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NFL: Former Clemson defensive linemen shine in Week One action

September 16, 2020
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On Saturday night, two of Clemson's top 2020 recruits made an impact in their college football debuts. Defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, mostly recognized as the top recruit in the country, and defensive end Myles Murphy, the top recruit at his position, more than flashed their talents in the Tigers 37-13 win over Wake Forest. 

Bresee had a half-sack and two tackles, and Murphy led the team in tackles and sacks, respectively, with seven and two. Murphy also had three tackles for loss. Bresee and Murphy are the future stars of the Tigers defensive line. 

In the first week of NFL action, former Clemson All-Americans Christian WilkinsDexter Lawrence, and Clelin Ferrell, who were members of the best defensive line in Clemson football history, made some noise for their teams.

In a 21-11 Miami loss to the New England Patriots, Wilkins made six tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, two pass breakups, and one quarterback pressure for the Dolphins, but it wasn't enough to stop the Cam Newton led New England Patriots. 

"I've just been working hard all year, all offseason, all training camp and everything to try to be in the best shape and be in the best position to help this team win," said Wilkins at the post-game press conference. "But ultimately, I don't care about the big plays if it doesn't result in wins. It's cool to make big plays, but I'd rather win at the end of the day. It's all good and fun; but I'd trade in stats and plays for a win in the win column."

On Monday night, Dexter Lawrence had a solid performance with four total tackles and a sack in the New York Giants 26-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

The Las Vegas Raiders and Ferrell ironically defeated Newton's former team, the Carolina Panthers, 34-30. Ferrell, who was relatively quiet with one tackle through three quarters, crashed down from his right end position to stop the Panthers fullback on 4th down and inches with 1:20 left in the fourth quarter. His play clinched the game for the Raiders. 

Trayvon Mullen and Hunter Renfrow started games down the stretch for the Raiders last season and are both now full-time starters. On Sunday, Mullen made six tackles and had a key pass breakup in the end zone to stop an early Panthers touchdown drive. 

Renfrow caught two passes for 21 yards and averaged 18.5 yards on two returns as the starting punt returner.

In other Clemson WRU news, Sammy Watkins began the season with seven catches, 82 yards and a touchdown to help the Kansas City Chiefs defeat the Houston Texans 34-20  on Thursday night. Deshaun Watson did his best against an aggressive Chiefs defense. He finished with 253 passing yards and one touchdown pass in his first game without top target DeAndre Hopkins.

Hopkins, fresh off signing the most lucrative contract for a non-quarterback in NFL history, caught a career-high 14 passes for 151 yards for the Arizona Cardinals to lead them to a  24-20 upset victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Mike Williams suffered a shoulder injury during the Los Angeles Chargers preseason camp and there were reports, as late as Sunday, that he might miss the game. Still, he played and had four receptions for 69 yards in a 16-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

There are three former Tigers on the Bengals roster including rookie receiver Tee Higgins, former Minnesota Viking nickel back Mackensie Alexander and D.J. Reader. Reader was the only Bengal to accumulate any stats. The former Texan made four tackles in his Bengals debut. 

On Monday night, slot receiver Adam Humphries was targeted seven times and hauled in six for 47 yards as his Tennessee Titans defeated the Denver Broncos 16-14. 

Hopkins was the most productive former Tiger on offense this week and on the defensive side of the ball that honor goes to both Wilkins and Atlanta Falcons All-Pro, Grady Jarrett. Jarrett is as disruptive as anyone on the defensive line in the league. In year six, he is off to a great start with 4 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss, and three quarterback pressures in the 38-25 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

His new teammate A.J. Terrell made his NFL debut as a starter for the Falcons. From his cornerback position, a tough position for a rookie in the NFL, the Georgia native made six tackles in a seemingly successful first game.

Fellow rookie and first-rounder, Isaiah Simmons as a backup linebacker for the Cardinals, had three tackles.

On Thursday night, Chiefs linebacker Dorian O'Daniel, who Simmons replaced on Venables defense, had a pretty good game on the big stage. He sacked and had a hit on his former teammate Watson and finished with 4 tackles.

Shaq Lawson also signed with a new team during the offseason. He is now starting at defensive end on the Dolphins four-man front with Wilkins after four years with the Buffalo Bills. Lawson had three tackles and one hit on Newton on Sunday. 

Cleveland Browns linebacker B.J. Goodson is now in his fifth year and on his third team. The Pageland, SC native was drafted by the New York Giants and spent last season with the Green Bay Packers. Goodson led the Browns with nine tackles. 

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NFL: Former Clemson defensive linemen shine in Week One action

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