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Illini in the NFL 2018: Week One

See who your favorite player will be suiting up for on Sundays.

Cincinnati Bengals vs Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

With the NFL season opener kicking off tonight, check into TCR to catch up on your favorite Illinois alums and find their matchup for the week.

Entering his third season with the Green Bay Packers, wide receiver Geronimo Allison looks to take on a bigger role with Jordy Nelson gone. Allison showed flashes of his potential last season and has developed a nice relationship with All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers. James Crawford also cracked an NFL roster in his rookie season for Green Bay. The Packers start their season Sunday at 7:20 p.m. CT when they welcome the Chicago Bears to town.

Defensive tackle Chunky Clements starts his second season in the league with the Los Angeles Rams. In two appearances with the Texans last season, Clements recorded one tackle and 0.5 sacks. Houston travels to New England for a 12 p.m. CT kickoff on Sunday.

Former Pro-Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis returns to the field after missing much of last season due to injury. Davis will be suiting up for the Buffalo Bills for the first time Sunday at 12 p.m. CT against the Ravens. He spent the past six seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

Clayton Fejedelem made for quite the story while at Illinois. A former walk-on, Fejedelem led the team in tackles as a senior and landed himself a spot with the Cincinnati Bengals. He started in five games last year, recording an interception and 22 tackles. He’s been battling a calf injury but is expected to suit up Sunday against the Colts at 12 p.m. CT.

Another Bengal, Hardy Nickerson enters his second season with the team. In two starts at middle linebacker last year, Nickerson notched 12 tackles and a pass deflection.

Unfortunately for the Colts and Josh Ferguson, the running back will start his season on the injured reserve list.

Ex-Illini wide receiver Justin Hardee made a name for himself in his first season with the New Orleans Saints. He was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week back in week nine of the 2017 season after a blocked punt that he returned for a touchdown. The Saints take on the Buccaneers, Sunday at 12 p.m. CT. Michael Hoomanawanui joins Hardee in NoLa.

Offensive lineman, Ted Karras transitioned from right guard to center last season, starting in two games. The New England Patriot has played in back-to-back super bowls in his first two seasons, coming away with the Lombardi trophy back in 2016. The Pats square off against the Texans Sunday at noon.

Matt LaCosse will begin his second season with the Denver Broncos after being acquired from the New York Giants in 2017. He’s appeared in seven games with one start, three receptions, and 22 yards receiving to his name. The Broncos are set to take on the Seahawks at 3:25 p.m. CT this Sunday.

Due to suspension, Corey Liuget will have to wait to make his season-debut with the Los Angeles Chargers. Liuget has started in 100 of the 102 games he’s appeared in, solidifying himself as a staple on the L.A. front line. He’s eligible to come back from suspension week five when the Chargers face-off against the Raiders.

Whitney Mercilus enters his seventh season in the league, all spent with the Houston Texans. After missing much of last year, Mercilus will look to start the 2018 campaign off with a win against the defending AFC-champs, the New England Patriots. Mercilus’ status is probable as he nurses a hamstring injury, but he should be go by noon on Sunday.

Wide receiver Malik Turner inked a deal with the Seattle Seahawks this summer, capping off his preseason with a touchdown catch against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Seahawks dropped Turner from the roster shortly before the start of the season and he is currently working out with the Houston Texans, according to the Houston Chronicle.

For the Jaguars, Dawuane Smoot will be suiting up on Sunday at 12 p.m. CT when they take on the New York Giants. Smoot played every game, recording 11 tackles on the year. Carroll Phillips, who appeared in four games last season, is now on the Colts’ practice squad.

On the Dolphins, Akeem Spence will make his Miami debut after coming down from Detroit. Spence saw time in every game last year, starting 11, racking up 19 tackles, three sacks, and a forced fumble.

Jihad Ward is another guy who will find himself starting his 2018 season with a new squad. Ward saw his production fall off last year, only recording one start in five games after a successful rookie season in which he started all but three. Now he’s all on the Colts’ practice squad.

Defensive back, Tavon Wilson enters his third season with the Detroit Lions, collecting 114 tackles, three interceptions, three sacks, and a forced fumble in his last two years with the team. The Lions welcome the Jets to town Monday night in the first game of a Monday Night Football doubleheader.