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VFL Standouts in Week 1 of the NFL Season

An-depth look at some former Vols whose performances stood out in Week 1 in the NFL

Just as the college football season is getting back into the thick of things, the NFL season was not far behind, as Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season is officially in the books. Ranging all the way from the Green Bay Packers shockingly looking inept to the Texas maybe not being the worst team in the NFL, Week 1 did not disappoint. 

And there were quite a few VFLs who did not either.

Notably, there were four former Vols who made a significant impact for their team Sunday: running back Alvin Kamara, cornerback Cameron Sutton, rookie offensive guard Trey Smith and defensive end Darrell Taylor. All four players played a part in winning their respective football games, and all former Vols in the NFL collectively ended the weekend with a 9-5 record across their respective teams. 

RB Alvin Kamara, Saints

Every single member of Vol Nation knows that 'AK' has been a force to be reckon with throughout his career in the NFL. Whether it be scoring the most touchdowns in a game by a running back in the Super Bowl Era to recording at least 1300 yards each year of his four-year career and at least 250 touches in the last three, Alvin Kamara is a certified stud in the NFL at his position. 

Kamara played the first game of his fifth year in the pros against the Packers on Sunday, accumulating an impressive stat line of 20 carries for 83 yards and three catches for an additional eight yards with the second quarter score to serve as the cherry on top. Although there was uncertainty surrounding the Saints offense coming into 2021 due to future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees retiring this offseason, Kamara and new starting quarterback Jameis Winston gave New Orleans fans a lot to look forward to for 2021, as the Saints demolished Green Bay 38-3.

Kamara's first touchdown of 2021 can be seen below: 

via New Orleans Saints Twitter page

It is no secret that Kamara has earned the respect of many Saints fans and become one of the faces of the franchise, especially given that he is the cover photo on the Saints Twitter page.

Kamara will look to continue his hot start to the season next week against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte. 

CB Cameron Sutton, Steelers

Sutton, who came into the league the same time his fellow VFL Alvin Kamara did, had an impressive Week 1 as well. Sutton helped the black and yellow get the road upset win against Buffalo by recording two tackles for loss and two pass breakups. One of the biggest plays for Pittsburgh during the game was the 4th-and-1 stop the Steelers had in the fourth quarter, courtesy of Sutton. 

Video from Steelers.com

Watch Sutton talk to the press below regarding his great performance:

via Pittsburgh Steelers Twitter page 

Sutton will look to continue making big plays for the Pittsburgh defense, including ones that show versatility such as the fourth-down stop above. 

The Steelers will return home to Pittsburgh for Week 2 to play the Las Vegas Raiders, looking to take advantage of Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden's squad, who will be coming in on a short week, and extend their record to 2-0. 

OG Trey Smith, Chiefs

One of the biggest storylines regarding keeping track of former Vols in the pros is Kansas City Chiefs' rookie offensive guard Trey Smith. Following Smith's surprising fall to the sixth round in the 2021 NFL Draft, Vol Nation has been eager to see how the Humboldt, Tennessee native would prove 31 other teams wrong in his rookie year.

The start to his NFL season has been nothing short of spectacular.

Smith came to a Chiefs team that was bound to have competition at the offensive line due to the influx of players brought in via free agency along with others in the draft to try and revamp the group. Smith earned a spot starting at right guard, and his first start on Sunday against the Browns brought the highlights. 

Specifically, Smith executed a key block to assist starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes in scoring a rushing touchdown in the second quarter.

The block can be seen below:

via Jake Nichols on Twitter

Smith played all 65 snaps and only allowed one pressure on Mahomes. The VFL will look to keep his hot start going next week against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night, his first primetime appearance as a Chief in the regular season.

DE Darrell Taylor, Seahawks

The final VFL standout from NFL's Week 1 is Seattle Seahawks defensive end Darrell Taylor. The sophomore pass-rusher, who was out all of his rookie year on IR, had a day in Lucas Oil Stadium. No. 52 delivered two tackles along with a sack that sealed the win for the 'Hawks on the road against Indianapolis. 

Taylor's sack can be seen below via the tweet from the Seattle Seahawks Twitter page:

via Seattle Seahawks Twitter page

Taylor's first regular season NFL game shows promise for what is to come from the Hopewell, Virginia native in his second year. Taylor will look to aid Seattle to their first home win on the season against the Tennessee Titans next Sunday.

All other VFLs who saw action this past Sunday can be seen below: 

DE Derek Barnett, Eagles— Had three tackles in 32-6 win over the Falcons

WR Marquez Callaway, Saints— 1 reception for 14 yards in 38-3 win over Packers

DB Justin Coleman, Dolphins— Played but recorded zero statistics

LS Morgan Cox, Titans— Snapped for an extra point and four punts in 38-13 blowout loss to Arizona

DT Malik Jackson, Browns— Had three tackles and a pass breakup against the Chiefs in 29-33 loss

WR Jauan Jennings, 49ers— Played but recorded zero statistics

LB Alexander Johnson, Broncos— Recorded two tackles and one pass breakup in 27-13 over the New York Giants

FB Jakob Johnson, Patriots— Played snaps in New England's 16-17 loss to Dolphins, but recorded zero yards or carries

P Michael Palardy, Dolphins— Punted on four occasions for a total of 180 yards with a long of 50 yards in 17-16 win over Pats

WR Joshua Palmer, Chargers— The rookie wideout had one catch for 17 yards in 20-16 win over Washington

WR/RB Cordarrelle Patterson, Falcons— Two grabs for 13 yards and seven rushes for 54 yards in 6-32 loss to Eagles 

LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Lions— Recorded one tackle in 33-41 loss to San Francisco. 

DL Shy Tuttle, Saints— Recorded two tackles in 38-3 win over Packers.

Stats provided by UTAD Communications.  

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