Hawkeyes in the NFL Week 1: Iowa Football Showcased on MNF

September 15, 2020

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

Iowa Football fans who tuned into Monday night football were rewarded. The Hawkeyes were showcased during the American tradition.

Tight end Noah Fant, linebacker Josey Jewell and Michael Ojemudia, a rookie cornerback, started for the the Denver Broncos. Reserve defensive back Amani Hooker lined up for Tennessee, which claimed a 16-14 road victory.

The Titans couldn’t cover Fant in the first half. In his second year after being a first-round draft pick, the Omaha native caught five passes for 81 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown before the intermission.

The Broncos didn’t target Fant in the second half. He’s been underutilized in the past.

Jewell, who began Year 3 in the NFL, finished with eight total tackles, including five solo stops. The Decorah (IA) High product planted the league’s leading rusher in ’19, Derrick Henry, in his tracks for a highlight-reel play.

Denver selected Ojemudia in the third round of April’s draft. The Michigan native recorded two solo tackles and a pass defended in his debut. He also was one of 18 members of his team to protest racial injustice by kneeling for the national anthem.

-Two other former Hawkeyes showed up in primetime to kick off the 2020 season last Thursday. Linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Ben Niemann helped the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs to a 34-20 victory against visiting Houston.

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Hitchens, who led the team in tackles a year ago, recorded seven stops on opening night with four of those being solo. He did so in 26 snaps (44 percent) on defense and three more on special teams. Niemann didn’t accrue any statistics while seeing 36 snaps (61 percent) on defense and 13 on special teams.

-Former Iowa center Austin Blythe also found himself in primetime starting for the Rams against visiting Dallas on Sunday night. The Williamsburg (IA) High product logged 73 snaps (100 percent) on offense and five more on special teams in a 20-17 triumph.

-Buffalo started its season on the right foot with a 27-17 win against the hapless Jets. Safety Micah Hyde registered four tackles (two solo) while playing 55 snaps (98 percent) on defense even though he suffered an ankle injury. Offensive lineman Ike Boettger and A.J. Epenesa, a rookie defensive lineman, did not play for the Bills.

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-The Chargers opened the season with a 16-13 victory at Cincinnati. Defensive back Desmond King II posted four total tackles, including three of the solo variety, for Los Angeles. Veteran Bryan Bulaga started at right offensive tackle for the winners. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels played 37 snaps (50 percent) in his first game with the Bengals.

-Offensive lineman James Daniels began Year 3 in Chicago and was part of the Bears’ 27-23 come-from-behind victory at Detroit. The Ohio native played 64 snaps (98 percent) on offense and added five more on special teams.

For the Lions, second-year tight end T.J. Hockenson lined up for 50 snaps (64 percent). He caught five passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. Tackle Matt Nelson played two snaps on offense and six more on special teams.

-Green Bay picked up a big road win Sunday, knocking off the rival Vikings, 43-34. Linebacker Christian Kirksey recorded a team-high 12 tackles (six solo) in his Packers’ debut. He played all 52 of his team’s defensive snaps. Defensive back Josh Jackson played two snaps on defense and 14 (54 percent) on special teams.

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Defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson posted four tackles (three solo) for Minnesota, playing 57 plays (73 percent). Teammate Riley Reiff, an offensive tackle, played all 52 of his squad’s snaps on offense.

-By his standards, it was a quiet day for San Francisco tight end George Kittle, who caught four balls for 44 yards in a 24-20 home loss to Arizona. He sprained his knee late in the first half but was able to come back after the intermission, ending up with 61 snaps (98 percent). Coach Kyle Shanahan indicated that his all-pro performer remained sore on Monday.

Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard did not see any action for the 49ers.

-Baltimore dismantled the Browns, 38-6, at home on Sunday. Rookie safety Geno Stone was a healthy scratch for the Ravens. Veteran defensive end Adrian Clayborn produced a sack, a quarterback hurry and two tackles for loss in 32 snaps (54 percent) for Cleveland.

-In legendary quarterback Tom Brady’s Tampa debut, the Buccaneers fell, 34-23, at New Orleans. According to Pro Football Focus, rookie right tackle Tristan Wirfs allowed only two pressures on 41 pass-blocking snaps mostly against standout Saints defender Cam Jordan.

Second-year linebacker Anthony Nelson played three snaps for the Bucs.

Washington picked up a 27-17 win against the rival Eagles in Week 1. Guard Brandon Scherff played all 70 offensive snaps for the victors.

Long snapper Casey Kreiter logged seven snaps during the New Your Giants’ 26-16 home loss to Pittsburgh on Monday night.

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