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Northwestern in the NFL: Recap of Preseason’s Week 3

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With the Wildcats poised to have their highest number of alums on NFL rosters to start a season in program history, final cuts draw ever closer.

NFL: Preseason-Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

A whopping 21 former Wildcats were on 90-man NFL rosters during and after the second week of the preseason. Some of those players have starting spots locked down, while others are on the league’s periphery, with an uphill battle ahead to even approach a 53-man roster.

As training camp winds down, cut days draw ever closer. Let’s update you on how all of the Northwestern alums (a steadily growing group) are doing with the regular season just around the corner:

Garrett Dickerson, TE, New York Giants - After his impressive first career touchdown catch highlighted last week’s performance, Dickerson followed up with a two catch outing, gaining 30 total yards on what were his only two targets of the Giants’ 25-23 win over the Bengals. He even ran a man over on this 12-yard pickup:

The New Jersey native continues to battle for a roster spot, and it looked like he had a leg up over his competition at tight end (namely C.J. Conrad) before he missed Monday’s practice with a injured quad. We will follow Dickerson’s progress with his hometown team closely.

Anthony Walker Jr., MLB, Indianapolis Colts - Walker did not record a stat in the Colts’ 27-17 loss to the Bears on Saturday, but he looks to have secured a starting role at middle linebacker in Indy for the second straight year. The big story of the weekend for the Colts, of course, was Andrew Luck’s retirement, and Walker weighed in:

Sherrick McManis, CB, Chicago Bears - McManis will remain with the Bears for his tenth season as a pro. The longest-tenured active former Wildcat remains a special teams ace, and will battle for a role as a backup defensive back. Though he played only sparingly in the third Bears preseason game, I forgot to mention this forced fumble he had two weeks ago against the Giants, so I’m doing that now:

Tommy Doles, G, Chicago Bears - Doles, who has bounced around this offseason, signed with the local team for the second time this offseason. After a brief stint with the Falcons, the rookie will try to make things work with Chicago despite having only one more preseason game to prove his mettle. Northwestern grad and Bears beat writer Kevin Fishbain was happy to hear the news:

Blake Hance, OT, Washington - There hasn’t been much buzz around Hance over the last week, as his Washington team defeated Doles’ former squad, the Falcons, 19-7 on Thursday. He still has a shot at a practice squad role, but not much more than that.

Clayton Thorson, QB, Philadelphia Eagles - Cody Kessler returned from injury for the Eagles’ 26-15 loss to the Ravens, and he and Josh McCown split just about every rep. Thorson finished 0-1 passing, not getting much of a chance to make his mark thanks to the game being cut short by lightning with 11:43 to go.

Supposedly, though, he continues to impress at practice after a rough start to training camp. But with two quarterbacks (at least, depending on the status of Nate Sudfeld’s injury) ahead of him, and a third, in Kessler, getting more snaps, the Eagles may try to sneak Thorson through to the practice squad. An impressive performance this week against the Jets would certainly help his cause.

Dean Lowry, DE, Green Bay Packers - Lowry sat out the Packers’ 22-21 loss to the Raiders last Thursday. After his offseason extension, the Rockford, Illinois native, is quietly maintaining a starting job at end for Green Bay.

Tyler Lancaster, NT, Green Bay Packers - Lancaster, while not a starter, figures to play an important rotational role for Green Bay on the interior. The big man recorded two tackles against Oakland, surviving an injury scare to return to the field in the process. Here’s an impressive tackle for no gain, featuring Lancaster showcasing the block-shedding ability that made him elite at Northwestern:

Dan Vitale, FB, Green Bay Packers - The mustached back was out for nearly two weeks with a calf issue, but returned to practice on Sunday. Despite his absence, Vitale figures to be a near-lock for the final roster at fullback.

Ibraheim Campbell, S, Green Bay Packers - The fourth and final ex-Wildcat to don Green Bay’s green and gold in 2019, Campbell is on the physically unable to play (PUP) list for now with a knee injury (causing us to forget him in the first iterations of this rundown — sorry!), but figures to play a role at defensive back when he does make his return.

Montre Hartage, S, Miami Dolphins - A couple of recent injury scares for the Dolphins nearly pressed Hartage into a starting role at safety, but for now, the former star cornerback will settle for the backup free safety role behind Bobby McCain, which seems to be his to lose. Heritage saw action in Miami’s 22-7 win over the Jaguars on Thursday, but did not record a statistic.

Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE, Minnesota Vikings - Odenigbo played a starring role for the second consecutive week, this time against a former team of his in Minnesota’s 20-9 win over the Cardinals. The third-year pro acquitted himself well with two tackles (including one TFL) and a QB hit, with his quick bursts of havoc off the end of the line creating pressure all game, and even allowing him to run down Kyler Murray at one point:

Look further down that thread for video of his impressive work last week against the Seahawks as well. Here’s some more from that game, with comments from his coach, if you want it. The clear takeaway here is that Vikings twitter folks seem to really like Odenigbo and what he has done in the preseason. After spending last season on the practice squad, the talented former Wildcat has a great chance to make the team and be a significant part of their pass-rushing rotation.

Nate Hall, LB, Dallas Cowboys - Hall recorded three tackles and a pass defensed in the Cowboys’ 34-0 massacre of the Texans. The linebacker has been praised by PFF during his preseason performances and continues to battle for a roster spot as a backup linebacker. Even if he doesn’t make the final cut, though, the rookie seems like a prime candidate for the practice squad.

Kyle Queiro, LB, Dallas Cowboys - I have searched for information with regards to Queiro for awhile, but have come up with nothing for the second week in a row. After missing last week’s trip to Hawaii, he seems to have dropped off the radar for Dallas, perhaps due to a continuing injury.

Austin Carr, WR, New Orleans Saints - The slot receiver caught two passes for eight yards on his only targets as the Saints breezed past the Jets on Saturday. He missed today’s practice with an undisclosed injury, but seems to have a slight edge in the battle for the final spots at wide receiver in New Orleans, for which he is competing with Keith Kirkwood (also injured today) and Emmanuel Butler, according to reports.

Drew Brees loves Carr, and he did have an impressive touchdown catch last week, but the former Northwestern standout may still have work to do to earn a place on the Saints.

Trevor Siemian, QB, New York Jets - Siemian appears to be locked into the backup role behind Sam Darnold in New York. The most veteran member of the Jets’ QB room didn’t get much playing time in their 28-13 loss, completing 5 of 7 passes for 34 yards.

Godwin Igwebuike, S, New York Jets - After bouncing between the 49ers and Eagles, the safety has gotten plenty of time to prove himself with the Jets late in this preseason. Igwebuike recorded five tackles in Friday’s game, but still faces a significant battle if he wants to earn a roster spot alongside former teammate Siemian.

Jordan Thompson, DL, San Francisco 49ers - Thompson did not record any kind of statistic in San Francisco’s ten-point victory over the Chiefs. After being signed as the 90th man nearly a month ago by the 49ers, the rookie defensive tackle hasn’t done a whole lot to stand out. Time is running out on the charismatic Wildcat standout.

Joe Jones, LB, Denver Broncos - Jones is still out with the triceps injury that has sidelined him for the bulk of the preseason. But the underdog story has proved himself a solid, NFL-level backup at linebacker, and still has a good chance to stick with Denver until he heard up.

Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers - JJTBC’s performance against the Seahawks late Friday night was pedestrian, as he rushed five times for just 13 yards while pulling in his only target in the passing game for a simple gain of four. But more importantly, the news that Melvin Gordon’s holdout will likely continue into the regular season opens up an opportunity for the 2018 seventh-round pick to start in the backfield beside Phillip Rivers.

Jackson will have to contend with Austin Ekeler for the starting role, but he appears poised to, at the very least, complement the veteran while still garnering significant playing time when Week 1 rolls around.