Hawkeyes optimistic Josey Jewell will return vs. Minnesota

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

Signs are promising that Iowa will have its best player back in the lineup this week at Kinnick Stadium.

Middle linebacker Josey Jewell, who, despite sitting out Iowa's 17-10 loss at Northwestern, remains the Big Ten Conference's leading tackler, was listed on Monday's two-deep in advance of the Hawkeyes' 5:30 p.m. Saturday game against Minnesota.

Iowa senior linebacker Josey Jewell celebrates after intercepting a Penn State pass on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

That's usually a good starting point for a player's chances to take the field.

"There is a good chance we will have him back this week," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz told the university's website. "If so, we will move Ben (Niemann) back (to outside linebacker). If not, we will keep Ben in the middle."

Niemann started at Northwestern, which elevated Kevin Ward into the starting lineup at outside linebacker.

Ferentz said free safety Brandon Snyder was "probably a week or two away" from returning, "but he is making good progress. We're optimistic we'll get him back in the near future."

Snyder did not travel to Northwestern with an unspecified injury. Jake Gervase is the starter at that position until Snyder returns, with true freshman Geno Stone as the backup.

In other depth-chart news, Iowa (4-3 overall, 1-3 Big Ten Conference) has for the first time officially made sophomore Amani Hooker its starting strong safety over senior Miles Taylor. It also has promoted junior Matt Nelson to the No. 1 line at defensive tackle Cedrick Lattimore, although the D-line operates in a rotation anyway. And cornerback Manny Rugamba is back as a starter after he performed well against Northwestern.

No TV time was revealed for Iowa's Nov. 4 home game against Ohio State. It'll either be at 11 a.m. or 2:30 p.m., with the final time being determined after Saturday's games.