After an eventful Week 2 across the NFL, the Blue Zone takes a look at former Duke football standouts making an impact in the professional ranks:
Victor Dimukeje, OLB Arizona Cardinals
After a slow defensive Week 1 start against the Commanders, outside linebacker Victor Dimukeje and the Cardinals defense came out and performed an absolutely dominant first half against the Giants. Although playing primarily on special teams in his first two seasons with Arizona, Dimukeje has slowly established his place in the Cardinals defense and contributed heavily to the first-half shutout against the Giants by stifling Saquon Barkley’s usually explosive run game and sacking quarterback Daniel Jones, his former teammate at Duke. But after halftime, the Cardinals’ newfound defensive prowess ended. They allowed 24 unanswered points, ending in a miracle comeback for the Giants. Looking to next week’s matchup against an increasingly confident Dallas offense, Dimukeje and the Cardinals will look to exploit the Cowboys’ banged up offensive line and lay the pressure on quarterback Dak Prescott.
Daniel Jones, QB New York Giants
Jones and the Giants came into Sunday afternoon’s game against the Cardinals desperately needing an offensive spark after their scoreless Week 1 game against the Cowboys. Following a disappointing first half, with an interception and two sacks, it looked as though Jones and New York would leave Week 2 as scoreless as they entered it. However, the former Blue Devil returned to what has made him successful in the past: making plays with his legs and rushing for a touchdown in the Giants’ opening second-half drive. This rushing touchdown by Jones provided New York the spark it had been searching for. After this touchdown, the Charlotte native led his team to a thrilling second-half comeback win over the Cardinals sealed by Graham Gano’s 34-yard field goal. With 26-of-37 pass attempts and 321 passing yards, Jones redeemed himself from his subpar Week 1 performance and stepped up for his team when many had already begun to question whether or not he deserved his recent $160 million contract extension.
Still, going into Week 3, Jones and the Giants leave many questions unanswered. With 10 sacks given up, the efficiency of the offensive line remains in doubt, and Jones still showed signs of the poor decision making that proved to be his downfall in Week 1. Jones has two proven keys to his success: using his legs to rush for yards and having an offensive line that gives him time to make solid passing plays. On a short week against the defensively dominant 49ers, Jones will look to clean up his passing mistakes and capitalize on the budding offensive momentum.
Laken Tomlinson, G and Michael Carter II, CB New York Jets
After Aaron Rodgers’ devastating injury, the Jets looked to regroup Sunday afternoon under the helm of Zach Wilson against the Cowboys. To stand a chance against the Cowboys’ explosive defense, Wilson needed the stalwart Laken Tomlinson at starting guard and the rest of his offensive line to provide solid protection. Fueled by miscues and missed blocks, this protection never materialized, and the Dallas defense led by star linebacker Micah Parsons proved to be too much for Tomlinson and the offensive line. Throughout the game, they allowed three sacks — with two by Parsons — and watched Wilson throw three interceptions in their 30-10 loss.
Fellow Duke alum and cornerback Michael Carter II also struggled against the Cowboys. At first, Carter looked poised to play a competitive game, with three tackles early in the contest. But, in the middle of the second quarter, Carter suffered an elbow injury and left the game. His defensive teammates continued to struggle against a blossoming Dallas offense, though they did force the Cowboys to settle for field goals throughout the second half. All in all, with Rodgers’ season over and an offensive line that cannot seem to block for their quarterback, it’s looking like a long season for Jets fans who had finally started to see the light.
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