VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Betting Tools

Panthers will rely on undrafted rookie S Lester

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Panthers safety Robert Lester said he isn't angry at the teams that passed him over in the NFL draft.

He is anxious to show them he belongs in the league.

Lester will get that opportunity Sunday when he makes his professional starting debut against Eli Manning and the Giants.

Lester, who started 40 games at Alabama and helped the Crimson Tide to three BCS national championships, went undrafted in April and signed a free agent contract with Carolina. He didn't make the final cut, but Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the team signed him to the practice squad following a strong final preseason game ``just in case.''

As Rivera said Friday, ``low and behold, just in case is week three.''

Rivera promoted Lester from the practice squad on Tuesday and, with veterans Charles Godrey and Quintin Mikell ruled out with injuries, named him the starter on Thursday.

``I'm not paying a lot of attention to not getting drafted,'' Lester said. ``The main thing that is bothering me is I want to go out there and prove that I can play football and that I belong in this league. I'm a competitor and when somebody says you can't do something I want to prove them otherwise.''

The knock on Lester coming out of Alabama was his lack of speed and his lack of athletic ability in coverage.

Rivera said that's not something that bothered the Panthers.

``People talked about his speed, his speed, his speed or lack thereof, but it was never something we were very concerned with,'' Rivera said. ``We don't see that as a major issue. It's something that's there, but we're not going to put him in position to cover Victor Cruz one-on-one.''

But Manning will certainly test him.

The two-time Super Bowl champion has already thrown for more than 800 yards in two games, although the Giants have turned the ball over 10 times and, like the Panthers, are 0-2 on the season.

Lester believes playing four years in the Southeastern Conference has prepared him well for the NFL - and he'll be better off than some people think moving forward.

``It wasn't a hard transition for me coming from the SEC,'' Lester said. ``I don't think the speed of the game got too much faster. But there is a lot of talent here. In college you can afford to take a play or two off, but if you do that at this level it's a game changer.''

Said Rivera: `He's a smart kid and he understands concepts. He comes from a very good program. Alabama's defensive backs are well coached.''

Lester won't be the only new starter in the Panthers secondary this week.

The team announced late Friday that starting cornerback Josh Thomas will not play due to a concussion. Thomas had been listed as questionable on the initial injury report Friday but was ruled out after meeting with independent doctors later in the day.

Thomas suffered the concussion in Carolina's 24-23 loss to Buffalo on Sunday. He had been practicing with the team this week on a limited basis and said he expected to be cleared.

Rivera said either Josh Norman or Drayton Florence will start in his place.

NOTES: Along with Thomas, the Panthers have ruled out RB Kenjon Barner (foot), CB D.J. Moore (knee) and Mikell (ankle) for Sunday. ... DT Dwan Edwards (thigh) and CB James Dockery (thigh) are questionable.


AP NFL website


Follow Steve Reed on Twitter:

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

· BetDSI: Handicapping L.A. Rams (9)
· BetDSI: NFC South Odds Outlook
· Future Bets - AFC East
· BetDSI: NFC North Odds Outlook
· Nelson: NFC Schedule Analysis
· Nelson: AFC Schedule Analysis
· Another Patriot Pinched
· Future Bets - NFC South
· BetDSI: Handicapping Atlanta (9.5)
Why Buy Picks From
NFL Pro Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records Gold Membership
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Pat Hawkins + 2145
Gary Bart + 1530
Paul Bovi + 1386
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
No Games Last Week  
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Zack Cimini 62 %
Pat Hawkins 59 %
Michael Black 58 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Michael Black + 1557
Scott Rickenbach + 1469
Paul Bovi + 987
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
NeiltheGreek + 668
Stephen Nover + 563
Vince Akins + 532
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bill Marzano + 531
Jimmy Boyd + 420
Dave Cokin + 400
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, SAVE 10% off a Live Odds Pro subscription, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership