Blue and Gold Illustrated

October 28, 2023

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM OCT. 28, 2023 59 IRISH IN THE PROS BY TODD D. BURLAGE T he start to the NFL career for Las Vegas Raiders rookie tight end Mi- chael Mayer has been inauspicious at best so far. But in a 17-13 win over the Packers Oct. 9, he validated the reasons the Raiders made the former Irish All- American their second-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. After recording only 1 reception for 2 yards on just 2 targets with no touch- downs through four games, Mayer had 2 catches on three targets for 39 yards, including a 20-yarder, against the Packers. He also scored on a two-point conversion catch in a 23-18 loss to the Steelers Sept. 24. Raiders offensive coordinator Mike Lombardi explained how he's been try- ing to find ways to get Mayer more in- volved in the offense, "but sometimes the game goes a certain way where we had to have him help with pass protec- tion," Lombardi explained. "And obvi- ously he plays a big part of that in terms of blocking on the edge. And some- times the ball finds you, sometimes it doesn't." During his three years at Notre Dame (2020-22,) Mayer set almost every ca- reer record for an Irish tight end, in- cluding receptions (180), receiving yards (2,099) and touchdowns (18). CLAYPOOL TO THE DOLPHINS After an unproductive and tumultu- ous 10-month stay with the Chicago Bears, former Irish wide receiver Chase Claypool was traded to the Miami Dol- phins for a 2025 sixth-round draft pick Oct. 6. The move came after the Bears' team leaders became so frustrated with Clay- pool's performance this season they kept him inactive and away from the team for two games during their search for a trade partner. In 10 games with the Bears dating back to late last season, the second-round draft pick of the Steel- ers in 2020 recorded 18 catches for 191 yards with 1 touchdown. Claypool's best NFL season came as a rookie with the Steelers in 2020 when he totaled 62 receptions for 873 yards and 9 touchdowns. It's been diminish- ing returns since. Miami becomes the third NFL team that Claypool, who played at Notre Dame from 2016-19, has landed with in less than one calendar year. We'll see if this change of scenery serves him well. ✦ Raiders' Michael Mayer Showing Rookie Improvement Mayer had 2 catches on three targets for 39 yards, including a 20-yarder, in the Las Vegas Raiders' 17-13 win against the Green Bay Packers Oct. 9. PHOTO COURTESY LAS VEGAS RAIDERS FIGHTING IRISH HEADLINERS Blake Grupe (Played at Notre Dame in 2022), PK, New Orleans Saints (NFL) The rookie kicker continued the hot start to his NFL career with two field goals from 50-plus yards in a 34-0 win over the New England Patriots Oct. 8. Grupe's field goals came from 53 yards and a career-high 54 yards. The Sedalia, Mo., native also converted all four of his point-after tries in the game, bringing his season totals to 11 of 12 on field goals and 9 of 9 on extra points. Cole Kmet (2017-19), TE, Chicago Bears (NFL) One week after catching 7 passes for 85 yards with 2 touchdowns in a 31-28 loss to the Broncos Oct. 1, the Lake Barrington, Ill., native recorded 5 re- ceptions for 42 yards with 1 touchdown in a 40-20 win over Washington Oct. 5. It was the first win for the Bears after four straight losses to start the season. Through five games, Kmet had 23 receptions for 231 yards with 3 touchdowns. Drue Tranquill (2014-18), LB, Kansas City Chiefs (NFL) Starting to hit his stride in his first season with the Chiefs after spend- ing the past four with the Los Angeles Chargers, the former Irish team captain made a season-high 9 tack- les in a 27-20 win over the Vikings Oct. 8. Through five games, the Fort Wayne, Ind., native and 2019 fourth- round draft pick had 32 tackles and 0.5 sacks. Showing steady improvement, Tranquill made at least 8 tackles in the three games from Sept. 24 through Oct. 8.

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