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Hamilton: Colts to be a 'score-first' team
Tuesday, May 27, 2014, 10:49am
New season, new mind frame from Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.
"We’re going to be a score-first team," Hamilton said. "We’re going to do whatever we need to do to score one more point than our opponent."
Don’t kid yourself; Hamilton isn’t going to allow Andrew Luck drop back in the pocket and fling the ball downfield – even if he does have plenty of weapons at his disposal – 50 times per game. The Colts will still run the ball, which is why they have three backs they think will be able to carry the load.
But like Hamilton said, it’s all about scoring more points than the opponent and that will likely end up being with Luck doing what he does best: Using his arm.
The Colts threw the ball 582 times and ran it 409 times last season.
"Our mentality has not changed; we have to be physical at the point of attack. We have to try and knock people off the ball and wear them down physically," Hamilton said. "We have to have a sense of balance and still have a physical mentality, make up going into games so we can wear our opponents down how we see fit."
Luck has finished #8 and #6 in his first two seasons in the league and is locked in as a solid QB1 pick in 2014 fantasy drafts. He is currently the #4 QB off the board in the 4th round. The Colts wanted to utilize a run-first mentality in 2013, and ended up throwing the ball 58.7% of the time, which was in the middle of the pack as far as pass/run balance goes. With the addition of Hakeem Nicks and the return of both Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen, we would expect Hamilton to utilize the passing game more often in 2014.
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Reggie Wayne unlikely to participate at minicamp
Tuesday, May 27, 2014, 10:44am
All indications point to Colts WR Reggie Wayne still making good progress from his torn ACL. He’s taking part in football activities again, but he likely won’t participate in the team’s mandatory minicamp next month. The Colts will likely wait until training camp before Wayne goes all out on the field.
Cardinals much more comfortable in Bruce Arians' offense
Monday, May 26, 2014, 1:14pm
After a rough 2013, the Cardinals feel much better about the offense heading into the summer of 2014:
"We're working so much more efficiently," receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "We're finishing (practice) periods with two, three minutes left. We're not having to restart, regroup and do over. It's very encouraging."
HC Bruce Arians is convinced his offense has turned a corner, not just put its blinker on.
"Where we're at this point is like light-years from last year," he said last week after the team's first full-squad workout of the off-season. "They are getting on the same page. Every play, they come back and there is good dialogue — 'Why did you break out? Why did you break in?' "
"We've got a ton of work to do," QB Carson Palmer said, "but it just feels so good to be confident and be comfortable and know the guys around you know that you know what you're doing.
"There's not a shadow of a doubt on certain plays where there was in the past, like there are in new systems and new offenses. Just a great start and a long way to go."
If the offensive line can come together, this bodes well for Palmer, Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, who has stood out in offseason activities. Palmer finished as the #17 QB in 2013 and is a QBBC/streaming candidate heading into 2014.
Beat: Shonn Greene needs to 'prove his worth' in camp
Monday, May 26, 2014, 1:06pm
The Titans already did away with one running back from a year ago in Chris Johnson, so would they really consider sending another one packing? I haven't heard any buzz suggesting it could happen, but let's just say stranger things have happened. This much is known: Greene was underwhelming in 2013, and he recently had a second knee surgery. He's scheduled to earn $2.3 million in 2014, and that's not chump change. The Titans drafted Bishop Sankey, and the team plans to use Dexter McCluster in the backfield. A big back is on board in Jackie Battle, and undrafted rookie Antonio Andrews of Western Kentucky is no slouch. Greene won't take part in the OTAs, so he'll need to prove his worth in camp.
We're projecting Sankey to be the clear RB1 after the Titans took him as the first back in the draft. The last 13 rookies who were the top drafted RB in their class while joining a backfield with a lackluster incumbent averaged 18.2 touches for 83.1 yards and 0.55 TD, or 11.6 fantasy points per game. That’s about what Ryan Mathews averaged as the #12 RB in 2013. For more on Sankey's potential production, see The Rookie Rundown.
Monday, May 26, 2014, 1:01pm
With the addition of sixth-round pick Zach Mettenberger, however, Titans QB Jake Locker now has another guy aiming to eventually unseat him. Let's keep it real here: Mettenberger is not going to challenge Locker for the starting spot at the start of the 2014 season. The Titans want Locker to win the job going away in training camp, and he'll be given every opportunity to do so. Still, Locker can't give coaches any reason to doubt themselves. Keep in mind, back-up Charlie Whitehurst was brought to town because new coach Ken Whisenhunt is a big fan. Locker will still be slow-going during the upcoming OTAs as he continues to work his way back from Lisfranc surgery. When training camp begins, the Titans think he'll be able to hit the ground running.
Monday, May 26, 2014, 1:00pm
As for what's expected of him, it's this: catch the ball (and maybe throw it a little). Just like the rest of the receivers, the Bengals' focus this season will be on getting the football in as many of their playmakers' hands as possible.
After Sanu had such a promising 2012 season, he ran into a bit of a wall last year. Receivers coach James Urban has said he didn't feel like he used Sanu quite as much or as effectively as he had hoped. That should change this season. It's possible to see Sanu in the slot receiver role if indeed Marvin Jones has leapfrogged him and slipped into the No. 2 receiver's spot. That's something we won't really know until deep into training camp. It could be that coaches decide to keep Jones as the third receiver and to use him more often in the slot than Sanu.
Christine Michael could start in 2015
Monday, May 26, 2014, 12:55pm
Seahawks RB Christine Michael’s shortcoming is two-fold: the concern about his ability to block and his lack of participation in special teams (again, not because he refuses to do it, but because the opt for someone else). For the amount of times he would carry the ball, it didn’t make sense most of the season to have him gobble up an active roster spot if he couldn’t also play special teams.
One other good thing about Michael finishing last season with only 18 carries: he finished the season with only 18 carries. Protecting the body of a running back for a whole year in the NFL holds its own value. If the Seahawks decide they can’t swallow Marshawn Lynch’s 2015 cap hit and Michael has proven after more chances in 2014, which seems will be the case for him, he can take over, then they bought themselves almost two full years to work him in.
Lynch is signed through the 2015 season, so he could continue to be the RB1 through next year. His hefty cap number will make him a cut candidate if the team thinks Michael is ready to carry the load.
Chiefs hoping Travis Kelce can be a 'weapon'
Monday, May 26, 2014, 12:49pm
It is curious, however, that they declined to address receiver in free agency or the draft. In addition to Dwayne Bowe—Dorsey said he is in “magnificent” shape—the Chiefs maintained the status quo with Donnie Avery, A.J. Jenkins, Weston Dressler and Junior Hemingway. Dorsey’s OK with that, provided that 2013 third-round tight end Travis Kelce is healthy after missing nearly his entire rookie season following microfracture surgery on his knee.
“The way that group started to come on towards the end, and getting used to the offense, you could see that they were beginning to understand their roles and what they were supposed to do,” Dorsey said. “It’s going to be a collective effort. And the emergence of a Travis Kelce being able to stretch the field as a tight end, hopefully that weapon adds another element to the passing game. We took some nicks at the tight end position last year.”
The Chiefs currently have Anthony Fasano and Sean McGrath ahead of Kelce on the depth chart, but Kelce is expected to make an impact coming off of microfracture surgery in 2013. He's a player to watch this offseason. If he has a good camp and can earn starter's snaps, he'll be a sleeper at tight end. The Chiefs are desperate for playmakers in the passing game.
Monday, May 26, 2014, 12:34pm
Redskins beat writer Mike Jones on the team's receiving corps:
There’s no question the starters are Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, with slot man Andre Roberts joining them in frequently-used three-receiver sets. But the spots behind them remain up for grabs. Santana Moss had been the slot guy, but now returns on a non-guaranteed deal and will work to compete at whatever spot he can. Aldrick Robinson had served as the deep threat and backup to Garcon, but hasn’t been the most consistent or versatile guy in the past. Leonard Hankerson has seen some time in the slot, but might not fully recover from anterior cruciate ligament surgery until late July/early August. Fifth-round pick Ryan Grant and undrafted free agent Cody Hoffman will push veteran teammates who are on the bubble. Grant doesn’t have the speed that Robinson has, but he’s bigger, and he’s more versatile with the ability to play on special teams, which Robinson does not. Last weekend, Grant lined up both on the outside, and in the slot. He also served as a jammer and gunner on special teams. Gruden praised Grant, saying he played like a 10-year veteran at the minicamp. Meanwhile, Hoffman is the biggest receiver on the roster at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, and he too plays special teams, having stood out in college as a return man. He also is a precise route runner with good hands, according to Gruden. The veterans could have to work extremely hard to fend off these two rookies.
The top three spots seem settled with Garcon, Jackson and Roberts. From a redraft fantasy standpoint, that's all that really matters.
Monday, May 26, 2014, 12:24pm
General manager Martin Mayhew said earlier this offseason that WR Ryan Broyles attacks rehab harder than just about any player he has ever seen, and that regimen has Broyles closing in on a full recovery.
He participated in the Lions' first round of OTAs this week, both at receiver and kick returner. And that was enough to put a smile on his face.
"I'm gettin' right, man. I really am," Broyles told MLive after Wednesday's practice.
Monday, May 26, 2014, 12:22pm
Returning is Markus Wheaton, their third-round pick in 2013 who caught six passes as a rookie, three in his only start against Minnesota in the fourth game of the season. He missed four games with a hand injury and had surgery after the season.
This is a group that needs to come up to speed quickly with Ben Roethlisberger, who pushed hard for the Steelers to re-sign Jerricho Cotchery. Lance Moore will take Cotchery's spot in the slot and it's possible he could start when they deploy two receivers. But they need someone to play that split end or "X" spot, the one formerly occupied by Mike Wallace, then Emmanuel Sanders.
Our projection for split end: Wheaton.
Martavis Bryant is also in the mix and could win the job due to his outstanding size and physical skills. Normally, we'd defer to the veteran, but it's not like Wheaton had a solid rookie season to build on.
Monday, May 26, 2014, 12:14pm
“I haven’t had an interest in trading Mikel,” Mayhew told beat writers over lunch. “I want to see him come in and perform and be the player he can be.”
Mayhew obviously wants to see Leshoure succeed here in Detroit and saw a a possible role for him back in March with the new offense being implemented. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has come over from New Orleans and taken a lot of elements from that offense with him.
One of things that sticks out about the Saints offense is the way they rotate running backs and have multiple backs with different roles. Four running backs had at least 53 carries in the Saints offense last year.
“Guys that make plays will get carries,” Mayhew said. “You can go back to New Orleans’ offense, which is what encouraged me about Joe (Lombardi). Pierre Thomas had a role. (Darren) Sproles had a role. Mark Ingram had a role. At one point Chris Ivory had a role when he was down there with them. They found a way to utilize guys who could make plays.”
Jagaurs like Toby Gerhart's tough running style
Sunday, May 25, 2014, 12:47pm
“Without a doubt,” RB coach Terry Richardson said of Gerhart’s physical running style. “He’s a horse. He’s a big guy, and I talked to one of his former [position] coaches, and he was saying Toby had the strongest legs he’s been around in terms of his leg drive and leg power. We’re excited about that.”
Gerhart has touched the ball 15+ times in seven career games and has averaged low-end RB1 numbers (12.6 FP) with that type of workload. For more on Gerhart's potential production, click here.
Saturday, May 24, 2014, 11:13pm
On the topic of rookie WR Jarvis Landry...
“He always made plays, got separation, got open and made great catches, and that’s what he’s been doing for us the last two weeks,” Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said.
no one should write off Landry playing meaningful offensive snaps this fall, even with the Dolphins returning their top nine pass-catchers from 2013. On the job for just two weeks, he has already worked at all the receiver positions — both on the outside and in the slot.
More likely, however, Landry will also need to be a special-teams presence to get activated on Sundays.
Saturday, May 24, 2014, 11:08pm
Rams beat writer Nick Wagoner on rookie Tre Mason: "I expect Mason to be nipping at the heels of (Zac Stacy) for carries and handle the No. 2 role. I also wouldn't be surprised if he usurped Stacy at some point, especially if Stacy struggles with nagging injuries again."