Monday, September 1, 2014, 9:39am
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy avoided having to make a decision whether to keep Matt Flynn or Scott Tolzien. But after managing to keep both on his 53-man roster, he had to choose one to be Aaron Rodgers' backup.
He chose Flynn.
McCarthy did not say why, but it's pretty obvious he sided with experience over potential. If he didn't think Tolzien had the ability to be better than Flynn, he probably wouldn't have kept him.
Flynn, however, was solid throughout camp and while he trailed his competition statistically in games (112.0 passer rating to 82.3), he apparently played well enough for McCarthy to think he gave the team the best chance to win if Rodgers gets hurt.
"I feel like I'm playing well. I feel like I'm in control of what I'm doing," Flynn said after practice Sunday. "I'm in control of what I'm doing physically and mentally. I feel good. I've always felt confident and comfortable going into seasons, but each year I feel like I'm getting better and better."
Monday, September 1, 2014, 9:36am
Sometime on Monday, Eli Manning will enter the Giants’ practice facility, and he’ll sit down with offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. For the first time in a relationship that began just a few months ago, the quarterback and his guru will begin preparing to face the Detroit Lions next week in a game that will actually count.
Even Manning can’t wait to see how things will go.
“I’m curious about the whole process with talking to him,” Manning said recently. “Getting his thoughts on the week, on what we want to try to do. What plays we like and what we’re thinking, what we’re going to try to do and just seeing how the week goes from third downs to green zone.”
Manning isn’t the only one who wants to see how the Manning-McAdoo dynamic plays out in 2014. For nearly a month now, the Giants have been claiming that their offense is better than it looked during their well-chronicled preseason nightmare, and one of the key reasons players repeatedly noted was game-planning.
The offense hasn't looked good and seems to not be on the same much of the preseason games, but the team insists it's not as bad as it appears. The fantasy future of WRs Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle are what owners are most curious about. Without the threat of a passing game, RB Rashad Jennings will see a lot of stacked fronts.
And that should bode well for both them and Mathews, 26.
In the months since a game but gimpy Mathews sat out most of the Division Playoff loss at Denver, Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy have added three running backs to the 53-man roster while also retaining third-down specialist Danny Woodhead and subtracting Ronnie Brown. Giving the run game another dimension, Telesco signed David Johnson, a fullback-tight end noted for his blocking.
We'll see how long rookie backs Marion Grice and Branden Oliver will stay on the active roster behind another Telesco addition, Donald Brown, the ex-Colt who averaged 5.3 yards per carry last year. The kids look they could help in a pinch, but other roster moves this week could affect one of them.
At any rate, it made sense to give Mathews more cushion. As terrific as he was last year, overcoming a concussion and ankle sprain, powering the team's late run into the playoffs and never missing a start, it would’ve been foolish to be as dependent on him this year.
The plan seems to be to ride Mathews on occasion but it really seems like the team wants to ease his workload to keep him healthy down the stretch for a possible playoff run. It's not the first time we heard this, as similar reports were out even before camp. That likely means more work for Brown and Woodhead. Mathews had just two, 20-plus carry games through Dec. 1 last year, but the final four weeks of the season went 29-29-25-24 and wasn't able to get over a high ankle sprain. Look for the Bolts to keep Mathews in the 13-19 range, which is where he was for most of the September-November.
Sunday, August 31, 2014, 9:01pm
In the simplest terms, here's what the Green Bay Packers face Thursday at Seattle: Aaron Rodgers will try to run the no-huddle offense in the loudest outdoor stadium in the NFL with a center who has never snapped to him in a game.
Aaron Rodgers will juggle a noisy outdoor stadium in Seattle with a rookie center playing in his first regular-season game. And he will have to do so against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, who had the NFL's best defense in 2013.
There are many facets to the 2014 NFL opener, but perhaps none is more important than how the Packers' offense operates at CenturyLink Field.
The Packers aspire to field a fast-paced offense like the one Peyton Manning quarterbacks. But even Manning couldn't do that against the Seahawks. And Rodgers was there to see it in person at the Super Bowl, watching from a luxury box, the story says. As a result of all of this, Rodgers comes in ranked 8th on our QB list heading into Week 1, probably as low as you'll see him all season.
Terrance West struggled in the preseason, as can be typical with young backs, so it seems to have paved the way for Tate. The big issues with Tate is staying healthy, but he showed flashes with Houston when given a chance. Another problem is the Browns lack of a passing game and issues at QB. Tate ranks 24th coming into the season which makes him a decent RB3 or flex option. He's also ranked 24th for Week 1 against the Steelers, who were actually only ranked 20th against the run last year.
Alex Smith was prepared to pull the plug on contract talks if they ever became a distraction. It never got to that point.
After an intense and largely secretive day of negotiations, the Chiefs and Smith have worked out a four-year, $68 million extension.
Per a league source, Smith gets $30 million guaranteed at signing. Another $15 million in injury-only guarantee vests in March 2015.
Smith, who is still only 30 years old, was traded to the Chiefs last year for what ultimately became two second-round picks. He performed very well in his first season with Kansas City, leading the team to the playoffs and having one of the best days of his career, which has become overlooked via the second-half defensive collapse that blew a 38-10 lead in Indianapolis.
Smith was the first overall pick in the 2005 draft, and was regarded as a borderline bust until Jim Harbaugh arrived as head coach of the 49ers, the story points out. But a concussion gave Colin Kaepernick a chance to play, and he played well enough to send Smith to the bench — and ultimately to KC, the story continued. With the Chiefs, he doesn't have a ton of talent to work with. WR Dwayne Bowe dropped off last year as the team relied on RB Jamaal Charles - and that appears to be a similar situation this year. Smith has low-end QB2 value and is ranked 18th coming into the season.
And while we will not get an injury report and are restricted on what we can report today, we can pass along that receiver Percy Harvin was back full go.
Harvin was absent from two days of practice last week, as well as the preseason finale against the Raiders, for what the team said was personal business. Harvin is ranked 19th among our WRs heading into Week 1.
Sunday, August 31, 2014, 6:51pm
Durham caught 38 passes for 490 yards and two touchdowns with the Detroit Lions last season.
The Titans also claimed T.J. Graham earlier today and it's another interesting claim for a team pretty deep at WR. Durham will at best be the team's WR4 behind Kendall Wright, Nate Washington and Justin Hunter.
Sunday, August 31, 2014, 3:40pm
The Browns will roll with just two quarterbacks after all.
The team cut veteran third-string quarterback Rex Grossman as part of the trimming necessary to make room for waiver claims, a league source confirmed Sunday for the Beacon Journal, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Browns have yet to announce the move. ProFootballTalk.com reported the news Sunday after USA Today reported the move was expected.
Sunday, August 31, 2014, 2:41pm
One of the more notable wide receivers released on Saturday has quickly found a new home.
A 2012 third-round pick out of N.C. State, the 25-year-old Graham was a 17-game starter for Buffalo in his two seasons with the club, hauling in 23 passes for 361 yards and two touchdowns in 2013. He will provide depth behind Nate Washington and Kendall Wright and could contribute immediately in three- and four-WR sets.
Mallet, a 2011 third round draft pick by the Patriots, was the subject of trade rumors for the past two seasons. Those rumors only intensified after the team drafted Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason in the second round.
Mallett, in his fourth year out of Arkansas, was in the final year of his rookie contract.
There were definitely signs that the Pats were looking to trade Mallett and they found a partner in the Texans. Texan coach Bill O'Brien is familiar with Mallett from 2011 before moving on to coach at Penn State, so this makes a lot of sense. Ryan Fitzpatrick will likely still start the regular season but Mallett could be a guy they turn to if the team struggles at any point this season. While he's been well hyped, Mallet has only attempted four passes in the NFL.
Bills WR Sammy Watkins suffered bruised ribs in the Bills third preseason game (Week Two of the preseason), and he re-injured the ribs on a fairly innocuous hit in the preseason finale. Now, the question becomes whether he’ll recover in time to play on Sunday at Chicago, and to prepare for the game via a full week of practice.
“Re-injuring his ribs will make it difficult for Watkins to get his usual practice reps, conditioning and strengthening work for the next few weeks,” former NFL athletic trainer Mike Ryan said. Ryan, a contributor to NBC’s NFL coverage this season and NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk, spent more than 20 years helping NFL players get and stay healthy.
The story goes on to say that when it comes to the ribcage, a complex stew of bone and muscle and cartilage protecting fairly important organs, it could be a few weeks until Watkins returns to 100 percent. Especially if he once again comes back too soon and aggravates the condition. If the Bills decide to use Watkins before he’s fully healed, Watkins will have to play through significant discomfort. Watkins ranks just 44th on our WR list for Week 1. Even if he plays it may be best to go with another option.
Falcons WR Julio Jones didn’t want to rush his recovery and looked at little things as milestones. Like the day the Falcons moved practice indoors from the rain. Jones was happy to get a chance to test the foot on turf.
“The Georgia Dome has turf and that just gave me more reps on turf to make me feel more comfortable when game time comes around,” Jones said.
While Jones appears fine, he’s perhaps his toughest critic.
“I can get up to speed good,” Jones said. “I can’t hold it as long as I want to hold it like over a course of game. Right now, I probably could give you 65 plays or so, I mean that’s a whole game, but the way that I play in the running game and everything, I want to be at full speed for the whole game. I don’t feel like I’m there yet.”
Jones has looked 100-percent so far in camp and preseason but wants to make sure he's a full-go for the regular season. He's already shown flashes in the preseason, like 52-yard TD in preseason Week 3. Jones has been going in the lower half of first rounds and sometimes even slipping into the early second round. Jones is already ranked as our third-best WR play in Week 1 against the Saints.
Sunday, August 31, 2014, 8:58am
Ingram received 50 percent of the 1,364 votes. Following Ingram, TE Jimmy Graham (10%) and WR Joe Morgan (9%) rounded out the top three.
Ingram finished the preseason with a team-best 156 rushing yards on 22 carries (7.1 average) and a 22-yard touchdown. The fourth-year running back also caught two balls for 27 yards (13.5 yards per catch) and a 23-yard touchdown. While the award doesn't mean a whole lot, it is perhaps an indication that the Saints plan to stick with Ingram a bit. However Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas will likely figure in the offense as well. We've heard a lot about Ingram's pass catching ability and Thomas listed as third on the depth chart is interesting, however we still have Thomas a few notches ahead of Ingram on our Week 1 rankings.
The Giants will likely open their season with their first-round draft pick where he has been throughout the preseason: on the sideline.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin indicated on Saturday that rookie receiver Odell Beckham, who is nursing a hamstring injury, isn’t expected to play in the Monday night opener against the Lions. Coughlin said one of the reasons wide receiver Preston Parker made the 53-man roster is that he’ll be playing some of the roles the Giants had hoped Beckham could play.
It will be interesting to see if Corey Washington gets a chance after an outstanding preseason. Look for Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle to be the mainstays Week 1. But the Giants offense has struggled, particularly QB Eli Manning and Randle's communication. Outside of RB Rashad Jennings and possibly Cruz, seems best to stay away from the Giants, if possible.