Across The Shield: Chris Olave Tops 100 Yards Again, C.J. Stroud Leads Texans to Another Win and Jaxon Smith-Njigba Makes Career-High Seven Catches

By Dan Hope on December 5, 2023 at 10:10 am
Chris Olave vs. Lions
Stephen Lew – USA TODAY Sports

Chris Olave topped 100 yards for the second week in a row in the New Orleans Saints’ loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

After catching seven passes for 114 yards in Week 12 against the Atlanta Falcons, the former Ohio State wide receiver made five receptions for 119 yards against the Lions, totaling nearly 45% of his team’s receiving yardage in their 33-28 loss. 

Olave had four catches of more than 20 yards in the game, including an impressive 33-yard catch that likely would have been a touchdown had it not come on an underthrown pass by Derek Carr, as well as a 30-yard reception off of a Jameis Winston pass tipped by a Detroit defender.

Overall, it was the fourth 100-yard game of the season for Olave, who has now 68 passes for 890 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games. He currently ranks 13th in the NFL in total receiving yards this season.

Although his performance on Sunday wasn’t enough to lead the Saints to a win, it was enough to earn our Pro Buck of the Week award as Ohio State’s top NFL performer of Week 13. He becomes the second Buckeye to win the award two times this season, joining his former Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud.

Pro Bucks of the Week
Week Player Stats
Week 1 Saints CB Marshon Lattimore 1 INT, 3 PBU, 2 tackles
Week 2 Texans QB C.J. Stroud 30-47 passing, 384 yards, 2 TD
Week 3 Saints WR Chris Olave 8 catches, 104 yards
Week 4 Broncos OLB Jonathon Cooper 5 tackles, 1 sack, 2 QB hits, 35-yard fumble return TD
Week 5 Bears QB Justin Fields 15-29 passing, 282 yards, 4 TD; 11 carries, 57 yards
Week 6 Bengals DE Sam Hubbard 7 tackles, 1 sack, 5 QB hits
Week 7 Dolphins LB Jerome Baker 11 tackles, 1 TFL, 22-yard interception return TD
Week 8 Broncos OLB Baron Browning 4 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 QB hits, 1 FF
Week 9 Texans QB C.J. Stroud 30-42 passing, 470 yards, 5 TD; 10 rushing yards
Week 10 Texans WR Noah Brown 7 catches, 172 yards
Week 11 Alouettes WR Austin Mack 6 catches, 103 yards, 1 TD in Grey Cup win
Week 12 Rams S Jordan Fuller 4 PBU, 3 tackles
Week 13 Saints WR Chris Olave 5 catches, 119 yards

Stroud leads Texans to another win

Speaking of Stroud, it was another successful week for the soon-to-be NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

Fresh off of earning AFC Offensive Player of the Month honors for November, Stroud continued his strong play into his first game of December as he completed 16 of 27 passes for 274 yards and a touchdown to lead the Houston Texans to a 22-17 win over the Denver Broncos in a battle of two teams battling for a playoff berth.

Stroud spent much of the day linking up with former Michigan wide receiver Nico Collins, connecting with Collins on passes of 59 and 52 yards while also throwing his only touchdown pass of the day to Collins from three yards out.

Under pressure from fellow Buckeye product Baron Browning, Stroud made another impressive throw when he lobbed a pass off his back foot to Texans tight end Brevin Jordan that went for a first down.

Stroud was strip-sacked in the second quarter by his former Ohio State teammate Jonathon Cooper, who recorded seven tackles for the Broncos in defeat, but the sack and forced fumble did not end up counting in the box score due to a Texans penalty that was accepted after Houston recovered the fumble.

Stroud has now thrown for 3,540 yards this season, the third-most ever for an NFL quarterback in his first 12 games behind only Patrick Mahomes (3,912) and Andrew Luck (3,596).

He currently leads the entire NFL in passing yards for the 2023 season, becoming the first rookie since 1939 to lead the league in passing yards at the end of an NFL week. His 20 passing touchdowns are a single-season rookie record for the Texans and the most ever thrown by a former Ohio State quarterback in a single NFL season.

With Stroud leading the way, the Texans are now 7-5, putting them in a four-way tie atop the AFC Wild Card race with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts.

Smith-Njigba snags career-high seven catches

After a slow start to his NFL career, Jaxon Smith-Njigba has gradually become a more consistent factor in the Seattle Seahawks’ offense over the course of his rookie season. In their Thursday night loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Smith-Njigba caught seven passes – his most so far in an NFL game – for 62 yards, just one yard off of his early career-high.

Three of his catches went for third-down conversions. He also nearly made what would have been an impressive 30-yard touchdown catch – it was overturned after officials ruled upon replay review that the ball hit the ground – but Smith-Njigba still drew defensive pass interference to set up a 1-yard touchdown run for the Seahawks on their next play.

Smith-Njigba has now caught 45 passes for 468 yards and two touchdowns 12 games into his NFL career.

Baker suffers MCL sprain

When Jerome Baker went down with a knee injury in the Miami Dolphins’ win over the Washington Commanders on Sunday, there initially looked to be reason to fear a season-ending injury. The Dolphins quickly ruled him out for the game after he was taken out by his own teammate, Brandon Jones, while trying to chase down fellow Ohio State product Curtis Samuel to prevent a touchdown after a deep catch.

Fortunately, Baker was only diagnosed with an MCL sprain and his status is considered to be week-to-week, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Baker said in a tweet of his own on Sunday that he will “be back sooner than you think.”

Samuel ended up with four catches for 65 yards in the Commanders’ 45-15 loss.

Quick Hits

  • Johnathan Hankins recorded his third sack in two weeks after recording zero sacks in the Cowboys’ first 10 games of the season. He recorded four total tackles in their 41-35 win and served as one of Dallas’ game captains.
  • Playing on Monday Night Football in his second game back from an ankle injury, Sam Hubbard recorded his fifth sack of the season in the Cincinnati Bengals’ 34-31 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • Nick Bosa had at least eight quarterback pressures for the third week in a row as he was credited with eight hurries by Pro Football Focus. He also had six tackles, including one tackle for loss.
  • Garrett Wilson and Jeremy Ruckert had to pay off a bet to New York Jets team reporter Caroline Hendershot, a former Michigan rower, by wearing Michigan gear at the team facility on Friday after Ohio State’s loss to Michigan two weekends ago.
  • Cameron Heyward signed a football for Gene Smith’s grandsons after they watched him and the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
  • Players throughout the NFL participated in the league’s annual “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign during Week 13 to raise awareness for charitable organizations. Cleats highlighted by the NFL’s official social media accounts included Paris Johnson Jr.’s cleats, which highlighted the efforts of his own foundation and the Pat Tillman Foundation to support military veterans, and Stroud’s cleats, which advocated for prison reform.
  • Cameron Heyward and Terry McLaurin are both among this year’s 32 nominees for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award. Heyward has been nominated for the sixth time.

Statistics for every former Ohio State player from Week 13 and for the entire 2023 NFL season can be found in the table below compiled by Eleven Warriors researcher Matt Gutridge. (Note: The table only includes players who finished their college careers at Ohio State.)

Buckeyes Around the NFL
ELI APPLE CB DOLPHINS Inactive 31 tackles, 1 QB hit, 6 PD
JEROME BAKER LB DOLPHINS 4 tackles 68 tackles, 1.5 sacks (0 yards), 2 TFL, 4 QB hits, 2 INT, 3 PD, 1 TD
VONN BELL S PANTHERS Inactive 47 tackles, 1 QB hit 1 INT, 2 PD
JOEY BOSA OLB CHARGERS Injured reserve (foot) 20 tackles, 6.5 sacks (59 yards), 6 TFL, 8 QB hits, 1 PD, 1 FF, 1 FR
NICK BOSA DE 49ERS 6 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 QB hit 38 tackles, 7.5 sacks (54 yards), 9 TFL, 30 QB hits, 2 PD, 1 FF, 1 FR
NOAH BROWN WR TEXANS Started at WR 21 catches, 439 yards, 1 TD
BARON BROWNING OLB BRONCOS 2 tackles, 0.5 sack (1.5 yards), 1 QB hit 15 tackles, 3.5 sacks (22.5 yards), 3 TFL, 6 QB hits, 1 PD, 2 FF
PARRIS CAMPBELL WR GIANTS Bye 20 catches, 104 yards; 8 KR, 191 yards
JONATHON COOPER OLB BRONCOS 7 tackles 58 tackles, 5.5 sacks (42.5 yards), 1 FF, 5 TFL, 10 QB hits, 1 PD, 2 FR, 1 TD
TAYLOR DECKER OT LIONS Started at LT 10 starts at LT
J.K. DOBBINS RB RAVENS Injured reserve (Achilles) 8 carries, 22 yards, 1 TD
EZEKIEL ELLIOTT RB PATRIOTS 17 carries, 52 yards; 4 catches, 40 yards 112 carries, 429 yards, 2 TD; 24 catches, 154 yards
LUKE FARRELL TE JAGUARS 1 catch, 9 yards 11 catches, 120 yards
JUSTIN FIELDS QB BEARS Bye 143/202 passing, 1,587 yards, 12 TD, 6 INT; 77 carries, 400 yards, 1 TD
JORDAN FULLER S RAMS 6 tackles 73 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 6 PD, 3 FF
DaVON HAMILTON DT JAGUARS 1 tackle 2 tackles
JOHNATHAN HANKINS DT COWBOYS 4 tackles, 1 sack (0 yards), 1 QB hit 26 tackles, 3 sacks, (18 yards), 2 TFL, 3 QB hits, 2 PD
MALIK HARRISON LB RAVENS Bye 18 tackles, 1 QB hit
ZACH HARRISON DE FALCONS 1 QB hit 20 tackles, 1 QB hit
CAMERON HEYWARD DT STEELERS 1 tackle 19 tackles, 1 sack (6 yards), 4 TFL, 2 QB hits
RONNIE HICKMAN S BROWNS Played at S 5 tackles
MALIK HOOKER S COWBOYS 1 tackle 43 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PD, 1 FF
SAM HUBBARD DE BENGALS 3 tackles, 1 sack (7 yards), 1 TFL, 1 QB hit 45 tackles, 5 sacks (31 yards), 6 TFL, 14 QB hits, 1 FR
JONAH JACKSON OG LIONS Started at LG 7 starts at LG
PARIS JOHNSON JR. OL CARDINALS Started at RT 13 starts at RT
CAMERON JOHNSTON P TEXANS 7 punts, 50.6 average, 2 inside 20 37 punts, 47.1 average, 16 inside 20
DAWAND JONES OT BROWNS Started at RT 9 starts at RT, 11 games played
DRE'MONT JONES DE SEAHAWKS 4 tackles 29 tackles, 2.5 sacks (13 yards), 4 TFL, 9 QB hits
MARSHON LATTIMORE CB SAINTS Injured reserve (ankle) 48 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 INT, 8 PD
TYQUAN LEWIS DE COLTS 3 tackles, 1 TFL 19 tackles, 3 sacks (19.5 yards) 5 TFL, 9 QB hits, 3 PD
COREY LINSLEY C CHARGERS Non-football illness (heart) 3 starts at C
TANNER McCALISTER FS BROWNS Practice squad 1 game played
LIAM McCULLOUGH LS FALCONS Played at LS 1 tackle, 11 games played at LS
TERRY McLAURIN WR COMMANDERS Started at WR 60 receptions, 694 yards, 2 TD, 1 FR TD
JAKE McQUAIDE LS LIONS 1 tackle, played at LS 1 tackle, 4 games played at LS
THAYER MUNFORD OT RAIDERS Bye 6 starts, 11 games played
JOSH MYERS C PACKERS Started at C 12 games started at C
JEFF OKUDAH CB FALCONS 5 tackles 41 tackles, 1 TFL, 4 PD
CHRIS OLAVE WR SAINTS 5 catches, 119 yards 71 catches, 890 yards, 3 TD
NICHOLAS PETIT-FRERE OT TITANS Injured reserve (shoulder) 2 starts at OT, 3 games played
ISAIAH PRINCE OT FALCONS Released 2 games played
BRADLEY ROBY CB EAGLES 2 tackles 12 tackles, 1 QB hit, 1 FF
JEREMY RUCKERT TE JETS 1 catch, 12 yards 11 catches, 98 yards
CURTIS SAMUEL WR COMMANDERS 4 catches, 65 yards 51 catches, 508 yards, 2 TD; 4 carries, 20 yards, 1 TD
TREY SERMON RB COLTS Played at RB 8 carries, 24 yards
KENDALL SHEFFIELD CB 49ERS Released 4 tackles, 1 TFL
TYREKE SMITH LB SEAHAWKS Practice squad 1 tackle
JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA WR SEAHAWKS 7 catches, 62 yards 45 catches, 468 yards, 2 TD
C.J. STROUD QB TEXANS 16/27 passing, 274 yards, 1 TD; 6 carries, 11 yards 265/418 passing, 3,540 yards, 20 TD, 5 INT; 35 carries, 143 yards, 3 TD
MICHAEL THOMAS WR SAINTS Injured reserve (knee) 39 catches, 448 yards, 1 TD
NICK VANNETT TE CHARGERS Inactive 1 start at TE, 3 games played
SHAUN WADE CB PATRIOTS Played on special teams 16 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PD
DENZEL WARD CB BROWNS Inactive 29 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 INT, 10 PD, 1 FF
PETE WERNER LB SAINTS Inactive 68 tackles, 0.5 sacks (4 yards), 1 TFL, 1 QB hit, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 FR
GARRETT WILSON WR JETS 3 catches, 50 yards 67 catches, 745 yards, 3 TD; 1 carry, 6 yards; 0/1 passing
LUKE WYPLER C BROWNS Inactive 3 games played
CHASE YOUNG DE 49ERS 1 QB hit 19 tackles, 6.5 sacks (45.5 yards), 7 TFL, 13 QB hits, 1 PD
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