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Northwestern in the NFL week one: Slater stars, Newsome struggles

Rashawn Slater is back and good as always.


With college football already in full swing, the NFL kicked off its 103rd season Sept. 8 when the defending Super Bowl champion LA Rams hosted the Buffalo Bills. The game was followed by a full slate of Sunday action, which included seeing some former Wildcats start or resume their current professional careers.

Similar to last year and in years past, Inside NU will take a look at how the Northwestern Wildcats alumni performed in the NFL each week.

Rashawn Slater — LA Chargers, OT

After a first-year campaign that included a Pro Bowl berth and a second-team All-Pro nomination, Slater kicked off the 2022 season with a victory over the Las Vegas Raiders in which the Chargers’ offensive line allowed zero sacks. Slater and Co. kept the pocket clean, as only three QB Hits were registered on Justin Herbert.

Week two matchup: at Kansas City Chiefs (Thursday, 7:15 p.m. CT)

Greg Newsome II — Cleveland Browns, CB

The 2021 NFL Draft saw long-time fan favorite Greg Newsome II land in Cleveland as a member of the Browns. The second-year cornerback is looking to make strides in his sophomore season, as the Browns won their first season opener since 2004 by upsetting Baker Mayfield and the Carolina Panthers. Newsome contributed to the win with two solo tackles. However, he struggled a bit in coverage, allowing four catches on six targets.

Week two matchup: vs. New York Jets (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

Anthony Walker Jr. — Cleveland Browns, LB

Newsome is joined by Walker, as both Wildcats united in Cleveland. The 2017 draft pick began his career in Indianapolis before coming to the Browns in 2021. After a string of injuries and COVID-19 complications, Walker Jr. is now active for the 2022 season at middle linebacker. In the win against Carolina, Walker Jr. notched two solo tackles while contributing to another. In 73 games as a professional, Walker Jr. has 4.5 sacks and three pick-sixes.

Week two matchup: vs. New York Jets (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

Justin Jackson — Detroit Lions, RB

Jackson was a workhorse for the Wildcats in the mid-2010s, as his hard-nosed, downfield running ability quickly translated to the next level. After being drafted by the LA Chargers in 2018, Jackson immediately became a key vocal point of the offense in the rushing, receiving, and special teams categories. Through 45 games, Jackson has rushed for over 1,000 yards and helped guide the Chargers to a playoff berth in his rookie year.

He signed with the Detroit Lions for the 2022 season, and was elevated to the active roster prior to the Lions’ Week 1 contest against the Eagles, although he earned zero snaps.

Week two matchup: vs. Washington Commanders (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

Dean Lowry — Green Bay Packers, DE

Sticking with the NFC North, Lowry remains with the Green Bay Packers as he enters his fifth season in the NFL. In 97 regular season games played, Lowry has 118 tackles and has accumulated five sacks over the course of his career thus far. While the Packers fell in Minnesota, 23-7, Lowry registered two solo tackles while assisting with another.

Week two matchup: vs. Chicago Bears (Sunday, 7:20 p.m. CT)

Ifeadi Odenigbo— Indianapolis Colts, DE

Odenigbo now finds himself as an Indianapolis Colt after two stops in Minnesota and Cleveland. The 2019 draft pick has appeared in 42 games (including the playoffs), registering 10.5 sacks and 40 solo tackles thus far. He made the Colts’ 53-man roster in August and appeared in Sunday’s 20-20 tie against the Houston Texans.

Week two matchup: at Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

Ben Skowronek — LA Rams, WR

That’s Super Bowl Champion Ben Skowronek to you. In the Rams’ season opener of their 2021 Super Bowl Title defense, Skoronek caught four passes for 25 yards against the Bills, who the Rams fell to, 31-10.

Week two matchup: vs. Atlanta Falcons (Sunday, 3:05 p.m. CT)

Other Wildcats in the NFL: Earnest Brown IV (Rams/defensive end), Joe Gaziano (Chargers/defensive end), Blake Hance (49ers/offensive guard), Joe Jones (Titans/inside linebacker), Kyric McGowan (Commanders/wide receiver), Trevor Siemian (Bears/quarterback)