Week 9 of the 2020 NFL season has arrived, providing viewers with a better idea of how the league is shaping up come playoff time.
With that in mind, let’s check in to see how Penn alumni Justin Watson, Brandon Copeland, and Greg Van Roten are all doing for their respective teams this season. Coach Kevin Stefanski and his Cleveland Browns were on a bye week and are preparing to face the Houston Texans at home next week.
Justin Watson — Wide Receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Despite an exciting finish to the season last year, the legendary receiver for the Quakers has struggled to find a consistent role within the Bucs' offense this year, losing the slot receiver battle to Scotty Miller. Watson has received his most minutes in games where one or more of the Buccaneers’ starting receivers were injured.
However, the Buccaneers recognized this ongoing situation of wide receiver injuries could be a problem come January and decided to make the bold decision of signing former Pittsburgh Steelers and perennial All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown. As long as Brown is on the team and the receiving corps is mostly healthy, it is unlikely that Watson will get much playing time, as shown this past weekend when he played zero snaps in a brutal 38-3 loss against the New Orleans Saints.
Brandon Copeland — Outside Linebacker, New England Patriots
The former captain of the 2012 Ivy League title game team suffered a season-ending pectoral injury against the 49ers in Week 7 and has not played since. His injury is major to the Patriots, who had eight players opt out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns, including defensive veterans like linebacker Dont'a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung.
Copeland provided them valuable depth at linebacker this season, which has since been seriously depleted for a team that evidently is missing quarterback Tom Brady’s presence in the locker room and on the field.
Greg Van Roten — Guard, New York Jets
While other Penn alums in the NFL have struggled to find a stable role on their teams, whether due to competition or injuries, Greg Van Roten’s season has been the complete opposite. So far for the 0-9 New York Jets, he has played every single offensive snap of the season and has not given up a single sack.
In the most recent game against the Patriots, Van Roten and the rest of the offensive line were a main reason why quarterback Joe Flacco was able to find success with the offense, though the Jets narrowly lost 30-27. Though the Jets’ season has been disappointing, Van Roten is one of the few bright spots on the team and looks like a centerpiece of the offensive line for the Jets to build around.
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