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.
Thomas caught two of four targets for 14 yards in Monday night's 12-9 loss to the Saints. Thomas trailed only Christian McCaffrey in looks from Cam Newton, but considering the quarterback threw for a season-low 131 yards, there wasn't much production to go around. That unfortunately brought Thomas back to earth following a career-best nine catches for 77 yards the week prior. While he'll aim for improvement in Week 16 versus the Falcons, the health of Newton's shoulder could be important to monitor when setting expectations of Thomas. On the bright side, without Greg Olsen (foot) available anymore, the rookie remains Carolina's top option at tight end.
Thomas caught nine of 11 targets for 77 yards in Sunday's 26-20 loss to the Browns. Thomas struggled earlier this season when Greg Olsen was out with a foot injury, but the rookie tight end looked much more comfortable taking over as the starter this time around. He led the Panthers in targets and catches while coming up only three receiving yards short of Curtis Samuel's team-leading total. With Olsen on injured reserve, Thomas will be a popular waiver wire add ahead of a Week 15 matchup with a Saints team that just gave up two touchdowns to Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate.
Thomas is primed for a key role at tight end for the rest of the season after the Panthers placed teammate Greg Olsen (foot) on injured reserve Wednesday, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Charlotte Observer reports. Thomas was unable to capitalize on Olsen's absence the first time around, catching eight of 14 targets for 68 yards over a three-game span while averaging 54.7 snaps per contest. However, the rookie fourth-round pick looked much better in Sunday's 24-17 loss to Tampa Bay, catching each of his five targets for 46 yards after hauling in just one pass over the previous seven weeks. Thomas will kick off his second run in the starting role with a favorable Week 14 matchup at Cleveland, facing a defense that has given up the most catches (75) and targets (111) to tight ends, albeit with a mark of just 6.5 yards per target.
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