New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram hasn't exactly been known as a pass-catching running back in his time in the NFL. This especially rings true when Ingram has only caught 27 passes for 160 yards - and zero touchdowns - in 39 career games (37 regular season, two playoffs).
But a look at the record books, as Ingram attested to on Monday after practice, shows that Ingram has been capable of being an asset out of the backfield in his younger days.
Entering his fourth season with the Saints, Ingram is ready to show off some of that versatility on a new stage.
"I want to do everything," Ingram said. "I want to be involved in the passing game, the running game, picking up pass (protection). I want to be the most versatile player I can be."
Ingram looks to have a much more active role in the Saints' passing game this season as evident by his preseason workload. He caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Griffin in the Saints' 31-24 preseason victory over the Tennessee Titans last Friday.
Ingram alluded to the fact that the reason he hasn't caught as many passes with the Saints is because simply, there haven't been many chances to do so because of the style of play the Saints run and the opportunities given to Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles over the last three seasons. With the news that Thomas is now the RB3 on the Saints depth chart, it could very well create more opportunity for Ingram to be a true feature back. This isn't good news for Thomas owners.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 5:49pm
It didn’t last long.
Bortles took three snaps during an 11-on-11 red zone period and coach Gus Bradley said he was pleased with the way the rookie quarterback handled himself. That was just as important as the result of the plays.
"I think the speed of the game, it was good for him to see that," Bradley said. "I was sitting back there and I thought it was really good for him to go against the ones like that to get a feel for the speed, to get a feel for the rush.
"Sitting back there and watching it, I just felt like that was good for him."
It's a start for Bortles who is still fully expected to sit behind Chad Henne once the season starts.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 5:45pm
The highlight was a 50-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker, who returned to practice after missing several days with a quadriceps injury. Decker had enough speed to get behind cornerback Ellis Lankster on a deep post. Decker was limited in terms of overall participation, but it certainly was encouraging to see him at full speed.
Gronkowski participated in 11-on-11 drills for the first time since training camp opened last month. Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com reports that a lot of balls were thrown Gronkowski’s way during that period of practice.
Recent reports were that Gronkowski is anything but a lock to play in the team’s first regular season game. Given the amount of time Gronkowski missed the last two seasons and the impact his absence had on the team, it would be no surprise to see them exercise plenty of caution before signing off on a spot on the gameday roster, the story said. But, 11-on-11 work is as close to game action as Gronkowski will get this offseason so it’s an important step closer to to his and the Patriots’ goal, the piece added.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 4:37pm
Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr returned to practice on Monday, three days after sustaining a concussion and a hit to his ribs against the Lions on Friday. Carr was wearing extra padding around his ribs.
Carr got some first-team reps in the second preseason game, but coach Dennis Allen doesn’t anticipate that happening again Friday in Green Bay. He said you will see a lot of starting quarterback Matt Schaub.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 4:37pm
Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson missed practice Monday to attend a hearing at NFL headquarters in New York and defend himself against a possible suspension for his November drunken-driving arrest, according to a person with direct knowledge.
The league is determining whether to discipline Simpson as a repeat offender under its collectively bargained Policy and Program For Substances of Abuse.
It’s easy to forget that Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin caught 49 passes as a rookie in 2012. It’s so easy that even the new coaching staff and front office came in not counting on Martin as a pass catcher.
“In the offseason, that was an area that we talked about,’’ coach Lovie Smith said Monday. “We went into the draft because we thought that was an area where we thought we needed a little bit of help.’’
The Bucs used a third-round pick to draft Charles Sims, who caught more than 200 passes in his college career. But Sims isn’t going to be contributing right away. He suffered an ankle injury last week that’s going to keep him out for 12 to 14 weeks.
Along the way, though, the Bucs might have found a running back they’re comfortable with as a pass catcher. That’s Martin.
Smith admitted Martin’s pass-catching game has been better than expected. You'll find a lot of different opinions of Martin on draft day most likely, with not a lot of in between - there are those who love him and those who are scared to death to draft him. His third round ADP still makes him a pretty attractive back at that point in drafts, and we have him ranked 13th on our PPR list. We think he loses some work to Bobby Rainey and Mike James, but still ending up as a RB2.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 3:45pm
Cowboys WR Dez Bryant has certainly looked like one of the NFL’s best receivers throughout training camp and during his two series of work Saturday night against Baltimore. He caught three passes for 59 yards and a touchdown during the first quarter.
Coming off his first Pro Bowl season, Bryant looks even better entering his fifth year in the league.
So what does Bryant need to work on?
“Oh, everything,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett responded.
Garrett then mentioned a play on the game’s opening series where Bryant ran a bad route. Bryant went deep along the visiting sideline and failed to make the catch. The play was called back because of holding on left tackle Tryon Smith.
Bryant has done nothing but gain positive reviews since camp started and is proving his worth as a late first round draft pick in typical leagues this year. The only worry with Bryant is if QB Tony Romo can stay healthy. QB2 Brandon Weeden has proved to be inconsistent so far and would be a huge dropoff.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 3:41pm
Bears WR Marquess Wilson — the smooth, speedy offseason standout who had been in line for the Bears' No. 3 receiver job — is likely to be sidelined until at least midseason, a person with knowledge of the injury told USA TODAY Sports on Monday.
Wilson, 21, broke his collarbone in three places when he was injured in practice two weeks ago, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because injury details were to remain private. He had surgery Aug. 5 and the initial timeline for recovery was set at 12 to 14 weeks.
That could make Wilson a candidate for short-term injured reserve if the Bears believe he can return to help them in the second half of the season. They also could save that designation for another player and put Wilson on season-ending IR, or they could carry Wilson on the 53-man roster in hopes his recovery is faster than expected, though that would take away a spot from a healthy player.
The injury has created an opportunity for free agent Santonio Holmes, who signed a one-year contract with the Bears on Saturday after four often-disappointing seasons with the New York Jets. Holmes will have limited fantasy value behind WRs Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, but could prove worthy in deeper leagues.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 3:38pm
Ravens running back Ray Rice, who left Saturday's preseason game after two carries to get his shoulder examined, was practicing Monday as the Ravens got back to work following their 37-30 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
Rice, who was diagnosed with a shoulder bruise, was participating in individual drills.
Tennessee's running back battle didn't skip a beat on Monday.
Greene practiced Monday, taking snaps in a backfield that also includes rookie Bishop Sankey. We expect the duo to share carries this season, but Greene is a candidate to see his role shrivel up in favor of Tennessee's first-round pick.
Sankey lost a fumble against the Saints and reportedly has struggled with ball-handing in practice, but we think he eventually emerges as the Titans RB1. For now, it looks like a committee approach at least to start the season but Sankey has long term value and may end up falling a little in drafts because of this news.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 2:10pm
Some of that inexperience showed up in Saturday’s preseason loss to the Baltimore Ravens, according to coach Jason Garrett. Weeden completed 10 of 19 passes for 129 yards and an interception. He also could have had a second pass intercepted. He was sacked once and hit countless times.
It was a little different than Weeden’s start in the preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers.
“As much as anything else, it’s the mechanics of the game: handle himself at the line of scrimmage, making sure we’re in the right play,” Garrett said. “His decision-making at different times was only OK in this game, but he did some good things. Obviously we’ll highlight those and try to correct the other things. Like we talked about with him all along, he needs to play. He needs to play a lot of snaps, and I think he’ll get better and better the more chances we give him in game situations.”
Caldwell also made it clear plans could change, depending on what happens the reset of the week.
"We plan to get him some work this week," Caldwell said. "That's (Monday) that I'm telling you that. Toward the end of the week, something adjusts, or we have to adjust here and there, and it could be that with a number of different guys, but we plan to get him some work this week."
The team has been cautious with Johnson this offseason, regularly resting him during practice, even though he's fully recovered from offseason surgeries on his knee and finger. Caldwell has chalked the routine up to "prudence," the story says.
Bridgewater may get a chance to make one last case to keep Zimmer from making a final decision. The coach said Saturday that Bridgewater could get time with the first team against Kansas City and repeated that on Monday, but everything the Vikings are doing makes it seem that they want to go with the veteran for at least the short term.
With the third preseason game usually serving as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, it would seem that Cassel is destined to start in St. Louis come September 7. Cassel hasn't done anything to lose the job and seems to be picking up Norv Turner's offense. What he'll likely have to do is win or we could end up seeing Bridgewater at some point this season. There probably won't be a ton of fantasy interest in Cassel in typical leagues, but he could serve as a committee starter in certain matchups.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 1:20pm
Mulligan caught a team-high four passes for 39 yards, including a 23-yarder to the Jacksonville 2 that set up a late touchdown, helping the Bears rally for a 20-19 preseason win.
“We’ve seen it during practice,” said coach Marc Trestman. “We’ve seen his speed in practice, we’ve seen his ability to run vertically up the field and make plays, which showed up [Thursday] night and it’s showed up in practice. He’s shown good hands and good speed, besides his ability to block at his point of attack, so we’re excited about it.”
With tight end Zachary Miller suffering a season-ending foot injury against the Jaguars, Mulligan’s role could expand, but perhaps not to being considered fantasy-worthy. Dante Rosario sat out the Jacksonville game with a sore calf, leaving Mulligan, starter Martellus Bennett and Jeron Mastrud as the Bears’ only healthy tight ends. We heard rumors of the Bears using two TE sets when Miller was standing out, but it remains to be seen if they continue down that road now that he's lost for the season.