The NFL regular season kicks off on Sep. 9, meaning several former Tar Heels will suit up in different colors on Sundays — not Saturdays.
This preseason, a few members of UNC's newest rookie class have been turning heads for their respective teams.
While older veterans such as Giovani Bernard, Eric Ebron and Robert Quinn have not seen the field as much due to rest, injury and preparation for the games that count, a few other former Tar Heels have had to put in substantial work the past few weeks to prove they have what it takes to succeed on the professional stage.
Here’s a quick rundown of what the pro-Tar Heels have been doing in the NFL preseason.
After the Chicago Bears declined his fifth-year option for the 2021 season, there were doubts about Trubisky’s ability to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Before his professional career began in 2017, Trubisky was a standout at UNC, throwing for 3,748 yards and 30 touchdowns in his only season as a starter in Chapel Hill.
But his NFL career has been less spectacular, as Trubisky is now a backup for the Buffalo Bills, trying to work his way back to starter status.
In the first two games of the preseason, Trubisky has taken the field against the Bears and the Detroit Lions. He performed well against his former team, completing 20 of his 28 passes for 221 yards and one touchdown.
During his time at UNC, Carter proved he was more than capable of being a running back in the NFL. He finished his college career with two 1,000 yard rushing seasons and averaged 113.2 rushing yards per game in 2020 before being selected by the Jets in the fourth round of the 2021 draft.
Through Week 3 of the preseason, Carter had seen the field against the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers, playing his best game against the Packers with 10 carries, 52 yards and a long run of 18 yards.
Carter will play behind Tevin Coleman this season, most likely using the year to learn the playbook and develop.
The former quarterback turned linebacker made the position switch look easy at UNC, tallying 206 total tackles and 12.5 sacks in just two seasons on the defensive side.
This preseason, Surratt has been making his presence known with some solid performances. Against the Indianapolis Colts, Surratt recorded 10 total tackles, five solos and one tackle for loss.
Although he’ll be playing behind outside linebacker Nick Vigil, don’t be surprised if Surratt gets on the field and makes an impact on the Vikings’ defense this coming season.
Williams made a name for himself in his final season at UNC, rushing for over 1,000 yards and a whopping 19 touchdowns while sharing the load with Carter. His monster performances last season earned him the highest draft selection of all rookie Tar Heels, being drafted in the second round to the Broncos.
In the Broncos’ first two preseason games, Williams has not been given the best chance to show his in-game talent, due to splitting carries with the running back depth chart. Expect Williams to develop and get on the field more in the regular season as he backs up Broncos starting running back, Melvin Gordon.
As a third-round pick, Brown has displayed some flashes of the big-play explosiveness he had at UNC this preseason. In Washington’s game against the Miami Dolphins, Brown was only targeted four times, yet came down with two receptions for 16 yards.
He improved in Washington’s next matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, once again having two receptions but averaging 16.5 yards per catch with a longest catch of 29 yards.
While this season is expected to be an exciting one for UNC football, the wide range of former talent will also lead to must-see TV during NFL Sundays this fall.
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