On Thursday night, football fans got their first taste of the game when they were finally back as the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars kicked off the preseason with the league’s annual Hall of Fame matchup.
The preseason curtain raise, delayed by 40 minutes due to severe weather, remained largely one-sided, with the Raiders beating the Jaguars 27-11.
As expected, both teams kept large amounts of projected starters and key players out to avoid injury, but fans saw the NFL’s No. 1 overall pick, Travon Walker, take the field for the first time. Walker gave Jaguars fans at least one thing to cheer on the night after recording his first NFL sack.
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie edge rusher Travon Walker closes Raiders QB Jarret Stidham (No. 3) en route to first NFL sack
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie edge rusher Travon Walker tackles Raiders QB Jarret Stidham to secure first NFL layoff
After setting the worst record in the league last year, Jacksonville took out the 6-foot-5, 272lb edge rusher from the University of Georgia.
In Walker’s senior year at Georgia, he amassed 37 tackles, 7.5 sacks and two strides. Over the course of his three years in college, Walker collected a total of 61 tackles, 13 tackles for losses and one interception.
Despite his modest stats, Walker amazed talent evaluators with the athletic and physical attributes he showed on film. Walker confirmed these thoughts when he posted several impressive numbers on the NFL combine, including a 4.51 40-yard dash, 35.5-inch vertical jump and 6.89 3-drill.
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie edge rusher Walker rushes to scrimmage at Thursday night’s Hall of Fame Game
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie edge rusher Walker lifts helmet to take water break during training camp earlier this week
Jacksonville will hope that Walker and the rest of their off-season additions will help prevent more disastrous outings, such as this one season spent as the leagues top losers.
Along with a loaded draft class and a ton of money spent in free agency, most notably the $72 million four-year contract given to wide receiver Christian Kirk, the Jaguars also hired Doug Pederson as the team’s head coach.
Pederson famously led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl win in 2018 and was fired from the team after the 2020 season. Jaguars cornerback Tyson Campbell, a 2021 second round pick, was also injured in the game and left the game during the first quarter.
Number One Pick Walker Talks to the Press During Jaguar’s Training Camp at Episcopal High School in Jacksonville, Florida
Jaguar quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne Jr. and Raider’s quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Davante Adams sat outside, but Lawrence did speak to reporters on the sidelines during the game.
“I’m just looking forward to playing all over the field,” Lawrence said. “We have a bunch of guys who are like I said before, game makers, a lot of speed, but also very smart… I’m excited about that, I’m excited for this new journey.”
In contrast, this season’s NFL journey began with Raiders backup driving back Ameer Abdullah and scoring the first touchdown of both the game and the preseason. However, Abdullah’s touchdown celebration seemed to be mid-season as he didn’t hold back with a successful karate kick.
Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence talks to coaches and teammates on the sidelines during Hall of Fame Game
Raiders RB Ameer Abdullah scored the first touchdown of Thursday’s Hall of Fame game on an eight-meter run in the first quarter
Las Vegas Raider quarterback Derek Carr also didn’t play in Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game to protect him from injury
Aside from the on-field action, fans could see this year’s NFL Hall of Fame class introduced before taking the stage for the Enshrinement Ceremony. This year’s class includes Tony Boselli, wide receiver Cliff Branch, safety LeRoy Butler, linebacker Sam Mills, defensive lineman Richard Seymour and defensive lineman Bryant Young.
Seymour, who is also the youngest member of the class, is the name most younger fans will remember when they last played for the then Oakland Raiders in 2012. During his career, Seymour won three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots among a slew of other accolades.
Dick Vermeil is the only member of the class to have coached and served as the head coach of the Eagles, Rams, and Chiefs for a long career, including success in the college game with UCLA.
The NFL season kicks off on Thursday, September 8, when the Buffalo Bills take on the LA Rams.
Richard Seymour to be honored for Thursday night’s NFL Hall of Fame Game ahead of Saturday’s HOF anchoring
Former NFL coach Dick Vermeil is presented to the public before being inducted into HOF this weekend