Pro Speak 8/15: Recapping Week One

Injuries and one well-publicized quarterback debut comprise the bulk of our weekly check in with Buckeyes in the NFL.

With the first full week of NFL preseason games complete, it should come as no surprise that Troy Smith made the biggest headlines of the nearly five-dozen Buckeyes in NFL camps.

The Heisman Trophy winner made his debut in a Baltimore uniform Aug. 13 when he was called upon to lead the Raven offense for the entirety of the third quarter.

What fans watching live on local television or in reruns on the NFL Network saw was a player who more resembled more the precocious sophomore who ran hot and cold as the Ohio State starter than the one who finished his career as the most accurate passer in school history.

The NFL-caliber arm strength was still apparent as he overthrew a couple of passes, and he flashed some of the trademark quickness that made him a dangerous runner in college, but overall the performance was not too much to write home about.

"As a professional, you have to get these things out of your system and understand that it's not always going to go your way," Smith told the Carroll County (Md.) Times the next day. "As a young quarterback, it's all about how you bounce back from it."

For Smith's first play, the Ravens came out in an I-formation that would have looked familiar to any long-time Ohio State fan and Smith gave the ball to tailback Cory Ross on a stretch play off right tackle.

After that play to get warmed up, Smith was called upon to pass for the first time on second down. The play was for Smith to find Ross on a middle-screen, but with rush swirling around him Smith made a half-jump in the air and tossed the ball over the 5-6 Ross' head incomplete.

On third-and-long, Smith flashed those famous wheels by scrambling up the middle for 13 yards and a first down.

That drive came to an end three plays later, however, when Smith threw a short slant pass at the feet of fellow rookie Yamon Figurs.

Smith's second drive was a three-and-out that included an overthrown pass on a bootleg on first down and a drop by Figurs on third down.

Smith's best drive was his third of the night as the Ravens marched 56 yards in nine plays. Smith completed 2 of 5 passes on the drive for 29 yards. It culminated with a 50-yard field goal from Matt Stover.

Smith finished 3-of-11 passing for 34 yards, numbers that paled even more when his competitor for the Ravens' No. 3 quarterback spot, Drew Olson, completed 7 of 9 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The game performances came in contrast to reports emanating from camp that indicated Smith was getting the better of Olson…

Aside from Smith, there was not a lot of noteworthy action regarding former Buckeyes in week one. Nineteen players earned starts while 10 did not play, either because of injury or coaches' decision.

The high scorer of the week was New York Jets kicker Mike Nugent. The third-year man hit all four of his extra-point attempts, made a 29-yard field goal and pulled a 52-yard field goal wide left.

The big gainer was Santonio Holmes. Though he continues to come off the bench for the Pittsburg Steelers, the second-year wideout made some highlight reels with a diving 49-yard reception. That was his only grab of the game, however, leaving him tied for the week with fellow signing class of 2002 member Rob Sims.

Sims, a 6-3, 320-pounder who has pushed his way to a starting spot at left guard for the Seattle Seahawks, grabbed a deflected pass on his team's opening drive Aug. 12 against the San Diego Chargers. After hauling in the pass, Sims barreled straight ahead for 16 yards and a first down…

The leading Buckeye rusher on the week was Antonio Pittman, though his competition is sparse to say the least. He picked up 23 yards on 10 carries (with a long of 11) and also caught a 24-yard pass as his New Orleans Saints faced the Buffalo Bills

On the defensive side of the ball, Saints' end Will Smith and Jay Richardson of the Oakland Raiders tied for top honors. Both had a sack in his respective game…

Unfortunately, a plethora of former Buckeyes were held out of action over the weekend while they attempt comebacks from various injuries.

In addition, Vikings safety Mike Doss was forced to leave his team's game Aug. 10 when he suffered a mild concussion.

While injuries are a part of a violent game, several Buckeyes who have been sidelines probably cannot afford to be there for long.

Linebacker Na'Il Diggs missed the Carolina Panthers' preseason opener with a hamstring injury, but he returned to practice this week and resumed his battle for a starting spot with rookie Jon Beason

Diggs' teammate, Nate Salley, looked like a favorite to win a job replacing the retired Mike Minter at safety, but the Associated Press reported Wednesday the 2005 OSU grad has lost his spot – at least for the time being – to Chris Harri and rookie Deke Cooper.

Salley, who missed two weeks of practice with a sore knee, was back on the field this week but working with the second team behind starting safeties Chris Harris and Deke Cooper.

"It's very frustrating," Salley told the AP. "But I'm going to keep working and things will work out in the end. I hope that all the things I did in minicamp and summer school and down here before I got hurt don't go down the drain."

Panthers coach John Fox told reporters after Wednesday's practice, "He was with us all of last year, so it's not real foreign to him as far as our defensive scheme. But again, I feel better all the time when guys are out here practicing. He's been in the meetings. He's been on top of it mentally. Now it's just physically getting him back out there and getting him ready to carry his pads to the level you've got to for the season opener. Right now we're just trying to get him caught up."…

Linebacker Matt Wilhelm could end up in a similar situation. After signing a five-year contract late last season, he looked like a lock to replace the departed Donnie Edwards, but a SDBoltReport of the Network report a strained calf could cause him to miss the entire preseason…

A full roundup of former Buckeyes in the NFL can be found on our message board.

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