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Stanford in the NFL: Stanford alumni struggle in slow week

Stanford alumnus Coby Fleener scored two touchdowns for the New Orleans Saints, one on the ground and one on a 50-yard reception, highlighting a strong group of Stanford alumni making gains over the air in NFL Week 6 action. (JIM SHORIN/isiphotos.com)

Week 7 was a slow week for Stanford alumni in the NFL, with many limited and mediocre performances on display this past weekend. Tight ends Zach Ertz ’13 and Coby Fleener ’12 made some of the biggest marks, but the Indianapolis Colts struggled in their loss to the New Orleans Saints, due in part to turnovers by quarterback Andrew Luck ’12 and wide receiver and return specialist Griff Whalen ’12.

STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 12, 2011: Coby Fleener during the Stanford Cardinal 53-30 loss to Oregon.
Stanford alumnus Coby Fleener ’12 (above) had a strong game against the Saints while the rest of the Colts struggled, recording 3 receptions for a total of 47 yards (JIM SHORIN/stanfordphoto.com)

Miami safety Michael Thomas ’12 had the strongest week on defense, recording 6 combined tackles in the Dolphins’ 44-26 drubbing of the Houston Texans. Offensively, Philadelphia tight end Ertz put up the most yardage, with 5 receptions for 63 yards in the Eagles’ loss to the undefeated Carolina Panthers, his most productive night this season.

Meanwhile, Luck and the other four Cardinal on the Colts combined for a less-than-stellar showing. Indianapolis was stymied early on, going into halftime down 20-0. Despite a second-half rally, the team lost 27-21.

Luck started out slowly, opening the game with five straight incomplete passes for the first time in his career. He finished the night with a 52.3 completion percentage while throwing 2 interceptions. Luck went on to pass for 3 touchdowns, all of which came in the second half.

Despite catching only 3 passes for 47 yards, tight end Fleener was the second-most productive target for the Colts, behind wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. His longest catch was for 27 yards on a last-minute 80-yard touchdown drive that brought the score within six.

After last week’s special teams debacle, Whalen did little to redeem himself. He managed to net 129 punt and kick return yards but fumbled three times, although only one was recovered by the Saints.

Colts defensive tackles Henry Anderson ’15 and David Parry ’15 — third- and fifth-round draft picks this year — recorded 1 and 2 tackles, respectively.

In San Francisco Thursday night, 49ers linebacker Shayne Skov ’14 took the field against his former teammates, Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin ’11 and cornerback Richard Sherman ’10, registering 1 total tackle in what quickly became a 20-3 rout by Seattle.

Baldwin had a limited impact as well, seeing only 2 receptions for 19 yards. Sherman made his presence felt with his coverage of 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith, who saw no targets on the night. Sherman also recorded 3 combined tackles.

The Stanford connection triumphed in spite of the final score, and Skov and Baldwin embraced and exchanged jerseys on the field after the game.

Another pair of former teammates faced off when the Jets played the Patriots in New England on Sunday. Jets wide receiver Chris Owusu ’12 had 2 receptions for 25 yards but made the most impact on special teams, taking 2 kick returns for a total of 58 yards. Patriots defensive back Jordan Richards ’15 tied his career high with 2 total tackles, one of which came against Owusu, limiting his kick return to 28 yards.

Next week, former Stanford players hope to make a bigger mark in the NFL. Luck and the struggling Colts will seek success against the undefeated Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football, and the undefeated Green Bay Packers face the similarly unbeaten Denver Broncos. Keep a hopeful eye on the status of Packers wide receiver Ty Montgomery ’15 as he seeks to return from a Week 6 high ankle sprain. With some exciting matchups, big plays are bound to happen in Week 8.

 

Contact Olivia Hummer at ohummer ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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