Realistically, he won't top what Marvin Jones provided last year, but he could come close. And his role will only grow as your playoffs grow closer. I'm predicting in the 55-reception, 800-yard range with 5-7 touchdowns.
Boyd didn't test well at the combine, but that doesn't necessarily matter all that much when it comes to the receiver position. College market share is more important, and Boyd fared very well in that regard. With Brandon LaFell's injury woes, it appears that Boyd is going to start opposite A.J. Green and has a capable quarterback throwing him the ball. Throw in some uncertainty at the tight end position and it's a recipe for a good rookie year.
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.
It illustrated two things.
First, Stafford has complete comfort in Jones at this point. He likely doesn't make that throw to many other receivers on the roster and it showed just how good Jones' awareness and hands are. He put his hands up at the last possible second -- good trackers of the ball do that -- to throw off the defensive back and make the catch.
Second, the window Stafford threw the ball into was minuscule, even by NFL standards. The only way that pass was going to be completed was if he threw it in a small spot just over Lawson's shoulder. He did. It was complete. It was a heck of a play -- whether or not it counted.
It was a continuation of what has become a strong rapport between Stafford and Jones, the story said. This isn't the first we've heard about this chemistry, and it appears Jones could be the top WR target, passing Golden Tate who many assumed would take that role over from Calvin Johnson. The author went on to say he "can't think of a day when Jones had a bad day of practice."
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.
“I thought Marvin was a very good route runner,” Lions general manager Bob Quinn said shortly after signing Jones. “He’s not just a one-dimensional receiver. He can run vertical routes, he can run short routes, he can run intermediate routes. He’s got very good hands, so I think he’s a guy that can get open and catch the football.”
Getting open and catching the football is something we’ve seen a lot from Jones early and often so far in training camp. That’s especially been the case down the field both in one-on-one drills and in team portions of practice.
It’s still early in training camp, but Jones has already shown to have a nice repertoire of short, intermediate and deep playmaking ability the story said. Also important, he and Stafford seem to already be building a nice rapport.
Lions TE Eric Ebron didn’t play much football the first two weeks of OTAs, sidelined with an injury. He returned this week and immediately slid into his position in Jim Bob Cooter's offense. It’s a role he believes will be “a lot more exciting” than it was his first two seasons under Joe Lombardi.
Ebron is going to have to take more responsibility, too. With Calvin Johnson's retirement, he becomes one of the team’s primary mismatches for opponents. When he was drafted, he was supposed to be another option for Matthew Stafford. Now, he’ll likely line up with Marvin Jones and Golden Tate as a primary one.
“I see him hopefully taking strides this year,” Cooter said. “And making those big strides.”
Ebron caught 47 passes for 537 yards and five touchdowns last season and finished as the #13 TE in PPR formats, though he was actually worse under then-interim and now-official offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. He averaged 13.0 FP (PPR) through the first seven weeks, and 7.3 FP once Cooter was promoted. With Calvin Johnson gone, there are a lot of moving parts in Detroit, so this doesn't mean that Ebron won't produce similar (or better) numbers in his third season.
The offense being installed in Allen Park this offseason is very different than the one the Lions ran even the second half of last season.
“I think it's exactly what it is, we started from scratch,” receiver Golden Tate said after an open OTA practice last week.
“The calls are different. The signals are different. From top to bottom it’s all new and we’re just taking it day by day. I think our guys are doing a great job staying in their book and trying to learn it.”
There are obviously some elements that were put in place on the fly the second half of last year that have been adopted into the new package. But this has truly been a full reinstall, according to Tate. And like anything new, it takes time to perfect.
It would explain some of the sloppiness, penalties, missed assignments and balls hitting the ground on offense over the course of the two open OTA practices the last two weeks.
The offense was more productive once Jim Bob Cooter took over in Week 8, averaging 2.24 points per drive compared to just 1.54 points per drive in the first seven games. Total yardage and number of plays remained about the same, but there was a larger commitment to the run (+4.8 rushing attempts per game). Passing yardage declined (-26.5), but touchdowns were up (+0.36) and interceptions were way down (-0.99). Given Tate's comments about the new install, it sounds as if the offense is a work in progress, and the team will have to get new WR Marvin Jones up to speed.
Lions.com writer Tim Twentyman was asked via Twitter who will lead the team in catches. His response:
I think it will be hard for Theo Riddick to reach 80 catches again this season. Teams will scheme hard against him.
I expect Eric Ebron’s stats to take another significant increase in year three, but the 90-catch range is probably a bit high for him.
In the end, I expect Tate and Marvin Jones to be right there, with Tate edging Jones out.
Jones had a career-high 65 catches in 2015, so it's tough to see him pushing Tate, who has back-to-back seasons with 90-plus catches. Tate looks like a great value, especially in PPR formats.
Johnson’s future -- and the possibility of him returning -- came up in an interview Wednesday evening on the Mitch Albom Show on WJR-760 at the annual Taste of the Lions event at Ford Field.
“In my mind, I don’t see that happening,” Stafford said. “He retired because he wanted to. That’s it.”
It's up to Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Eric Ebron to pick up the slack. Over the last two seasons, in 11 games in which Johnson was questionable, doubtful or out, Tate averaged 6.6 receptions for 77 yards and 0.73 TD. Fantasy-wise, that’s about what Allen Robinson scored as the #6 WR in PPR formats in 2015. It’s also solid WR1 production in standard formats. 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 likely have a large role in the red zone.
Andy Dalton is back to zipping the ball. He’s got no restrictions with his throwing thumb; he’s got one visit under his belt to passing specialist Dr. Tom House last month, and after watching two of his most established targets leave via free agency he got one back with a Super Bowl ring and knows Pro Bowlers A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert are already here.
“It would be tougher if it was my first or second year, but this is year six,” Dalton says Monday from Dallas of his revamped receiving corps. “It’s easier for me now than early on in my career. That is going to be fun. We’ve got these guys from the start; we’ve got to get them exactly where we want them to be.
The two guys who lockered next to him and meant so much to the passing game won’t be here two weeks from Monday when the Bengals gather for offseason workouts. Wide receiver Marvin Jones turned down at least the same $40 million to go to Detroit and Mohamed Sanu got No. 2 money in Atlanta when a No. 4 role loomed in Cincinnati.
That means the Lions are looking for the supporting cast at WR to step up. Golden Tate will be featured prominently alongside Marvin Jones, and Detroit has acquired former Jet Jeremy Kerley to man the slot.
"We really expect him to come forward and be a little bit more of a prominent threat," coach Jim Caldwell said.
Jones was a sixth-round pick of the club in 2014, but experienced nerve pain following shoulder surgery that offseason and never played a down. He caught passes in four of the final five games including a 29-yard touchdown in a Week 16 win against San Francisco. Caldwell went on to say Jones return ability and scat-back ability, where he can catch screens and take off and go.
Marvin Jones signing in Detroit per sources.
Jones has averaged 3.6 receptions for 48 yards and 0.44 TD in his last 32 games. He's been especially good at catching touchdowns, so he'll try to pick up the slack 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. This is a good landing spot for Jones. Consider him a fantasy WR4 with some upside heading into 2016.
Friday, January 1, 2016, 6:26pm
Wednesday, December 30, 2015, 6:13pm
Friday, December 18, 2015, 6:32pm
Bengals TE Tyler Eifert (concussion, out) has been ruled out for Week 15. Eifert’s absence means that A.J. Green and Marvin Jones are a bit more attractive, though the loss of Andy Dalton doesn’t help.
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