Calvin Johnson said his physical condition is good, describing it as “night and day” to last season when he dealt with knee and finger issues that needed surgical attention after the season. As long as things stay that way, it’s a good guess that Johnson will remain a major part of the Lions offense regardless of where he lines up on the field.
The knee injury appears to be behind him. Even hobbled, Megatron managed to finish as the #3 WR in standard formats after finishing 1st in both 2011 and 2012. The Lions have added weapons in the passing game (i.e. Golden Tate and Eric Ebron), so Johnson shouldn’t see quite as much attention as in recent years.
Quarterback Tony Romo never practiced more than two consecutive days while the team was in Oxnard for training camp.
He will follow that routine this week. Romo didn’t practice Wednesday but is expected to return Thursday.
Head coach Jason Garrett indicated that routine will change once the regular season is underway.
“Again, that’s a couple, three weeks out,’’ Garrett said. “We do anticipate him being able to handle the load of a work week leading up to the game.
Much has been written about how Romo will thrive under new “Passing Game Coordinator” Scott Linehan. Under Linehan, the Lions threw the ball 62.2% of the time in the last two seasons. Over the same span, the Cowboys threw it 64.3% of the time, so the Cowboys may not be that much more "pass happy" under Linehan, though the number of plays they run could increase, helping the offense as a whole. The Lions have averaged 1,105 plays in the last two seasons, while the Cowboys averaged just 968 plays, so Detroit ran 14% more plays than Dallas over that span. This bodes well for Romo and Co. Hopefully that back holds up.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 8:29pm
The Lions plan to give wide receiver Calvin Johnson his first playing time of the preseason against the Jaguars Friday, and when asked about what he’s looking for, HC Jim Caldwell made a point to note his impressions of the All-Pro.
“I know he’s been itching to get in,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “Maybe the humblest individual that I’ve ever been around, and not only that, maybe the hardest worker. He’s a tremendous person, and he’s just tireless in terms of his efforts to get on the field and help his team.”
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is off to an exceptional start to the preseason, completing 11-14 passes for 106 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Two of those incompletions were drops by running back Reggie Bush.
Bush's hands have been an issue much of his eight-year career. He had the NFL's worst drop rate among players with 50 or more targets last season, letting nine passes slip through his hands. He also fumbled five times, losing four.
After dropping a pass in each of the team's first two preseason contests, there would seem to be cause for concern, but neither the tailback or coach Jim Caldwell are worried about the issue lingering into the regular season.
"It's just a matter of getting the timing down, here and there," Bush said. "That's what the preseason is for, getting that timing down with the quarterback. It will get there."
The Lions are implementing a new offensive scheme this season, and many of the routes and alignments for the running backs and receivers have been tweaked. Bush believes he and Stafford just need to continue to work on their timing together on the practice field, the story went on to say. Unfortunately for Bush, Joique Bell and Theo Riddick are capable receivers out of the backfield too, so if it continues to be an issue, he may end up losing snaps. Bush has an ADP of the fourth round with Bell's being in the sixth.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 4:37pm
Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr returned to practice on Monday, three days after sustaining a concussion and a hit to his ribs against the Lions on Friday. Carr was wearing extra padding around his ribs.
Carr got some first-team reps in the second preseason game, but coach Dennis Allen doesn’t anticipate that happening again Friday in Green Bay. He said you will see a lot of starting quarterback Matt Schaub.
Caldwell also made it clear plans could change, depending on what happens the reset of the week.
"We plan to get him some work this week," Caldwell said. "That's (Monday) that I'm telling you that. Toward the end of the week, something adjusts, or we have to adjust here and there, and it could be that with a number of different guys, but we plan to get him some work this week."
The team has been cautious with Johnson this offseason, regularly resting him during practice, even though he's fully recovered from offseason surgeries on his knee and finger. Caldwell has chalked the routine up to "prudence," the story says.
"I think he'll get some reps with the ones tomorrow," coach Gus Bradley said after Sunday's practice, per The Florida Times-Union. "I know the plan was sometime during this week."
The impressive rookie quarterback has earned a look with first-team after two exciting preseason outings against second- and third-team defenses.
Looks like Bortles will get time with the first time offense against the Lions on Friday, but the plan still remains to let Chad Henne start the season with Bortles on the bench. Like we said before, unless Henne starts winning, it will be tough for the Jags to not play Bortles sooner than later.
Saturday, August 16, 2014, 7:14pm
Lions RB Theo Riddick didn’t play much last week because of an abdominal injury, but it only took one play this week in Oakland to show why coaches and teammates are so high on the young running back.
Riddick caught a screen pass from quarterback Dan Orlovsky on the first Lions possession of the second half Friday night in Oakland and turned it into a 36-yard gain. The second-year running back out of Notre Dame made four defenders miss on the play and covered about 100 yards total after completely reversing the field and weaving in and out of defenders.
For a RB3, Riddick is getting a lot of positive press in the offseason. With Reggie Bush and Joique Bell both injured at times last year, Riddick is a guy who could seemingly step right in and be a productive fantasy player. Riddick is ranked 74th and likely won't get drafted but he'll be a hot commodity should Bush or Bell go down.
Saturday, August 16, 2014, 11:24am
"He was better this game," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of Carr, the team's second-round draft pick in May. "He made some improvement. ... Overall, he took a step forward."
Health-wise, Carr took a step backward when he suffered a concussion and a rib injury in the fourth quarter of his second NFL game. Lions defensive end Larry Webster landed on Carr with all his weight, and Carr pointed to his midsection when he picked himself up off the ground.
Allen said the concussion was the reason Carr got removed from the game. There was no immediate word on the severity of Carr's concussion or whether he broke any ribs.
Schaub was improved as well. His four drives yielded one touchdown. That came after a Lions penalty on a field-goal attempt kept alive a stalled drive. He looked sharp on his first drive, which ended when his pass into tight coverage got tipped into the air and intercepted. Carr completed 9 of 16 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. On the scoring drive, he completed all six of his passes for 76 yards. This still looks like it's Schaub's job at this point, though. Matt McGloin would step into the QB2 role if Carr misses significant time. Carr will have to pass concussion protocol but it looks like he avoided a serious rib injury according to updates.
Saturday, August 16, 2014, 8:48am
The rookie tight end had a quiet preseason debut last week, catching just one pass for two yards. Against the Raiders, he showcased his big-play potential, coming down with a 23-yard gain on a pass over the middle from Stafford and adding a 14-yard pickup on a sideline throw by Orlovsky.
Ebron can still be better. He missed an opportunity for extra yardage after failing to cleanly catch the ball from Stafford, plus the first-round pick drew a block in the back infraction on a punt return.
It usually takes a while for young TEs to develop in the league but there have been some exceptions. It's probably still a little too early to know, but Ebron is trending that way. He comes in ranked 21st, however owners are taking a late-round flier on him with an ADP of the 15th. We don't really recommend taking two TEs in typical leagues, but it seems like a potential value pick if you need to draft two.
Saturday, August 16, 2014, 8:41am
The Lions have played two preseason games now and have struggled to run the football consistently in both games.
“I think the run game is a little bit odd, especially in the preseason,” QB Matt Stafford said. “The run game a lot of times is a methodical thing where you’re chewing up yards, chewing up yards and you wear them down. Then you pop a couple big ones late in the game and all of the sudden you rush for 140 yards.
The Lions were a very good rushing football team last year and this current two-week trend shouldn’t be too big of a concern just yet.
The Lions rushed for 77 yards against Cleveland and just 52 in Oakland. Joique Bell and Reggie Bush are expected to lead the way, but Bell presenting a little more fantasy value due to being able to get him later in drafts.
Saturday, August 16, 2014, 8:37am
Jeremy Ross has likely already cemented his spot on the roster with his return ability, but two catches for 42 yards Friday night showed coaches he could make some plays in the passing game, too
Ryan Broyles continued his strong training camp. He caught three passes last week and caught two more Friday night, including a 34-yarder with 32 yards in run after the catch.
Kris Durham went up and caught a 50/50 ball in the end zone for a touchdown on the Lions’ second possession of the game. Durham used his 6-foot-6 frame to his advantage and just muscled the ball away from the defender.
Corey Fuller nearly scored on a 15-yard catch down to the 1-yard line in the third quarter. It was nearly his second touchdown in as many weeks.
The WR3 role in Detroit could have some limited fantasy value in certain leagues, so it's a battle worth monitoring.
The most intriguing position battle has little to do with actual playing time, but more an allocation of snaps and touches between Lions RBs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Both figure to receive a lot of touches as new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi will likely use many backs in a bunch of different roles. Bell may actually receive more carries as a straight runner and could be more valuable in goal-line situations. Bush is going to be a piece used out of the backfield and also out wide so his receptions could skyrocket.
This is also how we see the touches shaking out. We currently project Bell for 235 touches (192 carries, 43 receptions) and Bush for 206 (145 carries, 61 receptions) so Bush has a bit more value in PPR formats, while Bell has the edge in standard. The redzone touches will likely swing the value between the two backs. Bush out-touched Bell 37 to 29 inside the opponent's 20-yard line last season.
Thursday, August 14, 2014, 10:45pm
Last week Lions WR Ryan Broyles caught all three of his targets for 27 yards, and two of his receptions converted first downs. Although injuries have hurt during his first two years, Broyles has always shown an ability to get open, and more production in exhibitions would help him earn a bigger role in 2014.
At no point last season did the 49ers’ aerial attack look as strong as it has during this training camp. Actually, it’s stunning to see how much better this area is than it was last season. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is surely benefiting. A few examples: As a rookie, Quinton Patton was the No. 3 receiver last year. This year, he’s improved, but he might be the sixth and final receiver on the 53-man roster. Jonathan Baldwin was a frontline receiver for a spell in 2013. This year, he was cut 10 days into training camp. The additions of veterans Stevie Johnson, Brandon Lloyd and explosive fourth-round pick Bruce Ellington to go with holdover starters Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin make for a pretty special group. It has showed in camp.
In his last 18 games with Michael Crabtree in the lineup, Kaepernick has averaged 20.9 FP, which equate to #3 QB numbers. In 11 games without Crabtree, he averaged 16.1 FP. He averages 2.5 more pass attempts (i.e. the 49ers throw the ball more) and his YPA jumps from 7.4 to 8.4 with his top receiver in the lineup. The addition of Stevie Johnson should help as well. We like Kaepernick in the 8th to 10th round, depending on format.
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