Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 42 of 47 DECEMBER 2022 43 IRISH IN THE PROS BY TODD D. BURLAGE A fter missing two games with a knee injury, Cleveland Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah returned to the starting lineup Nov. 20 and picked up right where he left off. In a 31-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills, the former Notre Dame unanimous All- American and Butkus Award winner in 2020 led the Browns with 12 tackles (7 solo). In eight games this season (seven starts), Owusu-Koramoah notched 51 tackles, 3 passes broken up and 2 forced fumbles. Owusu-Koramoah explained after the game how nice it was to finally re- turn to action. With Cleveland's Nov. 6 bye week included, Owusu-Koramoah hadn't played since Oct. 23. "It's a blessing," he said. "It's always a good thing when you come back from time off the field. It was a little bit of a tough decision on whether I would play, just for the betterment of the program, I would say." As a Browns rookie last season, the pride of Hampton, Va., and a second- round 2021 NFL Draft pick finished sec- ond on the team with 76 tackles with 3 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 4 passes de- fended, 2 forced fumbles and 4 quar- terback hits. He was considered the steal of the draft last year after falling from top-10 projections to the second round when unfounded rumors of a mysterious heart ailment circulated in the days leading up to draft day. Beyo n d h i s f i c t i o n a l h ea r t a i l - ment, Owusu-Koramoah's 6-foot-2, 221-pound stature also became a pre- draft concern for NFL general manag- ers, but never for the player. In May 2021, only about three weeks after being drafted by the Browns, Owusu-Koramoah confidently ex- plained how his smallish size actually fits perfectly in today's wide-open NFL. "I think it's an advantage because of the offense, the way it's running in terms of more spread," he explained. "Because of how the league is moving forward and just my skill set in terms of getting from Point A to Point B, slip- ping blocks and pressing blocks, that is something I'll be looking forward to." JOK's message is proving prophetic. PAT CONNAUGHTON IS BACK ON THE COURT Former Irish combo guard turned valuable Milwaukee Bucks reserve Pat Connaughton returned to NBA action Nov. 21, after missing the team's first 15 games with hamstring and calf injuries. Connaughton played 16 minutes and scored 7 points on 2-of-5 shooting, adding 2 rebounds and 2 steals in the Bucks' 119-111 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. A important member of the Milwau- kee rotation, Connaughton enjoyed the best season of his eight-year NBA ca- reer in 2021-22 when he averaged career highs in scoring (9.9 points per game) and minutes (26.0 per contest), and added 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists per outing. ✦ Owusu-Koramoah came back from a two-game absence by making a team-high 12 tackles for the Browns in their 31-23 loss to the Bills Nov. 20. PHOTO COURTESY CLEVELAND BROWNS Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah Returns From Injury IRISH IN THE NFL HIGHLIGHTS: WEEK 11 • Kyle Hamilton (Played at Notre Dame from 2019-21), S, Baltimore Ravens: Made 4 tackles in the Ravens' 13-3 win over the Panthers … Has played in 10 games while compiling 29 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble … Pro Football Fo- cus had him first among all safeties in the NFL with a grade of 86. 9 through Week 11. • Julian Love (2016-18), S, New York Giants: Started and made 8 tackles with 1 pass broken up in the Giants' 31-18 loss to the Lions … Has contributed 65 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and 1 interception in 10 games (all starts). • Harrison Smith (2007-11), S, Minnesota Vikings: Made 7 tackles in the Vikings' 40-3 loss to the Cowboys … Has compiled 57 tackles and 4 interceptions in nine games (all starts). • Kyren Williams (2019-21), RB, Los Angeles Rams: Logged 7 carries for 36 yards and 1 catch for 9 yards in the Rams' 27-20 loss to the Saints … Has 8 carries for 45 yards and 4 catches for 38 yards in three games, after missing several weeks due to an ankle injury.

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