Cowboys writer Bryan Broaddus on the running back situation at OTAs:
Joseph Randle took the snaps with the first offense to open practice, but each back got the opportunity to show what they had with the group. If you watch our OTA Live on DallasCowboys.com, the one back that will jump out at you during the team period is Ryan Williams. Williams did not practice on Tuesday, but he took full advantage of the snaps he got on Wednesday. Williams’ best trait is his ability to explode, and he was able to display that for all to see. What I have learned about watching him play is that it doesn’t take much to get him in the open field and into the second level. He was impressive.
Williams is the dark horse in the Cowboys' backfield competition, though durability is a major concern. If he continues to outperform Randle, we'll have to adjust our expectations, but for now we believe Randle has the inside track for the RB1 job.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015, 11:36am
Cowboys site writer Bryan Broaddus on the team's WR2 competition:
Devin Street is going into his second season and the coaching staff hopes that there will be a significant jump that would allow him to compete for more of a role in the offense. I don’t see Street taking snaps from Cole Beasley and his role, but could he push Terrance Williams to the point where Williams is no longer the guy looked as the opposite of Dez Bryant? Hopefully for Street, he can use these practices to set himself up in Oxnard to really give Williams a battle. Depending on whom you talk to in the organization, there is a thought that Street is talented enough to take that job.
Williams has finished in the top 20 in fantasy points per target in each of his two seasons, but he doesn't see enough targets to be a reliable fantasy option. In fact, his targets dropped from 74 as a rookie to 66 in his sophomore season even though his snaps jumped 18.5% year over year.
Cowboys site writer Bryan Broaddus on the team's running back situation:
When practices are open to the media on Wednesday, I believe that you will see Joseph Randle running with the first offense while Darren McFadden, Ryan Williams and Lance Dunbar will serve as the main backups. Randle will get the nod over McFadden for the simple reason that he was the backup to DeMarco Murray last season. McFadden appears to be motivated to take this job, and with the target on Randle’s back, I am wondering if he in fact can hold McFadden off for the job? If you asked me who I felt was the most complete back for the job, I would say that it is McFadden. Randle is talented for the scheme but the question will always be is if he mature enough to not let the pressure of trying to win the job affect how he performs. We will be able to see how serious he really is about the job and responsibility now that DeMarco Murray is no longer in the picture.
McFadden is going ahead of Randle in early drafts, but we view Randle as the better bet. He was highly effective (6.7 YPC) in 2014 and is reportedly showing more maturity after several off-the-field issues. He's not going to see a DeMarco Murray-type workload, but 225-250 carries is feasible if he wins the lead back job.
Question: It seems to me that there is a growing perception that Joseph Randle is the lead for most carries among the committee of running backs. This seems to be a reasonable assumption based on his one-cut skill set aligning better to the Cowboys running scheme as opposed to the other backs. Would you agree with that assessment?
Cowboys beat writer Rainer Sabin: Yes. I agree with that. Plus, he has played more regularly in this particular system and behind this line before. And he has experience as a starter. Don't forget that as a rookie he replaced DeMarco Murray as the primary running back in 2013 when Murray was injured.
Darren McFadden is going ahead of Randle in early drafts, but Randle may be the better bet. He was highly effective (6.7 YPC) in 2014 and is reportedly showing more maturity after several off-the-field issues. He's not going to see a DeMarco Murray-type workload, but 225-250 carries is feasible if he wins the lead back job. Don't forget about McFadden's struggles when the Raiders' moved to a zone-blocking scheme in 2012.
“More than anything it’s competition,” Witten said. “That’s what Coach Garrett has tried to do a good job of bringing in competition and having us compete. That’s a position I think we’re all excited to see where it’ll go.”
When asked specifically about Randle, who was arrested twice in the last year, Witten said he thinks the third-year back has learned from his experiences and “decided to kind of embrace this opportunity.”
“He’s had good workouts,” Witten said. “I could tell he’s focused, he’s locked in. I think he sees the opportunity he has in front of him. I think he wants everybody to have that trust in him that he can be the guy.”
The Cowboys' running back competition will be one of the most closely watched camp battles in the league. Whoever wins the job has RB1 potential running behind the team's talented offensive line. Randle is the most intriguing back in the group given the 6.7 YPC he posted last season. If he can prove he can be trusted (after a host of off the field issues), he could be a breakout player in 2015.
Cowboys beat writer Todd Archer on the team's running back situation:
"I wouldn't write anything down yet with the running back spot. It's too fluid. I made a bold prediction - well, I thought it was bold - that Joseph Randle will run for 1,200 yards in 2015. So that should tell you who I think gets the "bulk" of the carries this season. The Cowboys will go with a committee approach at running back. I don't think you will see a guy come close to 300 carries. It could work out better for Darren McFadden to be a committee guy. He's not been able to stay healthy for most of his career. To me Randle is a better fit for the scheme and showed in small doses he has a feel for the Cowboys' scheme. There is a lot more to playing the position than just running the ball, but to me Randle should be the guy."
McFadden is going ahead of Randle in early drafts, but Randle may be the better bet. He was highly effective (6.7 YPC) in 2014 and is reportedly showing more maturity after several off-the-field issues. He's not going to see a DeMarco Murray-type workload, but 225-250 carries is feasible if he wins the lead back job.
Linehan: “I’m not worried about Dez, he’ll be ready to rock and roll when it’s all said and done, I’m sure of that.”
Last season, Bryant was the #3 WR in standard formats and #4 in PPR. It was the third consecutive season that he finished in the top 7 in both formats. He is one of fantasy’s most dependable receivers. The only concern heading into the season is whether he’ll be distracted by his ongoing contract negotiations.
Cowboys RB coach Gary Brown broke down the team's backfield:
“I just admired him from afar, watching him on tape. I think he’s big, strong, incredibly fast, tough guy. He’s buying into our system. He wants to be here. He’s doing everything I ask him to do. I’m looking forward to seeing him in pads. … I’ve been out here watching him run. He looks very fast. We’re just looking forward to seeing him in pads in our system.”
“I think Joe really has to make sure he takes care of everything on and off the field. We want to trust Joe, we like Joe, but we want to make sure he’s going to be with us at all times. I think he’s maturing up and he’s getting better and he understands the opportunity he has in front of him and I think he’ll take full advantage. I think those days are behind him and we’re looking forward to working with Joe. … Just being around him these last few weeks, he seems to be more mature to me. He and I have sat down and had one-on-one conversations about his future and I think he wants to go in the right direction.”
“I envision [him getting more opportunities]. I think he’s a hell of a football player, we’ve got to try and get him more involved and I think coach Linehan is going to do a great job doing that. … [He didn’t get more carries last season] because I think the run game was so explosive and DeMarco was running so well. It’s just like anything in life, you’ve got a guy who is hot, you want to ride that guy and make sure he gets his touches and I think we did the right thing by getting him his touches. Obviously with, what was it, 1,800 yards and 13, 14 touchdowns, whatever it was, I think we made the right decision.”
Brown later said he might have been premature not also mentioning Ryan Williams with that group.
The soon-to-be 28-year-old McFadden hasn't cracked 3.5 YPC since the 2011 season, when he ran for 614 yards on 113 carries (5.4 YPC) in seven games. That's the rub with McFadden -- fantasy owners haven't been able to count on his durability. He has missed roughly a quarter of his team's games since entering the league. Randle averaged 6.7 YPC behind the Dallas offensive line last season, but has had a host of off-the-field issues. Dunbar is more of a third down back, while Williams is a former second round pick who has been unable to stay healthy. The team has insinuated that it still may trade for a running back or sign a free agent (like Chris Johnson or perhaps Ray Rice), so the backfield is far from settled. McFadden is currently the first Dallas running back off the board in the 7th round.
Dallas Cowboys site writer David Helman on how the team will use OTAs to evaluate the RB corps:
"Ever since the draft ended, we’ve heard the Cowboys say that they aren’t ruling out the possibility of adding another running back before the season. If I had to take an educated guess, I’d say they’re going to use OTAs and minicamp to take a hard look at the guys on the roster. Those practices should give them a better idea of how well they can handle it. If they aren’t confident in those four by the end of OTAs, I bet they’ll go add another guy this summer."
Cowboys beat writer David Moore on the team's "by committee" running back situation: "They made a point of saying if they had not gotten (Darren McFadden) in free agency, they would have approached it differently in the draft. They would have felt they had to get a running back."
On Ryan Williams, Moore said, "Several teams, when he was on the practice squad last year, came after him to get him, to try to steal him, which any team can do. The Cowboys convinced him to stay. 'You have a future here, we like what you're doing.' I think you're going to see something from him."
He also discussed Joseph Randle: "And Joseph Randle, temperamentally there are questions about him, but the guy averaged 6.7 yards per carry last year. He's that big-play back that can really help them."
This is a camp battle to watch closely. Whoever emerges as the lead back should be able to post good fantasy numbers. At this point our money is on Randle (6.7 YPC last year), but McFadden could thrive behind the team's talented offensive line, providing he stays healthy. Williams is the dark horse.
Prosecutors in Wichita, Kansas, cited a lack of evidence in deciding not to charge Randle, according to Drew Davison of the Star-Telegram.
Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz's rehabilitation from a serious knee injury has so far gone as planned. Both the Giants and Cruz expect him to be ready for the season opener on Sunday night, Sep. 13, against the Dallas Cowboys.
"Absolutely. There is not a doubt in my mind that I'll be out there playing on the field [Week 1]," Cruz said Thursday. "Obviously it's just a matter of getting myself back to 100 percent.
"I definitely, as of right now, there is zero doubts in my mind that I'll be playing in that first game and continue to be at 100 percent and playing at the level I'd like to be playing."
Cruz tore his patellar tendon in mid-October, and despite Cruz's confidence, it's no sure thing that he'll be back for the start of the season. He's probably a player to avoid this season unless his price drops so much that he becomes a value in the later rounds. He's not going to get the same number of targets given Odell Beckham's emergence as a top-flight wideout.
Eagles TE Zach Ertz did his homework and was told that retired offensive line coach Hudson Houck still trained players. So he called Houck, who mentored Hall of Famers Anthony Munoz and Bruce Matthews at Southern Cal and coached the great Cowboys lines of the 1990s, out of the blue. Soon after, they spent two weeks together in San Diego working on blocking.
Ertz' time with Houck was just one part of his offseason plan. He spent a month focusing on strength training, another on circuit training and additional time on mixed martial arts training. He also sought out former tight end great Tony Gonzalez, who instructed Ertz on the importance of preparation and tenacity.
The 24-year-old Ertz's goals are high. He said he wants to be mentioned someday alongside Gonzalez and others in the NFL pantheon of tight ends. But he knows he can't get there if he's playing only 50 percent of offensive snaps, as he did last season.
There's ample reason, though, to believe that Ertz will finally become a focal point of Chip Kelly's offense. He caught a franchise-record 15 passes against the Redskins in the penultimate game of last season. And when asked to explain last month how he'll compensate for the loss of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, Kelly prominently mentioned Ertz.
"I think he's still growing, and I think Zach will be the first one to tell you that," Kelly said at the NFL meeting. "I think he's working extremely hard in the offseason at continuing to get better."
Ertz was the #13 TE in both standard and PPR formats despite only playing half of the Eagles’ snaps in his second year. Ertz played mostly (73%) on passing downs, so if his playing time is going to increase, a majority of the additional snaps are likely to come in run formations. Still, there’s upside with Ertz if he begins to see starter’s snaps. The Eagles lost their leading receiver -- DeSean Jackson and then Jeremy Maclin -- in back-to-back seasons, so there will be opportunity from a targets standpoint. If Chip Kelly moves Jordan Matthews outside, then Ertz is a candidate to fill Matthews role in the slot, assuming Kelly is willing to play more two-TE sets to get Ertz on the field. Ertz is currently going in the 8th round of early PPR drafts.
Thursday, April 9, 2015, 10:25am
According to Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals are expected to re-sign the veteran running back later today.
The Bengals like Peerman’s ability on special teams, as he has just 64 carries in his five seasons there.
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