After long months of debate about whether or not Peyton Manning can fit into coach Gary Kubiak's run-heavy Broncos offense, we're about to get our first look when Denver meets Houston on Saturday night.
"I've said many times I believe I can play almost any offense and do what is required," Manning said Monday, per ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold. "Maybe not Tubby Raymond's (Delaware Wing T), but I can make good decisions, make good throws, get us in good plays, and as long as we can score points, move the ball and win games, that's important. My job is to execute the plays that are called, and I'm all-in on what we're doing."
Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian argued this month that Manning would thrive in Kubiak's attack. Strip away some of the bootleg action, and Polian pointed out that Denver's new playbook "is really conceptionally no different" than the scheme Manning made sing with the Colts and Broncos.
"He'll be great at it," Polian said. "He's a great ball-handler, he has a great ability to carry out fakes. He has no peer when it comes to selling a fake and then coming and focusing on the defense, so he'll be wonderful."
The real question surrounds Manning's durability and arm strength, and he showed some signs of slowing down at the end of last year because of an injury. But Manning still finished fourth among fantasy QBs last year. His ADP slips a bit this year and it looks like you can take him in about the fifth round of drafts. But, he comes with some risks as the Broncos may put more of an effort on the run, slowing down the offense.
"He's a big play waiting to happen, but again he has to take care of the football," coach Chuck Pagano said, per the team's official website. "You're looking at a guy that's going to be an outstanding football player, but you know what you're going to remember is the turnover. But again, he's going to be a dynamic guy for us."
Dorsett finished with a team-high four receptions for 51 yards, displaying game-speed, solid route running and a quick-cut capability. His day wasn't perfect, as the rookie left a few plays on the field and was stripped after a 20-yard catch. It's a crowded group of WRs in Indy and right now Dorsett owners best hope is he turns out to be the team's WR3 behind Hilton and Andre Johnson, however he'll have to battle Moncrief for that spot.
Murray sat out the game as the Eagles continued to tread lightly with a player who had 497 touches by the time the Cowboys were eliminated from the playoffs by the Packers. In an interview with Peter King of MMQB.com, coach Chip Kelly admitted that his approach to Murray this offseason has been fueled by concerns raised by the history of backs returning from a heavy workload in the previous season.
“I think there is a lot of validity to it,” Kelly said. “But how do you manage him going into a season? Our plan all along was to get another running back with him. I wanted to have two running backs, and that’s why we got Ryan [Mathews]. I don’t think you can have a guy carry it 370 to 400 times per season and be successful. We’re going to run it a lot — we always do — but we’ll have more than one guy doing it.”
Kelly hasn't really come out and said to the media that this has been his plan, which is fueling speculation there is more to the story - but that could be just how Chip wants it, for everyone to think Murray is hurt. It's pretty obvious the team is going to give Mathews his share of carries but the Birds run enough plays that Murray should put up his projected RB2 fantasy numbers. Mathews is looking like a pretty decent add for those who also grab Murray.
The Colts want to see RB Vick Ballard in game action so they can make a better assessment of what he can give the team after basically missing the past two seasons with injuries. It turns out the Colts will have to wait a little longer to see Ballard play in a game because he was inactive against the Eagles. Ballard missed about a week of practice recently because of a hamstring injury.
Ballard’s latest injury was unfortunate, but the longer he’s out of action, though, the less likely it’ll be that he makes the final roster because he faces competition for a spot at that position.
It’s uncertain how many running backs the Colts will keep on the roster. They kept four running backs and a fullback on the roster at the start of the 2014 season.
Ballard missed all but one game in 2013 because of a torn ACL and then all of last season with a torn Achilles. He led the Colts in rushing as a rookie in 2012 with 844 yards.
Frank Gore is the starter and Daniel Herron is the front-runner to back him up.
After that, things get interesting the story said. Gore and Herron both sat out Sunday’s game, which meant there were plenty of opportunities for the rest of the running backs. Zurlon Tipton started and finished with 34 yards on 16 carries. Josh Robinson took over in the second half where he rushed for 44 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
Sunday, August 16, 2015, 8:38pm
Nelson Agolor was targeted five times. He made three catches. One was a 34-yard touchdown in which he did all the work.
But after the Eagles won their preseason opener, 36-10, over the Colts (see Instant Replay), the Eagles' first-round pick clearly was more disappointed in his two misses than the three receptions, touchdown included.
"One was an in-crossing route. Considered a basic route," Agholor said. "I felt like I could have come to the ball a little bit more. Attacked the ball in the middle of the seam there.
"I had two hands on the ball, guy comes in, rakes it out. End of the day, that's probably on my mind more than the hitch (the touchdown)."
The glaring miss came on a 3rd-and-12. Matt Barkley threw a wobbler that sailed right through Agholor's hands. Overall, it wasn't a bad effort from the rookie who is eventually expected to take over one of the starting outside spots.
He’s not hurt. He’s not struggling with the playbook. He’s not dogging it.
Eagles RB DeMarco Murray will be ready on opening day, and that’s really all Duce Staley cares about.
"He will respond,” Staley said. “He will come back out here and he will be DeMarco Murray. …
“What you have to understand about DeMarco is that he's a true professional. He brings that professionalism to the game. He works hard. There's no doubt in that. We knew that before we signed him We did our due diligence as far as doing research on him. So we know what type of player we have.”
Murray has watched more practices than he’s participated in through the first two weeks of Eagles training camp, and at least judging from Saturday’s walk-through — which he didn’t participate in — it looks like he won’t play Sunday in the preseason opener against the Colts at the Linc.
The Eagles have explained some of Murray’s absences or limited participation by saying he was sick or dehydrated. Others have gone unexplained.
Head coach Chip Kelly has been vague about Murray, leading to a lot of speculation. Kelly did say Murray’s light preseason workload has something to do with his 497 touches last year, sixth-most in NFL history . Then again, Staley said Saturday that has nothing to do with the way the Eagles have brought Murray along slowly. While it still remains a bit of a mystery, the team is at least publicly ruling out injury.
Saturday, August 15, 2015, 12:13pm
The Eagles held their final walkthrough on Saturday, and although Murray was out on the field with a helmet, he did not take part in any of the team drills throughout the short practice.
A key sign that Murray won't play came at the end of practice, when the Eagles were practicing substitutions.
With the first-team offense on the field, it was Ryan Mathews who was the running back. When head coach Chip Kelly called for a substitution, it was Darren Sproles who went in, the story said. As far as those who follow the team know, the Birds are just being very careful with Murray and there is no injury.
A source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that the deal is for five years and is worth $65 million -- $39 million of which is guaranteed.
In PPR formats, Hilton finished 31st, 19th and 11th in his first three seasons. For those scoring at home, that’s a pretty nice trend. He’s the No. 1 receiver in a high-octane offense, and although there are more mouths to feed in Indianapolis this season, he should continue to see his fare share of targets.
What should quickly become obvious about Colts RB Frank Gore during the preseason is his ability to block. He excels at being able to pick up the blitzing linebacker or defensive end coming off the edge trying to get to QB Andrew Luck. Gore's ability to do that is significant when you take into consideration the concerns the Colts have on their offensive line.
"He protects his butt off," Luck said. "Maybe one of the best in this generation of football players with protecting the quarterback. I know I'm learning a lot from him about protection and how running backs see things, and I know he's passing it along to the younger running backs. He's a great addition."
Gore had no choice but to be a good blocker. That was the message delivered to him when he was at the University of Miami, which was turning out running backs nonstop back in the 2000s.
Gore's rushing résumé is well documented, the story said, featuring eight 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his 10-year NFL career. The Colts finished 22nd in the league in rushing last season, and Luck knows very little about having a player rush for 100 yards in a game because it's only happened once in his 53 career NFL games, the story pointed out. Gore's ability to block won't directly get owners fantasy points, but could keep him on the field more in passing situations, which could also lead to some receptions. Gore's potential in Indy with Luck at QB continues to look good for fantasy owners.
Monday, August 10, 2015, 8:40am
The Colts were already good on offense last year, and spent the offseason getting better.
But the central piece of that success spent the offseason beating himself up.
“The decision-making process bit me in the butt, which in turn hurt the Colts more than a couple times last year,” Luck said. “Obviously the Patriots games, and Philadelphia, second week of the season, I throw a bad pick in somewhat of a four-minute situation. I gotta learn, Just eat it, take the sack, throw it at his feet, whatever.
“That’s what this off-season’s been about. Don’t give them a chance. We watched every interception ad nauseam and we watched balls that should have been intercepted ad nauseam. We [coaches and backup QB Matt Hasselbeck] talk about it and say, ‘Why?’ Do you have the awareness to know where the team is in the game? Is it worth trying to fit a ball in there or not? Do you go out of bounds or do you not?”
Sunday, August 9, 2015, 11:03am
Bills coach Rex Ryan said after Saturday night’s scrimmage that the plan is for Matt Cassel to take the first offensive snaps of the preseason.
“We’ll probably start Cassel in the first game against Carolina and let’s go from there,” Ryan said, via the Associated Press.
Cassel, Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel each led the starting offense at points during the scrimmage and the 13 points that the offense put up in 17 possessions speaks to the need for the team to show improvement on that side of the ball. Ryan complimented Manuel, who threw the only touchdown pass of the night, and said he was a “little disappointed” in Taylor. Cassel, meanwhile, is looking forward to facing the Panthers.
“Great. I hope I play the whole game, to be honest with you,” Cassel said. “I honestly would embrace the chance to start and go out there and play a little bit and get into a rhythm.”
With no one separating themselves from the pack in Buffalo to this point, the competition should rage on well beyond the first preseason outing, the story pointed out. The winner of this battle still likely won't be a highly-desired add to fantasy teams.
"I'll have to give him a double thumbs up from that standpoint," Colts OC Pep Hamilton said when asked about Phillip Dorsett's ability to retain knowledge. "He's a guy that our quarterback is starting to trust even more. The more reps that he gets with Andrew, the more he will be able to contribute in our offense."
The Colts are very high on Dorsett, so it seems likely that they'll put him in a significant role as a rookie. This means he may very well play ahead of Donte Moncrief, who was originally penciled in as the team's WR3. Dorsett is currently going in the 15th round, so he's an inexpensive flier and a potential handcuff for T.Y. Hilton owners.
The Indianapolis Colts' excitement for Phillip Dorsett hasn't dissipated since the speedy first-round draft pick earned rave reviews for his work in offseason practices. Appearing on Wednesday's edition of the Around The NFL Podcast, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport relayed a sentiment at Colts training camp that Dorsett's skill set is essentially a carbon copy of Redskins deep threat DeSean Jackson's. "They could not be higher on Phillip Dorsett," added Rapoport, who was onsite in Anderson, Indiana, on Tuesday. "I think they think they added a superstar." When Rapoport asked a Colts coach if he was surprised they didn't address a porous defense with their top draft pick, the response was, "Well, no. This guy's that good."
Clearly, the Colts are very high on Dorsett, so it seems likely that they'll put him in a significant role as a rookie. This means he may very well play ahead of Donte Moncrief, who was originally penciled in as the team's WR3. Dorsett is currently going in the 15th round, so he's an inexpensive flier and a potential handcuff for T.Y. Hilton owners.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015, 12:59pm
Nicks is in training camp with the Titans this summer after one disappointing season in Indianapolis. Nicks never clicked in the Colts' offense, finishing with just 38 catches for 405 yards and four touchdowns despite playing in 16 games for the first time in his career.
Nicks doesn't blame the poor production on Luck. Instead, he points at the scheme of Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. He believes Ken Whisenhunt's offense in Tennessee is a better fit for his talents.
"It's more one-on-one, trips backside, vertical throw, shallow-cross game, that's more of my style if you look at my past history, where I excelled," Nicks said, according to ESPN.com.
Nicks is just 27, but years have passed since his heyday with the Giants. Nicks had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with Eli Manning in 2010 and 2011 before injuries helped paved the way for his exit. If Nicks can still play, he should have ample opportunity to show. The Titans' wide receiver depth chart is up for grabs behind No. 1 option Kendall Wright, the story said.
Sunday, August 2, 2015, 8:14pm
Some highlights from Colts camp on Sunday:
- Receiver T.Y. Hilton, who could have a new contract with the Colts by Labor Day, highlighted an impressive performance by the offense when he blew by starting cornerback Greg Toler and easily ran underneath a pass thrown by quarterback Andrew Luck to the excitement of the crowd at Anderson University on Sunday.
- Rookie receiver Phillip Dorsett also made a good impression, catching passes in traffic.
- Veteran WR Andre Johnson had consistent hands throughout the session.
- Running back Frank Gore drew one of the loudest ovations when he reached back and snagged a pass thrown behind him from Luck with one hand.