INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) Justin Herbert has had an entire week instead of just a couple minutes to prepare for his second NFL start.
The Los Angeles Chargers rookie will be under center on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers after finding out less than an hour before kickoff that he was playing last week. Herbert got his first professional snaps when Tyrod Taylor couldn't play due to complications from an injection for a rib injury.
Taylor is out indefinitely after it was revealed that the doctor who gave the injection punctured a lung. The 10-year veteran went to the hospital last Sunday after having breathing problems before being released. Taylor has been at the team's complex this week helping to mentor Herbert, and the NFL Players Association has opened an investigation into what occurred.
The Chargers (1-1) are not alone when it comes to missing one of their key offensive players. The winless Panthers are missing All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey due to a high ankle sprain.
Despite not getting many snaps with the first team, Herbert was 22 of 33 for 311 yards and responsible for both Chargers touchdowns (one passing, one rushing). His only mistake was throwing into double coverage for an interception late in the third quarter, which led to the Chiefs' tying touchdown.
Lynn said the most important thing this week during practices was to run Herbert through situations he hasn't faced. Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen is looking forward to seeing how much progress Herbert can make in this start.
''He can move the pocket, get out and extend plays, but also his ability to stand in the pocket and make some big time throws like he did on Sunday. We look forward to seeing him do that,'' Steichen said of this year's sixth overall pick in the draft.
The Chargers should have the same game plan as the first two weeks, which means a heavy dose of the run. Los Angeles leads the league with 85 rushing attempts, and running backs Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley each went over 100 scrimmage yards last week.
The Panthers will be looking to generate some sort of a pass rush although they could be without defensive tackle Kawann Short (foot) once again. They have been unable to do that against the Buccaneers and the Raiders, managing one quarterback hit and no sacks.
Carolina's defense has allowed six rushing scores already after surrendering a league-high 32 last season.
''We will have to home in on the specific things he did. But they have their offense and it has a lot of things that you see in college football - speed sweeps, zone reads , speed options - things that we saw in the Big 12. Things we saw on Saturday,'' Rhule said of Herbert. ''I think it is an offense that he is very comfortable with from his time at Oregon''
Carolina is still looking for its first win for Rhule, who joined the team from Baylor this offseason. Overall the Panthers have lost 10 straight games dating back to last season.
BIG SHOES TO FILL
Mike Davis will get the start at running back with McCaffrey missing at least the next three weeks. Davis had eight catches for 74 yards in last Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay, but no carries. The Chargers are familiar with Davis from two years ago, when he ran for 74 yards while playing for Seattle.
Rhule said Reggie Bonnafon and Trenton Cannon could also see some carries.
Los Angeles has only four sacks but is second in the league with 19 quarterback pressures. Gus Bradley's defense was able to keep Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes out of rhythm last week until the fourth quarter, when the Super Bowl MVP began checking down more, along with running for yardage.
Joey Bosa has two sacks, but defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Jerry Tillery have also played well.
Teddy Bridgewater threw for a career-high 367 yards last week. He also turned over the ball three times (two interceptions, one fumble).
''Going into this game you want to know where Bosa and Melvin Ingram are at at all times so we can scheme them up and play pitch and catch with the wideouts or have open run lanes,'' he said.
Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson has made an immediate impact since signing as a free agent from the New York Jets. He already has two 100-yard receiving games, including a 75 yard touchdown catch in the season opener against the Raiders. Anderson hauled in eight of nine passes thrown his way last week and appears to have good chemistry with Bridgewater. Anderson is proving he's more than just a deep threat.
Chargers right guard Trai Turner and Panthers left tackle Russell Okung will face their former teams after an offseason trade. Turner spent his first six seasons in Carolina and Okung was with Los Angeles for three years.
Okung is not the only former Chargers lineman for this matchup. Offensive line coach Pat Meyer joined the Panthers' staff and guard Michael Schofield signed during the offseason after both were in LA for three years.
Okung did not practice on Thursday due to a groin injury. Trent Scott -- who was with the Chargers during training camp before being released -- would be an option if he doesn't play.
KEEP AN EYE ON
The Chargers' Hunter Henry, who is one of six tight ends in the league with 10 or more receptions. He is second among tight ends with 156 yards and is averaging 14.2 yards per reception.
Five Hot Plays: Week 8
Carolina Panthers kicker Joey Slye made one field goal and a pair of extra points in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Slye didn't get many opportunities in this one, as Carolina made just one trip to the red zone against a surprisingly resurgent Falcons' defense. There's not much that a kicker can do when he's simply not seeing the opportunities. With that said, Slye may be needed more in Week 9 against Kansas City, as the Panthers will probably have to put up a lot of points to win.
The Carolina Panthers Defense had an average day in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Carolina registered two sacks and an interception, holding strong on Atlanta's first two trips to the red zone. However, they couldn't stop the Falcons from marching down the field, ultimately surrendering 25 points to their division rival. At this point, there's nothing to suggest that the Panthers' defense is worthy of streaming for fantasy purposes. Don't even think about starting them in Week 9, as they face the Chiefs.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel enjoyed his most productive game of the season in a losing effort against Atlanta. Samuel caught four of five targets for 31 receiving yards and carried the ball three times for 23 rushing yards. The 24-year-old made a nice run in the red zone to start the scoring for the Panthers, then hauled in a deep pass from Teddy Bridgewater on a flea-flicker. It's Samuel's second straight game with a rushing touchdown. This was an encouraging performance from the former Buckeye, though it's worth noting that he was held under 50 receiving yards for the seventh time in eight games. He'll be a low-end flex at best in Week 9 against the Chiefs.
Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas caught all three targets for 28 receiving yards in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. It was a juicy matchup for Thomas, but he certainly didn't exploit it, as his modest stat-line will support. His three targets were the most he's seen in weeks, though he seemed to surrender some playing time to fellow tight end Chris Manhertz. It's best to avoid Thomas completely until he picks up his production.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore had a quiet game in a 25-17 loss to the Falcons on Thursday Night Football. Moore caught two of six targets for 55 receiving yards, including a huge 42-yard reception on a 3rd-and-17 in the fourth quarter. In a strange turn of events, Moore went without a catch until the final drive of the fourth quarter. Fortunately, the 23-year-old still saw six targets, second on the team to only fellow wideout Robby Anderson. There should be better days ahead for Moore, as he had compiled at least 93 receiving yards in three straight contests coming into this one. He'll get a Week 9 matchup against Kansas City in what could turn out to be a high-scoring affair.
Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis carried the ball 13 times for 66 rushing yards and caught one of two targets for 11 receiving yards in a loss to the Falcons. The 27-year-old disappointed in likely his last ride as the Panthers' lead back, as Christian McCaffrey (ankle) is expected to return in Week 9 against Kansas City. Davis was a PPR machine in McCaffrey's absence, with at least six targets in four games as the starter. He was so impressive at times that it's possible he earned himself a bigger role, though it likely won't amount to much with McCaffrey around to gobble up the majority of the touches. Keep Davis rostered until we find out McCaffrey is back for sure.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage finished Thursday's win with two receptions for 25 yards on three targets. Gage continued to show his inconsistency on Thursday after coming into the game having gotten at least 54 yards in the past two contests. The WR is definitely streaky, which makes him a risky play most weeks. An ankle injury suffered by fellow wideout Calvin Ridley is worth monitoring. If Ridley cannot play next Sunday, Gage's value will surely go up, but it would still be hard to trust him for good production given his lackluster numbers this season.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson hauled in five of eight targets for 48 receiving yards in a 25-17 loss to the Falcons. It could have been a bigger day for the former Jet, as he nearly made a one-handed touchdown grab on a throw from backup P.J. Walker, who came in relief of Teddy Bridgewater for one series. It certainly didn't help Anderson that Bridgewater was under constant pressure the whole night. However, his fantasy managers can take solace in the fact that he's now seen at least eight targets in six of eight contests this season. That sort of volume should keep him in the WR2 mix next week, even in a tough matchup against Kansas City.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones had seven receptions for 137 yards on 10 targets in the Week 8 win over Carolina. For the past three weeks, the WR has been playing at a tremendous level and has gotten at least seven receptions, nine targets, and 97 yards the past three games. His volume keeps him in the WR1 tier each week.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 15 of 23 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown along with 30 yards rushing on five attempts in a 25-17 loss to Atlanta. Bridgewater left the game after taking a nasty hit in the third quarter, but he was able to return after making it through the league's concussion protocol. The 27-year-old made some nice throws when he was given time, including a beautiful deep ball to Curtis Samuel on a flea-flicker. Unfortunately, he was constantly under pressure, as he was sacked twice and hit six times by the Falcons Defense. A bounce-back could be in the cards next week- Carolina may need to rely on Bridgewater's arm in Week 9 against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley finished with three receptions for 42 yards on four targets in Week 8. The WR went down with an ankle injury in the first half of the game and didn't return. Managers will now have to monitor the status of the WR heading into the Week 9 clash against the Broncos.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst finished with five receptions for 54 yards on seven targets in the Week 8 win over Carolina. Hurst has now seen seven targets in the past two games and has gotten at least 50 yards in four of the past five games. The TE has a decent role in this offense and the latest numbers are backing that up. Hurst should be considered a low-end TE1 each week given his consistency.
Atlanta Falcons running back Brian Hill finished with 11 carries for 55 yards and two receptions for nine yards on Thursday. It was the RB2 of the team who surprisingly led in rush yards, but this was a rare occurrence. Hill doesn't see enough weekly touches to merit good fantasy value going forward.
Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley II finished Thursday night's win with 18 carries for 46 yards and a score. The back still had a decent night despite Brian Hill getting more rushing yards total. Gurley has now had at least 18 carries in the past three games and has three rushing touchdowns in the past two games. With a steady number of carries each week, the RB should remain in the low-end RB1/high-end RB2 tier every week.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan went 21-for-30 and gained 281 yards and one interception in the Thursday night win over the Panthers. It was a rainy game and many players were clearly affected by the conditions. Ryan finished with an average night, which he has sometimes had this season. With a high-powered offense, the QB should remain in the starting tier most weeks, but is most effective in favorable matchups.
Teddy Bridgewater, after being tripped while trying to scramble, took a shot to the head as he fell to the ground against the Falcons. Obviously, the first concern after a hit to the head is a concussion. Bridgewater's head abruptly twisted to the side and he went into the tent shortly thereafter. The Panthers' backup tonight is XFL sweetheart, P.J. Walker.
Calvin Ridley has been ruled out for the Falcons' Week 8 game against the Panthers. He was tackled by a defender and his left foot got caught under the defender. Ridley immediately grabbed his left foot and went to the locker room. His status for Week 9 will now be in question.
New York Jets running back La'Mical Perine has been buried on the depth chart for most of the season. However, head coach Adam Gase mentioned last week that he wants to get Perine more involved. Perine was on the field for 70 percent of the offensive snaps during the Week 7 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He saw 11 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown in the loss. He'll get a decent matchup here against the Kansas City Chiefs who are average against the run this season. Perine could be worth looking at as a desperation option for owners in need of a running back.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (groin) was able to go through limited practice on Thursday. That is actually an upgrade since Crowder sat out of practice the day prior. Crowder has been basically the only bright spot for this team all season long. His absence would doom the Jets chances of doing anything at all on offense versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8. Crowder has seen 10 or more targets in each game that he has played in this season. He'll be a reliable WR2, assuming he suits up here.
New York Jets running back Frank Gore has seen a significant role in the backfield this season. The departure of Le'Veon Bell has opened up lead back duties for Gore over the last few weeks. Sadly, the Jets offensive line and team as a whole is horrible this season. Gore has done what he can, but will likely see his role decrease going forward. Head coach Adam Gase wants to see La'Mical Perine more involved in the offense. That means, Gore is going to be a tough option to trust versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8.