Four former University of Idaho football standouts opened their 2020 NFL seasons Sunday, with each of them entering the day slotted as starters.
Here’s how they fared:
The eighth-year NFL journeyman, a Vandal from 2009-12, made a couple of key plays from his post as right-side defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks, who handled the Atlanta Falcons 38-25.
The nimble rusher got in front of Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan on a fourth-and-3 late in the first quarter, batting away a pass in the backfield to set up a quick Seahawks score.
With just more than a minute left in the third — and Atlanta’s offense on the field on a fourth-and-2 at Seattle’s 11 — Mayowa beat his man around the edge and gave chase to a scrambling Ryan. Mayowa soared through the air, then dragged him down for a sack. Not long after, the Seahawks were up three scores.
The former All-American first-round draft pick, now in Year 2 as Seattle’s starting left guard, helped ward off Atlanta’s rush, paving the way for a near-perfect day from star quarterback Russell Wilson, who totaled 322 yards and four touchdowns on 31-of-35 passing.
Wilson was sacked three times.
Iupati, an 11th-year NFL veteran and former All-Pro, was tagged with a false start, but had at least two bulldozing blocks in the rushing game to fashion holes for running back Chris Carson.
The fourth-year Miami Dolphin and official team captain started his 42nd NFL game, this one at right tackle during a 21-11 road loss to the New England Patriots.
The Asotin native, who has played every O-line position except center since 2017, will provide the experience this year for Miami’s rebuilding trenches. A bright spot: The Dolphins allowed just one sack on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The versatile Vandal from 2015-18 was slated in pregame to make his first career NFL start in his fourth game since being drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the seventh round in 2019.
Third-round pick Zack Baun, a rookie out of Wisconsin who’d been competing with Elliss for the spot, was a late scratch.
But New Orleans mostly fielded a 4-2-5 formation throughout its 34-23 home win against Tampa Bay, limiting Elliss’ reps to sporadic appearances as the first-team strongside linebacker in the Saints’ 4-3 base set. Elliss, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in Week 3 last year, played ample minutes on three special-teams units, where he’d been put to work as a rookie.
He didn’t record any statistics.
Elliss’ first snap on defense happened to be Tom Brady’s first touchdown as a Buccaneer — a goal-line quarterback sneak in the first quarter.
Former All-American Idaho guard Mark Schlereth, now a Fox sportscaster, was on the call for Seahawks vs. Falcons. “Stink,” a three-time Super Bowl champion during an NFL career that spanned from 1989-2000, brought up his alma mater, calling the school the “Harvard of the Northwest.”
Elijhaa Penny, a 1,000-yard Vandal rusher in 2015, is set to start at fullback tonight, when his New York Giants host the Pittsburgh Steelers.