Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 9:33pm
While the Panthers are in Pittsburgh on Thursday night for their final exhibition, tight end Greg Olsen will be at Levine Children’s Hospital watching over his son’s recovery from open-heart surgery this week.
T.J. Olsen, born in 2012 with a congenital heart defect, is recovering from Monday’s four-hour surgery, the last of three scheduled procedures for the tight end’s son.
If T.J. continues to progress well, Olsen will rejoin the team next week and play in the season opener Sept. 7 at Tampa Bay.
“A lot depends on his recovery status,” Olsen said Wednesday in a text message. “But he’s doing well now, so hope that continues.”
“So far so good,” Olsen added. “It’s just a long recovery. We knew that going in.”
It sounds like things are progressing nicely for Olsen and his son and the hope is that continues. Obviously Olsen will put his son's health ahead of a football game, but from a fantasy perspective it's something to keep an eye on...
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 8:44pm
"Everything Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant have done for us is exactly what we're looking for," Rivera said. "We're looking for very consistent football players who run good routes and know where they need to be. They can handle things and control things in the classroom and on the field, and that's what those two guys bring to the table."
In three preseason games, Cotchery has just one catch for eight yards and Avant has one reception for 25 yards.
"Go back and look at the targets – that's the biggest thing," Rivera said.
Cotchery has been targeted just three times and Avant only two.
All that said, Cotchery cautioned those who read too much into preseason production.
"I don't put too much stock in it as far as what your numbers look like, because I've seen guys catch 100 yards every game in the preseason and then in the regular season you wonder where the production is," Cotchery said. "For that matter, (preseason) is a focus of just getting better individually and staying on top of your assignments."
Carolina's WRs are a big question mark coming into the season. WR1 Kelvin Benjamin has looked good but is a rookie. Cotchery quietly had 10 TDs last season and Avant has very good hands as a slot receiver. But Newton has been banged up with ankle and rib issues, and as the story points out, there wasn't a lot of live work in the preseason games. Benjamin is a sleeper-type addition later in fantasy drafts and Newton's stock has fallen a bit to a lower-end QB1 with now some injury issues.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 8:23pm
Brown put up some awe-inspiring numbers: 110 receptions and a franchise single-season best 1,499 receiving yards.
While the spotlight will shine on Brown, there will be plenty attention given his supporting cast. Roethlisberger has spent much of training camp and the preseason adapting to several new faces, including free agent signees Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey, and rookie Martavis Bryant.
Roethlisberger, too, will have a new starter flanked opposite Brown. Markus Wheaton, a second-year receiver who was slowed by a broken finger during his rookie season, seems to have settled in with the offense.
There still needs to be some balance in the offense with the running game. But if the Steelers are going to air it out, the new WR members will be challenged to duplicate the 2013 efforts of Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders. They combined for 113 receptions, 1,342 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. We expect Wheaton to put up solid numbers as the Steelers WR2, and could provide some depth to your fantasy team.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 3:50pm
Most of Carolina's 22 starters are set, but Thursday night's exhibition finale will have a big impact on who protects the ailing quarterback (fractured ribs) on the right side of the line.
Rookie right guard Trai Turner (groin) is out for the second straight game, and Chris Scott has played well enough to be considered the Week 1 starter.
Scott started eight games last season, all but one at right guard, before a knee injury forced him to miss time. His biggest issue since returning for offseason workouts has been conditioning. He's got that under control and has impressed the coaches.
"Chris has worked himself into position and we'll see how it goes," coach Ron Rivera said.
Newton has a lot working against him these days between his ankle, ribs and the line in front of him. Newton will play but owners with other options will want to check out our rankings...
Carolina's fourth-year quarterback is recovering from a hairline fracture to multiple ribs and says he's improving with each day.
Newton says, "I'm moving forward and trying to stay optimistic about this process."
Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he certain Newton will play in Week 1. Newton will travel with the team to Pittsburgh but will not play against the Steelers Thursday night in the preseason finale.
Our rankings will be a good indicator how you should treat Newton in your lineup. He appears to be a go, but how much will his hairline rib fractures, and even his ankle, limit him for Week 1 is going to be a big question. Both could hamper his rushing ability which is a big part of his game. However, Newton already said he doesn't plan to hold back.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 8:56pm
While most Steeler starters and veterans get the night off during the final preseason game, HC Mike Tomlin said Tuesday both running backs LeVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount "absolutely" will play Thursday against the Carolina Panthers.
When Brady dropped back to throw, he seemed much more at ease, much more confident in what his players were going to do and where they were going to be. Last year, it was a bit of a mystery wondering if the proper routes were going to be run.
A year later, there doesn’t seem to be as much angst with every pass play. Brady doesn’t have that disgusted quarterback look. There’s now a comfort level and trust across the board between him and his primary targets that wasn’t there at any time during the 2013 season. Even the drops don’t have the same impact on No. 12.
The rookies, in particular, didn’t always get the routes down right or get to the exact spots Brady desired. It was the same deal with newcomer Amendola, who on occasion wasn’t certain where he was supposed to be. While there still are mistakes this year, the article noted that Brady doesn't write off anyone and continues to go back to them as targets. Brady comes in ranked 8th among our QBs, and while it seems weird to call him a sleeper, he certainly has the potential to finish a little higher than his ranking - like the days of old. With an ADP of the 9th round, he makes for a nice target at that point in drafts.
Newton suffered a hairline fracture in a rib during the second quarter of Friday night's exhibition loss at New England. He will not play in Thursday night's preseason finale at Pittsburgh, but he is attending every meeting and watching every snap at practice.
While Newton is not physically involved, he has been mentally since the team began putting the Tampa Bay game plan in on Sunday.
"Very, very," coach Ron Rivera said on Monday. "He's with the coordinator, he's with the quarterback coach and they're talking about what we're looking at and why we're looking at it. So Cam's getting a feel for Tampa Bay right now."
It's a good sign as teams would sometimes rather prepare without a player. Newton will likely be limited if he does play, which could mean more touches for the RBs. He was just unleashed to start running again in camp due to his ankle, but then suffered the hairline rib injury in preseason Week 3. We'll continue to update you on Newton in the days leading up to Week 1 but so far it looks like he's got a good chance to play.
Monday, August 25, 2014, 2:27pm
Olsen's son, T.J., was scheduled to undergo open heart surgery on Monday for the third time after being born in 2012 with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Olsen was scheduled to be away from the team "until things kind of settle down'' to be with his family.
Olsen tweeted that he would be back to work as soon as possible.
Monday, August 25, 2014, 9:37am
The Panthers have ruled QB Cam Newton out for the final exhibition, which wasn't what they wanted to do but what they had to do. Coach Ron Rivera was upset with the offense's inconsistency Friday, and he planned to play all of the starters at least for a while Thursday night at Pittsburgh.
That plan went out the window when Newton came into the Panthers' facility Sunday hunched over like Quasimodo. He was hurriedly sent for the X-rays that showed the fractured rib. Now Newton has just less than two weeks to rest and rehab before the Tampa Bay game.
Beat writer Scott Fowler thinks Newton will play to open the season because he's a pretty tough guy. But, he's concerned about his effectiveness because Newton already isn't running due to his ankle. He's considered week-to-week, but also has a lot working against him putting up strong fantasy numbers in Week 1. So if you're an owner, keep up-to-date on his progress over the next few weeks.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Newton will be evaluated at the end of the week, but expects the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback will be ready for Carolina's Sept. 7 regular season opener against Tampa Bay.
"I do" expect he'll play, Rivera said. "But he has to get past the soreness. Then we will see how he starts to progress."
Newton did not speak with reporters, but walked gingerly to and from the practice field.
"He's pretty sore and he's hurting right now," Rivera said. "It is of concern."
Newton was hit after scrambling from the pocket in Carolina's preseason game Friday night against New England. It came just a day after head coach Ron Rivera said Newton must start to avoid taking hits to keep himself healthy. How quickly Newton can get over the soreness will be key. The pain could obviously limit his rushing ability which is a big part of his fantasy game. It's something to be aware of as we head down the final stretch before the season.
Sunday, August 24, 2014, 1:52pm
He caught A.J. Klein sleeping in coverage for a 40-yard touchdown, and then looked like Superman extending for the pylon on his second score of the night. He tallied five catches, on five targets, for 57 yards.
He only had 18 yards on six rushes, but that came in a backfield that never got rolling as a unit.
Vereen remains a matchup problem for defenses, and the Patriots use of split backs could be a weapon that makes the most of his unique skills. He may have his share of up and down weeks but Vereen is a very good PPR option who is usually available in rounds three or four in most formats.
Sunday, August 24, 2014, 10:01am
The Panthers were hoping he could add some speed on a budget, but he never caught the ball consistently in training camp, and didn’t make many plays in the preseason to make them keep him.
The Panthers started from scratch at the position this offseason, and rookie Kelvin Benjamin’s playing well, even though they haven’t gotten much from Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant this preseason.
Shane Vereen is the only Patriots running back with a cemented status as they wind down their preparations for the regular season, and he showcased why last night during a 30-7 victory against the Panthers at Gillette Stadium.
Vereen caught all five passes thrown in his direction for 57 yards and two touchdowns, and he added six carries for 18 yards. While Stevan Ridley appears to be the favorite to corral the bulk of the carries and James White is shaping up as a worthy backup, Vereen has unquestionably solidified his job as the back in charge of the pass-catching responsibilities.
For a team run by Tom Brady, those chances will be aplenty.
“He’s really had such a dependable role for us for the last few years and just done a great job,” Brady said. “When the ball is in his hands, good things are happening for our team. We’re going to try to just keep getting him the ball.”
Vereen is one reason why we're not at all opposed to drafting one or two wideouts at the 1/2 turn since he's often available around the 3/4 turn and is great in PPR formats. Last year, over the course of eight regular season games and two playoff games, Vereen averaged 10.7 touches (including 5.4 catches) for 76 yards and 0.40 TD, though his usage in the running game was limited once the Patriots decided to lean on LeGarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley between the tackles. With Blount gone, Vereen’s role could increase. He should be a fringe RB2 (at least) in standard formats and a solid RB2 in PPR leagues, provided he stays healthy.
Friday, August 22, 2014, 11:33pm
Benjamin caught five passes for 47 yards. His impressive offseason continues.
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