"Ronnie has played at different times, in different amounts, but when you're the starting back and running out there in pregame warm-ups as a starting back, it's a different hat that you wear," said Manning, who is but a quarter of the way through his third season in Denver. "There's no question he has a burst that is pretty unique when he gets the ball in his hands. It's our job to give him space."
Initially, the Broncos thought Montee Ball was headed for injured reserve with a designation to return after eight games. That's why the team brought in veteran running backs Mikel Leshoure and LaRod Stephens-Howling for workouts Tuesday.
But a magnetic resonance imaging exam offered hope Ball might miss only a month or so with his groin strain. The Broncos added running back depth Wednesday by signing former Oakland Raider Jeremy Stewart to their practice squad, but otherwise the team is planning on going with Hillman, C.J. Anderson and Juwan Thompson until further notice. Thompson, a rookie, sat out practice Wednesday with a sore left knee.
"You can't do it with just one back in today's game, so we expect C.J. to do his job, Juwan to be ready," Manning said.
We expect that Anderson and Thompson will be in the mix, especially if Hillman struggles early, which seems likely given the state of the Bronco running game (not good) and the quality of the Jets' rush defense (very good, though Branden Oliver torched it in Week 5). Owners should keep in mind that Hillman has had fumbling problems in the past, and HC John Fox is not afraid to bench a player if he can't keep hold of the ball. Consider Hillman a low-end RB2/flex type this week.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014, 6:37pm
Jets RB Chris Johnson (ankle) practiced fully Wednesday. Johnson had a forgettable outing against the Chargers (22 total yards on eight touches) just like the rest of his teammates. After 41 touches in the first three games, Johnson has just 16 in his last two. Chris Ivory has taken over the lead back role.
“It’s no secret that my philosophy is to run the football,” Sparano said, “to keep games tight and try to be able to get yourself in a situation where you can win football games at the end of a game.”
The numbers certainly support that claim. Sparano ran the football 45.6-percent of the time during nearly four full seasons as Miami Dolphins head coach.
Sparano stuck to his guns – he made the Wildcat formation famous at the NFL level – and continued to run even during some lean years.
While Greg Olson will continue calling plays, Sparano is an offensive minded coach and will exert greater influence in the offensive game plan.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 8:22pm
Oliver has been a pleasant surprise this year, but Ronnie Brown offers knowledge of Mike McCoy's system and creditable play on passing downs. Brown spent 2012 and 2013 in San Diego before playing in three games for the Houston Texans this season.
Monday, October 6, 2014, 4:21pm
Donald Brown had been anything but impressive in his time filling in for Mathews, then suffered a concussion giving way to Branden Oliver's monster game against what was supposed to be a stout Jets run defense. Oliver could be looking at another big game in Week 6 as the Chargers take on the Raiders. In Week 7, the Bolts play the Chiefs (another decent matchup at KC is 14th in allowing fantasy points to RBs) which means Mathews could be on track to return in Week 8 against the Broncos. Oliver is shaping up to be a nice pickup at least the next two weeks.
Broncos running back Montee Ball suffered a groin injury on Sunday that could keep him off the field for weeks.
A source told Mike Klis of the Denver Post that the Broncos think Ball will be “out for a while,” although they won’t know for sure until he has an MRI today.
The injury, which Ball suffered while blocking, limited Ball to just six carries for seven yards on Sunday. Ball has disappointed as the Broncos’ starting running back this year, averaging just 3.1 yards a carry through four games.
It hasn't been a good year for fantasy owners who took Ball. Although the schedule was going to ease up, the next couple weeks did figure to be difficult at least on paper (Jets Week 6 and 49ers Week 7). As the story pointed out, the good news is that the Broncos’ backup running backs played well after Ball went down: Ronnie Hillman had 15 carries for 64 yards, and Juwan Thompson had three carries for 15 yards and a touchdown. Hillman figures to be a solid pickup this week. The Jets rush defense was among the tops in the league, but was torched by San Diego's Branden Oliver in Week 5 which bodes well for Hillman in Week 6.
Monday, October 6, 2014, 8:41am
Geno Smith is having a fortnight to forget.
A week after cursing out a fan after a home loss, Smith got benched at halftime as the Jets were blanked by the Chargers in embarrassing fashion. After the disastrous performance we found out that playing time wasn't all the quarterback missed this weekend in San Diego.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reported Sunday night that Smith missed team meetings on Saturday before the game.
A team spokesman confirmed Smith's absenteeism to the NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport calling it an "honest mistake" perhaps due to the 3-hour time change. The spokesman said Smith arrived 5-10 minutes after the meetings ended and caught up on info later with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. It was the first time Smith has missed a meeting, per the team. Rapaport added, per a team source, that players were surprised and frustrated he missed the meeting and didn't understand why he wasn't disciplined.
Branden Oliver will be a hot pickup this week and looked great against what was supposed to be a top-notch Jets run defense. We saw signs from Oliver last week when Brown struggled against the Jags. The Chargers get a great matchup at Oakland in Week 6. Shaun Draughn was signed as insurance last week and could see time as well, but if Brown can't go Oliver is already shaping up as a solid play.
Sunday, October 5, 2014, 3:11pm
TE Ladarius Green returns from injury.
Saturday, October 4, 2014, 9:20pm
There was a time not long ago that no football team ran plays out of the pistol formation. In fact, there was no such thing until longtime Nevada coach Chris Ault designed the formation about a decade ago.
Now the pistol is everywhere, including the Jacksonville Jaguars' playbook.
With Chad Henne first and now Blake Bortles, the Jaguars have used the pistol formation plenty, but the most successful play has been the strong left motion 3 wide pistol zone stretch — a running play that isn't easy to defend.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin took notice of the difference between Bortles and Henne heading the pistol.
“They do some shotgun and pistol-like plays, some quarterback keeps and zone read stuff that really slows you down a little bit defensively,” Tomlin said. “Or at the very least it makes you acknowledge some of the responsibility football associated with some of that multi-dimensional offensive attacks like that.”
As the story points out, in the pistol formation, the quarterback lines up 4 yards behind the center, which is much closer than the 7-yard setback in a traditional shotgun formation. The running back lines up 3 yards directly behind the quarterback at tailback. The pistol is used for a number of reasons: It makes the defense defend both sides of the formation. It can spread the field by formation. It can use the quarterback as a runner. It can use the quick passing game to keep defenders out of the box. It's becoming a more popular formation in the NFL because it can freeze defenses with a mix of downhill rush plays and wide-open passing from the same formation.
Saturday, October 4, 2014, 9:12pm
“Luckily for me, the system is pretty much stuff I’ve learned from college to my first year in the NFL,” Graham said after today's practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “There’s a lot of carryover so I’m just trying to put routes with verbiage that I know and getting the timing down with Geno.”
Even with Decker and Nelson questionable for this week, Graham may not be active against the Chargers. But he seems to be picking up the system well and the team likes what they've seen of him, cutting 4th round draft pick Jalen Saunders to sign him. Given the struggles of the Jets WRs, it's at least worth nothing.
Saturday, October 4, 2014, 9:06pm
It's also true that the wideouts have a secret weapon to attack the Chargers secondary, a player who in fact leads all NFL wide receivers after one quarter of the season in both yards/catch and YAC average.
His name: Greg Salas.
It's a small sample size for Salas. He's averaging about 25 plays per game and has only been targeted 12 times with five catches. He's averaging 25.6 yards a catch though. With both Decker and Nelson questionable, Salas has a chance for more playing time but is still ranked just 79th on our list. Even if he sees more time, it's a tough matchup against the Chargers.
Friday, October 3, 2014, 11:05pm
With the Chargers posting a league-worst 2.4 yards per carry though four games, expect undrafted rookie free agent Branden Oliver to receive more touches against the New York Jets' rugged run defense. With Oliver's ability to pick up the offense, in pass protection and in the run game, he has earned the trust of QB Philip Rivers. In just 18 plays against Jacksonville on Sunday, Oliver had 13 touches for 56 yards. Oliver is more elusive than Donald Brown and stands a chance to gain more yards if San Diego continues to struggle with blocking up front.
Friday, October 3, 2014, 6:19pm