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3 stars: Defenders vs. Dragons

Defenders QB Cardale Jones before Saturday's game against the Dragons

In the first game of the 2020 XFL season, the DC Defenders and Seattle Dragons put on an exciting showcase filled with big plays and some memorable moments, with DC picking up the first win in franchise history, 31-19.

Part of the excitement around Saturday's season-opener wasn't just football back in the district, but the opportunity for players to once again demonstrate their skills at the get a second chance at playing football.

On Saturday, plenty of players immediately made the most of the circumstances.

Here are three players that shined in the Defender’s season-opening win.

MORE: Defense comes up large | Defenders vs. Dragons highlights

1. Cardale Jones

All eyes were set to be on No. 12 Saturday afternoon. The quarterback, who is greatly remembered for his championship run at Ohio State, did not disappoint.

While Jones did miss on a few throws, he also had no shortage of impressive plays. Jones consistently showed his ability to move around in the pocket and avoid the rush to find open men downfield. The arm strength was also on full display, as Jones stretched the field and dropped in some dimes on Saturday.

The Defenders’ passer finished the day 16-26 for 291 yards and two touchdowns, with a beautiful touchdown throw to Khari Lee on a trick play and a go-ahead deep ball to Rashad Ross highlighting his day. 

2. Eli Rogers

The speedy receiver quickly became one of Jones’ go-to targets right out of the gate. Constantly finding holes in the defense, Rogers was able to haul in six passes for 73 yards on Saturday, converting multiple big third-downs in the process.

As Rogers and Jones continue to get more time together, the duo could become a lethal connection.

3. Bradley Sylve

For a cornerback, it only takes one big play to get noticed. On Saturday, that’s exactly what the former Alabama star Sylve did. With the Defenders leading 25-19 in the fourth and the Dragons facing a crucial fourth down, Sylve jumped a pass from Bradon Silvers and turned on the jets, taking it all the way to the house for a pick-six.

A highlight-reel play, the turnover helped seal the win for the Defenders.

"It's funny. We knew that play was coming. We had practiced it all week. As soon as I saw the receiver make his move and the quarterback look his way, I knew what was coming. They always say 'practice like you play.' We did. We were prepared and I was there to make the play."

CB Bradley Sylve on his game-sealing pick-six

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