By Shan Reddy
It was a quiet week for Stanford players in the NFL, with many of the NFL’s former Cardinal players on byes during Week 7, including the Pittsburgh Steelers’ David DeCastro and the Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey. Usual contributors like the Philadelphia Eagles’ Zach Ertz and San Francisco 49ers’ Richard Sherman had quiet games, showing up when called upon but not providing any highlight plays or a notable stat line.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper continued his streak of excellent play this past week with another strong performance against the Los Angeles Rams. Though Atlanta fell in a 37-10 rout, Hooper caught four passes for 46 yards and scored the team’s only touchdown of the game. Hooper leads all NFL tight ends in receptions with 46 and has been Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s most reliable receiving option this year. He’s on pace to hit over 1,200 receiving yards on the year, a mark that would give Hooper the franchise record for single-season receiving yards by a tight end.
Hooper is not the only Stanford grad on pace to break franchise records for his NFL team; Green Bay Packers middle linebacker Blake Martinez has been on a tear, racking up more tackles than any other player in the NFL over the past seven weeks. His 76 combined tackles and 48 solo tackles both lead the league; this past Sunday the former fourth-round pick racked up a league-leading and career-high 16 tackles against the Oakland Raiders.
Martinez’s tackle of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr towards the end of the first half was the turning point of the game; the Raiders had surged down the field and were on the goal line, just about to score to regain the lead, when Martinez knocked the ball from Carr’s outstretched arm. Carr was originally called out of bounds, but after review, he was determined to have fumbled the ball out of bounds in the end zone, resulting in a touchback for the Packers. Green Bay would go on to outscore the Raiders 28-14 over the remainder of the game.
“I think everybody has big plays throughout the game,” Martinez said. “That was one of those plays that I wanted to make for the team. It helped us get a score right before half.”
The former All-Pac-12 First-Team selection is on pace to break a Packers single-season franchise record for combined tackles with 174, a mark solidly beating out his back-to-back 144-tackle seasons in 2017 and 2018. He’ll be more needed than ever as Green Bay heads to Kansas City to take on a AFC-West-leading Chiefs team that boasts one of the top offenses in the NFL.
Former Heisman contender Christian McCaffrey will return next week against an undefeated 49ers team boasting an NFL-leading three Stanford alumni in tight end Levine Toilolo, defensive end Solomon Thomas, and cornerback Richard Sherman.
Contact Shan Reddy at rsreddy ‘at’ stanford.edu.