The fourth-year veteran, who turned 26 on Thursday, has looked polished and decisive since the start of training camp. And while rookie Terrance West will get some carries, the starter's job belongs to Tate as the Browns prepare for their dress-rehearsal game against St. Louis at FirstEnergy Stadium on Saturday night.
Tate spent the last four seasons with the Houston Texans, which employed a similar wide-zone blocking scheme requiring backs to make one cut and turn upfield.
The question with Tate, who's averaged a career 4.7 yards per carry, is his durability. He played in just 40 of 64 regular-season games since the Texans drafted him in 2010.
Tate wants to be a feature back and he'll have his chance in Cleveland. Tate has averaged 4.7 YPC in his career and has touched the ball at least 15 times in 13 career games, averaging 94.5 yards and 0.54 TD in the process. That equates to 12.7 fantasy points, which is about what Chris Johnson averaged as the #9 RB in 2013. Touchdowns are going to be tougher to come by in Cleveland than they were in Houston, and rookie Terrance West is in the mix. Keep in mind that in addition to missing the entire 2010 season due to a broken ankle, he has missed eight other games in his career. Durability is a big concern.
"It definitely hurts," McCoy said after the game. “But there have been times I’ve been banged up and it turns out fine. We’ll see what happens.”
McCoy said he injured the thumb a few plays prior to his 22-yard touchdown reception against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In some ways that is an encouraging sign for Eagles fans, as McCoy seemed to show no signs of injury as he carried the ball in his right hand during the scoring play.
"I was talking to him on the sideline and he seemed to be in good spirits, so I don’t think it’s a big deal," said head coach Chip Kelly after the game.
We're not concerned about the thumb, though it's something to monitor over the next few days. McCoy is primed for another top 3 season.
Friday, August 22, 2014, 9:50am
After what WR Jeff Janis put on film in St. Louis, there's no way the Packers can cut him and hope to slide him through to the practice squad. He'd get snatched up on waivers in a heartbeat. The one thing you can't teach is speed, and the rookie seventh-round pick has it. He's a lock for the roster after that 34-yard touchdown catch and run against the Rams.
Titans RB Bishop Sankey didn’t have a fumbling problem in college and no one seems concerned that it will be an issue going forward. It’s just a part of the learning curve.
“That’s been the problem for him,” said RB Sylvester Croom. “He’s using the same footwork on all the running plays. It’s been different. It’s been a learning experience for him and it’s a discipline about doing it over and over again. He’s learning how important it is.”
Every Sankey mistake is sure to be followed with tough love from Croom, but the Titans running backs coach left nothing to question about the confidence he has in his rookie.
“Bishop has everything we thought about him during our evaluation process prior to the draft. He has that and more,” Croom explained. “We think he’s going to make a big contribution to this football team because he works at it. He’s a talented individual, he works really hard and he’s intelligent. When you put those things together and you keep showing up, then good things will happen.”
It make take a few weeks, but we’re projecting Sankey to be the clear RB1 in Tennessee after the Titans took him as the first RB in the draft. He’s a versatile back who doesn’t have much competition for touches. The last 13 rookies who were the top drafted RB in their class and joined a backfield with a lackluster incumbent averaged 18.2 touches for 83.1 yards and 0.55 TD, or 11.6 fantasy points per game. That’s about what Ryan Mathews averaged as the #12 RB in 2013.
Friday, August 22, 2014, 9:33am
The Eagles have a major unsettled problem at kicker. We already knew Alex Henery wasn't a guy who would be a big threat from outside 50, or a consistent weapon on kickoffs, but now he's missing field goals well within the range of any kicker in the league. Henery's miss on a 31 yard chip shot is the most concerning blunder yet, and like his 47 yard miss in New England, it wasn't really close.
Eagles RB Matthew Tucker was impressive against the first team Steelers D, scoring two TDs and bringing his total on the preseason to four, best in the NFL. Meanwhile, Henry Josey broke off a long run that was called back on a bogus penalty, and Kenjon Barner showed some promise after quickly assimilating into the Eagles offense. If the Eagles are worried that Chris Polk will always be an injury risk, it appears they may have other options.
Polk is nursing a torn hamstring, and may find himself out of a job if he doesn't heal quickly. The Eagles' RB3 job is important because the winner would likely see the biggest jump in touches if LeSean McCoy were to miss any time. Darren Sproles is not built for a heavy workload.
First it was Colt Lyerla, now Bostick. Attrition is helping to whittle down the Packer TE derby. Our money is on Richard Rodgers at this point. The rookie has had a great camp and has stayed healthy. Andrew Quarless and Jake Stoneburner will be in the mix as well.
The foot is no longer a concern. Charles is locked in as a top 3 overall pick.
On one hand, he's taking his full complement of reps with the first-team offense. On the other hand, he has some polishing to do.
"He looked like he'd been out for a bit like anybody would," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "It's going to take him a couple practices to kind of get his conditioning back and his wind back. I think the strength and cutting of his routes, that's kind of something that just takes you a couple times to get back into it."
Michael Floyd broke out in his second season with a 66 catches for 1,054 yards and five TDs, gaining at least 90 yards and/or finding the endzone in seven of his last 11 games. He should continue to progress as he enters his third year in the league.
Eagles WRs Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin started on the outside. Cooper had three grabs for 25 yards. Maclin had six catches for 43 yards. Scary moment in the second. Maclin planted awkwardly and crumbled to the ground, grabbing his right knee. But he ended up only missing one play before returning. Cooper, meanwhile, was called for offensive pass interference on one play. He dropped a touchdown in the end zone on another play.
Maclin was the #13 WR in 2010, #31 in 2011 and #27 in 2012 before tearing his ACL last summer. The Eagles don't throw as much under Kelly as they did under Andy Reid, but Maclin has the talent and opportunity -- DeSean Jackson is gone -- to be a fantasy starter in 2014, provided his knee is good to go.
Against Pittsburgh, Eagles RB LeSean McCoy scored the game's first touchdown in the first quarter, but exited the game to have X-rays performed on his right thumb. They were negative. McCoy returned to the sideline, but his night was complete.
This is probably nothing to worry about, though it may take some time for the thumb to fully heal. At this point, Darren Sproles is the primary backup. Chris Polk is nursing a torn hamstring, but should be back soon.
Thursday, August 21, 2014, 10:44pm
Bills WR Sammy Watkins upped his participation -- slightly. He took part in routes-versus-air and then headed for a side field to continue an individual workout. He did not participate in team drills and has not been cleared to play in Saturday's preseason game. At this point, his chances of suiting up before the regular season opener look slim.
We're expecting Watkins to be ready to go for Week 1. The fact that he is practicing at all right now is a good indicator.
Thursday, August 21, 2014, 10:42pm
The competition for the Lions’ placekicker in 2014 remains too close to call, and barring a monumental performance — good or bad — by Nate Freese or Giorgio Tavecchio in Friday’s exhibition against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the battle will continue until final roster cuts on Aug. 30.
Broyles could serve as the Lions WR3, which means he may be roster-worthy in larger formats.
I wrote several weeks ago that expectations might be too high for wide receiver Justin Hunter entering his second season, considering he only caught 18 passes as a rookie.
But I'm now more inclined to jump on the hype wagon. Hunter has progressed faster than I imagined. He's bigger, more confident and is doing a better job of using his freakish athletic skills to full effect.
While it's true the regular season is a different animal, Hunter appears ready to become a consistent big-play threat.
As a rookie, Hunter checked in with the #18 FP/T (1.41), which is encouraging, especially if he’s able to beat out Nate Washington and get on the field as more than a just a passing-down specialist. He only played 36% of the team’s snaps, while Washington played 82%. The good news is that under then-OC Ken Whisenhunt, Keenan Allen, Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal all played at least 67% of the Chargers’ snaps. So with Whiz calling the plays in Tennessee, there may be room for both players in the lineup if Hunter hasn't already won the job outright.
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