Four of Duke's five players on NFL rosters started and made an impact in the first two weeks of the season. The Blue Zone sums up how all of the Blue Devils in the NFL have fared early in the year.
Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington Redskins
The 5-foot-8 receiver kicked off his second campaign in the NFL with two straight six-reception games. After the first two weeks of the season, Crowder has accounted for 97 total yards and caught an 11-yard touchdown pass against the Cowboys in a 27-23 Week 1 loss. The former Duke standout is now one touchdown reception away from equaling his total from last year.
Pegged to be a secondary option in the Redskins’ receiving core behind DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and first-round draft pick Josh Doctson, Crowder has proved the experts wrong through two weeks. After passing Art Monk last season for most receptions by a rookie Redskins receiver with 59, the Monroe, N.C., native is looking like he will have another productive year in the nation’s capital.
Laken Tomlinson, LG, Detroit Lions
Following a successful rookie season in the Motor City, the 312-pound left guard has had an up-and-down start to 2016. After an impressive first game against the Colts, when he had one of the key blocks that led to an Ameer Abdullah rushing touchdown, Tomlinson had a forgettable second game. In an ugly 16-15 loss at home to the Tennessee Titans, the Chicago native was whistled for multiple penalty flags. In particular, one holding call on Tomlinson led to a touchdown being called back.
One thing that has been consistent with Tomlinson’s play this season has been his spot at the top of the Lions’ depth chart. Through the first two games of the season, the lineman has failed to miss a single snap. Coming off a strong first year, his performance in the loss to Tennessee is an outlier for what to expect from the former first-round pick this season.
Jeremy Cash, LB, Carolina Panthers
After getting a solid amount of playing time in the preseason, the rookie has not been able to register a statistic so far. Cash gained 15 pounds during the offseason to move from safety to linebacker, but the Panthers have struggled to find the right fit for the former ACC Defensive Player of the Year in their defense. The Plantation, Fla., native has yet to take the field for a defensive play and has played 16 snaps on special teams.
Few of the Duke faithful can forget the impact Cash had on the defensive side of the field during his time in Durham. After he worked his way onto a NFL roster as an undrafted free agent, it may be just a matter of time before Cash's work ethic gets him on the field more.
Vincent Rey, LB, Cincinnati Bengals
The most experienced of the current group of Duke players in the NFL, the seventh-year linebacker has started the season on a high note. With 15 total tackles already, Rey continues to prove his role in the starting lineup among the talented Bengals' defensive core.
The Brooklyn, N.Y., native—currently in the first season of a new three-year deal he signed this offseason—has shown through two games why the Bengals made it a priority to sign him at the end of last year. Although he will be disappointed to have lost against division rivals Pittsburgh Steelers—and former Blue Devil Ross Cockrell—in the season opener, expect Rey to continue his consistent success this year.
Ross Cockrell, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers
The third-year cornerback has had a great start to his second season with the Steelers. After a breakout season for Cockrell last year in which he recorded 34 solo tackles, he has already tallied seven total tackles through the first two games of the season. With another two defended passes to add to this season’s statline, the former two-time first-team All-ACC performer has helped the Steelers to a 2-0 start.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.