There was some consternation, both among fans and media, that the Cowboys lost an integral part of their offense when running back DeMarco Murray signed with the Eagles. But the price -- a five-year, $42 million deal ($21 million guaranteed) -- was prohibitive and the Cowboys were right to look for running back help elsewhere.
A lot can happen between the start of training camp and the regular season, and the Cowboys will no doubt be on the lookout for backs that can help them. And that list could include Chris Johnson, the former Titans first-round pick who struggled with the Jets last season and remains unsigned.
If the Johnson-Cowboys rumors sound familiar, they should; CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora wrote earlier this month that several NFL executives brought up Dallas as a possible landing spot for Johnson. And Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said in May that Johnson was on the team's short list, according to the story. It could be significant news for those targeting, or looking to keep, Joseph Randle.
Delanie Walker has proved to be a tremendous pick-up for the Titans, as he’s caught 123 passes for 1,461 yards and 10 touchdowns over the past two seasons. But he’ll face even more of a challenge this year, as Walker probably will be working with rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota. Expect the young signal-caller to place plenty of reliance on his veteran tight end, who has been a dependable target for a handful of Titans quarterbacks.
Last year, Walker finished #9 in standard formats and #8 in PPR leagues even though he missed a game and a half in the middle of the season due to a concussion. He was #12 and #11, respectively, in 2013. In his last 22 games with the Titans, he has averaged 11.9 PPG in PPR formats, which would have been enough for a #6 finish last season. In Marcus Mariota, he should get an upgrade at quarterback and figures to remain a big part of the team’s passing attack, such that it is.
Officials in Virginia Beach, Virginia said 24-year-old Justin Scott Hunter turned himself in Monday after a warrant was filed in relation to an incident in early July.
Hunter was charged with one count of felonious assault and lodged in the Virginia Beach City Jail on no bond. He was scheduled to be arraigned in court Tuesday afternoon.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 8:58pm
Offset language allows teams to recapture guaranteed money if the player is released and signs with another team.
"We've always had offset language in our player contracts. It's nothing new," Underwood said. "I think it is important where a high first-round draft pick is concerned, because it's the precedent. Everything that we do is precedential for the next round of contracts.
"So keeping the offset in place is something we want to be able to do going forward. And the minute you back away from the contract principle then you no longer are able to assert it going forward."
Underwood added the Titans would be giving up a longstanding principle going forward if they allowed Mariota to have offset language. Mariota remains the only 2015 first-round pick yet to sign a contract.
Leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, Oregon star QB Marcus Mariota was billed as a "project," bound to struggle with the transition from a college spread offense to a pro style. After an impressive showing in offseason practices, though, the Tennessee Titans have reason to believe Mariota will find instant success as a rookie. Veteran receiver Harry Douglas recently raved about the "unbelievable accuracy" Mariota showcased in OTAs and minicamp. "I feel like Marcus has done everything he needs to do to get the ball to his receivers," Douglas added, via ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky.
Mariota also drew praise from wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson who said Mariota has been "deadly accurate" in practices. Of course it's only practice. Mariota ranks just 26th on our QB list but certainly has a chance to improve on that. However, the Titans group of WRs isn't all that impressive. Kendell Wright ranks the highest at just 45th on our WR list. He's joined by Justin Hunter (70th), Dorial Green-Beckham (89th), Douglas (101st) and Hakeem Nicks (142nd).
Jaguars QB Blake Bortles' shoulder didn't require surgery, said HC Jim Caldwell, who referred to it as a "dead arm" suffering from inflammation, forcing a reduction in practice reps after roughly 17 months straight of throwing through the quarterback's last year at Central Florida, the pre-draft process and his first NFL season.
A toe injury suffered in a December loss to the Baltimore Ravens exacerbated things by disrupting Bortles' footwork but didn't stop him from making a start four days later against the Tennessee Titans (one of the Jaguars' three wins).
"A lot of it was good until some of those (injuries) happen," said Caldwell. "Now he's gotten healthy, and he's gotten back to really taking care of his body. I just asked him today, 'How's your body feel compared to this time last year?'
"He said it's night and day, man."
Bortles averaged 12.0 fantasy points per game, which led to a #24 finish at his position. He's a passer who could make a leap in his second season if the Jaguars can give him time to throw and he continues to clean up his fundamentals. The receiving corps is young but talented, with Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns all capable of producing when given the opportunity. The team signed Julius Thomas to provide a dangerous weapon at tight end. Bortles averaged nearly 30 yards rushing, so he offers some baseline production as a runner.
Dorial Green-Beckham spent weeks sidelined by a hamstring injury. That aside, his former college coach believes the Titans have landed the equivalent of a "nightmare matchup for any cornerback at any level."
"I was with the Colts with Jim Mora when he had Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, I was with the Raiders when they had Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Jerry Porter and some other guys on the Super Bowl team," University of Texas receivers coach Jay Norvell told the Tennessean.
Norvell spent last season coaching the red-shirted Green-Beckham in practice at Oklahoma, saying: "When you go through the history of the draft and look at the guys with size and speed and all that, he is just unique. Calvin Johnson is probably one of the closest comparisons physically because of his size."
"He's not a finished product, but most players aren't," Norvell said. "So he's going to have to learn the pro game and that's a completely different game from college. But he's got some natural gifts that will help him in that game, and in some ways, the NFL is probably a better game for him than college football, just because of the bump rules and (less) contact and all of that. So there are some advantages he has. ... That's why they picked him."
If Green-Beckham picks up things quickly and proves he’s not as raw as his detractors say — one offensive coordinator said he was “completely lost” at the whiteboard in a pre-draft interview — he could certainly start early in the season opposite Kendall Wright, since it seems that Justin Hunter is on the outs with the current coaching staff. If he sees starter’s snaps, he should be fantasy relevant as a rookie, though he'll have to prove he's ready for the mental side of the game. Long-term, he has a chance to flourish if both he and Marcus Mariota are the real deal.
Who starts at running back for the Titans isn’t the biggest concern. Bishop Sankey started only nine games last season, but he wound up with 58 more carries than anyone else. David Cobb could wind up in a similar situation this season. The Titans intend to be a committee, but Cobb is the better inside running option and should be the guy in short-yardage and goal line situations. The starter? I don’t know that it matters. Sankey is in line to be better than he was as a rookie, but Cobb should get a good deal of work and depending on the game, he could be the first back they turn to.
The Titans were 26th in total rushing yards last season, so if they're planning to split the work between Sankey and Cobb, there's a good chance that neither player is trustworthy from a fantasy standpoint.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 9:06pm
It hasn't necessarily been a lost offseason for receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, but the second round pick has been slow out of the gate, to say the least. Green-Beckham injured his hamstring during the team's rookie minicamp, re-aggravated the injury during an early OTA, and has been a spectator most of the offseason. Green-Beckham did some work on a limited basis in practices last week, and is expected to be involved in this week's minicamp to some degree. The Titans hope he can make it through the week without any further setbacks, which would allow him to hit the ground running for training camp.
If Green-Beckham picks up things quickly and proves he’s not as raw as his detractors say — one offensive coordinator said he was “completely lost” at the whiteboard in a pre-draft interview — he could certainly start early in the season opposite Kendall Wright, since it seems that Justin Hunter is on the outs with the current coaching staff. If he sees starter’s snaps, he should be fantasy relevant as a rookie, though he'll have to prove he's ready for the mental side of the game. Long-term, he has a chance to flourish if both he and Mariota are the real deal.
Titans RB Bishop Sankey missed almost all of last year's OTAs and wound up behind the eight-ball. But with Shonn Greene absent from this year's OTAs and rookie David Cobb (hamstring) hurting, Sankey has taken oodles of snaps this time around. He now feels more comfortable in the system, and that should help him make more of an impact in his second year.
Sankey qualifies as a post-hype sleeper. This is his first offseason and while his rookie year was a disappointment, he showed flashes of what convinced the Titans to make him the first running back off the board in last year's draft. Given his 8th/9th round ADP, he's a good target for the "wait on RB" crowd.
Titans WR Kendall Wright said that he was “definitely surprised” after seeing his catches, yards and targets drop sharply in his third year with the team. Wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson said that “it was indicative of our season,” which saw three different quarterbacks start games, but Wright wasn’t willing to blame lack of chemistry with quarterbacks for the downturn. He also won’t say if he thinks the change in schemes that accompanied head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s arrival had a negative impact.
“I think a lot of things, but thinking and doing what I have to do are totally different,” Wright said, via the Tennessean. “So I just keep my thoughts to myself. I don’t even speak them out loud. Whatever I have to do, I’ll do.”
Wright averaged 5.1 catches in his first two seasons. In his first year under Whisenhunt, he averaged 4.1 receptions, though he caught six touchdown passes, a career high. He should continue to provide low-end WR3/high-end WR4 numbers. His upside depends largely on the progress of QB Marcus Mariota.
Titans beat writer Jim Wyatt (of The Tennesseean) listed five players that looked good in OTAs. One was QB Marcus Mariota: The first-round pick is drawing all the attention, of course. He has looked better than I thought he would out of the gate, with impressive arm strength and confidence running the offense. He's bound to have some disastrous days as he finds his way, but he's not yet come close to embarrassing himself.
He also said this of RB Bishop Sankey: I'm not saying he's ready for a breakout year after an underwhelming rookie season. But I have been impressed with his work in non-contact drills. When you consider he was absent last offseason because of school commitments, this has to be viewed as a positive.
Mariota has a chance to work his way into a QBBC/streaming role this season if he picks things up quickly. His weapons are fairly mediocre, but if things break his way he could have a productive rookie year. As for Sankey, he may be a post-hype sleeper, but the team drafted David Cobb, who only serves as more competition for Sankey.
For the better part of his first two seasons in the league, Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright was given unusual freedom in his route-running: It didn't really matter to the previous coaching staff how he arrived at his route destination -- as long as he arrived.
That philosophy helped Wright put up some big numbers in his first two years, especially in 2013, when he caught 94 passes for 1,079 yards.
But Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt wanted Wright to take a more disciplined and precise approach to route-running last year, which is why the two seemed occasionally to be at odds. Wright's numbers took a noticeable dip in 2014, as he caught 64 passes for 626 yards.
Whisenhunt said last week that he and Wright have spent a lot of time in the offseason talking about their philosophical differences.
The article has more detail about why Whisenhunt wanted Wright to be more disciplined. He averaged 5.1 catches in his first two seasons. In his first year under Ken Whisenhunt, he averaged 4.1 receptions, though he caught six touchdown passes, which was a career high. He should continue to provide low-end WR3/high-end WR4 numbers. His upside depends largely on the progress of QB Marcus Mariota.
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