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Northwestern in the NFL, Week 5: Next-level Wildcats battle against each other

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An alumni reunion at SoFi Stadium in LA took place. Well, kinda.

Matt Starkey/ Cleveland Browns

While the Northwestern Wildcats had the week off, their pro alumni were still on the grind, with eight recording stats in NFL contests. Check out how they fared in this week’s edition of Northwestern in the NFL:

Rashawn Slater: Los Angeles Chargers, OT

Slater faced his toughest task of the young season when he faced off against First-Team All Pro Myles Garrett. The former Wildcat controlled the left side of the line for a majority of the game and only allowed 2 sacks and 4 QB pressures, both of which are below Garrett’s season averages.

The confidence displayed from the Chargers’s first round draft pick is unmatched as he is not afraid to go one on one against some of the most dominant defenders in the NFL.

The offensive explosion that took place Sunday afternoon versus the Browns in which the Chargers posted an astonishing 47 points and 493 yards was in part because Slater was able to hold down the left side of the line for his second year quarterback Justin Herbert. After a solid performance against arguably the league’s best edge rusher, Slater has solidified himself as one of the premier rookies in the league.

Joe Gaziano: Los Angeles Chargers, DL

Gaziano saw some action in Sunday’s thriller versus the Browns at the interior defensive line position. The former Wildcat was very disruptive when he got his chance on the field and recorded one tackle on the day. As Gaziano’s performance has steadily improved over the past few games, look for him to get more time on the field in the upcoming weeks.

Dean Lowry: Green Bay Packers, DE

Lowry and the Packers went to war against the Bengals in Sunday’s overtime duel. Lowry was a force on edge recording 2 tackles, 0.5 sacks, and 1 QB hit. Lowry may not be the most dominant player on the field, but he uses his speed and agility to get the job done.

Tyler Lancaster: Green Bay Packers, DT

The former No. 1 Wildcat and teammate of Lowry made his return from the COVID-19 list this week and jumped right back into to the reserve role he has occupied thus far when active this season. Lancaster put up two assisted tackles en route to a 25-22 Packers win in OT.

Godwin Igwebuike: Detroit Lions, RB

Igwebuike has quickly turned himself into a vital special teams piece for the Lions. His powerful frame and speed make him a great piece to have on the kickoff unit. In Detroit’s loss on Sunday, Igwebuike recorded 1 tackle.

Blake Hance: Cleveland Browns, OL

Hance had his first NFL start on Sunday in Cleveland’s loss versus the Chargers in place of injured left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr.. Hance played an outstanding game and dominated the left tackle position, where he was often matched up against former Big Ten opponent Joey Bosa. Hance allowed one sack to come from his side of the line during the game, but it should be noted that it came off of an edge rush from Derwin James Jr. in which tight end David Njoku missed his blocking assignment.

Hance showed out on Sunday in the Browns’ offensive outburst against the Chargers. His performance on the left side of the line was a contributing factor in the 300+ yards that Baker Mayfield was able to put up, as well as the over 230 yards that Browns rushers accounted for. Hance undoubtedly proved that he has the ability to be a starter in the NFL on Sunday.

Ben Skowronek: Los Angeles Rams, WR

The former Wildcat receiver did not see offensive action in Thursday night’s win over the Seattle Seahawks, but he did get some playing time in special teams. It is clear that head coach Sean McVay sees Skowronek as a tool that can be used on special teams, as his playing time with the unit has been consistent throughout the season. In their Thursday night game, Skowronek recorded one tackle on special teams for the Rams.

Anthony Walker Jr.: Cleveland Browns, LB

The former Northwestern stud was recently activated off of the Browns’s injured reserve list. In his matchup versus the Chargers, Walker racked up 6 tackles in 60 minutes of battle against rising star Justin Herbert and company. Walker played the entire game, including crucial minutes in the 4th quarter that helped keep the Browns in the game. Walker looked great and fully recovered from the hamstring injury that he suffered 3 weeks ago. Look for the former Wildcat star to have a big impact on the Browns’s defense throughout the course of the season.

‘Cats that didn’t play or record any stats this week: Greg Newsome II, Cleveland Browns (calf injury); Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers (groin injury); Ifeadi Odenigbo, Cleveland Browns; Trevor Siemian, New Orleans Saints; Blake Gallagher, Baltimore Ravens; John Raine, Atlanta Falcons; Earnest Brown IV, Los Angeles Rams; Joe Jones, Tennessee Titans