On the offensive side, the top play was a catch across the middle from tight end Travis Kelce, who leapt up with one hand and was able to snag the ball out the air more than 15 yards down the field. Alex Smith placed the ball between a couple of defenders and Kelce showed the kind of ability that Chiefs fans are excited to see more of in 2015.
Finally, there was one perfect pass from Alex Smith to Jeremy Maclin on a crossing route about 20 yards down the field. Smith threw the ball into an open window that had Maclin coming out of nowhere as he broke open across the field and made the catch. Smith didn’t wait for Maclin to be open before he threw the ball down the field, which showed the kind of trust and timing that these two have developed throughout the offseason.
Smith is a dirt-cheap quarterback option who could provide high-end QB2 numbers if he becomes a bit more aggressive. He’s dangerous as a runner, and given the addition of a bona fide receiver in Maclin, the emergence of Kelce, and the always-dangerous Jamaal Charles, Smith is an unexciting yet (usually) functional fantasy quarterback.
The speedy first-round pick arguably had his roughest practice Tuesday since joining the Ravens, as he dropped four passes, including one deep sideline pass after he had sprinted past cornerback Jimmy Smith and was wide open.
“Just really paying attention, getting too tired and really not focusing,” Perriman said when asked for an explanation about the drops. “I don’t really make excuses for it. They should have been caught, but that’s something that won’t happen too often.”
Benjamin said the injury to his right hamstring will likely keep him out of Thursday’s final minicamp practice, and Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera believes the hamstring issues could be related to Benjamin showing up to OTAs (organized team activities) overweight.
According to a team source, Benjamin, who played last season at 245 pounds, showed up to offseason workouts eight to nine pounds overweight.
“He did come in a little heavy and he had to work himself into shape. Or diet or something. We’re going to take a look at it and make sure it’s not a chronic issue with him. He’s too good a football player to have on the sideline.”
This isn’t the first time Benjamin has shown up to a camp overweight. He was so overweight when he first arrived to Florida State—reportedly 20 pounds—that Seminoles coaches couldn’t justify putting him on the field and used a redshirt for him.
We're not that concerned about a few extra pounds of weight, but if it's causing hamstring issues, then we start to worry. Benjamin had a strong rookie season, finishing as the #15 WR in PPR formats and #16 in standard leagues. However, after his team’s Week 12 bye, Benjamin was just the #42 WR the rest of the way. Benjamin admitted to suffering from mental fatigue as a rookie, which is understandable given how much he was asked to do in his first year.
“It’s hard to say right now. I can’t predict that,” Fisher said Tuesday. “I know he’s doing well. He had a day off today because he’s doing so well. He’ll rehab with us during the break. ... We’re just going to see how he progresses. ... If he’s not PUP-ed (physically unable to perform), then I think you could probably assume that he’s going to play sooner than you think.”
Gurley is widely considered to be the best running back in the 2015 draft class, but he’s recovering from a November ACL tear. He’ll be nine months into his recovery in August, so his early season availability is unknown. Prospective owners should draft Tre Mason if possible as insurance. When Gurley returns, he should provide high end RB2 numbers if he begins to get starter’s touches.
As Chip Kelly likes to say, it is only June, and the depth chart at this point is almost meaningless. Still, it is pretty clear so far that the Eagles starting receivers on the outside are going to be Riley Cooper and Josh Huff, with Jordan Matthews in the slot. Rookie Nelson Agholor will certainly factor into the rotation, but it is Huff's job to lose right now. Agholor has been up-and-down in camp, making some impressive catches, but he had a bad drop on Wednesday. Huff, meanwhile, had a nice catch that would have gone for a touchdown in a game.
This is mildly surprising, but it's something to monitor as the offseason wears on. It sounds as if Huff has made strides since last year and is currently playing ahead of Agholor. If this continues, then Huff would be fantasy relevant while Agholor will struggle to make much of an impact in limited snaps. Keep in mind that Cooper is hardly entrenched in a starting role after a rough 2014 campaign.
Eagles QB Sam Bradford looked sharp on Wednesday, hitting tight end Zach Ertz down the sideline for what looked like a 20-yard gain. Bradford has been targeting Ertz frequently during these minicamps and OTAs, and that should continue into the season.
It's nice to hear that Bradford and Ertz are developing chemistry. Ertz was the #13 TE in both standard and PPR formats despite only playing half of the Eagles’ snaps in his second year. Ertz played mostly (73%) on passing downs, so if his playing time is going to increase, a majority of the additional snaps are likely to come in run formations. Still, there’s upside with Ertz if he begins to see starter’s snaps. The Eagles lost their leading receiver -- first DeSean Jackson and then Jeremy Maclin -- in back-to-back seasons, so there will be opportunity from a targets standpoint.
Likely being thrust into an outside role in the starting lineup, Eagles WR Josh Huff hopes to live up to the expectations he set for himself after talking about how familiar he was both with scheme and personnel coming from Oregon where Eagles head coach Chip Kelly recruited and coached him for two seasons.
With the growing pains of a rookie campaign behind him, Huff has drawn rave reviews from Kelly about his maturity heading into his second season, something the wide receiver says he's noticed even about himself.
The article also says that Jordan Matthews is 'likely' to start in the slot, so that would mean RIley Cooper or rookie Nelson Agholor would also start outside. The Eagles' pecking order is difficult to predict, but we expect Matthews to see the most targets and fantasy production. It gets murky after that.
One of the other things I did when I was in Southern California was meet Tony Gonzalez. I got his number from one of our tight end coaches — he played with Tony when they were in Atlanta together — and I just cold texted him. It was a no-lose situation for me. If he said “no,” then I would have respectfully understood.
He said yes. So I drove to see him.
We talked about a lot of things. When it came to football, we talked about the steps I needed to take to go from being good to great. We talked about little things — the nuances of how to run a certain route, what’s advantageous against certain coverages, that sort of thing. He also talked about the importance of having a routine. He had a routine of greatness that he would do every day. He felt it gave him the edge over the competition in the long run.
He also really focused on the mental side of the game. We put so much into our bodies physically and emotionally, he explained, that we kind of ignore training the brain, and learning new ways to train the brain. That’s kind of what we talked about. He reads a lot of books about mental training and successful CEOs to understand what makes them successful. That’s some of the knowledge that he imparted on me.
Ertz was the #13 TE in both standard and PPR formats despite only playing half of the Eagles’ snaps in his second year. Ertz played mostly (73%) on passing downs, so if his playing time is going to increase, a majority of the additional snaps are likely to come in run formations. Still, there’s upside with Ertz if he begins to see starter’s snaps. The Eagles have lost their leading receiver -- first DeSean Jackson and then Jeremy Maclin -- in back-to-back seasons, so there will be opportunity from a targets standpoint.
Saints beat writer Jeff Duncan:
Word of advice: Draft C.J. Spiller on your fantasy football team. The Saints are going to get him the ball in a number of ways this season. If he can stay healthy, he could have a breakout year. It certainly won't be for lack of opportunity.
While New Orleans may not be an ideal landing spot in the carries department, Spiller should have a big role in the passing game with Pierre Thomas, Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills no longer on the roster. He’ll likely take over the role of Thomas, who averaged 11.6 touches in the last two seasons. Thomas finished with a top 30 PPG (PPR) in six of the last seven seasons, so that's a reasonable baseline for Spiller. New Orleans running backs caught 275 passes in the last two seasons, so there are plenty of catches to go around. In short, he has significant PPR upside in this offense, but his workload will be somewhat limited since he'll be part of a committee.
"Kevin is doing a good job for us, picking up the offense," Cutler said. "He has a bright future."
An undisclosed injury kept White out of the Bears' minicamp practice Tuesday, coach John Fox indicated.
This raises a few eyebrows at 4for4 headquarters, but we still expect White to start opposite Alshon Jeffery. It's a reminder that rookies carry extra risk since their roles are not defined, especially early in the summer.
Pitta hasn't been medically cleared by doctors and his career is in doubt as he tries to return from his second fractured and dislocated right hip within the past two years.
We're not counting on Pitta's return but it's a situation to monitor. His potential return would impact the amount of playing time rookie Maxx Williams will get in 2015.
Eric Ebron wasn't sharp to open OTAs, but has gotten progressively better. That includes no drops in the last OTA that was open to the media, and then no drops on the first day of minicamp. The closest thing was a pass that was broken up at the last moment by Rashean Mathis. Other than that, Ebron caught everything thrown his way, and was a real matchup nightmare. (And despite the good practice, Ebron still stuck around to take extra balls from the JUGS machine after practice. Another indicator his questionable attitude is a thing of the past, even if the drops aren't -- yet.)
Ebron turned 3.8 targets into 1.9 catches for 19 yards and 0.08 TD as a rookie. He played half the snaps, so his lack of production is somewhat alarming. Tight end is a tough position to learn as a rookie, so there is some reason for optimism given Ebron's skill set, especially since he seems to be having a good offseason.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 9:06pm
Talking about wide receivers, Nick Toon has been here for years now, do you think that this could potentially be his year to emerge.
Saints QB Drew Brees: “I do, absolutely. This will be his fourth season and that first year he was injured, the second year he made progress, and then last year he had a chance to kind of break out a little bit and get some opportunities to play once (Brandin) Cooks went down and I felt like made the most of it. We saw glimpses. For him it’s just a matter of repetition and the more opportunities he gets I think the more plays he is going to make. We’ve had the ability to maneuver him around and give him more opportunities that way and he’s been able to handle it very well. So I’m excited for Nick Toon, he’s got a great opportunity I think there’s a great fit for him and a great opportunity for him and a great role for him in this offense.”
Toon figures to serve as the WR3 behind Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston. The role hasn't traditionally been a big fantasy producer, but Jimmy Graham is gone so the team figures to get less production out of the tight end position. If anything happens to Cooks or Colston, fantasy owners should have Toon on speed dial.
Tevin Coleman hasn't passed Freeman yet. Coleman is the new regime's hand-picked running back, so we would expect him to see plenty of playing time as a rookie. But for now Freeman continues to start. He's a late-round option, especially in PPR formats.