When the Broncos traded for quarterback Mark Sanchez — and didn’t acquire any other quarterbacks this offseason — it appeared that he was set to be the team’s starter. But there’s no guarantee of that.
Troy Renck of the Denver Post thinks Sanchez has only a “slight edge” over Siemian heading into training camp, and Renck thinks Sanchez has to win the job over Siemian, as opposed to the job being Sanchez’s to lose.
The story went on to say Siemian has the advantage that he’s the only Broncos quarterback who has spent a year in Kubiak’s offense. Lynch isn’t expected to be ready to start in Week One, but the Broncos didn’t draft him in the first round to sit him on the bench forever. So Sanchez needs to look good in training camp and the preseason to earn the job, and he needs to play well to keep the job. Sanchez's recently history with the Eagles shows he did play well at times but can play poorly other times. Even if he earns the job, he's likely not to keep it.
The Colts announced Wednesday that Luck has signed an extension through the 2021 season that will make him the highest-paid player in the NFL, based on guaranteed salary.
Go get that money, Andrew.
Panthers RB Cameron Artis-Payne said he gained a lot of confidence as the tailback of choice during Jonathan Stewart’s absence, and after a strong offseason, he would likely be the first choice to spell Stewart again.
With Jonathan Stewart sidelined for a three-game stretch late in the season, Artis-Payne turned 38 total touches into 210 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 4.60 YPC during that span and would most likely step into a lead back role if Stewart were to miss time again in 2016.
David Helman of DallasCowboys.com:
I don’t think it’s even a question that Ezekiel Elliott will be first string, and I’d say that even if Darren McFadden was 100 percent healthy. To your second point, I don’t think “concerned” is the word I’d use, but it’s definitely something I’d be mindful of. DeMarco Murray got 83 percent of the carries for this team in 2014, and he finished with more than 400 total touches. That’s a tad much for anyone, let alone a rookie. Fortunately, the Cowboys have vastly superior depth at the position this year. I think Zeke will finish with roughly 280-300 carries, which would put him right around 18-20 per game. That should leave plenty of carries for Alfred Morris and McFadden to get involved.
It's doubtful that the Cowboys drafted Elliott #4 overall to let him sit behind McFadden and/or Morris as a rookie. As long as he doesn't fall on his face, he should be the workhorse, with McFadden and Morris sprinkling in as change-of-pace backs. McFadden’s offseason injury only serves to help Elliott’s chances of RB1 touches.
The comparisons between Sterling Shepard and Odell Beckham aren’t just in the unrelated complements from evaluators. Giants’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo flat-out mistook Sterling Shepard for Odell Beckham Jr. :
"I'll tell you, I was looking at tape the other day and we had a receiver doing some things against us and I told the staff we have to do a better job there against Odell (Beckham, Jr.). And then I looked again and it was not Odell - it was actually Shepard."
It's a good sign for Shepard if his own defensive coordinator can't tell him apart from one of the best receivers in the league. It appears that Shepard is going to play starter's snaps regardless of the status of Victor Cruz. Rueben Randle was the #32 WR in PPR formats serving as the Giants' WR2 last year.
Baldwin was ridiculous after Seattle’s Week 9 bye, posting an average of 5.9 catches for 90.5 yards and 1.5 TD per game in the second half of the season. This represents a 147% increase from his production in the first half of the season. The outburst corresponded with the emergence of Russell Wilson as an elite fantasy quarterback, and Pete Carroll has indicated that the team’s offense will more closely resemble the one we saw down the stretch in 2015. We’re not expecting WR1 fantasy numbers from Baldwin, but he’s certainly in the WR2 conversation given Seattle’s newfound willingness to throw the ball.
"He’s a legit player for us, and he’s right in the middle of all our planning and all of our preparation," Carroll said. "You have to deal with him in our offense. He’s going to be moved around to a lot. He'll be in a lot of different spots. He can do everything. We’re really pumped about him coming back. He looks so confident, which he always has. We had to make him prove it a little bit. But once we got a hold of the kind of dynamic player that he is, we used the heck out of him, and he’s going to get a lot of play time, a lot of stuff happening his way. Really helps Doug [Baldwin], really helps [Jermaine] Kearse. Those guys are great complements."
One of the things Lockett has focused on this offseason is beating press coverage. Some pegged Lockett, at 5-foot-10 and 182 pounds, exclusively as a slot receiver coming out of college. But according to ESPN Stats & Information, he lined up outside on 65.6 percent of his routes last season. And 63 percent of Lockett's receiving yards came when he set up out wide.
"The biggest thing is I’ve been going against Richard about 95 percent of the camp, and he’s just made me a better player," Lockett said. "Going against Richard (Sherman), I’ve got to be able to move him and get him off at the line, and I can’t use the same stuff every time because he’s a smart defender, so I’ve got to switch some things up.
"And if things don’t work, at least it doesn’t work in practice against him. If it does work, he’ll let me know and be like, ‘Hey, that was a good release. That really does work.’ And it just makes it easier for me to go against anybody else, especially on other teams, after I go up against the best DB in the league."
As a rookie, Lockett owned the #5 fantasy points per target (FP/T) in standard formats (#3 in PPR), and he plays in a historically efficient passing offense. The only issue is volume. Lockett saw just 69 targets in 2015, but averaged 5.4 T/G (and 57.1 yards) over the final nine games of the season, including the playoffs. That’s an 86-target (and a 913-yard) pace, so if he’s able to maintain his 1.48 FP/T, it would yield 128 fantasy points, which is about what Rueben Randle scored as the #28 WR last year. If Lockett is going to crack the top 20, he’ll need to see 6.0+ T/G. The good news is that Russell Wilson has increased his pass attempts in each of the last three seasons, and with Marshawn Lynch retired, it sounds as if there will be more opportunity in the passing game for Lockett.
It was deserved. The second-year receiver was excellent in practices open to the press, working in precision with quarterback Derek Carr.
There’s clearly growth between passer and receiver, but Cooper himself has a spring in his step. He’s confident, comfortable with the Raiders and his place in the NFL.
Cooper suffered a foot injury in practice after Week 13. Prior to the injury, he was playing at an 83-1243-5.3 pace, and was the #18 receiver in standard and #17 in PPR. Over the final four games, he only managed 10 catches for 150 total yards and two touchdowns. Now that he’s back to full health, we’re expecting the early-season version of Cooper, and he may make further strides in his second season.
Via Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union, Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas and quarterback Blake Bortles looked “nearly unstoppable” during Organized Team Activities and minicamp. While shorts and T-shirts football remains a far cry from real football, it won’t be a surprise if Thomas and Bortles are indeed unstoppable this year.
Last season, Thomas broke his hand during the preseason. This season, assuming that he stays healthy, Thomas will have plenty of opportunities in a passing game fueled by receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.
Thomas missed the first month of the season with a hand injury, but returned in Week 5 to post #11 TE numbers (PPR) the rest of the way. He has missed seven games over the past two seasons due to injury. He has reportedly had a great offseason and has spent extra time in the film room with QB Blake Bortles in the hopes of building better chemistry.
Bills WR Sammy Watkins told ESPN’s Vaughn McClure that though he “feels good,” he doesn’t know when he’ll be cleared and hopes to be able to participate in training camp.
“If not, then cool,” Watkins said. “Get ready for the first game.”
That takes his timetable for a projected return from early August to any time from August to early September. Watkins last week told TSN.ca that he’d “definitely be available” and might only miss two or three days of camp, which begins in late July.
The Bills won’t rush Watkins back from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot, and Watkins sounded like he’s fine waiting if that’s what it takes, too. He said he hasn’t run in the last three or four weeks.
Watkins had offseason foot surgery, which has put his preseason (and Week 1) availability into question. However, with the way he finished the season -- 5.4-100-0.78 over the final nine games -- he has WR1 potential in 2016 provided he can stay healthy.
Patriots WR Julian Edelman missed minicamp and every OTA open to the media. He was in a bulky walking boot for Tom Brady's annual Best Buddies flag football game on June 3. He did not play in the game.
According to one photo from Patriots.com, though, it appears Edelman did not wear the boot to the MGH event Wednesday.
This would be a sign of progress for Edelman, who, according to a May 12 report from ESPN's Mike Reiss and Adam Schefter, was "on track" to return for training camp.
The Jones fracture suffered by Edelman can be a tricky injury. Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, who also underwent a second surgery following his Jones fracture, needed five months to gain clearance for running and cutting. As CSNNE's Tom Curran pointed out, Edelman wouldn't be back until November if he followed the same timeline.
In 28 games over the past two seasons (including the playoffs), Edelman has averaged 7.0 catches for 75 yards and 0.43 TD on 10.3 targets per game. That works out to low-end WR1 numbers in PPR formats, so as long as he's healthy, he should provide good value in the 3rd round of fantasy drafts.
Abdullah went through his fair share of ups and downs as a rookie and finished with 597 rushing yards (4.2 average) and two touchdowns.
I thought he showed a high level of maturity and dedication in an interview with Sirius NFL Radio this offseason.
“I feel like I showed some flashes last year, but in this league you can’t show flashes,” he said. “You have to be consistent. That definitely had a lot to do with growing pains.
“It also had a lot to do with me being immature as a player coming straight from college and not understanding what kind of preparation and mental focus it took for such a long amount of time.
“I know I have a lot to give to this team and a lot to give to this league. I know I can be a good back, but it starts with those little things I mentioned earlier.”
I’d be pretty surprised if we don't see a much-improved Abdullah in year two.
After the team's Week 9 bye, and with new-OC Jim Bob Cooter calling the plays, Abdullah averaged 11.5 touches for 55.3 yards and 0.12 TD per game. He averaged 4.65 YPC in that span, and the running game as a whole improved considerably under Cooter (+6.75 carries, +27.5 yards and +0.37 TD per game). Joique Bell saw 9.4 touches per game during that stretch, and that work is up for grabs now that Bell is gone. If healthy, Abdullah will probably lead the Lions in carries and yards, and may be a post-hype sleeper if his touches increase significantly. But Theo Riddick will serve as the primary pass-catcher out of the backfield, and Stevan Ridley and Zach Zenner could eat into Abdullah's early-down and short-yardage touches, so Abdullah's upside is somewhat capped.
Bucs Beat: RB Charles Sims will get 'more carries,' but Doug Martin still the 'focal point' of the offenseThursday, June 23, 2016, 10:47am
Mark Cook of the Pewter Report was asked about the Buccaneers' running game.
Question 1. Chris will Doug Martin rush for over 1,400 yards again this season?
Answer: Well he certainly is capable, but so many factors play into it actually happening. First and foremost, does he stay healthy? Secondly, will head coach Dirk Koetter rely more on the arm of Winston now that he is in his second season of the offense? There is no question Koetter understands the importance of balance, but how much did Lovie Smith’s influence have an affect on the play calling in 2015? And then there is the Charles Sims effect. I really believe we will see Sims get more carries in 2016 and that could cut into Martin’s total yardage. Of course you don’t give Martin the contract you gave him to take too many touches away from him, if any at all. It will be interesting to see how things play out, but one thing is certain, and that is, if Martin is healthy, he will be a focal point of this offense, as he should be.
Last year, there were 479 touches split between Martin and Sims, with Martin seeing 67% of the work to Sims' 33%. We currently project a similar split, which makes Sims our #30 RB in PPR formats, three spots higher than his current ADP. He would have upside from there if the Bucs decide to give him some of Martin's carries.
Following a disappointing season with the Philadelphia Eagles in a system that didn’t seem to fit DeMarco Murray’s skills, the running back was asked on The Jim Rome Show if he believes Mike Mularkey’s offense in Tennessee is a better fit for him. He answered, “I do. It’s strictly downhill and that’s what I’ve been accustomed to my entire life. Nothing against last year or what happened, it just didn’t work out, but I’m very excited about this upcoming season and looking forward to it.”
Monday, June 20, 2016, 9:40pm
The biggest surprise of spring football was, by far, Victor Cruz getting some reps during team drills at minicamp. Leading up to the three-day camp it seemed the team wasn’t going to have him participate in team drills until training camp. Instead, he would continue to do individual work on the side, most notably conditioning drills with the training staff.
That plan changed as Cruz ran routes and caught passes against air as well as defenders during jog-through. This was yet another physical step in the right direction as he works his way back from knee and calf injuries but, most important, it was a positive from a mental standpoint in terms of building confidence in what he’ll be able to accomplish during training camp.