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ProCanes NFL Preview: News and Notes, Waivers, Injury Reports, Fantasy Player of the Week

Continuing to march his way up the all-time rushing list, Frank Gore is one of many ProCanes looking to start the season off with a W.

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

It’s back! The 2017–2018 NFL season kicked off Thursday, and the traditional Sunday lineup is returning.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans 1 PM EDT

If the opening game wasn’t important enough, the Houston Texans will open the season at home after Hurricane Harvey ripped through parts of Texas, including Houston. Many sports organizations have been donating money and resources to help the relief effort as Houstonians try to return to some sense of normalcy.

Lamar Miller will line up in the backfield for his second season in Houston. Miller rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2016 for the second time in his career. The feat is special given that he shared it with Brock Osweiler and a host of other quarterbacks. Tom Savage will start the season at quarterback for the Texans. Savage will have to do his best to dodge the pass rush of new Jaguar DE Calais Campbell, who will test the offensive interior of the Texans.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Jacksonville Jaguars
DL Calais Campbell (93) will be looking to keep fellow ’Cane alum, Lamar Miller, contained in their matchup this Sunday.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

For WR Allen Hurns, 2016 was supposed to be full of promise after he signed a contract extension before the regular season. While he accounted for 1,031 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015, injuries and instability at quarterback derailed his productivity the next year. Word around the rumor mill is that Hurns could be a tradable asset for the Jaguars, who are transitioning to a run-heavy offense after making fellow ProCane Brandon Linder the highest-paid center. Linder will help create run lanes for the Jaguars’ feature back, Leonard Fournette.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns 1 PM EDT

In his rookie season, CB Artie Burns’ confidence grew with each play, series, and game. He has grown immensely and could be Pittsburgh’s best corner, especially given his competitiveness, which he shows by his willingness to go against Antonio Brown every day at practice.

It will be the first regular season game for TE David Njoku, who a year ago lined up against Florida Atlantic. With both Njoku and starting quarterback DeShone Kizer making their NFL debut, they will need to work together to have a successful season, as a new quarterback’s best friend is usually the tight end. Njoku could be a premier option this season in the Browns’ offense; the team has certainly catered to Njoku’s skill set in the preseason by throwing tunnel screens and letting him run go routes. But it’s still too early to get a read on Njoku’s NFL play, and this will likely be his most difficult season. However, ’Canes fans have witnessed Njoku perform under pressure at lower levels of the game, so many predict him to be a success at its highest level.

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens
Living on the edge, Johnson could motion out as a receiving option as well as get his normal load of carries in the Browns’s offense this season.
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Njoku will have a fellow UM friend on offense in Duke Johnson, who will be the change-of-pace back to starting running back Isaiah Crowell. Johnson is a threat in the passing game and could be motioned out of the backfield to line up as a WR, according to preseason rumors.

Indianapolis Colts vs. Los Angeles Rams 4:05 PM EDT

Frank Gore is used to putting on a show for the NFL, having done so for much of his career. Entering his 13th season, Gore remains the lead back for the Colts in an offense that will look to be more balanced in 2017. Frank Gore, who currently has 13,065 rushing yards, needs just 620 more to reach fifth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.

Gore is going to have to shoulder the load for a Colts offense that will be without the services of their franchise QB, Andrew Luck, who will be in uniform, but is unlikely to play according to multiple sources. Last season, Indy hosted the Chargers in the week three, the Colts won 26–22 behind a 21 carry, 82 rushing yards, and a touchdown. With Scott Tolzien lining up under center to start the season, will the Colts be able to put 1 in the win column when they travel to the small confines of the Stubhub Center to take on the Chargers? Time will tell.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers 4:25 PM EDT

In week 14 of the 2016 season, Jimmy Graham caught 1-of-4 targets for 16 yards against the Green Bay Packers. Graham will be much healthier and have a more defined role in the offense when the Seahawks travel to Lambeau Field for this afternoon tilt. If the Seattle offensive line can improve from their abysmal performance last season, Graham should approach close to 1,000 yards, a feat he accomplished a season ago with 923 receiving yards, a career-high yards per catch rate of 14.2, and six touchdowns.

Fantasy ProCane of the Week

TE Greg Olsen

Carolina Panthers v Oakland Raiders
The always reliable Greg Olsen looks to continue his Hall of Fame production in his 11th season.
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

If you drafted your fantasy team before Labour Day weekend, it’s likely that Greg Olsen was selected among the top tight ends. With the additions of WR Curtis Samuel and RB Christian McCaffrey and concerns regarding Cam Newton’s health, future Hall of Famer Greg Olsen remains the constant in an uncertain offense. Olsen was one of two tight ends, Travis Kelce being the other, to surpass 1,000 receiving yards in 2016. Olsen is the only tight end in NFL history to record three straight seasons with 1,000 receiving yards. Olsen and the Panthers should be able to take advantage of first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan and a young Niners defense.

Parting Shots

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
  • While neither Rayshawn Jenkins nor Jamal Carter will start, Miami’s former secondary duo will meet when the LA Chargers travel to Sports Authority Field to take on the Denver Broncos Monday night.
  • It’s a make-or-break season for WR Phillip Dorsett. Although he was selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Dorsett has not capitalized on the opportunities provided to him by the Colts over the past two seasons. Even with Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell out for the season with injuries, the Patriots still have depth at the wide receiver position. Dorsett is going to have to be a quick learner of a difficult Patriots playbook, and most importantly, gain the trust of QB Tom Brady.
  • After the Indianapolis Colts traded WR Phillip Dorsett to New England for QB Jacoby Brissett, the Colts would waive QB Stephen Morris shortly after.
  • Last week we told informed about the cuts. Other outlets such as Matt Porter of The Palm Beach Post highlighted ProCanes who made practice rosters across the NFL. CB Tracy Howard (Jacksonville Jaguars), WR Malcolm Lewis (Miami Dolphins) are some of the players who were put on practice rosters a week ago.
  • The Detroit Lions took a risk when they cut QB Brad Kaaya at the deadline. Kaaya was claimed on waivers by the Carolina Panthers last Sunday. He will be ironically be under the tutelage of another Hurricane great, former Hurricane QB, current Carolina Panthers QB coach, Ken Dorsey. Kaaya is listed as Carolina’s third-string QB,
  • Carolina Panthers CB Corn Elder was placed on Injured Reserve with a knee injury. He will miss the entire season. He was expected to compete at nickel back in the preseason. Get better soon!
NFL: Carolina Panthers-Training Camp
Over before it began, Corn Elder will rehab a knee injury that will forced him to miss the entire season
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports