Part of that breath of fresh air has to include playing with Andrew Luck after cycling through several quarterbacks while with the Texans. Matt Schaub was the most accomplished player of that group and Johnson showed them all some kindness by putting a unnecessary qualifier on his assessment of Luck’s skills.
“He throws a great ball,” Johnson said. “Probably the best quarterback I’ve ever played with. I’m excited about the opportunity.”
Johnson will likely start opposite T.Y. Hilton. It’s a big upgrade from a quality-of-quarterback standpoint, as he has never played with one as good as Andrew Luck. His targets are likely to take a hit, however. He averaged 9.7 T/G in 2014, while Hilton and Reggie Wayne led the Colts with 8.7 and 7.7 T/G, respectively. So this looks like a case of the targets dropping but the quality of those targets increasing. After finishing in the top 10 (in PPR) in five of his previous six seasons, Johnson finished #28 in 2014. He’s turning 34 this offseason, so it may be foolhardy to expect a huge bounceback season, but low-end WR2 numbers in PPR formats seem reasonable.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 11:33am
It certainly looks like TE Dennis Pitta wants to at least keep the door open for a possible return. In a video posted to the Ravens' website from Monday’s kickoff to the offseason workout program, Pitta is seen working out alongside his teammates in the weight room.
Pitta’s presence may keep the door ajar, but it probably doesn’t change the Ravens’ feelings about needing to add a tight end in the draft. With Owen Daniels gone, the team’s thin on players they know will be there in September.
Broncos HC Gary Kubiak's relationship with WR Cody Latimer dates back 13 months. Latimer visited the Baltimore Ravens leading up to the 2014 draft, meeting with Kubiak, then the Ravens' offensive coordinator. He told Latimer their paths would cross again. Their intersection in Denver — sooner than either expected — brings lofty expectations.
"He showed a lot of flashes from me watching (film of) him in practice," Kubiak said. "A lot of times being a rookie can be over- whelming. I think it's time for him to make a big jump, not just a little jump. Obviously his playing time is fixing to pick up, and it needs to pick up. We need him."
Kubiak has a reputation for preferring two-TE sets over three-WR sets, which may limit Latimer's upside. The Ravens' WR3, Marlon Brown, played 40 percent of the snaps last season, so it remains to be seen if Latimer gets enough run to be fantasy relevant. He's at best the Broncos' WR3 behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Kubiak's tendencies mean that Latimer will have to carve out snaps -- they won't be handed to him.
Browns TE Rob Housler, 27, confirmed the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals were interested in signing him, but he said he ultimately chose the Browns partly because of the opportunities he expects to receive in new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s scheme. Housler emphasized the coach affectionately known as “Flip” wants to move him around a lot in the offense and feature him as a vertical threat in the middle of the field.
“It was a big factor,” Housler said of weighing the pass-catching opportunities each of his suitors would likely grant him. “I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum where I’ve been a part of targets and a part of the flow and rhythm of the offense, and I’ve seen where it goes other ways. For me, I want to be a big part of the offense. So that was a big consideration. I’m confident in my ability, and I just want to be able to contribute.”
Housler should get plenty of chances as the Browns try to compensate for losing Cameron, whom they attempted to re-sign before he bolted to Miami.
Housler signed a one-year deal with aligns with his expectation that he'll be a big part of the offense. He has great athleticism for his position, but so far that athleticism hasn't translated to on-field production. Part of the problem is that he was an afterthought in the Arizona offense, but it sounds as if the Browns intend to utilize his speed down the seam.
Monday, April 6, 2015, 8:06pm
During an interview with Rich Gannon on SiriusXM, Warner said he thought Kaepernick would be better served staying in the pocket, rather than allowing his incredible athleticism to become a crutch.
“He can’t do all the running,” Warner said, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “Now he’s got to become more of a pass-first guy and complement with his athleticism. And he’s never been asked to do that before. And so that’s the process that we kind of went through in the couple of months I was working with him."
Warner spent 10 sessions working with Kaepernick in Arizona this offseason, according to the story, and said he hoped the work helped keep Kaepernick focused on moving the ball downfield. Last year, Kaepernick averaged just 7.0 yards per pass attempt, and the 49ers went out and bought Torrey Smith in free agency in an attempt to stretch the field.
Monday, April 6, 2015, 10:22am
The Ravens still will likely draft a wide receiver pretty early and they still are monitoring the markets of veteran free agents like Greg Jennings and Michael Crabtree. But by now, it’s pretty clear that they want to give every opportunity for their own young receivers to step into bigger roles.
With the departure of Torrey Smith to San Francisco, and Steve L. Smith another year older, a few of the young WRs mentioned above look like they will get a chance at more snaps in 2015. Still, the Ravens remain a run-first team, so in terms of fantasy value, a lot remains to be seen concerning these guys heading into fantasy draft season.
Sunday, April 5, 2015, 9:11am
DiRocco: Only if he improves his issues with pass protection. It's not a physical problem. He is willing to block and can do it. He just struggles knowing what his responsibilities are in certain protections and audibles. If he's able to figure that out then he will have more opportunities.
Blocking responsibilities are a big reason young RBs can't get on the field. The emergence of Denard Robinson last season could also limit Johnson's snaps. And don't forget about Toby Gerhart - DiRocco added that he thinks the starting spot will come down to Robinson or Gerhart in 2015. The team also signed Bernard Pierce this offseason.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 2:29pm
Schaub will serve as a backup to Joe Flacco.
Broncos RB C.J. Anderson earned his place on the first team with a performance in the second half of the season that was more productive than all but one other running back in that span.When offseason workouts start, he will remain atop the depth chart at running back -- but only if he can maintain his performance and diligence.
"He made a big jump as a player, and I think he's earned the right to walk in to the offseason program -- the OTAs -- and line up as our starter," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "But he's got to continue to earn it on a daily basis... I think he's shown he has all the ability to be an excellent starter in this league, so we're really looking forward to working with him."
But he will return to find his predecessors at running back at full strength. Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman have recovered from groin and foot injuries, respectively, and will factor into the scramble for carries.
"All those guys are young. I think all three of those guys ... have all kind of had their little spurts of success with the club when they've had their opportunity," Kubiak said. "But they're all young. Who's going to be the bell cow, who's going to play every down, who's going to be the three-down player, they've got to sort that out. C.J. has shown the flashes of doing that... We'll give them all a chance and see how it pans out, but C.J. obviously has a good head start on things," Kubiak said.
The competition could be fierce, but Anderson's success last year and his ability to translate that to a zone-blocking scheme gives him the early lead.
"All good players fit your system, and he's a good player," Kubiak said. "So we've got some good young backs, and it's going to be very competitive from that standpoint, but, yeah, he's proven that running zone schemes and doing those types of things seem to fit him very well."
Anderson began to see starter-type touches in Week 10 with 17 touches for 163 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders. Over the final eight weeks, he averaged 24.0 touches for 132 yards and 1.3 TD, and was the #1 RB in that span. If the Broncos commit to Anderson (and why wouldn’t they?), he should thrive under Kubiak, who just coaxed a career year out of journeyman Justin Forsett.
Thursday, March 19, 2015, 10:09pm
After a pretty strong rookie season (4.9 YPC on 108 carries), Pierce has rushed for just 802 yards on 245 carries for a 3.27 YPC. He was a cut candidate even before the DUI, but his run-in with the law made him even more expendable. The Ravens currently have Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro atop the depth chart at running back.
This is a situation to monitor as the offseason wears on.
Forsett should see his PPR upside increase due to new OC Marc Trestman's tendency to use his running backs in the passing game. Under Trestman, Matt Forte caught 176 passes in the last two seasons, including 102 catches in 2014. Forsett caught 44 passes last season, and could potentially see that number double if he's the RB1 for the Ravens in 2015. However, the loss of OC Gary Kubiak is likely to hurt the Ravens’ running game. As the #8 RB in both standard and PPR formats in 2014, he'll likely hold RB2-type draft value if he continues as the lead back in Baltimore.
The deal is worth $40 million, including $22 million guaranteed, sources said.
Smith got off to a slow start in 2014, posting just six catches for 85 yards in the first three games. Over the final 13 games of the season, he averaged 3.3 receptions for 52 yards and 0.85 touchdowns, which equates to #20 WR-type numbers in PPR formats. As it stands, he finished as the #29 WR in PPR and #19 in standard formats (thanks to the high touchdown rate), which is the fourth time he has finished in the top 23 (in standard formats) in his four-year career. He'll join a 49ers receiving corps that is likely losing Michael Crabtree and has a still-effective Anquan Boldin as a possession receiver. Smith will serve as a deep threat for QB Colin Kaepernick, though this move has to be considered a downgrade from an offensive/quarterback standpoint since the 49ers are typically run-heavy and Joe Flacco is pretty adept at putting touch on the deep ball. Throwing with touch is not one of Kaepernick's strengths.
Update: He signed three-year, $12 million contract.
Daniels continues to follow HC Gary Kubiak around the league. In the 12 games in which he played at least 75 percent of the snaps, Daniels averaged 3.0 catches for 33 yards and 0.25 TD (on 5.1 targets). He'll be a serviceable TE2 playing with Peyton Manning, unless the Broncos aren't done trying to replace Julius Thomas.
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