If they can bring back Justin Forsett, the Ravens are expected to pair him with a young running back. They met with Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin), David Johnson (Northern Iowa) and Duke Johnson (Miami) at the NFL scouting combine.
"He doesn’t have the wear and tear, and Justin did a very good job of coming in, competing and then being our bell cow," GM Ozzie Newsome said. "We would like to retain Justin, but I’ve learned something since the end of the season about Justin that I didn’t really know. He has mentored some very good, young backs, starting with Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Maurice Jones-Drew when he was in Jacksonville.
"Having Justin here, and with the opportunity also bringing in hopefully another young running back, to have Justin be around that guy would be an asset also. So, we will work to try to retain Justin.”
Under OC Marc Trestman, Matt Forte caught 176 passes in the last two seasons, including 102 catches in 2014. Forsett caught 44 passes last season, and could potentially see that number double if he's the RB1 for the Ravens in 2015. Depending on his asking price, re-signing the 29-year-old Forsett isn't a no-brainer for the Ravens, though he's not likely to garner a huge contract in free agency. As the #8 RB in both standard and PPR formats in 2014, he'll likely hold RB2-type draft value if he stays in Baltimore. If the Ravens draft a running back early, it would certainly damper Forsett's outlook in 2015.
Rivers told 101 KGB FM radio in San Diego on Monday that he currently does not need surgery to repair the balky back.
"At this point, the back injury is not requiring surgery," Rivers said. "We'll kind of revisit it in a month or so. But everything is improving. I'm back to my regular workouts and running around. Me and my wife played a little tennis the other day. I've hit the golf ball a few times, so I'm actually on the up and up. So I'm pretty excited."
Rivers played at an extremely high level for the first half of the season, completing 68.3 percent of his passes for 277 yards, 2.5 TD and just 0.6 interceptions through Week 8. He posted #3 QB numbers in that span, but he was the #19 QB down the stretch after injuring his hand in Week 9 against the Dolphins. He then suffered back and rib injuries and threw for multiple touchdowns in just two of his final eight games (and averaged 1.6 INT) as the Chargers fell out of playoff contention. If he's fully healthy entering the 2015 season, he will once again be a fine value pick in the later rounds, but owners should be prepared to stream if the injuries start to pile up.
LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden, who excels on special teams, are going to be on next year's roster. There will be one pass-catching back; whether that player is Shane Vereen or James White or someone else remains to be seen. If Stevan Ridley is re-signed, that's four running backs. There will also be competition from Tyler Gaffney, a 6-foot-1, 227-pound back who spent his rookie season on injured reserve. So Gray will probably have to prove himself in the offseason.
Vereen, who had 11 receptions in the Super Bowl, is a free agent. He probably won't cost the team a ton (for reference, Danny Woodhead got a two year, $3.5 million contract from San Diego in 2013).
The Patriots let Woodhead walk because they also had Vereen, so their decision may be based on their depth at the position. If they feel confident that rising second-year pro James White can fill Vereen's spot, you might not see No. 34 in a Pats uniform come next fall.
Part of Vereen's appeal is that he plays in a friendly system, but he lacks consistency, even in PPR formats. The team's willingness to re-sign Vereen will likely come down to price.
Colin Kaepernick’s strength is his ability to take off and gobble up yards once he gets a full head of steam, something he did to the tune of 639 yards last season but mostly on broken, not designed, plays.
One of themes of the 49ers’ head-coaching interviews with NFC West defensive coordinators Dan Quinn and Todd Bowles was puzzlement about why the 49ers in 2014 mostly abandoned the read-option plays that were so effective in previous seasons.
A significant change in 2015 figures to be a return to the read-option. The degree to which it will be used is unknown, but coach Jim Tomsula and CEO Jed York have mentioned in recent interviews that the 49ers will take better advantage of Kaepernick’s legs.
Kaepernick ran the ball 12 more times in 2014 than he did in 2013 for an additional 115 yards, so it's not like he abandoned the scramble. It sounds like it's more about utilizing the read-option as a larger part of the offense. If that's the case, it could be a boon to Kaepernick's fantasy value. He was the #14 QB in 2014 after finishing #9 the season before, though his overall production only dipped by 11 fantasy points. He's a bounce-back candidate provided new OC Geep Chryst can design an offense that can move the ball. Chryst previously served as the OC for the Chargers in 1999 and 2000, but his offenses ranked 26th and 28th overall in that span.
Following the game, Manning said he injured his leg on a throw to Sanders. There was some thought that he had hurt it on an 8-yard completion to Sanders with 2:43 to play in the first half or three plays before he left the field and went up the tunnel to the visitors' locker room. But after the 12-yard completion with 5:39 left, Manning can be seen flexing his leg and grimacing as he moves to call the next play.
Broncos doctors knew about the injury, and Manning did what he could to intentionally conceal the injury from as many people as he could, sources said.
Manning averaged just 240 yards and 0.8 TD (against 1.2 INT) in his last five games, so the quad injury explains a lot. He's mulling his future, and his potential retirement would drastically change the fantasy landscape in Denver.
The talk nationally before the season started was San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates was done. At 34 years old, Gates had slowed down, was injury prone and could no longer consistently create separation as he did in his younger years.
Gates rightly took offense to those comments, using them as fuel in putting together one of the most productive seasons in his 12-year career. The Kent State product finished with 69 receptions for 821 yards and 12 touchdowns – the most TDs since his second season in 2004.
“It’s hard to finish your career that way – in Arrowhead not playing your best football,” Gates said. “I’m definitely trying to win a championship. I think more important than that, this coaching staff and the organization has built the foundation where we have an opportunity to win a championship.”
Those are Pro Bowl numbers, but Gates finished as a first alternate for the annual all-star game, the story said. Gates is scheduled to make $5.9 million in 2015, the final year of a six-year, $40 million deal he signed in 2010. Gates played a full, 16-game season for a second straight year, and for the sixth time in his 12-year career. Gates was a top TE plays most weeks, and for the most part produced solid fantasy numbers for owners.
Monday, December 29, 2014, 6:00pm
Says Rivers: ''I can't rule it out but it's too early to know.''
Late in the season, reports surfaced that Rivers had a bulging disc in his lower back. Rivers wouldn't confirm or deny it on Monday, but added that ''it's not exactly accurate.'' Likewise, he wouldn't be specific about the chest injury he was listed as having, the story went on to say.
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle, out) missed practice all week and is out for Week 17. With Mathews out, Branden Oliver should continue to lead San Diego in touches. He has averaged 16.0 touches for 76 yards in the last two games with Mathews sidelined. Kansas City has yielded 4.7 YPC this season.
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
Chargers WR Keenan Allen (ankle, shoulder, doubtful) missed practice all week and is doubtful for Week 17. It’s highly unlikely that Allen will play this week, so it’s up to Malcom Floyd, Eddie Royal and Dontrelle Inman to hold down the WR corps for San Diego.
Daniel has one career start, which came last season in Week 17 and also was against the Chargers. The Chiefs lost the game but Daniels played well, throwing for 200 yards and a touchdown, completing 21 of his 30 pass attempts.
Daniel also rushed seven times for 59 yards in his start against the Chargers, so he was the #13 QB that week. We're not expecting Daniel to run the offense as efficiently as Smith does, so we're projecting a reduction in passing yards, which will impact TE Travis Kelce and the other Kansas City receivers.
Running back Mark Ingram is wrapping up the final year of his contract with the team and preparing to head into free agency after his best NFL season. Ingram missed three games early in the season, but has since held up well under a heavy workload caused by injuries other backs. Ingram has set career highs in attempts, yards, receptions and touchdowns and thinks he’s sold himself well in the process.
“Yeah, I think that’s a good thing, seeing that I could carry the ball and be out there doing whatever they ask me to do for a stretch of time and be healthy,” Ingram said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Running backs have not found a friendly market in free agency in recent years, so Ingram will have to buck that trend to land a big contract. That will be tough in a year when DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, C.J. Spiller and Frank Gore are also set to make up a crowded free agent market at the position, but coming off his best pro season shouldn’t hurt when it comes time for Ingram to talk contract.
Ingram's 75.6 rushing yards per game are the 7th-highest this season. He's not going to land a big contract due to how the position has been devalued in recent years, but he should be able to match the three-year, $10.5 million that Toby Gerhart got in Jacksonville. If Ingram leaves, Khiry Robinson figures to take over the role as the team's primary between-the-tackles runner. Robinson is signed through the 2015 season.
Philip Rivers practiced on Tuesday this week, a sign that his back is in better shape heading into Sunday’s final regular-season game against AFC West rival Kansas City.
Rivers did not practice on Tuesday or Wednesday of last week in order to rest a bulging disk in his back. Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said earlier this week Rivers is expected to play on Sunday.
“I definitely feel better than last week,” Rivers said.
Mathews hasn't played since injuring his ankle in Week 14, while Allen remains week-to-week with the broken collarbone he sustained in a Week 15 loss to the Broncos. While coach Mike McCoy says it's possible Mathews will suit up Sunday against the Chiefs, it's fair to wonder if Allen will even play again this season, the story went on to say. Eddie Royal seemed to benefit the most without Allen in the lineup as did TE Antonio Gates. Dontrelle Inman also had a nice game at WR for the Chargers last week.
Broncos QB Peyton Manning blamed himself and wound up with four interceptions overall for the first time since he joined the Broncos. Manning labeled his performance “not good” and said, via ESPN.com, it was the product of poor play rather than injury.
Manning said no when asked if his thigh was affecting him on the field in Cincinnati, an answer that’s as comforting as it is worrisome with the playoffs right around the corner, the story pointed out. Manning did play well against the Chargers in Week 15, but it’s been a choppy stretch for him and an injury would at least suggest an explanation other than slowing down at the end of another long season, the story went on to say. Denver has a Week 17 home game to try and end the regular season on a positive note.
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