Sunday, August 24, 2014, 1:58pm
While he was only on the field for one drive, with eight total touches, Ball’s presence was felt.
But, as Head Coach John Fox said, “We got him in and out quickly.”
Ronnie Hillman had a good night behind Ball and undrafted rookie Juwan Thompson has made an impression during camp and this week against the Texans and seems to be “becoming a pro” at a rapid pace, the story pointed out. Ball looks like the safe RB1 and it was good to see him get 8 touches in limited time. The Broncos also seem comfortable with their RBs behind Ball.
Broncos coach John Fox said Welker suffered a concussion during the team's 18-17 loss Saturday night to the Texans. Welker left the game following a hit to the helmet from Houston safety D.J. Swearinger.
"It was determined it was a concussion," Fox said. "He'll go through the protocol. The biggest thing on him is, of course, player safety. He'll go through the protocol."
As the article states, Welker has had a history of concussions, so this could be a serious situation. It's unclear how this will impact his long-term status. In the short-term, Emmanuel Sanders will likely move to the slot with rookie Cody Latimer and trusted veteran Andre Caldwell competing for snaps on the outside. Caldwell had his moments last season, but we believe that Latimer will eventually see a significant role if Welker is out for any length of time. We'll have more as this situation develops, but if you're drafting this weekend, avoid Welker and target Latimer in the later rounds. Caldwell is also a deep sleeper at this point.
Friday, August 22, 2014, 1:06pm
Going into the offseason program, Texans RB Jonathan Grimes was a long shot to make the team and was expected to be the fourth back at best behind Arian Foster, Andre Brown and rookie Alfred Blue. Grimes has developed into one of the team’s best surprises, impressing the new staff with his skills, work ethic and ability to pick up the new system. Brown was released, opening a spot for Grimes. He took advantage of Foster’s hamstring injury to start the first two preseason games and led the team in rushing with 81 yards on 19 carries (4.3 average). He has three catches for 25 yards (8.3 average). He’s improved as a pass protector. Grimes (5-10, 209) impressed the team as an undrafted rookie in 2012 and was placed on the practice squad but was signed by the Jets. He returned to the Texans in 2013 and saw some action near the end of the season.
Dating back to the beginning of the offseason program, Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins made the kind of improvement expected of young players entering their second seasons. His progress has been consistent and often spectacular. The best indication yet was during three practices with the Broncos. Working against Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib, Hopkins was physical getting off the line of scrimmage and attacking the ball. He didn’t let Talib frustrate him. He took the ball away from Talib more often than not, and the veteran corner gave him his proper respect. Hopkins has improved as a route runner. His ball skills are tremendous. He’s got quick, strong hands. His leaping ability is superb. Watching him work the sideline and the back of the end zone against the Broncos to make one catch after another was amazing.
Hopkins finished as the #50 WR in 2013, posting 52 catches for 802 yards and two touchdowns, a solid season for a rookie wideout playing along an established veteran like Andre Johnson. Since 2000, 1st round rookie wideouts with at least 700 yards receiving have increased their fantasy output by 33% in their second season. If Hopkins sees this kind of increase, he’ll be a very solid WR3.
The fourth-year veteran, who turned 26 on Thursday, has looked polished and decisive since the start of training camp. And while rookie Terrance West will get some carries, the starter's job belongs to Tate as the Browns prepare for their dress-rehearsal game against St. Louis at FirstEnergy Stadium on Saturday night.
Tate spent the last four seasons with the Houston Texans, which employed a similar wide-zone blocking scheme requiring backs to make one cut and turn upfield.
The question with Tate, who's averaged a career 4.7 yards per carry, is his durability. He played in just 40 of 64 regular-season games since the Texans drafted him in 2010.
Tate wants to be a feature back and he'll have his chance in Cleveland. Tate has averaged 4.7 YPC in his career and has touched the ball at least 15 times in 13 career games, averaging 94.5 yards and 0.54 TD in the process. That equates to 12.7 fantasy points, which is about what Chris Johnson averaged as the #9 RB in 2013. Touchdowns are going to be tougher to come by in Cleveland than they were in Houston, and rookie Terrance West is in the mix. Keep in mind that in addition to missing the entire 2010 season due to a broken ankle, he has missed eight other games in his career. Durability is a big concern.
Thursday, August 21, 2014, 4:04pm
“Very impressive,” O’Brien said. “(Foster is) a smart player, he’s an instinctive player. … Obviously, when we put him out there, he’s a matchup problem for people. Because he can run routes and he can run all kinds of different routes.”
Foster's health is obviously a concern. He has missed 11 games in the last three years, but did play a full season in 2012 and no longer has Ben Tate to worry about. After finishing in the top 2 in fantasy points per game from 2010 to 2012, he was #19 in that category in 2013. At 27, Foster should have plenty of tread left on his tires, though the injuries seem to be piling up. The team wants to get him more involved in the passing game, which is a good sign for his PPR value. He is a risk-reward pick in the 2nd round.
Wide receiver Julio Jones slipped out of the locker room after Saturday night's loss to the Texans before the media had a chance to get his reaction to his first game back after last year's foot injury. Jones met with the media after Wednesday's practice and sounded confident in his health as the third preseason game approaches. He said he needs to knock some of the rust off, but being back on the field felt good and there were no lingering ill effects immediately or in the days following the game: "I felt good," Jones said. "No pain. I'm still doing a lot of treatment, still doing my routine of one-day-on, one-day-off. Right now, they're going to increase the workload. I practiced (Wednesday) and then (Thursday), I'm going to practice."
Jones was on pace for 131-1856-6.4 prior to his foot injury in Week 5. He has the potential to be the most productive receiver in the league, but the foot injury is a bit concerning, especially since it’s a broken bone in the same location as his pre-Draft injury. If he plays a full season, he’ll very likely finish in the top 5. It sounds like the preseason is going according to plan.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014, 10:34pm
Just a few minutes later, Ryan Fitzpatrick launched a ball to the back of the end zone, high enough that only receiver Andre Johnson could catch it. Johnson tip-toed in-bounds in throwback Andre Johnson fashion, and was enveloped by his teammates.
"I thought Fitzy came out here and worked very well today," Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien said.
While it would be nice for the Denver Broncos to get running back Montee Ball into a preseason game for a few snaps, get him a carry, see him run through some contact, his real target date to be ready to go is still Sept. 7, or the regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.
Ball, who had an appendectomy Aug. 4, returned to the practice field Tuesday and did a little more on Wednesday, but as it stands now the Broncos’ top running back is not expected to play in Saturday night’s preseason game against the Houston Texans. And since the Broncos usually play few, if any, starters in the fourth preseason game, Ball’s most likely return date is still the regular-season opener.
We're not worried at all about the injury, though his conditioning might need some work if he doesn't see game action prior to Week 1. Ball had a higher YPC (4.7) than Knowshon Moreno (4.3), but wasn’t quite the weapon in the passing game. Still, his catch percentage (receptions/targets = 74.1%) wasn’t bad for a running back. His play down the stretch (8.5 FP/game in final eight games) is encouraging. He’s locked in as the RB1 in a great offense, so 10+ touchdowns seems likely.
Foster often ran with the Texans’ first team and displayed his normal acceleration, while Johnson saw some first-team activity.
“They practiced more than they had and it’s a good sign for our football team,” O’Brien said.
Finally some good news for the Texans star skill players. It's yet to be determined if either will play in the next preseason game, but it's at least a step in the right direction that they may be ready for the regular season. Obviously both will come with health risks should you decide to draft them in your league.
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram hasn't exactly been known as a pass-catching running back in his time in the NFL. This especially rings true when Ingram has only caught 27 passes for 160 yards - and zero touchdowns - in 39 career games (37 regular season, two playoffs).
But a look at the record books, as Ingram attested to on Monday after practice, shows that Ingram has been capable of being an asset out of the backfield in his younger days.
Entering his fourth season with the Saints, Ingram is ready to show off some of that versatility on a new stage.
"I want to do everything," Ingram said. "I want to be involved in the passing game, the running game, picking up pass (protection). I want to be the most versatile player I can be."
Ingram looks to have a much more active role in the Saints' passing game this season as evident by his preseason workload. He caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Griffin in the Saints' 31-24 preseason victory over the Tennessee Titans last Friday.
Ingram alluded to the fact that the reason he hasn't caught as many passes with the Saints is because simply, there haven't been many chances to do so because of the style of play the Saints run and the opportunities given to Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles over the last three seasons. With the news that Thomas is now the RB3 on the Saints depth chart, it could very well create more opportunity for Ingram to be a true feature back. This isn't good news for Thomas owners.
Montee Ball will visit his doctor Monday in the hope he will be cleared to practice this week.
The Broncos' starting running back missed the previous two weeks to recover from an appendectomy. Even if Ball does receive his doctor's clearance, the Broncos' medical team may not allow him to take contact during practices Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in preparation to play Houston. And he may not play in the Broncos' third preseason game against the Texans.
"But I am hoping so," he said. "I'm tired of sitting around."
It's good news Ball is nearly back, even if he doesn't get any preseason action. The team said they aren't concerned either way and won't rush him. He may get eased in and get off to a slow start in the regular season as a result, but there doesn't seem any need to panic and we expect him to take over the RB1 role sooner than later.
Saturday, August 16, 2014, 7:08pm
Foster and Johnson pretty much have a week to get ready and get some action in preseason Week 3 as preseason Week 4 typically doesn't see regulars play at all.
Friday, August 15, 2014, 7:07pm
The Chicago Bears announced on Friday they have placed tight end Zachary Miller, who suffered a foot injury during the second quarter of the club’s win Thursday night over the Jacksonville Jaguars, on the injured reserve while signing receiver Kofi Hughes to a one-year contract.
The severity of Miller’s injury wasn’t immediately disclosed, as he was visiting a doctor Friday undergoing an MRI exam and a CT scan as the club made the announcement.