Across the Shield: Michael Thomas Shines in Rookie Debut, Terrelle Pryor Mosses the Eagles & Mike Nugent Hits a Game Winner

By Kevin Harrish on September 12, 2016 at 10:10 am
Michael Thomas shines in his NFL debut.
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Once a Buckeye, always a Buckeye. Across the Shield follows those who once wore Scarlet and Gray on their journeys through the NFL.

Can't Guard Mike

Michael Thomas had perhaps the most impressive NFL debut of all the former Buckeyes. Thomas made his first career start in his debut and caught literally everything thrown his way.

His injury status was in question entering the weekend, as he had an injured ankle, but Thomas finished the game with six targets and six catches for 58 yards with a key fumble recovery.

Not bad for an NFL debut.

Marshall Plan

A week after surviving cuts and making an NFL roster, Jalin Marshall found himself returning kickoffs for the New York Jets – and he did it well.

Marshall showed off his speed and shiftiness Sunday in his NFL debut, returning a kickoff 65-yards.

Marshall totaled 110 yards on kick returns and added 11 more on punt returns, and seems to be catching the attention of Jets fans.

From Luis Tirado Jr. at The Jet Express:

At the rate Marshall is going, he’s going to easily be a household name this season and finally make the Jets’ special teams formidable.

Once he gets acclimated to how to be a consistent receiving target on offense, Marshall will be an x-factor all  across the board.

From undrafted to x-factor – I like the sound of that.


Mike Nugent kicked roughly 48 game winners in his Buckeye career, so it should shock nobody that he's doing the same thing in the NFL.

In a week where missed field goals became the storylines, the former Buckeye had no problems with his game-winner. Nugent drilled a 47-yarder with with 54 seconds left on the clock to give the Bengals 23-22 win over the Jets in their season opener.

“I’d be lying if I said there [wasn’t] excitement and a little bit of nerves here and there,” Nugent told the New York Post. “I’m probably done with the game if that ever goes away.”

Nugent was 3 for 4 kicking on the day, but he hit the one that counted.

Elliott Finds Paydirt

Ezekiel Elliott had a relatively slow start, Sunday. The fourth overall pick struggled to get anything going in the first half, primarily due to virtually no push from his offensive line. 

In the second half, however, the former Buckeye found a familiar place in Jerry World – the endzone. Elliott weaved through the Giants' defense and dove across the goal-line to score his first NFL touchdown.

Zeke scores first NFL touchdown.

Elliott led Dallas in rushing with 20 carries for 50 yards, and caught one pass for one yard. 

Overall, it was a nice debut, but you have to think the Cowboys will want to see more production out of their newest toy as the season progresses.

Play of the Week

This week, the Factory of Sadness provided us a brief moment of ecstasy as former Buckeye quarterback mossed the Eagles secondary for a 44 yard reception.

Pryor appears to be the Browns' top receiving threat and got a lot of targets in week one, so there's a solid chance he'll be a regular on the highlight reel (assuming there is still somebody on the team to toss the ball in his general area).

Ohio Against the World

For the first time in as long as I can remember, an entire fantasy team can be filled using only former Buckeyes.

Of course, not all these players start or really even contribute, but it got me thinking – what if I only drafted former Ohio State players? Could I win a game? Could I finish better than last? Could I make the playoffs?

So, I got a few friends together and offered them to join a league, on the condition that they did not draft Ohio State players. I wanted to make sure they were trying to win, so I set a prize of $50 for the winner.

Here's how I did in my first matchup:

Ohio vs. the world

There are obvious problems – unless both Tyrod Taylor and E.J. Manuel go down, I can expect a zero from the quarterback position every week. It will also be a struggle to get points at tight end as both Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett will be used primarily for blocking, and I have no backup for Mike Nugent.

All in all, though, I'm optimistic. I have to bona fide starters at receiver in Michael Thomas and Terrelle Pryor with Braxton Miller and Ted Ginn Jr. as solid flex options. I also have two top running backs in Ezekiel Elliott and Carlos Hyde as well as a solid kicker.

If the stars align, I don't think it's totally unrealistic to think I can win a game – but it sure did not happen in week one.

Buckeyes in the NFL: Week One
Player Position Team Stats
Cardale Jones QB Buffalo Bills DNP
Adolphus Washington DT Buffalo Bills Played, did not record stats
Philly Brown WR Carolina Panthers 1 catch for 11 yards
Kurt Coleman S Carolina Panthers Three total tackles
Ted Ginn Jr. WR Carolina Panthers 1 catch for five yards, one rush for 20 yards
Andrew Norwell OL Carolina Panthers Started
Mike Adams OL Chicago Bears DNP
Mike Nugent K Cincinnati Bengals 3 for 4 on field goals, kicked a game winner
Terrelle Pryor WR Cleveland Browns Three catches for 68 yards
Ezekiel Elliott RB Dallas Cowboys 20 Carries for 51 yards and a touchdown, one catch for one yard
Rod Smith RB Dallas Cowboys DNP
Jeff Heuerman TE Denver Broncos DNP
Bradley Roby CB Denver Broncos Five total tackles
Taylor Decker OL Detroit Lions Started in NFL debut
Corey Linsley *** OL Green Bay Packers DNP
Braxton Miller WR Houston Texans One catch for six yards
John Simon LB Houston Texans Six total tackles, one sack
Jack Mewhort *** OL Indianapolis Colts Started
Michael Bennett *** DT Jacksonville Jaguars DNP
Jake McQuaide LS Los Angeles Rams Started
Alex Boone OL Minnesota Vikings Started
Nate Ebner DB New England Patriots One total tackle
Vonn Bell S New Orleans Saints Played, did not record stats
James Laurinaitis LB New Orleans Saints Seven total tackles
Michael Thomas WR New Orleans Saints Six catches for 58 yards
Eli Apple CB New York Giants Four total tackles
Johnathan Hankins DT New York Giants Five total tackles
Darron Lee LB New York Jets Six total tackles
Nick Mangold C New York Jets Started
Jalin Marshall WR New York Jets 110 yards on kick return, 10 yards on punt return
Devin Smith *** WR New York Jets DNP
Malcolm Jenkins S Philadelphia Eagles One total tackle
Cameron Heyward DE Pittsburgh Steelers Monday Night
Ryan Shazier LB Pittsburgh Steelers Monday Night
Joey Bosa DE San Diego Chargers DNP
Joshua Perry LB San Diego Chargers Played, did not record stats
Carlos Hyde RB San Francisco 49ers Monday Night
Tyvis Powell S Seattle Seahawks One total tackle
Nick Vannett TE Seattle Seahawks DNP

***Player listed as "Injured/Physically Unable to Perform" to start the season

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