Blue and Gold Illustrated

Jan. 1, 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 58 of 63 JAN. 1, 2021 59 IRISH IN THE PROS NOTRE DAME IN THE NFL: WEEK 15 HIGHLIGHTS • Miles Boykin (Played at Notre Dame from 2015-18), WR, Baltimore Ravens: Hauled in one catch for four yards and a touchdown in the 9-5 Ravens' 40-14 victory against the Jaguars … Has 17 receptions for 210 yards and two touchdowns through 14 games. • Romeo Okwara (2012-15), DE, Detroit Li- ons: Recorded four tackles and one sack for a safety in the 5-9 Lions' 46-25 loss to the Titans … Through 14 contests, has 40 tackles, eight sacks, 17 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and one pass defended. • Jaylon Smith (2013-15), LB, Dallas Cow- boys: Recorded a game-high 10 stops in the 5-9 Cowboys' 41-33 win over the 49ers … Through 14 games, he has 133 tackles (third in the NFL), six tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, four passes defended and two quarterback hits. BY ANDREW MENTOCK G reen Bay Packers wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown snagged one reception for seven yards in a 22-21 loss to the Oakland Raiders in a preseason game played on Aug. 22, 2019. Unfortunately, that would be the last catch he'd make for more than a year. In the contest, St. Brown suf- fered a high-ankle sprain when Raid- ers' safety Erik Harris delivered a devastating hit, which was flagged for unnecessary roughness. Due to how much time the sec- ond-year wideout was expected to miss, the Packers elected to place him on injured reserve as opposed to the franchise's initial 53-man roster, which ended his 2019 season before it had a chance to begin. After sitting out for a year, St. Brown made the Packers' 53-man roster at the start of the 2020 season but suffered a knee injury and was placed on injured reserve once again. Given that the injury occurred in- season, he was eligible to return to practice after just three weeks. He made his season debut on the road in a 38-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Oct. 18. St. Brown was targeted twice but finished the game without a reception. By week 11, St. Brown had played in five contests but this resulted in just one catch for 12 yards and a tackle on special teams. Simply put, the ball wasn't coming his way. For instance, in a 24-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars Nov. 15, he played 31 snaps but was never targeted. "The ball didn't go to him, but af- ter the game, I texted him when I watched the tape: 'Hey man, this is the standard, the level we need you to play at if we want our group to get where we need to be,'" wide re- ceivers coach Jason Vrable told Pack- after the game. "He kind of gave me the thumbs-up, and said I agree with you." St. Brown accepted this chal- lenge and, over the next four games, caught five passes for 84 yards, in- cluding two catches for 39 yards in a 41-25 win over the rival Chicago Bears Nov. 29. Against Chicago, St. Brown also carried the ball once for seven yards. "I thought EQ had a heck of a game," Packers head coach Matt LaF- leur said after St. Brown's 46-yard performance. "He's really intelligent. We can move him around, put him at multiple spots. "The thing that's been so impres- sive to me is just he's answered the bell in terms of some of the things that we've asked him to do in the run game, being physical, making key blocks, digging out safeties — and then he made some key plays for us with the ball in his hands." With three games left in the season, the Packers own a 10-3 record and it appears they have a young wide receiver in St. Brown who is ready to play his best football since the end of his rookie campaign in 2018. In 12 games that year, he caught 21 passes for 328 yards, including a five-catch, 94-yard performance in his final contest of the year in a close win against the New York Jets. Still, just because St. Brown has played well recently doesn't mean his injury woes are behind him. The NFL is a physical and often violent league, and he's suffered multiple ailments over the last few weeks, including a potential concus- sion in a 30-16 win over the Phila- delphia Eagles in week 13. But St. Brown was ultimately cleared to play and caught one pass for 15 yards in a playoff-clinching 31-24 victory over the Detroit Lions Dec 13. ✦ After sitting out 2019 and the start of this season on injured reserve, St. Brown has slowly but surely regained his rookie form. He has six catches for 96 yards through week 15 and has earned praise for his downfield blocking. PHOTO BY EVAN SIEGLE/COURTESY GREEN BAY PACKERS Equanimeous St. Brown's Late-Season Emergence

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