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Northwestern in the NFL, Week Seven: Walker Jr. shines in homecoming game

In a topsy-turvy win, Walker flew all over the field.

Cleveland Browns linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. bats a pass thrown by Indianapolis Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew II during an NFL game on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023.
Photo by Joshua Gunter/

We’re creeping toward the halfway point of the NFL season, and our former ‘Cats are continuing to put on a show for their teams. Let’s take a look at the best performances from NU alumni this week.

Rashawn Slater: Los Angeles Chargers, OT

Slater had a decent outing in the Chargers’ 31-17 loss against the Chiefs, avoiding penalties after getting flagged twice last week. However, the All-Pro tackle gave up his first sack of the season as Kansas City put Justin Herbert on the ground five times.

Slater still had his share of solid plays, including a crucial block that opened a lane for a 49-yard Joshua Kelley rushing TD that tied the game in the second quarter. He finished with a PFF grade of 75.2, good for third-best among the Chargers’ offense. Slater should have an easier time keeping Herbert upright against the Bears, who are second-to-last in the NFL with 10 sacks.

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

Anthony Walker Jr.: Cleveland Browns, LB

Walker Jr. was an iron man in Cleveland’s 39-38 victory in Indianapolis, playing all 70 defensive snaps in his return from a concussion. He was all over the field, recording eight combined tackles and recovering a Gardner Minshew fumble in the first quarter. Walker also got his hands on a pass but couldn’t bring it in for what could have been his first interception of the season.

The usually stout Browns defense was able to hold on despite allowing over 450 total yards to the Colts. Walker had a huge role in making sure they kept their heads up in an exhausting shootout against his former team. He will look to disrupt Geno Smith’s rhythm in Seattle during the late Sunday slate.

Week Eight matchup: at Seattle Seahawks (Sunday, 3:05 p.m. CT)

Greg Newsome II: Cleveland Browns, CB

After a shocking upset against the 49ers last week, Newsome and the Browns crashed back to Earth in Indianapolis. They were able to take the win, but it wasn’t pretty for a Cleveland defense that has been so dominant all season. Newsome recorded three combined tackles, two of them solo and played 69 of 70 defensive snaps.

Newsome almost let the game slip out of his hands in the fourth quarter. He allowed Michael Pittman Jr. to wriggle free for a 75-yard touchdown, giving the Colts a 38-33 lead with less than six minutes to go. Cleveland escaped with the win, but Newsome must clean up his tackling against the Seahawks’ savvy receivers.

Week Eight matchup: at Seattle Seahawks (Sunday, 3:05 p.m. CT)

Dean Lowry: Minnesota Vikings, DE

Lowry played his best game of the year during the Vikings’ assertive 22-17 victory against the Niners on Monday night. He saw the field for a season-high 75% of Minnesota’s defensive snaps and recorded three combined tackles. Most importantly, Lowry recovered his first fumble since Week Seven of the 2021 season, setting the Vikings up for an 89-yard drive that ended in a touchdown.

Everything seemed to go right for Minnesota’s defense, and Lowry’s performance was no exception. The eight-year veteran will look to capitalize on this newfound momentum against his former team at Lambeau Field.

Week Eight matchup: at Green Bay Packers (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

Godwin Igwebuike: Pittsburgh Steelers, RB

Igwebuike is a new addition to the column after bouncing around the Falcons’ and Steelers’ practice squads. Pittsburgh called him up after cutting kick returner Gunner Olszewski, who fumbled in each of the two games he appeared in this season.

His one opportunity came in the Steelers’ last possession of the half, where he returned a kickoff for 15 yards. Igwebuike will likely see more action fielding kicks going forward, continuing with a daunting game against the 5-2 Jaguars.

Week Eight matchup: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

Earnest Brown IV: Los Angeles Rams, DE

Brown IV was relatively quiet during the Rams’ 24-17 loss to the Steelers. He assisted on one tackle for his lone contribution but played a season-high 13 defensive snaps. With starting defensive lineman Bobby Brown III out for the next few weeks, Brown IV could continue to see more action on the field. He and the Rams will have a tough matchup against the Cowboys’ offense on Sunday afternoon.

Week Eight matchup: at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

‘Cats that didn’t play this week (or record any stats): Peter Skoronski (Tennessee Titans, bye), Ben Skowronek (Los Angeles Rams), Cameron Mitchell (Cleveland Browns), Evan Hull (Indianapolis Colts, torn meniscus), Adetomiwa Adebawore (Indianapolis Colts), Blake Hance (Jacksonville Jaguars), Ifeadi Odenigbo (New York Jets, injured reserve), Tyler Lancaster (Denver Broncos), Joe Gaziano (Atlanta Falcons), Trevor Siemian (New York Jets)