UNC Football: Tar Heels Update in the NFL Preseason

Aug 12, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Josh Downs (1) returns a kickoff against Buffalo Bills wide receiver Bryan Thompson (89) in the third quarter of a pre-season game at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 12, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Josh Downs (1) returns a kickoff against Buffalo Bills wide receiver Bryan Thompson (89) in the third quarter of a pre-season game at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports /

Several former UNC football players saw opportunities during the first week of the NFL Preseason as they are trying to earn a roster spot.

The 2023 NFL Preseason got underway this past weekend and the UNC football program has several alumni seeing playing time. As most football fans know, the NFL preseason isn’t for the superstars – it’s for guys trying to impress a front-office staff and earn their way onto a 53-man roster.

We’ve covered some former Tar Heels who have had standout performances already during the first week of the preseason, but this will be a list that consists of guys who had notable stat lines inside the box score.

Antoine Green 

Rookie wide receiver Antoine Green was drafted in the seventh round by the Detroit Lions. On Saturday, against the New York Giants, he saw three targets, catching all three for 36 yards in a 21-16 Lions win. The highlight was this catch for 24 yards.

Mitchell Trubisky

Mitchell Trubisky signed an extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers this off-season. However, it doesn’t appear that Trubisky will be working his way into a starting role anytime soon. Kenny Pickett is expected to be the starter for the Steelers in 2023 with the uncertainty on who his backup may be. When Trubisky signed the extension, it was assumed he would be the backup, however, his performance in the preseason opener wasn’t promising.

Trubisky was just 1/4 for 10 yards and threw an interception against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Meanwhile, the other backup in the QB room for the Steelers, Mason Rudolph, went 7/12 for 132 yards and a touchdown. Hopefully, Trubisky can turn it around over the next two preseason games for the Steelers.

Cole Holcomb

Cole Holcomb spent the first four years of his time in the NFL with the Washington Commanders. This offseason, his contract with them expired, and he signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Holcomb recorded two tackles in the Steelers’ first preseason game against the Buccaneers, which they won 27-17.

Sam Howell

We covered Sam Howell on Saturday after his impressive performance for the Commanders on Friday night. You can read more about that here.

Dyami Brown

Dyami Brown, a teammate of Sam Howell in Washington, is hoping to catch plenty of passes from Howell during the 2023 season. In the Commanders’ preseason opener, Brown caught one pass for 14 yards, not from Howell however. His reception came in the second quarter from backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett. It wasn’t a routine grab though for Brown, who made a great sideline catch.

Josh Downs

Josh Downs has been impressive inside the Indianapolis Colts training camp this preseason, getting reps at several positions, including with the first team. In his preseason opener, Downs caught his two targets for 29 yards.

MJ Stewart

MJ Stewart is on the Houston Texans’ preseason roster after signing a two-year contract extension this past offseason with the franchise. During their preseason opener on Thursday night versus the New England Patriots, Stewart recorded two tackles. The Texans won 20-9.

Myles Dorn

Myles Dorn has been with a few teams during the 2023 off-season. After being originally signed as an undrafted free agent with the Minnesota Vikings and staying with the franchise for 3 years, he was released after the end of the 2022 season. In January, the Carolina Panthers signed him to a reserve contract, but that didn’t last long as he was released in June.

At the beginning of August, the Miami Dolphins signed Dorn, who is hoping to impress the front office enough to make it through the preseason cuts. Against the Atlanta Falcons in the preseason opener, Dorn recorded two tackles in a 19-3 loss to the Falcons.

Michael Carter

Michael Carter is in a loaded running back room with the New York Jets and is doing everything he can to make an impact to not get overlooked. Not only do the Jets have 2022 second-round pick Breece Hall, who is returning from an injury last season, but there are several rumors swirling around the possibility of signing Dalvin Cook.

In the second preseason game for the Jets, Carter received four carries for 19 yards. However, he also led the team in receiving, catching two passes for 34 yards as the Jets beat the Panthers 27-0.

Tomon Fox

Tomon Fox, brother of current UNC football defensive lineman Tamari Fox, was signed by the New York Giants in 2022 as an undrafted free agent. During last year, he played in 16 games for the Giants, recording 24 tackles. In the preseason opener against the Lions, Fox recorded one tackle.

Ty Chandler

Ty Chandler was very impressive for the Minnesota Vikings in their preseason opener, leading the team in rushing. You can read more about his performance here.

Asim Richards

Offensive lineman rookie for the Dallas Cowboys Asim Richards received the start in the preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars and was very impressive.

Joshua Ezeudu

The 67th pick in the third round of the NFL Draft to the New York Giants, former UNC football offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu played in ten games in 2022 and started two of those before getting injured. With a good preseason performance, he could earn a starting spot in 2023 for the Giants. In the preseason opener, he played 32 snaps, not allowing a sack.

Kyler McMichael

Kyler McMichael has been around the NFL in just a short period of time and hoping to find a permanent home for the upcoming 2023 NFL Season. Signing with the Arizona Cardinals in June, McMichael recorded two tackles in the Cardinals’ preseason opener versus the Denver Broncos.

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