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WR Jerricho Cotchery - Carolina Panthers

6-0, 207Born: 6-16-1982College: North Carolina StateDrafted: Round 4

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Week 21: at Denver Broncos

All WR vs DEN

Mark and Joe say: Neutral matchup. Cam Newton didn't have to throw the ball much against the Seahawks, as Jonathan Stewart and the defense staked him to a 21-0 lead by early in the second quarter that Sunday. Newton did eventually hit Greg Olsen (six targets for 6/77/1 during the entire game) for a 19-yard TD, and the Panthers went into halftime with 31 points - the same total that they won the game with at the end (31-24). All told, Newton threw 16/22 for 161 yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions two contests ago. Then, Newton accounted for four TDs against the Cardinals during the Panthers 49-15 Conference Championship victory, throwing 19/28 for 335 yards passing, two TDs and one interception thrown, with 10/47/2 rushing to his credit. Corey Brown (seven targets for 4/113/1 receiving) and Olsen (eight for 6/113/0) both went over 100 yards receiving during the game, with big assists thrown in by Devin Funchess (three for 2/21/1) and Ted Ginn Jr. (two for 2/52/0). The Panthers' passing attack is on a roll entering this Super Bowl, and they finished their victory against the Cardinals emphatically, which the team had stated was their goal after allowing Seattle to get back in the contest during the Divisional Round of the playoffs. As an aside - Newton has a 105.6 passer rating and has posted a 39:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the red zone since 2014. He's thrown 26 red zone touchdowns this season without a single interception, according to As of Tuesday, February 2, the Broncos expected free safety Darian Stewart (MCL sprain) and strong safety T.J. Ward (nagging ankle injury) to be ready for Super Bowl 50. They were both expected to practice on Wednesday, February 3. However, Ward has tweaked his ankle injury multiple times and has been sidelined at times after the aggravations, so it is dicey that he is able to finish this game even if he starts it. On January 30, after missing the bye week of practices, Ward stated: 'Anytime you get an opportunity to play in this game, and you can run a little bit, I'm guaranteeing you're going to be out there.' Ward said. Stewart affirmed Ward's sentiment. 'Without a doubt in my mind, I'm playing.' Right cornerback Chris Harris (shoulder injury) is considered probable to play, so the Broncos will at least begin the contest with their starting secondary. If Denver is going to stand up to Carolina, they'll need Ward and Stewart to play through pain and stay on the field Sunday. The Broncos come into this game with the NFL's top-ranked pass defense during regular season, averaging just 199.6 net passing yards allowed per game, with 52 sacks generated (first in the NFL), while allowing 19 passing scores vs. 14 interceptions (tied for 13th in the NFL). However, they have given up a surprising average of 301.5 net passing yards per game during the postseason, worst among teams in the playoffs, with one passing score and two interceptions surrendered so far - they've recorded seven sacks, third-most among the 12 playoff teams. Pittsburgh racked up yards in the Divisional Round (24/37 for 311 net yards passing), but didn't manage to throw for a single TD (zero TDs or interceptions thrown at Denver). Tom Brady attempted a whopping 56 passes at Denver two weeks ago (27/56 for 292 net yards passing, one TD and two interceptions thrown with four sacks taken for -18 yards) but watched his team lose 18-20 due to a missed two-point conversion. The Denver pass D isn't at the top of their collective game entering Super Bowl 50. Newton is hot, while the Broncos' pass defense hasn't been impressive of late, but dominated during regular season - this looks like a neutral matchup to us.

Recent Stats and Projections

17 vs TB 32 0 0 0 2 2 52 1 0 11.2
19 vs SEA 0 0 0 0 4 3 22 0 0 2.2
20 vs ARI 0 0 0 0 2 2 17 0 0 1.7
21 at DEN 0 0 0 0 5 2 17 0 0 1.7
21 at DEN PROJ-Dodds * 0 * * 2 * * * *
21 at DEN PROJ-Tremblay * 0 * * 2 * * * *
21 at DEN PROJ-Bloom * 0 * * 3 * * * *

Recent Game Summaries

2015 Week 19 vs SEA (4 / 3 / 22 / 0 rec)

Jerricho Cotchery was a safe pair of hands for Cam Newton to look for against the Seahawks, with the veteran consistently finding the vacated spots in the zone defense. Cotchery was met quickly by hot-headed Seattle defenders on each of his catches and had to absorb some vicious hits, but he held on to the football and kept the offense on schedule.

2015 Week 17 vs TB (2 / 2 / 52 / 1 rec)

It was a reasonably quiet outing for Jerricho Cotchery, who got the offense going with a 20-yard WR screen catch and run on their opening drive. Cotchery was the recipient of a beautifully placed touchdown pass from Cam Newton after he got on top of the Tampa Bay defensive backs. The ball was thrown to the back line of the end zone, but such was the placement Cotchery needed only to reach his hands up.

2015 Week 16 vs ATL (5 / 4 / 24 / 0 rec, 1 / 16 / 0 rush)

Jerricho Cotchery assumed the primary receiver role in the Panthers' zone read attack against Atlanta, catching a quick pitch out in the flat for a nice run and hauling in two passes from the same look. Cam Newton would fake the ball to the back inside, read the backside defender and either keep it himself or quickly toss out to Cotchery. The veteran receiver, like the rest of the offense, failed to get the wheels turning enough to threaten Atlanta. A lack of opportunities really affected the rhythm of the Carolina offense, and Cotchery suffered as a result.

2015 Week 15 vs NYG (6 / 4 / 47 / 0 rec)

Once again not making the 'splash' plays, Jerricho Cotchery nonetheless made some excellent plays to keep the chains moving. He made an outstanding adjustment to a poorly thrown pass from Cam Newton on the sideline, pirouetting to catch it as he ran upfield. Cotchery showed his veteran savvy on a scramble drill by his quarterback, staying alive for a quick pass on the sideline past the sticks. He and Newton connected well in the two-minute drill, linking up on two quick-hitting passes.

2015 Week 14 vs ATL (2 / 2 / 10 / 0 rec)

Jerricho Cotchery scooped a low pass for an impressive catch, his only one of the game. However, he saw plenty of action in a rotational role as a blocker and sealed well for a couple of Jonathan Stewart carries. Overall, it was a day when the Panthers offense could afford to take their foot off the gas, limiting Cotchery's opportunities.

2015 Week 13 vs NO (3 / 3 / 26 / 1 rec)

In the clutch moments of the game, Cam Newton looked to his reliable pair of hands in Jerricho Cotchery. The veteran produced a tough run-after-catch play in the red zone to set up his subsequent touchdown grab for the go-ahead score. He ran an excellent route on the play, committing the defensive back outside with a nod to the corner before bringing it back to the post. The pass was perfect and allowed Cotchery to attack it, secure it and go down.

2015 Week 12 vs DAL (6 / 5 / 73 / 0 rec)

If Greg Olsen is covered, Cam Newton invariably looks the direction of wise head Jerricho Cotchery on third down. The key chain-mover in this game on two third-and-long situations, Cotchery has the complete trust of his quarterback. Newton found Cotchery on a deep crossing pattern for a first down, benefiting from excellent pass protection, but the route from Cotchery showed good patience and feel for his surroundings. A shallow crossing route that resulted in another first down after a nifty catch and run was nullified by penalty, but Cotchery came back with another huge third down conversion. On the play, the veteran ran a post corner pattern, fooling the defensive back and allowing Cotchery to run into a wide open space on the right sideline. Newton located him and fired the ball in with accuracy. Cotchery was unlucky not to finish his day with a touchdown, catching a low pass at the 1-yard line.

2015 Week 11 vs WAS (6 / 4 / 57 / 0 rec)

Jerricho Cotchery showed excellent toughness on a quick pass down the seam in the early stages, absorbing a blow but managing to hang on to the ball. His route was excellent on the play, initially stabbing outside the defensive back before coming back inside and presenting a big target for Cam Newton. Cotchery was mainly involved in the short to intermediate passing attack, but he broke free on a deep post pattern late in the game that Newton simply missed him on.

2015 Week 10 vs TEN (3 / 2 / 6 / 0 rec)

Marginalized in a game the Panthers controlled for the most part, Jerricho Cotchery caught a pair of short passes, one of which helped the team get into range for an important field goal. Cotchery was targeted deep with the offense facing a blitz, but the timing appeared to be off and he never turned around to look for the football.

2015 Week 9 vs GB (6 / 3 / 82 / 0 rec)

It turned into a positive day for veteran receiver, but it could have been better. He and Cam Newton failed to connect on a pair of inside-breaking routes, with Newton throwing the football too far behind Cotchery. Later, Cotchery got open in the red zone on a quick out. The pass from Newton was too high and wide and what could have been a simple touchdown turned into a missed opportunity. Cotchery hauled in a 59-yard catch on third down early in the game. Running a dig pattern, he took advantage of the fact the single-high safety was far too deep, finding a soft spot in the zone. Newton found him and Cotchery did the rest, crossing the field and producing the big gain. Cotchery will remain a key cog in this passing attack.

2015 Week 8 vs IND (3 / 2 / 18 / 0 rec)

The veteran made only two catches all game, but both proved to be important. Cam Newton tends to look to his most experienced receiver when the chips are down, and Cotchery did not disappoint. The former Steeler boxed out his defensive back well on a quick slant in the first quarter for a 13-yard gain and a first down, allowing the Panthers to continue a drive that would put them up 10-0 early. However, it was Cotchery's second catch that proved vital. Facing 3rd-and-10 inside the Indianapolis 40 in overtime, Cotchery ran a quick out from a bunch set and secured a Newton bullet pass for a crucial five-yard gain that set up the winning field goal.

2015 Week 7 vs PHI (1 / 1 / 13 / 0 rec)

Although he did not make a big dent in the box score, Jerricho Cotchery once again played his part as a blocker, helping to spring Ted Ginn Jr. on a 15-yard WR screen. Cotchery followed that play up with a couple of nice, safe catches over the middle that he turned into first downs.

2015 Week 6 vs SEA (4 / 2 / 21 / 0 rec)

The return of the veteran Jerricho Cotchery from injury could not have come at a better time for the Panthers - and particularly Cam Newton. On the final drive that led to the go-ahead score, Newton found Cotchery on a dig route on a key third down, with Cotchery managing to snag it with one hand despite a cornerback being draped all over him. Cotchery managed to haul in a contested catch on a quick slant, but the Panthers did not have him play the majority of snaps as they continued to rotate receivers in and out.

2015 Week 2 vs HOU (1 / 1 / 11 / 0 rec)

The veteran picked up a leg injury while blocking on a screen pass, but managed to return to the game seemingly with no lingering pain. His usage down the stretch in the game waned, indicating the coaching staff perhaps did not want to risk further injury. Cotchery made only one catch on a quick flip to the sideline off a zone read look. He should remain the second option in this muddled passing attack behind Greg Olsen.

2015 Week 1 vs JAX (6 / 4 / 45 / 1 rec)

The old head among the wide receivers showed why he could prove to be an underrated asset for the Panthers this season. Showing savvy with his routes, timing with his quarterback and a willingness to fight for yardage, Cotchery was a thorn in the side of the Jaguars' defense. When the Panthers got into the red zone, Cotchery was the first player targeted on a quick slant; however, Cam Newton's pass was placed a yard too far inside for Cotchery to snag it. The veteran showed excellent awareness on a Newton scramble in the third quarter, settling down in a spot devoid of Jaguars and providing an easy outlet for his quarterback. Cotchery eventually made up for the missed red zone opportunity by reeling in the Panthers' lone touchdown pass of the game. Lined up as the Z to the right of the formation, Cotchery allowed Greg Olsen in the slot to his left to run off the coverage, then ran underneath Olsen's route on a skinny post. Newton found him with a laser pass that left no doubt. A final flourish came for Cotchery on a crucial 3rd and 10 as the Panthers were backed up inside their 20-yard line. The veteran made a catch short of the sticks, but showed a terrific second effort and burst of strength to convert.


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