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Northwestern in the NFL, Week 18: A mediocre week for the ‘Cats

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Not much ‘Cat contribution overall, but some bright spots here and there.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

For the final time in the regular season, the Pro ‘Cats took the field, with some having a bigger role than others. Overall, it was a lackluster week for the Northwestern alums. However, some were able to fill in and play big roles when needed. Let’s see how the ‘Cats did in their regular season finales:

Trevor Siemian: New Orleans Saints, QB

When Taysom Hill exited the season finale with a foot injury, Siemian was able to step in and provide serviceable quarterback skills. He finished the game by completing nine of his 15 passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns, with the Saints taking down the Falcons 30-20 in the season finale. However, even with Siemian leading New Orleans to a win, the Saints were not able to make it to the postseason.

Greg Newsome II: Cleveland Browns, CB

Newsome was not involved much for the Browns against the Bengals, only racking up three total tackls. He did not defend one pass, though that could be attributed to his good coverage against Cincinnati wideouts.

Even though he did not do much this week, Newsome showed his massive potential throughout a solid rookie season. He cemented himself as a CB2 for Cleveland, but whenever Denzel Ward was unavailable he was able to take on more responsibility and hold his own.

Rashawn Slater: Los Angeles Chargers, OT

Slater, a pro bowler in his first year in the NFL, had an underwhelming performance in his biggest game of the season. He was constantly getting beat by Raiders’ pass rushers, most notably Yannick Ngakoue.

Still, Slater’s rookie season was one to remember. The former Wildcat was one of the best rookies in the NFL, making the pro bowl and contributing to the Chargers’ much improved offensive line. He was a menace in the run game and difficult to get by in the pass, finishing with only four sacks allowed in his first season. He also played clean throughout, only tallying six penalties and never giving his opponents that advantage. Overall, while he struggled in the Chargers’ final game of the year and we won’t see him in the postseason, it was a wonderful rookie season for Slater.

Dean Lowry: Green Bay Packers, DE

In his final game of a career year, Lowry was able to total four total tackles and a sack against the Detroit Lions. The Northwestern alum ended the season with five sacks, a new career-high, and was a major reason why the Packers’ defense looked better than other years.

As the Packers enter the postseason, Lowry will have his number called many times against tough competition. If Lowry is able to get pressure constantly, the Packers’ pass rush will only get more scary. He’s one of the few Wildcats we’ll get to watch in these playoff games as well.

Ifeadi Odenigbo: Cleveland Browns, DE

Odenigbo had three total tackles (one solo, two assists) in Cleveland’s win over Cincinnati. This brought his season total to ten total tackles (six solo, four assists) along with one fumble recovery.

Justin Jackson: Los Angeles Chargers, RB

Jackson, who had a much improved workload the past few weeks, saw his carries go down, as he only put up three rushes for 20 yards, along with a singular target that he was not able to pull in.

Jackson surged late in the season with the absence of Austin Ekeler, and was a major piece of the Chargers’ offense when needed. With the return of Ekeler, though, The Ball Carrier unsurprisingly saw his workload go down. He now hits free agency and has the potential to score a decent contract this offseason.

Tyler Lancaster: Green Bay Packers, DE

Lancaster had two tackles in a game that was almost meaningless for Green Bay. He is still working his way back from injury, so Lancaster might play more when the Packers suit up in two weeks.

Anthony Walker Jr.: Cleveland Browns, LB

Walker played the majority of the snaps for Cleveland, finishing second on the Browns in total tackles with 7. Since his return from the COVID list, Walker has been vital for the Browns defense, providing much needed tackles when nobody else stepped up.

Now, Walker enters free agency, posting a resume in Cleveland of 106 total tackles and a sack. Wherever he ends up next season, he will likely be an important part of any team’s defense.

Blake Hance: Cleveland Browns, OL

Hance did not get the start in Week 18 and did not contribute much to Kevin Stefanski’s plan, only playing in 2% of snaps for Cleveland. It was a strange season for Hance, as he seemed to fill in starting gaps whenever needed, and he even was given a shot at second string tight end.

Even though it was a strange season, Hance was able to pitch in for the Browns when necessary.

Ben Skowronek: Los Angeles Rams, WR

Skowronek was targeted twice by Matthew Stafford in the Rams’ overtime loss to the 49ers, but failed to pull in a catch. He did record one tackle on special teams. Regardless, Skowronek will now play a role as the Rams push for the Super Bowl.

‘Cats that didn’t play or record stats this week: Earnest Brown IV, Los Angeles Rams, Godwin Igwebuike, Detroit Lions, Joe Jones, Tennessee Titans; Joe Gaziano, Los Angeles Chargers; Ibraheim Campbell, Indianapolis Colts; John Raine, Atlanta Falcons; Blake Gallagher, Baltimore Ravens.