Monday, August 31, 2015, 4:25pm
Chicago Bears backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen suffered a concussion on Saturday when he got hit by Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker P.J. Dawson while attempting to slide late in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ 21-10 loss at Paul Brown Stadium.
Immediately following the game the Bears announced that Clausen did not have a concussion, but that prognosis changed when the No. 2 quarterback experienced delayed symptoms.
“He does have a concussion,” Bears coach John Fox said. “So you’re not confused, during the game he was cleared on the on-field prognosis, and then he had symptoms so he’s been classified with a concussion. He’ll go into that protocol."
Clausen also missed Week 17 of last year because of a concussion.
After the third, a quarterback sneak, Dalton left the game with what the team called a neck injury. He was examined on the sideline by trainers and then remained on the sideline but didn’t return to the game. At halftime, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Dalton is fine and taking him out of the game was a precautionary measure.
This is probably nothing to worry about, but it's something to monitor over the next week. Dalton may be poised for a bounceback season now that all of his major weapons are healthy.
Buccaneers WR Mike Evans says his sore left hamstring isn’t so sore that he wouldn’t be able to play this week if it were absolutely necessary. Still, he believes the Bucs are doing the prudent thing by shutting him down for the remainder of the preseason.
“I think it’s smart,’’ said Evans, who tweaked his hamstring early in the Bucs victory over the Bengals on Monday night. “There’s no reason to risk it. I’ve already proven myself. And this way I can just try to get back for Week 1 of the regular season.’’
It sounds like the injury isn't much to worry about and that Evans will be ready to go Week 1.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 4:43pm
One day after their 25-11 loss at Tampa Bay, the Cincinnati Bengals cut a trio of reserves as they start whittling their way down to the regular season's 53-man roster limit.
Third-team quarterback Josh Johnson was the player with the most name recognition, released outright to free agency.
After receiving 57 snaps in the preseason-opening win over the New York Giants, Johnson didn't get on the field Monday. Part of that was the product of the Bengals struggling to get into an offensive rhythm with starting quarterback Andy Dalton at the helm. In order to get him to end his night on a positive a note, the Bengals left their first-team offense in the game until it finally moved the ball for a field goal just before halftime.
AJ McCarron, the No. 2 quarterback who spent nearly all of last season on injury lists with a shoulder ailment, played the entire second half. Johnson's release appears a clear sign the Bengals are planning to go with Dalton and McCarron as their two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.
The Buccaneers have a short turnaround from Monday night’s game against the Bengals to Saturday’s matchup with the Browns and they aren’t going to risk further injury to wide receiver Mike Evans’s hamstring by playing him in that contest.
After that comes the fourth preseason game, which is usually conducted by players vying for spots on the lower rungs of the depth chart and/or the practice squad. Evans is in neither of those groups and, as a result, coach Lovie Smith announced Tuesday, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, that Evans will not play again until the regular season.
As for whether Evans will be ready to play when the regular season gets started, Smith said that the team will “take every precaution” during Evans’s recovery and not rush him back into the lineup before he’s healed, the story said. It's a situation to watch as hopefully the team is just being cautious with Evans and it won't affect the start of the real season. As the story pointed out, it's valuable live action he's missing with QB Jameis Winston, at least for the third preseason game.
“I talked to him and he didn’t feel like it was that serious,’’ Smith said. “We wanted to get our (starters) into the second quarter and then get them out.’’
Evans left the game in the second quarter and did not return. Obviously good news but the hope is this doesn't linger into the season.
Chicago Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery did not participate in Monday’s practice at Halas Hall, still hindered by the calf strain he suffered during a practice on Aug. 12. Marquess Wilson was also a spectator Monday, sidelined himself after suffering a hamstring injury during Saturday night’s 23-11 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
That left the first-unit offense significantly short-handed once again as the Bears dived into preparation for their third game of the preseason. It’s too early to say yet whether either Jeffery or Wilson will return to practice this week or play in Saturday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Jeffery, coach John Fox asserted, is still “day to day” with his injury. And the Bears will certainly focus more on assuring their top receiver’s ability for the season opener than pushing him back into action for exhibition action this week.
“When they clear him medically and we feel like it’s the smartest thing to do, he’ll be out there,” Fox said. “So I won’t be able to tell you (where he is) until we get closer to game day. … We’d prefer him out there and he’s doing everything he can to get out there. But it’s nobody’s fault. It’s not his fault. It’s not our fault. It’s part of football.”
During team drills at the end of Monday’s practice, the three receivers working with quarterback Jay Cutler and the starting offense were Eddie Royal, Josh Bellamy and Rashad Lawrence. That’s not exactly the murderer’s row of big-play targets that Cutler and offensive coordinator Adam Gase envisioned. But the Bears will push forward, hoping Jeffery and Wilson get well soon, the story said.
Sunday, August 23, 2015, 8:49pm
Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle's knee tendinitis continues to keep him out as the days tick down toward the regular season. And HC Tom Coughlin said the whole thing has thrown him for a bit of a loop.
"This thing with Rueben has really confused me," he said. "He's been able to handle this so well over the years. And yet this circumstance has been bothersome."
To recap: Randle has battled knee tendinitis since high school, but has always been able to play through it. Things flared up during the Giants' joint practices with the Bengals, and Randle left the first day's session early and missed the entire second day.
Despite struggling to get through warmups, Randle inexplicably played in the preseason game and hobbled off after three plays. He has not practiced since. Victor Cruz hasn't been cleared to play in the preseason yet, the story added.
The bulky black brace Cards QB Carson Palmer wears on his left knee is about the only sign he is less than nine months removed from his second torn anterior cruciate ligament.
That and, well, the way head coach Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians still sometimes shakes his head in disbelief that three weeks into training camp, Palmer isn’t just healthy, he’s better.
And maybe better than he’s been at any point since he made back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2005 and 2006 while playing for the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Carson is in great shape, mentally and physically,” Arians told USA TODAY Sports.
Plenty of coaches gush these sorts of platitudes about their quarterback this time of year. But it means something coming from a quarterback guru like Arians, who has tutored passers like Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck.
The story said that through three weeks of training camp, Palmer has been among the Cardinals’ most consistent players, something that backs up numerous reports we've had here at 4for4. In a recent fully-padded practice, he zipped pass after pass across the middle of the field to Larry Fitzgerald, and nailed several deep touchdown passes to second-year receiver John Brown — all while playing against a secondary that includes stars Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. Then, in his first live action since suffering the knee injury on Nov. 9, Palmer went 4-for-4 for 77 yards to lead the Cardinals to a touchdown in his one series of work in the preseason opener against Kansas City last week. All signs are pointing to Palmer having very nice, later-round value at the QB position, definitely something to note if you're waiting to draft at the position.
Jones was one of our favorite sleepers last summer, but his season was derailed by an ankle injury. His 51 catches for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns resulted in the 3rd-highest FP/T in 2013. He’s poised to surprise if he can prove he’s fully healthy and win the starting job opposite A.J. Green. Mohamed Sanu played pretty well last season but he struggled with drops, and Jones was ahead of Sanu when disaster struck. Both players are free agents after the season, so this is one of the more interesting camp battles to monitor this summer. One thing to note -- Sanu only saw 5.2 targets in the 12 games in which Green played, so Cincinnati’s WR2 it wasn’t a high-volume role in OC Hue Jackson’s run-oriented offense, but Jackson said that he is planning to open things up a bit in 2015.
Giants TE Larry Donnell demonstrated last season he can be a impact player in the passing game.
But his ability to produce in the other critical area for a tight end - run blocking - has been suspect at best. Giants tight end coach Kevin M. Gilbride said earlier this summer Donnell has the physical gifts to be a "special player," but that he needed to improve his game, with blocking being one of the main focuses.
So Donnell has diligently worked on becoming a better blocker. And in the Giants' preseason opener against the Bengals, the fourth-year former undrafted free agent out of Grambling State felt he blocked better than he ever has.
"This last game, that's the best I've felt blocking since I've been here," Donnell told NJ Advance Media. "I graded out well, and I actually felt good about myself in my blocking."
Size isn't the issue for Donnell, who is 6-6, but keeping the proper technique is more the problem the story pointed out. With WRs Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz now a full go at practice, there are a lot of weapons who could open up the middle for Donnell. The Giants have always tried to put the TE position to good use, so Donnell has some potential to at least be a streaming TE option. Being a better blocker should help him stay on the field more.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015, 8:59am
During the Bengals' preseason opener last Friday, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson and quarterback Andy Dalton reached a special point in their player/coach relationship. Jackson called a play and Dalton hated it. So, Dalton did what he thought was right and changed it.
"A lot of people say that's a negative," Jackson said Monday, via ESPN.com. "That's a positive to me. That's where you want your quarterback to be. That's the kind of relationship that you want to have with him where he can feel comfortable and say, 'Not that one.'"
This can be looked at two different ways, but in reality, Bengals fans should like the fact that Dalton is taking more of a command in their offense.
Confidence in a quarterback is essential and it's been a factor visibly missing in some of Dalton's more lackluster performances from the past two years, the story pointed out. And fantasy owners likely all know too well. The piece went on to say this is a massively important season for the future of the Bengals' franchise. Getting the incredibly-elusive playoff win under Marvin Lewis would go a long way toward changing the perception of a good-but-not-great team that has lingered around the AFC North for almost a decade now.
Bengals WR Marvin Jones is bound to have more impressive stat lines this season than the one he had in Friday night's preseason opener.
One catch, 17 yards.
But the numbers aren't what Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has been paying attention to this training camp with respect to his young receiver who is coming back from a season-long stint out of the rotation because of injuries.
Jackson has been more concerned with the way Jones has been running routes. Jackson is watching how Jones comes out of his breaks, seeing where he puts his hands as passes come his way, and he looks for how aggressively the receiver turns up field after securing a reception.
From what Jackson is seeing, the pre-injury Jones is nearly back.
"He's starting to look like Marvin Jones again," Jackson said. "The more he works at it every day."
Jones was thrown to twice in last Friday's 23-10 win against the Giants. He caught the one pass and turned upfield for additional yards before being tackled for a first down. He also nearly had a chance to catch a touchdown pass. As Jones went long on one "go" route, backup quarterback Josh Johnson threw under pressure. As a result, he left the throw a little short, and the ball ended up deflecting off the back of the cornerback who was covering Jones. Jones was one of our sneaky picks last year before the injury derailed his season. Mohamad Sanu emerged a bit last year but we still rank Jones as the team's WR2, coming in at 61st. He's worth a later-round flier and his ADP indicates that's where owners are taking him.
After missing practice earlier in the week and somewhat surprisingly playing in the preseason opener, Giants wide receiver Ruben Randle limped off after just three plays. His balky knees just didn't want to cooperate.
Randle has been dealing with tendonitis in his knees. It's a problem that has existed to some degree since high school.
Despite practicing little this week in Cincinnati, Randle was on the field for the opening drive Friday night in the Giants preseason opener against the Bengals. He was targeted on a third-down pass. It was a fade route down the right sideline, one that Randle couldn't complete at full speed.
He limped off the field as the Giants went to punt and did not return.
"I felt fine until that last fade," Randle said. "It bothered me right there. I was fine until then.
"I have to see what is causing the problem and fix it. That's all I can do."
As the story said, that could mean temporarily shutting it down. Randle conceded that is an option. It's a shame for Randle, who was making strides in the offense and getting on the same page as QB Eli Manning after struggling for months. With Victor Cruz coming back from a major injury, Randle was going to be a big key to the offense.
Bengals beat writer Coley Harvey:
After appearing in just eight plays because of a couple of injuries last season (he had three catches for 37 yards), a healthy Tyler Eifert is poised to play a large role in the Bengals’ offense this season. The tight end was targeted 59 times as a rookie in 2013. Useful in red zone, two-minute and goal-line situations, don’t be surprised if Eifert has a 60-catch season in 2015. He’s definitely a Bengal on the rise in fantasy.
We currently project Eifert for 49-611-3, which makes him our #14 TE in standard formats and #12 in PPR. With Jermaine Gresham out of the way, Eifert should be a nice late-round pick provided he can stay healthy. He has good size and speed, and showed pretty good hands as a rookie. He only played about 60 percent of the snaps in 2013, and averaged 0.14 FP (PPR) per snap. Extrapolate the same production to 90 percent of the snaps (which is typical for a starting tight end), and Eifert shouldn't have any problem posting top 15 numbers. With solid improvement, he could very well be this year's Jordan Cameron (2013) or Travis Kelce (2014).
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