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Iowa Football: Hawkeyes in the NFL, Preseason Week 3

Less than one week for roster hopefuls to make their mark.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
Josey Jewell (47) is ready for the regular season to begin.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The big news this past weekend in the NFL was the announced retirement of Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck just two weeks before the season starts. The announcement was not taken well by the few attending the Colts game. Luck was an incredible talent that had a potential Hall of Fame career derailed by injuries.

In other NFL/Hawkeye news, former Hawkeye Dick Woodard died on Saturday at the age of 93. Woodard was an all-conference offensive lineman for the Hawkeyes in 1948 and went on to play for the Los Angeles Dons, New York Giants, and Washington Redskins. Kirk Cousins is his great-nephew and tweeted the news of his passing.

The final cut down for the 53 man rosters are due by this coming Saturday afternoon. Here’s what’s happening with the former Iowa Hawkeyes currently in the NFL.

QB C.J. Beathard (San Francisco 49ers): Beathard didn’t play in San Francisco’s 27-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. By not playing in the critical third game of the preseason, it appears as if Nick Mullens will win the backup job to Jimmy Garoppolo. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has indicated that the team will keep all three quarterbacks but that may change based on other roster needs.

OL Austin Blythe (Los Angeles Rams): Blythe and the Rams defeated the Denver Broncos 10-6 to win their first preseason game. Blythe was originally drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 2017 and was signed by the Rams after being waived by the Colts. He is expected to start for the Rams again in 2019.

OL Ike Boettger (Buffalo Bills): Boettger is on his second stint with the Buffalo Bills. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent in May of 2018, Boettger was released and then signed by the Kansas City Chiefs where he was quickly waived and reclaimed by the BiIls. The Bills defeated the Detroit Lions 24-20 last week. Though the Bills have had some injuries upfront, Boettger is not currently expected to make final cuts.

OL Bryan Bulaga (Green Bay Packers): Bulaga is in the last year of a five year, $42 million contract. He didn’t play as the Packers lost to Oakland this week to drop to 1-2 on the preseason.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins
Bryan Bulaga (75) is hoping for a healthy contract drive season.
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

RB James Butler (Oakland Raiders): Butler carried the ball 15 times for 56 yards against Green Bay. Butler has a tough road in trying to make the roster for the Raiders after spending last year on the practice squad. The Raiders did release RB Doug Martin on Sunday so the door may be slightly open for Butler.

DE Adrian Clayborn (Atlanta Falcons): Clayborn is back with Atlanta after a one year stint in New England that ended with a Super Bowl ring. Clayborn signed a modest one year, $2 million contract. Because they played in the Hall of Fame Game, Atlanta will play five preseason games. So far they’ve played (and lost) four with Clayborn playing sparingly. He is expected to make the roster.

OL Cole Croston (New England Patriots): Croston was re-signed by the Patriots after being let go earlier in the summer. Croston has played in the Patriots last two games, including a 10-3 victory over Carolina. He is not expected to make the final roster.

DT Mike Daniels (Detroit Lions): Daniels joins the Lions after many seasons in Green Bay. He signed a one year, $8.1 million contract and is expected to help anchor the defensive line. Daniels played in his first preseason game against the Bills, recording two tackles, after sitting out with injuries early in camp

C James Daniels (Chicago Bears): The first round pick for the Bears in 2018 started ten games at guard last season and looks to move over to center this year for the Bears. The big news in the 27-17 win over Indianapolis was the announcement of Luck’s retirement.

DT Carl Davis (Cleveland Browns): Davis is on the bubble for a roster spot with the Browns. He had one tackle in a 13-12 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past week.

OL Andrew Donnal (Detroit Lions): Donnal is in his second season with the Lions. He signed a one year deal at $845 thousand. Donnal has played in all three preseason game and is expected to make the team as a backup tackle.

WR Nick Easley (Buffalo Bills): Easley has not recorded a catch in any preseason game this year and the undrafted free agent is not expected to make the roster. However, there is some indication that the Bills may take a look at him for their practice squad.

TE Noah Fant (Denver Broncos): Fant was the Bronco’s first round pick. He will of course make the roster and should quickly become a primary target of new Bronco quarterback Joe Flacco. Fant was injured a week ago in a game against the 49ers but is apparently on track to play opening day.

C James Ferentz (New England Patriots): Another Hawkeye trying to stick with the Patriots, Ferentz is on the last year of his two year, $1.4 million contract. Ferentz played two games with the Patriots last season and is going to have to fight to win a roster spot.

S Jake Gervase (Los Angeles Rams): Another member of the Rams that defeated Denver, Gervase had one tackle in the victory. Gervase was signed by the Rams as an undrafted free agent in May and is not projected to make the final 53 man roster.

OL Adam Gettis (Atlanta Falcons): Gettis signed a one year, $800 thousand contract as he fights for a roster spot. He has played in all the preseason games but is not expected to make the final roster.

TE Parker Hesse (Tennessee Titans): Hesse, the undrafted free agent, is trying the tough task of making a position change after college (from defensive end to tight end). He didn’t see any action in an 18-6 loss to Pittsburgh. Hesse is not expected to make the roster.

LB Anthony Hitchens (Kansas City Chiefs): Hitchens comes to Kansas City from the Dallas Cowboys after signing a five year, $45 million contract before last season. He had two tackles in the loss to San Francisco.

TE T.J. Hockenson (Detroit Lions): The number eight pick in this past draft, Hockenson is currently listed as second on the depth chart at tight end but smart money says that he will have the most impact for the Lions. Hockenson had three catches for 52 yards in the loss to Buffalo last week. In the video below starting at the 3:00 mark, there’s a couple catches from T.J. I wanted to put a different clip in here because the announcers really talked up Hockenson but unfortunately the first five minutes of the clip were someone bashing the Arizona Cardinal cheerleaders so I didn’t want to be responsible for you watching that video (google: tj hockenson and danny amendola highlights youtube - Hockenson highlights start at the 9:30 mark).

S Amani Hooker (Tennessee Titans): Hooker was drafted in the fourth round this past April. Hooker had an interception and three tackles in the first half in the loss to Pittsburgh. Hooker is starting to get some recognition from some NFL experts. Pro Football Focus believes Hooker could eventually “dominate at the NFL level” based on his elite grades in slot coverage during his time with Iowa.

S Micah Hyde (Buffalo Bills): The third Hawkeye on the Bills roster, Hyde came to Buffalo in 2017 and is currently in the third year of a five year $38 million contract. He played briefly against Detroit recording one tackle and is expected to make the final roster.

CB Josh Jackson (Green Bay Packers): Trying to join Bulaga on the Packer roster is Jackson. The team’s second round pick in 2018, Jackson played in all 16 games during his rookie season, including ten starts. Jackson is expected to make the roster. Against the Raiders, Jackson had two tackles and two pass deflections.

LB Josey Jewell (Denver Broncos): Jewell played in all 16 games for Denver last year, starting eight of them. He had 53 tackles on the season and is expected to start for the Broncos this year though he has been battling an oblique injury all camp.

DT Jaleel Johnson (Minnesota Vikings): Johnson was the Vikings fourth round pick in 2017 and is in the third year of his rookie contract. He had just 13 tackles in 16 games last year so his roster spot could be in play. In a 20-9 victory over Arizona, Johnson had one tackle. According to Viking beat writer Andrew Krammer, Johnson is projected as making the roster as the eighth of nine defensive linemen kept.

CB Desmond King (Los Angeles Chargers): King was named first team All-Pro last year but ironically was not invited to the Pro Bowl, go figure. Since being drafted by the Chargers in the fifth round in 2017, King has done nothing but make plays. With 138 tackles and four interceptions over the past two seasons, expect King to continue to thrive, especially with the pressure that the Chargers front four can provide. King had two tackles and a pass deflection in a 23-15 loss to Seattle.

LB Christian Kirksey (Cleveland Browns): Kirksey is in the third year of a four year, $38 million contract. He had three tackles in the loss to Tampa Bay.

TE George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers): Kittle is either the best or second best tight end in the game right now depending on how you feel about Travis Kelce. Kittle didn’t play against Kansas City but is expected to be ready for opening day.

LS Casey Kreiter (Denver Broncos): Kreiter makes his money as a long snapper and is making $1 million to do just that, not a bad gig. His roster spot is safe.

CB Greg Mabin (FA): Mabin was waived by San Francisco two weeks ago after suffering a calf injury in practice.

OL Matt Nelson (Detroit Lions): The fourth member of the Hawkeyes trying to make the Lions, Nelson signed as a undrafted free agent and is currently a long shot at making the Lions roster. Like Hesse, Nelson is trying a position change from the DL he played in college.

LB Anthony Nelson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Nelson was the Bucs fourth round pick in the past draft. He’s been slowed with a MCL injury this preseason but is expected to make the roster as an edge rusher.

LB Ben Niemann (Kansas City Chiefs): Niemann is with Kansas City, coming to the team as an undrafted free agent in 2018. He had six tackles in the loss to San Francisco. Niemann played in 14 games with the Chiefs last year and is expected to make the roster once again this year.

NFL: Preseason-Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers
Looks like LB Ben Niemann (56) is tackling a Hawkeye.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

OL Riley Reiff (Minnesota Vikings): Reiff is in the third year of a $59 million five year deal. The big lineman missed three games with injuries last season but is a lock to start the year on the line for the Vikings. Reiff has been healthy so far this preseason and has started each game.

C Keegan Render (Philadelphia Eagles): Render was signed by the Eagles as an undrafted free agent in May. The Eagles have an experienced offensive line so the chances that Render sticks on the initial 53 man roster are slim. Veteran Stefen Wisniewski is struggling early in the preseason though so if he is cut, Render may become an option. The Eagles lost to the Baltimore Ravens 26-15.

OL Ross Reynolds (San Francisco 49ers): Reynolds was signed as an undrafted free agent by San Francisco and has a tough battle to win a spot. He is not projected to make the opening day roster.

OL Brandon Scherff (Washington Redskins): Scherff has started in all 54 games of his career. Last year he was limited to only eight games due to injuries but is expected to be back in the lineup this season. The Redskins picked up his fifth option year from his initial rookie contract so he will be looking for a big season and a big payday next year. Schreff has played in the last two preseason games as he gets ready for the season.

OL Marshal Yanda (Baltimore Ravens): Yanda has yet to play in the preseason. A future Hall of Famer, Yanda signed a one year, $10 million contract and as long as he is healthy, will be on the roster and anchoring the line for the Ravens.