Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 6:33pm
"He's finding different ways to contribute, whether it's blocking, receiving, special teams," Belichick said. "He's done whatever we've asked of him, and he's done it well. He's gotten better at it. I think he'll be able to carve out a role for himself here. Might be a big one. I don't know. We'll see."
LaFell was Tom Brady's second most productive receiver during the joint practices against the Eagles, though he remained behind Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Kenbrell Thompkins on the depth chart in the preseason game. They rotate their receivers enough to yield ample playing time for LaFell, and if he keeps up his recent play, the coaches won't have any problem finding additional reps for him in the games.
LaFell is part of a pretty crowded WR that should also include Aaron Dobson, assuming he makes it all the way back from his injury. Outside of Edelman, though, we're probably going to have to play a wait-and-see game with the Pats WRs in terms of fantasy production.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 2:12pm
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, head coach Chip Kelly made it sound like that may have changed due to the running back missing over two weeks of practice with a hamstring injury.
"It's a big factor," Kelly said of Polk missing time. "You gotta be able to play. It's tough for us to say, we know what you can do, but you also have to go out on the field and show it."
Polk was expected to be LeSean McCoy's backup with Darren Sproles remaining as more of a receiver if McCoy would go down at any point this season. With Polk absent, backup running backs Matthew Tucker and Henry Josey have gained ground on him for the final spot. Tucker had two touchdowns against the Chicago Bears in the team's first preseason game, and Henry had an impressive touchdown catch against the New England Patriots last week.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 2:01pm
A tight end has to have a total skill set in this offense. And the Eagles have three of them and the coaching has taken the best of what each player does to create a promising symmetry that is as central to the scheme as any personnel grouping.
Brent Celek is the veteran force, the ultra-tough guy who someday will go down as one of the best in franchise history. He's worked so hard over the years to make himself a strong blocker to help in the running game and in pass protection, and at the same time continues to find cracks and crevices in defensive coverage to make himself a reliable target for quarterback Nick Foles.
Of the three, Celek is the most "traditional" tight end for a position that has morphed over the years. Today's tight end is more defined as a receiver proportioned to tower over defensive backs and to run past linebackers. Celek is 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds and he is still capable of big gains, but in his eighth season Celek is properly called a "move-the-chains pass catcher."
The Birds also have Zach Ertz and James Casey. Casey was mostly invisible last season and will still be behind Celek and Ertz this year. While Ertz is getting most of the attention in terms of fantasy value, Celek can't be forgotten and it's very possible he continues to be a factor in the offense. This could limit Ertz's potential again this year. But Ertz has six catches for 86 yards so far in preseason games and still looks poised to have a big year. Of the two, Ertz is the guy to target, at least leading into the season
One worrisome point was Redskins RB Robert Griffin III's inability to stay healthy during his first two seasons and we got a reminder of why that’s been an issue on Monday night. Griffin took several hard hits at the end of scrambles against the Browns and ended the evening with a bruised thigh. Griffin says that it isn’t a serious injury and admitted that he has to do a better job of avoiding those collisions, calling his attempts to better protect himself a “work in progress.”
Griffin promised that he’d get better at it, something coach Jay Gruden said has to happen.
“It’s something we have to continue to talk to him about — how important he is to this team and this franchise. When he gets out of the pocket, he needs to protect himself,” Gruden said, via the Associated Press. “He’s had a habit in his career of being able to get himself out of those predicaments with his speed and his athleticism. But here it’s a 16-game season, with the great talent across the league in the NFL, [and] he’s got to pick his shots and learn how to get down a little bit better.”
At some point one has to wonder if Griffin can change something so fundamental to the way he plays the game without hurting his productivity, the story continued. It would benefit him and the team if he could, although he certainly wouldn’t be the first player unable to shake such a habit. Michael Vick still hasn't been able to avoid taking hits when scrambling and often ended up missing time even recently during his days with the Eagles. It's something to consider if you're targeting RGIII in drafts - it's a good idea to have a capable backup.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 8:52am
Huff, the team’s third-round pick, injured his shoulder on the opening kickoff of Friday night’s preseason game against the Patriots and didn’t return. On Sunday, coach Chip Kelly said X-rays came back negative but added that Huff’s shoulder was in a sling.
Kelly, who isn’t overly revealing about injuries, said Huff “probably” would be out for the rest of the week, including Thursday’s preseason game against the Steelers.
Riley Cooper painted a more pessimistic picture of Huff returning anytime soon.
“It’s sad to see what happened to Huff,” Cooper said. “I don’t know the severity of it. But I know he’s hurting and he’s going to be out for a little bit. That’s a given. He’d been doing really well. Special teams, I’ve been watching him do everything. I took him under my wing, just trying to explain things to him. We’re very similar personalities.”
Huff was only going to be a WR4 at best on the Eagles, but was shaping up to be the team's kickoff returner.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 9:39pm
Patriots RB Stevan Ridley didn’t duck reporters earlier today. He stopped and chatted about his most recent fumbling episode.
The Patriots running back had put the ball on the ground in Friday’s preseason victory over the Eagles, and naturally, that’s made everyone more than a little concerned given his ball security issues.
The play was ruled a fumble. The Patriots may have recovered, but Ridley didn’t take another snap. Replays indicate Ridley may have been down, but he’s not letting that get him off the hook.
"It's too close to call, man. Either way, I need to avoid those plays in general," he said. "There's nothing really else to be said about it. ... I hated it. It was a sick feeling for a second. We looked at the play, it is what it is, but either way one out is too many. But I'm not going to harp on that. I'm going to learn from it."
Ridley wasn't sure if he was removed from the game for the fumble, or it was simply a case of him having taken his expected workload (16 snaps). Prior to the fumble, Ridley looked sharp, with 45 yards on 9 carries. He's a risky pick because he's one fumble away from a possible trip to the doghouse again, if he's not already there.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 7:56pm
"We'll see if we'll do no-huddle on the road, which is usually a little different," Roethlisberger said Monday. "Whether we do that or not, I don't know, but that's usually the good part about trying to get at least one series of no-huddle on the road, because the communication is a little tougher."
Roethlisberger said there was one "very minor" mistake by the starters in a 19-16 win over Buffalo on Saturday night but otherwise he was pleased with the progress. He threw for a pair of touchdowns during his three series of work.
One of the goals against the Eagles will be to refine the hand signals the offense uses when trying to push the pace in hostile territory.
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.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 1:11pm
Monday was the second day in a row that Cooper practiced, but it was the first time in over two weeks that the trio of Cooper, Maclin and McCoy were all out on the practice field together.
Maclin was said to have a minor hamstring injury and had it been a regular season game against the Pats on Friday night, he could have played. After missing all of last season, any time Maclin doesn't practice or play it's a reason for concern.
On Monday, however, all fears were put to rest as McCoy returned to the practice field.
"It (wasn't) anything serious," Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said as to why McCoy was out on Sunday.
The injury turned out to be with his toe, however X-rays came back negative according to other outlets. Looks like McCoy is back at practice and ready to go.
Sunday, August 17, 2014, 4:58pm
Eagles running back LeSean McCoy did not practice on Sunday, two days after gaining 19 yards on six carries in three series against New England on Friday night.
Coach Chip Kelly did not mention McCoy in his pre-practice session with the media, during which he discussed other injured players. McCoy declined to talk with the media as he walked off the practice field and later to the locker room.
The Eagles resume practice tomorrow in preparation for their third preseason game Thursday night against Pittsburgh.
On Sunday, Cooper returned to 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 sessions at practice. He hopes to play in the next preseason game, on Thursday night against the Steelers.
“Yeah, that’s our goal,” Cooper said Sunday, via Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com. “I’m pretty excited. I’ve been out a while. Two weeks. It feels like a long time.”
Cooper’s status had been cloaked in a bit of mystery, since coach Chip Kelly initially suggested Cooper would be back soon.
With starters rarely if ever playing in the preseason finale, Cooper has only one chance to get sort-of live reps until the reps become fully live in Week One against the Jaguars.
The Eagles really need Cooper back with Jeremy Maclin a little banged up now. Fortunately for the Birds, Jordan Matthews bounced back after a not-so-good debut in preseason Week 1. The Eagles WRs were questionable coming into camp, but injuries have made things a bit more cloudy at the position...
He only had three carries, but he turned one into a nice 18-yarder around left end that showed nice burst. With Stevan Ridley putting the ball on the ground yet again – even though it wasn’t a turnover – Bolden could work his way back into the mix in terms of early-down consideration at running back.
There is really no other true backup option to Ridley on the roster, so it will be interesting to see if Bolden can improve his third-year stock after a solid summer debut.
Bolden can do it all, but hasn't really stood out at one aspect, at least enough to earn the full time RB1 position when Ridley had his fumble problems last year. James White is possibly another option but it's an area the team didn't seem to address in the offseason so things look murky from a fantasy prospective.
Sunday, August 17, 2014, 4:32pm
Quick, if you had the choice of Brian Tyms or second-year man Josh Boyce to fill out the Pats receiving corps, who would it be? You're entitled to your opinion but the correct answer is Tyms, who has accomplished more in three weeks of training camp than Boyce has in over a year.
Tyms added another TD reception to his list of summer accomplishments on Friday night, this one a leaping grab of a high toss from Ryan Mallett which required the 6-3 receiver to go well up and over Eagles corner Curtis Marsh and snare the ball at its highest point. Tyms, who brought to mind another tall, rangy receiver from the Pats not too distant past on that play, has eight catches for 146 yards and two scores in two preseason games and has even seen some run with Tom Brady and the first-teamers during practice, a stunner given the former undrafted free agent's road to Foxborough.
Tyms' size makes him an intriguing red zone option as well as a enticing potential target for Brady outside the numbers, two areas which, along with free agent import Brandon LaFell, make him an ideal complement to the Pats multitude of receiving threats in the middle of the field. The fact that Tyms must serve a four-game suspension to start the season will ultimately help him as the Pats won't have to make a decision on his roster status until after the Week 4 Monday nighter in Kansas City. Plenty of time for Boyce to continue proving that Tyms should take his place among the Pats pass catchers.
Saturday, August 16, 2014, 5:07pm
After fumbling against the Eagles Friday night, now we'll wait to see if there are further repercussions with Patriots rB Steven Ridley's opportunities this week. If that is the case, the primary beneficiaries figure to be rookie James White and third-year veteran Brandon Bolden, who the team turned to exclusively in the ensuing plays after Ridley fumbled.
Bolden is a back who can do it all, but doesn't really stand out in one specific area and has had his chances - so White becomes the back with the most upside here. Shane Vereen will get a carry here and there but is primarily a pass-catcher. The New England backfield is once again shaping up to be a mystery. Hopefully practice reps will give us a little better of an indication.
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