ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the second-year running back will undergo an appendectomy Monday that will sideline him for the rest of training camp and the preseason. Ball is expected to be ready for the regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.
Ball showed considerable promise in the back half of his rookie season and is expected to replace Knowshon Moreno as Denver's primary ball-carrier in 2014. Ball came in at No. 7 on Around The League's "Making The Leap" countdown.
Ball's absence means more touches and first-team looks for the healthy members of the Broncos' backfield. Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson will see most of the work until Ball can return to action. Without any more camp or preseason games, Ball could be eased back into things at least the first week meaning he may not get full snaps in Week 1. He's still expected to emerge as the team's RB1, but now it may take some time. As of now, it doesn't seem like his early second round value should be in too much jeopardy.
Monday, August 4, 2014, 11:08am
Geno Smith, who has taken nearly all of the first-team reps at quarterback, is listed as a starter.
There's no doubting the work ethic of veteran WR Reggie Wayne of the Colts. Seemingly all systems go after last October's torn ACL, Wayne's recovery was tabbed last week by coach Chuck Pagano as "really incredible," with the 35-year-old pass-catcher -- per The Indianapolis Star -- "effortlessly snatching passes out of the air" ahead of his 14th NFL campaign. "As far as the rehab part, I've ran every route. Either it was here in Indiana, in Indianapolis or it was down in Miami," Wayne recently told the team's official website. "I've grabbed coaches and trainers down at the University of Miami and I've said, 'Alright, I know you wanted to be a DB at some point in your life, this is your chance to do it.' They did their best and I've done everything I wanted to do. I've run every route and there is nothing that's holding me back. "There's nothing that's keeps me from doing whatever it is they want me to do so I'm here. Knock on wood I stay on top of this and keep going from there."
The news on Wayne comes just in time for the Colts as it appears WR Hakeem Nicks is struggling a bit. It looks like Wayne is the WR2 behind T.Y. Hilton, and in 3WR sets Wayne will line up in the slot according to recent observations at Colts camp. Wayne's comeback is impressive, but he's yet to be on the field in the game so probably fair to temper expectations. Wayne is ranked 39th on our list but his ADP is aabout a round higher than those around him, so he's an attractive target so far in drafts. Wayne will be held out of the team's Thursday preseason game, but is expected to see game action before the start of the season.
This version of that now-familiar ballad comes back to the Colts' running back being more "comfortable" with the offense in his first offseason under offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.
"The comfort level is so much better now," Richardson said, per ESPN.com. "I know the plays and I'm not playing so tight. I'm really comfortable with the offense, and the timing with the offensive line is coming. I know all my cuts and reads before snap."
The running back recently returned from a hamstring tweak that kept him out of the beginning of training camp. The health and familiarity with the game plan have the Colts once again singing the praises of 2012's No. 3 overall pick. TRich has looked good so far in camp which means a bounce-back season could prove to be a huge value for an owner who drafts him. However, Richardson's stock is climbing. We have him ranked 31st on our RB list, but his ADP of the 6th round is higher than guys ranked around him like Lamar Miller, Maurice Jones-Drew and Pierre Thomas, who can be had in the seventh round or later.
This is certainly good news for Hilton owners, or potential owners, as he looks to be running as the team's WR1 with Reggie Wayne as the WR2. After Wayne got injured last season, Hilton put up low-end WR1 numbers. While he comes in ranked 24th on our WR list, his ADP is the sixth round which is about a round higher than guys like Mike Wallace and Marques Colston who are ranked nearby. It looks like you may have to reach a little for Hilton, but this news should make you feel better about doing it.
Sunday, August 3, 2014, 8:48am
Decker did not sound overly concerned about his hamstring. He was limited in practice on Friday, too.
“I had a little bit of a hamstring thing,” Decker said. “I just wanted to make sure I was smart and got good reps in. I’m looking forward to Thursday night [when the Jets face the Colts in the preseason].”
HC Chuck Pagano had this to say on Trent Richardson’s progression through camp: “No. 1, he’s healthy. I think some of the runs that you’re talking about you are starting to see the hard work, a full offseason, comfort with the scheme, terminology, being around the offensive guys, the guys that are lined up in front of him, and you are starting see (Richardson) put a foot in the ground, see a hole and burst through the line of scrimmage.”
Writer Kevin Bowen’s Analysis: We’ve seen Richardson full-go for the last three practices (two of them in full pads) and he looks like a guy the Colts need desperately in 2014. He had several “significant gains” during Saturday’s practice and is showing off some cuts that we didn’t see earlier this offseason. Pagano seemed very pleased with where Richardson is currently at, as camp reaches the halfway point. Richardson’s return has also allowed the Colts to lessen the load for Ahmad Bradshaw, which is nice for a veteran that has battled injuries throughout his career.
Richardson continues to get positive reviews in camp, and if the Colts can get anything out of him in 2014 it will create some balance with what should be a potent passing attack. Richardson ranks 31st on our list, but his ADP is the 6th round. Drafters seem to be taking a gamble here and if you want TRich, you likely will have to as well. We have Richardson ranked near guys like Lamar Miller, Pierre Thomas, Maurice Jones-Drew and Steven Jackson - and all of their ADPs are the 7th round or later.
Texans WR Andre Johnson is “doing better,” according to head coach Bill O’Brien after missing Friday’s practice with a lingering injury. After tweaking his hamstring while flattening himself for a catch, All-Pro receiver has not practiced since Sunday.
“I think that is something he and I talk about every day,” O’Brien said. “I don’t think there is a need to rush him back. I think he needs to come back when he feels ready to be back. Again, that is not a serious injury, but it is not something that you need to rush him back.”
Johnson finished the season as the #12 WR but failed to find the endzone in the final seven weeks after scoring all five of his touchdowns in Week 9 (9-229-3) and Week 10 (5-37-2) against the Colts and Cardinals, respectively. Johnson will turn 33 in July and is starting to show signs of slowing down. He's missing valuable reps -- he needs to practice to learn the offense and build a rapport with new QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
"Like I've been saying, so far, so good," Wayne said after Thursday morning's walkthrough at Anderson University. "I haven't had any problems, nothing out of the norm.
"I haven't had any pain. Nothing has set me back."
The Reggie Wayne running routes and effortlessly snatching passes out of the air from Andrew Luck at training camp looks incredibly similar to the Reggie Wayne who did the same thing before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Oct. 20 against Denver.
"That's the way it looked to me," HC Chuck Pagano offered last week after watching Wayne go through his first full-squad work since having his knee repaired. "When you go back, you watch it live and then you go back and watch it on film. It's really incredible."
Wayne was the #19 WR in standard formats and the #17 WR in PPR through the first seven weeks prior to tearing his ACL. He's 35 and coming off of a major knee injury. He’s expected to play Week 1, but it's hard to envision him returning to his usual form in time for the 2014 season, though it sounds like he's off to a good start. The Colts signed Hakeem Nicks as insurance.
There are a couple specific areas of Wright’s game to pay attention to in 2014. First, can Jake Locker find him downfield? As I noted in the comments section of Rivers’ column, Locker has gone just 4-for-23 when targeting Wright more than 10 yards downfield. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matt Hasselbeck have had more success finding Wright down the field, though even so he hasn’t been the vertical seam threat we saw at Baylor and expected him to be in the NFL.
The second thing to watch for Wright is his continued work on reshaping his body. He dropped 14 pounds last offseason to get to 187, which seemed to lead to better movement on the field. He noted earlier this week (video link) the new coaching staff had asked him to drop a little additional weight to improve his speed and his endurance and ability to stay on the field. He noted he’s now at 184 pounds and his belly is gone.
The other thing to come from that interview, beyond his weight, is his role in the offense is likely to change. He noted he’s learning every wide receiver position, which is something Dowell Loggains talked about about every receiver doing last season. More importantly, though, he noted the new coaching staff (though position coach Shawn Jefferson is a holdover) is asking him to be more disciplined in his routes instead of giving him the opportunity to freelance and adjust his route like he had from the old regime last year. It’s interesting to get confirmation of that, which I wondered about at times watching them, and will be interesting to see if Wright can be as productive in a more disciplined system. I’m confident that unless he gets hurt Wright will play a lot and catch a lot of balls in 2014. I don’t know if that will end up meaning 70 catches (the low end) or over 100 (the higher end). My guess is that however many catches he ends up with he’s more likely to be closer to 12.0 yards per catch than the 15.4 in Jim Wyatt’s projections.
Wright's downfield numbers with Locker are worrisome, but with Ken Whisenhunt running the offense, we have confidence that the unit will be improved and that he'll put Locker and Wright in the best position to make plays. As for Wright's lack of involvement in the red zone, don't be surprised if Whisenhunt dials up WR screens around the 10-yard line with regularity -- he coaxed eight touchdowns out of slot receiver Eddie Royal last season.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:16pm
It seemed the Colts' fourth receiver spot would come down to DaRick Rogers and Griff Whalen at the start of training camp because they’re familiar with the system. Not so fast. Rookie Donte Moncrief is doing his best to stay in the mix. The Colts’ third-round pick had one of his best training camp practices Wednesday when he made three nice catches, including one for a touchdown. Moncrief’s best catch came when he jumped and came down with the ball with both feet inbounds while being closely defended on the play. With Hilton and Reggie Wayne (precaution) sitting out the end of practice, Moncrief was able to get some snaps with the first team.
There was a welcomed sight on the practice field for the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday. Running back Trent Richardson returned to practice after sitting out the previous three practices with a hamstring problem. Richardson, the likely starter in Week 1, took snaps with the second unit behind Ahmad Bradshaw.
Richardson averaged a woeful 2.9 YPC after joining the Colts, but he blames the learning curve he faced after joining a new offense midseason. Since they gave up a first round pick for him, he’ll have the backing of this Colts regime, but OC Pep Hamilton wasn’t afraid to give more work to Donald Brown given the disparity in the quality of play between the two backs. The offseason has gone pretty well for T-Rich — Brown is now out of the way, but the Colts did re-sign Ahmad Bradshaw while Vick Ballard is back from a knee injury. As the #20 RB off the board in the 5th round, it appears that fantasy owners are expecting Richardson to post RB2 numbers. Even that may be a stretch given his career output. Meanwhile, Bradshaw is one of our favorite late round targets. With Vick Ballard out for the season, he is a T-Rich injury/poor performance away from being the lead back for the Colts.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 4:30pm
The Colts signed RB Phillip Tanner, 5-10, 208 pounds, who spent the last three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys (2011-13), where he recorded 56 carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns, as well as nine receptions for 93 yards.
He also made 21 special teams tackles. In 2013, he tied a career-high with nine special teams stops, while adding nine rushing attempts for 12 yards and a touchdown. Tanner was originally signed by the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent on July 28, 2011. He finished his collegiate career at Middle Tennessee State University with 430 carries for 2,024 yards (4.7 avg.) and 33 touchdowns.
Monday, July 28, 2014, 6:14pm
But the Patriots had other ideas.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Patriots claimed Gaffney off waivers, even though he needs season-ending knee surgery.
This time a year, if a player is placed on IR he must first clear waivers before heading to IR. It's an unwritten rule, but perfectly in a team's right to make a claim on an injured player. It's likely why the Colts have yet to place Vick Ballard on IR. The Panthers tried to sneak Gaffney through waivers to sign another player, which turned out to be Fozzy Whittaker...
Monday, July 28, 2014, 9:53am
For the second time in his brief NFL career, running back Chris Rainey has been cut for off-field reasons.
Rainey was cut by the Colts today for violating team rules, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star adds that the release is conduct related and that head coach Chuck Pagano plans to provide more details.
What’s clear is that the decision was not about Rainey’s performance on the football field at training camp, which is consistent with what Pagano has been saying about Rainey: Pagano raved over the weekend about how much he likes Rainey, and when running back Vick Ballard was lost for the season with a knee injury, it appeared that Rainey would play an important role on the team as a backup running back as well as a kick returner.