Saturday, August 20, 2016, 9:42am
Coach Ron Rivera didn’t just say he wanted three series out of Panthers QB Cam Newton and the first-team offense. He said he wanted three "good" series. Whether that means Rivera is willing to risk the NFL MVP and other starters past that remains to be seen.
The starters typically don’t see extensive playing time until the third preseason game. Rivera didn’t expand on what he meant by "good," but you can bet he’ll want to see more out of the running game.
The Panthers rushed for only 81 yards in their preseason opener at Baltimore, and 39 of that total came from third-string quarterback Joe Webb (22) and starting wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (17). Starting running back Jonathan Stewart didn’t play, so look for him to get a few carries. But most of the focus will be on second-year back Cameron Artis-Payne, who had only 10 yards on five carries against the Ravens.
The question now is how the Carolina offense will look with the 6-foot-5 Kelvin Benjamin back in the mix with emerging star Devin Funchess, Ted Ginn Jr. and the rest of a group that overachieved in 2015.
There's no doubt that Benjamin will provide an upgrade. General manager Dave Gettleman said it’s like having an extra first-round draft pick.
Cam Newton grew as a quarterback when he was forced to spread the ball among a receiving corps that had no star. This camp could be about resisting the temptation to lean on Benjamin, which Newton often did in 2014, when the first-round pick out of Florida State had 73 catches for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns.
Banjamin is back in our rankings as a lower-end WR2. We still project a nice season for him with a 74-1,008-8.2 line. Based on ADP, it looks like Benjamin is going before he should in drafts, likely because owners speculate a little less spreading around of the ball. However, that doesn't appear to be the goal of the offense this season.
Tuesday, July 5, 2016, 10:35am
By posting 1,104 receiving yards in 2015, Greg Olsen became just the seventh tight end in NFL history to record 1,000 yards in back-to-back years.
If he surpasses 1,000 in 2016, he’ll be the first tight end to ever do it three years in a row. It all goes to show just how good Olsen has been for Carolina. He never comes off the field and has a knack for coming through when quarterback Cam Newton needs him most.
Olsen certainly has a shot at 1,000 yard this year, and either way he's a top-three fantasy tight end in our rankings. The return of WR Kelvin Benjamin could certainly eat into Olsen's yardage totals this year.
Friday, December 25, 2015, 10:17pm
Thursday, December 24, 2015, 6:12pm
The Panthers suffered a few more injury scares during Sunday’s 38-35 win over the Giants, including one involving quarterback Cam Newton, but that isn’t going to cause them to throttle back against the Falcons in Week 16.
During his Monday press conference, coach Ron Rivera said that he’s not going to think about resting any of the team’s healthy starters when there’s value attached to winning a game. The upcoming game against Atlanta has value to the Panthers because they still need to wrap up home field throughout the NFC playoffs, something that pleases Rivera.
“This next game has value. I like the fact that there is value,” Rivera said.
Should the Panthers lose to the Falcons and the Cardinals beat the Packers, that same value will exist for the regular season finale. Even without the impetus to win this week to put the first seed in their back pocket, this weekend would seem to be a bit early to start taking such heavy precautions against injury when you factor in how much time there will be until Carolina plays their first playoff game, the story said. For now, it looks safe to start any active Panthers in Week 16.
QB Cam Newton, tight end Greg Olsen and running back Jonathan Stewart — the Panthers three offensive stalwarts — all had injury scares. Olsen injured his left knee and Stewart his left ankle, prompting Rivera to sit both for the entire second half with the Panthers leading 28-0. They were set to undergo "precautionary MRIs" on Monday, but HC Ron Rivera said after the game both could have gone back in.
Newton banged his funny bone, causing his hand to go numb briefly, but returned after sitting out one play and later threw his third touchdown pass of the game.
The Panthers still need to clinch home field advantage and according to the article, the team plans to play their starters this week to try and wrap things up. It appears Olsen and Stewart will be good to go. But then, it will become a battle between going for a perfect season or resting players down the stretch.
Monday, December 14, 2015, 10:35am
The snap counts reveal that only three Carolina players were on the field for every down.
Running back Jonathan Stewart, who had gone eight consecutive games with 20-plus carries, was in for just 19 snaps.
The story went on to say there are no guarantees the Panthers (13-0) will build big leads in their final three games as they continue to pursue a perfect regular season record. But Sunday’s snap counts show that Rivera is taking advantage of opportunities when they arise.
Let’s say the Carolina Panthers get to 15-0 and have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs secured. Would coach Ron Rivera rest starters such as quarterback Cam Newton and running back Jonathan Stewart at the potential cost of a perfect season?
“The goal is not to go 16-0 or undefeated," Rivera said Monday. “The goal is to win the Super Bowl."
Having said that, Rivera wasn’t ready to say -- hypothetically speaking -- that he would sit key starters in the above scenario.
He did recall being an assistant coach with another team that held out starters down the stretch with a division crown secured.
“I wasn’t the head coach then, but I went along with it," Rivera said. “Unfortunately, I felt we were rusty coming out of it.
“To me we’ve got to do it smart, we’ve got to be judicious about how we do it, hypothetically speaking. But that’s my thought process now. We’ll do it as we need it."
Newton took several hard hits in Sunday’s 41-38 victory over the Saints, after learning the Panthers (12-0) wrapped up the NFC South title prior to kickoff because of a Falcons loss. The last thing Rivera wants is to go into the playoffs with his quarterback injured. The Panthers have a two-game lead over the Cardinals (10-2) for the best record in the NFC. The quicker the Panthers would wrap up home field, the more Newton owners will have to worry about him possibly not finishing games.
Then, apparently, he had to take a leak.
Somewhere in that brief visit to the men’s room/locker room, Newton was checked for a concussion and cleared by an independent neurologist.
“Well, I got hit. I deserved to get hit to be honest with you, looking back at it,” Newton said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. "I had to use the bathroom and I told the team doctors can we do the (concussion) protocol in the back? And when I came in and used the restroom, I think his name was Dr. Heck, came in and did the concussion protocol with our team doctor, and asked me numerous questions like the days of the week, and how many turnovers we had in the game – and I told him I was fine.”
As the story said, Newton didn't come out of the game after the hit and was right back on the field for the next series.
The second-round pick out of Michigan caught three passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. He had only 90 yards receiving entering the game.
I thought the snap counts might increase after Funchess caught a 14-yard pass over the middle in traffic against New Orleans in Week 3, but it didn’t happen. After getting snaps the following week against Tampa Bay, he went from 24, 18 and then 10 snaps against Indianapolis.
But the performance against Green Bay felt different. The 52-yarder he caught over the middle with tight defense gave you a glimpse of what the Panthers saw when they drafted him and what they have seen in practice. That was a huge confidence builder. Then came the 14-yard touchdown. Funchess was so excited that he wouldn’t give the ball to quarterback Cam Newton for his “Sunday Giveaway’’ program to kids. Newton understood and let Funchess keep the ball.
The author said he can see Carolina increasing Funchess’ role, but probably not to the level of Kelvin Benjamin. Funchess can play all three receiver positions, and he creates mismatches against smaller defensive backs that the Panthers were looking for when they drafted him. There typically comes a point with every rookie receiver where things begin to click. If the Green Bay game was one for Funchess, the Panthers won’t have any choice but to increase his snaps, the story said.
Newton will become the first quarterback in NFL history to attempt at least 200 passes and rush 140 times in a season if he continues on his pace of 9.1 rushes a game, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Newton already has eclipsed 200 pass attempts with 246. He's rushed 73 times for 343 yards, which ranks 31st in the NFL but first among quarterbacks.
The most rushing attempts Newton has had in his previous four seasons was 127 in 2012.
So this begs the question: Is Newton running too much?
There was a time last season when Carolina coach Ron Rivera thought so. He expressed concern about the injury risk his franchise quarterback faced if he continued to run at a high rate.
Rivera re-iterated that again this year after Newton carried 14 times for 35 yards in the opener at Jacksonville. He said six to eight carries a game would be preferable with two of three of those sneaks, two zone reads and a couple of scrambles. But with Newton fully recovered from 2014 surgery to repair his left ankle, Rivera and offensive coordinator Mike Shula finally have come to grips with letting Newton be who he is.
Newton is calling an audible 30 to 40 percent of the time, up from previous seasons. He's getting more designed rushes than ever out of the read option. It's great news for fantasy owners and bad news for Jonathan Stewart owners, but there's always a risk of injury if Cam keeps up this pace. As long as he continues to be smart about his running, he'll continue to produce for fantasy owners.
Chud brings ample NFL offensive experience to the coordinator position. From 2012-2013, Chudzinski was the coordinator in Carolina for Cam Newton’s first two NFL seasons. With Newton, Chud helped the Panthers offense go from the worst unit in the NFL in 2010 to a top-10 offense the next two seasons.
In earlier NFL stops, Chud worked with the tight ends in Cleveland and San Diego.
Chud arrived in Indianapolis last season after he spent 2013 as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns (4-12 record).
With the Colts, Chud has been a special assistant and is the current associate head coach. His duties have spanned both sides of the football during his two seasons in Indianapolis.
Chuck Pagano is very familiar with Chud, the story went on to say. The two served together on the University of Miami coaching staff in the late 1990s. Chud played a part in recruiting and coaching both Frank Gore and Andre Johnson at “The U”. That could be good news in terms of getting those players going from a fantasy perspective. At this point in the season, it's hard to expect a lot of change for the offense and it could be a move Pagano was forced to make to save his head coaching job.
Yet Carolina's offensive coordinator isn't about to put Newton in shackles when it comes to running out of the read-option or scrambling from the pocket — despite the obvious increased risk of injury.
"You have to let him play, give him the ability to do what he does best," Shula told The Associated Press. "And you have to appreciate that Cam understands that, too. He's not going to play cautiously, but he's going to play smart."
Shula said he doesn't mind if the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton takes on a defender one on one — in fact with his size, he likes those odds — but said he wants the fifth-year quarterback to "get down" if multiple defenders engage him in the open field. Newton runs the ball more than any quarterback in the NFL, averaging 642 yards rushing per season, with 33 touchdowns the last four seasons. Some scrambling QB know how to play smart and some don't. Fantasy owners should be able to enjoy the added bonus of Newton's rushing yards but they'll also need him to stay healthy and on the field.
Monday, August 31, 2015, 2:33pm
This is starting to sound like a broken record, but Panthers wide receiver Corey Brown had two more drops that stood out. The first happened on the first play of team drills. The second occurred later in the left corner of the end zone when Brown got two hands on a high pass from Cam Newton and lost the ball as he hit the ground.
These came after he dropped four passes in Friday night's 17-16 loss to New England and two the week before against Miami. Brown worked with wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl on a few things before practice. One was attacking the ball instead of waiting for it to come to him as he did against the Patriots.
There remain a few kinks to work out there. When Brown caught a pass later in practice, he cradled it to the ground like he was making a fair catch on a punt.
Ever since Kelvin Benjamin went down, the Panther WRs have struggled with either drops or injuries, including rookie Devin Funchess who is expected to be the team's top WR in terms of fantasy production. We have Brown ranked second among Panther WRs but the drops aren't a good sign at least in terms of trust with Newton.
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