From Aggies to Utes to Cougars, it was a memorable first week of NFL preseason play for several pro players connected to the state of Utah.
A total of 21 rookies with Utah ties are currently on rosters around the league, and three Utah State first-year defenders put up the best stat lines this week.
Linebacker Jake Doughty, now in Green Bay, had five tackles and a fumble recovery in the Packers' 20-16 loss to Tennessee. Cornerback Nevin Lawson, playing for Detroit, tied for second on the team with four tackles and added a special teams tackle in a 13-12 win over Cleveland. Linebacker Bojay Filimoeatu, with the Oakland Raiders, had five tackles to go along with an assisted special teams tackle in a 10-6 loss to Minnesota.
Veterans had strong outings as well, as a pair of former Utes found the end zone this weekend. Minnesota running back Matt Asiata started for the Vikings and carried the ball three times for 13 yards and a touchdown; he also had a reception for two yards. Kansas City cornerback Sean Smith intercepted a pass and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown in the Chiefs' 41-39 win over Cincinnati; he also had a pass deflection.
Former Aggie cornerback Jarrett Bush, a longtime Packer, led the Green Bay defense with eight tackles, one sack and a quarterback hurry.
One of the most anticipated rookie debuts was that of former Cougar linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who took the field for Detroit against the Browns.
“I was happy to be out there on the field. It’s a dream come true tonight," Van Noy told reporters. He finished the game with a pass deflection and just missed on a pair of tackles for loss against much-hyped Cleveland rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel.
"I’m really blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of the Detroit Lions organization, as well as being around great guys. I have great teammates, and to have them cheer you on and to earn their respect is just awesome.”
Another rookie from BYU, Daniel Sorensen, earned the start at strong safety for Kansas City against the Bengals with Eric Berry being held out of the game. The undrafted free-agent signee had one tackle. Sixteen players with Utah ties started for their respective teams.
One of most memorable moments for Utah ties came from a pair of second-year athletes playing for the San Diego Chargers. Late in the third quarter against Dallas, quarterback Brad Sorensen of Southern Utah handed off to former Utah State running back Kerwynn Williams for a 1-yard touchdown run. On the ensuing kickoff, Williams made the special-teams tackle.
Sorensen completed 5-of-7 passes for 48 yards in San Diego's 27-7 victory over the Cowboys while Williams had six carries for 10 yards.
Click through the photos at the top of the story for images of locals during the first week of the NFL preseason, including last Sunday's Hall of Fame Game.
Email: [email protected]; Twitter: @brandonljudd