INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 27: Brandon LaFell #11 of the Carolina Panthers runs with the ball during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera announced today that WR Brandon laFell would get the start across from Steve Smith this weekend against the Bucs.
Coach Ron Rivera said Thursday that "as of now," Brandon LaFell will start ahead of Legedu Naanee this week. Rivera's phrasing suggests there's no official changing of the guard even with Naanee (Achilles) practicing this week. LaFell is a borderline WR3 option against the Bucs this week. If he plays well, LaFell could convince Rivera to make the change permanent.
I acknowledge that the announcement has more to do with Naannee's achilles injury than anything else but I see it as the opportunity we have been anticipating. Rivera does like Naanee and his ability to block down field with his size. I don;t think Lafell represents a drop off in that regard. I think that after 11 games LaFell might finally be getting out of the proverbial doghouse, provided he truly was there to begin with.
So what would you want to see from LaFell to warrant permanent #2 WR status? I'm thinking 6 receptions (3 being 3rd down conversions) for 80 yards and a TD. Hmmmm...sounds like a fantasy sleeper...but that's a whole other post.
Hat tip to Jake Humphrey for being the first to post this via fanshot.