yards, 1 TD
    • 73% offensive snaps

    Eagles @ Falcons

    Cordarelle Patterson* – ATL RB

    • Rushing: 7 carries, 54 yards
    • Receiving: 2 receptions, 13 yards
    • One fumble recovery
    • 33% offensive snaps, 42% special teams snaps

    Derek Barnett* – PHI DL

    • 3 total tackles, 1 solo, 1 tackle for loss
    • 46% defensive snaps

    Steelers @ Bills

    Cameron Sutton* – PIT DB

    • 5 total tackles, 5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss
    • 100% defensive snaps, 38% special teams snaps

    Seahawks @ Colts

    Darrell Taylor – SEA LB

    • 2 total tackles, 2 solo tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss
    • 34% defensive snaps, 50% special teams snaps

    49ers @ Lions

    Jalen Reeves-Maybin – DET LB/ST

    • 1 total tackle
    • 4% defensive snaps, 65% special teams snaps

    Jauan Jennings – SF WR

    • 11% offensive snaps, 19% defensive snaps

    Chargers @ Washington Football Team

    Joshua Palmer – LAC WR

    • Receiving: 1 reception, 17 yards
    • 17% offensive snaps

    Browns @ Chiefs

    Trey Smith* – KC OL

    • Provided key block in Patrick Mahomes touchdown run
    • 100% offensive snaps

    Malik Jackson* – CLE DT

    • 3 total tackles, 2 solo tackles
    • 66% defensive snaps

    Broncos @ Giants

    Alexander Johnson* – DEN LB

    • 2 total tackles, 2 solo tackles
    • 84% defensive snaps, 11% special teams snaps

    Dolphins @ Patriots

    Michael Palardy – MIA Punter

    • 4 punts, 180 yards, 1 touchback, 52 long

    Justin Coleman – MIA DB

    • 3% defensive snaps, 24% special teams snaps

    Jakob Johnson – NE FB

    • 11% offensive snaps, 19% special teams snaps

    Cardinals @ Titans

    Morgan Cox – TEN LS

    • 26% special teams snaps
    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.


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