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 3

A pair of Hawkeyes caught interceptions in the Buffalo Bills’ 37-3 win against the Washington Commanders.
Nick Rohlman
Iowa defensive lineman A.J. Epenesa returns a fumble for a touchdown during Iowa’s game against Illinois at Memorial Stadium in Champaign on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini 63-0.

Former Iowa defensive standouts A.J. Epenesa and Micah Hyde shined for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in their win over the Washington Commanders, 37-3 — each picking off quarterback Sam Howell, with Epenesa taking it the other way for six points.

Epenesa, the sixth defensive end drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft, going 54th overall, also recorded a sack on Howell. 

Safety Micah Hyde picked Howell off in the Commanders’ opening drive of the second half. 

Hyde is one of the Bills’ starting safeties and is currently fifth overall in tackles on the team. Epenesa is currently listed as the second-string left defensive end.

But the pair of former Hawkyees accounted for two of Howell’s four interceptions on the day.

Rookies making plays

2023 NFL draftees of the Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta and linebacker Jack Campbell both recorded firsts of their NFL careers in the Lions’ 20-6 win over the Atlanta Falcons. 

LaPorta caught eight receptions for 84 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown from Lions quarterback Jared Goff — the first touchdown of LaPorta’s professional career. 

Campbell, the 18th overall pick in this year’s draft, recorded his first professional sack over Falcons’ quarterback Desmond Ritter. He added six tackles overall to the performance. 

Both rookies have made an impact on Detroit so far this season, as LaPorta is currently second on the Lions in yards and receptions, and Campbell is ranked fifth in tackles. 

Former Hawkeye Matt Nelson also filled in as the Lions’ starting right tackle after starter Taylor Decker went down with an injury in Week Two. But Nelson also left the game early with a leg injury and will be placed on the injury reserve, according to Lions coach Dan Campbell.

The 6-foot-7, 315-pound Nelson played four seasons for Iowa as a defensive lineman before switching to the offensive line after being signed by Detroit following the 2019 NFL Draft.

TEU for a reason

Iowa fan favorite George Kittle had the best game of the season so far, catching seven balls for 90 yards in the San Francisco 49ers’ 30-12 win over the New York Giants. 

The tight end has become a favorite target of quarterback Brock Purdy since the former Iowa State Cyclone got the starting job last season. 

Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson had another strong performance this past week, catching eight balls for 78 yards in the Vikings’ 28-24 loss at home.

Hockenson, the winner of the John Mackey Award and Ozzie Newsome Award as a Hawkeye, is currently tied for first in total touchdowns on the Vikings with two so far this season. 

But the Vikings are 0-3.

Phil Parker would be proud

Tennessee Titans safety Amani Hooker had yet another productive game in his team’s 27-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns on the road, leading the team in tackles with 11. 

Hooker is top five on the Titans in total tackles and is currently the only member of the Titans defense to record a turnover, accounting for the team’s only fumble recovery and interception. 

Former Iowa defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson also recorded two tackles in the game. 

This is Johnson’s seventh year in the league after being drafted 109th overall to the Minnesota Vikings in 2017. He signed with the Titans in the 2023 offseason. 

Former Iowa linebacker Nick Niemann was second in total tackles for the Chargers on Sunday in their win against the Vikings, recording eight total tackles with five solo tackles. 

Niemann played for Iowa from 2017 to 2020. His brother, Ben Niemann, is also a former Iowa linebacker and is a member of the Denver Broncos practice squad. Ben won a Superbowl with the Chiefs in 2020.

Although the Buccaneers lost their first game of the season to the Eagles on Monday night, former Hawkeye linebacker Anthony Nelson captured four total tackles in an effort that held a strong Philadelphia offense to under 30 points.

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About the Contributor
Cooper Worth
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.