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Duke in the NFL: Daniel Jones debuts, but Jamison Crowder steals the show

Daniel Jones rode the bench for most of the Giants' season opener but trotted onto the field late in the fourth quarter.
Daniel Jones rode the bench for most of the Giants' season opener but trotted onto the field late in the fourth quarter.

The NFL's first week held a special significance for two former Blue Devils, especially debutant Daniel Jones. Survey some former Dukies' NFL Week One with the Blue Zone.

Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants

Giants owner John Mara said in August that he hopes Jones “never sees the field” as a rookie, so it came as a surprise to many to see Jones take the field in the first game of the 2019 season. Late in the Cowboys' beatdown of the Giants, New York head coach Pat Shurmur saw an opportunity to get the sixth overall draft pick some real playing time.

The rookie made his debut with 1:46 left on the clock in the fourth quarter. Jones worked efficiently with the short time he had, dropping back for passes four times, of which he completed three for a grand total of 17 yards. He did, however, fumble the ball on the final play of the game while fighting for a first down. The play ultimately did not matter, but it was not a pretty look for the controversial former Blue Devil. Jones will have to keep working in practice behind veteran Eli Manning if he wants to see the field again this season. The Giants will face off against the 1-0 Bills next week. 

Jamison Crowder, WR, New York Jets

After four years struggling on the Washington Redskins, Crowder made a splash in the first game with his new team Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. Young Jets quarterback Sam Darnold showed a visible connection with Crowder as they connected on 14 passes on 17 attempts—by far the highest reception count on the team. Crowder racked up 103 yards from scrimmage, outpacing even new addition Le’Veon Bell.

Crowder's efforts came in the face of a 17-16 loss. The Jets will face a challenge in Week Two against another growing team: the Cleveland Browns. Crowder and Darnold seem to have a dynamic receiver-quarterback connection that will certainly play a defining factor throughout the season. As the Jets' offense finds a groove, it will be interesting to see how their relationship grows.

Matt Skura, C, Baltimore Ravens

The third-year center's offensive line was part of a Week One campaign so dominant, several opposing players requested trades afterward. The Ravens beat down on the Miami Dolphins behind an offensive onslaught from second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson was sacked only once over the course of the entire game and beyond that felt little to no pressure. Jackson had seemingly all day to throw throughout the game. Skura's offensive line also opened up wide lanes for new running back Mark Ingram II, who rushed for 7.6 yards per carry on the day. 

Laken Tomlinson, G, San Francisco 49ers

Tomlinson started at left guard for the 49ers in their 31-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It wasn't a very offense-heavy game—the winning 49ers only put up 166 passing yards and 98 rushing yards. Still, the offensive line did its job, only allowing one sack. Tomlinson reaffirmed his ability to play a heavy snap count and defend the 49ers' centerpiece, Jimmy Garoppolo, who tore his ACL last season. Tomlinson may see a new challenge next week facing two-time All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins of the Cincinnati Bengals, but if the 49ers' offensive line looks anything like they did this week, pressure won’t be an issue.