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.
Thursday, April 16, 2015, 12:54pm
Second-year receiver Cody Latimer benefited from extra reps at workouts with Peyton Manning at Duke University. He received pointers that could accelerate his learning curve with the new offense. Manning had Latimer run routes that might be incorporated into the scheme of new Broncos coach Gary Kubiak.
"He texted me, and I asked if I could go down there," Latimer said of Manning. "It meant a lot."
Latimer spent his offseason training in Florida. "It really helped give me a headstart," he said.
Latimer is a player to monitor this offseason, especially with the news that Emmanuel Sanders is going to play the slot in three-receiver sets. Latimer had a disappointing rookie season and wasn't even able to beat out Andre Caldwell. However, it takes time to earn Manning's trust, and the franchise didn't draft him in the second round to ride the proverbial pine.
"On my Twitter, I'm vocal about Cody because I believe in Cody," he said. "Cody is a special player. He has strong hands and is a physical tool. I think this is going to be the year that he jumps onto the scene. I think he's going to have a big year and I'm happy he's on my team and in our receiver group."
In past seasons, Latimer would jump out as a breakout candidate in a Peyton Manning-led Broncos offense. This year could be different, however, with the team expected to lean harder on their running game in Kubiak's zone-blocking scheme.
Latimer is going to have a bigger role. How much bigger remains to be seen.
Latimer is a player to monitor this offseason, especially with the news that Sanders is going to play the slot in three-receiver sets. Latimer had a disappointing rookie season and wasn't even able to beat out Andre Caldwell. However, it takes time to earn Peyton Manning's trust, and the franchise didn't draft him in the second round to ride the proverbial pine.
Sanders performed very well in the slot last season, though he spent a majority of the time on the outside. He'll continue to play outside in two-WR sets and then move inside when the Broncos add a receiver to the formation. Sanders finished #5 in PPR formats and #7 in standard formats after catching 101 passes for 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns. With TE Julius Thomas gone, we wouldn't expect Sanders' targets to drop much, so his 3rd round ADP in early drafts looks quite reasonable. We expect Cody Latimer to compete with Andre Caldwell for snaps in three-WR sets.
Sunday, April 5, 2015, 9:17am
As part of Denver HC Gary Kubiak's zone-blocking offense, the fullback will return to the roster. The Broncos haven't featured a true fullback on their 53-man roster since Chris Gronkowski in 2012, and Spencer Larsen boasted the last part-time role in the running game in 2008.
Twenty-three NFL teams used fullbacks last season. The Broncos will join the group this season with Juwan Thompson and Joe Don Duncan, signed last month, the current candidates to fill the vacancy. Kubiak also will look to add depth through the draft, which starts April 30, or with a street free agent.
The story went on to say that the Broncos tried to throttle up their running game after a humbling November loss to the St. Louis Rams. Pro Bowler C.J. Anderson blossomed, and the story also pointed out the undrafted tailback will enter offseason workouts as a starter. The author feels the balanced attack left quarterback Peyton Manning ineffective and lacking confidence. With Kubiak, power-based sets will increase in multiple formations, including the pistol, a concession to the shotgun Manning has mastered.
Thursday, April 2, 2015, 6:54pm
The Broncos don’t figure to use as many three-wide receiver sets as they have over the past two seasons, but they'll still be part of Peyton Manning's playbook. Either way, the Broncos hope Cody Latimer shows that he’s ready to be among the top three pass-catchers.
Latimer had a disappointing rookie season and wasn't even able to beat out Andre Caldwell. However, it takes time to earn Manning's trust, and the franchise didn't draft him in the second round to ride the proverbial pine. His upside will be limited if the Broncos utilize fewer three-WR sets since new HC Gary Kubiak likes to utilize two tight ends.
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.
The Falcons started the day by signing former Colt and Bronco Jacob Tamme, but they weren’t done adding players to compete with Levine Toilolo for playing time. The team announced that they have also signed former Chief, Bill and Seahawk Tony Moeaki on Thursday afternoon.
Moeki has talent but hasn't been able to stay out of the training room. The Falcons are looking to shore up the TE position and today's signings of Tamme and Moeaki give them a couple of veterans to lean on.
Tamme could be a stopgap option if the Falcons draft a tight end and wait for him to develop.
Thomas was the #3 TE in 2013, but struggled to a #10 finish last season after dealing with torn ligaments in his ankle. He has considerable talent as a pass-catcher, but this is a huge system downgrade from Denver to Jacksonville. He'll no longer enjoy the benefits of playing in a Peyton Manning-led offense and will instead be relying on Blake Bortles to deliver the ball. If the Jaguars feature him in the passing game -- and why wouldn't they? -- he has the potential to finish as a solid fantasy TE1 provided he can stay healthy. It's certainly an upgrade for Bortles and a downgrade for Manning.
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.
The Denver Post, which first reported the news Monday night, said the multiyear contract is worth around $9 million a season.
Thomas was the #3 TE in 2013, but struggled to a #10 finish last season after dealing with torn ligaments in his ankle. He has considerable talent as a pass-catcher, but this is a huge system downgrade from Denver to Jacksonville. He'll no longer enjoy the benefits of playing in a Peyton Manning-led offense and will instead be relying on Blake Bortles to deliver the ball. If the Jaguars feature him in the passing game -- and why wouldn't they? -- he has the potential to finish as a fantasy TE1 provided he can stay healthy. It's certainly an upgrade for Bortles and a downgrade for Manning, though whomever wins the starting tight end job in Denver will be on the fantasy radar.
Manning first popped up on the injury report with a thigh injury after Week 15 (vs. San Diego). When looking only at his first 13 games, Manning averaged 301 yards, 2.8 TD and 0.8 INT, or 21.4 fantasy points per game. That would have been good enough for the third-highest average if he were able to keep that pace. In the final three weeks, including the game in which he injured the thigh, Manning averaged 272 yards and just 1.0 TD versus 1.3 INT. Even with the reduced production, Manning finished as the #4 quarterback in 2014. If he's fully healthy and ready to go, we'd expect him to be selected in the top 5 in 2015 fantasy drafts, though the Broncos' activity in free agency (namely re-signing Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas) will impact his value.
Here are the five players who got the non-exclusive franchise tag, and the amount of the tender offer for each:
This may not make either Bryant or Thomas happy, but it ensures that they aren't going anywhere for at least one more season. Both players figure to be ranked in the top 5 at their position in 2015 fantasy drafts.
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