The first week of the NFL regular season kicked off this past week. Week 1 marked the regular season NFL debut for former Cougars Uani 'Unga and Alani Fua. 'Unga and Fua made the 53-man roster on their respective teams as undrafted free agents.
'Unga must have impressed the Giants' coaching staff during pre-season action because the NFL rookie started in place of the injured Jon Beason and was in the game for all 71 defensive snaps. 'Unga made the most out of the opportunity recording 12 tackles, a pass deflection, and intercepting a pass from Cowboys' star quarterback Tony Romo.
Congratulations to @UaniUnga on his first NFL interception. 12 tackles to lead all players. He represented ... https://t.co/bhHhchpZuU— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) September 14, 2015
'Unga's inexperience did prove to be detrimental on at least one play as 13-year NFL vet Jason Witten was able best of him on the Cowboys' game-winning touchdown play. In all fairness to 'Unga, Witten is a nine-time pro bowler. Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin seemed pleased with 'Unga's performance, so expect his playing time to continue until Beason returns from injury.
"He played hard and was aggressive. For a guy being put in that position I thought he played very well." Coach Coughlin on Uani ' Unga— New York Giants (@Giants) September 14, 2015
Fua's career got off to a much less exciting start than 'Unga's, but he didn't have nearly the opportunity playing just 15 snaps on special teams. Fua was able to record a single tackle on the stat sheet during his limited action.
In other news about former Cougars around the league, Kyle Van Noy recovered quickly from an injury that was originally expected to keep him out a good portion of the season. Paul Lasike was cut from the Chicago Bears' practice squad due to a worker Visa issue.
Here's how all the BYU alumni in the NFL performed for their respective teams in Week 1:
Dennis Pitta (Ravens): Pitta was placed on Baltimore's physically unable to perform (PUP) list as he continues to recover from his second serious hip injury and major surgery to repair the injury. Pitta's placement on the PUP list means he will not even be eligible to play until Week 7.
Ziggy Ansah (Lions): Ansah recorded two tackles for loss, a sack, and a QB hit on 59 total snaps in Detroit's 28-33 loss to San Diego.
Sack and 2 TFL for @ziggy_ansah https://t.co/W75YlOGorm— Dave Noriega (@davenoriega) September 14, 2015
Kyle Van Noy (Lions): Van Noy played 15 special teams snaps in Detroit's 28-33 loss to San Diego, but did not record any stats.
John Denney (Dolphins): Denney played 8 snaps for the Dolphins handling his usual long snapping duties in Miami's 17-10 win over Washington.
Uani 'Unga (Giants): Unga played all 71 defensive snaps, recording 12 tackles, an interception, and a pass deflection in New York's heartbreaking 26-27 loss to Dallas.
Dallas Reynolds (Giants): Reynolds appeared on 11 special teams plays in New York's 26-27 loss to Dallas, but did not record any stats.
Daniel Sorensen (Chiefs): Sorensen played 28 special teams snaps in Kansas City's 27-20 victory over Houston, but did not record any stats.
Alani Fua (Cardinals): Fua played 15 special teams snaps and recorded a single tackle in Arizona's 31-19 win over New Orleans.
Cougars currently on NFL practice squads: De'Ondre Wesley (Ravens), Hebron Fangupo (Chiefs), and Rob Daniel (Packers)
Cougars cut over the off-season or during the preseason: Brett Keisel (Steelers), Devin Mahina (Redskins), Jordan Leslie (Vikings), Spencer Hadley (Raiders), and Paul Lasike (Cardinals)