As NFL Season Kicks Off, Active Rosters Feature Bounty of Former Maryland Players
Collage by Valerie Morgan
Former UMD star Jake Funk closed out the 2021-22 NFL season with the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl victory, and he opened the new season last night, facing off against fellow Terp Stefon Diggs and the championship-contending Buffalo Bills.
They’re part of a robust Maryland cadre in pro football this year: 12 other players who wore Maryland uniforms join Funk and Diggs on the league’s active rosters.
“I'm incredibly proud of all of our NFL Terps,” said UMD Head Coach Michael Locksley. “They’ve put in so much work to get to where they are today, and I beam with pride watching them represent our program at the highest level. Maryland has a great history of helping players create value for themselves that leads them to careers in the NFL. I’m looking forward to seeing what this group can do to continue this tradition.”
Third-round pick Nick Cross will be the starting strong safety for the Indianapolis Colts when they take on Houston on Sunday. Cross will celebrate his 21st birthday tomorrow, making him one of the youngest NFL players to ever start a game.
Colts’ coach and famed Terp alum Frank Reich has praised Cross, calling him “not your typical 21-year-old. … This guy’s incredibly mature in a lot of ways.”
Fourth-round pick Chig Okonkwo stood out during the Titans’ training camp and will start the season as Tennessee's second-string tight end against the Giants.
Former lacrosse star Jared Bernhardt spent last year winning a national championship at quarterback for the Division II Ferris State Bulldogs. He’ll continue his remarkable story as a wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons when they play the Saints on Sunday.
Speedy wideout Stefon Diggs made headlines this offseason, signing a four-year, $96 million extension with the Bills. Last night, he caught eight passes for 122 yards and a touchdown in the Bills’ 31-10 victory over running back Jake Funk and the Rams.
D.J. Moore of the Panthers signed his own extension of three years for $61.88 million and will be an important part of the Carolina passing attack against the Browns.
Other Terps lining up for the same squad as last year in Week One are:
Four Terps will play for new teams in 2022, highlighted by 2021 All-Pro cornerback J.C. Jackson, who left the New England Patriots after four years for a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Chargers. L.A. takes on Las Vegas in Week 1, but Jackson isn’t expected to play yet after undergoing ankle surgery on Aug. 23.
Former Raiders defensive ends Quinton Jefferson and Yannick Ngakoue will play for Seattle and Indianapolis, respectively.
Byron Cowart, who suited up for the Patriots in the 2019 and 2020 seasons, will play for the Colts in 2022 as well.
Read more about the 14 players, including several Terp tweets, at umterps.com.
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