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Stanford in the NFL Week 6: Ertz to Arizona, McCaffrey to IR

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After fellow tight end Dallas Goedert tested positive for COVID-19, most expected Zach Ertz ‘13 to have a big game against Richard Sherman ‘11 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While Sherman was forced to exit the game in the first quarter due to a hamstring injury, Ertz had a productive night, finishing the game with four receptions for 29 yards and a touchdown in a 28-22 loss.

Just hours after the game, however, Ertz was traded to the Arizona Cardinals for cornerback Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round-pick. Ertz had spent the entirety of his NFL career in Philadelphia, posting impressive numbers of 579 receptions for 6267 yards and 38 touchdowns en route to three Pro Bowl selections. Ertz was second in Eagles’ franchise history in receptions and brought in the game winning touchdown in the franchise’s only Super Bowl win. 

While Ertz begins a new chapter in his career, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey ‘17 returns to a familiar place: the injury report. After initial optimism that he could play Week 6 against the Vikings, Carolina placed McCaffrey on the Injured Reserve, meaning he will miss at least the next three games. As is the case with several NFL running backs, McCaffrey has had trouble staying healthy. Following a 2019 season in which he was named to the NFL All-Pro First Team, McCaffrey missed 13 games in 2020 and will miss at least five this year. The Panthers clearly miss having their star player on the field, as shown by their 3-0 record in games in which McCaffrey played compared to 0-3 when he did not.

On a more positive note, Cowboys’ Dalton Schultz ‘18 had yet another solid game, hauling in five of his six targets for a total of 79 yards in a 35-29 win over the Patriots. Schultz has continued to establish himself as one of the better tight ends in the league. 

Sticking with the theme of tight ends, Browns’ Austin Hooper ‘16 had one reception for four yards in a 37-14 loss to the Cardinals. Arizona is the NFL’s only remaining unbeaten team, and the addition of Ertz gives one of the most explosive offenses in the league yet another weapon.

While Arizona’s offense continues to thrive, quarterback Davis Mills ‘21 and the Houston Texans struggled to find success against the Indianapolis Colts. Mills was unable to replicate his impressive performance from last week, completing 29 of his 42 pass attempts for 243 yards in Week 6. He also had a pair of interceptions as the Texans failed to find the endzone in a 31-3 loss. Mills’ teammate Justin Reid ‘18 had a tackle and a pass deflection on the defensive end. 

Some of Mills’ struggles can be attributed to the play of linebacker Bobby Okereke ‘19, who highlighted the former Cardinal defenders this week. Okereke recorded 14 total tackles — the most in his young career — along with a quarterback hit on Mills. 

Along with Okereke’s career day, former Cardinal players were able to make important contributions to their teams’ defensive lines. Casey Toohill ‘20 recorded two solo tackles and a sack for Washington in a 31-13 loss to the Chiefs. Raiders’ Solomon Thomas ‘17 bounced back after a disappointing Week 5 performance with a solo tackle and three QB hits in a 34-24 win over the Denver Broncos. Harrison Philipps ‘18 accounted for two solo tackles and one quarterback hit in the Bills’ 34-31 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

On special teams, Bengals’ Trenton Irwin ‘19 returned two punts for 26 yards, while Patriots’ Jake Bailey ‘19 punted four times for 161 yards, good for an average of 40.3 yards per punt. 

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Drew Silva is a writer for the sports section. He is a sophomore from Pawtucket, Rhode Island studying computer science and symbolic systems. His favorite teams include the New England Patriots and Boston Celtics. You can find him watching NFL Redzone on Sundays.