Grill Bill: An extra captain


That pic is courtesy of team photographer Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez. But Twitter's going to do what Twitter does. 

Anyway, few know the NFL has – ahem – a cap on captains. Even fewer know there's somewhat of a loophole. 

Most familiar with the idea of any sort of limit assume it's six because that's the most teams can send out for the opening coin toss. But a close read of Rule 18 of the league's rulebook reveals there's no limit on how many guys can wear the 'C' patch. The Panthers obviously read that part closely because against the Jets, they sent six out – Cam Newton, Julius Peppers, Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Ryan Kalil and Greg Olsen – while Kurt Coleman also had a patch. 

Early season injuries to Olsen, Kalil and Coleman opened the door for Ron Rivera to start sending Peppers out for the toss. But when Kalil and Olsen returned Sunday, that created a logjam. The solution? Coleman, who was voted a first-time captain this season, graciously ceded his midfield walk to a future Hall of Famer. 

As the wise Jonathan Jones detailed in Sports Illustrated earlier this month, that offensive line deserves accolades. But it's tough to not give even more credit to the Saints' mix of talent at skills positions. 

Michael Thomas is a good-sized receiver, former friend Ted Ginn, Jr. provides speed and the tight ends are active. As far as the backs go, this isn't a perfect analogy, but the running back tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara is this year's version of 2016's Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman in Atlanta. It's a pick-your-poison deal because even if you manage to shut them down, you still have to deal with some guy named Drew Brees. 

C'mon, man. 

Listen, as hopefully anyone who reads this space knows, I'm not a cheerleader. I'm also not big on predictions or one-week proclamations.

Perhaps the Saints will again have the Panthers' number, but your team has won four straight games. That's not by accident. 

There is such a thing as a stupid question, but this isn't one of them, especially because you're not far off. 

Star Lotulelei played 33 snaps against the Jets, only four more than Vernon Butler. Those 29 plays were a season-high for the 2016 first-round pick, and the four-snap differential was the closest he's ever come to matching Lotulelei's playing time. Of the 18 previous games those two had played, the average snap differential was nearly 20 plays. 

He hasn't turned it yet, but he's at least rounding the bend. Coaches feel he's doing a better job using his hands to create more of an inside push, which probably goes hand-in-hand with the increase in playing time.

Bear with me here because this is going to sound strange. My favorite spot is where I can get my favorite burger. 

Crazy, dumb, etc., right? You can't swing a cat without hitting a great restaurant in New Orleans and who gets a burger there? That's exactly how I felt when a buddy suggested Port of Call a few years ago. They have just two things on the menu – burger and steak. Each comes with a baked potato, and the burger gets a heap of shredded cheese on top. It's simple but fantastic.

Seriously, there's something special about this hole-in-the-wall on Esplanade and I can't make the trip without stopping by. 

Please refer to section 6 of last week's column.

Sure, he got two roughing the passer calls against the Jets, but those were the first since last year's game in Oakland. And that was the first since 2014. So I don't think there's been a big shift. 

The league tested an eighth official during the preseason in 2015 and 2016, but that idea seemed to fade away even though it made so much sense. The head ref is responsible for watching the offensive line for holding before turning his attention to the quarterback when a defender closes in. That's a lot of pressure for someone with just two eyes. 

I don't think so, but that's not a reflection on Armah, who coaches remain high on. 

For right now, Manhertz is a better fit in 12 personnel, and the Panthers often use that combo of one running back, two tight ends and two wideouts. Plus, Ed Dickson's ability to block out of the backfield gives the Panthers less of a reason to use a more traditional fullback. 

Yes – with mustard. Good news is that makes me much younger than what I had feared my upcoming birthday would mean: 

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