The 2021-22 NFL season begins Thursday night when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the defending Super Bowl champions, host the Dallas Cowboys.
Maurice Canady and Brent Urban, two of the 10 former Virginia players on 53-man NFL rosters, will compete for the Cowboys. The defensive duo has their work cut out for themselves against Tom Brady and the Bucs.
The eight other former UVa players get their seasons started later this weekend.
It’s also worth noting that the Cavaliers have a handful of players on practice squads, in addition to the 10 guys on active rosters. Joe Reed, Kurt Benkert, Tim Harris, Charles Snowden, Micah Kiser, Tony Poljan and Eric Smith are all on practice squads for NFL teams.
Here’s an overview of the former Virginia players on NFL rosters ahead of Week 1.
Maurice Canady, Cowboys
A defensive back, Canady also has spent time in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets. He’s hopeful to make an impact for the Cowboys, who struggled mightily on defense a season ago. He opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.
Dallas allowed 34 passing touchdowns compared to just 10 interceptions. Canady could have a chance to impact a weak position group.
Brent Urban, Cowboys
After spending 2020 with the Chicago Bears, Urban joins the Cowboys this season. The defensive lineman recorded 36 tackles and 2.5 sacks a season ago, playing in 16 games and starting eight contests.
He’ll certainly have a chance to earn playing time in Dallas.
Juan Thornhill, Chiefs
Andy Reid and company trust Thornhill. He’s played 32 games in two NFL seasons, recording four interceptions for one of the NFL’s best teams. There’s no reason to believe he won’t be an impact player at safety yet again this fall.
Bryce Perkins, Rams
The Rams kept Perkins on their 53-man roster, making him one of three quarterbacks on the roster. The starting job is clearly Matthew Stafford’s, but it says a lot about Perkins that the Rams wanted him on their 53-man roster.
Perkins performed well in the preseason, showing off his athleticism a few times. He even hurdled over a defender in one game, something UVa fans saw a few times during his collegiate playing days.
Bryce Hall, Jets
Hall spent the beginning of last season recovering from the injury that ended his UVa career. He played eight games last season for the subpar Jets, recording one interception and 36 tackles. It’s a young cornerbacks group, and Hall is expected to be a leader at the position in Year 2.
When healthy, he’s dynamic. The developing Jets hope Hall can be an impactful piece for years to come.
Morgan Moses, Jets
After seven seasons in Washington, Moses joins the New York Jets. He’ll look to protect new starting quarterback Zach Wilson, a high draft pick out of BYU.
He’s been in competition with George Fant for the starting right tackle position.
Anthony Harris, Eagles
After snagging six interceptions for Minnesota in 2019, Harris didn’t come down with any in 2020. He did, however, set a career-best mark with 104 tackles.
Now with the Eagles, Harris figures to be an important weapon in the secondary. The NFC East feels wide open this fall, and Harris hopes Philadelphia can take a leap forward and make the playoffs in the process.
Rodney McLeod, Eagles
McLeod tore his ACL in December, so he may miss time to open the season. When he does return, the safety gives Philadelphia veteran experience at the position.
He’s played 126 games in his NFL career and recorded 14 interceptions. The Eagles secondary possesses a major UVa connection with McLeod and Harris both in the defensive backfield.
Olamide Zaccheaus, Falcons
The wide receiver secured 20 receptions for 274 yards and a touchdown last season. He’s looking to contribute for the Falcons again this season, serving as a complement to primary weapons like wide receiver Calvin Ridley and tight end Kyle Pitts.
Oday Aboushi, Chargers
Aboushi spent 2019 and 2020 with the Detroit Lions. He’s now with the Chargers, the sixth team of his NFL career. He’ll be asked to protect second-year quarterback Justin Herbert, one of the game’s bright young stars.