Melvin Gordon's hands are better than you might expect from such a run-heavy college offense -- and the Chargers throw the ball to backs about as much as anyone in the league. But the pass protection remains a work in progress. And while Philip Rivers probably won't play all that much in the preseason, he admits he'll be watching closely from the sidelines.
"He's still having to adjust to protections and to the route running," Rivers said, "but the good thing is he catches it well, catches it naturally. And protections, shoot, it's like not that I've had to sell it to him, but I said, hey, you pick up the right guy on third down and pick up the protection, and there's two reasons you've got to love that. One, is it helps us win. And another is you get another carry. Now it's first down, and you get another carry. We don't get it, and we punt, and you look up and we start getting behind, you're going to be standing over there watching us in two-minute stuff."
This is the second news item discussing Gordon's issues with pass protection, which confirms our belief that it's going to be Danny Woodhead, not Gordon, playing on third down and in passing situations. Rivers confirmed as much when he said that Gordon would be on the sideline watching the team in the two-minute offense. Woodhead is shaping up to be a fantastic value in the 9th/10th round, especially in PPR formats.
People around here are thinking Stevie Johnson could do big things in the Chargers' offense. The ex-Bills and Niners wideout is already simpatico with QB Philip Rivers. And with Antonio Gates suspended for the first four weeks, Johnson will be an integral moving part who could line up in the slot, out wide, wherever.
"His track record speaks for itself," Rivers said. "He had three 1,000 yard seasons in Buffalo, and those don't just happen by accident. So already, knowing that, I was excited. But you're always also a little bit apprehensive, because you don't know how quickly it's going to come together, and sometimes it takes more time."
Rivers said, however, that him and Johnson have connected quickly. "Even in OTAs and especially in the first 10 days of camp we've had a lot of things come that are trust-building plays and things that happen where he made a great catch and I threw it in a spot where it's got to be you or nobody, or something where we both felt it in the red zone and felt a void and knew I would do that," Rivers said. "Those kinds of things give you confidence, and he's been really good."
Johnson has earned high marks from Mike McCoy and Tom Telesco also thus far, and looks like he might be a big part of the offense.
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.
Cards HC Bruce Arians added Tuesday that there's "no way in hell" he will play the rookie RB David Johnson early in the season if the former Northern Iowa star misses training camp with hamstring woes.
The Cardinal RBs are banged up and the team offered veteran Chris Johnson a one-year deal. Arians hasn't been happy with the RB performance and the injuries. Ellington, Johnson and Marion Grice have all missed time with injuries. If Johnson accepts Arizona's offer, he will compete with Grice, Stepfan Taylor, Kerwynn Williams and Robert Hughes for snaps behind Ellington, the story said.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015, 6:27pm
Randle took part in individual drills and did on-air work during the morning practice but in the 11-on-11 team drills he was a spectator and undrafted rookie Gus Johnson took the first-team turns at tailback.
Considering today's practice was the final work before Thursday's preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers, Randle's lack of work in team drills is an indication that he will not play in the game, although coach Jason Garrett would not discuss the specifics of who will and will not play.
"I would love to play but that's not up to me," Randle said. "That's the coaching staff's job to do that kind of stuff, so we'll let them do their job."
Monday, August 10, 2015, 5:36pm
Ellington missed time with a hamstring injury, which is the same reason that rookie David Johnson has been out since early in training camp and also why Marion Grice has been on the sideline. Stepfan Taylor and Kerwynn Williams have been active, but Arians said, via the team’s website, that he was “not fired up about the running backs’ performance on Saturday.”
While talking to the media, Arians said he and General Manager Steve Keim would discuss other possibilities. Arians was asked if former Ravens running back Ray Rice would be one of the players up for discussion, but the Cardinals coach said, via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com, that the team isn’t considering him.
In the race for the U-T's highly coveted Chargers Training Camp MVP award, several candidates have emerged. Keenan Allen, who has lost weight and is moving well, is the early leader. He has made a wide variety of plays, such as a touchdown catch Wednesday, off a fade against Jason Verrett. Several others are having a strong camp, incuding Stevie Johnson, Verrett, Branden Oliver and Melvin Ingram.
Allen was a victim of the “sophomore slump,” finishing #46 in standard formats after a #17 finish as a rookie in 2013. He has lost some weight in order to increase his speed and quickness, so that he can better deal with the attention he’s going to receive as his team’s top receiver. He’s also taking his preparation more seriously, per reports. We’re expecting Allen to bounce back in his third year, but it may be a stretch to expect a return to the heights of his rookie season.
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 Johnson will presumably replace Royal in the slot, though he had his best years playing outside. (The Bills moved him into the slot in 2013 and his production dropped.)
He still looks on in admiration at the precision Antonio Gates operates in the San Diego Chargers’ offense with Philip Rivers at the controls in individual and team drills. And the 25-year-old remains intently focused on improving his craft.
“My approach is the same,” Green said. “I try and work hard every offseason and every training camp. So I come into it with the same mindset, trying to get better. I started off slow, messed up a couple times yesterday, but it’s getting better.”
While Green’s approach may be the same, this year there is a heightened sense of urgency.
He’s headed into the final year of his rookie contract that will pay him $660,000 in base salary in 2015. And with his mentor Gates earning a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, the Louisiana-Lafayette product will have an expanded role in San Diego’s offense once the regular season begins.
“He’s going to have an opportunity early on to do a few more things,” Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said. “We think very highly of him. We thought that the first year we got here, not just last year or the year before. Without Antonio for a couple weeks, he’s going to have an opportunity to get more playing time. … The system is staying the same, and we’re looking forward to seeing him play more.”
Even before Gates’ suspension, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco talked about wanting to get Green more involved this offseason, the story said. Green has showed signs. A couple of productive games likely prompted fantasy GMs everywhere to put waiver claims in. But as quickly as he arrived, he disappeared off the fantasy radar. We think Green has potential to post top-five fantasy TE numbers in the Charger system for at least the first four weeks. Right now he's ranked 18th on our list overall and is going late in drafts. He could provide you with a short-term answer at your TE spot.
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon returned to practice Monday, one day after not working.
But Gordon stressed he isn't hurt.
"Just to get myself back right," he said of his respite.
"It's been good going with the pads," he said. "This is real football, this is the game of football in the NFL. You get some time with the offensive lineman, get in sync. This is what training camp is for."
The Chargers moved up to draft Gordon, a Heisman Trophy finalist, and secure the physical presence his game brings. Gordon didn't shy away from contact Monday, with numerous Chargers taking their best shot.
The story said Gordon, the Chargers' first-round draft pick, didn't look compromised in a run-heavy training camp session. He hit the hole with authority, danced around would-be tacklers and looked every bit the star he was at Wisconsin. It was third consecutive day in pads for the Chargers. Gordon is expected to get a big workload this year for the Chargers and is ranked 17th among our RBs, the highest among rookies.
"The defense did a nice job a couple of times there where he had to do something." McCoy said.
"He did a nice job," McCoy said.
The Chargers, who finished 30th in rushing last year, traded up two draft spots to snag Gordon. He led Football Bowl Subdivision teams in rushing last year with 2,587 yards, the second-highest in FBS history. Gordon is ranked 17th on our list, but has an ADP of the third round so owners are trying to snag him up because of his potential in the Chargers run-first offense.
The indications at this stage are "incredibly, incredible positive," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "You can see he has great vision. You can see he has great patience. And he's just got great physical ability. ... I don't want to say too much because he's got to do it. But I'm just very excited about him, like off-the-charts excited."
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. 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.
In a conversation with Dan Sileo of The Mighty 1090 AM radio, Chargers OC Frank Reich said the time missed by TE Antonio Gates (suspension) will provide a chance for players such as tight end Ladarius Green, first round pick Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead to take on larger roles in the offense.
“You know it’s a big loss,” Reich said. “You can’t replace a guy like Antonio. And so from that perspective, there are things that he does and plans that we have when he’s in the game that are unique to him. … But this is going to make us better, because it’s going to force other guys to step in and force us to run the football. We’re already planning that anyway, but it’s going to force that hand even more.”
The article goes on to make it seem as if the Chargers really want to run the football this year, after averaging 3.4 yards a carry last year, second last in the NFL. That's why Gordon looks like he's in a great position to make an impact as a rookie RB. The Chargers also bolstered their line in the offseason which should help the cause. Gordon comes in 18th on our RB list but his ADP (3.02) is a bit higher than some of those ranked around him: 16th Jonathan Stewart (4.08), 17th Mark Ingram (3.08), 19th Carlos Hyde (4.02), 20th Latavius Murray (4.07) and 21st LeGarrette Blount (6.01). There is a lot of hype around Gordon as there often is with rookie RBs. It looks like Danny Woodhead will continue to be used in third down passing situations, however.
There are plenty of ways to break down just how bad the Jaguars' offense has been the past several seasons, but the best way to illustrate the ineptness is by looking at how the unit has performed in the red zone.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Jaguars scored an NFL-low 13 touchdowns and completed an NFL-worst 39.1 percent of passes on an NFL-low 85 snaps in 32 red zone possessions in 2014. They were still last in TDs and completion percentage if you include the 2013 season, too.
The blame is spread between the quarterbacks, offensive line, backs and receivers, and play calling. Not much the Jaguars have tried the past two seasons has worked consistently and as a result the team has averaged just 15.5 points per game the past two seasons.
Things could be significantly better in 2015, though, thanks to the addition of tight end Julius Thomas. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder was not only one of the league's better tight ends the past two seasons – catching 108 passes, including 24 for touchdowns – he was one of the NFL's most effective players in the red zone.
Thomas had 13 catches in the red zone in 2014, including nine for touchdowns. Only Green Bay receiver Randall Cobb had more (10) and Thomas had the same number as New England's Rob Gronkowski, Miami's Mike Wallace, New Orleans' Jimmy Graham, and San Diego's Antonio Gates, the story said. Obviously potential owners of Thomas need to keep in mind the situation is now a little bit different. The Jags don't have the same weapons Denver had a year ago that also needed to be accounted for in the red zone, and don't forget about Peyton Manning as the QB. Still, Thomas will be looked at as a big red zone option, and if the Jag WRs can step up as threats, that should also help Thomas' chances to continue his success. Thomas is ranked eighth among our TEs and is available in the middle of drafts.
“(Green) still has huge upside and possibilities,” said Chargers TE coach Pete Metzelaars. “Last year he had to fight through a number of different injuries at different times, so I am excited for him this year. He is an asset in the passing game, and has deceptive speed. So I’m looking forward to putting him into situations to take advantage of that, but also challenge him to put more tools into his toolbox.”
“He seems faster than he’s ever been,” quarterback Philip Rivers acknowledged. “He certainly seems that way with the way he’s moving. Some of that comes with (having) more and more confidence. You just naturally gain that the more you play and the more comfortable you are in an offense. When you don’t have to think or do as much, you do play a little bit faster.”
“He’s looked really good and he needs to be a bigger part…” Rivers said. “We need to have him be a weapon for us because he could be a heck of a matchup for us against some defenses.”
Gates will miss the first four games due to a suspension for PED use. Green figures to see starter's snaps with Gates sidelined. In the five career games in which Green has seen more than three targets, he has averaged 3.4 catches for 66 yards and 0.40 TD. Thats 12.4 FP in PPR formats, or about what Julius Thomas averaged last season. Keep in mind that Green only averaged 5.4 T/G in those games, while Gates averaged 6.1 T/G last season, so Green has the potential to post top 5 numbers for the first month of the season.
Even before the suspension, Green was due a bigger role in the offense. If the Chargers utilize his natural abilities and he shows he’s ready for primetime, Gates will have to settle for a reduced role when he returns.
Given how effective Gates was last year, it's hard to see the team benching him for Green even if Green lights it up in the first month of the season. One thing's for sure -- Gates's suspension has thrown a pretty settled situation up in the air. In the five career games in which Green has seen more than three targets, he has averaged 3.4 catches for 66 yards and 0.40 TD. Thats 12.4 FP in PPR formats, or about what Julius Thomas averaged last season. Keep in mind that Green only averaged 5.4 T/G in those games, while Gates averaged 6.1 T/G last season, so Green has the potential to post top 5 numbers for the first month of the season.