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Northwestern in the NFL, Week 17: Blowouts, big catches and the return of Greg Newsome II

What an impressive week it was for No. 20 in white and orange.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In one of the final regular season weeks of the NFL, it was a somewhat quiet week for many Wildcats throughout the league. With that being said, there were still plenty of impressive plays to be found. Here’s a look at this week’s Northwestern in the NFL:

Greg Newsome II, CB, Cleveland Browns

In his first game back from the COVID-19 reserve, where he landed after already missing two back-to-back weeks with a concussion, Newsome looked like a superstar corner for the Browns. He lined up covering the slot against Pittsburgh on most plays, largely shutting down the likes of Chase Claypool. Despite Cleveland’s loss, he recorded eight total tackles and two pass deflections, showing off his immense potential throughout. While the Browns’ offense has a shaky future, their defense does not.

Next game: vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 12:00 p.m. CT

Anthony Walker Jr., MLB, Cleveland Browns

Much like Newsome, Walker Jr. had a big impact for the Browns in their loss to the Steelers. He took the field for 60% of Cleveland’s defensive plays, as well as a season-high 48% of special teams snaps. Walker Jr. finished with nine total tackles, making this his seventh game this year where he recorded nine tackles or more.

Next game: vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 12:00 p.m. CT

Blake Hance, OT, Cleveland Browns

After playing every offensive snap for the Browns just one week ago, Hance was seemingly demoted this week and didn’t take the field for a single offensive play against the Steelers. He was on the field for 6% of Cleveland’s special teams snaps, but his overall impact on the game was minimal.

Next game: vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 12:00 p.m. CT

Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE, Cleveland Browns

Odenigbo saw the field for 20% of the Browns’ defensive snaps this week, finishing their loss to the Steelers with three total tackles. Those three tackles tied a season-high for Odenigbo, who remains a rotational piece for Cleveland.

Next game: vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 12:00 p.m. CT

Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

The return of Austin Ekeler saw Jackson’s numbers dip a bit, but JJTBC was still able to have a productive day in the Bolts’ 34-13 victory over the Broncos. The former seventh-round pick played on 37% of the Chargers’ offensive snaps, carrying the ball 12 times for 41 yards while also recording three catches for 20 yards. Additionally, Jackson took the field for 20% of LAC’s special teams snaps. He failed to find the endzone this week, but his solid play should set him up for a decent contract when he hits free agency this offseason.

Next game: @ Las Vegas Raiders, 7:20 p.m. CT

Rashawn Slater, OT, Los Angeles Chargers

Where would this Chargers offense be without Rashawn Slater? Nobody knows for sure, but they’d definitely be worse off. He’s been stellar all year for Los Angeles, and he was no different this past weekend against the Broncos. He laid down fantastic blocks for Ekeler and Jackson yet again while also keeping Justin Herbert from getting wrapped up. Stunningly, he hasn’t allowed a single quarterback pressure in the last two weeks. Slater, now a Pro Bowler, will have one more regular season game to show off his skills before the Chargers potentially make the postseason. Oh, and by the way, he was the highest-graded offensive lineman in the league in Week 17, per Pro Football Focus.

Next game: @ Las Vegas Raiders, 7:20 p.m. CT

Dean Lowry, DE, Green Bay Packers

It was a somewhat quiet week for Lowry, who took the field for 65% of Green Bay’s defensive snaps but recorded just one combined tackle. He also had one pass deflection for the Packers, but overall, he didn’t have too much of an impact in their blowout win of the Minnesota Vikings.

Next game: @ Detroit Lions, 12:00 p.m. CT

Tyler Lancaster, DL, Green Bay Packers

Much like Lowry, Lancaster had a quiet week, as he finished with just two total tackles after playing 13 total defensive snaps for the Packers. He also played on 33% of Green Bay’s special teams plays. Overall, Lancaster’s impact on the outcome of the game was small, but he could be an important rotational piece for the Packers going forward.

Next game: @ Detroit Lions, 12:00 p.m. CT

Godwin Igwebuike, RB, Detroit Lions

With DeAndre Swift healthy, Igwebuike’s role in Detroit’s backfield has diminished entirely. He didn’t play in a single offensive snap, but did take the field for 59% of the Lions’ special teams snaps and recorded one tackle.

Next game: vs. Green Bay Packers, 12:00 p.m. CT

Ben Skowronek, WR, Los Angeles Rams

Skowronek’s stats from this past week don’t jump off the page by any means. He finished with a mere two catches for 18 receiving yards. With that being said, one of his catches came in the clutch, as Matthew Stafford found him over the middle for 15 yards to push into Baltimore’s redzone. This play was instrumental in setting up the game-winning touchdown for the Rams, who ended up beating Baltimore 20-19 and now sit at 12-4 on the season.

Next game: vs. San Francisco 49ers, 3:25 p.m. CT

‘Cats that did not play this week: Trevor Siemian, QB, New Orleans Saints; Joe Gaziano, DL, Los Angeles Chargers; John Raine, TE, Atlanta Falcons; Joe Jones, LB, Tennessee Titans; Blake Gallagher, LB, Baltimore Ravens; Ibraheim Campbell, S, Indianapolis Colts; Earnest Brown IV, DE, Los Angeles Rams.