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Northwestern in the NFL, Week Two: A quiet one for the ‘Cats

Not a single “W” in sight for the NU alumni.

Los Angeles Chargers left tackle Rashawn Slater protects quarterback Justin Herbert during an NFL game.
Photo by Los Angeles Chargers/Getty Images

Week Two of the NFL season has come and gone, and several of the ‘Cats we’re accustomed to seeing in the pros were on the sidelines. Fear not, as we’ll take a look at the Northwestern alumni that were able to make an impact for their squads.

Rashawn Slater: Los Angeles Chargers, OT

Like always, Slater was a bastion of consistency in the Chargers’ overtime loss to the Titans, protecting Justin Herbert’s blindside for all 68 offensive snaps. He got called for a holding penalty in the third quarter but went another week without giving up a sack. Slater is on track for his second Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections if he can continue his dominant play.

The Bolts have gotten off to a less-than-ideal start to the season at 0-2 after some questionable coaching decisions from Brandon Staley, but they will try to reverse their fortunes in Minnesota.

Week Three matchup: at Minnesota Vikings (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

Greg Newsome II: Cleveland Browns, CB

Newsome II had a brief injury scare in the third quarter of Cleveland’s 26-22 loss after hurting his arm on a tackle, but he was able to return to action on the next series. Head coach Kevin Stefanski said the third-year corner would be day-to-day this week with an elbow sprain. Losing Newsome would be a massive blow for the Browns, who are already without Nick Chubb after he suffered a season-ending knee injury on Monday night.

Newsome has been integral to a defensive unit that is giving up just 133.5 air yards per game (third-fewest in the NFL). He said that he expects to suit up against Tennessee, where he will look to disrupt Ryan Tannehill’s connection with the Titan receivers.

Week Three matchup: vs. Tennessee Titans (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

Dean Lowry: Minnesota Vikings, DE

Lowry is continuing to struggle to make any sort of impact for Minnesota’s defensive line. They grabbed him in free agency after seven seasons of solid play in Green Bay, but he has yet to show up in Minneapolis. Lowry assisted on a single tackle during the Vikings’ loss to the Eagles but was quiet in all other categories.

Behind Danielle Hunter (four sacks on the season), Minnesota is sorely missing contributions from their pass rushers. Lowry must rise to the occasion if the Vikings want to nab their first win of the season against the Chargers.

Week Three matchup: vs. Los Angeles Chargers (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

Ben Skowronek: Los Angeles Rams, WR

Rams head coach Sean McVay was able to get Skowronek more involved in their loss to the 49ers. The third-year receiver had a brief injury fright in the second quarter, but he came back after halftime to contribute to the Rams’ offensive attack.

After getting blanked in Week One, Skowronek ripped off an 11-yard rush — Los Angeles’ longest run of the day. He also caught a 10-yard pass from Matthew Stafford in a fourth-quarter drive that led to a field goal. Skowronek should continue to play a consistent gadget role for the Rams, flaunting his versatility at multiple positions.

Week Three matchup: at Cincinnati Bengals (Monday, 7:15 p.m. CT)

Cameron Mitchell: Cleveland Browns, CB

Mitchell made his biggest contribution on special teams, playing 23 snaps and recording a solo tackle. The rookie was thrown into action when Newsome went down with his elbow injury in the third quarter.

Hopefully, Mitchell can continue to get reps as the season progresses and prove why the Browns spent a draft pick on him in April.

Week Three matchup: vs. Tennessee Titans (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

Anthony Walker Jr.: Cleveland Browns, LB

Walker Jr. had a full-circle moment on Monday night, as he returned to Pittsburgh for the first time since suffering a season-ending quad injury against the Steelers last year. It was more bitter than sweet for the Browns captain, as he watched friend Nick Chubb get carted off with a stomach-turning injury.

Walker recorded three solo tackles and got to Steelers signal-caller Kenny Pickett for a QB hit. The veteran linebacker will look to rally his teammates in the face of Chubb’s morale-crushing ailment as the Browns take on the Titans.

Week Three matchup: vs. Tennessee Titans (Sunday, 12 p.m. CT)

‘Cats that didn’t play this week (or record any stats): Evan Hull (Indianapolis Colts, knee injury), Peter Skoronski (Tennessee Titans, appendectomy), Earnest Brown IV (Los Angeles Rams), Adetomiwa Adebawore (Indianapolis Colts), Blake Hance (Jacksonville Jaguars), Tyler Lancaster (Denver Broncos, practice squad), Ifeadi Odenigbo (New York Jets, injured reserve), Godwin Igwebuike (Atlanta Falcons), Joe Gaziano (Atlanta Falcons)