Will Ian Thomas take over the primary tight end job in Carolina? With Greg Olsen expected back, that seems hard to imagine. However, we can't deny Thomas' talents after he finished with 20 catches (27 targets), 200 yards and two touchdowns in his final four games. Because Olsen figures to play a bunch, Thomas will likely slide into the final rounds on Draft Day. You could take him then and hope things go his way, but the likelihood of him splitting targets with Olsen keep the upside very limited.
Thomas (leg) was limited to rehab work during mandatory minicamp, Joe Person of The Athletic reports. Thomas rode a stationary bike on the sideline while watching his teammates practice. There hasn't been any suggestion of a serious injury, with coach Ron Rivera saying he's hopeful the second-year pro will be ready for training camp. Thomas averaged four catches for 36.7 yards on six targets in six starts last season, typically handling a three-down role when Greg Olsen wasn't available. The 34-year-old is healthy and now has clearance for all football activities, but his recent history of foot injuries hints that Thomas may be needed this season.
Thomas (leg) was limited to side work Tuesday at OTAs, Max Henson of the Panthers' official site reports. Despite bringing his helmet out to the field, Thomas still isn't ready to practice with teammates, nursing a leg injury that doesn't appear serious. The 2018 fourth-round pick will enter training camp second on the depth chart, but Greg Olsen's recent injury history suggests Thomas has a decent shot to make starts before the end of the season. He started six games as a rookie, averaging four catches for 37 yards on six targets (with one touchdown) in those contests.
Thomas worked out off the side during Wednesday's OTA session while recovering from a sore leg, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Charlotte Observer reports. The injury doesn't appear to be a serious one for the tight end, who was taking part in elliptical work and didn't require a brace or boot. With the season still months away, it's not surprising that the Panthers are taking a cautious approach with Thomas. The Indiana product caught 25 of 32 targets for 246 yards and two scores over the Panthers' final five games in 2018, but he'll have a tough time replicating those results with Greg Olsen (foot) back healthy again.
Thomas finished the 2018 season with 36 catches on 49 targets for 333 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games. The crests and troughs in Thomas' production were directly linked to the availability (or lack thereof) of top tight end Greg Olsen (foot), who was sidelined for seven games during the season. In Olsen's stead, Thomas capitalized on his increased opportunities, particularly in the final quarter of his rookie campaign. During the last four weeks, the fourth-round pick hauled in 20 of 27 targets for 200 yards and two touchdowns, topping 60 yards in two of those outings. While Olsen is expected to return in 2019, Thomas' strong finish not only makes him an attractive insurance policy but someone who should continue to garner more looks in two-tight end formations.
Thomas caught four of five targets for 48 yards and a touchdown during Sunday's 24-10 loss to the Falcons Thomas got off to a promising start by capping off the opening drive of the game with a one-yard touchdowns catch, which was the first of his career. He also finished third on the team in receiving yardage while posting his second-best total of the season in that category, though his contribution was still rather modest. Thomas appears to already have a rapport with Taylor Heinicke, but he's far from a lock to put on a repeat performance in next Sunday's season finale against the Saints.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/08||Los Angeles Rams||23||7.89|
|2||09/13||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||22||7.88|
|6||10/13||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||22||7.88|
|8||10/27||@San Francisco 49ers||4||4.75|
|10||11/10||@Green Bay Packers||8||5.50|
|12||11/24||@New Orleans Saints||14||6.22|
|17||12/29||New Orleans Saints||14||6.22|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||49||36||333||2||20||9.25||45|