USC Football to NFL: How the Trojan Rookies Fared In Preseason Week 1


USC football’s ability to send players to the NFL is well acknowledged. How did the latest crop of Trojan rookies fare in their first taste of NFL action?

The first week of NFL preseason action came and went this weekend, with ten former USC football players taking part in their first pro games.

Six games from Thursday to Saturday involved Trojan rookies, Su’a Cravens, Max Tuerk, Cody Kessler, Kevon Seymour, Claude Pelon, Anthony Sarao, Delvon Simmons, Greg Townsend Jr., Soma Vainuku and Antwaun Woods.

Here’s a look at how the Projan rookies looked during Preseason Week 1:

Su’a Cravens | Washington Redskins

Cravens had a bright start to his NFL career, earning praise from head coach Jay Gruden for his efforts against the Atlanta Falcons.

With three tackles, including a tackle for loss and a pass deflection, Cravens made an impression.

“Looked like he was all over the place,” Gruden was quoted on “Loved his energy, I wanted to see a lot of these young guys come in and play with a lot of energy.”

Energy is not something Cravens lacks and while it is weird to see Cravens out of his normal No. 21 jersey, it was no surprise to see him logging tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Max Tuerk | San Diego Chargers

The newest San Diego Charger took the field against the Tennessee Titans for the first time since tearing his ACL last fall but struggled in his debut.

While observers in San Diego still see Tuerk as a potential starter down the line, the start to his career put his place on the depth chart in clear view, especially with the addition of Matt Slausen at center.

Tuerk had two penalties during the game, one for an illegal snap and one for holding.

Cody Kessler | Cleveland Browns

The start to Kessler’s NFL career was appropriately mixed. He threw a 10-yard touchdown on his first throw against the Green Bay Packers and completed both of his pass attempts in total.

However, the Trojan QB also displayed the same decision-making which marred his USC career in the biggest moments. And just like in Los Angeles, his team wasn’t great at putting him in good situations either.

Two drives started in the shadow of his own endzone. The first saw him roll out to the right, then out of the endzone completely for a safety; He mistook a line just outside the endzone for the end of the area itself.

Later, he was sacked in the endzone before he ever got the chance to lead a potential game-winning drive late in the fourth.

Kevon Seymour | Buffalo Bills

It’s been quite the offseason for Seymour, who was drafted in the sixth round by the Buffalo Bills, discovered that he needed corrective lenses, and impressed coaches during OTAs.

In his first NFL game, Seymour added fuel to the fire that he may be one of the draft steals of 2016.

The cornerback deflected two passes in the endzone. The first was a near-interception on a two-point conversion. The second was to prevent a touchdown late in the first half.

While he also got flagged for pass interference, the faith that Bills coaches have in Seymour appears pretty high. His 39 defensive snaps was tied for the most of any Buffalo player against the Colts, per the Buffalo News.

Tre Madden | Seattle Seahawks

Madden can’t seem to shake his injury trouble. He was placed on waivers with an injury designation due to a shoulder problem. Since he cleared waivers he is now on the Seahawks injured reserve.

Claude Pelon | New York Jets

Pelon surprised by making his first appearance when the second team took the field in a nickel package, per

"Pelon struggled badly against the Jaguars’ starters, getting driven back eight yards and to the ground on one play, but then flashed in the second half against back-ups. He got some good penetration, drawing one holding call, and recorded a quarterback hit on a quick move."

The defensive lineman is fighting for a roster place, so seeing the field is a good thing, but with a loaded Jets defensive line it’ll remain an uphill battle.

Anthony Sarao | Indianapolis Colts

Sarao was waived by the Colts after rookie minicamp but was recently re-signed by the team.

Getting into the game against the Bills, Sarao had one tackle.

Delvon Simmons | Indianapolis Colts

Simmons matched his former Trojan teammate with one tackle for the Colts against Buffalo.

Greg Townsend Jr. | Oakland Raiders

Townsend started training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list because of a hamstring problem but got back on the practice field last week well enough to earn playing time against the Arizona Cardinals.

The trouble is, Townsend’s most memorable moment of the night involved a penalty for roughing the passer. He hit Cardinals quarterback Matt Barkley as he released a pass, but then threw him to the ground to draw the flag.

Coaches won’t be pleased with that display but it seems Townsend looked otherwise bright in his cameo.

Soma Vainuku | Houston Texans

Vainuku got in the game late during the Texans win over the 49ers.

Antwaun Woods | Tennesee Titans

Despite going undrafted, Woods is currently ahead of second round Titans draft pick Austin Johnson on the depth chart after impressing coaches during camp.

His place at second on the depth chart seemed well deserved against the Chargers.

Though he had to take some time to adjust to the game, Woods earned praise for his performance from head coach Mike Mularkey.

“He started slow. I just watched the tape before coming in here with Coach (Dick) LeBeau, but I thought once he settled down a little bit, which is again the rookies, I thought he played well the more he played,” Mularkey said during his Sunday press conference.

Woods had one tackle and, according to Brian Moore of, stood his ground and formed a wall in the middle of the defense.