Former Quakers continue to make waves early into the 2022 NFL season, as linebacker Brandon Copeland found his way back onto an active NFL roster this week and made a splash in his return to the Charm City.
Here’s a look how Copeland and the rest of Penn’s alumni in the NFL performed during week three of the NFL regular season.
Brandon Copeland — Linebacker, Baltimore Ravens
On Wednesday, Copeland signed with the Baltimore Ravens practice squad after last playing with the Atlanta Flacons in the 2021 season. In between, he returned to teach a financial literacy course at Penn and appeared on the new "Shark Tank"-like reality series, "Buy My House," on Netflix. It marked a return to home for the Sykesville, Md. native, as well as a return to the franchise that he originally signed with as an undrafted free agent in 2013, much to head coach John Harbaugh’s excitement.
While his stint in 2013 was short-lived, Copeland appears to be getting a bigger opportunity this time around. The Ravens are currently very thin at linebacker, due to injuries to starting linebackers Steven Means and Justin Houston.
As such, Copeland was quickly elevated to the active roster for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. He played 30 snaps total on defense and special teams and capped off his performance with a clutch sack of quarterback Mac Jones late in the fourth quarter as the Patriots were trying to sneak back into the game. The play marked his first sack since 2019, when he still played for the New York Jets.
Copeland has the potential to receive a lot more snaps going forward as he gets more integrated into Mike Macdonald’s defensive scheme and with defensive injuries continuing to be an issue for the Ravens.
Justin Watson — Wide Receiver, Kansas City Chiefs
Coming off a career performance last Thursday against the Chargers, where he hauled in a 41-yard touchdown from Patrick Mahomes over cornerback J.C. Jackson, Watson was held in check this week, as he only got one target and had no catches in 16 total snaps at receiver and on special teams. The Chiefs are very deep at receiver, and as long as starting outside wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Mecole Hardman continue to be healthy, it is unlikely that Watson will be playing more than a third of the offensive snaps most games.
Kevin Stefanski — Head Coach, Cleveland Browns
After a gut-wrenching loss in which the Browns blew a 13-point lead in less than two minutes in a loss to the Jets, Stefanski’s crew bounced back in a big way, winning a key divisional matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night.
Stefanski earned praise from many analysts for putting quarterback Jacoby Brissett in a position to be successful and appropriately utilizing the Browns’ two best offensive weapons in wide receiver Amari Cooper and running back Nick Chubb, who both turned in strong performances Thursday.
With the win, Stefanski became the first coach for the Browns since Bill Belichick in 1999 to beat the Steelers thrice.
Greg Van Roten — Guard/Center, Buffalo Bills
After stepping into the void at center following starter Mitch Morse’s injury last week against the Tennessee Titans and playing 38 snaps, Van Roten earned the start against the Dolphins, but did not experience the same luck this week.
The 32-year-old played 69 snaps, before suffering from a leg injury. While he was able to walk off under his own power, he was unable to return to the game, and the extent of his injury is currently being evaluated, with no update as of now. Center depth remains an issue for the Bills, as they have now lost their top two players at that position.
Prince Emili — Defensive Tackle, Buffalo Bills
Emili was elevated to the active roster before Sunday’s contest in Miami, as a result of Bobby Hart’s one-game suspension as well as an injury to starting defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, who had to miss Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury.
The 2022 Penn alumnus played in seven snaps in the 21-19 loss, all on defense. Following the game, he was released once Hart’s reinstatement was made official, and barring any waiver claims, will likely be resigned to the Bills’ practice squad.