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Stanford in the NFL: Former Cardinal see first action as season kicks off

NFL rookie Blake Martinez got the start at inside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers in Week 1. The Stanford alum gave a strong performance and had the additional honor of wearing the helmet headset, making him the on-field play caller for the defense. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Stanford’s alumni made their mark in Week 1 of NFL play. Despite injury concerns sidelining several players, the majority of former Cardinal saw playing time this past weekend, including high-caliber performances from quarterback Andrew Luck, wide receiver Doug Baldwin and linebacker Blake Martinez.

Martinez had a big role to play for Green Bay this weekend. Not only did the rookie get the start at inside linebacker, he wore the helmet headset, calling plays for the defense on the field. Martinez made his mark early, recording his first NFL tackle on just the second play of the game. He finished his night with 5 solo tackles and 1 assist.

Other Cardinal rookies saw limited playing time. Falcons tight end Austin Hooper primarily spent time on special teams, although he caught one 14-yard pass in the third quarter, his only target of the game. Joshua Garnett, Kyle Murphy and Brennan Scarlett were healthy scratches, with the chance to earn playing time as the season continues and positions solidify.

After spending much of last season sidelined with injuries, Andrew Luck returned to his starting role at the center of the Indianapolis Colts offense. Despite seeing limited practice time due to concern over a lingering shoulder injury, the fifth-year veteran looked to be at the top of his game Sunday night, going 31-for-47 for 385 yards and 4 touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, David Parry got the start for the Colts, finishing the night with 1 solo tackle. Henry Anderson, the other half of Stanford’s defensive tackle duo, sat out the game as he continues to rehab from the torn ACL he sustained last season. Anderson’s injury has healed well, but the Colts determined he needed more time to get back into football form.

In Seattle, another Stanford pair made their presence known with strong performances on offense and defense. Doug Baldwin has evolved into one of Russell Wilson’s favorite targets, leading the Seahawks with 9 receptions on 11 targets for 92 yards. He also caught the game-winning touchdown with just 31 seconds left on the clock. Cornerback Richard Sherman added to his long resume, playing every defensive snap for Seattle and coming away with 3 combined tackles.

Another Stanford grad was tasked with stopping the Seahawks. Miami Marlins safety and newly anointed special teams captain Michael Thomas got the start in Seattle on Sunday, ending his night with both a defensive tackle and a special teams tackle.

In his Saints debut, tight end Coby Fleener went 1-for-4 but saw significant playing time, coming in on 81 percent of offensive snaps. In Philadelphia, Zach Ertz, another Tight End U product, was targeted 7 times, making 6 grabs for 58 yards, including an incredible one-handed catch for 15 yards. Unfortunately, Ertz was injured in the game and is now listed as week-to-week with a rib displacement in the collarbone area.

In other injury news, Buffalo Bills tight end Jim Dray got the start on Sunday but was soon sidelined as he re-aggravated a preseason ankle injury. His status is questionable.


Contact Olivia Hummer at ohummer ‘at’

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