"We love him," wide receiver Kenny Britt said Thursday after the second OTA session and first open to reporters. "Great deep ball, he puts it on the money every time.
"He can throw every pass in the book."
"He's got his hands full because we've got great defensive team speed and they're doing a lot of things over there right now," HC Jeff Fisher said. "We've just really been pleased."
Foles’ second season as the starter in Philadelphia didn’t go as well as his first. After a ridiculous 27-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2013, Foles tossed 13 touchdowns against 10 picks last year. It wasn’t all his fault, however, as he was playing behind a patchwork offensive line and didn’t seem as comfortable in the pocket. In the seven games that he finished in 2014, he averaged 16.9 fantasy points, which is about what Philip Rivers scored as the #12 QB on the season. Foles ultimately broke his collarbone in Week 9 and missed the final eight games of the season. Now he joins a run-oriented Rams’ offense that lacks consistent playmakers in the passing game. Sam Bradford had a few good stretches while in St. Louis, so there's no reason that Foles can't post QB2-type numbers if things break his way.
"It's the first thing everyone sees -- how fast the ball comes out of his hand," QB Dennis Gile said. That's a result of all the alterations -- from his head to the bottom of his cleats -- that the quarterback has made. "It's not about how hard you can throw it or how fast you can get rid of it," Gile said. "It's how quickly he can release it while still being relaxed."
One of the main things that changed was Kaepernick's stance. Gile said it was too narrow. That is, his feet were close together -- "real tall on his tippy toes," Gile said -- and when he took a step to throw the ball, that step was too big, too exaggerated. That elongated his release.
It's also helped his accuracy. Gile said Kaepernick made the biggest gains with his deep passes. That has to be good news for wideouts like Torrey Smith and Jerome Simpson, who were brought in this offseason to add firepower to a deep passing attack that had been lightly utilized in previous seasons.
Gile said he expected Kaepernick to return to Phoenix and continue to work on his craft during the team's break in early July.
It was reported earlier in the offseason that the team planned to utilize Kaepernick’s running ability to a greater degree. Kaepernick ran the ball 12 more times in 2014 than he did in 2013 for an additional 115 yards, so it's not like he abandoned the scramble. It sounds like it's more about utilizing the read-option as a larger part of the offense. If that's the case, it could be a boon to Kaepernick's fantasy value. He was the #14 QB in 2014 after finishing #9 the season before, though his overall production only dipped by 11 fantasy points. He's a bounce-back candidate provided new OC Geep Chryst can design an offense that can move the ball. Chryst previously served as the OC for the Chargers in 1999 and 2000, but his offenses ranked 26th and 28th overall in that span. Any gains that Kaepernick can make as a thrower (due to his offseason work with Gile and former Rams/Cardinals QB Kurt Warner) will only help his overall value.
David Johnson, a third-round pick out of Northern Iowa, ranked 15th in FCS in 2014, posting 1,553 rushing yards while finding the end zone 17 times. He is expected to make a big contribution to the Cardinals offense this season, according to his position coach, Stump Mitchell.
"He's a guy who has a lot of confidence in his ability to play," Mitchell told Doug and Wolf Thursday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "He's coachable. He's a smart young man, he's physical. He's going to make Andre (Ellington) pick up his game when given the opportunity.
"He has excellent hands and he's a bigger target to throw the ball to. He's going to be a big piece of the puzzle before this season is said and done."
Mitchell gushed about Johnson's physicality, citing his ability to run over people as well as run around them. He also conjured a comparison to one of the NFL's most productive backs over the last five years.
"He reminds me a lot of (Chicago RB) Matt Forte," Mitchell said. "You can put him outside and use him as a receiver and he's a good runner."
The Cardinals have been trying to add a bigger back to complement Andre Ellington, and Johnson fits the bill. He does a lot of the same things as Ellington, so for now we're expecting that he'll serve in a backup capacity, but Mitchell sounds as if Johnson will play a larger role than a typical backup. We currently project him for around 147 touches.
On the field for the first day of OTAs (organized team activities) Tuesday, Andre Ellington proclaimed himself healthy and ready to go.
"I'm not limited in anything," he said. "I'm out here running, running around, feeling good."
None of Ellington's injuries were the type that would keep him out long-term or inhibit him going forward. Once healed, he would essentially be the same player he was prior to getting hurt.
The Cardinals drafted David Johnson to lighten Ellington’s workload, and a reduction in touches may actually help his effectiveness, though it's unlikely to help his per game fantasy production. Ellington averaged 22.0 touches per game, but only managed 3.3 YPC after averaging 5.5 YPC in his rookie season.
Via Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego, the Chargers RB Melvin Gordon is already making an impression a day after signing his contract, even though teams aren’t able to do much resembling football at the moment.
“He did a nice job,” Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said. “We weren’t really going full speed out there, just really an introduction to make sure everyone’s got a hat on hat and guys are running to the right spot.
“But he makes a few of those moves and cuts, you understand why we took him where we did.”
The Chargers traded up to get Gordon, so we’d expect they’ll use him early and often in 2015. In fact, GM Tom Telesco used the phrase "impact player" 11 times in Gordon's introductory press conference. Ryan Mathews is gone, so it’s Gordon’s job to lose. He doesn’t have a lot of experience as a receiver, so we'd expect that Danny Woodhead still gets a lot of work on third down while Gordon establishes himself as a good weapon out of the backfield. Given Todd Gurley’s ACL recovery, we'd also expect that Gordon will be the first rookie running back off the board.
Monday, May 11, 2015, 9:32am
WR DeAndre Carter is only 5 feet 8 and 185 pounds, but he was one of the quickest and most active players on the field in the portion of Ravens’ mincamp open to reporters on Saturday.
Carter was a coveted college free agent, but he looks up to Steve Smith, so signing with the Ravens made sense. He also had an extremely prolific college career, albeit against lesser competition. Carter caught 99 passes for 1,321 yards and 17 touchdowns last season and has return skills that could come into play with the Ravens looking to replace Jacoby Jones.
The article goes on to say that the Ravens' receiving lineup will be tough to crack, but the team is generally hurting for playmakers at the position. If Carter displays a skill set that the team needs, then he'll make the cut.
Cardinals RB Andre Ellington on his recovery from a foot injury: "I'm close to doing a lot of things I've done in the past. Just (this week) I was able to do all my cuts and put a lot more pressure on my foot."
Ellington felt the opposite of threatened when the Cardinals drafted running back David Johnson in the third round last week. If Johnson, from Northern Iowa, is what the Cardinals think he is, he will lighten Ellington's load.
"I don't see why not," Ellington said when asked if he would be helped by the addition of Johnson. "It allows me to have more rest time, and it should keep the offense upbeat."
The Cardinals drafted Johnson to lighten Ellington’s workload, and a reduction in touches may actually help his effectiveness, though it's unlikely to help his per game fantasy production. Ellington averaged 22.0 touches per game, but only managed 3.3 YPC after averaging 5.5 YPC in his rookie season.
Las Vegas oddsmakers have made running back Melvin Gordon the favorite to with the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The sportsbook Bovada.com lists Gordon's odds at 13 to 2.
All six players were first round picks. We agree that Gordon has the best chance to shine among the running backs, especially since Gurley is coming off of an ACL tear.
Cardinals RB David Johnson has the makings of a player who can have an immediate impact out of a small school. He’ll enter offseason workouts with an opportunity to be a three-down running back if he can learn the Cardinals’ offensive scheme, coach Bruce Arians said.
It’s unlikely, however, that he’ll supplant Andre Ellington as the starting running back.
“I think Andre will continue his same role,” Arians said. “We’ll keep him healthy and let him continue to develop as a player, but the nice thing David can do is he can do everything Andre does, so you don’t have to change if there was an injury.”
The Cardinals have been trying to add a bigger back to complement Ellington, but it sounds as if Arians feels Johnson is more of an Ellington clone. Arians confirmed that Ellington should continue in his current role with Johnson serving as his primary backup.
Coach Bruce Arians doesn't like the word "need", but the Cardinals were lacking a big, physical back. David Johnson will contend for the starting job, and at least should be a nice complement to Andre Ellington. Johnson is big and he ran the 40-yard dash at the combine in 4.5 seconds, which is plenty fast for a man his size.
The Cardinals have been trying to add a bigger back to complement Ellington, and Johnson fits the bill. It’s starting to look like a committee in Arizona, so keep an eye on this camp battle to see if Johnson’s able to unseat Ellington. For now, Ellington should be able to hold onto the job with Johnson serving in a change-of-pace role.
“The really, really talented ones are going to get drafted high. A top back is going to touch the ball 15 to 20 times a game, at least, a top receiver maybe eight or nine. You’ve got to have one.
“And I’ve always prescribed to the theory that you’ve got to have more than one of them. Melvin gives us that dynamic -- he can make the big play (which Mathews, whose longest run from scrimmage was 51 yards, his second-longest 39, could not). We’ve been a long-drive offense.”
The Chargers traded up to get Gordon, so we’d expect they’ll use him early and often in 2015. In fact, Telesco used the phrase "impact player" 11 times in Gordon's introductory press conference. Ryan Mathews is gone, so it’s Gordon’s job to lose. He doesn’t have a lot of experience as a receiver, so we'd expect that Danny Woodhead still gets a lot of work on third down while Gordon establishes himself as a good weapon out of the backfield. Given Todd Gurley’s ACL recovery, we'd also expect that Gordon will be the first rookie running back off the board (in the 3rd round?).
The San Francisco 49ers may only be two days into minicamp and a few weeks into the offseason program, but Torrey Smith said Wednesday that the chemistry is already building between him and his new quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The two aren’t new acquaintances; Smith said that he and Kap had trained at the same facility in past offseasons. He referenced Kaepernick’s “cannon” and how it differs from the strong arm of his former Baltimore Ravens teammate Joe Flacco.
“Joe (Flacco) has a great arm, probably the strongest arm in the league, but Kap’s is something different with that velocity,” Smith said. “I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s something different.”
“He’s doing a great job,” Smith said. “Ya’ll aren’t out there, but some of the throws he made yesterday were ridiculous.”
“It was cover two and I had a conversion,” Smith said. “It turned into a deep route and there was a small, a really small window for him to make the throw between (Antoine) Bethea and myself. If he put too much air on it, the ball is going to get tipped in a real game, and I’m going to get knocked out. But, he threw it where only I could get it and I didn’t break stride. And it was on a rope, 35 yards on a rope. It would have been a touchdown. It was ridiculous.”
It was reported earlier in the offseason that the team planned to utilize Kaepernick’s running ability to a greater degree. Kaepernick ran the ball 12 more times in 2014 than he did in 2013 for an additional 115 yards, so it's not like he abandoned the scramble. It sounds like it's more about utilizing the read-option as a larger part of the offense. If that's the case, it could be a boon to Kaepernick's fantasy value. He was the #14 QB in 2014 after finishing #9 the season before, though his overall production only dipped by 11 fantasy points. He's a bounce-back candidate provided new OC Geep Chryst can design an offense that can move the ball. Chryst previously served as the OC for the Chargers in 1999 and 2000, but his offenses ranked 26th and 28th overall in that span. Any gains that Kaepernick can make as a thrower (due to his offseason work with QB coach Dennis Gile and former Rams/Cardinals QB Kurt Warner) will only help his overall value, and early reports describe a 'radically different' throwing motion.
Chargers RB Branden Oliver is driven with an insatiable desire to make a bigger impact in 2015. True to form, he is not resting on his laurels, stressing a number of areas he wants to improve upon in order to fulfill his potential.
“My power, strength, speed and agility I am focusing on,” he said after a recent workout at Chargers Park. “I want to get better at everything. I don’t really focus on just one particular thing. I like to be well rounded and won’t limit myself to one area. It is always best to work at everything. I worked out the entire offseason Monday through Saturday. I took three weeks off after the season ended but worked out every week after that.”
Still, there is one aspect he wants to improve upon the most. “I want to break more tackles. I would also like to be a little more explosive.”
Oliver is also confident he can take his game to the next level in 2015 because he is far more comfortable than he was as a rookie.
“They will come easier this year because I’m more comfortable and know the offense. Now I can just go out there and ball. This year is very different. I feel so much better coming in. I’m more confident. I’m gelling with the guys and am more open to them because I know them better. It’s really just crazy to be going into my second year already! But I feel real good.”
When asked about the state of his running back corps, GM Tom Telesco said, "I'm not saying we wouldn't add somebody, but we don't need to." This is a situation to watch during the draft -- if the Chargers don't add a runner during the first two days, it's very possible that Oliver will go into the season as the starter with Donald Brown as his primary backup and Danny Woodhead as the passing down back. In that scenario, Oliver’s ADP would rise from its current level (12th round) and Woodhead would be a nice value in PPR formats.
“I feel really, really good,” Chargers RB Danny Woodhead said, flashing his trademark grin. “I really do. As far as the injury goes, that is something I’m not even thinking about. I’m thinking about trying to get better. I’m focusing on working on what I can do to be better than I was last year. Obviously I wasn’t able to play a lot of games, so I should say I want to be better than I was that first season here.”
“It’s been a long process,” he said of his recovery from a broken fibula. “But definitely it makes you hungrier when the game is taken away. It makes you realize how blessed you are to play it. Not that I didn’t understand that before, but when it is taken away for such a long amount of time, it makes you even hungrier. You miss being out there with your brothers. I’m excited for this season. I’m always excited, but my mentality might even be younger and hungrier than ever before.”
Woodhead is signed through the 2016 season, so assuming he's fully healed, he should resume his role as the Chargers' passing down specialist. In 21 games with the Chargers (including the playoffs), Woodhead has averaged 11.0 touches (4.1 catches) for 58 yards and 0.43 touchdowns, which equate to #13 RB numbers in PPR formats (#21 in standard). The team is expected to draft a running back this month, but it's unlikely that they'll trust a rookie on third downs when they have Woodhead at their disposal. He should continue to be a terrific value in the later rounds, especially in PPR formats.
On the cusp of his 13th season, Chargers TE Antonio Gates has only one year remaining on his contract and is acutely aware of his expiring clock. He no longer attends voluntary workouts, nor has he done any route running this offseason.
“With injuries and whatnot, I played a little bit more than they expected me to play last season,” he says. “I was playing the whole game. How I feel next year, it depends on how much volume they have me doing. I’d like to come in on third-and-7s, red zones, those situations. That’s what my contribution is at anyway.”
Ladarius Green will once again be an intriguing late round pick, but it's hard to see him posting TE1-type numbers with Gates still healthy and available. The future Hall of Famer finished #2 in standard formats and #3 in PPR, posting 69 catches for 821 yards and 12 touchdowns. It was his 4th-best fantasy season of his career, production-wise. We'll see if the team agrees with his "reduced role" perspective.