Monday, August 31, 2015, 8:29pm
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was a limited participant in practice Monday, two days after heading into the locker room early after hitting his throwing hand on a defender late in the second quarter of the Chargers' preseason game against the Seahawks.
Rivers handed off a few times during the portion of the workout open to the media but didn't throw in positional drills. Kellen Clemens was at quarterback in Monday's practice.
Coach Mike McCoy said Rivers' limited participation wasn't because he hit his right hand Saturday.
Rivers had his hand X-rayed Saturday and said after the game that the X-rays came back negative.
In the third quarter, Rivers told Tracy Wolfson of CBS that the hand recently used to sign a gigantic contract is fine.
“It’s good,” he said of the right hand, adding that he’d still be playing if it were a regular-season game.
Rivers played at an extremely high level for the first half of the season, completing 68.3 percent of his passes for 277 yards, 2.5 TD and just 0.6 interceptions through Week 8. He posted #3 QB numbers in that span, but he was the #19 QB down the stretch after injuring his hand in Week 9 against the Dolphins. He then suffered back and rib injuries and threw for multiple touchdowns in just two of his final eight games (averaging 1.6 INT) as the Chargers fell out of playoff contention. If he's fully healthy entering the 2015 season, he will once again be a fine value pick in the later rounds, but owners should be prepared to stream if the injuries start to pile up. The four-game loss of Antonio Gates doesn’t help, but Ladarius Green and Stevie Johnson should be able to pick up the slack.
What we saw from Stevie Johnson in Saturday night's exhibition against the Seattle Seahawks, the connection with Rivers that the Chargers hope to see so much this season, was borne in May and June and rekindled in August.
On the Chargers’ first possession, Johnson suddenly darted left, pulling away from the safety covering him in the slot to make a 34-yard reception-and-run that converted a third down. Before leaving with the rest of the first-team offense at halftime, Johnson had two more third-down conversions and finished with four receptions for 64 yards.
That is what replacing Eddie Royal looks like.
There is great potential in the marrying of Johnson’s ability to separate combined with Rivers’ ability to throw receivers open. When Rivers develops a rapport with a target, he anticipates where that receiver will be and makes connections that seemingly should never happen.
From 2010 to 2012, Johnson was one of the most consistent receivers in football, posting at least 76 catches, 1,004 yards and six touchdowns in three straight seasons. In PPR formats, he was the #10, #16 and #18 receiver in those seasons. The Chargers lost Eddie Royal, so there are targets to be had, especially with TE Antonio Gates suspended for the first four games. Johnson is having a good camp, so it appears that he’ll play ahead of retiring wideout Malcom Floyd.
Chargers beat writer Eric D. Williams: Stevie Johnson signed with the Chargers in free agency to help fill the void left by Eddie Royal's departure, and so far has looked rejuvenated in San Diego’s offensive system. Johnson’s developed a good rapport with Philip Rivers and will be used both in the slot and on the perimeter. He has a shot at 50 receptions and at least four touchdowns.
We project Johnson for 54-755-5.2 as the Chargers' WR2. From 2010 to 2012, he was one of the most consistent receivers in football, posting at least 76 catches, 1,004 yards and six touchdowns in three straight seasons. In PPR formats, he was the #10, #16 and #18 receiver in those seasons. The Chargers lost Eddie Royal, so there are targets to be had, especially with TE Antonio Gates suspended for the first four games.
I would still lean toward CJ being on this roster heading into the regular season. But it’s not necessarily a lock, with what David Johnson has shown and Kerwynn Williams still lingering in the background and Stepfan Taylor so valuable on special teams. Can’t keep ’em all.
Johnson may be expendable with the way David Johnson is playing and how Williams played last season.
Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim was impressed by his team’s deep threats at receiver last Saturday night against the Chargers. But he’s also concerned that quarterback Carson Palmer won’t have enough time to pass the ball if the Cardinals don’t protect him better.
The Chargers had six sacks in the first half of the victory, including two on Palmer, who dropped back just nine times.
“If we can protect Carson, we have some guys who can not only create separation, but can be explosive,” Keim said Monday morning on his weekly appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
The story said both tackles gave up sacks, even though Keim didn't blame the offensive line entirely. He also pointed to missed assignments by running backs, which also happens to be an area bit by the injury bug so far in camp for the Cards. Palmer is a potential late-round starting option at QB who has a lot of weapons to throw to . But as the story said, he needs to be protected to allow his talented WRs to get open - on top of staying healthy.
Green didn't have a bad year, but the Chargers want, and likely need, better from him now.
With Antonio Gates guaranteed to miss the first four games, Green will be asked to move the chains and make blocks.
The Chargers, to put it in culinary terms, need him to supply something hearty and reliable -- along with his rare long speed that is fine etoufee.
Green, 25, got that done Saturday against the Cardinals in a preseason game the story pointed out. It was a workmanlike, if limited, performance, and that was encouraging. He moved the chains on third down, with a Gates-type play we've seldom seen from him. As the story said, Green has a chance to open some eyes as he fills in for Gates for the first four games. The team will likely include Gates back in the offense upon his return, but this is a big chance for Green to prove he's at least in the conversation as future TE1 for the Bolts.
Tony Romo is expected to get his first action, albeit briefly, but this game will mean more for the running backs: Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar. None played last week against the San Diego Chargers and all three will be available Sunday.
Nobody will run away with the job, but they can at least ease the fears some have about the position group with a positive showing, the story said. But, fantasy owners will hopefully be able to get a look into the future in terms of which one has the most value for their team. The odds-on favorite is Joseph Randle, of course, but all three are expected to have some role in the offense.
Chris Johnson wasn’t able to stay healthy for long in Arizona.
Johnson, the running back signed by the Cardinals last week, did not play in last night’s preseason game against the Chargers even though the Cardinals had initially planned to get him at least a few carries. Afterward, coach Bruce Arians explained that Johnson pulled a hamstring in Thursday’s practice and will be out for a week or two.
Johnson has been very healthy in his NFL career: The only game he’s ever missed was a meaningless Week 17 game. The Cardinals will try to get him healthy in time for Week One, when they hope he looks like the Chris Johnson of old.
If he’s out two weeks, that means he won’t play at all for the Cardinals, and his first live action in their offense wouldn’t come until the regular season. HC Bruce Arians said about rookie David Johnson that he wouldn't play in the season without the proper time in camp, so it remains to be seen how the team treats CJ2K. The Cards RBs have been banged up all camp and the hope was CJ2K would add some stability.
It’s the same injury that Randle suffered in practice last week, keeping him out of the preseason opening loss against the San Diego Chargers.
“It’s the same thing I had earlier,” Randle said. “It flared up on me again. We will will get it right. I always want to be out there with my teammates. I can only do what I can do. It’s just something we have to keep fighting through.”
We'd prefer he be at practice and getting reps as the team's lead back, but this injury on its own isn't too worrisome. He should be fine by Week 1, probably sooner.
In drills coming out of the backfield, no one has really been able to cover David Johnson, making one think about the matchup issues he can provide. Now, we wait to see what it looks like in a game.
“I’ve been waiting since January, since the draft, to prove what I’m worth,” Johnson said.
HC Bruce Arians likes to use his running backs as receivers, and this isn’t just about throwing swing passes to a guy — which is why it will be interesting to see how Chris Johnson adapts to the offense. Andre Ellington runs out of the slot and has shown good hands (remember, Arians has said he thinks Ellington could have been a wideout in this league) and that is something Johnson has already shown. There is no fighting the ball when it comes to him.
With the addition of both Johnsons, Ellington suddenly has to compete for touches. He should post solid RB2 numbers in PPR formats, but if he struggles to run the ball -- like he did last year with his 3.3 YPC -- he isn't likely to have a long leash.
Thursday, August 20, 2015, 12:14am
For the last two weeks, Arizona Cardinals rookie running back David Johnson has been trying to find the right balance between returning to the field and making sure his hamstring injury doesn't linger.
It wasn't easy for the third-round pick, who coach Bruce Arians said will return to practice Monday.
"You can feel good but you don't know until you start running," Johnson said. "I got to take it day-by-day."
Johnson's return couldn't have come sooner for the Northern Iowa product. He's missed every padded practice of training camp and Arians' frustration with Johnson was mounting every day.
"(It's ) killing him," Arians said. "There's no way a rookie is going to play in September and miss training camp. There's just no way in hell I'm putting him out there -- not in any expanded role of any kind."
Arians said Johnson and Andre Ellington are the foundation of Arizona's offense. Without both of them at practice for most of the last two weeks, the Cardinals weren't able to install packages specifically built for Johnson and Ellington.
"It's a pain in the ass when you got two guys that aren't out there practicing, and you got packages for them and you can't install them because it's not fair to the other guys because that's not their skill set," Arians said. "So you modify your practice and all your scripts to do something that's beneficial for all those guys."
This was Johnson's first "significant" injury of his football career. After tweaking his hamstring on Aug. 2, the rookie panicked a bit, unsure how to approach his comeback, the story said. With Andre Ellington also out, it put a damper on practices because they are considered the top two backs. Arians said he expects to get Ellington 20 touches a game but that also includes receptions so it looks like there will be plenty of opportunity for Johnson to be involved in the offense, too.
The contract extension Philip Rivers signed with the San Diego Chargers provides the quarterback a no-trade clause that significantly increases the likelihood he will play his entire career with the franchise, according to league sources.
While many wondered whether the deal would include language that voided the agreement or contained other out clauses if the team relocates to Los Angeles, the opposite actually occurred.
Rivers, 33, is firmly committed to the organization for the next five years. He previously expressed a reluctance to raise his family in Los Angeles, where the Chargers could move. The quarterback and his wife are expecting their eighth child.
The new contract provides Rivers $65 million in guaranteed money, the most of any NFL player currently under contract, the story said, so both sides are committed. Even though the Chargers have tried to focus on the run the last few years, Rivers has proved he can still flash some big fantasy stats for owners. Injuries over the second half last year did limit those numbers. But Rivers is again one of those QBs available in the middle-late rounds of drafts who could prove to have some value at the position, especially if you're looking to wait and stream your QBs.
The 8-yard touchdown run was nice.
But more than anything, San Diego Chargers running back Danny Woodhead appreciated being healthy and out on the field with his teammates on Thursday in his team’s exhibition opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
Woodhead had not been in a game since suffering a broken ankle in a Week 3 contest at Buffalo, which ended his 2014 season. Woodhead scored the first touchdown of the game for the Chargers against the Cowboys on an 8-yard draw up the middle.
Woodhead only carried the ball once and was in Thursday’s game for a total of three plays, so it’s clear the Chargers want to ease him into live games. However, Woodhead appears to have the same explosion he showed two years ago, when he finished with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and eight total touchdowns, the story said. Woodhead could be huge in the Chargers passing game with rookie Melvin Gordon likely getting the early down work. Rookies often struggle in pass protection which means Woodhead should return to having PPR value.
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