Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
If you were in Cincinnati on Thursday, then you probably saw what it was like for an entire city to hold its breath at the same time because that's exactly what happened after Joe Burrow went down at training camp. My entire family lives in Cincinnati, and they have already gotten in line to offer their calf muscle to Burrow, but apparently, so has everyone else in the city, which forced the response below from the Bengals on Twitter.
"Everyone, please stop calling and offering us your calf muscles... it doesn't work like that!"
OK, that's good to know.
Anyway, we'll be going over the details of Burrow's injury today, plus we'll be taking a look at the timeline for Jalen Ramsey's return.
As always, here's your daily reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. To get them signed up, all you have to do is click here. Let's get to the rundown.
1. Today's show: Breaking down the Panthers' offseason and predicting how they'll do in 2023
It's time for another episode of our "All 32" series, where we've apparently been celebrating the NFC South all week by covering every team in the division. Today, we'll be closing out the division by taking a look at the Carolina Panthers.
To talk about how things are going in Charlotte, we brought on Darin Gantt, who has been covering the NFL longer than most people have been alive. Gantt currently works as a writer for the team's official website, so he has had a front-row seat of everything that's happening with the Panthers this offseason.
- Will Bryce Young be able to carry the Panthers? When it comes to the Panthers this season, the team's success is going to hinge on Bryce Young. Although things are never easy for a rookie quarterback in the NFL, Gantt says the Panthers have done their best to set him up for success by taking advantage of his strengths. "He's good at distributing, he's good at making quick decisions, he's good at improvising, going off-script with things," Gantt said. "So what they did is insulate him with a lot of those 'safe targets.'" Gantt pointed to players like Adam Thielen and Hayden Hurst, who could quickly become some of Young's favorite weapons. "I think it was intentional to put those kind of parts around Bryce to allow him to make those quick, easy throws."
- Can the Panthers win the division? The NFC South is arguably the most unpredictable division heading into the 2023 season, and Gantt thinks all four teams have a legitimate chance to win it. "Do I think that anyone is going to run away with this division? Of course not," Gantt said. "Do I think it's possible for someone to win this division at 9-8? Absolutely. That just seems to be what happens here." Due to that fact, Gantt doesn't see any reason why the Panthers can't be the team that takes home the division title. "If it's got to be someone winning nine games and winning this division, it's as reasonable to think it's Carolina as anyone else," Gantt said.
Gantt spent nearly 25 minutes talking about the Panthers, and if you want to hear everything he had to say, you can listen to today's show here. You can also watch today's show on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Training camp injuries pile up: Recovery timelines for Jalen Ramsey and Joe Burrow
The Bengals got a big scare Thursday when Joe Burrow went down with a right leg injury during practice. Burrow appears to have avoided a serious injury, but the same can't be said for Jalen Ramsey, who also went down with .
Here are the latest details on each injury:
- Ramsey got tangled up with Tyreek Hill. The Dolphins almost got hit with a double whammy at Thursday's practice. Ramsey got hurt after colliding with Hill, and after the collision, both players went to the ground, according to ESPN. Although Hill returned to practice, Ramsey had to be carted back to the locker room.
- Ramsey could end up missing some serious time. The six-time Pro Bowler is dealing with a meniscus injury, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Josina Anderson. At the minimum, Ramsey is expected to miss 6 to 8 weeks, but if he has to undergo a full meniscus repair, then he could be out until December, according to NFL Media. Based on those two timelines, that means Ramsey could theoretically miss anywhere between zero games and 12 games.
- Burrow got injured on a non-contact play. One reason Burrow's injury was so scary was because it came on a non-contact play. The Bengals QB left the pocket while running a practice play and came up limping after taking about two steps (you can see the video of the injury here). One interesting note about Burrow is that he was wearing a compression sleeve on his calf Thursday, which he did NOT wear the day before, which could mean he was already experiencing some discomfort with the calf going into Thursday's practice.
- Burrow dealing with a calf strain. It's not clear how much practice time Burrow will miss, but the good news for the Bengals is that it looks like things are already getting back to normal for him. According to Pro Football Network, it was business as usual for Burrow after practice. He attended his normal meetings and left the facility with the rest of the team. Burrow almost certainly won't play in any preseason games, but he should be back on the practice field sooner rather than later. The Bengals Twitter account has already promised that "Joey will be back," and it likely wouldn't be tweeting about his injury like that if it was anything even remotely serious.
For a closer look at Burrow's injury, be.
3. Five players who need to have a big training camp
Training camp is important for every NFL player, but for some, it's slightly more important than others. For instance, Patrick Mahomes doesn't have to worry about losing his roster spot, but for many players on the bubble, training camp is where you have to prove you belong. It's also a chance for aging veterans to prove they can still play.
With that in mind, Chris Trapasso took a look at five players who need to have a big training camp, and we're going to cover three of them here:
- Saints WR Michael Thomas. "Since setting the NFL's single-season receptions record in 2019, the receiver has only played in 10 out of the Saints' 50 most recent regular-season contests since then. Without an 'I'm Back' type declaration in camp, Thomas may suddenly be in a place unimaginable for him even two years ago -- near the bottom of the Saints' target pecking order."
- Jets OL Connor McGovern. "McGovern inked a one-year, $1.9 million deal with Gang Green to stay with the team in 2023 after a strong 2022 at center. ... There's an elephant in the room, though. The Jets spent an early second-round pick on Wisconsin center Joe Tippmann, who could take McGovern's spot."
- Steelers WR Allen Robinson. "Robinson was the marquee offensive signing for the Rams a year ago. Then he, much like the entire 2023 Rams season, fell flat. Robinson set career lows in catches (33) and receiving yards (339) last season, and he turns 30 in August. Because the Steelers traded for Robinson in March, he's unlikely to be cut if his downward spiral continues. However, count on the receiver competition in Latrobe to be fierce. With a mediocre summer, Robinson may be fourth or fifth in line for targets in Year 2 of the Kenny Pickett era."
If you want to see the other players who made the list, then be.
4. Ranking the divisions by quarterbacks: AFC North edges out AFC West
Since everyone mostly agrees that Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL, we decided we needed to make a QB list that everyone DOESN'T mostly agree on -- and that's where Cody Benjamin comes in. Cody decided to rank every division in the NFL based solely on who has the best overall quarterback play. Yes, Mahomes is the best QB, but does that mean the AFC West as the most QB talent overall?
The answer to that question is no, at least according to Cody. Let's check out the top-two teams and the bottom-two teams in his rankings:
1. AFC North (Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson Deshaun Watson, Kenny Pickett). "While the AFC West has the edge up top, with Mahomes and Herbert arguably both offering top-five stuff at the position, the North may have a bit more collective upside."
2. AFC West (Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Jimmy Garoppolo, Russell Wilson). "There's a case to be made that Mahomes by himself makes this division a worthwhile candidate to lead the list. There's simply no one more comparable to a real-life cheat code."
8. NFC South (Derek Carr, Bryce Young, Desmond Ridder, Baker Mayfield). "It's fitting the Saints play in the South, because this division could use your prayers. Carr is a likable leader with a gutsy, relatively stable nine-year track record, and he may be motivated by the fresh scenery. But even his best stretches have never translated to late-season or playoff results."
If you want to know how Cody's entire ranking of all eight divisions ended up shaking out,.
5. Hall of Fame semifinalist list trimmed down to 12 seniors candidates and 12 coaches/contributors
The Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2023 hasn't even been inducted yet, but that didn't keep the Hall from announcing a few semifinalists for the class of 2024.
Two weeks ago, the Hall of Fame released a list of 60 semifinalists from the seniors and coaches/contributors categories. That list has now been whittled down to just 24 names with 12 coming from the seniors category and 12 coming from the coaches/contributors category.
Here's a look at 12 semifinalists from the seniors category, which includes players who played their final season prior to 1999:
- QB Ken Anderson
- LB Maxie Baughan
- RB Roger Craig
- LB Randy Gradishar
- OT Joe Jacoby
- DB Albert Lewis
- DT Steve McMichael
- CB Eddie Meador
- WR Sterling Sharpe
- WR Art Powell
- WR Otis Taylor
- OT/DT Al Wistert
Now, here's a look at the 12 semifinalists from the coaches/contributors category.
- Tom Coughlin
- Robert Kraft
- Dan Reeves
- Frank Kilroy
- Buddy Parker
- Clark Shaugnessy
- Mike Holmgren
- Lloyd Wells
- Art Rooney Jr.
- Marty Schottenheimer
- Mike Shanahan
- John Wooten
Out of these 24 semifinalists, four of them could go on to be finalists. There will be one finalist from the coaches/contributors category and that person will be named on Aug. 15. As for the seniors category, there could be up to three finalists named and we'll find out how many there will be on Aug. 22.
After the finalists are named, they'll find out whether they got in at NFL Honors ceremony, which will air in February, a few days before Super Bowl LVIII on CBS.
6. Extra points: Dalvin Cook sounds like he plans on playing for the Jets
It's been a busy 24 hours in the NFL, and since it's nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.
- Don't be surprised if Dalvin Cook signs with the Jets. We told you yesterday that Dalvin would be visiting the Jets this weekend, and now, don't be surprised if he ends up signing. During a visit to "Good Morning Football" on Friday, Cook was asked what the chances were that he would sign with the Jets and his answer was telling, "I think they're pretty high, man."
- Brock Purdy says his arm feels great. Just three months ago, there was concern about whether Purdy would , but that concern has now been thrown out the window. Not only is the 49ers QB participating at training camp, but he says his arm "feels great."
- Jets lineman fires back at Sean Payton. The Jets clearly aren't happy about Broncos coach ripped Nathaniel Hackett this week and Jets offensive lineman Billy Turner has responded by calling Payton a "f---ing bum." If you want to see the actual word he used, you can see that here. . The
- Dak Prescott to the Cowboys: Please pay Zack Martin. With Zack Martin holding out of training camp over his contract, Dak Prescott had a simple message for the Cowboys on Thursday about his starting offensive lineman: "Pay the man." It's easy to see why Dak wants Martin on the field. The offensive guard is an eight-time Pro Bowler who serves as a key piece on the Cowboys offensive line.