On the Miami Dolphins’ first five snaps during an NFL preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday night, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had completions for 4, 10 and 7 yards to rookie wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, triggering an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive.
But on Miami’s way to the end zone, Waddle got hurt. Trying to block on running back Myles Gaskin’s 16-yard run to the Atlanta 1-yard line, Waddle had his legs knocked out from under him by Falcons safety Richie Grant.
Waddle ran limping down the field before collapsing on the turf, apparently in great pain in an ‘Oh, no!’ moment for the Dolphins.
An ankle injury had caused Waddle to miss the majority of his final season with Alabama, but that didn’t prevent Miami from acquiring him with the sixth selection in the NFL Draft on April 29.
Waddle eventually walked off the field to the sideline medical tent, then went to the locker room. But the rookie returned to the sideline and re-entered the game on Miami’s next possession.
“He got dinged,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said, without elaborating on Waddle’s ailment. “He came out of the game. We got a great training staff, so they took a look at him, and he went back in. That happens. I’m sure that happened to a few other players, but he’s a tough kid, and when he went back in there, I think he caught a couple of balls after that.
“That’s part of playing in the National Football League. Every once in a while, you’re going to get dinged. You come out, and if you can go back, you go back in there and try to help the team.”
Waddle didn’t catch another pass in the 37-17 victory over the Falcons after he returned in the second quarter, although the one pass thrown to him was ruled complete for a 4-yard gain until being changed to an incompletion after video review.
“I was wondering what happened,” said Tagovailoa, who played with Waddle at Alabama. “I wasn’t too sure. And when he came out for the next drive, I was surprised. I was like, ‘What happened?’ and we had a conversation there. …
“I guess he showed everyone kind of who he is as a player. Kind of the things he’s done at Alabama. You just give him the ball in space and you let him work.”
The receptions were the first of Waddle’s pro career. He’d seen his first NFL action in the Dolphins’ 20-13 preseason loss to the Chicago Bears last week, but his only stat had been a 24-yard punt return.
“I think he’s quick, he’s fast, he’s tough,” Flores said. “He did some good things today. Tonight, I’ll go watch the film. I’m sure I can find something that was not so good, and we’ll critique that and correct that. Look, he’s a young player, his second preseason game. There’s been 15 or 16 practices. He’s still got a long way to go, but definitely making some improvement.”
Tagovailoa played the first half and completed 16-of-23 passes for 183 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He also had an 8-yard run.
In addition to Waddle and Tagovailoa, eight players from Alabama high schools and colleges got on the field during the Atlanta-Miami game:
· Falcons defensive tackle Marlon Davidson (Greenville, Auburn) did not play.
· Dolphins defensive back Javaris Davis (Auburn) did not play.
· Raekwon Davis (Alabama) started at nose tackle for the Dolphins. Davis made two tackles.
· Dolphins wide receiver Robert Foster (Alabama) caught two passes for 16 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown reception with 1:39 left in the third quarter.
· Falcons safety T.J. Green (Sylacauga) made four tackles.
· Falcons long snapper Josh Harris (Auburn) handled the snaps on two punts, two extra points and one field goal.
· Dolphins cornerback Noah Igbinoghene (Hewitt-Trussville, Auburn) made one tackle on defense and one tackle on special teams and returned a kickoff 26 yards.
· AJ McCarron (St. Paul’s Episcopal, Alabama) started at quarterback for the Falcons. McCarron completed 3-of-6 passes for 43 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He also had a 7-yard run. McCarron left the game during Atlanta’s third possession with an injury and did not return.
· Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley (Alabama) did not play.
· Erroll Thompson (Florence) started at linebacker for the Falcons. Thompson made two tackles. He was down on the field and taken to the medical tent during the game but returned to the field.
· Dolphins fullback Carl Tucker (Alabama) played but did not record any stats.
In Saturday’s nine other NFL preseason games, 71 players with Alabama football roots got on the field:
Buffalo Bills 41, Chicago Bears 15
· Bills defensive end Mario Addison (Tarrant, Troy) did not play.
· Bears defensive lineman Angelo Blackson (Auburn) stopped a 2-point conversion run after Buffalo’s second touchdown.
· Eddie Jackson (Alabama) started at safety for the Bears. Jackson made three tackles.
· Darnell Mooney (Gadsden City) started at wide receiver for the Bears.
· Siran Neal (Eufaula, Jacksonville State) started at cornerback for the Bills. Neal made two tackles on defense and one on special teams.
· Lachavious Simmons (Selma) started at right offensive tackle for the Bears.
· Josh Thomas (Montgomery Academy) started at safety for the Bills. Thomas made two tackles and broke up a pass.
· Bills cornerback Levi Wallace (Alabama) did not play.
· Bills wide receiver Duke Williams (Auburn) caught an 8-yard pass.
New York Jets 23, Green Bay Packers 14
· Bryce Huff (St. Paul’s Episcopal) started at defensive end for the Jets. Huff recorded a quarterback hit.
· Jets defensive end Carl Lawson (Auburn) did not play. New York announced on Thursday that Lawson had suffered an Achilles-tendon injury that would prevent him from playing during the 2021 season.
· C.J. Mosley (Theodore, Alabama) started at linebacker for the Jets. Mosley made five tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage.
· Jets running back La’Mical Perine (Theodore) ran for 16 yards on six carries.
· Packers punter JK Scott (Alabama) average 40.8 yards, with a 40.3-yard net, on four punts, including a 49-yarder that resulted in a fair catch at the New York 10-yard line. Scott and Ryan Winslow had split the punts in Green Bay’s first preseason game, but Winslow was waived on Monday.
· Jets linebacker Jamien Sherwood (Auburn) made two tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage, and recovered a fumble. Sherwood came up with the loose football on the first snap of the second half to put New York on Green Bay’s 20-yard line to set up a field goal.
· Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (Greenville) did not play.
· Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (Wenonah, Alabama) did not play. Williams returned to practice this week from a foot injury that had sidelined him since May.
Baltimore Ravens 20, Carolina Panthers 3
· Anthony Averett (Alabama) started at cornerback for the Ravens.
· Bradley Bozeman (Handley, Alabama) started at center for the Ravens.
· Panthers guard Deonte Brown (Austin, Alabama) played but did not record any stats.
· Derrick Brown (Auburn) started at defensive tackle for the Panthers. Brown tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage that turned into an interception.
· Panthers running back Spencer Brown (Mortimer Jordan, UAB) gained 2 yards on 4 rushing attempts and caught a 1-yard pass.
· Panthers linebacker Josh Bynes (Auburn) made a team-high nine tackles.
· Panthers long snapper Thomas Fletcher (Alabama) handled the snaps on five punts and also got called for holding. Fletcher did the snapping in the second half while J.J. Jansen handled the duty in the first half for Carolina.
· Panthers guard Marquel Harrell (Auburn) played but did not record any stats.
· Panthers guard Mike Horton (Auburn) played but did not record any stats.
· Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Alabama) did not play.
· Panthers defensive end Christian Miller (Alabama) made three tackles and registered a quarterback hit.
· Panthers offensive tackle Trent Scott (Lee-Huntsville) played but did not record any stats.
· Ravens offensive tackle Andre Smith (Huffman, Alabama) played but did not record any stats.
Pittsburgh Steelers 26, Detroit Lions 20
· Steelers defensive end Isaiah Buggs (Alabama) made two tackles.
· Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama) started at free safety for the Steelers. Fitzpatrick made two tackles.
· Lions outside linebacker Trey Flowers (Columbia) did not play.
· Lions defensive end Da’Shawn Hand (Alabama) did not play.
· Najee Harris (Alabama) started at running back for the Steelers. Harris ran for 10 yards on four carries and caught two passes for 53 yards, including a 46-yarder for Pittsburgh’s longest play of the game.
· Steelers center J.C. Hassenauer (Alabama) played but did not record any stats.
· Lions guard Logan Stenberg (James Clemens) played but did not record any stats.
· Lions defensive end Nick Williams (Minor, Samford) did not play.
Tennessee Titans 34, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3
· Titans fullback Khari Blasingame (Buckhorn) did not play.
· K.J. Britt (Oxford, Auburn) started at inside linebacker for the Buccaneers. Britt made three tackles.
· Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis (Auburn) did not play.
· Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean (Auburn) did not play.
· Rashaan Evans (Auburn High, Alabama) started at linebacker for the Titans.
· Titans tight end Miller Forristall (Alabama) played but did not record any stats.
· Titans running back Derrick Henry (Alabama) did not play.
· O.J. Howard (Autauga Academy, Alabama) started at tight end for the Buccaneers. Howard caught three passes for 24 yards.
· Titans cornerback Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama) did not play.
· Titans center Ben Jones (Bibb County) did not play.
· Titans wide receiver Julio Jones (Foley, Alabama) did not play.
· Steve McLendon (Carroll-Ozark, Troy) started at defensive tackle for the Buccaneers.
· Rakeem Nunez-Roches (Central-Phenix City) started at nose tackle for the Buccaneers. Nunez-Roches made one tackle.
· Buccaneers running back Troymaine Pope (Anniston, Jacksonville State) did not play.
· Titans linebacker Monty Rice (James Clemens) made five tackles.
· Titans wide receiver Chester Rogers (Lee-Huntsville) caught two passes for 22 yards, returned a kickoff for 18 yards and made three fair-catches on punts.
· Titans defensive tackle Anthony Rush (UAB) played but did not record any stats.
· Buccaneers wide receiver T.J. Simmons (Clay-Chalkville) didn’t catch any passes, but he did recover a fumble by Tampa Bay quarterback Kyle Trask.
Houston Texans 20, Dallas Cowboys 14
· Texans defensive back Shyheim Carter (Alabama) made three tackles, intercepted a pass and broke up another, which was intercepted, too, with 57 seconds to play. Carter’s first pro interception came off Dallas QB Ben DiNucci on a second-and-3 throw from the Houston 45-yard line. Carter returned the interception 5 yards to put the Texans on the 50-yard line with a 17-14 lead with 5:03 to play. Houston turned the turnover into a field goal.
· Texans wide receiver Nico Collins (Clay-Chalkville) did not play.
· Amari Cooper (Alabama) started at wide receiver for the Cowboys. Cooper had a rushing attempt that lost 4 yards, but he did not have any passes thrown his way in his first preseason action.
· Zach Cunningham (Pinson Valley) started at linebacker for the Texans. Cunningham made one tackle.
· Texans linebacker Tae Davis (Oxford) made four tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage.
· Trevon Diggs (Alabama) started at cornerback for the Cowboys. Diggs made one tackle.
· Tytus Howard (Monroe County, Alabama State) started at left guard for the Texans in his first preseason action. Howard played right tackle for Houston in 2020.
· Texans running back Mark Ingram (Alabama) ran for 24 yards and one touchdown on seven carries in his first appearance for Houston. Ingram scored the game’s first points on a 2-yard plunge with 11:06 left in the first quarter.
· Texans cornerback Tremon Smith (Saks) made four tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage, on defense and one tackle on special teams.
· Texans wide receiver Jordan Veasy (Gadsden City) caught two passes for 30 yards.
Indianapolis Colts 12, Minnesota Vikings 10
· Vikings running back Ameer Abdullah (Homewood) ran for 35 yards on six carries, caught three passes for 6 yards and returned two punts for 4 yards.
· Colts center Ryan Kelly (Alabama) did not play.
· Vikings wide receiver Myron Mitchell (Jasper, (UAB) caught a 22-yard pass
· Michael Pierce (Daphne, Samford) started at defensive tackle for the Vikings. Pierce made one tackle.
· Braden Smith (Auburn) started at right offensive tackle for the Colts.
· Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama) started at tight end for the Vikings. Smith caught a 3-yard pass.
· Colts defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth (Murphy) played but did not record any stats.
· Dalvin Tomlinson (Alabama) started at defensive tackle for the Vikings. Tomlinson made one tackle.
Las Vegas Raiders 17, Los Angeles Rams 16
· Chandler Brewer (Florence) started at left guard for the Rams.
· Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson (Auburn) made a 29-yard field goal and two extra points.
· Lester Cotton (Central-Tuscaloosa, Alabama) started at left guard for the Raiders. Cotton recovered a fumble by Las Vegas quarterback Nate Peterman.
· Raiders running back Kenyan Drake (Alabama) did not play.
· Raiders running back BJ Emmons (Alabama) ran for 34 yards on eight carries.
· Brontae Harris (Cullman, UAB) started at defensive back for the Rams. Harris made two tackles and intercepted a pass. Harris intercepted a first-and-10 pass by Las Vegas quarterback Nate Peterman from the Rams 45-yard line and returned it 9 yards to the Los Angeles 24.
· Rams quarterback Devlin Hodges (Mortimer Jordan, Samford) did not play.
· Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (Alabama) did not play.
· Alex Leatherwood (Alabama) started at right offensive tackle for the Raiders.
· Rams outside linebacker Terrell Lewis (Alabama) did not play.
· Raiders linebacker Nicholas Morrow (Huntsville) did not play.
· Darius Philon (Vigor) started at defensive tackle for the Raiders. Philon shared a sack and registered two quarterback hits.
· Rams defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson (Alabama) did not play.
· Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (Lee-Montgomery, Alabama) did not play.
· Raiders punter Corliss Waitman (South Alabama) averaged 45.2 yards on five punts, with a 41.2-yard net.
· Rams cornerback Darious Williams (UAB) did not play.
Denver Broncos 30, Seahawks 3
· Seahawks tight end Gerald Everett (UAB/South Alabama) did not play.
· Kareem Jackson (Alabama) started at strong safety for the Broncos. Jackson made two tackles.
· Jerry Jeudy (Alabama) started at wide receiver for the Broncos. Jeudy caught two passes for 40 yards.
· Seahawks running back Josh Johnson (Opelika) ran for 30 yards on nine carries and caught a 7-yard pass.
· Malik Reed (Dothan) started at outside linebacker for the Broncos. Reed led Denver with five tackles.
· Broncos cornerback Saivion Smith (Alabama) made one tackle.
· Seahawks cornerback Will Sunderland (Troy) played but did not record any stats.
· Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain II (Alabama) made one tackle.
· Broncos wide receiver Seth Williams (Paul Bryant, Auburn) caught a 33-yard pass.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.