"No, he won't," head coach Tom Coughlin said when asked if Cruz could return to work from the calf sprain that Coughlin has said he is "concerned" about.
Cruz was on schedule to play last weekend against the Jaguars, but the sprain forced him out of practice and prevented him from playing in the game. He has not practiced since.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 6:43pm
Jones had five catches for 83 yards in Saturday's preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, both team highs. He's been with Big Blue less than a month, but the eight-year veteran certainly has a better track record than most of the receivers he's competing with for a roster spot.
"Just making the most of my opportunities," Jones said Tuesday. "It was a good game receiving the ball. Still got a lot of work to do. I’m extremely hard on myself. I dropped a ball, had a couple bad releases that I felt like would have given me the opportunity to make more plays. Run-blocking-wise I need to get my run-blocking together. Catching the football it was a pretty good game, but I’ve still got a lot of work to do."
Jones was cut by the Oakland Raiders this spring, but he led Oakland in receptions last season with 73. He's only 31 years old and not that far removed from catching 14 touchdown passes with the Green Bay Packers in 2012, the story said. Of course, the big question is if Jones could land back with the Packers, assuming they want him. The way the Giant WRs are banged up at this point of camp, New York may not want to part with him.
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.
"It is just all about me keeping my body warmed up and make sure I’m properly stretched and not putting all the pressure on that knee tendon," Randle said. "So I’m just going to do a couple more exercises to make sure I keep that tendon loose."
It's a little bit of good news for the team as they are still without Victor Cruz. HC Tom Coughlin seems frustrated with the lack of WRs at practice as of late so Randle's return should help the cause a bit. Randle had a good finish to 2014, but we think if Cruz is healthy he's going to end up being more of a WR3 on the Giants. If Cruz's injuries linger into the season, Randle could be a guy to keep in mind if you need WR help.
When Giants WR Victor Cruz missed a pair of practices last week because of a calf strain, he insisted that the issue was not serious, and that he would "definitely" be back in practice this week. So far, not so good. On Tuesday, the Giants began prepping for their Saturday preseason meeting with the Jets, and Cruz was not going to practice, coach Tom Coughlin said. The coach added that he is "concerned" about the situation. "Concerned? Yeah," he said. "Because obviously there were a couple of slotted opportunities (for Cruz to practice last week). Yeah, yeah I am." "I would like to see him get out there and be able to stay out there," Coughlin said. "As soon as that can be done, that's possible, then that's what would happen."
Coughlin did not rule Cruz, who is coming back from a torn right patellar knee tendon suffered midway through last season, out of Saturday's game against the Jets, although he did indicate that the receiver must practice first. He said Cruz is "day-to-day" and must first show an ability to practice for a few consecutive days before he would consider playing the receiver. Cruz has yet to appear in a preseason game, as his rapid return from action has come to a stuttering halt. Early in camp, and even during the joint practice sessions with the Bengals in Cincinnati, the receiver looked to be well on track in his recovery, the story said. In another story, Cruz believes he will be ready for Week 1.
He's worked hard to shore up the holes in his game, most specifically his ability to catch the ball, and his improvements have led to a significant number of first-team reps in training camp and in the preseason. It's not out of the question that Williams overtakes Rashad Jennings for the Giants' starting running back job at some point this season, possibly even at the start.
But Williams isn't thinking about that. He's focused on getting better. And if you watched him wait patiently for the blocks to develop on his 11-yard run in Saturday night's preseason game, you saw the fruits of another specific offseason focus.
"I'm just really working on staying patient this year," Williams said after Saturday's game. "Not just 'go-go-go' as soon as you see the first hole, but remembering what's supposed to happen and waiting to make sure it's time to go. That's not an easy thing when you're working at game speed, but it's important."
Williams has been watching tape of Steelers running back LeVeon Bell, who established himself last year as one of the most patient runners in the league. It was Jennings who worked out with Bell two seasons ago the story said. Jennings said several times last year that the biggest thing Williams had to learn was to slow down and be patient, trust his blockers and the play. It appears those lessons are starting to take hold. The author didn't rule out Williams taking over for Jennings at some point this season, which should peak fantasy owners' interests a bit.
Through the first drive of the third quarter, Dion Lewis played 23 offensive snaps as he made his case to be considered the top option to replace Shane Vereen as the team's top "passing back." His combination of blitz pickup, pass-catching ability, knack for picking up yardage after the catch, and determination in the red zone (11-yard touchdown run) was impressive.
Up to that point in the game, Lewis' primary competition for the job, James White, had played three snaps. All three of those snaps came out of the "pony" grouping in which he was on the field at the same time as Lewis.
"I thought Dion did a good job with his opportunities," coach Bill Belichick said in his day-after-game conference call. "He's had a solid spring and camp for us. He missed a few days there [because of injury], but I thought he ran well [Saturday] night."
As it turned out, White did too, the story said. Essentially taking over for Lewis from the second drive of the third quarter until the end of the game (the two were on the field together six snaps after that point), it was almost as if White felt the urgency to match Lewis.
That was what stood out most to me when reviewing the offensive snap counts from the game; how the competition between the two has raised the bar at a critical position in the Patriots' offense. White was drafted by the team for this role so he may have the edge because of that. Whoever wins the job should get a Shane Vereen-like role in the offense which would have PPR league value.
Monday, August 24, 2015, 9:05am
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie receiver Rashad Greene got a lot of early playing time against the New York Giants on Saturday night and it sounds like that's going to continue throughout the rest of the preseason.
Coach Gus Bradley said the team made the decision to use more three receiver formations with tight end Julius Thomas (fractured hand) out for the rest of the preseason. With Marqise Lee out with a hamstring injury, Greene got the extra work. He was on the field a lot with the first-team offense during its three drives and was targeted four times and caught two passes for 14 yards.
"With the injury to Julius it put us in a position where we wanted to play with three-wide a little bit more and really evaluate that position," Bradley said. "[Greene] took advantage of it [with] a nice catch in the game and just some of the things that we've seen in practice."
Greene had a quiet start to training camp and that might have partly because of a sore Achilles, Bradley said. Once that eased, Greene started making plays, the story said. One might assume that once Thomas returns, the Jags may use less three-WR sets. Greene's fantasy value is still a question mark with so much young talent at the position and a young QB behind a line that sometimes struggles. He's at least a name to monitor as he seems to be taking advantage of the injuries.
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.
Sunday, August 23, 2015, 8:24pm
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles followed up a strong performance in the team's Aug. 14 preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers with another solid effort Saturday night in a 22-12 loss to the New York Giants.
Bortles, in his second season as Jacksonville's quarterback, completed 8-of-16 passes for 98 yards, to lead the team on three scoring drives, each resulting in a field goal. While the numbers were relatively modest, head coach Gus Bradley said he was pleased with the young quarterback's effort.
"I think he took another good step," Bradley said, per the team's official website. "To go on the road and to stack up another good performance, he's learning. ... What I'm pleased about is he's seeing some benefits of playing some pretty consistent quarterback. We just need to add to it."
The 23-year-old Bortles, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft, said he was generally satisfied with the offensive execution against the Giants, but noted the team needs to work on finishing drives.
There is some potential there for Bortles but he likely won't get drafted in typical leagues. He has a young, talented group of WRs and the team signed TE Julius Thomas as a red zone threat. Bortles will need the line to improve in front of him on top of developing with the young WRs.
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.
Star wide receiver Victor Cruz is expected to miss practice with a calf injury. It is not believed to be serious.
Coach Tom Coughlin said it's not related to the serious knee injury Cruz suffered last season against the Eagles. The calf problem is believed to be dehydration-related.
We were just starting to feel better about Cruz, but this doesn't sound too serious. When healthy, he'll fill the Randall Cobb role in OC Ben McAdoo's offense, so he has some upside if he can return to form.
It wasn’t only that RB Andre Williams did not possess the best hands, it was that he seemed to lose track of the football and displayed poor depth perception when asked to come out of the backfield to catch a pass.
The Giants are working on this with Williams, their muscular second-year running back and leading rusher from 2014. Williams figures to do the heavy lifting this season, with Rashad Jennings doing a little bit of everything and newly signed Shane Vereen used mostly as a pass-catcher and safety-valve option for Eli Manning after excelling in that role for Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Williams’ primary role will not be as a pass-catcher, but if he is not somewhat of a threat, opposing defense do not have to play him honestly. So Williams has made several changes to make himself more proficient.
In mid-March, he underwent Photorefractive Keratectomy laser eye surgery and now no longer needs contact lenses.
“I don’t have to worry about the strain from the lenses, and I also don’t have to worry about getting knocked in the eye and having my contact get loose or fall out,’’ Williams said. “If your contacts are cloudy or something, it’s a problem.
“It’s cool to wake up in the morning and see right away and not go to bed with the ‘I forgot to take my contacts out and my eyes hurt.’ It’s nice. Best money I ever spent so far.’’
Williams also has been working on his hand-eye coordination by catching tennis balls. Before games, Williams takes part in a blind-ball drill. With his back to running backs coach Craig Johnson, Williams has to turn and quickly locate the ball in the air as Johnson flips it to him. Like the story said, Jennings and Vereen are likely to see a bulk of the passes at the RB position, but Williams will only help himself if he can at least make defense aware. His main role looks like a change of pace back who could see short yardage and goal line situations.
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.
Both were on a "pitch count" earlier this summer. For Beckham it was the result of a tender hamstring that kept him sidelined in the spring. Cruz was making his way back from a torn patellar tendon in his right knee.
While Beckham played in the preseason opener, Cruz watched from the sideline. The Giants have been more careful to limit his snaps and action this summer.
That no longer seems to apply.
"We'll pick when he goes [in a preseason game], but he's done everything. [Sunday] he did everything [in practice] — we didn't even have a ... he and Odell both had a full practice [Sunday], and both did well and both are back ready to go [Monday]," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.
Cruz expects to be a full participant in practice on Monday evening. There were no negative effects from the increased workload in the Giants' first practice since returning from Cincinnati.
When the Giants scrimmaged against the Bengals last week, Cruz did very little. He did not participate in team drills (only individual) on Tuesday in Cincinnati, the story said. It's good news for the Giants who lost Ruben Randle for at least a week with knee tendinitis.
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