Golden Tate is expected to play a big role in the Lions offense this season, but it is prized free-agent acquisition Marvin Jones who looks like the club's top wideout. And in recent days, it hasn't been all that close.
On Tuesday, quarterback Matthew Stafford got his first chance to work against a foreign defense, and he went to Jones repeatedly, targeting him with seven of his 14 passes during team drills at a joint practice with the Steelers.
Jones caught six of those passes. No one else had more than two.
"Yeah, I think so," Stafford said, when asked if he were developing a chemistry with Jones. "There's a ton of work to be done between now and the season opener. That's what these days are for."
Jones has been Stafford's favorite target throughout most of camp, with Tate, Anquan Boldin and tight end Eric Ebron also earning a lot of looks. But Ebron is hurt right now, and Tate is battling an uncharacteristic bout of dropsies.
Jones has averaged 3.6 receptions for 48 yards and 0.44 TD in his last 32 games. The 6’2” receiver has been especially good at catching touchdowns (14 in his last 32 games), so he'll be asked to pick up the slack in Detroit after Calvin Johnson's retirement. Used inconsistently in Cincinnati, he should see plenty of work with the Lions, though we expect he'll play second-fiddle to Golden Tate in terms of total targets. Jones’ FP/T (1.03) was average last year, but it was an elite 1.64 FP/T in 2013, when he scored 10 times. If he sees 120 targets at his 2015 FP/T, it would yield 123.6 FP, which are solid WR3 numbers in standard formats. He has upside from there if his TD rate regresses toward his 2013 levels. Given this buzz, his ADP is likely to climb into the 6th or 7th round after hovering in the 8th for most of the offseason. We're generally leery of receivers who change teams in free agency, unless they're getting a promotion, which seems to be the case here.
Still, the 35-year-old slid in as if he had been with Detroit for a while already.
Coach Jim Caldwell said Friday the team never actually worked Boldin out, just had him visit. But he felt confident Boldin would have something left because of the “body of work” he has shown in the past and because Caldwell had worked with him before in Baltimore. So far, so good there, one day in.
This is the time for last-minute roster-tweaking, and for veterans, a last chance to find a chair before training camps begin.
For veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin, that means another trip to Detroit, after his visit in June.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, the Lions are finalizing a one-year deal with the veteran wideout today.
Boldin has some familiarity with Lions coach Jim Caldwell from their days together with the Ravens, and he gives the Lions the kind of physical receiver they may have lacked after the retirement of Calvin Johnson this offseason, the story pointed out. Boldin will remain behind free agent signing Marvin Jones and Golden Tate on the depth chart but may see time in three-WR sets.
Quinton Patton (1 TD in 36 career catches) is no lock to assume the No. 2 role, and it will be worth studying how his overzealous approach will mesh with Chip Kelly’s ideals. Jerome Simpson has a great opportunity to revive his career. Bruce Ellington figures to see a lot of reps, especially from the slot.
Eric Rogers, a CFL import, has the 6-3 frame that will be especially enticing if he shows the desire to challenge for every ball. DeAndre Smelter, a medical redshirt as a rookie, remains raw at the position and his massive mitts surprisingly let several passes slip through his hands in the spring.
This writer predicts Ellington will win the WR2 job and we'll see Rogers in three-receiver sets, along with Smith. Reading the names in this news item, it's not hard to see there is a slew of unproven options abound on this young corps. With the QB also in question, there is a lot we need to learn about this 49er offense.
Friday, December 18, 2015, 6:32pm
Thursday, December 17, 2015, 6:06pm
Friday, December 11, 2015, 6:22pm
Thursday, December 10, 2015, 6:31pm
Friday, December 4, 2015, 6:28pm
Thursday, December 3, 2015, 5:56pm
Friday, November 27, 2015, 6:20pm
49ers WR Anquan Boldin (hamstring, probable) took full practice reps again Thursday and is probable for Week 12. Boldin will play in a tough matchup with the Cardinals, but Patrick Peterson is also dealing with an injury.
Friday, November 20, 2015, 6:29pm
49ers WR Anquan Boldin (hamstring, questionable) took limited practice reps again Thursday and is questionable for Week 11. It looks like Boldin will play, but this is a terrible matchup against the Seahawks in Seattle.
Thursday, November 19, 2015, 5:53pm
“None of those guys have gone full speed,” San Francisco coach Jim Tomsula told reporters Monday. “Nobody’s done anything at a full-tilt, yet. So we’ll see where that is.”
Hyde is dealing with a stress fracture in his foot sustained in a 30-27 loss at the New York Giants on Oct. 11. He was limited to 95 yards on 32 carries in the next two games before sitting out the final two contests prior to last weekend's bye.
Boldin was listed as doubtful so there wasn't a good chance he was going to play in this contest and is out for this week. Hyde missed practice all week and wasn't expected to play. With Vernon Davis traded, Torrey Smith is the biggest playmaker, but Blaine Gabbert takes over at QB this week and there are lots of questions and risks surrounding this offense right now.
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