July can't come to a close any quicker for the New York Jets.
On Friday, Jets second-round draft pick, wide receiver Devin Smith, left practice after making an impressive catch that ended with a hard fall. While Smith's status wasn't immediately clear, it is now.
Friday night, the team announced that Smith suffered broken ribs, saying that the rookie is being held in the hospital overnight for precautionary purposes and that he's expected to miss much of training camp.
The speedster was expected to compete with Jeremy Kerley to be the team's WR3, but those plans are on hold for now.
Beat writer Jimmy Kempski broke down the Eagles' WR competition:
In my view, I think it'd be crazy to take Jordan Matthews off the field. The Eagles mostly stay in three wide receiver sets, and in those situations, expect Matthews to resume his role in the slot. However, when they go with two wides, Matthews should stay in and line up on the outside.
I also expect Nelson Agholor to start Week 1, and produce immediately. He just looks like the real deal to me.
So the real battle here is Josh Huff vs Riley Cooper vs Miles Austin. Huff has the most natural ability and explosion of the three, but he needs to refine some of the more nuanced aspects of the position. The Eagles would love to see Huff go out and earn more playing time, but they're not just going to hand it to him. Their opinion of Cooper is clearly far higher than yours is.
This comes on the heels of another column declaring Josh Huff as the biggest breakout candidate in the Eagles' receiving corps. Agholor figures to have the edge, as reports have been almost universally positive this offseason. Ultimately, we see Matthews, Agholor and Huff playing the most snaps, but it may not happen early or even this season. Chip Kelly likes Cooper more than the rest of us do.
Brandon Coleman is one of several candidates battling for the Saints’ No. 3 and 4 receiver jobs -- along with veterans Nick Toon, Josh Morgan, Joe Morgan and fellow second-year pro Seantavius Jones. So we’re still weeks away from being able to predict the pecking order or declare Coleman as a fantasy football sleeper.
But Coleman, who spent most of last year on the practice squad along with Jones, arguably has the highest upside of the bunch. With his size and physicality, Coleman could be a red zone monster if he's able to realize his potential. So far, so good this summer. Coleman has looked much more fluid, confident and comfortable than last summer when he battled inconsistency.
“He’s stronger now. He’s healthy,” Payton said of Coleman, who spent most of last year on the practice squad. “When we got him he was coming off of a rehab from his knee. And you can see the strength in his lower body when it comes to the breaks he’s making and the cuts he’s making.”
“This confidence kind of comes through getting reps in practice and ultimately it comes through game experience in a game setting that matters,” Payton said. “But I thought his offseason has been very good, and he’s definitely in the hunt.”
The Oakland Raiders held their first practice of training camp on Friday in Napa, Calif., but Trent Richardson didn't participate. Oakland announced the former Alabama All-American had been placed on the non-football injury list.
The non-football injury list is for players who get hurt away from team activities, although the Raiders did not announce an injury for Richardson. His placement on the NFI list also might indicate he did not pass or did not take Thursday's conditioning test.
While on the NFI list, Richardson can't practice with the team. He'll be immediately eligible to practice once the designation is removed.
The NFI designation comes two days after Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reported "whispers are that the Trent Richardson reclamation project is not going so well."
Kendall Wright is clearly the top receiver and Hakeem Nicks got the bulk of the work opposite Wright. But the second snap of many series featured two new guys, including Harry Douglas, Justin Hunter and Green-Beckham.
Wright is a good value in the 9th or 10th round, especially in PPR formats. The team needs to find a starter on the other side. Nicks is the overlooked vet, but it didn't seem like he had a whole lot left given the way he played in Indianapolis last season. Still, he's just 27 years old and shouldn't be washed up just yet. Green-Beckham is a physical specimen, but is very raw. Hunter has had a disappointing career, and is dealing with an off-the-field issue (felonious assault). Douglas is an unexciting vet who could end up with a big role if things break his way.
Marcus Mariota's teammates offered the same sort of solid reviews they offered during organized team activities and minicamp.
"You could tell he was training this offseason, really in the playbook," Titans tight end Delanie Walker said. "He called the huddle with poise, said the plays like he knew them, ran the offense very well. That’s exciting to see when you’ve got a young quarterback coming in and ready to go."
Mariota continues to look good in practice, so he’s off to a good start. His weapons aren’t as established as those of Jameis Winston, but in Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker, he has a couple of dependable targets. If Dorial Green-Beckham and/or Justin Hunter emerge as a viable downfield threat, Mariota may be in business. His ability to run the ball gives him some baseline fantasy value.
"To me, I think Markus Wheaton is our breakout player of the year... I want him to have that pressure... When we're in two wide receivers, he's our No. 2, and we're asking him to play outside. And when we go three wide receivers we're asking him to go inside, so he's playing multiple positions. And it's new for him. He's always been an outside guy and we're asking him to play in the slot when we have three wide receivers, and that's a completely different ballgame."
While these comments might slow down the Martavis Bryant hype train a bit, we're not worried. Roethlisberger mentioned Bryant first when talking about the receiver group (other than Antonio Brown) and the Steelers play a ton of three-WR so Bryant will be on the field plenty in his sophomore season. The breakout is still on. Wheaton is a solid late-round pick, especially in PPR drafts. By most accounts, rookie Sammie Coates hasn't had a great offseason, so Wheaton's snaps should be safe. Bottom line: We're still targeting Bryant in the 5th/6th round.
Although the running back battle between second-year player Devonta Freeman and rookie Tevin Coleman is sure to be a storyline throughout training camp, Coleman downplayed the significance following Friday's first day of camp.
Freeman remained with the first team, while Coleman and Antone Smith worked behind Freeman. Coleman is focused on adjusting from the college to the NFL game.
With Steven Jackson out of the way, GM Thomas Dimitroff said that there was “no question” that Freeman is ready to be the feature back in Atlanta, though the team threw cold water on that notion by drafting Coleman. Freeman wasn't terribly impressive in his rookie season (248 yards rushing, 3.8 YPC), but he was active and effective in the passing game (30 catches for 225 yards), so we’re expecting he’ll be PPR-relevant as part of a timeshare.
Marques Colston didn’t linger long on the New Orleans Saints’ physically-unable-to-perform list.
The Saints activated their veteran wide receiver on Friday, and he joined in their walk-through drills before watching from the side during full-team and 7-on-7 drills. Colston’s injury hasn’t been specified, but he missed most of the Saints’ OTAs and minicamp.
“We have to be smart with where Marques is at,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “The reps are one thing, but making sure he’s getting into football shape … I think we’ll do a good job with some veteran players, he being one of them.”
With Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills gone, someone has to catch the ball in New Orleans, and Colston is likely to finish second or third in targets on the team after Brandin Cooks and possibly C.J. Spiller. Health is the biggest concern here, but he has only missed one game in the last three years. As an 11th round pick, Colston isn’t going to cost much on draft day, so the relative risk is low.
Cutting the amount of time Steve L Smith is on the field makes sense in theory, but ...
"I think it's going to be hard for both of us to do that," Smith said Friday.
"Because we're both competitors and we both want to win," Smith added.
"Steve and I have talked about how many reps he's going to play," Harbaugh said. "We'll probably know by the end of preseason how we feel about that, but sometimes you get to a game and you kind of need a guy in the end to make a play. I'm really hoping that we have enough guys who we like who we can roll receivers through there and play all those guys. I think we're deep, and if we turn out to be deep -- like we hope we are -- then all those guys will play.”
Smith was the #20 WR in standard formats and #18 in PPR, but he did most of his damage in the first six weeks of the season when he was #3 and #4, respectively. He was a fantasy WR4 the rest of the way, though he did have his moments. The Ravens can’t afford to put Smith out to pasture because they let Torrey Smith walk in free agency and the team’s receiver corps is severely lacking experience. Smith has some upside given his ADP (8th/9th round) and the arrival of pass-happy OC Marc Trestman, who should be able to figure out how to best utilize Smith’s skill set.
After his first practice at Browns training camp, during which Terrelle Pryor did not record a dropped pass and looked like a natural at a position he has not played competitively at any level, the idea of the freakishly talented Pryor making an almost unprecedented transition so late in his athletic career didn’t seem, well, so outlandish.
“I’ve never seen anybody make that transformation in person,” said cornerback Joe Haden. “It looks like it would work.”
Pryor, 6-4 and 223 pounds, with a reputed 40 speed of 4.38 seconds at his 2011 pro day workout, is the closest thing yet to Josh Gordon. “He’s bigger than J.G.,” Haden said.
The odds are stacked against Pryor, and it's probably going to take some time to learn the details of the position. But the Browns need playmakers at receiver, so it's not inconceivable that Pryor works his way into a receiving role in 2015.
Bill Belichick said WR Aaron Dobson came into spring in "great" shape. "Put himself in good position."
Dobson is finally healthy, which is a good thing, but he has to beat out Brandon LaFell, who played great in his first season with the Patriots, racking up 87-1072-9 in his last 16 games, including the postseason. LaFell isn't practicing at the moment, so it's Dobson's time to make a push.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports Seahawks QB Russell Wilson agreed to a four-year, $87.6 million extension, per a source involved in the negotiations. The deal includes a $31 million signing bonus and $60 million in guarantees.
By signing just a four-year extension, Wilson will enter the final year of his deal at just 30 years old, giving him an opportunity for another big payday. The shorter deal was a concession by the Seahawks.
Now that his contract negotiations are behind him, Wilson can once again focus fully on football. He has finished #9, #8 and #3 in his first three seasons, and the Seahawks are slowly letting him throw the ball more. They traded for tight end Jimmy Graham, who will serve as the best weapon that Wilson has had since he entered the NFL.
Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo should know a little something about his soon-to-be newest receiver. McAdoo coached Jones in Green Bay.
The Giants already have a lot of depth at receiver, so this is a curious signing despite McAdoo's familiarity with Jones from their days together in Green Bay.
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