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.
Moral reasons? Please. This is not church.
They also would be the first team to fall on its own sword by doing so and violate the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
All anyone needs to do is look at what has happened in similar marijuana possession instances to know what will happen. The NFL will allow the legal process to play out and then Roger Goodell might issue at most a one-game suspension. He usually does that the following year.
So the idea that either the Steelers will act on their own or that the wheels of NFL justice will move so quickly Bell and Blount could lose a game to suspension anytime soon is folly.
Ed Bouchette's column came from someone asking him about the situation because of drafting Bell in a fantasy football league. Bouchette has been around a while so there is some stock to what he's saying, although it's not official. Others in your league may not realize if this is the case so both Bell and Blount could end up falling in your draft giving them a little better value. Keep in mind their situation is a bit unclear with recent news the two will split carries, however we still see Bell as the better back to own of the two.
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.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 8:25am
On Monday, the Pittsburgh Steelers coach reiterated that the duo would be punished by the team over the marijuana charges.
"Everything's on the table," Tomlin said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
The Ross Township, Pennsylvania Police Department confirmed to NFL Media last week that the running backs were pulled over last Wednesday around 1:30 p.m. ET, just hours before the team was to fly to Philadelphia.
Possession of marijuana charges were filed Thursday, the same day Bell and Blount returned to the field for preseason action against the Eagles. Bell faces an additional charge of DUI (marijuana).
While the NFL will likely wait until the legal process runs its course to hand down any suspension, Tomlin indicated the team might not wait to take action. However, he didn't reveal what type of action (suspension or otherwise) he's leaning toward.
"We don't do it in a reactionary fashion," Tomlin said. "We don't wait for something to happen. That's part of our culture here. You are going to have people who step outside the bounds of that and they're going to be dealt with swiftly and appropriately, more times than not in-house. But the bottom line is we don't approach that in a reactionary fashion. Our business is too late then."
If the duo is suspended, it likely won't come in the same week. However, owners of both players should probably expect at least a game suspension from the team. With the recent news the two could split carries, it's become a cloudy picture in terms of how Pittsburgh will use the two backs but we still see Bell having more value. Since he was behind the wheel, it's possible Bell's punishment is a little heavier. Stay tuned...
Marrone told reporters that Watkins returned to practice without limitations on Monday. The development comes nine days after Watkins, the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft, suffered bruised ribs in a preseason game against the Steelers.
Watkins will get a chance to play without limitations in three days. Marrone said he plans to play his starters in the preseason finale on Thursday night, the story said.
Monday, August 25, 2014, 11:09am
With Josh Huff, Barner’s former college teammate, also banged up, there’s a chance Barner could work into the mix in the return game as well.
Barner returned punts and kicks in college but hasn’t done it regularly since his freshman year in Eugene. He did have a 22-yard kick return against the Steelers and a fair catch on a punt.
Polk's status is very much in question at this point. He looked to be a sure handcuff to McCoy and the team's RB3, but that continues to be up in the air heading into preseason Week 4.
Sunday, August 24, 2014, 4:20pm
Until shuffling onto the mile-high stage, Sanders had not achieved the statistical milestones that separate prolific wide receivers from the vast pack of pass-catchers. Sanders had never posted a 1,000-yard season; his career high of 740 yards was accomplished last year. He'd never even had a 100-yard game; a six-catch, 98-yard effort in a 55-31 loss at New England last Nov. 3 was the closest he'd come.
But Sanders has raw tools: speed, quickness, and good hands. His production trended in the right direction during his four Steelers season. And his skill set could project to the outside or the slot, depending on how the Broncos used him.
Saturday brought tangible evidence that the projection will become reality. He exploded downfield and got open deep, catching touchdown passes of 67 and 29 yards.
Sanders could be in store for a bigger role with the news that Wes Welker has apparently suffered another concussion. He's ranked 27th on our list but we have him trending up. He's currently getting picked in the 7th round of 10 team leagues, but you may need to take him earlier than that.
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.
The Patriots don’t need a fourth preseason game. After two games of 30-point performances (yes, even in exhibition games) you can tell that Tom Brady and the gang are ready to kick tail this fall. On Friday, they racked up 405 yards of offense, 22 first downs, and ran 67 plays while Brady continued to be his super efficient, almost deity like self, completing 17 of 21 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
Brady only had his top target, Rob Gronkowski, in the lineup for seven games in 2013 and it led to a #15 fantasy finish, his worst since his injury plagued 2008 season. Over the past two seasons, Brady has scored 20.3 FP with Gronk in the lineup, and just 16.2 FP when the tight end is sidelined. This is something to monitor as the big tight end works his way towards Week 1. Owners who draft Brady may want to back him up with a quality passer (Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, etc) so they have a backup plan if Gronk is out.
"It definitely hurts," McCoy said after the game. “But there have been times I’ve been banged up and it turns out fine. We’ll see what happens.”
McCoy said he injured the thumb a few plays prior to his 22-yard touchdown reception against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In some ways that is an encouraging sign for Eagles fans, as McCoy seemed to show no signs of injury as he carried the ball in his right hand during the scoring play.
"I was talking to him on the sideline and he seemed to be in good spirits, so I don’t think it’s a big deal," said head coach Chip Kelly after the game.
We're not concerned about the thumb, though it's something to monitor over the next few days. McCoy is primed for another top 3 season.
Eagles RB Matthew Tucker was impressive against the first team Steelers D, scoring two TDs and bringing his total on the preseason to four, best in the NFL. Meanwhile, Henry Josey broke off a long run that was called back on a bogus penalty, and Kenjon Barner showed some promise after quickly assimilating into the Eagles offense. If the Eagles are worried that Chris Polk will always be an injury risk, it appears they may have other options.
Polk is nursing a torn hamstring, and may find himself out of a job if he doesn't heal quickly. The Eagles' RB3 job is important because the winner would likely see the biggest jump in touches if LeSean McCoy were to miss any time. Darren Sproles is not built for a heavy workload.
Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders returned to practice. He has been dealing with a quad injury, and the club wanted him back to get more snaps with Peyton Manning. As did Manning. Sanders hasn't caught a pass in the preseason. His snaps were limited against the Seahawks and he sat out the 49ers game.
The likelihood Sanders will start Saturday increased with Thursday's workout. A Friday evaluation will be the determining factor.
"I didn't have any problem with that so I am extremely happy about that. It's looking good right now," Sanders said. "(Manning) has been talking to me about (playing this week) because the starters usually don't play in the fourth preseason game. This is important. We don't want to go into the regular season with me not having caught a pass from him in the game. So this game is extremely pivotal."
Sanders was the #35 WR in 2013, when he saw WR2 targets (112) for the Steelers. Eric Decker (138) and Wes Welker (111) saw a combined 249 targets as Denver's WR2 and WR3. With Decker gone, Welker (and TE Julius Thomas) could see a bit more work, but Sanders should be stepping into a big role. As OC Adam Gase said, Sanders is a good fit for his system and is versatile to play both inside and outside. He is very quick and is adept at making people miss, so he should thrive in Denver’s screen game.
It's unlikely that either back misses any time this season, but we're still not fans of Bell's ADP given that his workload is likely to be reduced in 2014.
The Steelers decided not to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders because they believed Markus Wheaton could develop into a dependable No. 2 receiver opposite Antonio Brown. Roethlisberger has been impressed with his development since the end of last season.
“He’s learning and growing fast, and we need him to,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s what’s great about him. He doesn’t make the same mistake twice. He’s busting his butt every day in practice. I grabbed him upstairs [Monday] and talked to him about something he did a little wrong in the game. He had nothing to do with the play, but he was heartbroken that he screwed something up that he probably shouldn’t have. He puts that work in. He’s watched [Brown]. He knows what it takes to be a pro.”
“He’s going to be key because, if we don’t have another receiver, people can just watch A.B.,” Roethlisberger said. “We all see what A.B. can do. We need him to step up because we can’t afford for teams to put three guys on A.B. I hope Wheaton is that guy.
“He’s a young guy people don’t know about yet. He hasn’t earned that respect, which is probably rightfully so, because he hasn’t done much. But I’m excited for him because I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people.”
The Steelers play a lot of three-WR sets, so we’re expecting big snaps for Wheaton even if Lance Moore is on the field for two-WR sets, though it currently looks like Wheaton will be the WR2. He was a 3rd round pick and is a terrific athlete. He’s not big (5’11”) but he fits the mold of a typical Steeler receiver. Despite a short resume, Wheaton is a breakout candidate if he sees big snaps in his second year. In the last four seasons, Hines Ward, Antonio Brown (x2) and Sanders have averaged 65-848-4.5 in the Steelers’ WR2 role.
Thursday, August 21, 2014, 12:26pm
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger challenged wide receiver Martavis Bryant earlier this week to practice with more of a purpose, to practice like Pro Bowl receiver Antonio Brown. If Roethlisberger isn’t handling the rookie fourth-round pick with kid gloves, that is because the Steelers think Bryant can be an asset in the passing game -- and sooner rather than later. The 6-foot-4, 211-pound Bryant has a unique blend of size and speed, and he is the kind of wideout that the Steelers have rarely had with Roethlisberger at quarterback.
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