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Hawkeyes in the NFL: Week 6 Recap

George Kittle is back, Michael Ojemudia is a potential star and Tristan Wirfs seems like he might be OK.

Los Angeles Rams v San Francisco 49ers
George Kittle: good at football.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Every week, everything seems totally wild and I find myself repeatedly starting every post with something about how wild things are. At this point enough is enough. Wild is the new normal. And by those standards it was a pretty normal week in the NFL.

Week six saw the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks all on byes. That meant only Desmond King of the Chargers was inactive due to bye this week. There were, however, plenty of other former Hawkeyes not in action due to injury and other reasons.

Here’s a look at how everyone who did play performed in week 6.

Game Ball

George Kittle is a thing of beauty. I held off as long as I could on handing out a game ball and tried to spread the wealth a bit, but the time is now. Kittle finished week 6 with a game high 109 receiving yards on 7 receptions, which was also a game high. His 10 targets were nearly double the next highest for a 49ers receiver as Kittle again showed he is the most dependable option in San Francisco. Oh yeah, he also found the endzone again.

Through six weeks of the season, Kittle is now second among tight ends in receiving yards at 380 - just 25 fewer yards than the league leader Travis Kelce in one fewer game. Kittle is averaging 12.7 yards per reception and has a pair of TDs on the year. He’s #GoodAtFootball.

Noted Notables

A.J. Epenesa, DE
Buffalo Bills

Former Iowa defensive end AJ Epenesa had a relatively quiet game in week six finishing with just one assisted tackle as the Buffalo Bills fell 26-17 to the Kansas City Chiefs. On the season, Epenesa now has three total tackles, including one sack.

Amani Hooker, S
Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans are rolling in 2020 due in part to the strong play of their defense. Former Hawkeye safety Amani Hooker has been a growing part of that in the back end. He had one solo tackle in Sunday’s 42-36 win over the Houston Texans. Hooker also had three solos a week ago in Tennessee’s Tuesday night win over the Buffalo Bills.

On the season, Hooker has 8 total tackles, 2 passes defended and an interception.

Anthony Hitchens, LB
Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs got back on track this week with a Monday Afternoon Football win over the Buffalo Bills. Former Hawkeye LB Anthony Hitchens had five total tackles, including three solos as KC made it two straight losses for Buffalo 26-17. Through five games this year, Hitchens has 38 total tackles, including 20 solos.

Anthony Nelson, DE
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay defensive end Anthony Nelson has been continuing to get some solid run on the Buccaneers’ line. He finished with a pair of solo tackles on Sunday as the Bucs demolished the Green Bay Packers 38-10. Nelson now has 6 total tackles and a pair of stuffs on the season.

Ben Niemann, LB
Kansas City Chiefs

Anthony Hitchens’ primary backup, Ben Niemann, added three tackles, including two solos, in the win on Sunday. Niemann now has 15 tackles on the year, including 9 solos and 1 sack to go along with a pair of fumble recoveries.

Jaleel Johnson, DT
Minnesota Vikings

It was another rough outing for the Minnesota Vikings defense on Sunday as they gave up 462 yards of offense and 40 points to the Atlanta Falcons. But former Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson had a solid outing with a pair of tackles, including half a sack. On the season, Johnson now has 20 total tackles, including 11 solos, half a sack and one stuff.

Josey Jewell, LB
Denver Broncos

The Outlaw continues to have an impressive season as a starter in the middle of Denver’s defense. Jewell finished with six tackles on Sunday, including two solos and half a tackle for loss. On the season, Jewell now has 36 total tackles, including 23 solos, 2 sacks, a stuff and a pass defended.

Josh Jackson, CB
Green Bay Packers

Packers cornerback Josh Jackson had a very solid game statistically in what was an otherwise ugly performance for Green Bay. Jackson finished with a season-high 6 tackles, including 5 solos, in the 38-10 loss to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Jackson now has 8 total tackles, including 7 solos, and one pass defended on the year.

Kristian Welch, LB
Baltimore Ravens

A week ago, the Baltimore Ravens waived safety Geno Stone and added him to their practice squad. This week, the Ravens promoted former Hawkeye Kristian Welch from their practice squad to the active roster. In his first career NFL action, Welch recorded a tackle as the Ravens defeated the Eagles 30-28. We’ll see if Welch can earn a more permanent role on Baltimore’s defense.

Micah Hyde, S
Buffalo Bills

Former Hawkeye Micah Hyde was on the losing end of the Chiefs win on Monday afternoon. Hyde had one solo tackle in the losing effort. Hyde also had 4 total tackles, including one solo, in Buffalo’s loss last Tuesday to the Titans. On the season, Hyde now has 32 total tackles, including 21 solos, and a pair of passes defended.

Michael Ojemudia, CB
Denver Broncos

A week after having their game against the New England Patrios postponed due to COVID-19, the Broncos took the field in a strange game, even by 2020 standards. Denver ultimately won 18-12 in a game that featured only field goals. That should tell you the defense performed well and that included former Hawkeye corner Michael Ojemudia.

OJ finished with 7 total tackles, all solo, as well as a pass defended and a pair of forced fumbles as the Broncos D forced 3 total turnovers and held New England to just 288 total yards.

On the season, Ojemudia now has 21 total tackles, including 19 solos, 4 passes defended, the 2 forced fumbles and one stuff.

T.J. Hockenson, TE
Detroit Lions

Lions tight end TJ Hockenson didn’t have a big game statistically, but did haul in two of his 5 targets (second on the team behind only Kenny Golladay) for 17 yards, including a touchdown on 4th and goal.

The Lions handled Jacksonville 34-16 and while Hockenson didn’t put up huge numbers, he continues to be exactly what Detroit had hoped when they drafted him in the first round. He does all the little things and continues to be a consistent force in the Lions’ offense.

On the season, Hockenson now has 197 yards and three touchdowns on 17 receptions for an 11.6 yard per reception average.

Other Items

Fellow tight end Noah Fant remained sidelined with an ankle injury this week as the Broncos took home the win over New England. Fant was reportedly close to playing in week six and is expected back in week seven when Denver hosts the Kansas City Chiefs.

In other injury news, the Patriots and Broncos almost didn’t happen again. After postponing the game in week five with Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore both testing positive, there were reports of another positive test in New England last Friday. While this one wasn’t as big of a name for Pats fans, Iowa fans should have no problem remembering it.

Ferentz had earned a start in New England in week 4. He should be cleared to return to action by week 8 at the latest.

In better news, Tristan Wirfs continues to be an absolute monster. We all knew he would be, but he continues to show against the best in the league that he can hold his own (save that one time Kahlil Mack hip tossed him).

Tristan Wirfs is going to make a lot of money for a long time playing professional football.

And sadly, that’s it for this week in the NFL. We’ll be back next week with more action with the Colts, Dolphins, Ravens and Vikings on bye in week seven.