Cam: Panthers offensive talent is extremely scary

Over the past two years, the Carolina Panthers scrapped the idea of buffering Cam Newton with a bevy of big-bodied receivers to corral his routinely high passes. Instead, the Panthers have surrounded their star quarterback with quickness at every level.

The change has made a world of difference for a rolling Panthers offense that scored a franchise-high five first-half touchdowns in Sunday’s 42-28 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“When it’s clicking, it’s clicking,” Newton said after the game, via the Charlotte Observer. “As far as the talent level on this team, it’s extremely scary. We possess a lot of different matchups in our favor.”

The Panthers have operated as a pick-your-poison machine, gashing defenses on the ground and through the air. Over the past nine quarters, dating back to the comeback versus the Eagles in Week 7, Carolina has scored 99 points, amassed 1,019 total yards, seven rushing TDs, and a whopping 6.8 yards per play.

Credit offensive coordinator Norv Turner with a creative approach that gets his speedy playmakers the ball on the edge and in open space.

“It’s kind of neat to see the different group of guys that we have,” coach Ron Rivera said. “And to see them all come out and contribute in one way or another. It speaks well to the personnel well that we have here.

“Especially on the offensive side, I think the biggest thing when you look at it is that we use the right kind of guys. Norv, as far as creating things and putting things together, we’re taking advantage of those types of guys and putting them in (the best) position.”

Sunday, the Panthers had three players with a 30-plus yard rush (Christian McCaffrey, Curtis Samuel, and D.J. Moore) and three with a 20-plus yard reception (McCaffrey, Greg Olsen, Devin Funchess).

“We have so many playmakers,” McCaffrey said. “I mean, you saw what Curtis did today, what DJ did today, what Greg did today. … We were playing with momentum. And when you’re playing like that, we have a lot of juice coming our way and it does make it fun.”

Turner’s offense has brilliantly incorporated aspects of his former plans, spread run formations, and quick-pass options for Newton. In a league of ever-evolving offenses, the 66-year-old Turner has rejuvenated an offense that in the past too often relied on the QB to bail them out. Now the Panthers can score from anywhere on the field, from any formation.

With a multifaceted offense and a deadly red-zone attack, Carolina is quickly becoming a team no one wants to face.

Zimmer: Cook kept it in fourth gear on 70-yard run

Dalvin Cook returned to action for the Minnesota Vikings after missing all of October while dealing with a hamstring injury.

Out of the gate, Cook looked like a player who’d been out a month while dealing with a soft-tissue issue. His first five runs Sunday versus the Detroit Lions went for 2, 4, 7, 0 and 2 yards.

Then came the sixth.

Cook took the handoff, hit a crease on the left side of the line, then hit the turbo button in the open field, blasting for a 70-yard scamper. The run set up a touchdown that put the Vikings up 14-6. They would need no more points in a 24-9 whitewash.

“I just turned it on,” Cook said of his big run, via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. “And that’s when at that point you’ve got to trust yourself. You’ve got to know you put the work in for the hamstring to be right and I’m just glad man. I’m just back out here on the field.”

Coach Mike Zimmer said he thinks Cook still has another gear to hit not to get caught from behind in the future.

“He actually said that he was thinking about his hamstring and only kept it in fourth gear,” Zimmer said. “Hopefully there’s another gear there somewhere.”

Cook getting through the game is a big step for an offense that has missed his explosive ability behind a belabored offensive line.

The running back ended the game with 10 carries for 89 yards, a season high, and four receptions for 20 yards. Outside of the big 70-yard gain, it was a pedestrian afternoon for Cook, averaging 2.1 yards per tote on the nine other carries. That’s irrelevant on this day.

Cook played 54.3 percent of the offensive snaps in his return — getting most of the fourth quarter off in the double-digit win — and didn’t suffer a setback. Hamstring injuries can linger and are easily re-aggravated if not fully healed. That Cook made it through the week and stretched his legs on the long run are positive signs moving forward.

Sitting at 5-3-1 the Vikings are half a game back of the Chicago Bears heading into their bye. Cook now has another week to rest the hamstring and hopefully find that fifth gear down the stretch.

Kirk Cousins and the passing game have had to carry the load early in the season. Cook getting fully healthy over the next month could be the difference between overtaking the division lead or sitting at home in January.

Reshad Jones pulled himself from Jets-Dolphins game

The Miami Dolphins turned in an excellent defensive performance in Sunday’s 13-6 win over the New York Jets, notching four sacks and four interceptions.

Surprisingly, though, the Dolphins did it without starting free safety Reshad Jones, who left the game in the first quarter after playing 10 defensive snaps and did not return to the field.

“I’ve got to look at that and find out what everything entails,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said after the game, via the team’s official website. “It sounds like he pulled himself out. So, I’ve just got to find out kind of what happened there.”

Jones has been playing through a shoulder injury, but Gase told reporters that he wasn’t sure if an injury played a role in Jones’ departure from the playing field.

“I haven’t asked a whole bunch of questions because we were having our own issues on the other side of the ball,” Gase said. “It will be one of those things where I’ll probably learn a little more tonight and try to figure out what’s going on.”

Jones did not return to the locker room and remained on the sidelines without his helmet, according to ESPN.

Veteran Cameron Wake spent time with Jones whenever the defense wasn’t on the field, but Wake didn’t elaborate on any discussions, including whether the safety is healthy, between the two.

“That’s between him and I,” Wake told reporters.

Jones did not address the media after the game, but the Dolphins survived without their fifth-leading tackler against the Jets to improve to 5-4 on the season.

And whatever happened Sunday with Jones’ departure from the game will remain a mystery for now until either Jones or Gase provides an update in the coming week.

As to whether Jones will be available for Week 10’s game against the Green Bay Packers, Wake didn’t appear concerned.

“Unless you know something I don’t know, I don’t see why not,” Wake told reporters.

UPDATE: Gase addressed Jones’ status when meeting with the media Monday morning.

Roundup: Scherff believed to have suffered torn pec

The Washington Redskins line suffered a major blow to the interior of the offensive line in Sunday’s 38-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Starting right guard Brandon Scherff, who left with a shoulder injury, is believed to have suffered a torn pectoral based on initial diagnosis, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via sources informed of the situation. Scherff is scheduled Monday to undergo an MRI, Rapoport added.

Additionally, the Redskins saw starting left guard Shawn Lauvao leave Sunday’s game with a knee injury.

The potential losses of Scherff and Lauvao are significant when considering Washington is also dealing with the absence of starting left tackle Trent Williams, who is sidelined after undergoing thumb surgery last week.

Washington’s depth at the guard position will be tested the rest of the season, so expect the Redskins to bring in offensive linemen to work out in the coming days.

Here are other injuries and transactions we are monitoring Monday:

1. Former Oakland Raiders second round pick safety Obi Melifonwu has agreed to terms with the New England Patriots, sources told Rapoport.

2. The Arizona Cardinals announced they signed veteran wide receiver Kendall Wright.

3. Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien told reporters that running back D’Onta Foreman (Achilles) is trending in the right direction, but it is unclear if the team is prepared to activate him off the PUP list.

Demarai Gray Celebrates Leicester Goal With “For Khun Vichai” Message, Gets Booked

After such a difficult few days, Leicester winger Demarai Gray was overcome with emotion when he opened the scoring against Cardiff and let it all out in his celebration.

The former Birmingham City man, who fought back tears during the beautifully observed one minute silence before the game, finished brilliantly after being picked out by Ben Chilwell.

He immediately took off his shirt and unveiled an undershirt with a message that read: “For Khun Vichai” in honour of the late Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha after his tragic passing a week ago.

Given the trauma Leicester players had been through and the fact it was the first game since the horrible helicopter crash, it was always going to a passionate celebration if a Leicester player found the net.

And yet still Gray received a yellow card from Lee Probert for removing his shirt. Of course, rules are rules but a lot of people hold the view that common sense should prevail over the letter of the law in instances like this:

Where do you stand on the whole situation?

Sound off in the comments.

Josh Lawless

Josh is a writer who specialises in football and wrestling. He has been published by Curzon Ashton FC, Late Tackle, Manchester City FC, The Mirror, Read Man City and Manchester Evening News. He provides coverage of professional wrestling and has interviewed some of the biggest names in the field – including the first UK interview with The Hardy Boyz after their return to WWE. He has never sported a pair of Lonsdale Slip-ons, contrary to reports.

Boca Juniors And River Plate Fans Have Argument, Someones House Gets Burned Down

Arguments between opposition football fans are are a regular occurrence. You are always going to have disagreements in the build-up to games, during and then after. It’s all part and parcel of being a supporter.

However, there probably aren’t many occasions when a debate gets so vitriolic that someone’s house ends up getting burned down – but then again not many rivalries compare to Boca Juniors and River Plate.

The ‘Superclasico’ is not only the biggest game in Argentina, it’s up there as one of most intense games in world football.

This year, for the first time ever, the monumental clash will see the two come up against one another in the Copa Libertadores final (effectively South America’s equivalent of the Champions League).

And ahead of the match, a house genuinely got burned down after one fan from each team over in Misiones had a bit of beef and it ended in one blazing the other’s home because obviously that’s the only logical end result.

This crazy story has come about prior to the two legs so there could well be further madness ensuing depending on how the result plays out.

But remarkably, this isn’t the most devastating story when two football supporters have had different opinions.

In 2016, the debate over who the better player is out of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo took very dark turn after a Ronaldo fan killed a Messi fan allegedly over a debate about the pair.

The incident happened in Nigeria where Obinna Michael Durumchukwa and Nwabu Chukwuma got into an argument about which player was better whilst at Durumchukwa’s birthday party.

Image: PA
Image: PA

The report in the Hindustan Times says that “Durumchukwa flung a glass at Chukwuma” whilst they argued over the merits of the two footballing superstars. The glass missed it’s intended target and smashed against a wall.

Chukwuma then picked up some of the shattered glass and attacked his friend, stabbing him in his neck in the process, according to police inspector Kiran Kabadi.

Durumchukwa was arguing the merits of Messi, who bagged two goals at the weekend, whilst Chukwuma was on the side of Ronaldo

Josh Lawless

Josh is a writer who specialises in football and wrestling. He has been published by Curzon Ashton FC, Late Tackle, Manchester City FC, The Mirror, Read Man City and Manchester Evening News. He provides coverage of professional wrestling and has interviewed some of the biggest names in the field – including the first UK interview with The Hardy Boyz after their return to WWE. He has never sported a pair of Lonsdale Slip-ons, contrary to reports.