Sunday, May 10, 2015, 8:01pm
Following a three day rookie mini-camp that included the team's newest draft picks, 11 undrafted free agent signings and 19 unsigned tryout participants, the Cincinnati Bengals decided to add three new members to the team – including former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Cowboys beat writer Todd Archer on the team's running back situation:
"I wouldn't write anything down yet with the running back spot. It's too fluid. I made a bold prediction - well, I thought it was bold - that Joseph Randle will run for 1,200 yards in 2015. So that should tell you who I think gets the "bulk" of the carries this season. The Cowboys will go with a committee approach at running back. I don't think you will see a guy come close to 300 carries. It could work out better for Darren McFadden to be a committee guy. He's not been able to stay healthy for most of his career. To me Randle is a better fit for the scheme and showed in small doses he has a feel for the Cowboys' scheme. There is a lot more to playing the position than just running the ball, but to me Randle should be the guy."
McFadden is going ahead of Randle in early drafts, but Randle may be the better bet. He was highly effective (6.7 YPC) in 2014 and is reportedly showing more maturity after several off-the-field issues. He's not going to see a DeMarco Murray-type workload, but 225-250 carries is feasible if he wins the lead back job.
"Johnny's been great,'' DeFilippo said after the second rookie camp practice Saturday. "He's been fantastic. What he wants to talk about, before he stepped foot back in this building is his business. All I know is Johnny the football player, and he's been awesome. He's been working hard, very hard with myself and (quarterbacks coach Kevin O'Connell), and doing what we want him to do on the field."
Hard enough to become a successful NFL quarterback?
"All I know is this: From the moment he stepped in this building from the last two weeks, he's been nothing but a consummate professional,'' DeFilippo said. "He's spent every hour that he's been allowed to spend in this building. We give them worksheets every Tuesday and every Friday, and they're done to the unbelievable detail that we need an NFL quarterback to do. From that standpoint, like I said I can't predict the future, but all I can do is tell you right now Johnny Manziel is putting himself in a position to be a quarterback in the NFL."
There is certainly opportunity in Cleveland for playing time, but it isn't a great situation for a young quarterback given the unexciting receiving options (namely Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline, who combined to catch two touchdowns last season). By all accounts, it does appear that Manziel is on his way to turning his career around. He finished a rehab program, moved to the suburbs and has earned praise from his teammates and coordinator.
“Usually when you put in changes or change the system or address fundamentals, it usually shows up in Year 2,’’ OC Ben McAdoo said. “I like the look in his eye. I am excited for what is on the plate this year.’’
Manning finished the season as the #10 fantasy quarterback, but was #2 over the final six weeks, when OC Ben McAdoo said that the team finally played the way it wanted to play. In Odell Beckham, Manning finally has a stud receiver. The free agent signing of receiving specialist Shane Vereen and the return of a (hopefully) healthy Victor Cruz give Manning two more weapons to utilize in the passing game. He looks like a great value for those who want to wait on the position until the 9th or 10th round.
Browns coach Mike Pettine revealed Saturday that fourth-round receiver Vince Mayle will undergo surgery after rookie camp on his broken right thumb.
"It should not be an issue in the fall,'' Pettine said after day two of rookie camp. "We wanted him to come out, just see how it was, test it. Found out real quick yesterday that there's still some lingering pain there. So, we're going to go ahead and get it corrected."
Mayle, the only receiver among the Browns' 12 draft picks, injured the thumb during Senior Bowl week in January, but didn't realize it was fractured until he had X-rays at the NFL combine in late February.
The Browns knew about the injury when they drafted Mayle, but were hoping it would heal on its own.
Mayle has a chance to emerge as a contributor if he can pick things up quickly.
Linehan: “I’m not worried about Dez, he’ll be ready to rock and roll when it’s all said and done, I’m sure of that.”
Last season, Bryant was the #3 WR in standard formats and #4 in PPR. It was the third consecutive season that he finished in the top 7 in both formats. He is one of fantasy’s most dependable receivers. The only concern heading into the season is whether he’ll be distracted by his ongoing contract negotiations.
Cardinals RB Andre Ellington on his recovery from a foot injury: "I'm close to doing a lot of things I've done in the past. Just (this week) I was able to do all my cuts and put a lot more pressure on my foot."
Ellington felt the opposite of threatened when the Cardinals drafted running back David Johnson in the third round last week. If Johnson, from Northern Iowa, is what the Cardinals think he is, he will lighten Ellington's load.
"I don't see why not," Ellington said when asked if he would be helped by the addition of Johnson. "It allows me to have more rest time, and it should keep the offense upbeat."
The Cardinals drafted Johnson to lighten Ellington’s workload, and a reduction in touches may actually help his effectiveness, though it's unlikely to help his per game fantasy production. Ellington averaged 22.0 touches per game, but only managed 3.3 YPC after averaging 5.5 YPC in his rookie season.
It was unlikely that Heuerman would have been fantasy relevant as a rookie, but we'll never know. If he can pick up the mental side of the game as he rehabs his injury, he should be ready to go in 2016.
“In Denver — Anderson would hate me for saying this — but he got tired and was a little chubby sometimes,” Gase said. “I mean, he got worn down quick and then we had to rotate backs in last year.”
Anderson's fatigue might have something to do with the 24.0 touches he averaged over the final eight games. Over that span, he averaged 132 total yards and 1.3 TD, and was the #1 fantasy running back. If the Broncos commit to Anderson, he should thrive under new HC Gary Kubiak, who just coaxed a career year out of journeyman Justin Forsett.
“T.J. looked pretty smooth,” Bradley said. “A lot of the same things that we saw on tape. His ability to make quick decisions, spontaneous decisions, his instincts. One play really jumps out at me and it’s the same thing we saw on tape.”
Yeldon showed off his agility and acceleration during 11-on-11 work.
Toby Gerhart struggled with injuries last season and may play more of a fullback/H-back position this season. Denard Robinson was solid in stretches, but apparently the Jaguars don’t view him as an every-down, feature-type back. Yeldon’s upside will depend heavily on the growth of QB Blake Bortles and the entire Jacksonville offense, which suddenly has a young and talented receiving corps (Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns) and a weapon at tight end in Julius Thomas.
Cowboys RB coach Gary Brown broke down the team's backfield:
“I just admired him from afar, watching him on tape. I think he’s big, strong, incredibly fast, tough guy. He’s buying into our system. He wants to be here. He’s doing everything I ask him to do. I’m looking forward to seeing him in pads. … I’ve been out here watching him run. He looks very fast. We’re just looking forward to seeing him in pads in our system.”
“I think Joe really has to make sure he takes care of everything on and off the field. We want to trust Joe, we like Joe, but we want to make sure he’s going to be with us at all times. I think he’s maturing up and he’s getting better and he understands the opportunity he has in front of him and I think he’ll take full advantage. I think those days are behind him and we’re looking forward to working with Joe. … Just being around him these last few weeks, he seems to be more mature to me. He and I have sat down and had one-on-one conversations about his future and I think he wants to go in the right direction.”
“I envision [him getting more opportunities]. I think he’s a hell of a football player, we’ve got to try and get him more involved and I think coach Linehan is going to do a great job doing that. … [He didn’t get more carries last season] because I think the run game was so explosive and DeMarco was running so well. It’s just like anything in life, you’ve got a guy who is hot, you want to ride that guy and make sure he gets his touches and I think we did the right thing by getting him his touches. Obviously with, what was it, 1,800 yards and 13, 14 touchdowns, whatever it was, I think we made the right decision.”
Brown later said he might have been premature not also mentioning Ryan Williams with that group.
The soon-to-be 28-year-old McFadden hasn't cracked 3.5 YPC since the 2011 season, when he ran for 614 yards on 113 carries (5.4 YPC) in seven games. That's the rub with McFadden -- fantasy owners haven't been able to count on his durability. He has missed roughly a quarter of his team's games since entering the league. Randle averaged 6.7 YPC behind the Dallas offensive line last season, but has had a host of off-the-field issues. Dunbar is more of a third down back, while Williams is a former second round pick who has been unable to stay healthy. The team has insinuated that it still may trade for a running back or sign a free agent (like Chris Johnson or perhaps Ray Rice), so the backfield is far from settled. McFadden is currently the first Dallas running back off the board in the 7th round.
Saturday, May 9, 2015, 10:13am
“Did a lot of movement today,” Bears WR Kevin White said. “Left side and in the slot on the right side. Slot in the left. So a lot different than college. Just trying to get adjusted. First day. So it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. But I’m learning the system and trying to get better each and every day.
“There’s a lot of information to take for day one. Everything gets thrown at you at one time. So you’ve got to kind of relax and try to take it all in and just learn.”
One of White’s biggest supporters is Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who endorsed White after the wide receiver’s April pre-draft visit to Halas Hall.
“He was outstanding,” Gase said. “He could tell you exactly what the checks were, what him and the quarterback, what page they were on. It was pretty impressive when he came in the building. We really like what he brought to the table, and we look for specific routes, and when we see one or two things, we know they can do the entire tree, so his speed, his body control, the way that he bursts off the ball, all those things we really liked.”
White replaces Brandon Marshall, who was traded to the Jets. He has a capable quarterback in Jay Cutler, though he comes in as the clear #2 option to the already established Alshon Jeffery. Marshall averaged 8.2 targets per game last season, but that was with Marc Trestman calling the plays. Gase figures to call a more balanced offense. White is a great talent and should be a fantasy factor as a rookie — just don’t expect WR1-type targets with Jeffery in the mix.
Dolphins GM Dennins Hickey said “we were very excited” that running back Jay Ajayi “was still there in the fifth round. He brings the ability to play all three downs. He’s a power back but yet still has elusiveness.”
Ajayi dropped in the draft because of concerns his knee, but he’s a first or second round talent and an all-around back that will complement Lamar Miller well in Miami. It’s a good spot for Ajayi, and the physical player from Boise State will be considered a prime sleeper candidate this year as a tandem back if his knee holds up. Miller is still an attractive RB2, but it's clear that the Dolphins haven't fully committed to him.
Friday, May 8, 2015, 10:17am
“We’ve been throwing for the past three weeks and I can honestly say I’ve thrown with [Andrew Luck], [Nick Foles] and other guys, and I don’t think I’ve thrown with a guy who has a stronger arm than Sam Bradford,” Ertz said.
“He hasn’t been able to really truly get his full legs underneath him. But the ball still comes out effortlessly, and it’s a lot of fun to run routes with him.”
The Raiders signed veteran Michael Crabtree from San Francisco on April 13 and then used the No. 4 overall pick on Alabama receiver Amari Cooper in the first round of the draft last Thursday night. Cooper and Crabtree are both expected to start.
Crabtree hasn't been himself since his Achilles injury, but there is opportunity in the Raider receiving corps. The problem is that he's not markedly better than Andre Holmes or Rod Streater, so Crabtree could end up anywhere from second to fourth in the pecking order by the time preseason rolls around.