State NFL roundup: Roc Thomas rocks for Vikings

An undrafted rookie from Jacksonville State, running back Roc Thomas took a big step toward making the Minnesota Vikings’ regular-season roster in his first pro game on Saturday night.

In the Vikings’ 42-28 victory over the Denver Broncos in their preseason opener, Thomas caught three passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

Thomas entered the game for Minnesota’s third offensive series after an interception had set up the Vikings at Denver’s 23-yard line. Thomas turned into a touchdown drive as, on consecutive snaps, he ran for 7 yards, ran for 3 more yards and caught at 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trevor Semian as Minnesota took a 14-0 lead with 1:36 left in the first quarter.

Thomas’ next reception went for 78 yards as the former Oxford High School star turned a short pass from Semian into a long-distance touchdown with 4:59 left in the second quarter.

Thomas also had eight carries for 29 yards in the game.

Thomas was among the 70 former Alabama high school or college players (that didn’t play for Alabama or Auburn) who got on the field during the first full week of the NFL’s 2018 preseason.

The former state players who started on Sunday included:

  • Defensive end Za’Darius Smith (Greenville) of the Baltimore Ravens made a tackle in a 33-7 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday.
  • Right defensive end Mario Addison (Tarrant, Troy) of the Carolina Panthers made a tackle in the backfield while playing the first two series in a 28-23 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Thursday.
  • Right defensive end Michael Johnson (Dallas County) of the Cincinnati Bengals played 10 defensive snaps in a 30-27 victory over the Chicago Bears on Thursday night.
  • Right offensive tackle Chris Hubbard (UAB) of Cleveland Browns played the first two offensive series in a 20-10 victory over the New York Giants on Thursday.
  • Strong safety Darian Stewart (Lee-Huntsville) of the Broncos had three tackles and broke up a pass against the Vikings.
  • Middle linebacker Zach Cunningham (Pinson Valley) of the Houston Texans made two tackles and intercepted a pass in 15 snaps in a 17-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday.
  • Free safety T.J. Green (Sylacauga) of the Indianapolis Colts made two tackles in a 19-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday.
  • Wide receiver Tyreek Hill (West Alabama) of the Chiefs played only eight snaps and caught two passes for 7 yards against the Texans.
  • Defensive tackle Darius Philon (Vigor) of the Los Angeles Chargers in a 24-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.
  • Right cornerback Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama) of the Giants played the first three defensive series and made a tackle against the Browns.
  • Center Rodney Hudson (B.C. Rain) of the Oakland Raiders played six offensive snaps in a 16-10 victory over the Detroit Lions on Friday.
  • Middle linebacker Kwon Alexander (Oxford) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers knocked down a pass while playing the first two series in a 26-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Thursday.
  • Cornerback Malcolm Butler (West Alabama) and center Ben Jones (Bibb County) of the Tennessee Titans in a 31-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Thursday. They weren’t on the field long: Butler made a tackle during his eight defensive snaps, and Jones played nine offensive snaps.
  • Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt (Davidson, Samford) and left cornerback Jimmie Ward (Davidson) of the San Francisco 49ers in a 24-21 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday. Tartt made two tackles in his 10 plays, and Ward had one tackle.

Other former state players seeing action this week included:

    • Cardinals cornerback Christian Campbell (Central-Phenix City), offensive tackle Korey Cunningham (Montevallo) and wide receiver J.J. Nelson (Midfield, UAB) against the Chargers. Campbell and Cunningham made their pro debuts in the game, and Campbell made five tackles on defense and one on special teams.
    • Atlanta Falcons running back Ito Smith (McGill-Toolen) returned a kickoff for 25 yards, netted no yards on two carries and lost 2 yards on a reception in a 17-0 loss to the New York Jets on Friday. Smith was on the field for seven offensive snaps and six special-teams plays in his pro debut.
    • Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce (Daphne, Samford) and cornerback Darious Williams (UAB) against the Rams. In his pro debut, Williams led Baltimore with five tackles and broke up a pass. Pierce made a tackle in the backfield during his eight snaps.
    • Bills linebacker Deon Lacey (Hueytown, West Alabama), safety Siran Neal (Eufaula, Jacksonville State) and Xavier Woodson-Luster (Eufaula) against the Panthers. Woodson-Luster led Buffalo with four tackles, Neal made two tackles in his pro debut and Lacey had a tackle on defense and another on special teams.
    • Panthers offensive tackles Blaine Clausell (Baker) and Quinterrius Eatmon (Vigor) and cornerbacks LaDarius Gunter (Jeff Davis) and Captain Munnerlyn (Murphy) against the Bills. Clausell played 50 snaps, the most on the team. Gunter made two tackles, but left the game with a concussion. Eatmon played 15 snaps on offense, and Munnerlyn played five on defense.
    • Bears offensive tackle Matt McCants (Willliamson, UAB) and defensive end Nick Williams (Minor, Samford) against the Bengals. Williams made three tackles, and McCants played 20 offensive snaps.
    • Bengals wide receiver Cody Core (Auburn) was on the field for 13 defensive snaps and 11 special-teams plays and made a special-teams tackle against the Bears.
    • Cowboys running back Jordan Chunn (Madison County, Troy) and cornerback Marquez White (Northview) against the 49ers. Chunn played six offensive snaps, but got the ball on half of them, netting 8 rushing yards. White made two tackles.
    • Lions running back Ameer Abdullah (Homewood) and safety Roland Milligan (UAB) against the Raiders. Abdullah ran for 16 yards on four carries, including a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter; caught a 7-yard pass and returned two punts for 2 yards. Milligan led the Lions with eight tackles and broke up a pass while playing 52 of the 64 defensive snaps.
    • Texans running back Troymaine Pope (Anniston, Jacksonville State), cornerback Dee Virgin (West Alabama) and quarterback Joe Webb (Wenonah, UAB) against the Chiefs. Pope ran six times for 18 yards and caught three passes for 47 yards, including a 34-yarder. Webb was the Texans’ leading rusher with 42 yards on four carries, completed 6-of-13 passes for 56 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions and got in for five special-teams plays, too. Virgin made four tackles.
    • Colts defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches (Central-Phenix City) and wide receiver Chester Rogers (Lee-Huntsville) against the Seahawks. Rogers caught two passes for 16 yards and Nunez-Roches had a tackle and a quarterback hit.
    • Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Darius Jackson (McAdory, Jacksonville State) played 10 defensive snaps in his pro debut — a 24-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Thursday.
    • Chiefs cornerback Tremon Smith (Saks) made three tackles, returned two kickoffs for 59 yards and netted minus-2 yards on a punt return against the Texans in his pro debut.
    • Chargers tight end Braedon Bowman (South Alabama), defensive end Chris Landrum (Sweet Water, Jacksonville State) and guard Trenton Scott (Lee-Huntsville) against the Cardinals. Landrum had a sack, Bowman made a special-teams tackle and Scott played in his first pro game.
  • Dolphins safety Trae Elston (Oxford) and cornerback Bobby McCain (Oxford) against the Buccaneers. Elston made four tackles.
  • New England Patriots defensive end Eric Lee (Daphne) recorded a sack in a 26-17 victory over the Washington Redskins on Thursday.
  • Saints defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth (Murphy) made his pro debut with two tackles, including a sack, against the Jaguars. Stallworth recovered a fumble with 5:11 remaining at the Jacksonville 35-yard line and made a 5-yard return to set up the go-ahead touchdown with 2:55 to play.
  • Giants offensive tackle Victor Salako (Grissom, UAB) played 22 of New York’s 76 offensive snaps against the Browns.
  • Jets running back Isaiah Crowell (Alabama State) and offensive tackle Antonio Garcia (Troy) against the Falcons. Crowell played only three offensive snaps before leaving the game with a possible concussion, but he handled the ball on all of them. He had two carries for 6 yards and caught a 16-yard touchdown pass. Garcia made his pro debut with 13 snaps for the Jets’ offense. Garcia missed his entire rookie season, including the preseason schedule, in 2017 after developing blood clots in his lungs at training camp.
  • Raiders inside linebacker Nicholas Morrow (Huntsville) and offensive tackle Jylan Ware (Valley, Alabama State) against the Lions. Ware played 52 of Oakland’s 64 offensive snaps, and Morrow got in for three special-teams plays.
  • Philadelphia Eagles safety Jeremy Reaves (South Alabama) made two tackles in a 31-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday. Reaves was on the field for 32 defensive snaps and 12 special-teams plays in his pro debut.
  • Steelers guard Chris Schleuger (UAB) and wide receiver Justin Thomas (Prattville) against the Eagles. Thomas returned three punts for 12 yards, and in his pro debut, Schleuger got on the field for six offensive snaps and one special-teams play.
  • 49ers fullback Malcolm Johnson (Northridge), quarterback Nick Mullens (Spain Park) and tight end Wes Saxton (Hueytown, South Alabama) against the Cowboys. Mullens completed 11-of-13 passes for 141 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He led touchdown drives on San Francisco’s final two possessions and tossed a touchdown pass with 18 seconds to play in the 49ers’ three-point victory. Saxton caught a 2-point conversion pass, and Johnson made a special-teams tackle.
  • Seahawks running back J.D. McKissic (Central-Phenix City) caught three passes for 14 yards, lost a yard on his only rushing attempt, netted minus-1 yard on two punt returns and returned two kickoffs for 59 yards against the Colts.
  • Buccaneers linebacker Shaheed Salmon (Samford) and quarterback Jameis Winston (Hueytown) against the Dolphins. Winston completed 11-of-13 passes for 102 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions, guiding Tampa Bay to a touchdown and a field goal during his three full series. Salmon made his pro debut with five special-teams plays against the Dolphins.
  • Titans punter Austin Barnard (Samford), cornerback Kalan Reed (Briarwood Christian) and safety Brynden Trawick (Troy) against the Packers. A rookie, Barnard punted twice for a 36.5-yard average, with both downed inside the Green Bay 20. Reed played 60 defensive snaps, made three tackles and broke up a pass. Trawick made two tackles on defense and one on special teams.
  • Redskins defensive tackle Anthony Lanier (Alabama A&M) made a tackle against the Patriots.


Ravens cornerback Jaylen Hill (Jacksonville State), Panthers cornerback James Bradberry (Pleasant Grove, Samford), Bears running back Jordan Howard (Gardendale, UAB), Jets nose tackle Steve McLendon (Carroll-Ozark, Troy), Rams tight end Gerald Everett (UAB/South Alabama), Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers (Columbia) and Raiders wide receiver Seth Roberts (West Alabama) did not play.

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

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