The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Hawks in the NFL: Week 1

Several rookie former Hawkeyes made big plays for their respective teams in the first week of NFL action.
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 7, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (25) is tackled by Detroit Lions linebacker Jack Campbell (46) and safety Kerby Joseph (31) during the second half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

There are 37 former Iowa football players currently on active National Football League rosters or practice squads. Here are some of the storylines for former Hawkeyes after Week 1 of the NFL season. 

Rookies making plays 

Iowa had five rookie NFL players listed as active for the opening week: defensive end Lukas Van Ness (Packers); linebacker Jack Campbell (Lions); tight end Sam Leporta (Lions); and safety Kaevon Merriweather (Buccaneers). 

Defensive back Riley Moss, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Denver Broncos, was listed as inactive for the Broncos’ loss to the Raiders on Sunday. 

The Lions’ pair of Hawkeyes showed up big in Detroit’s Week 1 upset win against the Kansas City Chiefs. Laporta, who is listed as the second-string tight end for Detroit, caught five receptions for 39 yards and made some key blocks for the Lions on a couple of goal-line possessions. 

Campbell, the Lions’ backup middle linebacker, had two tackles and a pass deflection against quarterback and reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes. 

The Green Bay Packers got the most out of their first-round pick, as Van Ness had two total tackles, including a sack in their 38-20 win against the Chicago Bears. 

Merriweather recorded one tackle on Tampa Bay’s special teams unit in the Buccaneers’ 20-17 win against the Minnesota Vikings. 

Hooker’s big day

Tennessee Titans safety Amani Hooker had a productive game in his team’s 16-15 loss to the New Orleans Saints before leaving with a concussion. He recorded five tackles, two pass deflections, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and one interception. 

Hooker, who was drafted in the fourth round, has been with the Titans since 2019. He has recorded 183 total tackles and seven interceptions in his pro career.

During his junior season for the Hawkeyes, Hooker won the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year award after recording 65 tackles and four interceptions.  

RELATED: Iowa football defeats Iowa State, 20-13, behind strong performance from defense and special teams 

Injuries on the O-line

Jacksonville Jaguars right guard Brandon Scherff and Baltimore Ravens center Tyler Linderbaum suffered sprained ankles in both teams’ respective wins. 

Linderbaum, a second-year starter for the Ravens, is expected to be out for Week 2. Scherff, a first-team All-Pro for the Jaguars, is currently listed as day-to-day. Scherff joined the Jaguars two years ago and was a big part in helping the Jaguars return to the playoffs last season, where they lost to the Chiefs in the second round.

Pittsburgh Steelers starting right guard James Daniels was also injured in the team’s 30-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He was seen walking in a boot during the team’s practice on Monday. 

Daniels has been in the league since 2018, when he was drafted 39th overall by the Chicago Bears, and has started at various positions of the offensive line in his 65 career starts. He signed with the Steelers in the 2022 offseason. 

Quiet outing by the experienced tight ends

Hawkeye tight ends and fan favorites George Kittle and T.J. Hockenson combined for 54 yards on 11 receptions in both player’s respective games.

Kittle, a seven-year veteran for the San Francisco 49ers, recorded three receptions for 19 yards and zero touchdowns in the Niners’ defeat of the Steelers. Hockenson was targeted nine times in the Vikings home opener, hauling in 8 passes for 35 yards. 

Kittle is a four-time Pro Bowler and has recorded 32 touchdowns in his career, most recently connecting with former rival quarterback Brock Purdy on seven touchdowns last season. 

Hockenson, winner of the John Mackey and Ozzie Newsome awards as the top collegiate tight end, has been in the NFL since 2019. He was drafted eighth overall by the Detroit Lions in 2019 and was traded to the Minnesota Vikings midway through last season. The Chariton, Iowa, native became a reliable target with quarterback Kirk Cousins, recording three touchdowns in 10 games with the Vikings. 

Monday night madness

The Buffalo Bills defense was active during Week 1’s edition of Monday Night Football despite losing in heartbreaking fashion to the New York Jets, 22-16, on a punt return touchdown in overtime.

Former Hawkeye and current Bills safety Micah Hyde led the way against the Bills’ division foes, capturing five solo tackles — a team-high in the game — and one assisted tackle for a total of six in the game.

Fellow former Hawkeye defensive end A.J. Epenesa also notched a solo tackle on the Bills’ defensive line. 

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About the Contributor
Cooper Worth, Pregame reporter
Cooper Worth is a Pregame Reporter for The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and mass communication. He is also earning a minor in communication studies and an entrepreneurial management certificate. This is his third year at the DI, previously serving as a News Editor and as a News Reporter covering local government in Johnson County for the DI. Cooper interned for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa during the summer of 2023 as a general news reporter.