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Hawkeyes in the NFL: Week 10 Recap

Tristan Wirfs was an absolute steal for the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New York Giants
Tristan Wirfs is having a hell of a rookie year.
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

It was a bit of a slow week for most of the former Hawkeyes in the NFL in week 10, but it wasn’t without some big news. We saw some high praise for a big man up front and a couple of rookies carving out spots on active rosters.

Here’s a look at how former Hawkeyes performed in week 10 of the NFL.

Game Ball

Look, this is long overdue. Tristan Wirfs has been an absolute star for the Tampa Bay Bucs. We’ve touched on it from time to time, noting some key performances and even poking a little fun when Kahlil Mack got the best of him. But as an offensive lineman, Wirfs has gone largely unnoticed as one of the biggest steals of the 2020 NFL Draft. That sounds crazy to say for a player taken in the top-15 overall, but it’s becoming pretty clear. To-date, Wirfs has been the best rookie tackle in the league and one of the best overall according to Pro Football Focus.

In 682 offensive snaps this year, Wirfs has allowed just 1 sack and been penalized just 3 times. In case you were wondering, that’s good.

This week, Wirfs graded out as the top offensive lineman according to PFF with a grade of 81.7.

Kid’s got a future.

Noted Notables

A.J. Epenesa, DE
Buffalo Bills

Former Iowa star defensive end AJ Epenesa continues to see limited playing time in Buffalo as the Bills’ 5th defensive end. Eppy played on just 11% of defensive snaps last week and recorded one solo tackle. On the season, he now has 7 total tackles, including 1.5 sacks and a pair of stuffs.

Amani Hook, S
Tennessee Titans

After a nice jump in playing time last week, Amani Hooker saw his reps drop a bit this week. He played just 26% of defensive snaps for the Tennessee Titans, which is much more in line with his season long trends. In the reduced time, Hooker logged just one solo tackle. On the season, Hooker now has 24 total tackles, 4 passes defended and 2 interceptions.

Anthony Nelson, DE
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay defensive end Anthony Nelson saw a slight dip in his snap count this week, playing on 23% of total reps. On a percentage basis, it’s not a massive dip, but it amounted to just 11 total snaps - half what he played a week ago. With fewer reps, Nelson didn’t record any stats this week. On the season he has 12 total tackles, including 8 solos, and a pair of stuffs on the season.

Christian Kirksey, LB
Green Bay Packers

Packers linebacker Christian Kirksey returned to the lineup after missing the last 5 games with a shoulder injury. Kirksey immediately stepped into his old role playing 100% of snaps at linebacker and leading the team with 7 total tackles, including 4 solos. Despite missing several games, Kirksey is up to 34 total tackles on the year, including 22 solos.

Desmond King, DB
Tennessee Titans

After bursting onto the scene a week ago, new Titans corner Desmond King settled into a more normalized role this week. He played a very nice 69% of defensive snaps, in line with the 70% a week ago, and logged 5 total tackles, including 3 solos for Tennessee. On the season, King has 31 total tackles, including 24 solos, 1 sack and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Jaleel Johnson, DT
Minnesota Vikings

Defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson continues to get solid run in Minnesota. Johnson played 54% of defensive snaps for the Vikings in a 19-13 win over the division rival Chicago Bears on Monday night. Johnson didn’t have any stats in the win but continues to man the middle and eat up blockers. On the season, Johnson has 25 total tackles, 14 solos, half a sack and a stuff.

Josey Jewell, LB
Denver Broncos

Denver linebacker Josey Jewell again had a very solid outing this week. He finished with 10 total tackles, including 5 solos, while playing 90% of defensive snaps for the Broncos. On the season, Jewell is now second on the team with 68 total tackles, including 20 solos, 4 TFL, 2 sacks, a stuff and a pass defended.

Josh Jackson, CB
Green Bay Packers

Green Bay cornerback Josh Jackson again saw elevated playing time in week 10, logging reps on 94% of the defensive snaps for the Packers. Jackson Had 3 total tackles, including 2 solos, on the day. On the season, Jackson now has 24 total tackles, including 21 solos, one stuff and two passes defended.

Kristian Welch, LB
Baltimore Ravens

Linebacker Kristian Welch remains on Baltimore’s active roster. He didn’t play any defensive snaps this week and recorded no stats, but was again involved on special teams for the Ravens. On the season, Welch has 2 solo tackles.

Micah Hyde, S
Buffalo Bills

If not for a fumble, which he didn’t lose, former Hawkeye safety Micah Hyde made a case for a game ball this week. He did a bit of everything while playing 100% of the Bills’ defensive snaps yet again. Hyde finished with 7 total tackles, including 5 solos, as well as a run stuff and a pass defended in a 32-30 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Unfortunately, Hyde was right there as DeAndre Hopkins came down with the Kyler Murray hail marry for the last second win.

On the season, Hyde has 48 total tackles, including 33 solos, and three passes defended.

Michael Ojemudia, CB
Denver Broncos

After appearing to earn himself a starting role through the first nine weeks of the season, corner Michael Ojemudia was relegated to a backup role this week as the Broncos got AJ Bouye back alongside Bryce Callahan. OJ played just 18% of defensive reps this week with Denver’s two starters back and saw Essang Bassey take the bulk of the reps as the slot corner. With limited reps, Ojemudia didn’t record any stats this week. On the season, Ojemudia has 30 total tackles, including 22 solos, 4 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles and one stuff.

Noah Fant, TE
Denver Broncos

Broncos tight end Noah Fant had a slow go in a blowout loss to Las Vegas this week. Fant finished with 18 yards on three catches. On the season, Fant now has 367 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns on 35 catches. Fant hasn’t caught a touchdown since week two.

T.J. Hockenson, TE
Detroit Lions

It was a bit of a disappointing week for fellow tight end TJ Hockenson as well. Hock finished with just 13 yards on two catches and was held without a touchdown for just the fourth time this season. On the season, Hockenson has 372 yards and 5 TDs on 36 total receptions. We’ll see if he can get rolling again this week.

Other Items

The only other item of note this week is the return of Geno Stone to the Ravens’ active roster yet again. Stone has been activated for each of the last two games, playing largely on special teams, but logged 2 defensive snaps on Sunday in a loss to the New England Patriots. After being sent to the practice squad twice already this year, look for Stone to hopefully keep his spot on the active roster going forward.

And that’s it for this week in the NFL. We’ll be back to recap all the action next week when the Bills, Bears, Giants and 49ers will be on bye.