Former Tide standouts facing tough first test in the NFL

Alabama runningback Jahmyr Gibbs (1) runs into the endzone against Mississippi State at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL on Saturday, Oct 22, 2022. (Photo provided by SEC Media Portal)

By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Sam Thornton

TUSCALOOSA – The National Football League will release their full slate regular season schedule tonight at 7 p.m. for fans to rave about. The yearly schedule release process provides teases throughout the week of its release, and today the league announced that the kickoff game will be played between the Detroit Lions and the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. The Lions will travel to Arrowhead stadium on Sep. 7th.

The highly anticipated matchup will feature two University of Alabama standouts from the 2022 season. Rookies Jahmyr Gibbs and Brian Branch were both taken by the Lions in this years NFL draft with their first and second round selections.

Running back Jahmyr Gibbs comes into the Lions backfield after totaling career highs in both all purpose yards and touchdowns in 2022. The second-team All-American will likely see substantial action throughout his rookie season in Detroit paired with David Montgomery in the backfield. Gibbs’ first test will show to be the toughest against one of the most statistically dominant defensive lines in the NFL.

His skillset expands past the ground game with excellent efficiency as a slot and wideout receiver. Some NFL analysts have compared him to former Alabama and All-Pro running back Alvin Kamara. This is an ingredient of Gibbs’ game that will cause headaches for Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.

The Chiefs were reported to be targeting Gibbs throughout pre draft evaluations, per Sports Illustrated.

“I wouldn’t want to be in the AFC West,” one NFC exec told Sports Illustrated. “If Gibbs winds up in Kansas City.”

Branch, a decorated All-American defensive back, was selected by the Lions as part of their secondary unit reconstruction. Branch brings a unique skillset to the Detroit defense, with the ability to play multiple positions of nickel, safety, and outside corner. He too will face the toughest test of his season in week 1 facing Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and a deep receiving unit.

The Lions traded up in the second round of the NFL draft to select Branch with the No. 45 overall pick.

It might be the biggest game of both Gibbs’ and Branch’s 2023 season, but their versatile talents will certainly help the surging Detroit Lions.

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