Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 9:45pm
Darren Sproles could not contain his smile. He did not want to reveal what Eagles coach Chip Kelly has planned for him in the offense this season. He would only admit that his preseason totals of nine carries and three catches were not even a glimpse of what's to come when the Eagles open the season Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"We haven't shown anything yet," Sproles said.
Teammates volunteer praise for Sproles. The 31-year-old veteran is a diligent worker who fits in the Eagles' locker room culture. But when asked how Sproles would be used, those teammates became similarly mum.
"Y'all just need to wait and see," quarterback Nick Foles said.
Sproles would only say that Eagles fans would like what's to come. The story went on to say the Eagles are committed to using him in the running game, which Sproles has said is one different way he expects to be used. The LeSean McCoy-Sproles package is also going to be a wrinkle. The Eagles want to create mismatches for Sproles with linebackers, so where they align him and move him before the snap will be involve the intricacies that the team has kept veiled so far.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 8:44pm
This 2014 Jets receiving corps has a chance to dramatically change the script, possibly even become a strength instead of the liability the position has been. This season could represent a new beginning of sorts for their receiving corps.
That improvement has come first through subtraction and then by addition. The Jets no longer have Santonio Holmes poisoning their locker room with his selfish, sulking behavior. They, too, rid themselves of 2012 second-round draft pick Stephen Hill and his unfulfilled potential.
The Jets go forward with Eric Decker, their prized offseason free-agent acquisition ($36.25 million over five years with $15 million guaranteed), Jeremy Kerley in his fourth season with the team and dependable veteran David Nelson, who should benefit from a year in offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s system and a full offseason with the team.
From a fantasy standpoint, there isn't a ton of excitement. Decker comes into this week as a pretty solid WR2 ranked 16th in a good matchup against the Raiders. But Decker will now see team's top corners, something he probably didn't last year in Denver. It will still come down to how QB Geno Smith progresses this season and if he can keep from turning the ball over.
More significant in regard to the season opener is how the Steelers will use RBs LeVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount Sunday against the visiting Browns. Tomlin has said that both Bell and Blount will share the workload at running back.
But at his weekly news conference Tomlin said he does not necessarily see Bell having to accept a reduced role after averaging just over 20 touches per game last season.
When asked if he could see Bell getting 20 to 25 touches a game this season, Tomlin said, “I think we drafted him with that in mind.”
Of course the Steelers drafted Bell before they added Blount, who may be the most talented runner on the roster, and the ultra-fast Archer this offseason. The backfield is a little more crowded this season.
This is probably going to come as a big relief to fantasy owners. The split workload never made a lot of sense and perhaps was a motivational tool in the end. According to the story, Bell's versatility will help the Steelers keep him heavily involved with offense while also taking advantage of Blount and Archer, who they will try to get the ball in space. Bell comes into this week ranked 15th in a pretty good matchup against the Browns.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 8:30pm
Daniels caught only one pass for 6 yards in the preseason because he missed the final three games with what he called a hamstring injury. The two-time Pro Bowl player didn't show much explosion off the line or separation from defenders in training camp, which raised doubts about how he would fit in the team's game plan heading into Sunday's season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"I’m just going to do what I can, whatever I’m asked to do," Daniels said after Tuesday's practice. "Hopefully, I’ll be out there a bunch. Hopefully, we’ll run a lot of two-tight end sets and keep defenses off balance. I think Dennis [Pitta] and I complement each other very well, especially when we’re out on the field together. But whether it’s blocking in the running game or pass protection or moving the chains, I’m here to do a job and do it well."
Harbaugh insisted Daniels wasn't injured, saying the 31-year-old tight end was dealing with swelling and leg fatigue. So far he hasn't been impressive in what was supposed to be an impressive 2 TE formation with Dennis Pitta. We're going to need to see a lot more from Daniels before he becomes fantasy lineup worthy.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 8:25pm
Panthers coach Ron Rivera indicated Monday the team didn't plan to sign Hill immediately.
But the Panthers must think Hill, who struggled with dropped passes throughout his two years in New York, could give them a deep threat they've lacked since Ted Ginn Jr. signed with Arizona during the offseason.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 8:22pm
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski told reporters on Monday that he’s ready to play Sunday’s opener in Miami even though head coach Bill Belichick didn't seem so convinced. The uncertainty of Gronkowski's status along with his durability and stamina, make TE Tim Wright’s progress this week all the more important.
“You try to get him caught up in terms of the foundation of your terminology and I’m sure he’ll work real hard to do that; he has so far,” OC Josh McDaniels said. “When you start to get into this time of the year, the focus narrows down a little bit to what you’re going to do during the course of the game so there’s not quite as much volume to consider for a new person who hasn’t had an extensive exposure in the system.”
Wright has been impressive in his limited time in New England. We heard all along this trade had little to do with Gronk's status, and at this point it's anyone's guess as to whether or not Gronk plays in Week 1 now. Wright is more of a replacement for Aaron Hernandez at the "move" TE position anyway, but if Gronk can't go, Wright could give QB Tom Brady a target in the middle of the field. Wright's probably not fantasy lineup worthy right now, but is certainly someone to watch as the Pats like their 2 TE formations.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 8:15pm
The Giants are hoping that, as they hit the season opener with TEs Daniel Fells, Larry Donnell and Adrien Robinson in a platoon situation, each one got better after a preseason that forced all of them to compete for reps. The team abandoned the hope that one would surface as the ideal all-around candidate after a few weeks of training camp and opted for the "by committee" scenario that tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride said would work, though it wouldn't be ideal.
But will it?
Asking Tom Coughlin yielded little in the way of answers. The team cut Kellen Davis over the weekend but could bring him back for his blocking. When the coach was asked if he was settled on a starter for the season-opener against the Lions, his answer was brief and didn't say much for the players he had.
Donnell led all TEs in receiving but his blocking was a major question. As we've said all along, this is a situation to stay away from until someone emerges...
He missed practices last season as a way to try and preserve himself, as a way to make sure that when things mattered on Sundays, he would be able to participate with the rest of the Detroit Lions.
WR Calvin Johnson, though, would rather not watch practices from the sidelines. Not during training camp, and not during the regular season, either. So he said even though he’s healthy now, there’s no plan that he knows of to rest him during game weeks.
“We’re going to do what coach wants us to do, but a lot of that was due to some injuries, you know,” Johnson said Tuesday. “So really, I’d really prefer to be out here and practicing and getting the timing down.”
While he only played in one preseason game -- Week 3 against Jacksonville -- he participated in almost every practice and often made the play of the practice, the story said. Obviously Johnson is one of the, if not the, most sought-after WR for your fantasy team, and at this point it looks like all systems go. He's a middle of the first round value in most formats.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 8:03pm
Matthews said his work ethic, his willingness to come to work early and stay late, is owed, in part, to watching veterans like Johnson and Green prepare in the offseason. They told him “don’t take a play off, not in practice or the game.” It’s the kind of advice you’d expect from players of that caliber, even if the Eagles would prefer Matthews to remember that the season is only just starting, and it’s a long one.
“The biggest thing with Jordan, and there are some other guys on the team like him, we have to make sure we manage him because he’s got such a high motor,” HC Chip Kelly said. “Whether it’s in meetings or on the practice field, we have to make sure he understands we’re playing a 16-game season here.”
Gonzalez believes the Eagles need Matthews to contribute right away. He points out that after Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, they’re pretty thin at receiver. Josh Huff is still recovering from a shoulder injury. Brad Smith is solid on special teams but has never been a consistent offensive receiving threat. And Jeff Maehl rounds out the group. He has four receptions for his career. While this isn't breaking news, it's best to take a wait-and-see approach with Matthews. He likely didn't get drafted in typical leagues. The Eagles are expected to use a lot of TEs Zach Ertz and Brent Celek as well. With RB Darren Sproles also around, there are a lot of targets.
Three days after releasing both kickers in their cut to 53 players, the Saints have brought one back.
The team has re-signed kicker Shayne Graham, according to the NFL’s Tuesday transactions.
In a corresponding roster move, the club waived second-year quarterback Ryan Griffin.
Graham, 36, connected on all four field goals (long of 39 yards) and 4-of-5 extra points in preseason play. However, the club parted ways with Graham and Derek Dimke after the exhibition slate.
But now, Graham is back, and seemingly so for the regular season opener at Atlanta.
The move leaves Luke McCown as the lone backup behind Drew Brees. It would not be a surprise if the Saints re-signed Griffin to the practice squad, but he will have to clear waivers first, and it will be interesting to see if he’s picked up after a solid preseason (48-of-77 passing, 530 yards, three TDs, one interception, 90.3 QB rating).
The Saints go with Graham after cutting both him and Dimke. It's likely been a frustrating process for those who drafted Graham and then released him after the Saints did. If you can pick him back up, Graham should be a top kicker most weeks this season.
Welker was making his way back from a concussion, but will now have an involuntary month off as he serves the suspension. Emmanuel Sanders sees a small bump, while rookie Cody Latimer will have a chance for starter's snaps if he can beat out Andre Caldwell early in the season. As for Welker, we were already pretty low on him due to concerns about the repeated concussions. We recommend a hands off approach until at least the 11th round.
The Dolphins listed Lamar Miller ahead of Knowshon Moreno on the regular season’s first “tentative” depth chart Tuesday, although both are expected to see significant action in Sunday’s opener against the Patriots.
Miller, the Dolphins’ featured back in 2013, will likely split carries with Moreno this season. A knee injury limited training camp for Moreno, who signed with the Dolphins this offseason after rushing for over 1,000 yards last year. He appeared in just one preseason game. That one appearance was impressive, however. Moreno rushed for 64 yards on 10 carries against the Cowboys.
Although depth charts don't mean a whole lot right now, the point is this is to point out it's still a messy fantasy situation, and probably one to stay away from until we get a better idea how the Dolphins are going to use both backs. Right now, it looks like a flat-out committee.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 5:08pm
The Chicago Bears on Tuesday placed receiver Marquess Wilson on injured reserve with a designation for return. It's a disappointing -- but not unexpected -- move for the second-year pro, whom the Bears had hoped could be their No. 3 receiver. Now, Wilson must miss at least the first eight games of the season.
By rule, Wilson is now ineligible to play until the Nov. 9 game against the Packers in Week 10. He is ineligible to practice until the start of Week 7, which would be Wednesday, Oct. 19.
Santonio Holmes is expected to be the Bear WR3 Week 1.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 4:59pm
Scouts Inc. analyst Steve Muench said his group was not surprised that QB Derek Carr was taken early in the second round by the Raiders. However, he said the group thought he would go in the third or fourth round.
The reason? A lack of pocket presence. Muench said a key to Carr’s success will be to see if he can handle himself in the pocket.
“We were not as high on him as a lot of other people though. ... The biggest reason is we had concerns about his poise in the face of pressure,” Muench said. “He made too many off-balance throws in the face of the rush and started to anticipate pressure when he got hit. They open with the Jets, then Houston. I think both are capable of getting to the quarterback, so it will be interesting to see how Carr fares to start the season.”
Muench said that Carr can still be a good fit for the Raiders. Carr has decisiveness, a quick release and functional mobility and he also has the arm strength to drive the ball downfield, so he’s got the physical skill set to be an effective NFL starter, Muench added.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 3:37pm
Even without Lane Johnson for the first four games, the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive line still has plenty of firepower. Johnson will miss the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
But with Allen Barbre likely filling in alongside Evan Mathis, Jason Peters, Todd Herremans and center Jason Kelce, the Eagles' offensive line should be quite strong.
“I feel really good about the progress we've made and how we've played as a unit and how we will play as a unit,” Mathis, an All-Pro left guard, told the Philadelphia Daily News. “I see everything being better. It's not brand new to us anymore. We have experience doing it. If there's anything any of us had flaws at, we've worked really hard at correcting those, as well as improving on every other aspect of the game.”
Running back LeSean McCoy led the league in rushing last season with 1,607 yards. Quarterback Nick Foles threw 27 touchdowns, two interceptions and compiled a passer rating of 119.2. The line was a big part of that and has turned into a strength of the team, especially in Chip Kelly's offense that runs a lot of plays. McCoy is a top back this year and Foles is expected to have another great season, although a 27-2 ratio probably shouldn't be expected.
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