Matt Overton, a 2003 graduate of Tracy High, and Amini Silatolu, a 2007 graduate of West High, each played in the first preseason games of the NFL season.
Stanley Arukwe, who is also a 2007 graduate of West High, missed the first weekend of play because of preseason roster changes, but he expects to get on the field this weekend.
Overton, a 6-foot-1, 254-pound special teams center for the Indianapolis Colts, said he couldn’t be happier with his debut, in which the Colts beat the St. Louis Rams 38-3 on Sunday, Aug. 12.
“It was definitely a dream come true, playing in front of a sold-out crowd in Indianapolis,” he said. “We went out there and had a great day.”
Overton joined the Colts this year as a free agent and is the backup long-snapper behind veteran Justin Snow. Overton played the second half of the game and was involved on punt plays and three scoring plays, including two of Adam Vinatieri’s point-after attempts and Pat McAfee’s 31-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
“I took advantage of every opportunity,” Overton said. “I got put into good situations and went out and executed.”
Overton said there were no surprises and that he expected that the speed of the game would be a lot faster than what he experienced in the United Football League. He did admit that he needed to adjust to the roar of 80,000 fans in the Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium. Fans were fired up from the start after rookie quarterback Andrew Luck threw a touchdown pass for the Colts on his first-career NFL play.
“You can’t let anything intimidate you,” Overton said. “It came down to going out there and just believing and having confidence in your abilities.”
Also making his NFL debut was Silatolu, a second-round draft pick for the Carolina Panthers. Silatolu, standing 6-foot-3
and 315 pounds, is the starting left guard for the Panthers.
He opened preseason play on Saturday, Aug. 11, with a 26-13 loss to the Houston Texans at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
It turned out to be a rough day for the Panthers offense, which was held to 149 total yards, and the Texans logged seven sacks on Panthers quarterbacks.
Silatolu couldn’t be reached for comment this week. In highlight clips on the Panthers’ website, Silatolu can be seen clearing the way for quarterback Cameron Newton, who said in a post-game interview that he expects Silatolu will continue to grow into his new role under the guidance of the Panthers’ veteran linemen.
Silatolu’s West High teammate, Arukwe, missed the first week of the preseason after the Arizona Cardinals, who signed him as an undrafted free agent, released him Aug. 1.
Arukwe was then signed as a wide receiver Aug. 7 by the New York Jets.
Arukwe, 5-foot-11, 184 pounds, has been at Jets training camp ever since. While he missed the first preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals, a 17-6 loss, he expects to get into Saturday’s game against the New York Giants.
Arukwe and Silatolu will be on the same field Aug. 26, when the Jets host the Panthers at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.. The game starts at 5 p.m. on NBC.
On Sunday, Aug. 19, the Colts will play the Steelers on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, with a game time of 5 p.m.
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.