Oklahoma football: Checking up on NFL debuts of three former Sooners

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 10: Punter Tress Way
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 10: Punter Tress Way /

They were affectionately called the Four Horseman of Oklahoma football last season.

We are of course talking about quarterback Baker Mayfield, running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon and sensational wide-receiver Dede Westbrook. Together, they combined for 96 percent of the team’s passing yards, 84 percent of the rushing yards, 52 percent of the receiving yards, and 56 percent of the Sooner scoring last season.

Pretty difficult to replace that level of production, but that is what Sooner football is tasked with in the upcoming season, which is less than three weeks away.

Three-fourths of OU Four Horseman have moved on the National Football League, leaving only Mayfield, who is entering his final season of college eligibility.

Perine, Mixon and Westbrook made their NFL debuts this past weekend in the first wave of NFL exhibition games preceding the 2017 season, which gets underway for real on Sept. 7.

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Mixon was the first Oklahoma player selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, taken in the second round by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 48th overall pick. The Former Sooner, who was shrouded in controversy while at Oklahoma for viciously striking  female student in the face his true freshman year, contributed to the Bengals first two scores in their 23-12 exhibition win over Tampa Bay last Thursday night.

Mixon had six carries in his NFL debut for 31 rushing yards and caught the only pass thrown to him, breaking two tackles for an 11-yard gain. His pass reception helped set up a 54-yard field goal in the second quarter by teammate Randy Bullock, and he broke off a 13-yard gain later in the same quarter for a 45-yarder by Jake Elliott.

“Once I got that first carry, then I was like. ‘OK.’ I was settled in,” Mixon told reporters after the game with the Buccaneers.

Perine, Oklahoma’s all-time rushing leader and a fourth-round pick of the Washington Redskins in the NFL Draft last spring, also saw his first NFL game action on Thursday night as the Redskins visited the Baltimore Ravens. The former Sooner bruiser back (the ‘thunder’ to Mixon’s “lightning”) got his first NFL carry at the 9:05 mark in the opening quarter, going off right guard for one yard.

Perine had five more carries in the game for a total of 15 rushing yards, the longest of which was for 11 yards.

A former Sooner teammate of Perines. punter Tress Way, has been with the Redskins for three seasons. Way averaged 46 yards per kick on nine punts in Washington’s 23-3 loss to the Ravens.

Westbrook’s first NFL action came on Friday night with the Jacksonville Jaguars, whose opening exhibition game was against the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Westbrook was the fourth-round pick by the Jaguars, selected with the 110th overall pick, four spots ahead of Perine.

Westbrook was targeted once in the Jaguars’ 31-24 win over the Patriots, and he made the most of it. The 2017 Biletnikoff Award winner from Oklahoma hauled in a 42-yard pass from Jacksonville second-year QB Branden Allen and took it to the house, capping a 10-play, 77-yard touchdown drive.

Besides Mixon, Westbrook and Perine, Jordan Evans was the only other Oklahoma Sooner selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. Evans, a linebacker, was selected in the sixth round by the Bengals, where he has joined Mixon in the Cincinnati training camp.

Evans was credited with six tackles, five of them solo tackles, in the Bengals’ preseason victory over Tampa Bay.