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ProCanes Preview: Week Four

Business is about to pick up for the UM NFL alumni.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

As the Hurricanes prepare to take on FSU next weekend, the ProCanes continue on the long haul that is the NFL’s regular season. In week four, a statement game for the Phins, the budding Browns attempt to win in consecutive weeks and we highlight the debut/return of Carolina Panthers’ CB Corn Elder.

Both the Washington Redskins and aforementioned Panthers are on a bye this week. For you fantasy owners, remember to factor this into your lineup. There are 37 ProCanes currently on NFL rosters, compared to FSU’s 39. Even though the Noles have the edge in personnel on the field, there’s no substitution for quality, hence why it’s better to have a ProCane on the roster.

New York Jets (1-2) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) 1PM EDT

The learning curve in the NFL has shrunk dramatically over the course of the past decade. Quarterbacks are expected to play in their first season, rookie running backs see bulk carries less than a year of playing college and tight ends are required to pick up the nuances of blocking and route running in the league. For Jets’ rookie TE Chris Herndon, there have been some good and some (highly publicized) low moments. The positive has been that Herndon has received a majority of the snaps, lining up as the starter for 70 snaps in the team’s last three games. Herndon’s production as blocker has transitioned well to the big leagues, earning a decent 56.5 grade from PFF for his work in run blocking. The downside is that Herndon has suffered lapses when targeted in the passing game, fumbled a reception at the one yard line and dropped open passes the last couple of weeks.

Playing in Duval County, there’s no room for concentration lapses. Jacksonville has been dominant since the opening whistle of the season. QB Blake Bortles looks more than competent after three weeks. ProcCane C Brandon Linder has not allowed a sack or QB hit to-date and is leader of an underrated offensive line group for the Jaguars. DE Calais Campbell continues to be a menace for the opposition to fend off, tacking on three sacks, six tackles and three QB hurries so far this season. The Jets’ offensive line has allowed four sacks and three QB hits so far this season. Expect to see a steep rise in those numbers with a swarming Jags’ defense that is breezing through the competition.

Miami Dolphins (3-0) vs. New England Patriots (1-2) 1PM EDT

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

There are two ProCanes running backs who find themselves in the top-15 of the NFL’s all-time rushing list. At the 13th spot, RB Edgerrin James (12,246) and fourth on the list, Dolphins RB Frank Gore (14,112). That would be two Hurricane alums ahead of the closest Seminole — Semi-Pro?? — RB Warrick Dunn (10,967). Running the ball up the middle of Miami’s offensive line, picking up three first downs and breaking free for two 10+ yard carries, Gore has been an excellent complement to RB Kenyan Drake. New England has allowed an average of 200+ yards so far this year, and could be a candidate to allow Gore to trot into the endzone for his first score since week 11 of 2017.

For Patriots’ WR Phillip Dorsett, the season started out well enough. The chemistry with star QB Tom Brady is copacetic, the threat of losing his job was non-existent and the fourth year receiver was a feature of the Pats’ passing game. Dorsett’s production was not enough to make the Patriots to scour the league to improve a position of need… at first. Now the ProCane’s potential for a breakout campaign is in jeopardy. First, the trade for WR Josh Gordon happened. Now WR Julian Edelman is returning to the lineup next weekend. And no one is usurping targets from TE Rob Gronkowski. Future production for Dorsett appears to be murky at best as we gaze into the crystal ball for New England’s offense. Dorsett will probably see Dolphins’ CB Xavien Howard in a matchup that should pose the ultimate test for the former Canes’ wideout.

Houston Texans (0-3) vs. Indianapolis Colts (1-2) 1PM EDT

The Texans’ offense needs your help. How’s your kickstep? Do you think you could figure out an NFL blocking assignment? If so, you’d be a great candidate to help this Houston offensive line that is experiencing problems throughout the roster. One of the bright spots has been RB Lamar Miller, who has been productive in the run game, despite the struggles of the Texan passing game. Until the Texans’ QB DeShaun Watson can find the groove that had fans anointing him ‘the next great thing’ in the sport, the pressure will compound on Miller to carry the offense (literally) through this early season turbulence.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

DE Al-Quadin Muhammad is finally getting a healthy dose of screen time on the football field this season. After being used sparingly as a rookie with the New Orleans Saints, AQM has been put in a position with the Colts to utilize his pass rushing skill set. Even though the numbers don’t reflect well on his production, the second-year pass rusher appears to be turning the corner with the increase in playing time. Against a Houston offense that has allowed 62 pressures ( six sacks, 13 QB hits and 43 QB hurries), this week could be set up for AQM to record that elusive first sack as a pro.

Cleveland Browns (1-1-1) vs. Oakland Raiders (0-3) 4:05PM EDT

It may have felt like they won the Super Bowl, but the reality is the Browns simply won their first game in 19 by defeating the Jets last week. Can you believe that it was the first win for TE David Njoku in his NFL career? Against the winless Raiders, Cleveland has a chance to make it two straight wins and climb above a .500 winning percentage in a long time. With QB Baker Mayfield being named the starter, look for ProCanes Njoku and RB Duke Johnson Jr. to become bigger factors on offense.

While Browns’ DE Myles Garrett makes his case to win the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, ProCanes rookie DE Chad Thomas is still searching to record his first stat in a game. Known by his artist name of Major Nine, Thomas’ snap count has been sporadic the past couple weeks. After missing a portion of training camp while dealing with an injury, Thomas is gradually learning what it means to be a pro with every game. The Raiders’ offensive line has been fairly stout against defensive pressures to date, but with the surge of the moment coursing through the Browns’ organization, the Black Hole might be in the midst of their own troubling losing streak.

San Francisco 49ers (1-2) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) 4:25PM EDT

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

If you don’t believe that sophomore slumps are real in both the college and NFL world, then Niners’ fans would be quick to point out the struggles of S Adrian Colbert. Having recorded nine tackles for a San Francisco squad that is looking to keep up with the Rams in the NFC West division race, Colbert is going to have to step up even more for a reeling Niners squad. Yet, with five missed tackles — allowing 100% completion percentage on passes in coverage — Colbert has struggled early in the season. The good news is there’s plenty of season left for Colbert to redeem himself. The bad news is Colbert is dealing with a hip injury and is questionable to play today.

The Chargers’ offense that has been functioning well and the return of WR Travis Benjamin to the lineup adds a vertical dimension to L.A.’s passing game. Benjamin missed the past couple of weeks with a foot injury. Now healed enough to play, look for the ProCane WR to make amends for a disappointing debut to the 2018 season. With one catch for one yard entering the week, Benjamin looks to race out of the Stubhub Center with a monster day. Benjamin is questionable with a lingering ankle injury for today’s game.

LB Denzel Perryman still doesn’t have a Gatorade sponsorship, so DP has to take ball carriers down behind the line of scrimmage to quench his thirst. He polished off eight tackles resulting in a loss for the offense. With the Niners’ running game struggling to find success, Perryman should be soaking up the spotlight Sunday afternoon.

Baltimore Ravens (2-1) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1-1) 8:20PM EDT

The blood feud between Pittsburgh is still alive as both franchises look to plant themselves atop the division. For CB Artie Burns and the Steelers’ secondary, the need to improve immediately is a priority. The back half of the Steelers’ secondary has been exploited in each of their three games, with Burns allowing 10 completions on 13 targets and three TDs. Opponents are picking on the Miami Northwestern product early and often. After the return of CB Joe Haden last weekend, Burns could fell out of the starting rotation — behind CB Coty Sensabaugh and CB Mike Hilton. With Ravens’ Receiver John Brown and Michael Crabtree combining for 377 receiving yards and three TDs, it’s a get your **it together test for both sides.

ProCanes Fantasy Player of the Week

TE David Njoku

NCAA Football: Russell Athletic Bowl-West Virginia vs Miami
With a change at quarterback, Browns’ TE David Njoku should see a rise an uptick in production moving forward.
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

With the Baker Mayfield now the starter in Cleveland, expect to see the emergence of Njoku in year two. His nine receptions for 69 yards receiving won’t get rid of the queasy feeling when you insert him into the lineup this week, but against a woeful Oakland defense, the potential for breakout is too hard to pass up. Consider Njoku as a TE1 or flex option with Jordan Reed and Greg Olsen on bye.

A Corn-y First Year

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

It must have been an exciting feeling to be drafted in the fifth round by the Carolina Panthers, with a chance to earn a starting spot on the Panthers’ defense. That excitement was robbed from rookie CB Corn Elder after he suffered a knee injury in training camp. Forced to rehab in what should have been his first season in the league, Elder found himself working to get healthy and improve his game. That hard work in the off-season appears to have paid off as Elder earned a prominent role in the Panthers’ secondary. A first team All-ACC selection in 2016, Elder was a staple of the Canes’ defense for three of his four years.

With two tackles and graded by PFF as the third best defender for the Panthers, Elder’s versatility working as outside and nickel corner should endear him to the Carolina brass moving forward.

Injury Report

Giants DE Olivier Vernon has been ruled out. He has has yet to play a game this season.

Giants RT Ereck Flowers was benched last week, and likely will remain on the bench for the foreseeable future.


Rookie running back Mark Walton got a carry last week for the Bengals. Unfortunately, the carry was negated by a hold. With Joe Mixon, set to miss time, Walton could see a few more carries in the coming week.

Dallas WR Allen Hurns has not made the kind of impact he was hoping to make in the Lone Star State. The lack of targets has appeared to have frustrated the wide receiver. His four receptions and 51 passing yards surely can be improved upon moving forward.

Six University of Miami alumni have been named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s initial list of 102 modern-era nominees. S Ed Reed, RB Edgerrin James, RB Clinton Portis, head coach Jimmy Johnson, DT Russell Maryland and P Jeff Feagles are among the candidates in the first round of selections for the class of 2019. The list will narrowed down in November to 25 semi-finalist before the 15 finalist are named in January. The class of 2019 will be named during the NFL Honors ceremony before Super Bowl LIII on February 3rd.