It was a game of 'Where's Waldo' the first 15 days of Jets training camp.
As soon as team drills began, reporters attempted to scope out rookie quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Usually, he was standing next to quarterbacks coach Kevin Patullo. Rarely was he on the field. Simply put, the Jets weren't giving Hackenberg more than a handful of reps during the team portion of practice.
This week, things have changed. On Sunday and Monday, Hackenberg received more reps than he had in any other camp practice.
"It's part of the progression," head coach Todd Bowles said. "You give him more reps in there as time goes by. That's just part of the progression."
Hackenberg's playing time has been one of the more talked-about storylines in camp this year. Despite being a second-round pick and the hopeful quarterback of the future, Hackenberg hasn't been playing. Quite literally — He didn't take one snap in either of the Jets' first two preseason games. Hackenberg's performance has been less than inspiring the story said, adding he went just 2 of 12 with nearly an INT. Monday he was 5 of 11 with two INTs.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016, 9:07am
Then he got to Brian Quick.
"Brian needs to catch the football," Fisher said. "Your receivers have to catch it, not drop it."
Catching is indeed is the fundamental skill required, and it is one Quick continues to struggle with. Quick's catch percentage last season, 31.3, was the eighth-lowest in the NFL. He had 32 targets and hauled in only 10 of those. And on Saturday, a 21-20 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, Quick played with the second-team offense and caught only two of the five passes thrown to him by rookie quarterback Jared Goff.
“He's taking coaching well and learning, because, I mean, he missed the whole year last year, so this year he's progressing right where we need him to be,” Jeffery said. “He listens to the coaches, and he's making plays and he's having fun.”
Jeffery, the Bears’ franchise-tag player, is passing along subtle tips to White, who has missed just one open training camp practice, which, if nothing else, constitutes some progress for player who developed a stress fracture in his shin overtraining for the NFL combine last year.
The best glimpse of White in the preseason could come Saturday versus the Kanas City Chiefs, where the Bears' first team is expected to play at least one full half. While it’s not a requirement, it would be beneficial for White to get more involved offensively, without compromising what Chicago’s offense truly intends to do Week 1 at Houston, the story said.
If Trevor Siemian holds serve and is named the regular-season starter and if, after Saturday's game, the Broncos think they've seen enough from Paxton Lynch to make him the No. 2 quarterback, it's unclear what it would mean for Mark Sanchez. If he was the No. 3 and remained on the roster he would be the team's highest paid quarterback and a game-day inactive.
Sanchez is the highest paid of the three, counting $4.5 million against the cap. If the Broncos were to decide to release Sanchez because they believe Lynch could be the team's backup, the Broncos would take a $1 million dead money hit against their salary cap and would have to pay the $1 million that is fully guaranteed in Sanchez's contract. If the Broncos decide on a Siemian-Lynch depth chart, they could also try to trade the 29-year-old Sanchez. He is set to be an unrestricted free agent at season's end, so teams would only be taking on the last year of his current contract.
Foster was in for nine snaps and got the ball on two of them without finding much running room. Foster lost five yards while getting little help from the blocking on his two carries, leaving coach Adam Gase to make plans to extend Foster’s time on the field against the Falcons on Thursday.
“We didn’t have much to evaluate,” Gase said, via the Miami Herald. “Whatever carries he had, there wasn’t much there to try to create. He did a couple of things on his own. Hopefully we can take a long look at him this week. I don’t want to overdo it with him. Obviously, his resume speaks for itself.”
The story went on to say the Dolphins are expected to keep the first team in the game into the second half on Thursday, so there will be more snaps for Foster as the team works on setting up the look of their backfield for the start of the regular season. With rookie Kenyan Drake still sidelined by a hamstring injury, that look will likely come down to how they balance playing time for Foster and Jay Ajayi.
It's easy to see the things Coby Fleener does well on a football field.
The 6-foot-6 tight end can get open, catch the ball and run downfield, and in a New Orleans Saints offense in which quarterback Drew Brees likes to throw to tight ends, Fleener should have plenty of chances to showcase those skills.
However, some of the finer points of the position could limit Fleener's opportunities as he adjusts to a new offense.
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"I'd say it's an ongoing progression," coach Sean Payton said Monday of Fleener's adjustment process. "I think, man, there's some plays that are real good, and then there's some plays where we've got to be a little bit more detailed and that's something that I know he's got to work on."
As the story pointed out, he's clearly the top tight end for the passing game, both from his performance this summer and his five-year, $36 million contract. Josh Hill bobbling a pass from Brees that resulted in an interception by rookie cornerback De'Vante Harris only provided another reason to think Fleener will be the main target in the tight end group. However HC Sean Payton said there's a lot more to being a TE than catching passes and Fleener still has some work to do.
Kubiak’s decision is coming next week.
“We have three quarterbacks, two of which weren’t on this team last year and one that has one regular-season snap,” coach Gary Kubiak told reporters on Monday. “I knew this was going to take some time. I think it’s a credit to them and how well they’ve pushed each other. It’s down to the nitty-gritty here. I’m going to make a decision next week and we’re going to go to work. They’ve all put themselves in position to go out there and compete.”
Although Trevor Siemian will start the third preseason game, that doesn’t mean he has the inside track to the job over Mark Sanchez and rookie Paxton Lynch. As the story pointed out, there's no guarantee whoever is named the starter will be a lock for the remainder of the season. This is shaping up to be a potential messy, yet interesting, fantasy situation.
Markus Wheaton and Ben Roethlisberger share lockers next to each other inside the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex locker room, and it's there that a bulk of the communication between the quarterback and receiver takes place.
"He spent so much time in the training room that he couldn’t be next to me talking about things," Roethlisberger said on Monday.
Wheaton was out for most of training camp while dealing with an undisclosed injury, but returned to practice this week as the Steelers returned from St. Vincent to their team facility.
"I’m disappointed he was out of the practices because I felt like we had really grown a lot and the chemistry had grown a lot," Roethlisberger said. "Even if his locker is next to mine and just communicating to each other talking."
Despite having nine less receptions than he had in 2014, Wheaton totaled 105 more yards (749), and averaged 4.8 more yards-per-catch (17.0) with five more touchdowns last season. He's also in the final year of his $2.8 million rookie contract. There is a lot riding on Wheaton this season, but right now, he's still in the process of playing catch-up. Wheaton is slotted as the team's WR2 this year, a potential vital role with no Martavis Bryant and an ailing TE in Ladarius Green.
The closest thing Jordy Nelson did to real football during his first practice in 364 days came at the end of the session, when he ran some half-speed routes while fellow receivers Randall Cobb and Davante Adams acted as cornerbacks during a jog-through.
No wonder Nelson called it "hardly even a practice."
By unofficial count, earlier in Monday's practice Nelson caught 15 passes from Aaron Rodgers and the other quarterbacks at the far end of the field while the rest of the team went through a special-teams period.
Nelson appeared to run closer to full speed in that drill, although never against a defender.
Nelson said he felt good conditioning-wise and added he believes he's on track to play in the season opener on Sept. 11 against the Jags. The team only has one more full practice before Friday's preseason game, which means it's unlikely Nelson will suit up for that, according to the story.
James White carried the ball 22 times for 56 yards, appearing in 14 games. He is a running back who, clearly, did very little running.
Expect that to change in 2016 as White fills in for Dion Lewis, who reportedly will begin the year on PUP.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday that White has been "very dependable, very consistent" entering his third year.
"I think he has worked on his role in the running game, carrying the ball, which he did a lot of in college and hasn't done a lot of here," Belichick said. "(He) was mainly a passing game player last year and didn't play two years ago, his rookie year. He was mainly a passing game player last year, but he has taken a more active role in the running game this year. So he continues to develop, had a good run on the two-point play against New Orleans."
As Belichick pointed out, White ran the ball plenty in college, carrying 221 times for 1,444 yards as a senior at Wisconsin. Belichick added White ran between the tackles but his run skills need refinement for the NFL, however, he's taking more reps running the ball. The Pats likely want the threat of the run while White is on the field rather than giving away the play is a pass if White remains a one-dimensional back.
This is the third straight practice Gronkowski has missed.
No one wants Karlos Williams.
Williams, the talented running back who was cut by the Bills on Saturday, has passed through waivers unclaimed. That means all 31 other teams had the opportunity to pick Williams up for his very affordable salary as a 2015 fifth-round draft pick, and all 31 other teams declined.
That would have seemed shocking not long ago, as Williams has undeniable talent: As a rookie last year, Williams averaged 5.6 yards a carry and scored seven touchdowns.
But Williams has a number of off-field concerns: He had character red flags heading into last year’s draft, he reported for offseason work out of shape and overweight this year, and he will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, the story said. It went on to say if Williams stays out of trouble he may get another opportunity. He's an unrestricted free agent as of now.
Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed said he will play against the Buffalo Bills on Friday. He did not suit up during Washington’s first two preseason games against the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Jets because of a sprained left thumb, although Reed said he’s been practicing for the past two weeks.
Redskins Coach Jay Gruden has been cautious with Reed’s injury that he suffered during training camp in Richmond. Reed was active during individual drills and during 1-on-1s at the start of Monday’s practice.
Reed said he feels physically fine leading up to the Bills game. It’ll be his first opportunity to face a live-tackling situation this season in what will be the offense’s dress rehearsal game. He one of our top TE picks and poised for another big season as long as he remains healthy.
Monday, August 22, 2016, 6:12pm
Two days after Tom Obarski pulled a short field goal to the left in an ugly 21-0 preseason loss to the Bills, the Giants have made a move to bolster their unconventional kicking situation, waiving Obarski and signing veteran Randy Bullock after a successful tryout on Monday. Bullock's signing was first reported by The Record's Art Stapleton.
The organization is not wavering in its support of the embattled Josh Brown, who will be suspended for the season opener due to a violation of the personal conduct policy stemming from his May 22, 2015 arrest on a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence after an altercation with his then-wife in Woodinville, Wash. The charge was dismissed five days later, the story said.
Colin Kaepernick's comeback from arm fatigue saw him return to practice Monday and stay on track for an exhibition-season debut Friday against the Green Bay Packers, a franchise he has beaten twice in the playoffs.
Kaepernick said his throwing arm felt good and was "very" happy to fully practice for the first time since Aug. 10. When a reporter noted the high-speed velocity on his passes, Kaepernick replied: "Yeah, a little something behind it."
Kaepernick stretched on the locker room floor during the informal chat with reporters an hour after practice, with no ice on his right shoulder that was too tight to throw with for nearly a week, the story reported. Wide receiver Bruce Ellington described Kaepernick's arm as still a "cannon" after the 90-minute practice. Said Ellington: "Kap, his arm is still strong. He's still throwing it in the right places. As a receiver, you like that."