Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt had said he'd be interested to see how quarterback Marcus Mariota handled his first days in pads, with more players bumping and jostling him, and more players falling at his feet.
Mariota still looked like a cool, composed quarterback. He completed a combined 12-of-18 passes in 7-on-7 drills and team drills, and three of the incompletions should have been caught. Mariota went without an interception for the third straight day.
A couple Mariota highlights: He anticipated Kendall Wright's break to the sideline perfectly on one play, connecting with him just as Wright turned for the ball. Mariota also threw a good deep completion down the right sideline to Hakeem Nicks, who'd beaten Jason McCourty on the play.
That's not to say Mariota was perfect, of course. The story said he overthrew TE Delanie Walker once on a short pass as Walker headed toward the sideline. He also wobbled another pass downfield to Walker, even though it reached its intended destination. But the bottom line is that 15-of-18 passes were caught or should have been caught. Mariota isn't making any risky throws that are causing coaches great worry, and he knows how important it is not to turn the ball over. Of course, it's only early in camp and a lot remains to be seen from Mariota, but the positive reports have continued throughout the offseason when it comes to the rookie QB. Mariota is 26th on our QB list and could at least have some streaming value. In 12-team leagues he's getting some late round action in early season drafts according to his ADP.
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.
Officials in Virginia Beach, Virginia said 24-year-old Justin Scott Hunter turned himself in Monday after a warrant was filed in relation to an incident in early July.
Hunter was charged with one count of felonious assault and lodged in the Virginia Beach City Jail on no bond. He was scheduled to be arraigned in court Tuesday afternoon.
Leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, Oregon star QB Marcus Mariota was billed as a "project," bound to struggle with the transition from a college spread offense to a pro style. After an impressive showing in offseason practices, though, the Tennessee Titans have reason to believe Mariota will find instant success as a rookie. Veteran receiver Harry Douglas recently raved about the "unbelievable accuracy" Mariota showcased in OTAs and minicamp. "I feel like Marcus has done everything he needs to do to get the ball to his receivers," Douglas added, via ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky.
Mariota also drew praise from wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson who said Mariota has been "deadly accurate" in practices. Of course it's only practice. Mariota ranks just 26th on our QB list but certainly has a chance to improve on that. However, the Titans group of WRs isn't all that impressive. Kendell Wright ranks the highest at just 45th on our WR list. He's joined by Justin Hunter (70th), Dorial Green-Beckham (89th), Douglas (101st) and Hakeem Nicks (142nd).
"I'm nowhere near finished, man, and I want to prove that to the world and everybody," Nicks told FOX Sports' Mike Garafalo recently. "That's definitely my mentality, but I don't even want to talk about it. I feel like I got into that situation last year talking about it. I'm about to just go out there and prove it.
"I can't even describe the feeling to you. It's like a burning sensation inside of me. I just want to be the best. I know I have to work hard at it; it's something that's in me. It's just in me and takes over me."
Nicks was underwhelming in Indianapolis, catching only 55% of his targets while posting 38 catches for 405 yards and four touchdowns. The Titans also added Harry Douglas this offseason, so he and Nicks will join a receiving corps that already includes Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter. There isn't much fantasy value here.
“This guy can make plays. He’s big. He’s fast. He can stretch the defense, all those types of things,” said Pagano. “It’s a learning process, and he’s going to be better in year two than he was in year one. He’s going to have more opportunities.”
Overall, Moncrief played more than 50% of the snaps in just six games (week 8 at Pittsburgh when Reggie Wayne was out & the last five weeks of the season). In those six games, Moncrief accumulated 18 receptions, 301 yards, and all 3 of his TDs.
That’s more than 56% of his catches for the year, about 68% of his yards, and 100% of his touchdowns for the season...in just six games, the only games where Moncrief played a majority of the snaps. The picture is getting clearer as to why the 6’2”, 221 pound burner is expected to get more opportunities in 2015.
In those six games, Moncrief averaged 3.0 catches for 50 yards and 0.50 touchdowns, but that split includes both huge games (3-134-2 vs. Washington, 7-113-1 vs. Pittsburgh) and disappearing acts (a goose egg vs. Houston, 2-5 vs. Dallas, 3-16 vs. Tennessee), so his production was all over the place. Moncrief's ADP took a two-round hit (6th to 8th) once the Colts signed Andre Johnson, and the signing certainly takes some of the wind out of Moncrief's sails. But both Reggie Wayne (859 snaps) and Hakeem Nicks (576 snaps) are gone, so there may be room for both Johnson and Moncrief to play starter's snaps. The question is how often the Colts go to two-TE sets since Dwayne Allen should be healthy after missing six games last season. When either Allen or Wayne were out, Nicks played 59% of the snaps. When both were in the lineup, Nicks played just 45% of the snaps. Moncrief is still going to be a breakout candidate, but his playing time is up in the air.
The Colts have added an intriguing talent with great pedigree to their receiving corps. Indianapolis announced Monday it agreed to terms with CFL wideout Duron Carter, son of Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter.
Duron Carter goes 6-5, 205 pounds. After a checkered college career, he caught 124 passes for 1,939 yards and 12 touchdowns in two seasons with the Montreal Alouettes.
"His length is what jumps out right off the bat and his ability to make the big play with that length in a variety of ways," Colts GM Ryan Grigson said. "He has very good quickness and wiggle for his size and has excellent ability to adjust to the ball in air."
Per College Football Talk...
The (Florida Atlantic) Owls were the fourth collegiate stop for Carter, son of former star NFL receiver Cris Carter, the past three years, with academics serving as a significant hurdle at nearly every one of them. Carter was declared academically ineligible for Ohio State’s appearance in the Rose Bowl game following the 2009 regular season, an issue that also kept him out of spring practice in 2010.
He left the Buckeyes in June of that year and enrolled at a junior college in Kansas. After transferring to Alabama in April of 2011 from the JUCO ranks, eligibility issues again involving academics kept him from practicing with the Tide until late August.
It was announced in late September of 2011 that Carter would not play at all that season and would instead take a redshirt. He was suspended for spring practice this year, which prompted him to take his leave of Tuscaloosa and officially transfer to FAU.
College Football Talk also mentioned that Carter was the No. 11 ranked receiver of his high school class. The signing puts a dent in the upside of Donte Moncrief, who will now have Carter to contend with if he hopes to start in 2015. Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks may or may not be back in the fold, so this is a situation to monitor this offseason.
With Hilton inactive, Donte Moncrief draws the start and is a fantasy WR2 start with Reggie Wayne (PPR) and Hakeem Nicks having Sneaky Start appeal. Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen also get a bump. Andrew Luck's ranking takes a slight hit with Hilton out, but he has enough weapons and should be able to manufacture plenty of fantasy points against Dallas.
"For some," Pagano responded. "This guy is pretty special. Don't count him out."
As we reported yesterday, those around the team consider him doubtful even though his official status is questionable. If he’s out, Donte Moncrief becomes a fantasy WR2 with Reggie Wayne (PPR) and Hakeem Nicks having Sneaky Start appeal. Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen would also get a bump. Andrew Luck’s ranking takes a slight hit with Hilton out, but he has enough weapons and should be able to manufacture plenty of fantasy points against Dallas.
Friday, December 19, 2014, 6:02pm
Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring, questionable) missed practice all week and is questionable for Week 16. The beat writers are describing Hilton as doubtful, though he’s officially questionable. We currently do not expect him to play, since Indianapolis doesn’t have a whole lot to play for. If he’s out, Donte Moncrief becomes a fantasy WR2 with Reggie Wayne (PPR) and Hakeem Nicks having Sneaky Start appeal. Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen would also get a bump. Andrew Luck’s ranking takes a slight hit with Hilton out, but he has enough weapons and should be able to manufacture plenty of fantasy points against Dallas.
Thursday, December 18, 2014, 6:14pm
Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) missed practice again Thursday. Hilton was expected to return today. If he’s out, Donte Moncrief, Hakeem Nicks and Reggie Wayne would all see a significant bump in a nice matchup against Dallas. His absence would hurt Andrew Luck, but he’d still be a must-start given the matchup.
With Reggie Wayne losing a step, the Colts need Moncrief's playmaking ability as an alternative to T.Y. Hilton. The third-round rookie has the size and athleticism to become a star with Luck as his quarterback.
While it may have just become official this week, it's no surprise Moncrief is now the team's WR3. We had a news item on Saturday that said it remains to be seen if he passes Reggie Wayne for the WR2 role. The item said that Wayne is still a security blank for Luck, but there's no denying Moncrief's big-play ability. He's certainly worth a pickup, at least in deeper leagues, but owners should probably still consider him boom or bust at this point. However he's one big play away from giving owners very nice fantasy numbers.
Saturday, November 29, 2014, 9:13am
Colts beat writer Mike Wells answered a question about Donte Moncrief and the WR2 role on the team:
T.Y. Hilton will hold onto the torch for a number of years before Donte Moncrief gets hold of it. Hilton has unofficially taken the torch from Wayne as Andrew Luck's big-play target. Wayne is still Luck's security blanket, but the days of him outrunning the defense for a 50-yard touchdown have passed. Wayne knows it, too.
But I'll still take Wayne over most defensive backs when it comes to getting open on short to intermediate routes. Moncrief will become the Colts' No. 2 receiver sooner than later. It just won't happen until Wayne decides to call it quits on his likely Hall-of-Fame career.
According to Wells it looks like Wayne may hold the WR2 role a little longer. But Moncrief at least appears to be poised to steal WR3 targets away from Hakeem Nicks. By next year, it looks safe to assume Moncrief will be the clear WR3.
Friday, October 31, 2014, 5:43pm
Colts WR Reggie Wayne (elbow, not injury related) returned to take full practice reps Friday after missing practice Thursday. Wayne is suddenly on track to play on Monday night. Donte Moncrief would be a Sneaky Start if Wayne can’t play, and Hakeem Nicks has some desperation appeal in a revenge game against his old team. If Wayne plays, then Moncrief would only hold desperation value as the team’s third wideout (at best).
Friday, October 31, 2014, 10:58am
Colts beat writer Mike Wells: The Colts are saying the right things publicly, but it's been a mystery why Hakeem Nicks hasn't been a factor. Last weekend's game basically summed up his time with the Colts. With Wayne out with an elbow injury, Nicks was the No. 2 receiver, but he was clearly outplayed by rookie Donte Moncrief. Nicks only caught one of the six targets from Luck for 27 yards while playing 60 of 66 snaps. Moncrief only needed 40 snaps to catch seven passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. You would have thought having a bigger role in the offense would help Nicks. Now you have to wonder if he'll fit in at all this season because Wayne will likely play Monday and Moncrief's performance may have been good enough to move him ahead of Nicks as the third receiver.
With Reggie Wayne looking iffy for Monday night, Moncrief would be a Sneaky Start against the Giants. Hopefully we'll know if Wayne will play by Sunday morning. If not, depending on Moncrief won't be for the faint of heart. He still has some upside as the Colts' WR3, even if Wayne plays, however.
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