Dorial Green-Beckham spent weeks sidelined by a hamstring injury. That aside, his former college coach believes the Titans have landed the equivalent of a "nightmare matchup for any cornerback at any level."
"I was with the Colts with Jim Mora when he had Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, I was with the Raiders when they had Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Jerry Porter and some other guys on the Super Bowl team," University of Texas receivers coach Jay Norvell told the Tennessean.
Norvell spent last season coaching the red-shirted Green-Beckham in practice at Oklahoma, saying: "When you go through the history of the draft and look at the guys with size and speed and all that, he is just unique. Calvin Johnson is probably one of the closest comparisons physically because of his size."
"He's not a finished product, but most players aren't," Norvell said. "So he's going to have to learn the pro game and that's a completely different game from college. But he's got some natural gifts that will help him in that game, and in some ways, the NFL is probably a better game for him than college football, just because of the bump rules and (less) contact and all of that. So there are some advantages he has. ... That's why they picked him."
If Green-Beckham picks up things quickly and proves he’s not as raw as his detractors say — one offensive coordinator said he was “completely lost” at the whiteboard in a pre-draft interview — he could certainly start early in the season opposite Kendall Wright, since it seems that Justin Hunter is on the outs with the current coaching staff. If he sees starter’s snaps, he should be fantasy relevant as a rookie, though he'll have to prove he's ready for the mental side of the game. Long-term, he has a chance to flourish if both he and Marcus Mariota are the real deal.
Saturday, June 27, 2015, 4:56pm
Adrian Peterson will be back in the lineup as the starting running back for the Vikings. However, Jerick McKinnon said his health is fine and that shouldn't play any role as he competes with Matt Asiata for playing time behind Peterson.
"Two hundred percent,'' McKinnon said about he feels since December surgery. "If there is a 300, I feel 300. It's all good.''
McKinnon was a third-round pick out of Georgia Southern and made the transition from being an option quarterback. Any plans to bring him along slowly as a rookie were scuttled when Peterson left the team following the regular-season opener.
McKinnon's outing against the Falcons came in the fourth game of the season and in just his third appearance. He averaged an impressive 4.8 yards per carry while sharing running duties with Asiata until he got hurt.
McKinnon developed a close bond with Peterson in the four months he spent with him last year, the story said. McKinnon even said he'd draft himself on his own fantasy team, but the fact is, Peterson returns this year ranked as our number-one fantasy back. McKinnon can be had in the very late rounds, though, and if you're a Peterson owner, it may not be a bad move to back yourself up.
A quick canvas of the league revealed 10 No. 1-caliber receivers: Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, Alshon Jeffrey, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, DeMaryius Thomas, Jordy Nelson, T.Y. Hilton, Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown.
Robinson, the Jaguars’ second-year receiver, is below that level, but on this team at this moment, he’s the best.
Robinson averaged 5.2 catches for 61 yards and 0.22 TD from Week 2 to Week 10, which extrapolates to an 84-974-3.6 over the course of a full 16-game season. He posted fringe WR2-type numbers before suffering a stress fracture in his foot. The Jacksonville receiving corps should feature Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns. If QB Blake Bortles can progress, this could be a dangerous passing game, and Robinson would be the primary beneficiary.
Falcons RB Devonta Freeman is clearly ahead at running back. Freeman is the leader in the clubhouse to earn the No. 1 running back spot over rookie Tevin Coleman. His head is probably spinning with all of the new information to go along with the mild groin strain that kept him out of the final day of minicamp.
“I knew Devonta had terrific hands, but I probably didn’t appreciate the good route-running ability coming out of Florida State and the development he made with (former running backs coach) Gerald (Brown) and the guys here last year," said head coach Dan Quinn. "He can really run routes.”
Quinn stopped just short of declaring a winner in the position battle.
“He’s going to be a guy we’re going to feature in a lot of different ways,” Quinn said. “He’s tough. He’s got great quickness….He’s a factor for sure.”
With Steven Jackson out of the way, GM Thomas Dimitroff said that there was “no question” that Freeman is ready to be the feature back in Atlanta, though the team threw cold water on that notion by drafting Tevin Coleman. Freeman wasn't terribly impressive in his rookie season (248 yards rushing, 3.8 YPC), but he was active and effective in the passing game (30 catches for 225 yards), so we’re expecting he’ll be PPR-relevant as part of a timeshare.
Third-round draft pick Justin Hardy has made a good first impression on some of his fellow skill position players. On Tuesday, Matt Ryan praised the WR for his consistent improvements; today, Julio Jones commended Hardy for the way he’s responded to challenges thrown his way.
Tevin Coleman hasn't passed Freeman yet. Coleman is the new regime's hand-picked running back, so we would expect him to see plenty of playing time as a rookie. But for now Freeman continues to start. He's a late-round option, especially in PPR formats.
According to wide receiver Roddy White, the offense won’t be as reliant as throwing the ball as they were last season. The Falcons were third in the league with 39.5 attempts per game last season and White expects that number to drop significantly in 2015.
“We’re not going to be passing 35-40 times a game,” White said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
That may well be the plan, but the Falcons are going to have to be a lot more effective running the ball than they were last year if they are going to cut down on the size of the roles that White, Julio Jones and Matt Ryan play in the offense.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015, 10:01am
Falcons RB Antone Smith, who suffered a broken leg in November, returned to action Tuesday and showed no signs of injury. The veteran running back didn’t miss a beat and moved well during agility drills. Quinn envisions Smith as a key asset moving forward — particularly on special teams.
“The speed I think is the first thing that jumps out,” Quinn said of Smith. “It’s been awesome getting him back in the mix this week.”
Without a doubt, there will be some spirited, hard-fought competition between these two. Head coach Dan Quinn noted Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman are “absolutely battling for it,” and at present, it’s difficult to forecast how the situation will unfold.
For now, as Coleman eases his way into the organization, Freeman remains at the top of the depth chart. And while that could change at any time, it’d take quite an effort from Coleman to reshuffle the deck.
On Freeman: “He’s got terrific hands coming out of the backfield,” Quinn said. “What a weapon that can be. He runs good routes and has really good hands.”
A big reason why the Falcons like Coleman is his knowledge of the zone-blocking scheme. As a senior at Indiana he darted for more than 2,000 yards — many of which came from his ability to read blocks and use his “one-cut-and-go” move to break free. Kyle Shanahan’s system will look a lot like the one Coleman studied at Indiana, at least from his perspective.
The Falcons used a 3rd round pick on Coleman, which probably means that they weren't completely content with their stable of running backs. The new regime inherited Freeman, so his standing isn't exactly clear. We believe Coleman will end up with most of the carries, but that Freeman will finish with more receptions. This is a murky situation at this point.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015, 8:30pm
Tamme could be stream-worthy in the Falcons' potent offense but he hasn't been very trustworthy throughout his career.
Falcons beat writer Vaughn McClure:
The running back position became compelling when the Falcons drafted Indiana’s Tevin Coleman in the third round. Coleman, a 2,000-yard rusher last season, boldly claimed he was ready to take over the starting job. Problem is, the Falcons have expressed plenty of faith in second-year player Devonta Freeman, who told me he wants to take his game to another level and maybe be in the MVP conversation one day. Freeman and Coleman will push each other daily, which should only benefit the Falcons going into the 2015 season. Freeman has impressed the new coaching staff with his pass-catching skills, while both players have to show the ability to consistently block when it comes to pass protection. I anticipate a two-back system with equal reps as the Falcons make a concerted effort to bring more offensive balance with a stronger run game. And don’t count out the contribution of explosive Antone Smith, who could be back to his old self once he fully recovers from a broken leg.
We currently project Coleman for 248 touches and Freeman for 160, with Smith seeing 68 touches if his leg is fully recovered. This could be a fairly ugly committee, though the overall production could be solid with Kyle Shanahan running things.
Falcons running back Antone Smith, who suffered a fractured right leg while covering a punt against Carolina on Nov. 16, has started running during his rehabilitation.
“The recovery is going pretty good,” Smith said on Tuesday. “I’m up and running. I’m almost full force, but not quite where I need to be. In time, that will take care of itself.”
Smith is not likely to be cleared when the Falcons open their organized team activities on Tuesday.
Smith believes that he’s a fit for the team’s new outside-zone blocking scheme.
“It’s a fit for my skill set, but it’s a fit for anybody that wants to run the ball,” Smith said. “They want to run the ball here and that’s the biggest thing. They want to run the ball. I don’t care who’s the running back you want to be in this scheme right here. I’m happy for this scheme.”
Along with Devonta Freeman, Smith is a reason we're tepid about rookie Tevin Coleman. It's possible that Coleman wins a feature job in the Falcons' backfield, but Freeman showed some pass-catching chops as a rookie and Smith has racked up 518 yards and seven touchdowns on 44 career touches.
With Dirk Koetter running the offense in 2015, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally will be able to unleash their pace plan.
"A guy that just, you know, he loves, loves fast tempo, loves to get the ball up field," offensive tackle Demar Dotson said of Koetter, via JoeBucsFan.com. "He loves to go a lot of no-huddle. That's going to be something that's more different than what we're used to. So it's going to be a lot of up-tempo stuff. You know, so that's something he loves doing. It's got its ups and downs, but I'm looking forward to being a part of it."
Last season with the Atlanta Falcons, Koetter ran the sixth-fastest offense in the NFL, per Football Outsiders' pace stats.
While both Koetter and Smith want to play fast in 2015, their ability to perform with pace will be dictated by how quickly Jameis Winston picks up the system.
If the team is successful in running an up-tempo offense, it should further boost Winston's fantasy value as a rookie. Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins would also benefit, along with whoever is running the ball in Tampa. But it's one thing to want to play fast and another to successfully do so.
Browns TE Rob Housler, 27, confirmed the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals were interested in signing him, but he said he ultimately chose the Browns partly because of the opportunities he expects to receive in new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s scheme. Housler emphasized the coach affectionately known as “Flip” wants to move him around a lot in the offense and feature him as a vertical threat in the middle of the field.
“It was a big factor,” Housler said of weighing the pass-catching opportunities each of his suitors would likely grant him. “I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum where I’ve been a part of targets and a part of the flow and rhythm of the offense, and I’ve seen where it goes other ways. For me, I want to be a big part of the offense. So that was a big consideration. I’m confident in my ability, and I just want to be able to contribute.”
Housler should get plenty of chances as the Browns try to compensate for losing Cameron, whom they attempted to re-sign before he bolted to Miami.
Housler signed a one-year deal with aligns with his expectation that he'll be a big part of the offense. He has great athleticism for his position, but so far that athleticism hasn't translated to on-field production. Part of the problem is that he was an afterthought in the Arizona offense, but it sounds as if the Browns intend to utilize his speed down the seam.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 5:26pm
- Page 1