Falcons beat writer Vaughn McClure: No one figured Leonard Hankerson would emerge as a fantasy target based on his career numbers in four seasons with the Redskins. Hankerson has just six touchdowns in 31 career games (123 targets). Injuries have hampered his progress, but a healthy Hankerson has a legit chance to be a secondary threat behind Julio Jones. Hankerson already showed he could be a scoring target with a 2-yard touchdown reception from Matt Ryan in a preseason matchup against the Jets.
Ertz underwent core muscle surgery on Aug. 14 and was expected to miss the entire preseason with an eye towards the season opener as a return date.
"No comment yet," Ertz told NJ Advance Media following Tuesday's practice at the NovaCare Complex when asked if he was still on target for playing Week 1. "I should know soon, though."
On Monday Ertz was seen catching balls from the JUGS machine and getting extra work in after practice for the first time since suffering the injury earlier this month. To make it worse for fantasy owners, the Eagles play Monday night of Week 1. Brent Celek is a possible late, emergency replacement at the position if you're really counting on Ertz.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 9:58am
Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is bringing an old friend with him to Atlanta.
The Falcons announced Wednesday that they have signed Rex Grossman. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported he will sign a one-year deal, per a source informed of the contract. The 35-year-old has now worked with Shanahan over three stops in Washington, Cleveland and Atlanta.
For nearly a month, the headlines surrounding the New York Jets have been dominated by Geno Smith's jaw/IK Enemkpali's fist, Sheldon Richardson's misdeeds, Muhammad Wilkerson's hamstring, Darrelle Revis' return and Brandon Marshall's mouth. At the same, unbeknownst to many outside the organization, Chris Ivory -- the most important non-quarterback on the offense -- has been enjoying his best training camp with the Jets.
When Ivory isn't smashing heads with his physical running style, he's turning them. Count coach Todd Bowles among those impressed.
When he greeted Ivory on the sideline after his 33-yard touchdown run last Friday night against the Atlanta Falcons, Bowles told his No. 1 running back he didn't realize he was that fast. Ivory smiled and shrugged. A man of few words, he'd rather knock out your mouthpiece than be one.
Ivory doesn't create much buzz on a national scale, but there's no denying his importance to the Jets. If the Jets want to end their four-year playoff drought, Ivory must crack the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career, the story said. (His previous high: 833.) He will likely share some carries Bilal Powell, but Ivory could prove to be a quality depth pick at RB later in drafts.
Monday, August 24, 2015, 10:37am
Whether the problem was with Bishop Sankey or the offensive line, the Titans’ running game came under plenty of criticism after the preseason opener.
“The line was doing really well initially making holes, and I was just hitting the holes,” Sankey said. “This week, the big emphasis was (running backs coach Sylvester Croom) telling us to just hit the hole and not hesitate — and when I see a crease, hit it.”
Sankey is a bit of a forgotten man in drafts this year, mostly because of rookie David Cobb starting to get a lot of press. But it's also because of the Titans poor offensive line. If that part of the Titan offense can come together, Sankey could be a guy to take a shot on as he falls in drafts.
McClure added in a recent story the elbow injury White suffered last week was a cause for concern. The team didn't provide many details about the injury, which sidelined White from the second preseason game against the New York Jets. Although the initial word seemed to imply nothing significant, White experienced swelling. The team said White's elbow flared up last Thursday after a light practice without pads. If you're already a White owner or plan to take a look at him, it's something to monitor. If the elbow injury leads to White to miss the start of the season, the Falcons appear to have full confidence in newcomer Leonard Hankerson stepping into a complementary role alongside Julio Jones, McClure added.
Saturday, August 22, 2015, 9:57am
The Jets’ concussions, as well as the concussion suffered by Robert Griffin III on Thursday, bring back into focus a common concern in the NFL: Players are putting their health at risk in meaningless preseason games. Owners and players alike have shown interest in the possibility of shortening the preseason, but they can’t come to an agreement on how to go about doing that, and whether the regular season should be lengthened to compensate for the lost preseason games.
Jets wide receiver Shaquelle Evans also suffered a back injury, while offensive tackle Ben Ijalana suffered a knee injury and defensive back Dashaun Phillips suffered a rib injury.
Falcons WR Roddy White will be on the sideline for the game. The team announced that White, who practiced all week, has an elbow injury and said that there will be more information about his status after the game.
Once known as an iron man, White missed a couple of 2014 games due to injury, but when he played, he was a solid WR2 in both PPR (#17 PPG) and standard (#20 PPG) formats. He’s 33, but as long as he stays healthy, he should be a very solid WR2/WR3. Hopefully this elbow injury isn't too serious.
Falcons beat writer Vaughan McClure says Leonard Hankerson is "on the rise": He was signed as a free agent primarily because of his familiarity with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme from Washington. Hankerson made plays that make you wonder why he wasn't more productive with the Redskins. Then again, he had a serious knee injury in 2013 that stunted his growth. If Hankerson continues to shine on Sundays like he did in practice, then the Falcons might be unstoppable in the passing game.
Monday, August 17, 2015, 12:48pm
They may not need Royster to fill that role for too much longer, however. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman both suited up for Monday’s practice and multiple reports from Falcons practice had them taking part in individual drills while sitting out the team portions of the workout.
Assuming neither player hits any snags in their recovery, both Freeman and Coleman should be back into those drills without much more delay. Antone Smith, who is also battling a hamstring injury, remained out of practice on Monday which left Terron Ward running with the first team once again.
Coleman and Freeman are competing for the team’s starting running back job, although it wouldn’t come as a great surprise if they both wind up with sizable roles on offense in Atlanta this season, the story said.
Monday, August 17, 2015, 9:25am
The bottom line is Zach Mettenberger looked sharp in his 25 snaps against the Falcons. He completed 8-of-11 passes for 129 yards in relief of starter Marcus Mariota, including a 30-yard touchdown pass to receiver Rico Richardson. His passer rating was 104.0.
Mettenberger’s 2014 season was cut short because of a right shoulder injury, which caused him to miss the final three games after making six starts. The second-year quarterback rehabbed the shoulder at the end of last season and during the offseason, and said he feels good throwing the football.
Unfortunately for Mettenberger, he'll be behind the rookie Mariota. Mariota offers more fantasy upside because of his legs, even though both would play behind an offensive line that struggled last season.
Sunday, August 16, 2015, 1:52pm
Royster, a sixth-round draft pick by the Redskins in 2011, adds depth to a position depleted by injuries. Running backs Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman and, most recently, Antone Smith have suffered hamstring injuries. Smith was hurt while scoring a touchdown in the Falcons' 31-24 preseason win over Tennessee on Friday night.
Sunday, August 16, 2015, 9:05am
T.J. Yates didn't enter training camp thinking he was entitled to anything.
Although the Atlanta Falcons quarterback has one playoff win under his belt and essentially ran offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme when he played for Gary Kubiak in Houston, Yates knew how key preseason games would be in determining the backup to starter Matt Ryan.
Yates would be the first to admit his first live action this season was a little shaky. He took over for Ryan after one series and completed 9 of 15 passes for 105 yards with an interception in 32 snaps. He was sacked once and had a passer rating of 53.5.
Yates, who ran his share of bootlegs, wishes he had a couple of passes back as he was obviously off target. There appeared to be miscommunication between himself and rookie receiver Justin Hardy on the interception.
Meanwhile, Renfree completed 6 of 7 passes for 68 yards in 23 snaps. His passer rating was 107.1.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015, 9:23am
Crowell is a talented 23-year-old who shattered his undrafted expectations in 2014 with eight touchdowns and a thundering running style. Crowell averaged 4.1 yards per carry and his two biggest games, against the Steelers at home and the Falcons on the road, were monumental Browns victories.
But just because Crowell is set to start Thursday against Washington does not mean Cleveland is ready to anoint him as its bell cow, 20-carries per game, running back. On Sunday, running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery challenged one of his running backs to truly stand out and seize the job.
Crowell read the comments from his coach. He knows he still has work to do.
“Obviously I haven’t,” Crowell said when asked if he’s earned the starting job. “So I have to keep working and keep working. The coach knows what is right and knows what is best, so I have to come out here and keep working.”
The report broke yesterday that RB coach Wilbert Montgomery wasn't happy with the Browns RBs in camp. Crowell is perhaps the one true healthy back right now as the others can't get on the field, including our highest-rated Brown RB, rookie Duke Johnson. Looks like Crowell will get his chance Thursday in the team's first preseason game. The Browns RB situation is pretty cloudy right now.
Sunday, August 9, 2015, 1:04pm
"We're in the middle of those discussions," Blank said. "We expect Julio to be a lifer for the Falcons. We're moving forward and have every reason to be positive and be enthusiastic about it."
Jones has one year left on his rookie contract and will earn $10.176 million this season. The two-time Pro Bowler said his agent, Jimmy Sexton, began contract talks with the Falcons near the start of training camp. Sexton had a starting point to work with after top receivers Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas both agreed to five-year, $70 million contracts that included more than $40 million guaranteed.
Jones is unlikely to match the league's top-paid receiver, Detroit's Calvin Johnson, who makes $16.2 million per year. But Blank was asked if $14-15 million per year was a reasonable figure for Jones.
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