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Hawkeyes in the NFL: Week 9 Recap

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Desmond King is all smiles in Tennessee.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans
Desmond King is all smiles in his new home.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Week 9 of the NFL season saw several strong showings from former Hawkeyes. We saw some familiar faces in new places via trades and signings and thankfully the injury news this week was fairly limited in terms of Hawkeyes.

Here’s a look at how everyone performed in week 9.

Game Ball

Desmond King made his debut for the Tennessee Titans on Sunday and wasted no time winning over the hearts of Titans fans. The former Pro Bowler had a pair of solo tackles but really made an impact when he scooped up a David Montgomery fumble and returned it 65 yards for a TD.

King played 70% of Tennessee’s defensive snaps as the new nickel corner following his trade last week. Look for him to be a staple of a Titans defense looking to make a strong playoff run. On the season, King has 26 total tackles, including 21 solos, 1 sack and the fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Noted Notables

A.J. Epenesa, DE
Buffalo Bills

After being inactive a week ago, AJ Epenesa was back in action in week 9. The former Hawkeye still didn’t see a ton of work and played on just 17% of defensive snaps. Eppy didn’t record any defensive snaps but he did field a kickoff, which he didn’t return. Fun times. On the season, he has 6 total tackles, including 1.5 sacks and a pair of stuffs.

Amani Hook, S
Tennessee Titans

Former Iowa star Amani Hooker was reunited with Desmond King this week, but unfortunately for Hooker the addition of King means more capable defensive backs for the Titans. Despite the new nickel corner, Hooker saw a season high 38 snaps in week 9 (nearly 50% of the total snaps). Hooker made the most of the opportunity by tallying 9 total tackles, including 6 solos. On the season, Hooker now has 23 total tackles, 4 passes defended and 2 interceptions.

Anthony Hitchens, LB
Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens saw a bit of a dip in his playing time last week, getting in on just over 50% of snaps. Despite the dip, Hitch continued to perform well. He finished with 6 total tackles (third on the team), including 4 solo tackles. On the season, Hitchens now has 53 total tackles, including 30 solos.

Anthony Nelson, DE
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It was an ugly outting for Anthony Nelson and the Tampa Bay Bucs in week 9. Tampa was obliterated by the New Orleans Saints 38-3 on Sunday Night Football. Nelson finished with 3 total tackles, including one solo. On the season Nelson now has 12 total tackles, including 8 solos, and a pair of stuffs on the season.

Ben Niemann, LB
Kansas City Chiefs

While Anthony Hitchens has seen a modest dip in snaps, teammate Ben Niemann has seen a modest uptick to just under 50% of defensive snaps in week 9. Niemann finished Sunday’s 33-31 win over Carolina with 4 total tackles and 3 solos. He now has 21 tackles on the year, including 13 solos and 1 sack to go along with a pair of fumble recoveries.

Jaleel Johnson, DT
Minnesota Vikings

Vikings defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson saw a modest drop in his snaps on Sunday, falling to just under 50% of the defensive reps. He didn’t record any stats in the 34-20 win for the Vikings over the Detroit Lions. On the season, Johnson has 25 total tackles, 14 solos, half a sack and a stuff.

Josey Jewell, LB
Denver Broncos

The Outlaw had yet another gameball-worthy outing in week 9, but was beat out but the triumphant return of Desmond King. Josey Jewell led the Broncos with 10 total tackles on Sunday, including 9 solos, 1.5 tackles for loss and a QB hit. On the season, Jewell is now second on the team with 58 total tackles, including 9 solos, 4 TFL, 2 sacks, a stuff and a pass defended.

Josh Jackson, CB
Green Bay Packers

After a bit of a dip last week, Green Bay corner Josh Jackson was back to seeing 100% of reps for the Packers defense in their 34-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers. Jackson had 4 solo tackles and defended a pass in the win. Jackson now has 21 total tackles, including 19 solos, one stuff and two passes defended on the year.

Kristian Welch, LB
Baltimore Ravens

As noted last week, linebacker Kristian Welch was called back to the Ravens’ active roster for week 8 meaning the team could not move him back to the practice squad without putting him through the waiver process. Instead of going that route, Welch was again active in week 9. He didn’t play any snaps defensively for the Ravens, but did record a tackle on special teams. He’s now got a pair of solo tackles to his name this season.

Micah Hyde, S
Buffalo Bills

After missing week 8 with a concussion, Micah Hyde bounced back to play 100% of the defensive snaps at safety in week 9. The former Iowa star finished with six total tackles, including five solos, as the Buffalo Bills topped Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks 44-34. On the season, Hyde has 41 total tackles, including 28 solos, and a pair of passes defended.

Michael Ojemudia, CB
Denver Broncos

With AJ Bouye and Bryce Callahan both out, Michael Ojemudia played every defensive snap for the Broncos in week 9. With the heavy workload, Ojemudia moved atop the cornerback snap count list with 517 reps on the season. OJ finished Sunday with 3 total tackles, including 2 solos. On the season, Ojemudia now has 30 total tackles, including 22 solos, 4 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles and one stuff.

Noah Fant, TE
Denver Broncos

Fellow Bronco Noah Fant continues to battle through injury. He had 3 catches for 45 yards in Sunday’s 34-27 loss to the Falcons and exited to the locker room again with an ankle injury.

Fant would return to the sideline and eventually got back into the game, but appeared hobbled the rest of the day. His status this week remains in question. On the season, Fant now has 349 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns on 32 catches, putting him 8th (among tight ends) in receiving yardage. The Broncos likely lost rookie tight end Albert Okwuegbunam for the season Sunday so if Fant is healthy, his role could grow down the stretch.

T.J. Hockenson, TE
Detroit Lions

Fellow tight end TJ Hockenson had another nice outting on Sunday. He finished with 5 catches for 39 yards and another TD. That’s his 5th touchdown on the season, moving him into a tie for 4th (among TEs) in the league in touchdown receptions. Hockenson also has 360 yards on the year, 6th among tight ends.

Other Items

Thankfully not a lot of other news in Hawkeye land this week. Former Iowa corner Greg Mabin was signed to the Titans’ practice squad, meaning he gets to go up against former teammates Desmond King and Amani Hooker for the foreseeable future. We’ll see if he can find his way onto the active roster.

With Mabin on board, that makes 30 total Hawkeyes getting paid to play football this week. Not bad.


And that’s it for this week in the NFL. We’ll be back to recap all the action next week when the Falcons, Cowboys, Chiefs and Jets will be on bye.

And that’s it for this week in the NFL. We’ll be back next week with more action. The