Gophers in the NFL: Ben St-Juste endures tough debut; Ryan Santoso makes first points

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Sep. 13—Former Gophers cornerback Benjamin St-Juste had a difficult NFL debut Sunday.

The Washington Football Team rookie was a routine target of Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, and St-Juste gave up at least six catches, including the game-winning touchdown to Mike Williams in the fourth quarter. St-Juste, a third round pick in the 2021 draft, finished with four tackles.

Four former Minnesota players had more tackles than St-Juste in the NFL's opening week: Buccaneers' Antoine Winfield Jr. (eight); Jaguars' Damien Wilson (seven); Packers' De'Vondre Campbell and Texans' Eric Murray (six apiece).

Panthers' kicker Ryan Santoso notched his first NFL points. After being traded from the Giants in preseason, the former U kicker/punter was 2 for 2 on field goals (29 and 22 yards) and was 1 for 2 on extra points. He handled kickoffs for the Titans in 2019.

Jets linebacker Blake Cashman injured his hamstring against the Panthers; it's the second-straight season opener Cashman has exited with an injury.

Three other former U players took the field Sunday, but didn't record a stat: Cardinals' Maxx Williams, Buccaneers' Tyler Johnson and Giants' Carter Coughlin. Williams and Johnson each had a target.

Rashod Bateman, the first U first-round draft pick since 2006, would have made his NFL debut on Monday Night Football, if not for the preseason groin surgery that has put him on injured reserve to start the season.

The Gophers have six players on NFL practice squads: Briean Boddy-Calhoun (Titans); Chris Williamson (Falcons); Rodney Smith and Kamal Martin (Panthers); Craig James (Eagles) and Kiondre Thomas (Chargers). Former U quarterback/receiver Chris Streveler was inactive Sunday for the Cardinals.