The Bengals lined up rookie wide receiver Tyler Boyd in a variety of ways during practice and while he has yet to catch an NFL regular-season pass the Bengals can celebrate Boyd’s ascension into the derby to start opposite A.J. Green in New Jersey on Sept. 11.
“A lot of guys are in that category,” said wide receivers coach James Urban as the staff continues to respond to the off-season departures of the nearly combined 1,000 yards and 100 catches accumulated by Sanu and Marvin Jones last season.
But with seven-year veteran Brandon LaFell returning to practice this week with a damaged ligament in his hand after a 10-day absence, Boyd is the unquestioned leader in the clubhouse as they get set to gauge LaFell in Sunday’s dress rehearsal in Jacksonville.
“We have to see how he transitions through,” said offensive coordinator Ken Zampese.
Also making a push is one of the best stories of the year in James Wright. Wright, the 2014 seventh-rounder from LSU, is coming back from a 21-month layoff as he tries to rebound from the most dangerous of procedures, a micro fracture knee surgery.
After the Bengals finished up their last public session of training camp in a Tuesday morning walk-through, head coach Marvin Lewis indicated he doesn’t expect injured starter Brandon LaFell to miss the Sept. 11 regular-season opener in New Jersey against the Jets.
LaFell, a seven-year veteran wide receiver who reportedly has ligament damage in his right hand, went through individual drills Monday after not playing Friday night in the preseason opener against the Vikings.
Reports today were saying LaFell would need surgery and put at least part of his season in doubt. But this piece said Lewis didn’t rule out LaFell for the next preseason game, Thursday night in Detroit. This is certainly good news for the Bengals offense, which could already be without TE Tyler Eifert.
LaFell is not practicing on Tuesday and Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports that he suffered a torn ligament in his hand and may need to have surgery on it. Per Garafolo, that wouldn’t be a season-ending injury but there’s no word on an expected timeline for LaFell’s absence.
LaFell is currently listed as the starter at wide receiver alongside A.J. Green, but any extended absence would open the door for rookie Tyler Boyd to see a bump in playing time at the start of his NFL career, the story said. With injuries to tight ends Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft creating uncertainty about their availability at the start of the year, Boyd could also be looking at a bump in passes being thrown his way should LaFell not make it back in time for Week 1.
Watching the Patriots offense during the first few open practices, Chris Hogan has been one of the central figures. He’s catching everything being delivered his way by either Tom Brady or Jimmy Garoppolo, and he’s constantly getting open.
That 7-Eleven nickname is on the money. He does always seem to be open.
What Bill Belichick got was a perfect fit for his offense. Hogan works very well in the Patriots horizontal style of play. At 27, he’s a few years younger than the 30-year-old Edelman and Amendola, and with the duo sitting out organized team activities and minicamp, Hogan has been running those similar routes, the quick hitters that are staples to Brady and the offense. There’s little doubt, at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, Hogan could move into Brandon LaFell’s old “X” receiver role as well.
Hogan has more size (6'1") than it seems, but his skill set isn't much different from that of Julian Edelman or Danny Amendola. It sounds as if he'll take over the outside role in the offense, which means he could potentially have a 2014 Brandon LaFell-type season. LaFell was the #22 receiver in standard formats two seasons ago. He'll need to see more snaps than Amendola if he's going to be fantasy relevant in 2016.
In two seasons with the Patriots, LaFell caught 111 passes and scored seven touchdowns. However, his role diminished greatly in 2015 and he was released March 2.
LaFell had a career year with the Patriots in 2014, his first season with the club, totaling 74 receptions for 953 yards and seven touchdowns. He started 13 of 16 games during the regular season and then all three playoff contests, adding 13 catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs.
An injury to his left foot, however, affected his offseason, and he opened 2015 on the physically unable to perform list. LaFell never seemed to find his groove upon his return, finishing this past season with 37 catches for 515 yards and no touchdowns.
Last season, LaFell was never able to recapture the magic from the year before, when he finished as the #22 fantasy receiver in standard formats. The Bengals lost both Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu this offseason, so LaFell will have the opportunity to start if the team doesn't use an early draft pick on a receiver.
With the new league year starting next week, teams are getting their houses in order by dispatching players who are under contract and out of their plans for monetary or performance reasons.
After a #22 finish in 2014, LaFell struggled to make an impact in 2015, averaging just 4.8 fantasy points (standard) in 11 games. The Patriots will likely look to improve the receiving corps this offseason.
Friday, January 22, 2016, 4:44pm
Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (foot, probable) took full practice reps all week and is probable for Week 20. LaFell should be fine to play this week, but his role isn’t firm now that Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are back in the lineup.
Thursday, January 21, 2016, 5:50pm
Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (foot) took full practice reps again Thursday. LaFell should be fine to play this week, but his role isn’t firm now that Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are back in the lineup.
Friday, January 15, 2016, 5:23pm
Thursday, January 14, 2016, 6:07pm
Wednesday, January 13, 2016, 7:15pm
Friday, January 1, 2016, 6:26pm
Patriots WR Julian Edelman (foot, out) missed practice Friday after taking limited reps Thursday and is out for Week 17. With Danny Amendola very iffy, it looks like Brandon LaFell and Keshawn Martin will lead the New England receiving corps again this week.
Friday, January 1, 2016, 6:26pm
Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (foot, questionable) took limited practice reps all week and is questionable for Week 17. LaFell has been disappointing given his opportunity in the New England passing game, but he should be able to continue to play through the foot injury.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015, 6:13pm
Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (foot) took limited practice reps Wednesday. LaFell has been disappointing given his opportunity in the New England passing game, but he should be able to continue to play through the foot injury.
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