Tuesday, September 1, 2015, 4:43pm
Rookie tight end Maxx Williams, who has been in a red non-contact jersey since the Ravens resumed practice after the Aug. 22 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, shouldn't be dealing with his injury by the regular season opener at Denver, coach John Harbaugh said.
Williams, the Ravens' second-round pick in the NFL Draft, was shaken up on a play late in the first half of the Eagles game. He tried to dodge a hit from Eagles cornerback E.J. Biggers, but took the worst of it and needed attention from trainers on the sidelines.
He came back to finish the game, ending the night with three catches for 25 yards, but hasn't fully participated since.
"He’s got an issue that we just can’t get him banged around with," Harbaugh said. "He’s practicing, so he should be there for Denver, but we just want to protect him from the bump."
Baltimore placed tight end Dennis Pitta on the physically unable to perform list, as Head Coach John Harbaugh previously indicated would happen.
Pitta, who is still rehabbing after his second major hip surgery, will not be eligible to play until Week 7 against the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 26. Pitta could make his return on Monday Night Football, but that’s still in question.
“There’s more to it than just, ‘Can he play?’” Harbaugh said two weeks ago. “Should he play? Will he be cleared to play? And what is being cleared to play entail in terms of liability and things like that? There’s a lot to it that has to be worked out.”
Pitta participated in individual and position drills during Organized Team Activities, but once the Ravens put the pads on for training camp, Pitta was held out. He hasn’t had any contact since dislocating and fracturing his hip on Sept. 21, 2014. Pitta has also run routes on the field before each of the Ravens’ preseason games. He appears to have good mobility and explosion, but still needs to gain permission from doctors to suit up, the story all said. Crockett Gillmore and rookie Maxx Williams are expected to carry the load. Williams is a rookie so Gillmore is ranked higher but perhaps the upside falls with Williams. Keep in mind, rookie TEs don't always have an immediate fantasy impact, but this will be a little more of a pass-friendly offense under Marc Trestman.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015, 11:54am
Redskins TE Jordan Reed felt a little rusty on Saturday before going onto the field for his first game action since last December, but the tight end quickly got back into the flow of things, recording two receptions for 21 yards in the first half of the Redskins' 31-13 preseason victory against the Baltimore Ravens.
His second catch, an eight-yard reception, was only possible after a full-extension dive on a ball placed out of reach of the defender.
Reed’s hamstring, which forced him to miss weeks of practice and even the first two preseason games, held up just fine.
“Felt good to be back, man,” he said after the game. “Back with my teammates and trying to help win this game.”
Reed admitted that he felt his routes kept getting stuck a little bit but the Baltimore game was the foundation for what he hopes is a season he can stay on the field more often. The Skins at least want to use him in passing situations, with the hope it will save him from getting banged up in running formations. If Reed can stay healthy he can produce fantasy points, but owners should definitely have a backup plan.
Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who’s battling back from a hamstring injury suffered on Aug. 6, had his most active day in practice on Monday.
“That was encouraging for us,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “To see him go and move. We’ll take it to the next step (on Tuesday.)”
It’s not clear if the Falcons will try to get him some action in the final exhibition game against the Ravens at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Georgia Dome. They may elected to just sit Freeman and have him ready for the season-opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, Sept. 14 at the Georgia Dome.
“He caught it well out of the backfield,” Quinn said. “He ran it well today. Limited reps, but it was awesome to see him.”
Quinn was clearly excited when discussing Freeman.
“He is a guy who has juice,” Quinn said. “When you feel somebody on the field, he’s got that kind of explosion and ability. It was great to have him out there.”
Freeman, who appeared headed for the starting running back position, has not played during the exhibition season. Quinn clearly believes that Freeman can be a key cog in the offense, the story said, which has struggled to run the ball in the three exhibition games. We think there's a possibility of a three-headed attack here with rookie Tevin Coleman the main threat. Coleman is the hand-picked guy from the new staff and they usually win out in the end, but Freeman is the current RB1. Antone Smith will also be a factor.
The Redskins have decided to go with Kirk Cousins as the starting quarterback for Week 1, per a report from ESPN. The news follows a series of conflicting reports yesterday about Robert Griffin III's future in Washington. Cousins started in last Saturday's preseason game against the Ravens. After a shaky start, he finished 20 for 27 for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
As we stated yesterday, there are reports ownership is resisting moving on from RG3 while the coaches are ready, so things could get ugly. Cousins owns a career 7.4 YPA, but posted 8.4 YPA last season, along with a 10:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. As we also added, DeSean Jackson's numbers remained pretty much the same with Cousins under center while Pierre Garcon's production increased significantly. He averaged 4.2 catches for 53 yards and 0.5 TD in the six games that Cousins played last season. Those are high-end fantasy WR3 numbers. Both Cousins and Colt McCoy were having pretty good camps.
Goodness gracious does Eagles QB Sam Bradford look sharp. Any tentativeness we saw Saturday night at the Linc vs. the Ravens was gone. Any jitters that were apparent in his first appearance in a year were nowhere to be seen. He used all his receivers, was remarkably accurate, made quick and smart decisions in the pocket and even threw a touchdown pass to Trey Burton while under heavy pressure from Packers safety Micah Hyde. Bradford played three series in his final preseason appearance, threw three touchdown passes and then gave way to Mark Sanchez. Add in his own series against the Ravens, and Bradford played four series this preseason and put up four touchdowns. His final numbers Saturday: 10 for 10 for 121 yards with three TDs and no INTs. Things aren’t going to come this easily in the regular season — I don’t think — but it’s hard not to be incredibly excited about where Bradford is and how far he’s come.
Over the last two seasons, Philadelphia quarterbacks have averaged 16.7 passing game-only fantasy points. Bradford isn’t much of a runner, but he adds about 0.7 FP per game as a rusher. That adds up to 17.4 FP, or about what Eli Manning averaged as the #10 QB in 2014. The Eagles’ offense has lost their top receiver – DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin – in each of the last two seasons, but Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz are emerging and the team added Nelson Agholor in the draft. This is a definite system upgrade due to the overall effectiveness of Chip Kelly’s offense.
Griffin still hasn't fully recovered from the concussion he suffered recently.
Perriman's stock continues to free fall. He's now going in the 10th round and we're betting he's going to fall even further. Perriman has one of the best opportunities of this year's rookie receiver class, so once healthy, he should be given plenty of snaps and targets in Marc Trestman's offense. If he's still around in the 11th/12th round, we can't think of too many players in that range with his upside.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 4:15pm
DeMarco Murray was asked how he expects the rotation to play out. Will the RBs alternate series? Will they spell one another during a drive?
"I don't think it will be alternating series," Murray said. "But [Mathews] is a quality back, great guy, works extremely hard. I'm sure he'll get his fair share of touches. But I don't know how the rotation will be yet, we haven't touched on it."
Murray is unsure of how many snaps he'll get in Green Bay this Saturday, but expect his workload to increase in the dress rehearsal. Starters typically play an entire half, if not more, in the penultimate preseason game.
The Eagles like to run a lot of plays so it's possible Murray still gets a solid workload with perhaps Mathews getting 8-10 touches. Sproles could mix in but is expected to get most of his work in the passing, even though he proved to be a nice weapon running the ball last year. As long as the Eagles offense is clicking, Murray owners shouldn't worry too much about the Birds crowded backfield.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 10:14am
With longtime deep threat Torrey Smith in San Francisco and his replacement, first-round wide receiver Breshad Perriman, out for going on four weeks, the Ravens passing game has seemed to lack a down-field dimension through training camp and the first half of the taken on a different look than years past.
Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, while acknowledging that missing top-end speed, said the team has other ways of getting chunks of yardage in the passing game than by hitting a receiver who has run past his defender.
“We’ve hit a lot of deep balls; you saw last week if you were in Philadelphia,” Trestman said. “We went on the edge and practiced and made some plays on the edge. [If] you went on the deep ball in the National Football League, you don’t have to go by your guy to beat him. The guy can be on top of you, and you can back-shoulder throw. That’s a vertical throw, too, and we [had] a bunch of that in the games, in the practices anyways. We got one by Marlon [Brown] in the game.
“We have enough speed to get down-field,” Tresman said. “It’s [about] how we do it and how we scheme it and approach it. Our guys are fast enough.”
The down-field passing game has been a big part of the Ravens offense, with quarterback Joe Flacco completing 21 of 56 passes over 20 yards down-field for 663 yards with 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Factor in the seven drops on such passes, and the balls that resulted in Smith’s league-leading 11 pass interference penalties drawn for 229, and you have a big part of the Ravens offense.
Steve Smith has also provided a target down-field, as evidenced by his Week 1 touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals. Kamar Aiken ran the proverbial “Torrey Smith route” early in Saturday’s game against the Eagles. But the return of Perriman, whose speed Trestman said is “one of the big reasons we got him,” will help that aspect of their offense, the story said.
As a result Sanders, who has been held out of practice since he suffered some hamstring soreness after warming up before the preseason opener in Seattle on Aug. 14 , may not play, as a precaution, for the remainder of the preseason. The Broncos open the regular season Sept. 13 against the Baltimore Ravens.
“The expectations are for him to maybe be on the field [for practice] by the end of the week or beginning of next week,’’ Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. “We have good news on him and we’re doing everything we can to get him ready for our opening weekend, basically.’’
Both Kubiak and Sanders have said the receiver is on track to play in the opener. It's becoming a growing theme around the league and team's don't want to chance it with injured stars even with the third preseason game on the horizon.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 6:45pm
Running back Lorenzo Taliaferro’s knee injury opens the door for rookie fourth-round NFL draft pick Javorius Allen, who understands the opportunity at hand. “Times like this are when you prove yourself,” Allen said following Tuesday’s practice. “Can you step in and be that guy and provide for your team and have your team believe in you?” The early returns for Allen have been uneven. In two preseason games, he’s rushed 17 times for 54 yards (3.2 yards per carry) and caught two passes for 25 yards. However, running backs coach Thomas Hammock and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman indicated this week that Allen has made definite strides. “Buck continues to improve," Trestman said. “He’s shown us that he can run and make plays and be physical and drop his pads and finish with his feet. We’ve seen that. We just want to continue to see him grow and get better at all the little things that he’s doing.”
One area that Allen is working to improve on is blitz pickup. The former USC standout acknowledged there’s a big difference between doing it at the college and pro levels. This is something that tends to limit a lot of young backs in the NFL.
But he was the second running back up against Houston on Saturday. And after slashing through blocks and around the edges of the Texans' defense for 54 yards on just eight first-half carries, he is second to none in the league in rushing yardage so far this preseason, with 120 yards on 16 carries.
Yeah, yeah, it's just preseason. The Broncos know that. Hillman, in his fourth year, knows that. Last year's preseason rushing leader, Baltimore's Lorenzo Taliaferro, gained just 292 yards in limited duty in the regular season. No one's breaking out the streamers and balloons to herald Hillman's arrival.
But there's something different about the San Diego State product now. As the offense as a whole searches for consistency in a tweaked scheme, Hillman appears more comfortable now than ever before.
"He’s moved himself up. He’s had a really good camp," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said after Saturday's game. "... He deserves more reps and if he keeps playing like that he’ll continue to get some more."
Kubiak has always noted that he won't strictly have No. 1 and No. 2 running backs; instead, they will be 1 and 1a. The best example of how that worked for him came in the 2011 season with the Houston Texans, when backup Ben Tate had 175 carries -- 62.9 percent as many as first-teamer Arian Foster. They combined for 2,166 yards and the Texans sprinted to their first division title. The No. 2 back will play -- and he could see a lot of work, the story said. Right now, C.J. Anderson figures to be the lead back with Montee Ball also a factor. But Hillman has been good and the Broncos appear to have three legit threats. While Anderson is a popular early round pick after stepping up late last season, it looks like at least Hillman is trying to make a push for playing time.
Add the Ravens backfield to the positions hit by the injury bug.
“I don’t have the degree on it yet, but it’s going to be a few weeks for Lorenzo,” Harbaugh said.
Taliaferro was listed as the Ravens No. 2 running back behind Justin Forsett, but now rookie fourth-round pick Buck Allen will likely see an increased workload for the rest of the preseason and potentially early in the regular season. Behind Allen is second-year back Fitzgerald Toussaint and undrafted rookie Terrence Magee.
Saturday, August 22, 2015, 8:33pm
But what they saw out of Sam Bradford in his first game back from his twin torn ACLs still had them holding their breath.
Bradford took several hard shots from the Ravens on his opening drive, with linebacker Terrell Suggs drawing a penalty after diving at his legs, and then defensive lineman Brandon Williams pounding him into the ground.
But Bradford led a crisp touchdown drive also, an 11-play, 84-yard march capped by a Ryan Mathews touchdown run. He completed 3-of-5 passes, but taking so many shots so early in his comeback will create a worry. That’s probably why Mark Sanchez took the field for the second possession, making it a short night for Bradford, the story said.
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