Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 5:54pm
The Oakland Raiders got back three key players from injury Wednesday.
Third-down running back Roy Helu (hamstring) returned to practice Wednesday as Oakland begins preparing for Sunday’s home preseason game against Arizona.
Helu, who signed as a free agent from Washington, has missed all but a couple of days of training camp. He is expected to be a key contributor on offense.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 5:51pm
The veteran running back played four snaps vs. the 49ers. He carried three times for four yards and caught one pass for three yards.
"I feel good. I came out yesterday and was just a little sore," McFadden said after Wednesday's morning walk-through. "But I definitely feel good and I'll be out there today."
McFadden played in all 16 games last season. It was the first time during his seven years in Oakland that he didn't miss a game because of injury. He said Wednesday that he's not looking to be cautious with his workload during the preseason or regular season. McFadden also said he "definitely" expects to play Saturday in Dallas' third preseason game.
It was a sign of progress, but coach Bruce Arians said there is still not an estimate on when Floyd will return.
"He’s doing extremely well, so no, I don’t think there is an exact timetable," Arians said. "I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s ready (for Week 1), knowing Michael."
The Cardinals open the regular season Sept. 13 at home against New Orleans.
Floyd’s stitches were removed on Aug. 18, almost two weeks after he had surgery to repair three dislocated fingers in his left hand. Floyd has been working on his conditioning with assistant strength and conditioning coach Roger Kingdom before and after practices.
Wide receiver DeVante Parker was in full uniform for Wednesday’s practice. And he went through a few individual drills during the part of practice media was allowed to watch.
But officially, Parker was listed as “out” for the session.
Parker, who had a screw replaced in his left foot in June, said it’s feasible he could contribute early in the season despite not participating in training camp.
“That’s the plan,” said Parker, “but you never know. You’ve just go out there and see how you can do.”
It's at least a good sign Parker is getting closer. While it may be tough to jump right into the offense, it may be hard to keep him off the field once he's a full go. The story said the Dolphins’ first-round pick who has been sidelined while recovering from foot surgery has looked impressive during offseason workouts at least. Unfortunately, there is still no timetable for his return to the field.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 4:15pm
DeMarco Murray was asked how he expects the rotation to play out. Will the RBs alternate series? Will they spell one another during a drive?
"I don't think it will be alternating series," Murray said. "But [Mathews] is a quality back, great guy, works extremely hard. I'm sure he'll get his fair share of touches. But I don't know how the rotation will be yet, we haven't touched on it."
Murray is unsure of how many snaps he'll get in Green Bay this Saturday, but expect his workload to increase in the dress rehearsal. Starters typically play an entire half, if not more, in the penultimate preseason game.
The Eagles like to run a lot of plays so it's possible Murray still gets a solid workload with perhaps Mathews getting 8-10 touches. Sproles could mix in but is expected to get most of his work in the passing, even though he proved to be a nice weapon running the ball last year. As long as the Eagles offense is clicking, Murray owners shouldn't worry too much about the Birds crowded backfield.
While Shula says it's a major loss, he points out the Panthers still have plenty of offensive talent even with Benjamin sidelined with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Shula said the Panthers will likely replace Benjamin's production at wide receiver "by committee," but is quick to add "eventually there might be a guy that emerges" into that No. 1 role.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Benjamin set Carolina rookie franchise records last season with 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns, so he will be missed.
Shula pointed to Corey Brown, rookie Devin Funchess and Ted Ginn Jr. as guys who are capable of filling that void at wide receiver — although the starting lineup hasn't been settled, the story said. Brown and Ginn are considered speed guys with big play ability, while Funchess is more of a possession receiver. Brown was an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State who emerged late in the season before suffering an injury. Ginn had one of his most productive seasons two years ago for the Panthers before signing with Arizona last season and then returning to Carolina this year. Funchess is our highest rated Carolina WR coming in at 39th on our list. We have Brown next at 67th.
Add Eddie Royal to the list of the walking wounded among Bears receivers. Royal missed Wednesday's practice at Halas Hall with a hip injury, further depleting the offense of playmakers and causing yet another round of shuffling as the Bears ready for Saturday night's exhibition game in Cincinnati.
Coach John Fox stamped his standard "day to day" label on Royal. But that, of course, means very little. When training camp began, the Bears referred to Kevin White as "day to day" with a shin injury. White, however, may now be lost for the season after having surgery this weekend to repair a stress fracture in his left shin.
Said quarterback Jay Cutler: "I've never been a part of anything like that — all four (top receivers) going down like that. It's a great opportunity for these (other) guys and it's given me an opportunity to work with them and do some hands-on stuff with them."
Alshon Jeffery has been "day to day" with a calf strain since Aug. 12 and was still not back at practice on Wednesday. Marquess Wilson also did not practice, dealing with a hamstring issue. So if you're keeping count, the Bears' top four receivers are now unavailable. Next men up: Josh Bellamy, Marc Mariani, Rashad Lawrence and Cam Meredith.
Ertz underwent core muscle surgery on Aug. 14 and was expected to miss the entire preseason with an eye towards the season opener as a return date.
"No comment yet," Ertz told NJ Advance Media following Tuesday's practice at the NovaCare Complex when asked if he was still on target for playing Week 1. "I should know soon, though."
On Monday Ertz was seen catching balls from the JUGS machine and getting extra work in after practice for the first time since suffering the injury earlier this month. To make it worse for fantasy owners, the Eagles play Monday night of Week 1. Brent Celek is a possible late, emergency replacement at the position if you're really counting on Ertz.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 1:37pm
Wide receiver Devin Funchess (hamstring) was on the field for a handful of plays during team drills. This was the first time for Funchess in a week. He seemed to move well, but coach Ron Rivera wouldn’t commit to his status for Friday night’s preseason game against New England until he sees how he responds on Thursday.
Rivera wants Funchess on the field because he’s the best candidate to replace Kelvin Benjamin.
"No, he won't," head coach Tom Coughlin said when asked if Cruz could return to work from the calf sprain that Coughlin has said he is "concerned" about.
Cruz was on schedule to play last weekend against the Jaguars, but the sprain forced him out of practice and prevented him from playing in the game. He has not practiced since.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 1:33pm
A position beset by injuries this preseason got a dose of good news Wednesday with the return of tight end Brandon Williams.
Williams, who was placed on the physically unable to perform list before training camp, returned to the practice field after recovering from surgery on his groin.
"I felt a little rusty, but it feels so good to be back," Williams said. "I felt bad not being able to help my teammates out – they've been getting a lot of extra reps – so it feels good to be back contributing and taking some of the load off them."
The Panthers are still without Richie Brockel, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, and lost Jamie Childers for the season to an arm injury suffered in the preseason opener. Carolina signed free agent tight end Dallas Walker on Tuesday.
To make room for two-time Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis, the Broncos on Wednesday released kicker Connor Barth, the team announced. Barth took over as the team's starting kicker in the last five weeks of the season last season and made 15 of his 16 field-goal attempts and all 15 PATs. He also made 11 consecutive field goals to begin his tenure with the Broncos and twice tied the team's single-game record for made field goals, going 5-for-5 at Kansas City and at San Diego. But Barth's inability to kickoff doomed him this year, as special teams coach Joe DeCamillis has reiterated that he wants to keep two dual-threat kickers — players who can both kick field goals and kick off, and punt and kick off.
Related players: Brandon McManus
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 10:14am
With longtime deep threat Torrey Smith in San Francisco and his replacement, first-round wide receiver Breshad Perriman, out for going on four weeks, the Ravens passing game has seemed to lack a down-field dimension through training camp and the first half of the taken on a different look than years past.
Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, while acknowledging that missing top-end speed, said the team has other ways of getting chunks of yardage in the passing game than by hitting a receiver who has run past his defender.
“We’ve hit a lot of deep balls; you saw last week if you were in Philadelphia,” Trestman said. “We went on the edge and practiced and made some plays on the edge. [If] you went on the deep ball in the National Football League, you don’t have to go by your guy to beat him. The guy can be on top of you, and you can back-shoulder throw. That’s a vertical throw, too, and we [had] a bunch of that in the games, in the practices anyways. We got one by Marlon [Brown] in the game.
“We have enough speed to get down-field,” Tresman said. “It’s [about] how we do it and how we scheme it and approach it. Our guys are fast enough.”
The down-field passing game has been a big part of the Ravens offense, with quarterback Joe Flacco completing 21 of 56 passes over 20 yards down-field for 663 yards with 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Factor in the seven drops on such passes, and the balls that resulted in Smith’s league-leading 11 pass interference penalties drawn for 229, and you have a big part of the Ravens offense.
Steve Smith has also provided a target down-field, as evidenced by his Week 1 touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals. Kamar Aiken ran the proverbial “Torrey Smith route” early in Saturday’s game against the Eagles. But the return of Perriman, whose speed Trestman said is “one of the big reasons we got him,” will help that aspect of their offense, the story said.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 10:10am
DeMarco Murray’s biggest schematic adjustment in coming from Dallas to Philadelphia is running out of the shotgun formation instead of getting the ball from a quarterback is who under center. It’s similar to how he played at Oklahoma, though, when he last took handoffs from Sam Bradford.
“We didn’t do much of it in Dallas, but I’ve done it in past,” Murray said. “Hopefully we’ll get more downhill runs and get in the home position, but I think just the way we run and the plays, it’s hard for teams to set on one guy, set on one formation, we have a lot of things.”
There are advantages and disadvantages. LeSean McCoy preferred taking handoffs when the quarterback was under center because he was 7 ½ yards deep and he said it helped with his vision. He had the running start in that scenario as opposed to in the shotgun, when McCoy said he started running sideways.
Murray said he actually gets to “see more of the field” when it’s a shotgun formation.
Without Nelson, the 25-year-old Cobb becomes the senior member of the receiving corps in just his fifth NFL season, and the 22-year-old Adams moves into the No. 2 role in just his second season.
"He's poised for a breakout year," Cobb said Tuesday. "He's poised for a big year. I look forward to helping him accomplish that."
Perhaps the good news is Cobb said he sensed that since the end of last season, when Adams finished off his rookie season with eight catches for 124 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs - seven of those catches, 117 of those yards and the touchdown came in the win over the Cowboys in the divisional round. Sounds like Cobb expected big things from Adams before Nelson's injury. We do too and have him ranked 18th on our WR list.