Tuesday, September 1, 2015, 8:45pm
Some notes from 49ers camp on Tuesday:
Smith apparently suffered the injury while making a 5-yard catch in Saturday’s exhibition loss at Denver. He showed no hindrance at practice, nor while seen walking around in the locker room.
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Kendall Hunter looked to be favoring his reconstructed right knee while working on a side field with a trainer at the start of practice. Hunter had seven carries for 15 yards Saturday in his first game action since the 2013 season finale.
Montee Ball doesn't see the fire yet, but he sure smells the smoke. Despite being listed as the No. 2 tailback on the Broncos' depth chart, Ball didn't get a carry until the fourth quarter of their 19-12 preseason victory over the 49ers on Saturday.
The third preseason game usually is the one that best models the regular season, and Ball was stuck without a significant role in it.
Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, who has built a career out of getting the most out of running backs, defended his decision to not play Ball much by saying it's difficult to give carries to four running backs during a game.
"Special teams is a big factor with him and (Juwan Thompson)," Kubiak said. "We'll see. I'm fine with Montee."
C.J. Anderson, the Broncos' starting tailback, controlled most of the carries in the first half Saturday with Ronnie Hillman spelling him occasionally. Hillman and Thompson were the go-to backs to start the second half.
It's possible that on gameday, the Broncos will dress only Anderson, Hillman and Thompson, due to Thompson's role on special teams. The team could attempt to trade Ball, or just wait for an injury further up the depth chart before making him active on Sundays.
49ers beat writer Paul Gutierrez: Coming off a 13-TD catch season in 2013, Vernon Davis was a forgotten man in the Niners' offense last year. He was not targeted in the red zone once after kickoff weekend. So why should we keep an eye on the 10th-year tight end this season? Because he is in a contract year, he was re-dedicated to the team this offseason – he did not “hold out” from OTAs and minicamps this summer as he did last year – and the Niners not only promised he would be a bigger part of the offense this year but, well, they need him. It has the makings of a perfect fantasy storm for the Niners ... in good way.
Davis is a talent, but the team didn't do a good job of using him last season. His 50 targets were his fewest since 2008, and his usage was way too low considering he has finished in the top 8 at his position in four of the last six seasons. He was targeted just once in the red zone after seeing 20 red zone targets in 2013. It's up to new OC Geep Chryst (formerly the team's QB coach) to get Davis more involved in the offense. Davis has reportedly looked fast in offseason activities. Given his 15th-round ADP, he's a very cheap lottery ticket at the tight end position.
Renck: I am not ready to say Ball's roster spot is in jeopardy. But clearly he needs to finish strong, beginning in the third week vs. the 49ers. Ronnie Hillman zoomed past him on the depth chart by leading the NFL with 120 yards in the first two preseason games. Ball has long gain of 12 yards, and 18 yards on his other 11 carries. That's not cutting it. I don't know if he's over thinking it or what, but he should be better in this offense. Juwan Thompson has played well and excels on special teams.
For Ball, the clock is ticking to make an impression on the new coaching staff. Without real improvement, anything is possible.
Hillman has gained a lot of press this camp and looks like he has the RB2 job behind C.J. Anderson. Once projected as the team's RB1, Ball seems to be sliding down the depth chart. Given how the team went deep into their RB stash last year, they may not be in a hurry to part ways with Ball. Thompson's ability on special teams would only help his cause.
In the Mile-High City, the San Francisco 49ers offense mostly kept the ball on the ground on Wednesday.
And while Carlos Hyde, Reggie Bush, Mike Davis and Jarryd Hayne all got their reps, the featured runner for the first day of the team’s joint practices with the Denver Broncos was none other than Kendall Hunter.
It appears as if Hunter, who missed 2014 with an ACL injury, has little-to-no lingering effects from the lost season.
The fifth-year running back began team periods with the first unit and went on to receive a hefty amount of touches. He recorded several lengthy carries, cutting up the field with ease. He also caught a couple passes out of the backfield and deployed some nifty moves to get past the first wave of defenders. Denver's front seven includes the likes of Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan. Hunter ranks below Hyde and Bush on our RB list.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 5:51pm
The veteran running back played four snaps vs. the 49ers. He carried three times for four yards and caught one pass for three yards.
"I feel good. I came out yesterday and was just a little sore," McFadden said after Wednesday's morning walk-through. "But I definitely feel good and I'll be out there today."
McFadden played in all 16 games last season. It was the first time during his seven years in Oakland that he didn't miss a game because of injury. He said Wednesday that he's not looking to be cautious with his workload during the preseason or regular season. McFadden also said he "definitely" expects to play Saturday in Dallas' third preseason game.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 10:14am
With longtime deep threat Torrey Smith in San Francisco and his replacement, first-round wide receiver Breshad Perriman, out for going on four weeks, the Ravens passing game has seemed to lack a down-field dimension through training camp and the first half of the taken on a different look than years past.
Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, while acknowledging that missing top-end speed, said the team has other ways of getting chunks of yardage in the passing game than by hitting a receiver who has run past his defender.
“We’ve hit a lot of deep balls; you saw last week if you were in Philadelphia,” Trestman said. “We went on the edge and practiced and made some plays on the edge. [If] you went on the deep ball in the National Football League, you don’t have to go by your guy to beat him. The guy can be on top of you, and you can back-shoulder throw. That’s a vertical throw, too, and we [had] a bunch of that in the games, in the practices anyways. We got one by Marlon [Brown] in the game.
“We have enough speed to get down-field,” Tresman said. “It’s [about] how we do it and how we scheme it and approach it. Our guys are fast enough.”
The down-field passing game has been a big part of the Ravens offense, with quarterback Joe Flacco completing 21 of 56 passes over 20 yards down-field for 663 yards with 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Factor in the seven drops on such passes, and the balls that resulted in Smith’s league-leading 11 pass interference penalties drawn for 229, and you have a big part of the Ravens offense.
Steve Smith has also provided a target down-field, as evidenced by his Week 1 touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals. Kamar Aiken ran the proverbial “Torrey Smith route” early in Saturday’s game against the Eagles. But the return of Perriman, whose speed Trestman said is “one of the big reasons we got him,” will help that aspect of their offense, the story said.
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.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 2:54pm
Sunday, August 23, 2015, 4:28pm
The Denver Broncos' offense has certainly had its moments in the preseason sun in the team’s first two August outings, but there is no question the group has let the opportunity to run a pile of additional plays slip away because of some short-yardage stumbles.
Or as coach Gary Kubiak put it following the Broncos’ 14-10 win in Houston Saturday night: “I’m pleased with a lot of things that we are doing, but I’m very disappointed with what we’re doing right now short yardage-wise.’’
Because in the Broncos’ two preseason games they have faced six third-and-1 situations to go with two third-and-2 situations. On those eight plays when the Broncos needed 72 inches or less worth of offensive production, they have produced just two first downs. Not converting is leaving plays on the field, and as the story said, in the five third-and-1 situations the Broncos have not converted, they have run for no gain three times -- two by Montee Ball and one by Juwan Thompson -- and quarterback Trevor Siemian has been sacked for no gain and fullback/tight end James Casey dropped a pass from Peyton Manning. The good news is projected starting RB C.J. Anderson didn't get any of those carries.
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.
Saturday, August 22, 2015, 1:18pm
Perhaps Derek Carrier won’t be the Redskins’ savior at the tight end position. But he does have some NFL experience under his belt, something that all but two members of the injury-ravaged tight end corps of the Redskins lack.
General manager Scot McCloughan said that he likes tough football players and based on this one, very small sample size of work, a 22-yard catch over the middle against the Bears on Sunday night football last year, it looks like he fits the bill there.
In terms of snap counts, Carrier was the 49ers No. 2 tight end last year. He played 356 snaps at tight end, second to Vernon Davis’ 830. It should also be noted that Carrier played 168 snaps on special teams. With special teams stalwarts Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen and Adam Hayward all out for the year with injuries, the Redskins need some experienced special teams help. It is likely that Carrier will provide that.
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.
This is Simpson's third NFL-issued suspension in four years, and this was for violating the league's substance-abuse policy last year with the Minnesota Vikings.
"The probability of a suspension was known when we signed Jerome," general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. "Since joining the 49ers, Jerome has proven to be a great teammate.
"Although he will not be able to participate in the first six weeks of the season, Jerome has done everything asked of him, both on and off the field. We are in full support of the NFL's decision, and look forward to Jerome's future contributions to our organization."
After sitting out last season, Simpson has impressed upon joining the 49ers in March, both with his quick receiving skills on the field and proper behavior off it. Simpson had two catches for 31 yards in Saturday's exhibition opener at Houston, including a 25-yard catch. Simpson won't count against the 49ers' 53-man roster until he's eligible to come off suspension Oct. 19, a day after the 49ers host the Baltimore Ravens. He is able to continue practicing and playing through the final exhibition, Sept. 3 against San Diego, the story said.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015, 12:58pm
In return, the 49ers acquired offensive lineman Jordan Devy, according to ESPN. The trade was first reported by Comcast SportsNet Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco.
Devy (6-foot-6, 320 pounds) played both left guard and right guard last season for the New England Patriots, who employed the Memphis product on their 2013 practice squad after he was cut out of training camp by the Baltimore Ravens. He also has experience playing tackle, and that versatility is what the 49ers’ makeshift line covets.
Cleveland, a Sacramento native, led all 49ers receivers in Saturday night’s exhibition-opening loss at Houston, totaling three receptions for 10 yards. Two of those catches came on third down, and each was a yard short of the first-down marker.
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