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ProCanes NFL Week 4 Preview

As the COVID-19 Pandemic Looms Across the League, the NFL Tries to Stay on Track

Oklahoma v Miami Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

While the early weeks have resulted in a fair share of injuries, the issue that has been looming all offseason finally emerged this past week: COVID-19 in the NFL. It was reported that a number of Tennessee Titans’ players and coaches tested positive for the coronavirus, which has resulted in a postponement of their game against the Steelers for this week.

While the schedule fix is a relatively easy one in the case of Titans-Steelers as it only requires a little shuffling and then shifting the game to the team’s respective bye week later in the season, the NFL needs to cross their fingers that the virus is contained to just the Titans. Low and behold, in the past 24 hours, the situation got a lot worse as Patriots starting QB, Cam Newton, tested positive for corona. Due to the proximity of the test to gametime, the Patriots required additional testing and their key matchup with the Chiefs was subsequently postponed. As of the time of writing this, the game looked most likely to be moved to this Tuesday, but, obviously, this is a very fluid situation.

A league-wide outbreak, or subsequent outbreaks throughout the season, will likely result in a drawn out and/or staggered season as team’s are put into quarantine and adjusting the schedule could end up being a royal mess.

The MLB just witnessed this issue in their 60-game shortened season as teams were required to play double headers and 7-inning games just to make sure they got to the playoffs in time. The NFL does have the luxury of theoretically playing the season until March, but it would be less than ideal for teams to concentrate games at different times in the season. This is especially true as the league attempts to minimize injury-risk where preventable, such as playing too many games in a short period.

The NFL has started to implement more stringent COVID-19 protocol, but let’s see if it’s enough. I still believe the ideal solution would have been a “bubble-type” scenario where the NFL rented about 4-6 locations for teams to play in order to limit travel and exposure to the disease. We’ve seen it work in the NBA and NHL, which, admittedly, are much smaller enterprises, but scaling it to the NFL’s rosters would have been a nice solution. Technically, the division schedule alignments already cater to this possibility.

Either way, it appears too late to institute that, unless they implement a midseason halt, and let’s hope the remainder of the season goes off without a hitch. But, more positive tests are inevitable. Most importantly, even though many of the athletes and coaches may not be of the high-risk section of the population, let’s hope everyone who has contracted the virus is relatively unaffected - including the families.

As we move forward with the season, ProCanes continue to light it up. Week Three stars were TE, Jimmy Graham, WR, Braxton Berrios, and S, Rayshawn Jenkins. I had to choose Graham as this week’s ProCane of the week after an epic comeback (or collapse) by the Bears over the Falcons.

Week One ProCane of the Week: DE/Calais Campbell
Week Two ProCane of the Week: WR/Braxton Berrios
Week Three ProCane of the Week: TE/Jimmy Graham - Graham continues to impress as he hauled in two TD scores, one from Mitch Trubisky, and one from former Super Bowl MVP and now Bears’ Starter, Nick Foles. Graham is the primary Bears TE and remains a steady contributor in the league.
Week Four Projected ProCane of the Week: S/Rayshawn Jenkins - I technically projected Jenkins as my ProCane of the week for Week Three and the argument could be made that he deserved it as he led his team with nine tackles. But, I don’t want to toot my own horn just yet. I anticipate he continues his solid play against a high octane Tampa Bay offense where he will see a lot of action.

Thursday Night Recap:

Denver Broncos (1-3) 37 @ New York Jets (0-4) 28

Yet another terrible Thursday Night Game, as this one lined up two 0-3 teams featuring starting QBs Brett Rypien and Sam Darnold. Although this game on paper looked awful, it was actually a decent game to watch, which included a nice TD catch by star rookie WR, Jerry Jeudy. ProCanes were not too involved in this matchup as Braxton Berrios was coming off a career high in yards with 64 last week where got another TD score. Miami transfer, Lawrence Cager, who was recently called up from the Jets’ Practice Squad, was targeted by Darnold quite a few times, including in the red zone. Broncos LB, Anthony Chickillo, started to make an impact on Denver’s defense after being picked up off of the Saints practice squad. Chickillo had a nice PD where he dropped back to break up a 20-yard attempt to TE O.J. Howard. In this game, Chickillo’s lone tackle was on a play where he took down fellow ProCane, Frank Gore.

ProCanes Updates
LB Anthony Chickillo - Week Three: 33 defensive snaps, 1 tackle, 1 PD; Week Four: 1 tackle
RB Frank Gore - Week Three: 15 rushes, 57 yards, 1 catch for 5 yards; Week Four: 13 rushes for 30 yards, 1 catch for 6 yards
WR Braxton Berrios - Week Three: 4 catches on 4 targets for 64 yards and a TD; 3 targets
TE Chris Herndon - Week Three: 3 catches on 5 targets for 21 yards; 1 catch for 11 yards on 3 targets
WR Lawrence Cager (transferred to UGA) - Week Three: 2 catches on 4 targets for 35 yards; 2 targets

Sunday Games:

Indianapolis Colts (2-1) (-3.0) @ Chicago Bears (3-0)

The Bears remain undefeated through three games in large part due to their stout defense, but the ageless wonder, TE Jimmy Graham, carried the offense to its latest victory. Graham caught a pair of TDs, one from Mitch Trubisky and one from Nick Foles on the way to Chicago’s come from behind victory. Graham is now tied for the lead in TDs for a TE on the season with 3 and continues to be the most utilized Bears TE in a loaded TE room. Bears’ CB, Deon Bush, showed some versatility in lining up big nickel in the box/slot, but also saw some action lining up on the outside. Pat O’Donnell continues to provide a steady boot at punter as he boomed his season high 64-yarder. A story to monitor is the Bears pickup of veteran RB, Lamar Miller, who was signed to the Bears Practice Squad in light of an injury to Tarik Cohen. Miller has been recovering from a knee injury from last season but the former Pro Bowler is hoping for a career resurgence. Miller was waived by the Patriots prior to the season. For the Colts, DE, Al-Quadin Muhamad, saw his most action of the season and should anticipate more plays as he continues to impress after registering 2 QBHits.

ProCanes Updates Week Three:
DE Al-Quadin Muhamad - 39 Defensive snaps (61% of plays) and 2 QBHits
TE Jimmy Graham - 6 catches on 10 targets for 60 yards and 2 TDs
FS Deon Bush - 12 Defensive snaps, 25 Special Teams snaps, 1 tackle
P Pat O’Donnell - 4 punts, 53.8 yards/punt, 64-yard long
CB Artie Burns - Injured Reserve
RB Lamar Miller - Practice Squad

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) (+3.0) @ Cincinnati Bengals (0-2-1)

Last Thursday night for the Jaguars, ProCane OL, KC McDermott, saw his first career NFL action in getting two snaps. Captain and star Center, Brandon Linder, looks like he’ll miss a second straight week, which is a big hit for the Jags. Rookie LB, Shaquille Quarterman, continues to see his role increase, albeit primarily in ST action.

A few Clemson Tigers have turned into Bengals and are already starters - CB, Mackensie Alexander, DT, DJ Reader, and WR, Tee Higgins. The latter of which is a rookie had first two career TDs last week. The ProTigers can do whatever they want, but let’s hope the actually Tigers have an off week this week.

ProCanes Updates Week Three
C Brandon Linder - Inactive Week Three
LB Shaquille Quarterman - 21 Special Teams snaps
OG KC McDermott - 2 Special Teams snaps in NFL debut. Back to Practice Squad.

Cleveland Browns (2-1) (+5.0) @ Dallas Cowboys (1-2)

Out of the four Cleveland Brown ProCanes, only two were active this past week but the other two should be back soon. DE, Joe Jackson, and S, Sheldrick Redwine, each saw action last week but mostly in situational roles. Jackson recorded a tackle in garbage time on the final play of the game. Veteran DE, Olivier Vernon, is expected back this week, and should provide a nice boost to the Browns front. TE, David Njoku, who had a turbulent offseason but scored a TD in the season opener, is eligible to come off of the IR next week.

ProCanes Updates Week Three
DE Joe Jackson - 19 Defensive snaps, 1 tackle
S Sheldrick Redwine - 19 ST snaps
TE David Njoku - IR until Week 5
DE Olivier Vernon - Inactive but expected back

New Orleans Saints (1-2) (-3.5) @ Detroit Lions (1-2)

No ProCanes in this matchup in a game where the Saints try to make up for a lethargic start.

ProCanes Updates Week Three

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) @ Tennessee Titans (3-0) POSTPONED

Due to a recent COVID-19 outbreak amongst the Titans organization, this battle of the undefeated teams will be pushed back to later in the season. The only ProCanes news to report from these teams is that CB, Trajan Bandy, was released from the Steelers Practice Squad.

ProCanes Updates Week Three

Seattle Seahawks (3-0) (-7.0) @ Miami Dolphins (1-2)

These teams feature a slew of ProCanes. However, only a few are on the active 53-man rosters. For the Dolphins, the only active ProCane is OL, Ereck Flowers, who has had a resurgence in his career over the past couple of seasons as he can be relied on as a reliable pass protector for the Dolphins. For the Seahawks, Greg Olsen remains the main TE as he got 48 snaps and continues to be a solid target for MVP-favorite, Russell Wilson. Beyond that, former Canes’ RBs, Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas, continue to get involvement primarily on Special Teams.

ProCanes Updates Week Three
TE Greg Olsen - 48 snaps ate TE, 5 catches on 6 targets for 61 yards
RB DeeJay Dallas - 12 ST snaps
RB Travis Homer - 16 Offensive snaps (2 rushes for 19 yards), 23 ST snaps (1 KR, 17 yards)
WR Phillip Dorsett - Injured Reserve
OL Ereck Flowers - Played all 61 Offensive Snaps at OG
OL Tyler Gauther - Practice Squad
WR Allen Hurns - Opt Out

Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) (+7.0) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)

All the ProCanes in this matchup are on the Chargers. S Rayshawn Jenkins finally had the breakout game for this season I’ve been anticipating. As a player who is taking a leap as a potential leader on this defense in the absence of Derwin James, Jenkins was the team’s leading tackler in week three. He recorded 9 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL, and 1 QBHit, as he played all 51 snaps on defense. Hopefully he can continue to display his defensive prowess on a weekly basis. LB, Denzel Perryman, found himself in a bit of hot water due to a targeting shot at former Clemson WR, Sammy Watkins, that resulted in a concussion. Perryman was not fined for the hit and did not get a flag (I’ll let you be the judge on the below). Despite the controversial hit, Perryman had 4 tackles on 18 defensive snaps. OL, Tyree St. Louis, was scheduled to get his second career start, after he started opening day, but had to be replaced at RG after he reportedly became lightheaded. Kicker, Michael Badgley, also continues to connects on a consistent basis.

ProCanes Updates Week Three
S Rayshawn Jenkins - 9 tackles, 1 Sack, 1 TFL, 1 QBHit
LB Denzel Perryman - 4 tackles on 18 defensive snaps
K Michael Badgley - 1/1 FG, 41 yards, 1/1 XP
OL Tyree St. Louis - DNP

Baltimore Ravens (2-1) (-14.0) @ Washington Football Team (1-2)

Despite losing in the highly anticipated Monday Night Game against the Chiefs, the Ravens DE and ProCane, Calais Campbell, recorded 1 PD and 4 tackles. Miami transfer, Gus Edwards continues to play as a situational RB and came in for 13 offensive snaps, including a 24-yard rush that he almost broke loose for a TD.

ProCanes Updates Week Three
DE Calais Campbell - 1 PD, 4 tackles
RB Gus Edwards (transferred to Rutgers) - 13 Offensive Snaps, 4 rushes for 39 yards

Arizona Cardinals (2-1) (-3.5) @ Carolina Panthers (1-2)

Carolina Panther’s CB, Corn Elder, is the only ProCane in this matchup. Elder continues to get more playtime as he played over half of the defensive snaps this past week, in which he recorded 4 tackles. 40 snaps (51% D plays) and 12 ST snaps, made 4 tackles

ProCanes Updates Week Three
CB Corn Elder - 40 Defensive snaps, 12 ST snaps, 4 tackles

Minnesota Vikings (0-3) (+4.0) @ Houston Texans (0-3)

Due to the fact that the Vikings played the Titans last week, who are dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, the status of this game has also been brought into question. However, it appears the NFL will be moving forward. Minnesota’s starting PR and rookie, K.J. Osborn, and Texans RB, Duke Johnson, were both inactive last week but are expected to play this week.

ProCanes Updates Week Three
WR/KR K.J. Osborn - Inactive
RB Duke Johnson - Inactive

New York Giants (0-3) (+12.0) @ Los Angeles Rams (2-1)

The only two ProCanes are situational defensive players on the Giants but have yet to get much action and were both inactive last week - S, Adrian Colbert, and DE, R.J. McIntosh.

ProCanes Updates Week Three
S Adrian Colbert - Inactive
DE R.J. McIntosh - Inactive

New England Patriots (2-1) @ Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) POSTPONED

In the last 24 hours, this game ended up being cancelled due to Cam Newton’s positive COVID test. The Patriots recently signed CB Michael Jackson Sr. to their Practice Squad, a player who they traded for this offseason and then subsequently cut. Keep an eye on former Cane, Michael Pinckney, who was brought in for a workout with the Pats. The undrafted rookie has been recovering from hernia and detached labrum but was signed to the Patriots Practice Squad.

ProCanes Updates Week Three
CB Michael Jackson Sr. - Practice Squad
LB Michael Pinckney - Practice Squad
OL Danny Isidora - Practice Squad

Buffalo Bills (3-0) (-2.5) @ Las Vegas Raiders (2-1)

Jaquan Johnson is the only active ProCane in this matchup. With a loaded Bills secondary, Johnson mostly sees action on special teams.

ProCanes Updates Week Three
S Jaquan Johnson - 1 tackle on ST KR coverage, 2 defensive snaps, 14 ST snaps
OL Jon Feliciano - Injured Reserve

Sunday Night Football:

Philadelphia Eagles (0-2-1) (+6.0) @ San Francisco 49ers (2-1)

49ers WR, Travis Benjamin, is the only ProCane here but opted out at the beginning of the season. Eagles Run Game/Offensive Line Coach, Jeff Stoutland, coached for the Canes from 2007-2010. He has been up against a tall task as the OL has been decimated by key injuries. Director of Team Development, Joe Pannunzio, also coached the Canes’ TEs and ST from 2006-2010.

ProCanes Updates Week Three
WR Travis Benjamin - Opt Out

Monday Night Football:

Atlanta Falcons (0-3) (+7.0) @ Green Bay Packers (3-0)

Packers Rookie and ProCane DE, Jonathan Garvin, is slowly earning his reps on the field as he recorded his first tackle this past Sunday night. He tackled Saints RB, Alvin Kamara, who no one else could seem to take down. The Falcons have lost nearly every lead this season, but ProCane DE, Allen Bailey, got his first start of the season and recorded 2 tackles last week.

ProCanes Updates Week Three
DE Jonathan Garvin - 1 tackle, 16 defensive snaps
DE Allen Bailey - 2 tackles, 1 TFL, 33 defensive snaps
SS Jamal Carter - Practice Squad

Other News:

Ray Lewis and A-Rod in the Stands: The last time the Hurricanes hosted College GameDay, Alex Rodriguez was the surprise guest with Lee Corso et. al. at the Coral Gables campus. This season, in a different GameDay atmosphere, Ray Lewis and A-Rod could be spotted on TV throwing up the U in one of Hard Rock’s suites as the Canes routed FSU. As a Red Sox fan, I reserve my opinions of A-Rod. However, he is a fantastic MLB announcer and I would let bygones be bygones based on our Canes fandom.

‘Canes Communities Celebration Football Champions Edition: Join five Miami alumni/national champions, Kenny Calhoun, Kenny Berry, Claude Jones, Anthony Hamlet, and Greg Mark, and moderated by Don Bailey Jr. via Zoom prior to next Saturday’s Clemson game in this event hosted by University of Miami Alumni Association and Palm Beach County ’Canes Community. RSVP here.