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NFL Playoffs League - FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Rivera says Cam's backup in Carolina still uncertain

Mon Aug 19 5:11pm ET
By STEVE REED
AP Sports Writer

Players: Cam Newton, Taylor Heinicke, Will Grier, Kyle Allen

Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen looks to hand off the ball during the first half of the team's NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Mark Black )


Chicago Bears defensive back Deon Bush (26) celebrates his interception of a pass from Carolina Panthers quarterback Will Grier during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Mark Black)


Carolina Panthers quarterback Will Grier (3) scrambles during the first half an NFL preseason football game against the Buffalo Bills in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)


Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen (7) runs out of the pocket against the Buffalo Bills during the first half an NFL preseason football game, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)


Carolina Panthers quarterback Will Grier (3) looks for a reciever against the Buffalo Bills during the first half an NFL preseason football game, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)


Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen (7) runs out of the pocket against the Buffalo Bills during the first half an NFL preseason football game, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) While Cam Newton remains the clear-cut starting quarterback in Carolina, his primary backup remains largely uncertain.

Kyle Allen started the first two preseason games and appears to have the edge over third-round draft pick Will Grier, but the reality is neither QB has taken full advantage of his opportunities - and extra playing time - with Newton resting his shoulder.

Taylor Heinicke was the No. 2 guy last season, but he's dropped to fourth on the depth chart and hasn't been getting as many reps as Allen and Grier in practice.

''That's what they are here for is to compete and find out who the next best guy is,'' Rivera said.

Carolina's No. 2 quarterback spot has taken on added significance this season with Newton battling back from offseason shoulder surgery. The 2015 league MVP's shoulder strength deteriorated as the season progressed last year and he was barely able to throw 20 yards downfield. He sat out the last two games and had arthroscopic surgery in January.

Newton appears healthier now, but the Panthers want a backup in place before the Sept. 8 season opener against the Rams.

However, a subpar effort by both Allen and Grier against the Bills last Friday night only clouded the QB picture. Allen played into the second quarter but finished 4 of 11 passing for 32 yards. Grier was 10 of 19 for 75 yards with an interception that was returned 71 yards for a touchdown.

''What was disappointing is when you really watched them (on tape) they made some really good decisions, but just delivered some high balls,'' Rivera said. ''They didn't give their teammates a chance to make plays.''

Four holding penalties didn't help, putting both quarterbacks in disadvantageous down-and-distance positions.

But Rivera said he remains confident in all of his QBs.

''Kyle is as resilient and aloof to pressure as I've ever seen in a quarterback,'' Rivera said. ''Will is trying so hard; he's a young guy who wants to learn and do things the right way. He's just got to relax, in my opinion. From what I see, he's just pressing sometimes.''

Rivera wants to see Grier make it through his progressions quicker and Allen to improve on his ball placement.

Allen's focus this week has been on cleaning up his footwork and getting the ball out quicker; Grier on learning the nuances of Norv Turner's offense.

''You have good outings and bad outings and you have to improve from them,'' said Allen, who one game for the Panthers last season as an undrafted rookie. ''Just getting through the reads quicker and identifying coverages quicker.''

He said speeding up the footwork will help that out.

''The rush is coming so even if something is going to come open you may not have time for it,'' said Grier, who threw for 3,864 yards and 37 touchdowns last season at West Virginia. ''You have to get through (the progressions) and take what is underneath and what is there. That is one of those gray area things where you may be able to make a play if you hold on to it but maybe the right answer is to get the ball out of your hands and let the guy catch it and run.''

Allen, Grier and Heinicke are quickly running out of chances to prove themselves worthy of being Newton's backup. Newton is slated to get the majority of work in Carolina's third preseason game on Friday night at New England.

NOTES: The Panthers worked Monday inside their new practice bubble for the first time. It was a little crowded with 90 players still on the roster, but it was clear players were thrilled to catch a break from practicing in the 92-degree heat. ''I'm really looking forward to when it gets real cold and starts raining outside,'' said cornerback James Bradberry. ''That's when the bubble will be clutch.''

Player Notes
Stefon Diggs Aug 19 6:40pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs saw limited action on Sunday night against the Seattle Seahawks, hauling in his one target for six receiving yards in the contest. The lack of target share in the offense is not a concern for Diggs - he finished with 149 targets (just four behind Adam Thielen) to go along with his 1,021 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2018. He's currently being drafted at 35 overall (WR14), and that seems about right considering he and Thielen will again command the majority of targets and red-zone looks this season. Look for the "Minneapolis Miracle" hero to play a bit more in preseason game number three.

From RotoBaller

Derrick Jones Aug 19 5:53pm ET

The Houston Texans signed free agent CB Derrick Jones Monday, Aug. 19. WR Stephen Louis was waived.

From TheHuddle

Travis Kelce Aug 19 5:50pm ET

Kelce caught just one pass for five yards against the Steelers in week two of the preseason. The slippery field conditions limited the Chiefs starters to just one drive, so we didnt get much of a taste. Kelce remains the top TE in fantasy and should be getting drafted in the first round.

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Julian Edelman Aug 19 5:43pm ET

Updating a previous story, New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (thumb) has been activated from the Non-Football Injury list, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: This allows fantasy managers to comfortably draft Edelman as a WR2 in the middle of the fourth round in standard leagues. His ADP rises slightly in PPR formats. He's expected to lead a group including Demaryius Thomas, Josh Gordon, rookie N'Keal Harry and training camp standout Jakobi Meyers.

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Tyreek Hill Aug 19 5:40pm ET

Tyreek Hill caught just one pass for six yards against the Steelers in week two of the preseason. The Chiefs starters were expected to play more, but the field conditions limited them to just a drive. Hill remains a solid WR1 and can be safely drafted in the second round. Carry on.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Graham Aug 19 4:53pm ET

Green Bay Packers TE Jimmy Graham (finger) doesn't need surgery, according to head coach Matt LaFleur. Graham will 'be all right,' said LaFleur.

Fantasy Spin: Graham remains a fringe TE1 with the expectation of a full 16-game season.

From TheHuddle

Cam Newton Aug 19 4:43pm ET

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton and RB Christian McCaffrey are scheduled to play with the rest of the team's starters in Thursday, Aug. 22's preseason game against the New England Patriots. 'They've been the gold standard for a long time,'' head coach Ron Rivera said. 'You want to go out and see just how good you are. It is a good measuring stick as to who we can be as a football team.''

Fantasy Spin: Newton and McCaffrey are solidified as a QB1 and RB1, respectively. It'll be interesting to see Newton working with free-agent addition WR Chris Hogan and training camp standout WR Curtis Samuel.

From TheHuddle

Tashaun Gipson Aug 19 4:43pm ET

Houston Texans C Nick Martin (hamstring), DB A.J. Moore (undisclosed), CB Lonnie Johnson (undisclosed) and DL Carlos Watkins (undisclosed) returned to practice Monday, Aug. 19. S Justin Reid (undisclosed) and S Tashaun Gipson (undisclosed) didn't participate.

From TheHuddle

Jonnu Smith Aug 19 4:00pm ET

Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith (knee) returned to practice Monday for the first time since he tore his MCL in Week 14 of the 2018 season. Smith, who was filling in for injured tight end Delanie Walker, delivered 214 yards and three touchdowns in his final 5 games of 2018 leading up to his injury. With Walker now recovered, expect Smith to return to his limited role as the team's second tight end. While Smith is unlikely to have enough opportunity to be relevant this season, he remains a solid dynasty stash with Walker's best years likely behind him.

From RotoBaller

D'Onta Foreman Aug 19 3:53pm ET

Indianapolis Colts RB D'Onta Foreman (biceps) will remain with the team while rehabbing torn biceps. He's expected to miss four months but the team intends to keep him for next year.

From TheHuddle

Demarcus Lawrence Aug 19 3:53pm ET

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence (shoulder) is expected to be activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list soon. He's expected to be limited for a little while, but he's on track to return in time for Week 1.

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Derrick Henry Aug 19 3:50pm ET

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (calf) returned to practice today for the first time since the opening day of training camp. Although his Week 1 status was never in serious question, this is a good sign for Henry's 2019 fantasy stock. Henry will slide right back in as the feature back for new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith's offense entering his make-or-break contract year. Henry continues to be one of the most polarizing players for the 2019 fantasy season, but only time will tell if we are to get the Henry from the last four games of the regular season or the Henry from the first twelve. In reality, his upside will likely depend majorly on the ability of quarterback Marcus Mariota to produce more consistently in the passing game.

From RotoBaller

Derrick Henry Aug 19 3:43pm ET

Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry (foot) returned to practice Monday, Aug. 19. It's his first practice since Day 1 of training camp.

Fantasy Spin: Henry is suddenly a strong value as an RB2 at the end of the third round. He has long struggled with consistent production over the course of a full season, but he dominated at the end of the 2018 season and has the added incentive of a contract year. His ADP is likely to rise quickly now that he's back on the field.

From TheHuddle

Russell Wilson Aug 19 3:40pm ET

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson took the field for the first time this season on Sunday, and he looked good against the Vikings. Wilson went 6-for-9 for 82 yards, and he just missed a big third down completion that would have padded those stats even more. An especially nice thing was the fact that Wilson went virtually untouched in the pocket, and while it's just the preseason, any positive that can be found in Seattle's offensive line is worth a mention. Wilson is a knock quantity at this point, and if his offensive line can give him more time in the pocket, he could easily be in the discussion for MVP as the season rolls on.

From RotoBaller

Derrius Guice Aug 19 3:33pm ET

Washington Redskins RB Derrius Guice (knee) is scheduled to play Thursday, Aug. 22, in a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. It's likely to be his only action of the preseason.

Fantasy Spin: Guice didn't play at all in his rookie season after being selected in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He's being drafted as an RB3 on average, but he's likely to open the season behind veteran Adrian Peterson in the Washington backfield. He has more value in keeper and dynasty leagues, as he may need to wait another full season before leading the backfield.

From TheHuddle

D.K. Metcalf Aug 19 3:30pm ET

Seattle Seahawks rookie wide receiver D.K. Metcalf is scheduled to have knee surgery on Tuesday, and his presence for the start of the season is now in jeopardy. Metcalf's injury was discovered last week in practice, but head coach Pete Carroll declined to go into specifics about the injury or the circumstances surrounding it. It isn't believed to be terribly serious since Carroll's already talking about how the team is optimistic that Metcalf will be back for the regular season opener, but for a player who depends on speed like Metcalf, that seems questionable. For now, he's at least out for the rest of the preseason, not a great thing for a rookie.

From RotoBaller

Bobby Wagner Aug 19 3:30pm ET

Seattle Seahawks rookie safety Marquise Blair was carted off the field in the third quarter of Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings after suffering back spasms. Blair had been hyped coming into the game, but he was beat for a touchdown in the first half and eventually left with the injury. At this point, it's unclear how serious the injury is or how much time Blair will miss, but it's just another shot at Seattle's rookie class after first-round pick L.J. Collier has been sidelined with a high ankle sprain as well. With Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, and Shaquem Griffin also recovering from injuries, Seattle's defense is taking a serious beating to start the season.

From RotoBaller

Reshad Jones Aug 19 3:23pm ET

Miami Dolphins S Reshad Jones (foot) returned to practice Monday, Aug. 19, but he's doing individual work and not participating in 11-on-11 drills. He said he'll be ready for the regular-season opener.

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D'Onta Foreman Aug 19 3:13pm ET

Indianapolis Colts WR Daurice Fountain (ankle) and RB D'Onta Foreman (undisclosed) were placed on injured reserve Monday, Aug. 19. S Derrick Kindred was waived. The team signed S Kai Nacua, RB Charcandrick West and RB Marquis Young.

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Charcandrick West Aug 19 3:13pm ET

Indianapolis Colts WR Daurice Fountain (ankle) and RB D'Onta Foreman (undisclosed) were placed on injured reserve Monday, Aug. 19. S Derrick Kindred was waived. The team signed S Kai Nacua, RB Charcandrick West and RB Marquis Young.

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