Bills RB Karlos Williams showed up overweight in minicamp, maybe by 20-25 pounds. Even Rex Ryan said the Bills would need to set a realistic weight-loss goal for Williams by Day One of training camp, which probably means he’ll be starting practice conditioning on the sideline.
We're not worried about Williams' RB2 role being secure. He averaged 5.56 YPC and found the end zone nine times on 104 touches. He has weekly flex appeal and could post RB1-type numbers if anything were to happen to LeSean McCoy.
The Browns have no plans to cut Isaiah Crowell, but they made it clear that actions must speak louder than words when it comes to his apology for an Instagram post depicting a police officer being stabbed in the neck by a person in a black hood.
Crowell posted the photo on Wednesday after the fatal shooting of two black men by police, one in Minnesota and one in Louisiana. But he took it down after a few minutes and issued an apology Monday through the Browns.
With racial tensions running high in the country in the wake of the fatal shootings of five police officers in Dallas on Thursday many fans and some media, including ESPNCleveland's Bruce Hooley, have called for Crowell's immediate dismissal by the Browns.
They currently have no plans to do that, but stressed in a statement that he must back up his words with action.
Crowell came into the league with various off-the-field missteps and he showed poor judgment here. It appears that the team is going to stand behind him for now, though the Cleveland PD has threatened to boycott Browns games if Crowell doesn't "make it right."
Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders flashed a commercial-worthy smile as he delighted the 400 kids running through drills Monday morning at Englewood High School.
In two short years Sanders has gone from a relative unknown with Pittsburgh to a fan favorite with Denver.
He remains hopeful of staying long term with the Broncos as he enters the final season of his three-year contract. Negotiations for a new contract are on hold, which Sanders understands given the enormity of the team dealing with Von Miller’s contract deadline.
We had a story recently where a Broncos beat writer said if Sanders is looking for big money, he may have to go somewhere else as he's unlikely to get it from the Broncos. The story went on to say recent deals for Jacksonville’s Allen Hurns (four years, $40 million) and Seattle’s Doug Baldwin (four years, $46 million) created potential parameters for Sanders, who has more catches and yards than those wide receivers over the past two seasons, but at 29 is several years older.
Monday, July 11, 2016, 5:54pm
Asked if a reunion could be in the works for this off season, Payton said it was not likely.
"I don't know if our roster is going to allow for that right now," he said.
"It almost happened a year ago," Payton said. "We actually had dinner out here. It got close and never finalized itself. I'm sure he's going to play this year."
“It’s about growth,” Turner told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Free had a good year, but I’m expecting even a better year. Well, you’re saying, how can it be better? It can be even better with less carries or less catches because I’d obviously like to get Tevin (Coleman) more involved and that also keeps Free fresher.”
Freeman, who went to the Pro Bowl, rushed for 1,056 yards on 265 carries and scored 11 rushing touchdowns last season. He also caught 73 passes for 578 yards and three touchdowns.
Coleman, who was drafted it the third-round (73rd overall) of the 2015 draft out of Indiana, opened last season as the starting running back and got off to a promising start before suffering fractured ribs in the second game. While out, Freeman took over the position.
The story said despite Freeman's success, the team still has high hopes for Coleman, who was drafted with the current set of coaches. However, Coleman has proved to have ball security issues. While a tandem approach sounds like bad news for potential Freeman owners, the good news is Turner expects a better season out of Freeman so he should still get significant work. Freeman is ranked eighth on our RB list and has early-to-mid-second round value.
Once he gets to that point, maybe it’ll be time to have a conversation about his future. And I’m sure the front office will continue to try to address the position in the draft. But in the short-term, I don’t think it’s something anyone in the building is worried about.
Witten has finished in the top-10 in PPR formats the last 12 years and has averaged .44 TD per game with Tony Romo. As long as Witten's age doesn't get the best of him, he should continue to be a productive target for a healthy Romo. This season, Witten comes in ranked 15th among our TEs and could present nice value later in drafts if you want to draft more than one at the position.
That may sound like a confusing statement, but it's not. Elliott is going to help Dallas' defense greatly with his ability to keep it off the field. Much like DeMarco Murray did in 2014, Elliott is going to carry the load, take pressure off of quarterback Tony Romo, and allow the defense to get plenty of rest throughout games.
"He's definitely a three-tool player that can just play on every single down," safety Barry Church said on Sirius XM NFL Radio. "And it helps out the defense a lot. It takes up our play downs by a lot. That also happened in 2014 when we had DeMarco Murray. He was punishing defenses and we were three-and-out here, three-and-out there, and we were fresh in the fourth quarter. That's how we won all of our games, by getting takeaways in the fourth quarter, but that was because we were fresh."
Church added in the piece the Cowboys could return to their 2014 form of grounding and pounding, and with an aging Romo at QB, the strategy makes sense. Couple that with a very good O-line, and it's easy to see why Elliot ranks fourth on our RB list coming into this season. With Darren McFadden's injury, he's on pace to get RB1 touches.
“In my mind, the game is so slow right now. I’m not playing super-fast,” he said as the Jets broke minicamp in June. “I’m actually taking my time out there. I’m not rushing things.”
Not in a hurry, Smith made fewer mistakes. He got rid of the ball on time and delivered with accuracy while limiting the turnovers. While last spring he struggled at times with interceptions in the red zone, this year he cashed in with touchdowns.
"The ball might come out faster, but it’s a result of me actually thinking faster and moving slower with my body if that makes sense,” he said. “So the release is quick and the ball gets out fast, but to me it’s like everything’s moving in slow-mo.”
Smith, who took first-team reps all spring, has a full year under his belt with both offensive coordinator Chan Gailey and quarterbacks coach Kevin Patullo, the story pointed out. As a backup last year, Smith believes he benefited from watching a unit that set a franchise unit record for total offense with 5,925 yards. Last year's starter Ryan Fitzpatrick remains unsigned and the team drafted Christian Hackenberg, so right now Smith is penciled in as the starter. He's ranked just 29th on our list and doesn't have an ADP. With weapons around him, Smith could end up with QB2 fantasy value if he can prove to be more consistent.
Monday, July 11, 2016, 9:46am
A little less than a month ago, kicker Justin Tucker said completing a long-term contract extension with the Ravens was a matter of when, not if. Both sides now have less than five days to make it happen.
The NFL’s seven “franchised” players have until 4 p.m. on Friday to reach agreements on long-term contracts with their respective teams. If no deal is reached, those tagged will play out the 2016 season under the franchise designation. In Tucker’s case, that would mean making $4.572 million in his fifth NFL season, a nice payday for the prolific kicker but not the outcome either side wants.
When the Chiefs closed their offseason workouts last month, running back Jamaal Charles was on the field doing individual work but coach Andy Reid wasn’t making any promises about his participation level when training camp opens.
Reid said the team was optimistic about what Charles would be able to do once it did get underway, but that there was no rush to have him back to a full workload after last year’s torn ACL. That’s a prudent approach, although it may not be one they have to employ for too long.
Charles posted a video from one of his rehab sessions late last week that showed him making lateral moves while making his way through a set of drills with an agility ladder.
As we all know, this isn't the only time Charles has had to come back from a torn ACL. As the the story pointed out, don't be surprised if Charles has a quiet camp as the team takes a cautious approach, getting him ready for the start of the season. Also, don't be shocked if Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware continue to get work once the regular season starts. Charles dips a little from where we're used to seeing him in our rankings, coming in seventh among RBs.
But they should have Thomas Rawls, whose 2015 rookie season ended with a broken ankle in mid-December.
Rawls said Sunday that he will be ready for the start of training camp.
ESPN beat writer Sheil Kapadia tweeted Rawls' quote that he'll 'most definitely' be ready to go. Right now we have Rawls ranked 14th with an ADP of the fourth round, but we think that ADP could climb now with the news he'll be ready to go for camp. In the six games in which Rawls played and Lynch did not, the rookie averaged 20.5 touches for 120 yards and 0.84 touchdowns (on a stellar 5.6 YPC). That doesn't even include Week 3, when he turned 16 carries into 104 yards while Lynch was limited to five carries.
Sunday, July 10, 2016, 9:27am
Browns beat writer Mary Kay Cabot answered a question about the team's RB depth:
I think the Browns are comfortable right now with the likes of Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson, Terrell Watson, Glenn Winston and Raheem Mostert. They can always add a back at some point in camp if they need one, but I don't think it's a high priority. I think Jackson is excited to see what Watson can do, and Winston appears ready to try to prove he belongs in the league. With improved blocking schemes and a commitment to the run, I think the ground game will be a force this season.
Cabot said Jackson is especially excited about Watson, who was brought from Cincy's practice squad. Jackson thinks Watson can be an NFL back but right now sits third on the depth chart behind Crowell and Johnson. Seems like if there's an injury, Watson has potential to step right in for significant work but this will all be determined in camp.
All signs are pointing that way. Coleman still has a lot to learn about running a pro style offense, but he's fiercely competitive and working his tail off. In spring practices, he showed tremendous athleticism and good hands. Now, he needs to improve his route-running and his mastery of Hue Jackson's offense. Once he learns the nuances of the position and the complicated pro-style route tree — as opposed to the simple assignments he had at Baylor — he'll play faster and his athleticism will take over.
This offseason, he vowed to work out with Robert Griffin III to perfect their timing and chemistry. Expect them to look very much on the same page at the start of camp, Cabot went on to say. Coleman gets a pretty respectable ranking on our list at 39. The athletic Coleman is on the small side (5’11”) so the team will need to manufacture touches.
Robert Griffin III had his ups and downs in offseason practices as he came up the learning curve, but he made enough good plays for the Browns to be encouraged heading into training camp. He's learning a whole new offense and Hue Jackson and Pep Hamilton are riding him hard after every rep. I saw him make some tremendous throws, including a long touchdown pass to Terrelle Pryor on the last play of minicamp, but he also threw some interceptions and had other passes batted down at the line.
It was the kind of spring you'd expect from a quarterback who sat out all of last season and who's trying to learn a new scheme and new mechanics. He made it abundantly clear that he's willing to slide and throw the ball away — and that he's coachable. He's also working with quarterback expert Tom House in the time off before camp, which should help tremendously. It's too soon to say if his career can be salvaged, but he's certainly working hard at it.
Jackson and company haven't named RG3 the starter yet, saying the team wants to see the QBs practice in pads, but beat writer Mary Kay Cabot expects that to happen with Josh McCown the likely QB2. Griffin will get some late-round attention in deeper QB leagues but is currently ranked 31st on our list meaning there are much safer options in typical 10- and 12-team leagues.
Rueben Randle is the most accomplished receiver on the Eagles' roster, and was brought in to be a safety net for the younger players. Despite missing a portion of OTAs due to surgery, it wouldn't be surprising to see Randle be the receiver with the most targets this season outside of Jordan Matthews.
Matthews will likely remain in the slot for most of his snaps and can create mismatches with his size, but on the outside, it wouldn't be shocking to see Randle ahead of second-year player Nelson Agholor. Inconsistent Josh Huff projects to be the fourth guy with Chris Givens fifth. Randle is only 85th on our list but is getting some late-round attention in drafts for just this reason.