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18th of November 2018

Sport



NFL Week 2: State rookies start making their marks

Week 2 of the NFL's 2018 season starts on Thursday night with seven of the 25 rookies from Alabama high schools and colleges still waiting to make their debuts.

While seven of the state's rookies didn't play in Week 1, four started -- Indianapolis Colts guard Braden Smith (Auburn), Jacksonville Jaguars safety Ronnie Harrison (Alabama), Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis (Auburn) and Washington Redskins nose tackle Da'Ron Payne (Shades Valley, Alabama).

"It was a bunch of fun," Payne said of his first official NFL game. "I was ready to get back after it after sitting out that last preseason game. ... I was excited to be out there."

As the 13th player drafted in April, Payne was ticketed for Washington's starting lineup for months.

Smith started as an extra offensive lineman when the Colts opened in a jumbo or heavy alignment. Harrison started when the Jaguars began their game with an extra defensive back on the field. Smith played three more snaps in the game. Harrison was on the field for 17 defensive snaps and 18 special-teams plays.

Davis stepped into the starting lineup when Brent Grimes suffered a groin injury in practice two days before the opener. He played 88 percent (56 snaps) of the Bucs' defensive plays. Davis is likely to stay in the starting lineup because Tampa Bay's other regular cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves, suffered a shoulder injury in the opener and went on injured reserve on Wednesday.

Davis, Payne, Miami Dolphins defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama), Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley (Alabama) and Detroit Lions defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Alabama) were the state rookies who played more than half of their unit's snaps in their NFL debuts.

Six of the 25 rookies played only on special teams (including two who are specialists -- Green Bay Packers punter JK Scott from Alabama and Minnesota Vikings place-kicker Daniel Carlson from Auburn). One of those rookies -- Redskins wide receiver Cam Sims -- suffered an ankle injury on his only special-teams play, went on injured reserve on Tuesday and had surgery on Wednesday.

Payne's impact seemed immediate. Washington held the Arizona Cardinals to 68 rushing yards in a 24-6 victory after the Redskins had the NFL's worst rushing defense last season.

"It just gives us something to build on," Payne said, "something to go out there at practice and try to get better at and critique and try to get better for this week."

Week 2 will kick off with the Baltimore Ravens visiting the Cincinnati Bengals for an AFC North game on Thursday. The Ravens have three state rookies -- cornerback Anthony Averett (Alabama), center Bradley Bozeman (Handley, Alabama) and cornerback Darious Williams (UAB). NFL Network will televise the game at 7:20 p.m. CDT.

Week 2's other two nationally televised games will have only one Alabama rookie -- New York Giants linebacker Tae Davis (Oxford). The New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys play at 7:30 p.m. Sunday on NBC, and the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears square off at 7:15 p.m. Monday on ESPN.

Sunday's broadcast TV offerings will be fragmented in Alabama.

CBS has the doubleheader, with the Patriots-Jaguars game serving as the second half. For the first game at noon, WKRG in Mobile and WTVY in Dothan will show the Dolphins-Jets game, WAKA in Montgomery will show the Chiefs-Steelers game and WIAT in Birmingham and WHNT in Huntsville will show the Texans-Titans game.

For their noon game, Alabama's FOX affiliates will broadcast the Panthers-Falcons games, except for WALA in Mobile, which has the Browns-Saints game.

CHECK OUT MAPS OF SUNDAY'S BROADCAST TV COVERAGE

The Alabama Game of the Week is Thursday's Ravens-Bengals contest. The teams' active rosters include 13 players from state high schools and colleges.

FOR MORE OF AL.COM'S COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE OF THE NFL, GO TO OUR NFL PAGE

The complete Week 2 schedule (with all times central and with point spreads from vegasinsider.com):

Thursday

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (pick 'em), 7:30 p.m. (NFL Network)

Sunday

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-6), noon Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints (-9), noon Houston Texans (-2) at Tennessee Titans, noon Indianapolis Colts at Washington Redskins (-6), noon Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4), noon Los Angeles Chargers (-7.5) at Buffalo Bills, noon Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (-3), noon Minnesota Vikings (pick 'em) at Green Bay Packers, noon Philadelphia Eagles (-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, noon Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-13), 4:05 p.m. Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers (-6), 3:05 p.m. New England Patriots (-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars, 3:25 p.m. Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-6), 3:25 p.m. New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-3), 7:20 p.m. (NBC)

Monday

Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears (-3.5), 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)

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

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