Fant struggles, Hockenson excels in Week 12 of NFL season

The former tight end teammates at Iowa found varying levels of success in their respective games.

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Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant (87) catches a ball during training camp at UCHealth Training Center on Aug. 11, 2019 in Englewood, Colo.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor


Just as Thanksgiving has come and gone, so too has Week 12 of the NFL season — in which some Hawkeyes shined and others struggled.

Fant leads Broncos in receiving in unusual loss to Saints

With just one catch for 13 yards on two targets, former Iowa tight end Noah Fant led the Broncos in receptions and receiving yards Sunday.

The six-foot-four Fant was the only Bronco to catch a pass at Mile High Stadium against the Saints. The Broncos targeted six different players on nine total pass attempts.

Denver was unwilling to open up the pass game because it had zero quarterbacks available for its matchup with the Saints. Third-string quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. Then, the NFL identified a face covering issue in Denver’s quarterback room that violated the league’s COVID-19 protocols, policies, and procedures. As a result, the NFL mandated that starter Drew Lock, backup Brett Rypien, and practice squad QB Blake Bortles all be placed on the league’s Reserve/COVID-19 list.

 

 

 

 

With all four of their quarterbacks out Sunday, the Broncos were forced to call up practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton to play QB. The rookie took some reps at QB in college at Wake Forest before he was moved to wide receiver. In his final year as a Demon Deacon, Hinton didn’t take a snap at quarterback.

 

 

 

Hinton finished the game 1-for-9, netting 13 yards in the air with two interceptions. Hinton also carried the ball two times for seven yards in the 31-3 loss.

RELATED: Week 10 unkind to NFL Hawkeyes

 

 

Hawkeyes participate in NFL Thanksgiving festivities

Three Hawkeyes took the field on Thanksgiving, to compete in the NFL’s traditional holiday games. Offensive lineman Matt Nelson and tight end T.J. Hockenson suited up for the Detroit Lions, while guard Brandon Scherff hit the gridiron for the Washington Football Team.

Hockenson starred in the Lions’ 41-25 loss to the Houston Texans at Ford Field in Detroit, hauling in five passes for 89 yards.

Hockenson’s team-leading performance through the air can be attributed to two big plays – a 51-yard catch-and-run on a play action pass from Matthew Stafford and a short pass he nearly picked off the ground for a gain of 17.

 

 

 

Following the Lions’ loss to the Texans, Detroit terminated general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Praticia.

Scherff was tasked with protecting quarterback Alex Smith from the Dallas Cowboys’ pass rush that is led by Pro Bowler DeMarcus Lawrence.

Smith was sacked three times, increasing his season total to 15. Since Smith began taking snaps as the team’s starter on Nov. 8, pocket protection has been a concern. Smith suffered a gruesome leg injury in November 2018. Smith’s recovery required 17 surgeries that would force him to wear an external leg fixator to hold his bones in place for eight months. So, the fragile quarterback’s snaps in games this year have been the first he’s taken in two years.

Smith threw for 149 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in Washington’s 41-16 blowout victory over the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Scherff and the Washington Football Team now find themselves in a four-team race to the top of the NFC East Division with the Cowboys, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles.

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