Four teams were on bye this week. Fortunately for Illini alums in the NFL fans, none of those four teams have Illini players on them. Unfortunately, half of the Illini in the NFL were inactive for one reason or another.
Let’s break it down.
Jihad Ward, defensive end: The 5-2 Ravens faced the 5-2 Indianapolis Colts in the early window on Sunday. Ward was inactive for the second week in a row.
Del’Shawn Phillips, linebacker: In a cross-conference and cross country matchup, the Buffalo Bills hosted the 1-loss Seattle Seahawks. Del’Shawn Phillips was back on the active depth chart after spending the last several weeks on IR. In his return, he did not record any defensive stats but he was on the field for 7 special teams snaps.
Malik Turner, wide receiver/special teams: Once again, Malik Turner was inactive for the Cowboys. Turner has not played since Week 4.
Whitney Mercilus, outside linebacker: Unfortunately, a few Texans defensive players were put on the Injured Reserve/Covid-19 list. Whitney Mercilus was one of those players and he did not suit up on Sunday.
Tavon Wilson, safety/special teams: Wilson was inactive for Sunday’s game versus Baltimore.
Dawuane Smoot, defensive end: The Jags are one of the NFL’s worst teams, riding a 7-game losing streak. Smoot had 1 tackle and a QB hit in a loss to the Texans.
Kansas City Chiefs:
Nick Allegretti, guard: Allegretti and the Chiefs can’t stop winning since their only loss to the Las Vegas Raiders weeks ago. Allegretti started his third game in a row at left guard, as regular starting O-lineman Mitchell Schwartz was out after missing the entire week of practice.
The Dolphins had one of NFL Sunday’s most intriguing matchups. Miami traveled to Arizona to face the Cardinals and their can’t-keep-your-eyes-off-the-screen quarterback Kyler Murray. The game also featured rookie Tua Tagovailoa in his second start. The Dolphins won 34-31.
Ted Karras, center: Karras is an anchor for the Dolphins offense and head coach Brian Flores. His leadership for a team that is overall trending in the right direction is invaluable. Just watch this little clip from last week.
Clayton Fejedelem, safety/special teams: Fej was left off of the defensive stat sheet. He did his usual dirty work on special teams.
Hardy Nickerson, linebacker/special teams: On goes the NFC North gauntlet. After winning at Green Bay last week, Nickerson and the Vikings beat the Detroit Lions. Next Monday they’ll face the Chicago Bears. Nickerson did not appear on the defensive stat sheet, however he played 18 special teams snaps.
New Orleans Saints:
Justin Hardee, cornerback/special teams: Dealing with a groin injury, Justin Hardee was added to New Orleans’ IR list along with teammate Sheldon Rankins on Friday leading up to the game against the Tampa Bay Bucs. It’s unclear when Hardee will be back.
Practice Squad guys:
Chase McLaughlin is a practice squad member on the Minnesota Vikings. Veteran defensive lineman and former first-rounder Corey Liuget is on the Houston Texans’ practice squad as of a few weeks ago.
*Just a reminder, Detroit Lions wide receiver Geronimo Allison and New England Patriots tight end Matt LaCosse opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19.