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Northwestern in the NFL, Week 13: Siemian makes his season debut

The Wildcats’ former signal-caller became the fourth quarterback to appear for the Jets this year.

Atlanta Falcons v New York Jets Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Week 13 was busy for the Northwestern alumni in the NFL. From fixtures like Rashawn Slater to new additions like Trevor Siemian, let’s look at what the former ‘Cats accomplished in the pros.

Rashawn Slater: Los Angeles Chargers, OT

Slater was rock-solid as usual in a messy 6-0 win against the Patriots in Foxboro. He played all 61 offensive snaps and kept Justin Herbert upright in the pocket. In fact, the entire Chargers’ O-line shut down New England’s pass rush, refusing to give up a single sack.

Though they escaped with a win, the Chargers need to do some serious soul-searching to get their offense back on track. Los Angeles ran the ball 24 times for just 29 yards — Slater’s fellow linemen need to elevate their play to give Austin Ekeler and company some better lanes. At 5-7, Slater and the Chargers will continue to claw back to .500 at home against Russell Wilson and the Broncos.

Week 14 matchup: vs. Denver Broncos (Sunday, 3:25 p.m. CT)

Greg Newsome II: Cleveland Browns, CB

Similar to last week, Newsome had a lackluster performance in the Browns’ 36-19 loss to the Rams. Denzel Ward missed another week with his shoulder injury, but Newsome moved back to his natural slot position on Sunday. Unfortunately for him, the Rams have the best slot receiver in the league: Cooper Kupp. Newsome didn’t give up any chunk yardage, as Kupp finished with six catches for 39 yards and a touchdown.

Overall, Newsome finished with three tackles, two of them solo. He got burned by Puka Nacua in the third quarter; luckily for the Northwestern alum, the ball slipped through Nacua’s fingers. Newsome also looked pretty languid on the run defense. For example, he took a rough-looking route trying to pursue Kyren Williams to start the second half. The Browns may be at a disadvantage with the loss of Deshaun Watson, but Newsome needs to improve his play if Cleveland’s defense wants to return to its early-season dominance.

Week 14 matchup: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

Peter Skoronski: Tennessee Titans, OG

Skoronski showed off his run-blocking chops in Tennessee’s crushing 31-28 loss to the Colts in overtime. On the Titans’ first drive, he and Jaelyn Duncan threw a killer double-team block to make space for Derrick Henry to cut to the left and score a 22-yard touchdown.

The rookie guard continues to improve after coming back from an appendectomy in Week Five. Unfortunately, the rest of the Titans’ line hasn’t fared as well. The Colts were chasing Will Levis around all game long, notching six sacks against the first-year quarterback. Skoronski and his teammates will have to pass-protect better against a formidable Dolphins’ pass rush.

Week 14 matchup: vs. Miami Dolphins (Monday, 7:15 p.m. CT)

Ben Skowronek: Los Angeles Rams, WR

Skowronek had one of his best games of the season in the Rams’ 36-19 win against the Browns. He caught two receptions for 12 yards and saw the field for a season-high 38% of his team’s offensive snaps. Skowronek has been in a reserve role all year, but he recieved more opportunities as Nacua missed some snaps with a shoulder sprain.

The third-year receiver’s first grab went for six yards in the second quarter, when he caught a checkdown before being stuffed by Browns safety Juan Thornhill. With less than a minute before halftime, Skowronek brought in his second and last catch for another six yards, contributing to a drive that ended in a Rams field goal. If Nacua misses next week with his injury, Skowronek will be sure to capitalize on his increased playing time.

Week 14 matchup: at Baltimore Ravens (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

Anthony Walker Jr.: Cleveland Browns, LB

Walker returned from a hamstring injury in Cleveland’s 36-19 loss to the Rams. Likely out of caution, he played just 58% of the Browns’ defensive snaps, but he managed to record three tackles (two solo) and a pass deflection. In the first quarter, he sprinted to reach Rams running back Kyren Williams and tackled him out of bounds. Despite his positive play, safety Juan Thornhill drew an unnecessary roughness call that gave the Rams 15 yards of field position.

Overall, Walker has been valuable to the Browns’ defense as a run-stopper. He doesn’t offer much in pass coverage, but the seven-year veteran has been a vital presence in the locker room. Walker will look to shut down Travis Etienne and the Jaguars at home on Sunday.

Week 14 matchup: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

Adetomiwa Adebawore: Indianapolis Colts, DE

Adebawore continued to make an impact in his limited snaps in the Colts’ 31-28 win over the Titans. The rookie played a season-high 26 defensive snaps and recorded a quarterback hit. Adebawore did have a “welcome to the league” moment in the first quarter when Derrick Henry flattened him with his signature stiff arm on a nine-yard run.

Drafted by Indianapolis in the fourth round, Adebawore has 1.5 sacks on the season. He continues to play a reserve role behind DeForest Buckner, but he’s making a difference when he manages to see the field. Adebawore will have a favorable matchup against Jake Browning and the Bengals’ lackluster offensive line.

Week 14 matchup: at Cincinnati Bengals (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

Blake Hance: Jacksonville Jaguars, OL

Hance saw the field more than usual in the Jaguars’ 34-31 overtime loss to the Bengals. He subbed in for 23 offensive snaps after left tackle Walker Little exited in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury.

The fourth-year lineman has been an important backup piece for Jacksonville. He has filled in for Little and Cam Robinson throughout the season and has also entered on jumbo packages. If Little can’t go next week, look for Hance to get his first start of the season.

Week 14 matchup: at Cleveland Browns (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

Godwin Igwebuike: Pittsburgh Steelers, RB

Igwebuike fulfilled his role as the Steelers’ starting kick returner in their 24-10 loss to the Cardinals. He returned the game’s opening kick to the 24-yard line after muffing the catch and recovering it. Igwebuike also played 12 special teams snaps as a gunner in a game that saw Kenny Pickett exit with a high-ankle sprain.

The sixth-year back has suited up for six NFL rosters (plus the XFL’s Seattle Dragons) in his career. Hopefully, Igwebuike has found his role with the Steelers and will return to the team next season. He will try to continue to make an impression against the Patriots on Thursday night.

Week 14 matchup: vs. New England Patriots (Thursday, 7:15 p.m. CT)

Trevor Siemian: New York Jets, QB

A new addition to the column, Siemian entered the game in the fourth quarter of the Jets’ 13-8 loss to the Falcons. He went 5-for-13 with 66 passing yards, took three sacks, and coughed up three fumbles (one lost). The Jets wanted a change of scenery from the painfully unqualified Tim Boyle, but Siemian still finished with the team’s second-lowest PFF grade (34.4).

The Broncos drafted Siemian in the seventh round in 2015, where he threw for 30 touchdowns and 24 interceptions in 24 starts. Since then, he’s bounced around the league as a backup. Somehow, the Jets might end up starting Siemian next week against the Texans — Tim Boyle is that bad and Zach Wilson is reportedly reluctant to start for New York again. We’ll just have to see who the Jets roll out on Sunday afternoon.

Week 14 matchup: vs. Houston Texans (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

Joseph Jones: Tennessee Titans, LB

After being inactive last week, Jones played 27 special teams snaps in the Titans’ 31-28 win over the Colts. He didn’t record any statistics, but he still contributed as a gunner for Tennessee. Jones went undrafted in 2017 and was signed off the Seahawks’ practice squad by the Broncos that November. The journeyman will look to get on the stat sheet against the Dolphins on Monday night.

Week 14 matchup: vs. Miami Dolphins (Monday, 7:15 p.m. CT)

‘Cats that didn’t play this week: Cameron Mitchell (Cleveland Browns), Dean Lowry (Minnesota Vikings, torn pectoral), Tyler Lancaster (Denver Broncos), Earnest Brown IV (Los Angeles Rams), Evan Hull (Indianapolis Colts, torn meniscus), Ifeadi Odenigbo (New York Jets, injured reserve), Joe Gaziano (Atlanta Falcons)