Sun Devil Football in the NFL: Week Five Update
A Lou Groza Award winner is finding his footing, a touchdown machine at running back has a new home, and a ball-hawking safety debuted with his team in Sunday Night primetime. Checking in on Sun Devil Football in the NFL after week five of the regular season.
Arizona State has a total 14 players in the NFL, with seven Sun Devils on active 53-man rosters. An additional five players have spots on a practice squad and two are currently on the injured-reserve list.
Four new Sun Devils entered the league this year, including two picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. Running back Eno Benjamin and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk will go from starring on Saturdays in Tempe, to going head-to-head in the NFC West. The Arizona Cardinals selected Benjamin with the 222nd pick in the seventh-round back in April, while the division rival San Francisco 49ers used the 25th overall pick on Aiyuk.
The success in the NFL Draft and heavy presence of new Maroon & Gold blood in the league continues an exciting trend that has formed for Sun Devil Football under the direction of Herm Edwards. The NFL experience that Edwards, Marvin Lewis, Antonio Pierce, Kevin Mawae, Robert Rodriguez, Shawn Slocum, and Derek Hagan bring to the table is nearly unmatched by any other group nationally.
— ASU Football Recruiting (@RisingSunDevils) October 3, 2020
From contributors in the trenches, to playmakers on the outside, to standouts on special teams, Sun Devil Football players continue to make an impact on Sundays, Mondays, or Thursdays. Here is a closer look at how they fared in week five of the NFL season:
Lawrence Guy (2008-10) - New England Patriots
Week Five: The Patriots game against the Broncos was postponed due to COVID-related issues.
Week Four: Consistent prepense on the Patriots' defensive line, starting his fourth consecutive game. Was on the field for the 44 snaps, the second-most of any Patriot defensive lineman. Made two tackles, both solo run stops.
Week Three: Started at defensive tackle for the Patriots in their win over the Raiders, playing 49 snaps between defense and special teams. A big reason why New England was able to stuff the Oakland rushing attack, collecting four tackles (all assisted) in the trenches. Recovered a fumble in a contested pile to secure a turnover, his fifth-career fumble recovery. Through three weeks, Guy has the fifth-highest run stop win rate among defensive tackles according to ESPN analytics.
Week Two: Recorded a pair of solo tackles in a strong performance against the Seahawks on Sunday Night Football, playing 45 snaps (most of any DL). Graded as the third-highest overall defender on the Patriots' defense according to PFF.
Week One: Part of a dominant defensive effort, as New England cruised to a 21-11 victory over Miami. The Patriots held the Dolphins to just 87 yards rushing, as Guy made four total tackles (three solo) from his defensive line spot.
Preseason Update: Former freshman All-American Lawrence Guy has made a name for himself at the NFL level, getting ready for his 11th season as a pro. He is currently the longest-tenured Sun Devil in the NFL and was recently named a captain of the 2020 Patriots. Guy has been a stalwart on the New England defense the past three seasons, starting all 16 regular-season contests in 2019 for the first time in his career. Guy is in the midst of his peak as an NFL player, turning in a career year in 2019. He totaled a career-high 61 tackles and made his first career interception as part of a defense that finished No. 1 in the NFL in total defense (275.9 yards per game) and scoring (14.1 points allowed per game). Prior to last season, Guy had started at defensive tackle in the last two Super Bowls, including in New England's Super Bowl LIII victory over the Rams. He was selected to the Patriots' 2010s All-Decade Team at defensive tackle. Originally drafted in the seventh round (233rd overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers, Guy has enjoyed stints with the Colts, Chargers, and Ravens before signing with the Patriots.
N'Keal Harry (2016-18) - New England Patriots
Week Five: The Patriots game against the Broncos was postponed due to COVID-related issues.
Week Four: Earned another start at wide receiver for the Patriots and he delivered with a big game. He hauled in three catches, including a highlight-reel diving touchdown catch. It is his first touchdown catch of the season and third of his career. Played 57 snaps, the second most of any New England receiver.
Week Three: Started at wide receiver in the Patriots victory over the Raiders, playing 47 snaps. Impressed the coaches and his teammates despite a relatively quiet day statistically. Came down with a crucial 27-yard reception in the fourth quarter. Played a major role in blocking on the perimeter for a productive New England rushing attack.
Week Two: Toughness and skill were on full display against the Seattle Seahawks, as he recorded a career-high in catches (8) and yards (72). Hauled in several clutch catches on the Patriots' final drive, including one to set his team up at the one yard line. Lined up for a career-best 61 snaps (85%), the second-straight game he has seen action on 80% or more of the team's snaps.
Week One: Tied for the most catches of any Patriot, hauling in a career-high five passes in his season debut. His 39 receiving yards also marked a career-best. He played 55 snaps in New England's 21-11 win over Miami, which was tied for the most of any Patriots skill player.
Preseason Update: Following a brilliant three-year career in Tempe, N'Keal Harry was selected with the 32nd overall pick by the New England Patriots in the 2019 NFL Draft. During his rookie season, he appeared in eight games and made five starts. Patriots fans saw glimpses of Harry's skill set, as he finished with 12 catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels made it emphasis to get him the ball in any way possible, resulting in Harry running for 49 yards on five attempts. He earned the faith of the coaching staff, making the start at wide receiver in his first career playoff appearance. He caught two passes for 21 yards while carrying the ball once for 7 yards in the AFC Wild Card Playoff against Tennessee. Made his Patriots debut in a win at Philadelphia and lined up for his first career start in a win over Dallas. Harry's 10-yard touchdown in the first quarter against the Cowboys was the first of his career and made him the 75th different player to catch a touchdown pass from Tom Brady.
Matt Haack (2013-16) - Miami Dolphins
Week Five: Only two attempted punts in the Dolphins' win over San Francisco, with a long of 53 yards. Remains in the Top-10 amongst NFL punters in average yards per punt and net average yards per punt.
Week Four: Boomed his one punt attempt of the weekend, launching a 51-yard punt that flipped the field for the Dolphins. Continues to be one of the NFL's top statistical punters, allowing only 26 return yards on his punts this season.
Week Three: Two of his four punts pinned the opponent inside the 20, including one that was downed at the three. Only one of his punts was returnable, with two others requiring a fair catch. Continues to serve as a special teams weapon for the Dolphins, currently ranking fifth in the league in net punting.
Week Two: Played in his 50th-consecutive NFL game, delivering another spectacular performance. Averaged 52.4 yards per punt (48.8 net) on five attempts, downing three inside the 20. Launched a 63-yard punt that was downed at the three and another 50-yarder downed at the six. Ranks fourth in the NFL in both yards per punt and net yards through two weeks.
Week One: Enjoyed an incredible season opener, booming 3 punts for 152 yards. The 50.7 average was the fourth-highest total in the league, while his net average of 44.0 was seventh-best in the NFL. Only one return was attempted on Haack's punts, but zero yards were gained.
Preseason Update: After putting the finishing touches on one of the best collegiate careers by a Sun Devil punter, Matt Haack has found a home in the NFL. He enters his fourth season in the NFL, all with the Miami Dolphins after signing with the franchise as an undrafted free agent back in 2017. He has played and served as the starting punter in all 48 games of his career, with 239 career punts going for 10,684 yards (44.7 avg.). He caught national attention by completing a 1-yard TD pass against Philadelphia, with the play winning the 2019 NFL Bridgestone Clutch Performance of the Year. Back in November of 2018, he was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against the Jets. Boasting a career average of 40.0, Haack is currently the franchise's all-time leader in net punting average. He set a Dolphins' franchise single-season record in 2018, landing 34 punts inside the 20.
Zane Gonzalez (2013-16) - Arizona Cardinals
Week Five: Went a perfect 4-for-4 on his kicks in the Cardinals' victory over the Jets. Nailed a 47-yard field goal right before the end of the first half, his fourth made field goal of over 40 yards this season. Has now hit his last five field goal attempts. On his six kickoffs (two touchbacks), the Jets averaged only 10.8 yards per return.
Week Four: Went three-for-three on extra points this week, impacting the game despite not having a field goal attempt. With Gonzalez kicking off, the Cardinals kick return unit ranks in the Top-10 in the NFL in both return yards allowed and few returns attempted.
Week Three: Made his fourth-consecutive field goal, hitting from 54 yards. It is his second 50+ yard field goal of the season. Gonzalez has made a 49-yard field goal or longer in each of his three games this season. Three of his five kickoffs went for touchbacks, as he averaged a season-high 66 yards.
Week Two: Enjoyed a perfect afternoon in the Cardinals' win over Washington, hitting all three of his field goals and extra points. Hit a 49-yard field goal to give the Cardinals a 17-0 lead, followed by a 33-yarder before halftime. On his seven kickoffs, four were downed for a touchback, with the three returns averaging only 14.0 yards.
Week One: Hit a career-long 56-yard field goal to close the first half in the 24-20 victory over the 49ers. It was his seventh-career 50+-yard field goal and fifth since joining the Cardinals. Gonzalez was a perfect 3 for 3 on extra points, as he accounted for six points in the win.
Preseason Update: Former Lou Groza award winner Zane Gonzalez enters his fourth NFL season and third with the Arizona Cardinals. He is coming off his best season in the league, selected as a Pro Bowl alternate at kicker after ranking fourth in the NFL in both total points (127) and made FGs (31) in 2019. His 127 points tied for the third-highest single-season total in franchise history, and his 31 FGs made are third-most in team history. He was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month (October, 2019). Gonzalez made 20 consecutive field goals between during a stretch of the 2019 season, which represents the second-longest streak in franchise history.
Brandon Aiyuk (2018-19) - San Francisco 49ers
Week Five: Earned the start at wide receiver for the third consecutive week. Played 62 offensive snaps (on the field 97% of the snaps), the most of any 49er receiver. Secured multiple catches for the fourth consecutive game and every game so far in his NFL career. Finished with three catches for 44 yards.
Week Four: Shined bright on the NFL's biggest stage, garnering the attention of the nation with a jaw-dropping run. Playing in only his third career game, Aiyuk continues to emerge as a top playmaker for the 49ers. Used his elite athleticism and balance to turn a screen pass behind the line of scrimmage into a dazzling 38-yard touchdown run. On the play, he broke several tackles including a full hurdle over a defender inside the five-yard line before crossing the goal line. Also added two catches for 18 yards, his third straight game with at least two receptions.
Week Three: Enjoyed a breakout performance in just his second NFL game, making an impact on the game in several ways. Started at wide receiver for the defending NFC Champions for the second-straight week. Showed why he was a first round pick with by catching five passes for 70 yards while adding 31 rushing yards and his first career touchdown on three carries. Continues to emerge as a go-to target in the 49ers' offense.
Week Two: Made his NFL debut in the 49ers' victory over the Jets, recording two catches for 21 yards. Implemented immediately as a key part of the offense, as he was on the field for 44 of the team's 61 snaps (72%)
Week One: Inactive on gameday after being listed as questionable all week due to a hamstring injury. Looks like he could make his NFL debut this upcoming Sunday against the Jets, as he was a full participant in Wednesday's practice.
Preseason Update: The San Francisco 49ers selected Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk with the 25th overall pick in the NFL Draft, the second consecutive year that Sun Devil Football produced a first-round wide receiver. During his last season in Tempe, Aiyuk was one of the top offensive weapons in the country. Aiyuk became the 252nd Sun Devil to be selected in the professional draft. His 25th overall selection was the highest since Terrell Suggs went 10th overall in the 2003 Draft. He became the highest wide receiver selected since Aaron Cox went 20th overall in 1988. He produced 1,870 all-purpose yards in his final season as a Sun Devil, coming within 195 yards of Wilford White's long-standing school record of 2,065 set back in 1950.
Eno Benjamin (2017-19) - Arizona Cardinals
Week 1-5: Remains on the 53-man roster, but has yet to be activated for gameday.
Preseason Update: The second Sun Devil selected in the 2020 NFL draft was Eno Benjamin, who became the Benjamin became the first Sun Devil player to be drafted by the Cardinals since Pat Tillman in 1998. He represents the 253rd Sun Devil to be taken in the NFL Draft in program history, the 30th-most of any program. Historically, Sun Devil running backs and fullbacks have combined for 43,414 rushing yards in NFL history with 327 touchdowns. A 2018 All-American after breaking ASU's single season rushing mark, Benjamin finished with 2,867 rushing yards in his career and finished seventh on the school's all-time rushing list despite playing the majority of his time in just two seasons. His 576 rushing attempts were the sixth-most in school history. He was fifth in the country in 2018 with his school record 1,642 rushing yards.
Jamil Douglas (2010-14) - Tennessee Titans
Week Five: Served as a reserve lineman in the Titans' win over the Bills, playing 12 snaps (6 offensive snaps) at guard and on special teams.
Week Four: The 3-0 Titans matchup with the Steelers was postponed due to COVID-related issues.
Week Three: Active for the first time this season after recovering from a hand injury, serving as a reserve offensive lineman and earning playing time on special teams.
Week Two: Returned to practice this week, but entered Sunday's game listed as questionable on the injury report. Inactive in the Titans' victory over Jacksonville. Listed as the backup right guard heading into the upcoming game against the Vikings as he attempts to return from a hand injury.
Week One: A hand injury kept him out of Monday's 16-14 victory over Denver.
— Jamil Douglas (@JamilDouglas_) October 8, 2020
Preseason Update: Former Pac-12 All-Conference offensive lineman Jamil Douglas enters his fourth NFL season, making the Tennessee Titans 53-man roster. Last season, Douglas appeared in 15 games for the Titans, making four starts at right guard and one start at center. He saw action in all three playoff games during his first-career postseason run, helping the Titans reach the AFC Championship Game. Douglas and the offensive line paved the way for Derrick Henry to lead the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards in 2019. Originally drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the fourth round (114th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft, Douglas has also spent time with the New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts during his career.
D.J. Foster (2012-15) - Arizona Cardinals
Week 3-5: Remains on the injured reserved list.
Week Two: Started on the kick coverage unit for the second-straight week in the victory over Washington. Suffered a quad injury in the first quarter and was placed on the injured reserve list this week.
Week One: Promoted from the practice squad before Sunday's game and proved to be a contributor to the Cardinals 24-20 victory over the 49ers. Foster served on special teams and was in on the play when Cardinals' safety Ezekiel Turner blocked a punt, which set the offense up for a touchdown on the ensuing drive.
Preseason Update: Three-year NFL veteran D.J. Foster earned a spot on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad. He saw action on special teams in the first six games, registering a career-high four special teams tackles against the Falcons. Foster has played in 16 games during his NFL career, compiling 135 receiving yards and 43 rushing yards. Originally signed by New England as a rookie free agent, Foster spent one season with the Patriots before joining the Cardinals.
Renell Wren (2014-18) - Cincinnati Bengals
Week 1-5: Remains on the injured reserved list.
Preseason Update: A dominant final two seasons in Tempe resulted in Renell Wren being selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in fourth round of 2019 NFL Draft (125th overall). He is getting ready to enter his second season in the NFL, but is currently on the injured reserve list because of a quad injury. Wren made the Bengals' initial 53-man roster in 2019 and went on to play in 11 games as a rookie. He made his way up the depth chart as the season went on, eventually making two starts. The defensive lineman was disruptive and made eight tackles, serving as a key part of the interior defensive line rotation. Wren made his NFL debut in the season opener at Seattle and collected his first career tackle at Pittsburgh. He would go on to earn first career start in the 11th game of the season, recording a tackle against Pittsburgh.
Due to anticipated obstacles issues that may arise from the unprecedented circumstances, NFL teams are allowed to have 16 players on their practice squads. This year more than ever, the three Sun Devils could be called upon to suit up on gameday. Damarious Randall, Quinn Bailey, Cohl Cabral, and Tommy Hudson are not only auditioning for a spot on their respective team's active roster, but are available to be signed by all 31 other NFL teams in need of depth.
Kalen Ballage (2014-17) – Los Angeles Chargers
Week Five: Signed to the Los Angeles Chargers' practice squad on October 9.
Week Four: Saw the most snaps of any of the Jets running backs, making two catches for 11 yards. Released by the Jets on 10/5.
Week Three: Played nearly double the amount of snaps as he did in his team debut, on the field for 27. Provided a receiving threat out of the backfield and in the slot for the Jets, hauling in five catches for 44 yard, including a 21-yard catch and run.
Week Two: Saw time at running back and on special teams in his Jets debut, playing in a total of 15 snaps. Made two receptions for 12 yards while also rushing for five yards on his one carry.
Week One: After spending his first two NFL seasons in Miami, the former fourth-round draft pick (131stoverall) Kalen Ballage has found a new home in New York. The Jets signed the former Pac-12 All-Conference running back this week, boasting their backfield depth with a player who has 24 games of experience at the NFL level. Ballage has rushed for over 300 and recorded more than 100 receiving yards in his career.
Damarious Randall (2013-14) - Seattle Seahawks
Week 5: Elevated to the 53-man roster and activated prior to the Seahawks' game against Minnesota. Made his Seahawks debut, seeing time on defense and special teams. Reassigned to the practice squad following the game.
Week 4: Elevated to the 53-man roster prior to the Seahawks' game against Miami, a move made in order to protect him from other teams. Was not activated on gameday.
Six-year NFL veteran Damarious Randall was signed to the Seahawks' practice squad on 9/30. He spent the first three seasons of his career with the Green Bay Packers after being selected in the first round (30th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft. He was then acquired via trade by the Cleveland Browns, where he spent the last two seasons. In 65 career games, Randall has accumulated 280 tackles, 14 interceptions, 47 pass deflections, and two pick-sixes.
Quinn Bailey (2014-18) - Denver Broncos
Quinn Bailey has landed on the Denver Broncos practice squad for the second season. In 2019, he made his NFL debut in the final week of the season against the Raiders.
Cohl Cabral (2016-19) - Los Angeles Rams
Cohl Cabral signed with the Los Angeles Rams as a rookie free agent in April and made their practice squad. He is coming off a collegiate career in which he filled multiple roles along the Sun Devil offensive line, starting 38 consecutive games to finish his career. The rookie is one of four Sun Devils from the 2019 team to make a NFL roster.
Tommy Hudson (2015-19) - Tennessee Titans
Tommy Hudson signed with the Tennessee Titans as a rookie free agent in May and made their practice squad. His blocking ability has already caught the attention of scouts and coaches, allowing him to get a look at the NFL level. The rookie is one of four Sun Devils from the 2019 team to make a NFL roster.