Dorial Green-Beckham spent weeks sidelined by a hamstring injury. That aside, his former college coach believes the Titans have landed the equivalent of a "nightmare matchup for any cornerback at any level."
"I was with the Colts with Jim Mora when he had Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, I was with the Raiders when they had Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Jerry Porter and some other guys on the Super Bowl team," University of Texas receivers coach Jay Norvell told the Tennessean.
Norvell spent last season coaching the red-shirted Green-Beckham in practice at Oklahoma, saying: "When you go through the history of the draft and look at the guys with size and speed and all that, he is just unique. Calvin Johnson is probably one of the closest comparisons physically because of his size."
"He's not a finished product, but most players aren't," Norvell said. "So he's going to have to learn the pro game and that's a completely different game from college. But he's got some natural gifts that will help him in that game, and in some ways, the NFL is probably a better game for him than college football, just because of the bump rules and (less) contact and all of that. So there are some advantages he has. ... That's why they picked him."
If Green-Beckham picks up things quickly and proves he’s not as raw as his detractors say — one offensive coordinator said he was “completely lost” at the whiteboard in a pre-draft interview — he could certainly start early in the season opposite Kendall Wright, since it seems that Justin Hunter is on the outs with the current coaching staff. If he sees starter’s snaps, he should be fantasy relevant as a rookie, though he'll have to prove he's ready for the mental side of the game. Long-term, he has a chance to flourish if both he and Marcus Mariota are the real deal.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 8:25am
While league rules have carved into the amount of offseason practice time — which some have called unnecessary — others are looking for more.
According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford wants to bring receiver Calvin Johnson and the rest of his targets together for some pre-camp work of their own.
Such camps aren’t new, as Peyton Manning has been taking his receivers to Duke every spring, and others do the same. But Stafford said he thought it would help.
“I think it’s big,” Stafford said. “I’m obviously in Atlanta quite a bit, so Calvin’s right there, throw with him some. But try to find a way to get together with some of the other guys as well. . . ."
Stafford went on to say there's no substitute for running routes for a receiver and catching the ball from the guy you’re going to be catching the ball from during the season. The Lions got good numbers out of Johnson and Golden Tate last year, but the rest of the offense struggled at times. They were 22nd in the league in scoring offense, and no other non-Johnson or Tate receiver had more than 322 receiving yards, the story said.
Inaccuracy has been Matthew Stafford's calling card his whole career, completing under 60 percent of his passes in four of his six seasons. Of the top 10 passing quarterbacks in 2014, Stafford had the lowest completion percentage (60.3) while attempting the fifth-most passes in the league (602).
However, news out of Lions minicamp is that Stafford has turned things around and is impressing coach Jim Caldwell. "He's improved," Caldwell told MLive.com on Tuesday. "He has a better feel for the system. You can see our timing's better, receivers have a better sense of the routes that they're running. All around I think we've made some improvement."
"I mean, it's obviously always a work in progress," Stafford offered. "But there's no question we've taken strides forward this spring." Caldwell went on to say that, concerning Stafford's completion percentage, he expects "an improvement from where he was last year."
Stafford finished as the #17 QB last season, but in the three previous seasons, he didn’t finish outside the top 10. Stafford tends to struggle when Calvin Johnson isn’t fully healthy, as was the case last year. He should improve his numbers in his second season in Joe Lombardi's offense, especially with a healthy Johnson back in the fold.
A quick canvas of the league revealed 10 No. 1-caliber receivers: Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, Alshon Jeffrey, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, DeMaryius Thomas, Jordy Nelson, T.Y. Hilton, Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown.
Robinson, the Jaguars’ second-year receiver, is below that level, but on this team at this moment, he’s the best.
Robinson averaged 5.2 catches for 61 yards and 0.22 TD from Week 2 to Week 10, which extrapolates to an 84-974-3.6 over the course of a full 16-game season. He posted fringe WR2-type numbers before suffering a stress fracture in his foot. The Jacksonville receiving corps should feature Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns. If QB Blake Bortles can progress, this could be a dangerous passing game, and Robinson would be the primary beneficiary.
One area Lions QB Matthew Stafford significantly altered was his willingness to attack opposing defenses downfield. In 2014, he attempted just 63 passes that traveled 20 yards or more beyond the line of scrimmage. At just 10.5 percent of his total pass attempts, it was the lowest rate of deep shots in his six-year career.
A number of factors contributed to Stafford holstering his cannon more often than not last season. It starts with the conscientious effort to reduce turnovers. Then there was the decreased time in the pocket due to inferior pass protection. And you can't discount the injury issues which hampered top downfield weapon Calvin Johnson much of the season.
The Lions made a serious effort to improve the blocking up front this offseason, using the team's first-round draft pick on guard Laken Tomlinson. Detroit also parted ways with long-time center Dominic Raiola -- an average pass-blocker last season -- making way for last year's third-round pick, Travis Swanson, to take over at that spot.
In addition to the investment in the offensive line, Johnson should be back at 100 percent to start the season. In the first three games last year, before the star receiver first injured his ankle, Stafford attempted five deep passes per game. That dropped to 3.6 attempts the final 13 weeks.
Stafford finished as the #17 QB last season, but in the three previous seasons he didn’t finish outside the top 10. Stafford tends to struggle when Calvin Johnson isn’t fully healthy, as was the case last year. Stafford is a serious threat to finish with QB1 numbers, though we have more confidence in the passers ranked ahead of him.
In the two previous OTA practices open to the media, Ebron struggled with drops, which has further fueled his critics. To his credit, the young tight end has responded in a promising way this current week of practice. During Wednesday's session, he didn't let a pass touch the ground.
"This week specifically, he's been phenomenal catching the ball and after the catch," Tate said. "The linebackers are having a tough time covering him and even the safeties."
In April, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi noted it's common for tight ends to experience tremendous growth in their second season. He also stated the Lions are counting on Ebron to be the team's third receiving option behind Tate and Calvin Johnson. Tate echoed his coordinator's optimism.
"He's improved a whole lot," Tate said. "We're excited for him this year. I think he's going to be a huge player for us this year."
Ebron turned 3.8 targets into 1.9 catches for 19 yards and 0.08 TD as a rookie. He played half the snaps, so his lack of production is somewhat alarming. Tight end is a tough position to learn as a rookie, so there is some reason for optimism given Ebron's skill set and the investment (a first round pick) the Lions have made in him.
Lions WR Calvin Johnson has had a healthy offseason, he says he feels young and his comfort level in Joe Lombardi’s offense is high heading into the second year of the scheme. He sees a lot of great things ahead for this offense and plans to play a big role in 2015.
For the first time in five seasons, Johnson finished outside the top 6 in wide receiver scoring, thanks to a nagging ankle injury. He finished in the top 10 on a points per game basis. He has also had knee problems throughout his career, but as long as he’s healthy, he’s very likely to post WR1 numbers. His fantasy stock hasn’t been this “low” since his rookie season.
Monday, April 6, 2015, 10:39am
WR Ryan Broyles led the Lions with 11 catches for 144 yards during the preseason, but was a nonfactor in the regular season. He was active for just five games, when Calvin Johnson was dealing with a high ankle sprain, and caught two passes for 25 yards.
But HC Jim Caldwell says he saw growth from Broyles during practices, and is hopeful he'll play himself into the picture at receiver now that he's finally gone a year without suffering a major injury.
"I think he's a guy you have a lot of respect for because he's had three major injuries, and he's fought his way back from them, and I think that's hard to do," offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said last week. "Listen, when the guy's been in there, he's been productive. And we're excited to see where he is now after a full season of not coming back from an injury. He's had a full year to be healthy, and we're excited to see what he does here in the offseason and heading into camp."
The story went on to say now that Broyles is healthy and freed from the perpetual rehab process, Detroit is hopeful he can turn his focus to improving his game. But it's not that simple for Broyles. Even when he was healthy last year, he was not a factor because he filled a virtually identical role in the offense as Golden Tate. And Tate is the much better player. So it stands to reason Broyles could be healthier this year, and better this year, and still not be a part of the offense's plans.
Friday, January 2, 2015, 5:04pm
Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle, probable) took full practice reps again Friday and is probable for Week 18. Megatron will be fine for what should be a high-scoring game against Dallas.
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle, probable) took full practice reps on Friday after being limited earlier in the week and is probable for Week 17. Megatron won’t miss a showdown with Green Bay for the NFC North title.
Friday, December 19, 2014, 6:02pm
Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle, probable) took full practice reps again Friday and is probable for Week 16. Johnson is good to go for a nice matchup with Chicago.
Thursday, December 18, 2014, 6:14pm
Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) took full practice reps Thursday after being limited Wednesday. Johnson is good to go for a nice matchup with Chicago.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 5:57pm
Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) took limited practice reps Wednesday. This is typical for Megatron.
Friday, December 12, 2014, 6:26pm
Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle, probable) took full practice reps again Friday and is probable for Week 15. Johnson is good to go for Sunday.
Thursday, December 11, 2014, 6:32pm
Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) took full practice reps Thursday after being limited Wednesday. This is typical for Megatron.
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