Sunday’s NFL season opener started out very well for former University of Kentucky star Za’Darius Smith. He sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton on the second snap he played and that forced a Cincinnati punt.
That sack matched his total from all of last season, and showed promise that he could return to the form (or better) of his rookie season two years ago when he had 5 1/2 sacks.
But things took a turn for the worse quickly when Smith went down with a left knee sprain at the start of the second quarter when he was part of a pileup on a 1-yard run by Giovani Bernard. Smith did not return to the game.
His sack was one of five by the Ravens in their 20-0 defeat of the Bengals. Smith finished with three tackles.
Randall Cobb, WR, Packers: Led Green Bay in catches (nine), targets (13) and receiving yards (85) in a win against the Seahawks.
Wesley Woodyard, LB, Titans: Tied for the team lead with eight tackles in a loss to the Raiders. Five of Woodyard’s tackles were solo and that included a quarterback sack of Derek Carr.
Avery Williamson, LB, Titans: Made six tackles, four of those solo, against Oakland.
Danny Trevathan, LB, Bears: Two solo tackles in a loss to the Bears.
Corey Peters, NT, Cardinals: Two solo tackles in a loss to the Lions.
Bud Dupree, LB, Steelers: Missed season opener against the Browns because of a shoulder injury.
Chris Matthews, WR, Ravens: No catches and no targets against Bengals.
Other Kentuckians of note
William Gay, S, Steelers: Former Louisville star had five tackles (four solo) against the Browns.
Bilal Powell, RB, Jets: Former Louisville standout seven carries for 22 yards and five catches for 17 yards in loss to Bills.
Taywan Taylor, WR, Titans: Rookie out of Pleasure Ridge Park and Western Kentucky had two catches for 14 yards against the Raiders.
Brandon Dunn, DE, Texans: Former PRP and Louisville star had three solo tackles, including one for a loss, against the Jaguars.
Jack Doyle, TE, Colts: The former Western Kentucky star had two catches for 41 yards in loss to the Rams.
Keelan Cole, WR, Jaguars: Rookie out of Central and Kentucky Wesleyan was targeted twice but did not have a catch in win against Texans.
Eli Rogers, WR, Steelers: Two catches for 11 yards former Louisville standout against the Browns. Also, three punt returns for 32 yards.
Josh Bellamy, WR, Bears: Three catches for 27 yards against the Falcons for the former Louisville Cardinal.
Jordan Berry, P, Steelers: Former Eastern Kentucky player averaged 45.8 yards on six punts against the Browns. None were inside the 20.
Tyler Higbee, TE, Rams: Two catches for 17 yards against the Colts for ex-WKU standout.
Preston Brown, LB, Bills: Former Louisville star had three tackles in win against the Jets.
Mike Mitchell, S, Steelers: Former Highlands and Covington Catholic star made one tackle vs. the Browns.
James Burgess, LB, Browns: Ex-Louisville Cardinal made one tackle against the Steelers.