Stanford in the NFL, Week 4: Tight ends face off, Martinez off to superb start

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Two former Cardinal tight ends went head-to-head Sunday afternoon in Arlington, Texas, with Austin Hooper ’17 and Dalton Schultz ’18 both making solid contributions to their respective teams, the Cleveland Browns and the Dallas Cowboys, in a wild 49-38 Browns victory. 

Hooper signed a four-year contract worth $44 million with the Browns this off-season and made his presence felt. He scored his first touchdown as a Brown on Sunday to put his team up 21-14 in the second quarter. The Browns would extend their lead to 41-14 after three quarters, seemingly headed towards a rout in Texas. 

But Schultz and the Cowboys did not go quietly. The Cowboys scored 24 unanswered points, including a 26-yard touchdown catch from Schultz. The Cowboys cut the Browns’ lead to 3 points late in the fourth, until a 50-yard rushing touchdown from wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. sealed the game for Cleveland. The Browns improved to 3-1 on the season.

Schultz finished the game with four receptions for 72 yards and one touchdown, while his counterpart Hooper also finished with one touchdown to complement five receptions for 34 yards.

Two other former Cardinal tight ends also recorded at least one reception this week. Zach Ertz ’13 caught four passes for 9 yards in the Philadelphia Eagles’ victory over the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. The Eagles now sit atop the NFC East at 1-2-1. Kaden Smith ’20 recorded a 10-yard reception in a 17-9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Smith’s New York Giants fell to 0-4 and will look for their first victory of the season next week against their division-rival Cowboys.   

Despite the Giants’ winless start, former Cardinal linebacker Blake Martinez ’16 has been a bright spot. Martinez, one of the Giants’ team captains, recorded 13 tackles, eight of which were solo, and one tackle for a loss on Sunday. Martinez is now tied for second in the NFL in tackles this year with 43 and is the fifth-ranked linebacker in the league according to Pro Football Focus.

Multiple other former Cardinal linebackers filled up their teams’ stat sheets this weekend. Bobby Okereke ’18 of the Indianapolis Colts recorded eight tackles in a 19-12 victory over the Chicago Bears, while Bears linebacker James Vaughters ’15 notched two tackles of his own. Brennan Scarlett ’15 of the Houston Texans also contributed five tackles, all of which were solo.

Scarlett’s former Cardinal teammates, safeties Justin Reid ’18 and Michael Thomas ’12, contributed five and one tackles, respectively, but the Texans fell to 4-0. Head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien was fired by the Texans on Monday following the team’s performance over the weekend.

Former Cardinal also made contributions along defensive lines, with Henry Anderson ’15 notching two tackles for the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills teammates Trent Murphy ’14 and Harrison Phillips ’18 each recording a tackle as their team improved to 4-0.

Finally, on special teams, New England Patriots punter Jake Bailey ’19 had an impressive performance, averaging 52.3 yards on three punts, all of which landed inside the 20-yard line.

Contact Jibriel Taha at jtaha “at” stanford.edu.

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Jibriel Taha ’24 is a contributing writer for the sports section. He is from Malibu, California and studies economics and political science. In his free time, he enjoys watching football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and tennis. He also umpires and referees youth sports. Contact him at jtaha ‘at’ stanford.edu.