Shark Bites

Panthers HC Ron Rivera said Thursday that QB Cam Newton is already showing "marked improvement" from his January 24th shoulder surgery. Rivera said the procedure was as "minimally invasive as possible" and was designed to clean out scar tissue that was affecting Newton's range of motion. "I was there on one of his recovery days when (Newton) was working out with (head athletic trainer) Ryan Vermillion," Rivera added. "And one of the things he did say was that he has gotten a lot of range of motion back. So that was exciting to hear." The Panthers expect Newton to be a full-go by the time training camp rolls around.

NESN's Doug Kyed reports that a return to the Patriots is "still possible" for WR Josh Gordon. He's currently serving an indefinite suspension after turning in diluted drug test samples. Gordon is reportedly in a Gainesville-area rehab center, where his treatment is being paid for by the Pats. We wouldn't consider him any better than 50/50 to get back on an NFL field -- but the 27-year-old is still worth stashing in most dynasty leagues.

The Redskins are planning as if QB Alex Smith (leg) will not be able to play at all in 2019, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Smith suffered a compound leg fracture in November and has dealt with infections after surgery that have lengthened his recovery time. He was recently spotted with an external fixator on the injured leg that's helping to hold his bones in place. Turning 35 in May, Smith's football future is probably in doubt. The Redskins figure to add a QB this offseason, with only Colt McCoy behind Smith on the depth chart now.

Panthers QB Cam Newton underwent surgery on his right shoulder on Thursday. It's his 2nd procedure on the throwing shoulder, following a March 2017 operation to repair a partially torn rotator cuff. The latest was an arthroscopic surgery that insider Jourdan Rodrigue hears was a cleanup. Newton's rehab is expected to run into spring, but the team is "hopeful" he'll be a full-go for training camp, according to Rodrigue. We'll keep an eye on him this offseason.

The Colts re-signed K Adam Vinatieri to a 1-year deal. Now 46, Vinatieri will return for his 24th NFL season. He remained solid in 2018, hitting 85.2% of his attempts with a long of 54 yards.

Dolphins WR Albert Wilson doesn't need surgery on the hip injury that ended his 2018 season, according the Miami Herald, and is expected to be ready for the start of the offseason program in April. It's good news for a guy who flashed big-play ability in his 7 games last year, averaging 15.0 yards and scoring 4 times on 26 catches. He's a nice late-round target in early best-ball drafts.

The Cardinals announced Wednesday that WR Larry Fitzgerald has re-signed on a 1-year deal and will play in 2019. Fitz lopped 50 targets, 40 receptions and 422 yards off his 2017 totals this past season, in the 1st year with QB Josh Rosen and only season under former HC Steve Wilks' staff. A full offseason with Rosen can only help, and the switch to former QB Kliff Kingsbury can't hurt after Arizona trotted out the league's worst offense a year ago. That said, we shouldn't count on Fitzgerald to jump back to anywhere near his 3 recent campaigns of more than 100 catches. Heading into his age-36 season, Fitzgerald figures to compete with 2018 rookie Christian Kirk for lead-target status. We'll see if Arizona adds to the WR corps in free agency or the draft. Fitz is a solid shot to take around his early 150.3 ADP in PlayDraft best-ball leagues, though that figures to climb now that his return is confirmed.

The Titans have promoted TEs coach Arthur Smith to OC. Smith has been with Tennessee for 8 years, starting as a defensive assistant before moving to the other side of the ball. The Titans are aiming for continuity from the departed Matt LaFleur's scheme, but Smith is a complete unknown as a play-caller.

Saints WR Keith Kirkwood (calf) is inactive for today's NFC Championship game against the Rams. He played 69% of the offensive snaps last week -- 2nd most among New Orleans WRs. So his absence should mean more playing time for Ted Ginn and especially Tre'Quan Smith. Ginn remains the better fantasy bet, but Smith is an intriguing DFS flier.

Bucs TE Cameron Brate underwent surgery last week to repair a torn labrum in his hip, ESPN's Jenna Laine reports. Brate played the "majority" of the season with the injury, according to Laine. That helps explain a disappointing 2018 campaign that saw him finish with 3-year lows in catches (30), yards (289) and yards per catch (9.6). Brate is expected to be sidelined for a few months, and the Bucs are hoping he'll be a full-go by June minicamp.

Chiefs RB Spencer Ware (hamstring) is not listed on the final injury report after putting in full practices on Thursday and Friday. So he'll presumably be active for Sunday's AFC Championship against the Patriots. Ware was atop Kansas City's depth chart prior to the injury but figures to return as Damien Williams' backup. It's unclear exactly how much work Ware will siphon.

Saints TE Ben Watson (appendicitis) is out for Sunday's game against the Rams. He's averaged just 2.2 targets per game over the last 5 while playing less than 50% of the offensive snaps, so it's not a major loss. Josh Hill should serve as New Orleans' lead TE this weekend, and TE Dan Arnold figures to be active after being a healthy scratch in the Divisional Round.

The Cowboys have fired OC Scott Linehan. Dallas finished better than 14th in total yards or points in just 1 of Linehan's 4 seasons. And the offense took a big step back in 2018, ranking 22nd in both yards and points. We'll see who the 'Boys tab as Linehan's replacement. They have a young core in place with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper.

Chiefs RB Spencer Ware (hamstring) put in a full practice on Thursday. He was limited all last week before sitting out the win over the Colts. But remember that he was a full participant prior to Week 17 and missed that one. We'll see how the Chiefs list Ware on tomorrow's final injury report.

The Broncos have hired Rich Scangarello as OC. He's bounced around to multiple college programs over the past 2 decades and also spent time with the Raiders, Falcons and 49ers. Scangarello worked under Kyle Shanahan in those last 2 stops, which is promising. He's never called plays at the NFL level, though, making this a tough hire to decipher for fantasy purposes.

The Lions have named Darrell Bevell their OC. The run-heavy play-caller fits exactly what HC Matt Patricia wants his offense to do. Bevell has spent 12 seasons as an NFL OC -- 5 in Minnesota, 7 in Seattle -- and had 7 teams finish top 10 in rushing attempts and 7 finish top 10 in rushing yards. Only 3 of Bevell's units ranked inside the top half of the league in passing attempts or yards. His arrival is good news for Kerryon Johnson and troublesome for Matt Stafford, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones.

The Jaguars have named John DeFilippo their new OC. He was a hot name coming from Philadelphia around this time last year but made it just 13 games in Minnesota before getting the ax. DeFilippo's undoing was a pass-heavy approach that didn't mesh with HC Mike Zimmer's philosophy. That approach also makes DeFilippo an awkward fit with a Jaguars team that's built around its running game and defense.

Panthers owner David Tepper admitted Tuesday that he has "no idea" if QB Cam Newton will need surgery on his throwing shoulder. “We all want the same thing: To do everything possible to make it better by next year,” Tepper added. “And hopefully he gets better." ESPN's Adam Schefter caused a stir when he suggested Newton could sit out the 2019 season, but the Charlotte media didn't come away from Tepper's press conference with that feeling. Still, another surgery -- Newton had a a procedure on this throwing shoulder prior to the 2017 campaign -- would muddy his status going forward.

The Vikings have hired Gary Kubiak as an "offensive advisor." He was originally reported to be taking Denver's OC job, but that evidently fell through. It's unclear exactly what Kubiak's role will be alongside OC Kevin Stefanski, but he brings 22 seasons of experience as an NFL HC or OC.

Eagles DE Michael Bennett (foot) is active for today's game against the Saints. He has been playing through "questionable" tags for weeks and is fine for IDP usage. CB Sidney Jones (hamstring) is inactive after entering the day questionable. He wouldn't have been an IDP option anyway. His absence keeps the Philly secondary weakened.

 
 
 

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