Hawkeyes in the NFL Week 3: Austin Blythe Anchoring Rams’ OL

September 29, 2020

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

Presented by Wolfe Eye Clinic  

Austin Blythe slipped to the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The Indianapolis Colts took a shot on the Iowa Football offensive lineman who critics saw as an undersized prospect with short arms and questionable athletic ability.

The Williamsburg (IA) High product played in eight games, starting once, as a rookie then was cut by the Colts, whose offensive line coach was former Hawkeye staffer Joe Philbin. The Los Angeles Rams claimed him off waivers. They sure look smart for doing so.

Blythe has become a fixture on the LA front after serving as a backup during his first season there in ’17. He was to fill in as the starting right guard for the first two games the next year while Jamon Brown was suspended. Instead, he took over the spot for good as the Rams reached the Super Bowl.

LA used him at right and left guard in ’19 before he took over as the starting center with seven games remaining. That’s where he’s started for the first three games of this campaign. Pro Football Focus has him graded at 73.0, the eighth best at that spot so far in ’20.

Blythe has allowed just one sack in 211 snaps this season. He has not been flagged for a penalty.

Aaron Donald makes sure Blythe sharpens his skills in practice. The Ram veteran is the best defensive tackle in the game.

Blythe helped Los Angeles put up 28 first downs and 478 total yards in a 35-32 loss at Buffalo on Sunday. The Bills had been one of the league’s stingiest defenses through the first two games.

More notes on Hawkeyes in the NFL for Week 3:

  • Buffalo rookie AJ Epenesa was inactive for Week 1 but jumped into the mix last week and delivered his first sack Sunday in the Bills’ 35-32 victory against the Rams. The disruptive defensive end also was credited with a pair of hits on Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff. PFF put a 70.3 pass-grade on Epenesa through two weeks, which puts him tied for 21st in the league among edge defenders.

Safety Micah Hyde totaled nine tackles (six solo) in the win. Offensive lineman Ike Boettger was inactive for Buffalo.

  • Safety Amani Hooker enjoyed a happy homecoming Sunday in Tennessee’s 31-30 triumph at Minnesota. The Minneapolis-area product sealed the win with a late interception. He added a solo tackle in his 14 snaps.

Defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson accumulated three tackles (two solo) during 58 snaps for the Vikings. Tackle Riley Reiff logged all 56 snaps for the Minnesota offense.

  • Linebacker Ben Niemann (46 snaps) delivered a sack among his two solo tackles during defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City’s 34-20 Monday night victory at Baltimore. Fellow linebacker Anthony Hitchens (65 snaps) racked up four tackles and a pass defended. PFF has Hitchens (30.9) ranked No. 69 among NFL linebackers, while Niemann (29.6) checks in at 75.

Rookie safety Geno Stone was inactive for a third week in a row for the Ravens.

  • Chicago improved to 3-0 with a come-from-behind, 30-26 victory at Atlanta. Guard James Daniels logged all 82 offensive snaps for a Bears’ offense that posted 437 yards and 24 first downs.

The Ohio native is carrying a 68.3 PPF rating through three weeks, making him the service’s 27-ranked player at his position.

  • Green Bay remained unbeaten with a 37-30 Sunday night win at New Orleans. Linebacker Christian Kirksey played 17 snaps, totaling three solo tackles, before a shoulder injury knocked him out of the game. The injury was expected to keep him sidelined for multiple weeks. His 31.9 PFF grade placed him 68th among eligible linebackers.

Defensive back Josh Jackson saw 16 special teams snaps for the Packers. He did not play on defense.

  • Tampa Bay moved to 2-1 with a 28-10 triumph in Denver. Rookie tackle Tristan Wirfs played all 68 offensive snaps for a Buccaneers’ unit that posted 353 yards against a stingy Bronco defense. The Mount Vernon (IA) High product has earned a 73.9 PFF grade, good for 25th among NFL tackles through three weeks. He’s not allowed a sack and been flagged for a penalty once.

Outside linebacker Anthony Nelson saw 27 snaps for the winners, delivering two tackles and a quarterback hit. The Waukee (IA) High graduate ranks 32nd among NFL edge defenders with a PFF grade of 67.8.

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Denver tight end Noah Fant caught five of 10 targets for 46 yards but was held without a touchdown for the first game this season. The Omaha product played 53 snaps. Linebacker Josey Jewell was credited with seven tackles (five sol0) in 62 snaps, and rookie defensive back Michael Ojemudia totaled four stops (three solo, one for loss) during 66 snaps for the Broncos.

  • Detroit pulled off a 26-23 upset at Arizona for its first win of ’20. Tight end T.J. Hockenson secured four of seven targets for 53 yards. He saw a season-high 55 snaps.

Lions tackle Matt Nelson did not see any offensive snaps in a game for the first time this season. He did see six special teams’ snaps.

  • The Chargers were upset, 21-16, by visiting Carolina. Los Angeles tackle Bryan Bulaga played just 34 offensive snaps before leaving with a back injury. Health issues have limited him to 50.9 percent of his team’s snaps through three weeks.

Chargers defensive back Desmond King complained about his playing time through social media channels after Week 2. He logged just 17 defensive snaps on Sunday and seven more on special teams. His 75.2 PFF grade through three games placed him as the service’s No. 7-ranked safety.

  • Cleveland knocked off Washington, 34-20, for its second win in three weeks. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn did not record a statistic in a season-low 16 snaps. He was slowed by a hip injury suffered in the previous game.

Clayborn’s 71.2 grade from PFF places him as the No. 23 edge defender this season for that service. It’s his 10th season in the league.

  • Cincinnati came away with a 23-23 tie at Philadelphia. Bengals defensive tackle Mike Daniels played 28 snaps after missing the previous game with an injury.
  • New England knocked off previously unbeaten Las Vegas, 36-20. The Patriots activated offensive lineman James Ferentz from their practice squad before the game. He did not see any action.
  • Long snapper Casey Kreiter saw four special teams snaps during the Giants’ 36-9 loss against visiting San Francisco. Tight end George Kittle missed his second game in a row for the 49ers and was listed as questionable for this week’s contest against Philadelphia. Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard did not play for San Francisco.

 

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