Five former Jayhawk football players suited up Sunday as the NFL began its 2020 pandemic-altered season.
The most talked about KU football alumnus, wide receiver Steven Sims Jr., began his second season in the NFL with the Washington Football Team. This past offseason, Sims won the starting job for punt returner for Washington.
Sims tallied three catches for 50 yards, helping Washington defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-17. A four-year starter under former Kansas football coach David Beaty, Sims beat the odds by making an NFL team as an undrafted free agent last season. Only behind wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, Sims still sits at second-most receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in Kansas football history.
Two former Jayhawks were matched against each other on Sunday when veteran cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and the Los Angeles Chargers traveled to Cincinnati to face off against rookie offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji and the Bengals. Harris, entering his 10th NFL season, is now the longest tenured former Jayhawk in the NFL after Aqib Talib retired last week.
Harris shut down No. 1 draft pick Joe Burrow’s number one wide receiver Tyler Boyd, holding Boyd to just four receptions for 33 yards, once again showing why Harris is a four-time pro-bowl selection.
Adeniji, on the other hand, appeared in his first career NFL game. The sixth round draft pick and his team fell to Harris’ Chargers 16-13 on a last-second missed field goal. Adeniji shared his excitement for the opportunity Sunday on social media, quote tweeting a previous tweet from 2016 when he said he "can’t wait to play on Sundays."
Former Jayhawk cornerback Bradley McDougald of the New York Jets and outside linebacker Dorance Armstrong Jr. of the Dallas Cowboys both made their season debuts for their respective teams.
McDougald entered his eighth season in the NFL and first with the Jets facing off against the Buffalo Bills and Josh Allen’s air-raid offense. Allen ended up completing 33 of 46 passes for 312 yards, making it a rough day for McDougald in the Jets’ eventual 27-17 loss. McDougald had 8 tackles, one fumble recovery and one pass deflection.
Armstrong, beginning his third season, had one tackle in the Cowboys’ 20-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Armstrong was a key part of Beaty’s team at Kansas from 2015-17, when he had 142 tackles and 15.5 sacks.
Next up for the former Jayhawks will be Adeniji and the Bengals against the Cleveland Browns (Thursday at 7:20 p.m.), Sims and Washington against the Arizona Cardinals (Sunday at 3:05 p.m.), Harris and the Chargers against the Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday at 3:25 p.m.), McDougald and the Jets against the San Francisco 49ers (Sunday at 12:00 p.m.), and Armstrong and the Cowboys facing off against the Atlanta Falcons (Sunday at 12:00 p.m.).