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Hawkeyes in the NFL: Week 7 Recap

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Hooker gets a pick and Hockenson slides in for the win.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans
Amani Hooker gave the Titans life against the Steelers.
Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Week seven was a bit of a quiet one for former Hawkeyes in the NFL. In a season filled with injuries and COVID-19, quiet isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Ravens and Vikings were among those on a bye leaving fewer Hawkeyes in action. There were a few standout performances, but largely former Iowa players were held in check.

Here’s a look at how everyone who did play performed in week 7.

Game Ball

Former Hawkeye Amani Hooker has seen his snap counts drop a bit this year, playing on 78% of reps for the Titans defense vs. 84% a season ago. But the modest decline in snaps hasn’t been a drop off in production. Hooker had another really strong showing in the back end of the Titans defense in week seven, finishing with four total tackles, including 3 solos. But he also added a pair of passes broken up and came away with an interception that gave Tennessee life in the 4th quarter.

Despite his efforts, the Titans ultimately fell 27-24 to the Steelers.

Hooker has carved out a nice role in Tennessee and continues to produce with the opportunity he’s given. On the season, Hooker has 12 total tackles, 4 passes defended and 2 interceptions.

Noted Notables

A.J. Epenesa, DE
Buffalo Bills

Standout defensive end AJ Epenesa has see his reps bounce around a bit from week to week and week 7 came with a bit of a dip. AJ played on just 9 total defensive snaps, but made the most of them. He finished with 3 tackles, including half a sack and a tackle for loss as the Bills took down the Jets 18-10.

He’s now got 6 total tackles on the year, including 1.5 sacks and a pair of stuffs.

Anthony Hitchens, LB
Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens had another very solid outing in Kansas City’s 43-16 win over Denver. Hitchens finished with 4 tackles, including 3 solos, half a TFL and a QB hit. On the season, Hitchens has 47 total tackles, including 26 solos.

Anthony Nelson, DE
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay defensive end Anthony Nelson also had a very solid game as the Bucs beat up on the Raiders 45-20. Nelson finished with 3 solo tackles and got a QB hit in on Derek Carr. Nelson now has 9 total tackles, including 7 solos, and a pair of stuffs on the season.

Ben Niemann, LB
Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann also had a relatively quiet week, finishing with a pair of tackles, including a solo. Niemann now has 15 tackles on the year, including 9 solos and 1 sack to go along with a pair of fumble recoveries.

George Kittle, TE
San Francisco 49ers

It was a bit of a quiet week for all-world tight end George Kittle. Kittle finished with 5 catches for 55 yards as the Niners thoroughly demolished the New England Patriots 33-6. Kittle will certainly have bigger days when San Francisco needs to throw a bit more. He’s got 435 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 35 catches this season and remains second among tight ends in receiving yards.

Josey Jewell, LB
Denver Broncos

The Outlaw was also a bit quiet in week 7. He finished with a pair of solo tackles as the Broncos fell to the Chiefs. On the season, Jewell now has 37 total tackles, including 25 solos, 2 sacks, a stuff and a pass defended.

Josh Jackson, CB
Green Bay Packers

Green Bay corner Josh Jackson had a nice outing for the Packers this week. He finished with 4 tackles, all solo, and a TFL. Jackson has seen his playing time skyrocket the last few weeks due to injuries in Green Bay’s secondary. He’s played 100% of defensive snaps in each of the last two games and has performed quite well. Jackson now has 12 total tackles, including 11 solos, one stuff and one pass defended on the year.

Micah Hyde, S
Buffalo Bills

No questions about playing time for Bills safety Micah Hyde. The former Pro Bowler is locked in, though the Jets aren’t exactly a team to test the back end of a defense with regularity. Hyde finished with 2 tackles, including a solo, in Buffalo’s win over New York last week. On the season, Hyde now has 35 total tackles, including 23 solos, and a pair of passes defended.

Michael Ojemudia, CB
Denver Broncos

Denver corner Michael Ojemudia saw his snap count to a season-low 37 reps (73% of defensive snaps) as the Broncos got AJ Bouye back from injury. OJ had been starting and rated as one of the top corners in the league in terms of completion percentage against. He still finished with a pair of solo tackles, but it will be interesting to see how his reps progress going forward. On the season, Ojemudia now has 23 total tackles, including 21 solos, 4 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles and one stuff.

Noah Fant, TE
Denver Broncos

Fellow Bronco Noah Fant also had a bit of a quiet day. He finished with just 38 yards on 3 receptions, though he was targeted 7 times. Fant appeared hobbled in week seven and saw a pair of backups eat into his time on the field. This will be one to monitor going forward. On the season, Fant now has 257 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns on 22 catches. He is 9th in the NFL in yardage among tight ends.

T.J. Hockenson, TE
Detroit Lions

Detroit tight end TJ Hockenson continues to be a favorite of quarterback Matthew Stafford, particularly in crunch time. Hock finished with 59 yards on 5 catches. But more importantly, he caught the game-winning touchdown pass as time expired to break the hearts of the Atlanta Falcons once again.

On the season, Hockenson now has 256 yards and 4 touchdowns on 22 receptions for an 11.6 yard per reception average. That puts him 10th in the league in receiving yards (among tight ends), one yard behind former teammate Noah Fant. He’s also tied for second among tight ends in touchdown receptions.

Other Items

For once there was no major injury news for former Hawkeyes. As noted, Fant did appear hobbled a bit in week 7 and saw the Broncos rely on a pair of backups a bit more, but he enters week 8 without a questionable designation so should be good to go.


And that’s it for this week in the NFL. We’ll be back next week with more action as the Ravens and Vikings come off of bye to bring back a few more familiar names. This week will see with the Cardinals, Football Team, Jaguars and Texans on bye.