NFL Notebook: Newton in, Luck out for Week 1

The Sports Xchange

September 04, 2017 at 5:37 pm.

Andrew Luck will be out for Week 1. Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Luck will be out for Week 1. Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera declared quarterback Cam Newton “ready” for the Sunday’s season opener against the San Francisco 49ers.

Newton, who had surgery on March 30 to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, was limited in training camp. He played only one series — a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive when he completed both of his passes for 21 yards and a TD — during the four preseason games.

“I think he’s ready,” Rivera said. “You wish he’d had a few more snaps and played a little bit earlier in the preseason so we’d have more to go on. But what we saw, we liked. We liked how everything seems to be meshing together as an offense. We’ll see how it goes as we continue to work this week.”

Newton, 28, has been a full participant in practice for the past week as the Panthers prepare for the opener at San Francisco. The 2015 NFL MVP’s injury occurred in the Panthers’ Week 14 game against the San Diego Chargers last season. He played in each of the team’s remaining three games and underwent offseason MRIs to monitor his progress before deciding on surgery.

–Scott Tolzien will start for the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in the regular-season opener against the Rams in Los Angeles.

Andrew Luck, who was on the physically unable to perform list for two months recovering from shoulder surgery, will not be available Week 1. Luck was activated from the PUP list during the weekend.

Tolzien, 30, has played in nine career games in seven NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers Packers and Colts. He completed 23 of 37 passes in three games with the Colts last season after spending the previous three seasons in Green Bay.

Colts owner Jim Irsay said last week that Luck would likely miss the game as he continues to rehab from a shoulder injury that originated in 2015. Luck could play Week 2 for the Colts against the Arizona Cardinals.

–Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell officially signed his $12.12 million franchise tender.

Bell ended his holdout Friday when he reported to the Steelers’ facility after he skipped training camp and all four preseason games in a contract dispute.

The 25-year-old Bell passed his physical on Friday and now prepares for Sunday’s season opener against the Browns at Cleveland. He has recovered from offseason groin surgery.

Bell, the Steelers’ second-round pick in the 2013 draft, has rushed for 4,045 yards, with 26 touchdowns, and has caught 227 passes for 2,005 yards and five touchdowns in four seasons. The Steelers have a two-week roster exemption for Bell, which began Monday.

–The Indianapolis Colts placed tight end Erik Swoope on injured reserve and re-signed tight end Brandon Williams.

Swoope, a former University of Miami basketball player, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during the preseason. The Colts can return the 25-year-old Swoope to the active roster after six weeks under the league’s short-term IR guidelines.

The 6-foot-5, 258-pound Swoope played in 17 career games (four starts) with Indianapolis in the last three seasons and totaled 15 receptions for 297 yards and one touchdown. In 2016, he played in all 16 games (four starts) for the first time in his career and caught 15 passes for 297 yards and one touchdown.

The Colts also signed three players to their practice squad: wide receiver Krishawn Hogan, nose tackle Joey Mbu and offensive tackle Andrew Wylie.

–Though there is no word about a postponement or a rescheduled game, the Miami Dolphins and the NFL are closely monitoring Hurricane Irma in the event a contingency plan must be implemented for their season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

The Dolphins are scheduled to host the Buccaneers on the day when Hurricane Irma would likely reach Florida. As of Monday, Irma is at Category 3 but could reach Category 4 later this week.

A Dolphins spokesman told the Palm Beach Post on Monday there is no statement from the organization other than that management is “closely monitoring the situation.” It is possible the game might be moved to an alternate venue or rescheduled for Thursday or Friday night.

“We’ve been training for this game for a while,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase told reporters at his morning news conference. “Whatever they tell us to do, we’re just going to do. Just go with the flow.”

–Anquan Boldin knows a job with the New England Patriots could have a nice ring to it.

Boldin, 36, is intrigued by the possibility of joining the defending Super Bowl champions, who lost slot receiver Julian Edelman to a season-ending knee injury last month.

For the match-making to become reality, however, Boldin must be released or traded by the Buffalo Bills. Only a few weeks removed from retirement, Boldin walked away from a spot on the Bills’ roster 13 days after signing a one-year deal with New England’s AFC East rival.

Opening the door for the Patriots to add Boldin seems unlikely for Buffalo. Boldin said at the time the decision was “bigger than football” and driven by his desire to make an impact beyond the game. Boldin was known for his charity work, including being recognized as Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.

–The Arizona Cardinals decided on a new punter, signing veteran Andy Lee to a two-year contract after releasing Matt Wile.

The team also placed running back T.J. Logan on injured reserve. He broke his wrist in the team’s first preseason game and could return to the roster when he is recovered from surgery.

Wile won the job during the preseason, but Lee became available to the Cardinals after being released by the Carolina Panthers on Saturday.

The 35-year-old Lee is a three-time Pro Bowl selection (2007, 2009, 2011) and three-time first-team All-Pro (2007, 2011, 2012) who has played 13 years in the NFL with San Francisco (2004-14), Cleveland (2015) and Carolina (2016). He has appeared in 201 games with 1,047 punts for a 46.3-yard average (39.5-yard net average).

–The Cincinnati Bengals placed backup quarterback Jeff Driskel on the injured list.

Driskel, a second-year player, suffered a hand injury in Thursday night’s preseason finale in Indianapolis. He was 2 of 3 for 21 yards in the game.

Driskel, 24, originally was a sixth-round draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers in 2016. He joined the Bengals before Week 1 last season as a waiver acquisition from the 49ers and spent his entire rookie season on the Bengals’ 53-player roster but did not play in a game.

Driskel played in all four of the Bengals’ preseason games this year, completing 14 of 21 passes for 164 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 106.1. Starter Andy Dalton and AJ McCarron are the Bengals’ quarterbacks on the active roster.

–Safety T.J. Ward signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

General manager Jason Licht, having saved $25.5 million in salary cap space for such a transaction, pounced with more than a half dozen other teams interested when Ward was released Friday after three seasons in Denver.

Ward, 30, is a three-time Pro Bowl selection.

What are the Bucs getting in Ward? All he did with the Broncos was go to two more Pro Bowls and play an integral part in their Super Bowl 50 win over the Carolina Panthers by recording seven tackles, a pass defended, a fumble recovery, and an interception.

The Bucs made room for Ward, dealing backup safety J.J. Wilcox to the Steelers in a swap of late-round picks.

–The Denver Broncos officially signed quarterback Brock Osweiler to a one-year contract and placed outside linebacker Shane Ray on injured reserve.

The Broncos expect Ray to be ready to play in the Oct. 30 “Monday Night Game” against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The 6-foot-2, 245-pound Ray, selected by the Broncos in the first round of the 2015 draft, tore a ligament in his left wrist two days into training camp. The 24-year-old Ray, who finished with eight sacks and 48 tackles last season, underwent surgery in late July.

Ray’s move to IR opened a roster spot for Osweiler, who passed his physical Monday morning. Osweiler, 26, spent the first four years of his NFL career with the Broncos before he signed with Houston as a free agent and then was shipped off to Cleveland this season after one unsuccessful season with the Texans. He was waived by the Browns and agreed to the Broncos deal on Saturday.