Irish In The NFL: Six Former Notre Dame Football Players Named Captains In Week One
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Irish In The NFL: Six Former Notre Dame Players Named Captains In Week One

Prior to week one of the 2020 NFL season, six former Notre Dame players were selected as captains, representing five different franchises.

The captains are safety Harrison Smith and tight end Kyle Rudolph of the Minnesota Vikings, safety and special teams player Matthias Farley of the New York Jets, center Nick Martin of the Houston Texans, right tackle Mike McGlinchey of the San Francisco 49ers and linebacker Jaylon Smith of the Dallas Cowboys.

Both Martin and McGlinchey were two-time captains at Notre Dame. It is also noteworthy that Farley, Martin and Jaylon Smith each wore a “C” on their jersey together for the 2015 Fighting Irish squad.

Of the six players, only Rudolph wasn’t a captain at Notre Dame, at least not for a full season. His third and final year at Notre Dame coincided with head coach Brian Kelly’s first in 2010. That season, Kelly chose captains on a game-by-game basis.

In 2011, he only named one captain: Harrison Smith.

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Former Notre Dame and current Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith
Former Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith is one of six former Fighting Irish players to be named a captain in week one of the 2020 NFL season (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth).

But based on the praise Kelly laid on both Rudolph and Harrison Smith during his Monday press conference, it’s a safe bet that both could have been season-long captains in 2010 if there were any.

“The things that caught my attention when I took over in 2010 were that both of them were regarded by their teammates extremely highly in terms of who they were as people and who they were as men,” Kelly said. “But what I was able to get from them early on was that these guys were humble.

“And humble in a sense that even though they were great players, when I came in as a head football coach to Notre Dame they welcomed me into Notre Dame. They gave me all of the information that I needed to feel comfortable.”

Ten years later, both have played for the Vikings for nearly a decade.

“Here’s two guys that now are All-Pro and captains in the NFL,” Kelly said. “Certainly, if you were to ask me then, ‘Would it surprise me?’ I would say no, because of my first interaction. My first impression was how humble and how real they were to somebody that they never met as the new head football coach.

“They could have been, ‘Hey, this guy doesn't know what he’s doing.’ But they didn’t handle it like that.”

Farley is the only former Notre Dame player and NFL captain that is not a guaranteed starter. In fact, the Jets actually cut him a week before the season, only to pick him up a few days later. Then, his teammates took a vote and made him a special teams captain which — for his sake — will hopefully provide him with more job security going forward.

Five of the former Notre Dame players should be captains for the duration of the season, but new Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy decided to do away with season-long captaincies.

Instead, he will choose captains on a week-to-week basis without a vote from the players. On Sunday, Jaylon Smith was the week one defensive captain, with quarterback Dak Prescott as the offensive captain and long snapper L.P. Ladouceur as the captain on special teams.

This means that former Fighting Irish offensive linemen Zack Martin is a lock to be a captain at least once this season, barring injury. Not only is he an All-Pro caliber player, but he was also a Cowboys captain in each of the last two seasons.

At Notre Dame, Martin was a two-time captain, serving in the role in both 2012 and 2013.

Former Notre Dame Football Players In The NFL: Week One Recap

• Josh Adams (Played at Notre Dame from 2015-17), RB, New York Jets: Was called up from the practice squad the day before the Jets’ 27-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills … Played 13 snaps and had two carries and two receptions for a total of 15 yards plus scored a rushing touchdown.

• Alex Bars (2014-18), OL, Chicago Bears: According to Twitter, he played one snap at left guard in the Chicago Bears' 27-23 victory over the Detroit Lions.

• Miles Boykin (2015-18), WR, Baltimore Ravens: Came down with three catches for 37 yards in Baltimore's 38-6 win over the Cleveland Browns.

• Chase Claypool (2016-19), WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Snagged two catches for 38 yards in his NFL debut, contributing to the Steelers’ 26-16 win over the New York Giants on Monday Night Football … One of his catches was a spectacular grab on the sidelines that required a toe-tap … He also had one carry for eight yards.

• Tyler Eifert (2009-12), TE, Jacksonville Jaguars: Snagged one reception for eight yards in Jacksonville’s 27-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Matthias Farley (2011-15), DB, New York Jets: Made one tackle (presumably on special teams) in the Jets’ loss to the Bills.

• Will Fuller V (2013-15), WR, Houston Texans: Caught eight passes on 10 targets for 112 yards in the Texans’ 34-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

• Alohi Gilman (2017-19), S, Los Angeles Chargers: Did not see the field on defense in the Chargers’ 16-13 win against the Cincinnati Bengals, but did play 17 special teams snaps in his NFL debut.

• J.J. Jansen (2004-07), LS, Charlotte Panthers: Started on special teams in the Panthers’ 34-30 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.

• Khalid Kareem (2016-19), DE, Cincinnati Bengals: Saw the field on defense and special teams in the Bengals’ loss to the Chargers, and recorded one tackle.

• Cole Kmet (2017-19), TE, Chicago Bears: Played 20 offensive snaps and was targeted once in the Bears’ win over the Lions … He also participated on special teams.

• Julian Love (2015-18), DB, New York Giants: Started and made three tackles in the Giants’ loss to the Steelers.

• Nick Martin (2011-15), OL, Houston Texans: Started at center in the Texans’ loss to the Chiefs.

• Zack Martin (2009-13), OL, Dallas Cowboys: Started at right guard in Dallas’ 20-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

• Mike McGlinchey (2013-17), OL, San Francisco 49ers: Started at right tackle in the 49ers’ 24-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

• Quenton Nelson (2014-17), OL, Indianapolis Colts: Missed a practice last week due to a back injury but still started in the Colts’ loss to the Jaguars … Reportedly didn't play up to his usual standard, but still had some quality moments.

• Julian Okwara (2016-19), DE, Detroit Lions: Played just seven defensive snaps and special teams in the Lions’ loss to the Bears, but still had two quarterback pressures.

• Romeo Okwara (2012-15), DE, Detroit Lions: Came off the bench and had one tackle in the Lions’ loss to the Bears.

• Troy Pride Jr. (2016-19), CB, Carolina Panthers: Struggled in coverage in Panthers’ loss to the Raiders, but recorded seven tackles in the contest.

• Isaac Rochell (2013-16), DE, Los Angeles Chargers: Registered two tackles in the Chargers’ win over the Bengals.

• Kyle Rudolph (2008-10), TE, Minnesota Vikings: Pulled in two catches for 28 yards in the Minnesota Vikings’ 43-34 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

• Harrison Smith (2007-11), S, Minnesota Vikings: Recorded four tackles in the Vikings’ loss to the Packers.

• Jaylon Smith (2013-15), LB, Dallas Cowboys: Tied for the game lead in tackles with 11 in the Cowboys’ loss to the Rams … Also deflected a pass on a blitz, but graded out very poorly according to PFF due to issues in coverage.

• Durham Smythe (2013-17), TE, Miami Dolphins: Started but was not targeted in the Dolphins’ 21-11 defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots.

• Equanimeous St. Brown (2015-17), WR, Green Bay Packers: Despite not being on the injury report, St. Brown was inactive in the Packers’ win over the Vikings.

• Ronnie Stanley (2012-15), OL, Baltimore Ravens: Injured his ankle in the Ravens’ win against the Browns and is expected to return to practice on Wednesday.

• Golden Tate (2007-09), WR, New York Giants: Was questionable all week due to a hamstring injury and ended up being inactive for the Giants’ loss to the Steelers.

• Jerry Tillery (2015-18), DL, Los Angeles Chargers: Kicked off the season with an impressive performance in the Chargers’ win over the Bengals … Coming off the bench, he recorded two tackles, one sack and two quarterback hits.

• Drue Tranquill (2014-18), LB, Los Angeles Chargers: Notched one tackle in the Chargers’ win over the Bengals, but suffered a broken fibula in the game … He is out indefinitely.

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• Stephon Tuitt (2011-13), DL, Pittsburgh Steelers: Started and had a sack and a quarterback hit in the Steelers’ win over the Giants.

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