Tight end Travis Kelce wasn’t going to play for the Kansas City Chiefs in Thursday night’s final preseason game at the St. Louis Rams, sprained ankle or not. The Chiefs will rest their starters against the Rams.
So the timing of Kelce’s sprained ankle couldn’t be better for the Chiefs. Kelce, who left practice early on Monday because of the injury, should return to practice next week and be available for the Sept. 13 regular-season opener against the Texans in Houston.
"There’s a chance if we were playing a regular-season game (this week) he’d have a pretty good shot at playing," coach Andy Reid said. "It looked like he got his foot caught in the grass and tweaked his ankle a little bit. He’s lucky the grass gave way a little bit, actually."
Good news for Kelce owners as it seems he should be fine with a couple of weeks off before the start of the season. Originally reported as a leg injury, it looks like it's a sprained ankle but not the dreaded high ankle sprain.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce left practice early on Monday because of a leg injury. Kelce walked off on his own power, but the extent of the injury is unknown. Trainer Rick Burkholder said the team will have an update on Kelce’s condition on Tuesday.
In Kelce’s absence Monday, the Chiefs turned to veterans Ryan Taylor and Richard Gordon, rookie James O’Shaughnessy and second-year pro Demetrius Harris, who recently returned to practice after overcoming multiple surgeries and a staph infection on his foot.
Kelce, 25, is being counted on to lead the tight end group, since veteran Anthony Fasano was released in February. Kelce caught 67 passes for 862 yards and five touchdowns in 2014.
Monday, August 31, 2015, 2:16pm
Chiefs tight end Demetrius Harris, who practiced on Sunday for the first time with the Kansas City Chiefs this season because he was waiting for his broken foot to mend, said he's prepared to play some in Thursday night's final preseason game in St. Louis.
It's going to be longer than that before the Chiefs get the full benefit of Harris' return.
"It's going to be several weeks I think with a guy that is coming off an injury, who hasn't practiced," offensive coordinator Doug Pederson. "Now, he's run routes and he's done some things that way but it's one thing to run routes on air versus [against] bodies on defense. It's going to take some time. We can't rush him back, either. We've got to continue to monitor that progress as we go."
Chiefs beat writer Adam Teicher: The Chiefs will expect bigger numbers from Alex Smith. He threw for under 3,300 yards and 18 touchdowns last season and those stats aren’t enough for a quarterback who started 15 games. Don’t look for Smith to lead the league in passing, or to even come close. But it’s a huge disappointment if his numbers aren’t better than in 2014.
Let's not forget that Smith was the #18 fantasy quarterback last season. He's a dirt-cheap quarterback option who could provide high-end QB2 numbers if he becomes a bit more aggressive. He’s dangerous as a runner, and given the addition of a bona fide receiver in Jeremy Maclin, the emergence of Travis Kelce, and the always-dangerous Jamaal Charles, Smith is an unexciting yet (usually) functional fantasy quarterback.
Rookie wide receiver Chris Conley played in his first NFL preseason game last weekend and will try to take the next step by making his first catch for the Kansas City Chiefs in Friday night’s game against the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium.
He should get enough chances. Conley led Chiefs wide receivers in snaps last week with 33, and offensive coordinator Doug Pederson promised he would get even more work this time.
“He was kind of getting his legs back last week,’’ Pederson said of Conley, who missed the early part of training camp with a sore knee and didn’t play in the Chiefs’ preseason opener two weeks ago. “We wanted to get him back out there and get a couple of snaps. His play will increase this week. He’s a guy that’s in the mix. We’ve got to have a lot of reps on tape to evaluate him properly and see where he fits into out scheme.’’
But if his backup can be productive enough, the Chiefs may continue to give Charles a lighter load once games start to count, keeping Charles fresher over the 16-game grind than he has been the past couple of years.
"You just want to see that steady No. 2 running back right now that can come in in a pinch or come in and give Jamaal some needed rest, and has that explosiveness," Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. "He's more of your downhill type of runner."
HC Andy Reid has always rode his RB1 since his days with the Eagles so it will be interesting to see if they try to limit Charles' workload in games. One thing is for sure, Davis makes a great handcuff for Charles owners and has proven that he can carry the load. He's getting a lot of reps in camp so far.
Dispatches have been coming out of Chiefs camp in all forms of media, like Bigfoot sightings from the wilderness: I saw the Chiefs throwing the deep ball today. And lest anyone doubt them, HC Andy Reid took the opportunity to punctuate this expected staple of the offense, dialing up Alex Smith to Jeremy Maclin right out of the preseason gate. Much to the liking of his quarterback and wide receiver tandem.
"(Reid) came to us and said, 'This is what we're going to do,'" Smith said.
Spend a few days watching the Chiefs and you will see some evidence that Smith and Maclin have an exciting connection. A bond that is typically tough to come by for wide receivers reeled in via free agency, then tossed into a soup of new offensive terminology and concepts.
"It may not be bombs over Baghdad every play," Maclin said of the Chiefs' offense. "But is that something we can do? Do we want to do more of it? Yes, we do."
Maclin was the #9 wide receiver in both standard and PPR formats last season, though he faded down the stretch. Now he’ll have Smith as his quarterback and should dominate the targets along with up-and-coming TE Travis Kelce. Reid is very familiar with Maclin, so we would expect his transition to be a smooth one, though this is a system downgrade. Maclin averaged 4.6 catches for 61 yards and 0.50 TD (solid WR2-type numbers) from 2010-2012, while playing for Reid. One concern: Chiefs’ WR1 Dwayne Bowe only averaged 6.3 T/G in 2014, while Maclin averaged 9.0 T/G for the Eagles. Maclin is a much better player, so the Chiefs should target him more than they did Bowe, but it’s something to weigh when evaluating his fantasy value.
Monday, August 10, 2015, 5:33pm
The Saints announced their first depth chart:
There weren't a lot of surprises according to the author, except that some of the team's younger WRs were listed ahead of veterans. But it's been pretty clear the team is going with a youth movement at the position, so Brandon Coleman, who could end up as the team's WR3, and Seantavius Jones were ahead of guys like Joseph Morgan and Josh Morgan.
Monday, August 10, 2015, 1:39pm
Head coach Andy Reid says Maclin has a neck strain and had an X-ray taken.
Deep balls haven’t filled the air at Missouri Western State University, but the Chiefs have tried to shoot the ball down the field with more regularity.
“It was a point of emphasis for us all offseason and we’ve worked hard on it,’’ quarterback Alex Smith said. “I feel good about where we’re at. It’s just a matter of kind of continuing that. It’s one of those things that you just always have to work at it, always have to stay on it.
“The moment you’re feeling good . . . It’s just one of those things you have to practice all the time, rep all the time. It’s hard though. Guys are tired. They don’t want to run them all the time after practice. But you have to keep doing it.’’
We all know by now none of Alex Smith TD passes went to a WR last year but the Chiefs are trying to correct that bringing in Jeremy Maclin to at least help push the ball down field more, not necessarily using deep passes, the story said. So far in camp, some days the deep ball has worked worked and others it hasn’t. Smith connected with Maclin a number of times in the first practice of camp last week. The next day many of Smith’s passes to Maclin fell incomplete and the two looked like they had never practiced together before. It's not shaping up to be a great passing offense you want to stack your fantasy team with.
That decision was a show of faith in their other starter, Albert Wilson. The Chiefs got a peek at Wilson’s ability over the last four games of last season when he forced his way into their lineup after joining them last year as an undrafted rookie.
They were encouraged by what they saw. Wilson caught 16 passes last year, 12 in those last four games.
More importantly, Wilson averaged a team-leading 16.3 yards per catch, an impressive statistic on a team that otherwise struggled to get long pass plays.
That end-of-season playing time helped the Chiefs believe Wilson belonged. But it also helped Wilson believe that too.
“It makes me more comfortable being on the field,” he said. “It makes me attack more. Me being out there and having some playing time last year, I know what to expect. I’m able to play faster.”
The Chiefs had a fifth-round grade on Wilson last year. The reason he went undrafted is that he’s far below optimum size for a wide receiver at 5-foot-9. Shorter receivers can be difficult for quarterbacks to find. They tend to get lost in a clutter of bigger bodies, something Wilson will have to overcome, the story concluded. Wilson is just 97th on our list, but the story said he will be a starter. Chief WRs didn't record a TD last season with all of those going to TEs and RBs, but the hope is that changes this year. We do have Chris Conley ranked higher than Wilson, coming in at 76th.
The Chiefs understand how important RB Jamaal Charles is to a successful season. Nobody else on the roster can change a game as quickly. So to ensure he's on the field late in the year, when Kansas City hopes to be in the playoff hunt, the teams' brain trust spent much of the offseason dreaming up ways to keep him healthy, not only in training camp but beyond.
'You want to make sure he is healthy late in the season,'' offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said, ''so if that means giving a guy like Knile Davis some reps - whatever you have to do, number one, to keep him healthy for 16 games, and you do that each week.''
Pederson said one of the biggest challenges is noticing when Charles is operating at less than 100 percent. The former Texas standout hates to take time off, even from practice.
''We have to be smart and work with our training staff and our medical staff to just stay in tune,'' he said. ''Communication is obviously the utmost importance when it comes to those kinds of situations. We have to be smart and give him that proper rest, you know? And he has to communicate with us and tell us when he may be a little banged-up or maybe can't go here or there.''
For now, Charles feels the best he has in a year, maybe even longer, the story said. While Andy Reid has always rode his top RB dating back to the Eagles, it's possible the team gives Davis more work. But we still forecast Charles as one of the top RBs this season. Davis is a nice handcuff option to anyone who owns Charles this year, though.
Sunday, August 2, 2015, 2:42pm
At least three times Smith threw one way while an open Maclin cut another, the result being an incomplete pass each time. Offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said it was far too early to worry.
“It’s the second day,’’ he said. “It takes a couple of days. It goes down and builds back up. That’s kind of what happens during training camp. No concern there. We’re encouraged by what’s going on and we’ve got a lot of great days ahead of us.’’
It is still early but it's perhaps something to monitor when you factor in that Smith didn't throw a TD to a WR a year ago.
With Jeremy Maclin now in Kansas City, many expected the Eagles to move Jordan Matthews to the outside, and line Josh Huff up in the slot. That is not, however, what the plan is. Huff has been lining up with the first team offense on the outside in Maclin's place, with Matthews remaining in the slot.
Huff could see some time inside, but the plan is for Huff to run many of the same routes Maclin did -- including going deep. Huff is the quickest receiver on the team, and the Eagles will be giving him a chance to stretch the field, much like DeSean Jackson did two seasons ago.
Ask Riley Cooper how much the Eagles like their receivers to be able to block, and he will respond by pointing out he played 980 snaps last season, second most on the team. That is a good sign for Huff, who is perhaps the second-best run-blocking receiver on the Eagles, behind only Cooper. Huff should be able to stay on the field, and keep rookie Nelson Agholor off of it, by being a strong run blocker.
When the team drafted Agholor, it was assumed that he would start. That could still end up being the case, and Agholor has the skills to be a star in the NFL. It will be Huff, however, that gets the first crack at the starting job, with Agholor on the bench.
Agholor could end up taking one of the starting spots, from Huff or Cooper, but he will have to do it in training camp, and won't be handed the job.
The prevailing assumption is that Agholor will start alongside Matthews, who could play outside or in the slot. If Matthews is in the slot, then there's an opening for Huff or Cooper on the other side. Then there's the matter of Zach Ertz, who is rumored to be in line for more snaps as he pushes Brent Celek for the starting job. Ertz could also play more in two-TE sets, but that will send two of the aforementioned receivers to the bench. Training camp will be key for all the Eagles' receivers -- the only player seemingly assured of a big role is Matthews.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015, 2:53pm
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