The guy who is going to make you forget about Jackson isn't even a wide receiver. He's a tight end. He's Zach Ertz.
And while you might think I'm jumping the gun mentioning somebody who has played only 459 NFL snaps in the same breath with three of the most dangerous pass-catching tight ends in the NFL, Ertz has that kind of ability, that kind of upside.
"You knew when you watched him in college that he had the chance to be something special," Eagles tight ends coach Ted Williams said. "He's one of the best route-runners I've ever seen. He takes a lot of pride in that. He has a lot of confidence. He's hard to defeat, because he doesn't take defeat very well. He feels, 'You can't cover me.' "
Ertz was eased into the offense as a rookie last season by coach Chip Kelly. He played 36 percent of the offensive snaps in the Eagles' first eight games and 45 percent in the final eight. Finished with 36 catches - 25 for first downs - for 469 yards and four touchdowns. All four of those scoring catches came in the second half of the season. He also had a touchdown reception in the Eagles' playoff loss to New Orleans.
Domowitch is one of the Eagles better beat writers, so there's something to what he's saying. He points out that without Jackson the Eagles' passing game is expected to undergo a slight transformation this season. In preseason Week 3, the Birds had four TDs of nine plays or more - five fewer than they had all season. Domo said to look for fewer deep balls and more bubble screens and slants by the wide receivers and more screens and wheel routes by running backs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles. The only thing holding back Ertz this season is teammate Brent Celek possibly taking away some targets, but Ertz still figures to be a low-end TE1 and should be drafted ahead of Celek. The writer believes both Celek and Ertz are in for increased workloads.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 5:59pm
A nagging hamstring injury has kept Browns WR Nate Burleson out the entire preseason and off the practice field for nearly three weeks. Browns head coach Mike Pettine said the team remains optimistic the veteran receiver can suit up and prove himself Thursday against the Bears.
Burleson has been itching to play, and was practically begging for the trainers to let him suit up against the Redskins and the Rams. The veteran has played through injuries for a large portion of his career. Even if Burleson isn’t exactly close to 100 percent, he still thinks he can make plays against Chicago.
Burleson thinks he can light a fire under what's been an unimpressive offense in the preseason that's perhaps caught up in a quarterback controversy. Burleson will have to make the team first which isn't a given with all the time he's missed.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 5:48pm
Washington RB Chris Thompson sprained his ankle in the first preseason game and was not at full speed until Monday. Before the injury he was working behind Alfred Morris and Roy Helu. Now, he must show that he’s more worthy than Evan Royster, Silas Redd and Lache Seastrunk.
But Thompson also knows his injury history: a back injury in 2011; torn ACL in 2012; torn labrum in his shoulder in 2013.
“I just have to show them I can make it through some games and I will show them,” he said. “I’ve been hurt a lot. I can deal with pain. I’ll make sure I finish this game out.”
Washington HC Jay Gruden said today that he sees the Redskins relying on the ground game.
“Our identity needs to be found,” he said. “What are we going to be? We’re going to be a running team, I guess.”
Like any coach, Gruden would prefer to have a varied attack.
“Our identity needs to be diversity,” he said. “We have to be able to be good at both. We have to be able to run the ball, we have to be able to do some play actions off the run and there are going to be some times that we have to do some drop back.”
Gruden doesn't seemed thrilled about the label, though. Many assumed the Skins would pass more under Gruden, especially after bringing in WRs DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts. But Robert Griffin III is struggling and seemingly starting a QB controversy at the same time, while the running game, led by Alfred Morris, excels. This, perhaps, gives Morris a bit of a bump in fantasy value. Eventually the Skins will need the threat of a pass game or team's will stack the box. Morris is a rock-solid, high-end RB2 in just about any format, however.
Monday, August 25, 2014, 4:11pm
Coach Jay Gruden said that Reed could have practiced but that he might have had some issues catching the ball. Gruden said that Reed should be ready for the September 7th season opener.
Reed played 23 snaps on against the Ravens on Saturday, about the same number as the rest of the offensive starters. He appeared to be healthy following the game and he was not mentioned when coach Jay Gruden discussed injuries after the game.
Monday, August 25, 2014, 2:24pm
New Washington head coach Jay Gruden and his new offense haven't returned Robert Griffin III to his rookie-season form. Despite the struggles -- or the calls for backup Kirk Cousins -- Gruden is sticking with Griffin, the 2012 first-round pick.
“I feel good about the starters we have," he said, via the Washington Post, adding that RG3 "is further along that it appears he is, I think."
The Cousins bandwagon is starting to gain a lot of momentum lately. It's hard to imagine the team benching RGIII unless they struggle out of the gate. Either way, RGIII's stock is falling a bit. The ideal situation is to draft him as a backup or at least part of a committee as long as you have another starter you're comfortable with.
Ravens running back Bernard Pierce made an early exit from Saturday night’s game against the Redskins after taking a blow to the head from Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather, but it doesn’t sound like he’s going to be out of the lineup for a long time.
Pierce tweeted on Sunday that he’s “fine” after undergoing evaluation for a concussion after the hit. It’s not clear whether or not Pierce was officially diagnosed with a concussion, which would mean he has to progress through the league’s protocol before returning to action, but he has two weeks before the start of the regular season to get cleared if that was the doctor’s finding.
He's been diagnosed with a mild concussion. If Pierce were to miss time, and with Ray Rice suspended, the Ravens would have to turn to Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro at running back. We'll have to see if Pierce is officially diagnosed with a concussion in terms of him having to follow protocol.
Sunday, August 24, 2014, 2:06pm
The veteran wideout looked more like a rookie trying to earn his spot rather than of a 14-year veteran with a standout resume. Smith put his intensity on display for his best performance of the preseason in the Ravens' 23-17 victory over Washington.
"That's kind of vintage Steve Smith," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "It was great to see that."
Smith was arguably the best player on the field. He caught a game-high six passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown grab was a 24-yard diving catch in the back of the end zone near the end of the first half, which gave the Ravens a lead they would build on for the victory.
"I think this was a big step with him," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "There's a reason he's been in the league as long as he has and it's because he goes out there and fights every day."
Sunday, August 24, 2014, 11:15am
“Let’s stop beating around the bush,” Theismann said in the fourth quarter, via the Washington Post. “Kirk Cousins has played much better at the quarterback position than Robert Griffin III has. Now, Robert is learning to work out of a pocket. He doesn’t look as smooth or as comfortable throwing the football. I mean, your eyes will tell you everything you need to know.
“It’s going to be a decision that Jay Gruden is going to have to make. Right now, Robert Griffin III is his quarterback. Now, if there was a quarterback competition, it wouldn’t be a competition. Kirk Cousins would be the man I believe he would have to go to, because of the efficiency with which he has run [the offense]. Now Kirk, like I said, is basically a drop-back quarterback. I see Andy Dalton in Cincinnati, I see Kirk Cousins that way. …”
It's a topic no one seems to want to bring up around Washington, after all, RGIII is firmly planted as the team's starting QB. But if Washington struggles to start the season, or Griffin takes a hit and has to miss time, it will be interesting to see how it plays out should Cousins get to play under center. We're probably a long way off from that situation, but from a fantasy perspective, Cousins would have a lot of weapons to make him an interesting grab off the wire and play in your lineup...
Sunday, August 24, 2014, 10:42am
After Rice was held out of Saturday's 23-17 preseason win over the Washington Redskins, coach John Harbaugh wouldn't say whether the team's starting running back will see the field again in the preseason.
"That was our plan this week," Harbaugh said when asked about Rice not playing after being suited up for the game. "So, next week, we'll let you know. You'll see it when you see it."
The story points out it would be surprising if Rice played in the Thursday preseason finale at the New Orleans Saints. The Ravens gave him plenty of reps with the first-team offense during training camp, and they probably don't want to risk running him behind a second-team offensive line in the final preseason game.
Eagles WRs Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin started on the outside. Cooper had three grabs for 25 yards. Maclin had six catches for 43 yards. Scary moment in the second. Maclin planted awkwardly and crumbled to the ground, grabbing his right knee. But he ended up only missing one play before returning. Cooper, meanwhile, was called for offensive pass interference on one play. He dropped a touchdown in the end zone on another play.
Maclin was the #13 WR in 2010, #31 in 2011 and #27 in 2012 before tearing his ACL last summer. The Eagles don't throw as much under Kelly as they did under Andy Reid, but Maclin has the talent and opportunity -- DeSean Jackson is gone -- to be a fantasy starter in 2014, provided his knee is good to go.
Coach Mike Pettine made the decision in a lengthy meeting with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains Tuesday night and announced it Wednesday morning.
Pettine admitted Tuesday night that Manziel's obscene gesture to the Redskins' bench Monday night and all of the other things he's done since the spring would factor into the decision. Clearly, Manziel didn't show the leadership ability needed to be the starting quarterback yet.
"(Hoyer) was the clear leader from the beginning," Pettine said in a release by the team. "We've maintained all along that if it was close, I would prefer to go with the more experienced player. Brian has done a great job in the meeting rooms and with his teammates on the practice field and in the locker room."
While the writing is still on the wall in Cleveland, this puts a dent in Johnny Manziel's draft stock. He may get an opportunity to play sooner rather than later, but he now has to wait for Hoyer to falter due to poor play or injury. Hoyer's upside is minimal. He could be serviceable in a QBBC strategy on a weekly basis, but he's a difficult player to trust given the shaky ground on which he's standing.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 9:19am
First, he flashed on a 24-yard catch and run, which he immediately followed with a two-yard touchdown run. Royster makes plays when he's given the opportunity, however limited they may be, and if he doesn't stick around in D.C, he could catch on fairly quickly with someone else. After his strong showing against the Browns, though, his chances of making the cut had to have improved at least somewhat.
Neither Morris nor Helu had great nights on Monday but CSN Washington feels that won't affect their stock and will make the club, with Helu the third down back. Royster is no lock, but at the very least may have helped himself find a spot on another team if it comes to that.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 9:14am
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said he continues to be impressed by rookie WR Ryan Grant, who also drew praise throughout training camp for playing "like a 10-year veteran," and caught another TD pass on Monday night.
“Ryan Grant continues to make plays like he’s been doing all camp,” Gruden said. “It’s good to see the consistency.”
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.