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SportsPulse: While both rookie QBs took their lumps in their second week of action, the sophomore QB class shined. As Trysta Krick details, Lamar Jackson may be a Madden cheat code. USA TODAY

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We're halfway home. Football that actually counts is not too far away.

Two Iowa rookies faced each other Monday night, so that's why this breakdown is rolling out on a Tuesday. If you missed the first installment of these preseason roundups, that link is here

Let's get going. 

T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions 

Stats: Hockenson had one catch for 22 yards on two targets in Saturday's 30-23 loss to the Houston Texans. 

Skinny: It was only one, but Hockenson's first professional catch looked a lot like his Iowa City grabs. The tight end leaked out in the flat uncovered, calmly secured the Josh Johnson pass and took off. Hockenson scampered for 16 yards and ended it with a hurdle out of bounds that picked up six more. It took two Houston defenders to knock Hockenson off his feet. Lions fans should see plenty more of those. Hockenson, who played the first four series with starters, returns to action Friday versus Buffalo. 

Media coverage: Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press wrote a little more on Hockenson's catch and blocking progress. The Athletic's Nick Baumgardner broke down Hockenson's catch further and his night overall here.    

Noah Fant, TE, Denver Broncos

Stats: Fant had two catches for seven yards on three targets in Monday's 24-15 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. 

Skinny: Fant was hurt early in Monday's game, suffering a foot injury after cutting back toward the middle of the field on an 11-yard catch. Safety Jaquiski Tartt hit Fant low and ended his night. Fortunately, though, reports say Fant's injury is mild and shouldn't be a long-term issue. The Broncos may hold Fant out Saturday at the Rams. Denver can't afford any more casualties at tight end. 

Media coverage: Here is a recap containing head coach Vic Fangio's postgame comments on Fant.   

Anthony Nelson, LB, Tampa Bay Bucs

Stats: Nelson didn't play in Friday's 16-14 win over the Miami Dolphins. 

Skinny: It sounds like Nelson could miss the rest of the preseason with an MCL sprain in his right knee. Bucs reporter Greg Auman provided an in-depth update on the fourth-round pick last Friday. Nelson didn't participate at Monday's practice, either. But although he might be sidelined a bit longer, it sounds like Tampa Bay still has Nelson in their immediate linebacker plans. 

Amani Hooker, S, Tennessee Titans

Stats: Hooker had one tackle and one pass defended in Saturday's 22-17 loss to the New England Patriots.  

Skinny: Hooker's pass breakup was nearly much more emphatic. There wasn't a Twitter highlight to find, but reporters covering the game in Nashville said Hooker couldn't secure a pass at the goal line that would've gone for a long pick-six the other way. The one Hooker "highlight" that did find its way to Twitter was the former Iowa defensive back taking a pounding on a run play from Patriots' Jakobi Meyers. Still, Hooker is seeing second-team action. He'll have a nice rookie role. 

Media coverage: 104.5 The Zone in Nashville recently had Hooker on for a 1-on-1 podcast

Nick Easley, WR, Buffalo Bills

Stats: Easley didn't record a catch in Friday's 27-14 win over the Carolina Panthers. 

Skinny: Although Easley has no stats to show through two preseason games, he continues to make impacts in practice. Two nice catches, here and here, circulated on Twitter, leaving Easley in position to beat out the likes of Ray-Ray McCloud III and David Sills V for the final wide receiver spot. But Easley needs some game production to back up his practice success. Week 3 comes Friday at Detroit. 

Jake Gervase, S, Los Angeles Rams

Stats: Gervase had two tackles (one solo) and a fumble recovery in Saturday's 14-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Skinny: How do you help your case as an undrafted rookie? Show up in the right place at the right time. That's exactly what Gervase did on this muffed punt, sliding in amid a pack to scoop up the recovery. Every ounce counts when you're trying to fight an uphill battle for a roster spot. Gervase is back in action Saturday versus Denver. 

Parker Hesse, TE, Tennessee Titans

Stats: Hesse was targeted once, but didn't record a catch in Saturday's 22-17 loss to the New England Patriots.  

Skinny: With Jonnu Smith returning to practice, Heese continues to remain buried on the Titans' tight end depth chart. Perhaps his versatility could land Hesse a spot on the practice squad when the preseason ends. Hesse is back in action Sunday versus Pittsburgh. 

Matt Nelson, OT, Detroit Lions  

Stats: Nelson played 17 snaps in Saturday's 30-23 loss to the Houston Texans.   

Skinny: MLive.com's Kyle Meinke tweeted that Nelson was carted off the field at last Thursday's practice, but it must've not been anything too serious if he suited up last Saturday. Nelson got action on Detroit's third-team offensive line. Meinke still predicts Nelson won't make the Lions 53-man roster.   

Ross Reynolds, OG, San Francisco 49ers

Stats: Reynolds saw action in Monday's 24-15 win against the San Francisco 49ers. 

Skinny: Another up-front injury could help Reynolds' roster placement. Starting right guard Mike Person went down last week and is day-to-day with a foot strain. He likely won't play Saturday at Kansas City, so another opportunity for Reynolds has seemingly opened up. Sacramento Bee beat writer Chris Biderman still projects Reynolds to the practice squad

Keegan Render, C, Philadelphia Eagles

Stats:Render saw 18 offensive snaps and three on special teams in Thursday's 24-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Skinny: Render's touchdown grab in practice last week had everyone smiling. He told the Eagles' team website that his last touchdown was a pick-six in seventh grade. In the present,  Render remains on the third team and will have to continue working to earn a roster spot. 

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

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