Twelve days before the regular season opener, the Bucs had three place-kickers at practice Tuesday — Kyle Brindza, a rookie from Notre Dame who arrived in a trade a day earlier from the Lions in exchange for tight end Tim Wright; Connor Barth, the most reliable kicker in team history who was cut by the Broncos last week; and Patrick Murray, the second-year pro who took Barth's job a year ago but quickly is losing his grip on the gig.
Barth missed his only field goal attempt, from 43 yards, in Saturday's loss to the Browns.
Barth, 29, is an 85.3 percent field goal kicker. His career was derailed in 2013, when he tore his Achilles playing in a charity basketball game. He felt pretty good about things after signing a two-year, $2.75 million contract last week. Then Brindza showed up. "If I don't miss a field goal (Saturday), maybe it's a different story," he said.
Brindza, 22, would seem to have a leg up on Barth and Murray in this competition. With the Lions, he was perfect on three field goals, connecting from 41, 49 and 51 yards, and made both extra points. Just as important, seven of his eight kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. In an emergency, Brindza could also punt. Barth owners were at least relieved their kicker had a job after getting cut by Denver but that may not be the case again by the start of the season.
Bell was activated off the physically unable to perform list Monday, and immediately returned to repping with the first-unit offense ahead of Abdullah, Zenner, Theo Riddick and George Winn. He was listed first on the depth chart, too, though he is not expected to play in Thursday's preseason finale against Buffalo
"I did everything with the ones," Bell said. "I was limited, as far as reps, but I did everything. Everything from team blitz to regular team."
The Lions struggled to rush the football last year, but Bell was able to produce anyway after a slow start, averaging 4.2 yards per carry in the second half of the year. He was on pace for a 1,000-yard season during that stretch. He rushed 223 times for a career-best 860 yards and a team-best seven touchdowns, and eclipsed Reggie Bush as the team's primary tailback. A year later, Bell remains entrenched in that role to open this season despite some promising early returns from Abdullah and Zenner.
Bell, who had been recovering from knee and Achilles injuries, had been on the physically unable to perform list. On Saturday, he had indicated he was close to returning, adding that he and the doctors would play it by ear whether he would be activated this week.
Bell is coming off a year in which he rushed for a career-high 860 yards. He will join a backfield that includes rookies Ameer Abdullah and Zach Zenner along with Theo Riddick and George Winn. Adbullah figures to be a big part of the passing game but Bell should see a lot of the early down work.
The Detroit Lions have swung yet another preseason trade, although this one wasn't for a draft pick.
That means Wright's addition casts some uncertainty of Joseph Fauria's future with Detroit.
The move is an interesting one because Wright is a pass-catching tight end, with 80 receptions for 830 yards and 11 touchdowns the past two years, according to the story. And Detroit already has two pass-catching tight ends in Eric Ebron and Fauria, plus blocking tight end Brandon Pettigrew. The story said Ebron and Pettigrew, both former first-round picks, aren't going anywhere.
Monday, August 31, 2015, 9:01am
Broyles tweeted a good-bye message to Detroit, two days after he asked for his release, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The move marks the end of a frustrating three-plus year relationship marred by injuries and the wide receiver's inability to crack the rotation following his most recent rehab.
Detroit's depth allowed the team to bring Broyles along slowly his rookie year, resting him the first two games of the season. His usage increased near mid-season when Nate Burleson suffered a broken leg, with a breakout performance coming on Thanksgiving against Houston. Broyles caught six passes for 126 yards in the overtime loss.
A second-round draft pick in 2012, Broyles' selection was a head-scratcher for most outside observers, the story said. The Lions already had three productive receivers on the roster at the time, and Broyles, despite being one of the most prolific pass-catchers in NCAA history, was still recovering from an ACL injury suffered less than six months earlier.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Saturday that Joique Bell is "moving along really well" in his recovery after being placed on the physically unable to perform list prior to training camp. Bell had offseason surgery to help solve knee and Achilles issues and missed the entire spring recovering from those injuries.
He's also missed all of training camp but has been running off to the side almost daily in an attempt to ramp up for his eventual return.
"After speaking to the doctors back in June, he said if I was running at all by the end of July, I'm making good progress," Bell said. "I feel by the end of July I was running. I'm not going to say I'm ready to go out there and take every play and run every down right now, but you never know how I feel in two weeks."
Bell did say he does not think he needs to take hits during the preseason to prepare for the season opener, mostly because he's been playing football his entire life. He said he and the Lions are "still playing it by ear" as for when he'll be activated.
When Bell does return, the Lions expect he'll be able to handle a full workload fairly soon after that.
Bell was the #14 RB in standard formats (#13 in PPR), while racking up 257 touches in 15 games. That works out to a 17.1-touch average. While he certainly benefited from Reggie Bush's injury-plagued season, Bell dominated the touches even when Bush was active and playing. We now project Ameer Abdullah for more touches, but not by much. Bell is likely to see the goal line work and is active in the passing game as well, so his 7th round ADP seems more than reasonable.
Joique Bell has spent the majority of the past two weeks during Detroit Lions practices running off on the side. While the rest of his teammates go through individual drills, Bell lines up between orange cones and does a variety of sprints and lateral maneuvers.
He’s still on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, so there isn’t much more the running back can do until he is cleared. When that will be is still up in the air, but Bell doesn’t seem too concerned about potentially not playing much until the regular season.
“It’s just about how I feel physically,” Bell said. “And as far as my conditioning, I condition every day. So as far as that, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue as far as getting back into football shape. But right now, my main concern is just getting healthy.”
Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Bell is still following the team’s return-to-play protocol and they are gauging when Bell could return. Bell injured his knee and Achilles last season and had surgeries in the offseason.
“There are no guarantees. You just don’t know in this league,” Caldwell said. “And you anticipate he’s young and strong and he’s one of those guys that has always been a workhorse, and we fully expect him to come back and be what he was last year for us and that was a bell cow.
“He was a tough, hard-nosed guy that set a great tone for us. We are anticipating that exact same sort of effort, and he feels like he’s close, so I feel good about that.”
He missed the entire spring workouts and has missed the first three weeks of training camp so far. The Lions hope Bell returns to the form he showed during the second half of last season, when he had more than 100 all-purpose yards in four of the last seven regular-season games. It's good news Caldwell expects him to return as the bell cow, but now it's up to Bell. When Bell returns, the story went on to say, he is likely to be the starter in a backfield that includes rookie Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick, as well as George Winn and Zach Zenner fighting for a potential No. 4 running back spot.
It is becoming apparent that the No. 2 quarterback in Washington will have a good shot at becoming No. 1 at some point during the season.
It’s not too much of a stretch to concoct a doom and gloom scenario for Robert Griffin III. Watching him on Thursday against the Lions and throughout his career since 2013, it seems almost inevitable that his season will be interrupted by either injury or ineffectiveness. That means that the winner of the competition for the No. 2 quarterback job is likely to start some regular season games and perhaps sooner rather than later.
So who is the leader in that competition between Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy? Jay Gruden said during training camp that performance in preseason games would be the primary determining factor. If there is a leader in the battle, Gruden has not tipped his hand to reveal which one it is.
“They’re doing extremely well,” said Gruden of the play of the two backups during the preseason.
The story went on to say throughout OTAs, minicamp and training camp, Cousins and McCoy have split the work with the second and third teams about as evenly as you can. Cousins has completed 77 percent of his passes averaging 9.4 yards per attempt while McCoy is completing passes at a 75 percent clip and also averaging 9.4 yards per pass. Both have been behind center for seven drives. Cousins has had better results, with the team scoring three touchdowns and a field goal with him in the game while McCoy’s possessions have resulted in two touchdowns, the story all said. As you can see, things are pretty close. It's a situation to pay attention to especially if you play in deeper leagues or leagues that start two QBs.
Jags RB T.J. Yeldon is expected to make his NFL debut Friday.
As he does, the Jaguars’ rookie running back apparently will make it pretty much with the first team.
Yeldon, who missed the first two preseason games with a finger injury, is expected to play against the Detroit Lions at EverBank Field Friday in Preseason Week 3. A starter hasn’t been determined, but Head Coach Gus Bradley said Yeldon likely will work extensively with the starters.
“I would see him getting some reps with the ones and twos – mostly ones, though,” Bradley said Sunday afternoon, a day after the Jaguars’ 22-12 loss to the New York Giants in Preseason Week 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Yeldon is already rated 24th among our backs putting him at low-end RB2 range. Yeldon may not see as many scoring chances as the other backs rated around him, but we think he gets plenty of touches behind an 0-line that should be improved.
It didn’t take long to go from Redskins coach Jay Gruden announcing that quarterback Robert Griffin III suffered a concussion after getting crunched by the Lions on Thursday night to reports that Griffin was fine, which caused some media members covering the game to wonder if the diagnosis was a convenient way to keep Griffin from talking to the media after a rough night.
People holding that opinion probably won’t be swayed by what they saw on the field at Sunday’s practice. There hasn’t been much time for Griffin to get cleared through the league’s concussion protocol, but multiple reporters at the practice report that Griffin is running the starting offense during 11-on-11 drills against the Redskins defense.
The quick turnaround from a concussion to being cleared for a full practice will likely lead to questions for Gruden, Griffin and others in the organization about the evaluation and treatment processes. Either way, it appears Griffin is fine.
"Robert's fine," Washington tight end Je'Ron Hamm said on a conference call as the Redskins enjoyed a second straight off day. "He got a little banged up. I (don't) like to see any of my teammates down there on the ground, (but) I'm glad to know that he's going to be all right."
Griffin, who's expected to be Washington's opening day starter for a fourth straight season, was injured when Lions defensive end Corey Wootton landed on him while trying to recover his fumble early in the second quarter in a 21-17 Redskins victory.
It remains unclear if Griffin will be in the lineup in Washington's next game on Aug. 29 at Baltimore, the penultimate matchup on the Redskins' preseason schedule. Since NFL teams generally rest their starters in preseason finales, if Griffin is held out against the Ravens, the hope is he would be ready for the Sept. 13 regular season opener against Miami, the story said
On first down from the Washington 20, he took a handoff from Colt McCoy and headed up the middle. In the hole he planted, made a slight change of direction and quickly rolled into the second level. About 12 yards downfield a defensive back flew in to try to make the tackle but Jones made a move and dodged him. He kept heading north until he was brought down after a gain of 24 yards.
Jones finished the game leading the team in rushing with 52 yards on 10 carries. He blasted his way into the end zone from a yard out. His head coach was impressed.
“Matt Jones continues to hit the hole the way we want him to—hard,” Jay Gruden said after the game. “He gets through the second level, he’s a problem.”
At 6-2, 231 Jones can be a big problem. He is doing what Scot McCloughan hoped he would do when he drafted Jones out of Florida in the third round. There were plenty of skeptics among draft analysts when they turned in the card with his name on it as the 95th overall pick last May. The instant conventional wisdom was that the third round was way too high to take Jones, who wasn’t even the Gators’ full-time running back. After Thursday, many of them are singing a different tune, the story said. Jones has the ability to take over for Roy Helu as the team's third down back, but reports all summer say Jones is also a hard, physical runner. For now, Alfred Morris is expected to get a bulk of the work, but Jones is certainly getting noticed so far in camp.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015, 9:04am
Some notes from Lions camp:
Theo Riddick got some receiver work: I’m not sure if this has been going on for the majority of camp because I’ve often been focused on line and running back play, but Riddick ran receiver-versus-cornerback drills with the wideouts Monday night. He didn’t receive too many reps there, but he did beat Nevin Lawson on a nice route.
Riddick's primary role during his first two seasons has been as a pass-catcher out of the backfield and he has experience as a slot receiver in college. This could be an instance of the Lions getting Riddick some extra receiving work, especially since he had a bunch of carries during team period. But it is something to watch.
Offense dominated the goal-line session: The Lions ran a period of goal-line offense with the three top quarterbacks Monday and the offense was dominant throughout. Matthew Stafford’s group scored on at least four of five tries. He was credited for scoring on all five tries, but his pass to Calvin Johnson appeared to hit the ground. The referee called it a touchdown, but from my view it looked like it would have been overturned.
The most important thing to take away is the offensive line was particularly dominant during this period, a good sign for the team’s run game. George Winn, Zach Zenner and Theo Riddick all had rushing touchdowns with the first group. One of the only stops for the defense during the drill was a Desmond Martin carry that was blown dead before he reached the end zone. To add more insult there, Martin kept running and was hit pretty squarely by Isa Abdul-Quddus. The safety has been one of the fiercest hitters in camp, although keep in mind the goal during practice is not to take players to the ground.
Perhaps the team is trying to find ways to get Riddick involved in the offense as more than just a RB3. The team has struggled to find a third receiving option behind Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate so this is something to keep an eye on. It's also probably safe to assume Joique Bell would get a lot of touches in goal-line running situations.
Loins beat writer Justin Rogers was asked if RB Joique Bell is still the starter.
Rogers: Yes. Not only that, as long as he's healthy, I expect Bell to get the majority of carries each week.
Ameer Abdullah's start was electric, but that doesn't mean he leaps straight to the top of the depth chart.
The story continued to say in an ideal world for the Lions, the starter tag won't matter. Bell, Abdullah and even Theo Riddick will form a balanced attack that keeps opponents guessing and the chains moving. That's not the ideal fantasy situation but we can at least conclude Bell gets his share of early down and short yardage carries while Abdullah sees a lot of work in the passing downs and as an electric change of pace. Abdullah's value comes in PPR leagues. The addition of Abdullah puts Riddick's role in question as well as his fantasy value. If there's an injury, Riddick will be a popular waiver pickup.
Abdullah's popularity is skyrocketing following a stellar preseason debut, but Riddick, who actually started the game in place of the injured Joique Bell, also had a strong showing in the 23-3 win against the New York Jets.
He finished the contest with eight carries for 35 yards. That's nearly as many rushing yards as he had all of last season.
Where Riddick has previously thrived for the Lions is as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. But on the ground, Riddick hasn't shown much in his two seasons. He's averaged just 2.9 yards on his 29 carries. The longest run of his brief career was for nine yards. Against the Jets, Riddick showed improved vision, balance and elusiveness, picking up gains of seven, eight and nine yards in the first half. The story added if Riddick continues to improve there should be more carries for him even with Bell and Abdullah around. That's probably not great news for fantasy owners if this turns into a three-headed monster at running back. For now, we still see the value in Bell as an early-down rusher and Abdullah a change of pace with a lot of work in the passing game.
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