Auburn in the NFL: Preseason, Week One

August 14, 2018 By Taylor Jones

Kerryon Johnson (33) Photo: Daniel Mears/Detriot News

Power of Dixieland’s Taylor Jones and Skye Underwood contributed to this article

Many former Auburn Tigers recorded some playing time in week one of the NFL Preseason last week. This week was highlighted by rookies, who are trying to make their team’s opening day roster

Two former Tigers led their teams in tackles, two more had great days kicking, and one picked up his first career sack as a professional. Those are just a few highlights of the opening week of the NFL preseason. The former Auburn standouts who played in their first-ever game as an NFL athlete hugged the spotlight this weekend, with veterans padding some solid stats as well.

1. Roc Thomas, Minnesota Vikings

I know, I know, Thomas transferred to Jacksonville State to finish out his college career, but he did spend two years on the plains so technically he is a ‘former Auburn Tiger.’ Besides, Thomas seems to look on Auburn favorably and still holds close friendships with his former Tiger teammates and as an undrafted free-agent, he deserves all the love he can get in his attempt to etch out a spot on a talented roster. Very few undrafted free-agents make it in the NFL, but if Roc’s professional debut was any indication — 11 touches for 131 total yards and 2 touchdowns — he’ll not only earn a spot on the roster, but could become a viable backup option as an offensive playmaker.

2. Tray Matthews, Minnesota Vikings

“Trigga” had a great debut against the Denver Broncos, leading the team with seven tackles. The undrafted free-agent is battling for a roster spot on one of the NFL’s top teams, so we’re encouraged by the rookie’s debut. After the game, Matthews (#38) posed for a picture with former Auburn teammates, (#32) Roc Thomas, (#46) Jeff Holland, and (#7) Daniel Carlson, titled “Brothers forever” by former Tiger Jeff Holland.

3. Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions

Johnson could have easily been ranked higher on this list, however, a penalty erased that. Johnson broke free before zigging and zagging for a 57-yard run against the Raiders, but a holding call brought the play back. Despite erasing the 57 yards from his stat total, Johnson did pick up 34 yards rushing on seven carries and earned another 33 yards on five catches for 67 total yards in his rookie debut with the Lions (124 yards if not for that damn penalty).

4. Rudy Ford, Arizona Cardinals

Ford, who enters his second season with the Arizona Cardinals, led his team in tackles with six. The interesting note is that Ford only registered five total tackles in 2017, but did suffer a knee injury so it’s good to see him back.

5. Daniel Carlson, Minnesota Vikings

It’s safe to say that Viking fans are beginning a great relationship with former Auburn players. Carlson, who was one of the best kickers in college football (the GOAT in our eyes, looking at you Lou Groza Award voters), transitioned into his NFL game rather smoothly if his debut is any indication. He was 4-4 in extra point attempts, and was a perfect 2-2 in field goal attempts, kicking from 39 and 57 yards, respectively. His 57-yarder was the 2nd longest in Vikings pre-season history. Carlson’s first taste of the NFL came against a hometown team, the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium. What’s really cool is “Legatron” grew up in Colorado Springs and had a magical debut in front of many family and friends who were able to attend his first game as a professional.

6. Carlton Davis, Tampa Bay Bucs

Davis, who slipped to the Buccanneers in the second round in this year’s draft, is looking to show scouts it was a bad idea to pass on him earlier. Davis recorded five tackles, broke up two passes and has consistently turned heads in camp for Tampa Bay.

7. Cody Parkey, Chicago Bears

Parkey has been passed around by NFL teams since he entered the league in 2014. Now with the Bears, Parkey was perfect on extra points, and went 2-3 in field goals, making them from 35 and 39 yards. The four-year NFL veteran still sports a baby face, which we’re sure was smiling from ear to ear when he signed a four-year contract with the Bears in the spring.

8. Daren Bates, Tennessee Titans

A player who has been quietly playing well in the NFL since leaving Auburn is Daren Bates. Bates is largely considered one of the better special teams players in the league. The former Auburn linebacker has had 45 career tackles and a defensive touchdown in his five-year NFL career. Bates begins his second season with the Titans by recording six tackles in his preseason debut.

9. Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Bucs

What a feel-good story. Peyton Barber, who left Auburn early to help provide a better financial situation for his family, was picked up by the Buccaneers after going undrafted in 2016. He was later cut and brought back to Tampa to join the practice squad. Now? He is the leading candidate to be the premier running back. He played in a couple of series, carrying four times for 21 yards, and a touchdown. Barber went from just trying to make a spot on the roster to RB1 and that makes us proud.

10. Jeff Holland, Denver Broncos

Jeff Holland was one of the best pass-rushers in the SEC last season, so it was no surprise when he decided to forego his senior season by entering the NFL Draft, but what was surprising is that Holland went undrafted. Fortunately, the Denver Broncos swooped in and signed Holland as an undrafted free-agent and apparently he’s turned a lot of heads in camp. In Holland’s rookie debut against the Vikings, the former Auburn buck collected his first NFL sack.

— NFL (@NFL) May 11, 2018

Other key stats from former Tigers in week one of the NFL Preseason: 

Cam Newton- 6 of 9, 84 yards

C.J. Uzomah- three receptions, 32 yards

Angelo Blackson, Houston Texans- two tackles, sack

Jeff Holland, Denver Broncos- sack

Stephen Roberts, Philadelphia Eagles- three tackles

Corey Grant, Jacksonville Jaguars- 8 carries, 6 yards; 3 catches, 39 yards

Blake Countess, LA Rams- tackle, pass break-up

Carl Lawson, Cincinnati Bengals- two tackles

Devonte Lambert, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- two tackles

Montravius Adams, Green Bay Packers- two tackles

Chad Slade, Houston Texans- played 35 snaps

Braden Smith, Indianapolis Colts- played 47 snaps

Shon Coleman, Cleveland Browns- 45 snaps

Greg Robinson, Cleveland Browns- 45 snaps

Casey Dunn, Washington Redskins- played 13 snaps

Sammie Coates, Houston Texans- one reception

Jay Prosch, Houston Texans- played 12 snaps

Gabe Wright, Miami Dolphins- one tackle

Jonathan Mincy, Chicago Bears- played 13 snaps

Dee Ford, Kansas City Chiefs- played in one series