Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 8:42pm
Aaron Rodgers already made it clear how he feels about preseason games, so it surely wouldn't break his heart if he doesn't take another snap before the Green Bay Packers' regular-season opener on Sept. 13 at Chicago.
With three of his five starting offensive linemen likely out for Saturday's preseason home opener against the Eagles, that's probably not a bad idea.
In Wednesday's practice, Rodgers' reps were lighter than they've been all training camp -- he took only the first snap in most team drills and no more than three in the others. That could be a sign coach Mike McCarthy does not plan to play him at all the rest of the preseason, which finishes with a Sept. 3 game against the Saints.
McCarthy pulled Rodgers after the first quarter of Sunday's game at Pittsburgh after backup left tackle Don Barclay allowed Rodgers to get sacked for a safety. Rodgers took a hit on his right hand and was seen icing it on the sideline. After the game, the one in which receiver Jordy Nelson was lost for the season because of a knee injury, Rodgers referred to preseason games as "meaningless."
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 4:15pm
DeMarco Murray was asked how he expects the rotation to play out. Will the RBs alternate series? Will they spell one another during a drive?
"I don't think it will be alternating series," Murray said. "But [Mathews] is a quality back, great guy, works extremely hard. I'm sure he'll get his fair share of touches. But I don't know how the rotation will be yet, we haven't touched on it."
Murray is unsure of how many snaps he'll get in Green Bay this Saturday, but expect his workload to increase in the dress rehearsal. Starters typically play an entire half, if not more, in the penultimate preseason game.
The Eagles like to run a lot of plays so it's possible Murray still gets a solid workload with perhaps Mathews getting 8-10 touches. Sproles could mix in but is expected to get most of his work in the passing, even though he proved to be a nice weapon running the ball last year. As long as the Eagles offense is clicking, Murray owners shouldn't worry too much about the Birds crowded backfield.
Ertz underwent core muscle surgery on Aug. 14 and was expected to miss the entire preseason with an eye towards the season opener as a return date.
"No comment yet," Ertz told NJ Advance Media following Tuesday's practice at the NovaCare Complex when asked if he was still on target for playing Week 1. "I should know soon, though."
On Monday Ertz was seen catching balls from the JUGS machine and getting extra work in after practice for the first time since suffering the injury earlier this month. To make it worse for fantasy owners, the Eagles play Monday night of Week 1. Brent Celek is a possible late, emergency replacement at the position if you're really counting on Ertz.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 10:10am
DeMarco Murray’s biggest schematic adjustment in coming from Dallas to Philadelphia is running out of the shotgun formation instead of getting the ball from a quarterback is who under center. It’s similar to how he played at Oklahoma, though, when he last took handoffs from Sam Bradford.
“We didn’t do much of it in Dallas, but I’ve done it in past,” Murray said. “Hopefully we’ll get more downhill runs and get in the home position, but I think just the way we run and the plays, it’s hard for teams to set on one guy, set on one formation, we have a lot of things.”
There are advantages and disadvantages. LeSean McCoy preferred taking handoffs when the quarterback was under center because he was 7 ½ yards deep and he said it helped with his vision. He had the running start in that scenario as opposed to in the shotgun, when McCoy said he started running sideways.
Murray said he actually gets to “see more of the field” when it’s a shotgun formation.
Add the Ravens backfield to the positions hit by the injury bug.
“I don’t have the degree on it yet, but it’s going to be a few weeks for Lorenzo,” Harbaugh said.
Taliaferro was listed as the Ravens No. 2 running back behind Justin Forsett, but now rookie fourth-round pick Buck Allen will likely see an increased workload for the rest of the preseason and potentially early in the regular season. Behind Allen is second-year back Fitzgerald Toussaint and undrafted rookie Terrence Magee.
Saturday, August 22, 2015, 8:33pm
But what they saw out of Sam Bradford in his first game back from his twin torn ACLs still had them holding their breath.
Bradford took several hard shots from the Ravens on his opening drive, with linebacker Terrell Suggs drawing a penalty after diving at his legs, and then defensive lineman Brandon Williams pounding him into the ground.
But Bradford led a crisp touchdown drive also, an 11-play, 84-yard march capped by a Ryan Mathews touchdown run. He completed 3-of-5 passes, but taking so many shots so early in his comeback will create a worry. That’s probably why Mark Sanchez took the field for the second possession, making it a short night for Bradford, the story said.
Ravens beat writer Jeff Zrebiec:
He's caught balls underneath, he's caught deep passes, he's drawn pass interference penalties. Nobody on the Ravens has been able to match up. If Matthews stays healthy, I'd be shocked if he didn't have a big year.
The offseason buzz has been strong. With Jeremy Maclin gone, Matthews will have to play more than the 65% of the snaps that he played as a rookie. He was the #24 WR in standard formats, so increased playing time should lead to a better finish. He won't be limited to the slot in 2015.
The Ravens didn’t seem to have any answer for Eagles WR Jordan Matthews over the middle, be it shallow crosses or intermediate seam passes, and his touchdown grab was a thing of beauty, beating his man clean to the outside and extending to make the catch. Of course, this is nothing altogether new—Matthews has been tearing it up all camp. Regardless, it was nice to see him as a focal point of the Eagles offense while going up against another team. Big things appear to be in store for Matthews this season.
With Jeremy Maclin gone, Matthews will have to play more than the 65% of the snaps that he played as a rookie. He was the #24 WR in standard formats, so increased playing time should lead to a better finish. He won't be limited to the slot in 2015. He's primed to build on a strong rookie season.
Murray suiting up in Week 1 is clearly the goal for the Eagles as well, as head coach Chip Kelly has admitted he is the reason the running back hasn't been taking part in many team drills.
"The only thing holding back DeMarco is me," Kelly said last week.
Murray increased his workload on Wednesday, taking first-team reps throughout the day against the Ravens. He looked sharp doing so, running hard and not having to spend anytime with trainers.
Murray had a career year in his fourth season, racking up 2,261 total yards and 13 touchdowns on 449 touches. He should get plenty of work in Philadelphia, though the signing of Ryan Mathews and the presence of Darren Sproles make it very unlikely that he’ll approach 450 touches in 2015. LeSean McCoy averaged 353 touches over the past two seasons, so that’s probably Murray’s ceiling if everyone stays healthy. He’ll hold low-end RB1 value, though the presence of Mathews and Sproles may make even that a stretch. The local beat writers are predicting a 50-30-15 split in carries among Murray, Mathews and Sproles. The history of 380-carry running backs isn't pretty when we look at the next season, but those players didn't have Chip Kelly's sports science program to lean on.
Bradford, who sat out the Eagles preseason opener last Sunday, faced a good Ravens' defense in both 7-on-7 drills and full 11-on-11 team drills and showed the same velocity and accuracy on his passes that he showed practicing against his teammates the first two weeks of training camp.
Over the last two seasons, Philadelphia quarterbacks have averaged 16.7 passing game-only fantasy points. Bradford isn’t much of a runner, but he adds about 0.7 FP per game as a rusher. That adds up to 17.4 FP, or about what Eli Manning averaged as the #10 QB in 2014. The Eagles’ offense has lost their top receiver – DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin – in each of the last two seasons, but Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz are emerging and the team added Nelson Agholor in the draft. If Bradford ends up starting for the Eagles, we wouldn’t expect anything more than high-end QB2 numbers, but this is a definite system upgrade due to the overall effectiveness of Chip Kelly’s offense.
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.
"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.
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