Week 4 of the NFL preseason is here, and there are several former Iowa football players who are fighting for a roster spot as rookies.
Tonight, every single NFL team will be taking the field to finish up their preseason, and for many players, this is the last chance to show their current team or another team what they can add to an active roster or a practice squad. In that mix of guys are several rookies, formerly from the Iowa football program, that are desperately trying to make the roster.
The nice thing about week four is that it does often showcase many of these guys who have been trying to get a few snaps the last three games so some of these former Hawkeyes are about to get a lot more playing time tonight.
Here’s a quick breakdown of each game featuring a rookie Iowa football player.
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Jets
Keegan Render always faced an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster, but folks are optimistic that he’ll stick around at least on the practice squad. He’s also shown some sneaky athleticism after catching a touchdown pass in week 2.
Minnesota Vikings @ Buffalo Bills
This is the Nick Easley show. Through 3 games, Easley has zero catches, and in week 3, he received zero snaps. Honestly, it’s just confusing me. All I hear from beat reporters and guys at camp is how impressive Easley is during practice, and then come game time, they don’t even get him on the field.
I’m seriously hoping (although doubtful) that this is all some ploy by Buffalo to stash Easley on their practice squad and groom him to replace Cole Beasley in two years.
Detroit Lions @ Cleveland Browns
Two Lions will be taking the field against Cleveland. TJ Hockenson has his job in the bag and looks like a future star, but Matt Nelson is playing to show the Lions staff he is worth spending the time on developing him further as a tackle. He’s definitely showing signs of being a solid tackle, but he’s stuck behind another former Iowa football player, Andrew Donnal, on the roster right now.
Tennessee Titans @ Chicago Bears
I think Amani Hooker is a guy who will surprise some people this year as he continues to get more snaps with the first team, much like Desmond King did in his rookie season. Parker Hesse, however, has his work cut out for him. He has seen action in all three preseason games, including getting time in the first half of preseason game three, but as a converted tight end in a crowded tight end room, my guess is Tennessee will stash him on their practice squad and let him develop more.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Dallas Cowboys
The only rookie from the Iowa football program in this game is Anthony Nelson, but as a fourth-rounder, his roster spot is safe. Also, he has been injured since the beginning of camp (and likely won’t play this evening), so we have yet to see how he looks as a 3-4 OLB.
Los Angeles Rams @ Houston Texans
Jake Gervase, the last Iowa football player to sign a deal with a team, has stuck around in Los Angeles’ camp and has made a few plays so far. In three games he has 8 tackles and 1 fumble recovery. Although he’s deep down the depth chart, I think there is an outside chance the Rams keep him around simply because of his grit and hustle. Considering he had to earn a contract via a tryout, that’s basically the best Iowa football fans could have hoped for.
Arizona Cardinals @ Denver Broncos
The lone rookie in this game from Iowa is none other than Noah Fant. Fant’s has an up and down preseason so far as the nerves got to him a bit (it seemed) in week 1, but he’s shown really good blocking skills throughout this preseason and camp reports say he’s looked great in practice. He’ll likely be involved heavily in the first-team offense, especially with the lack of depth at tight end for Denver so my guess is we don’t see him much after the first quarter.
Los Angeles Chargers @ San Francisco 49ers
Through camp, Ross Reynolds has been a breath of fresh air so far, and with injuries impacting the 49ers hard, he could possibly squeak into a spot on the active roster. This will be a big chance for him to shine and secure an active roster spot or, at the very least, a practice squad spot.
Make sure to check out each of these guys tonight because a significant amount of cuts are about to happen very soon.