When Giants WR Victor Cruz missed a pair of practices last week because of a calf strain, he insisted that the issue was not serious, and that he would "definitely" be back in practice this week. So far, not so good. On Tuesday, the Giants began prepping for their Saturday preseason meeting with the Jets, and Cruz was not going to practice, coach Tom Coughlin said. The coach added that he is "concerned" about the situation. "Concerned? Yeah," he said. "Because obviously there were a couple of slotted opportunities (for Cruz to practice last week). Yeah, yeah I am." "I would like to see him get out there and be able to stay out there," Coughlin said. "As soon as that can be done, that's possible, then that's what would happen."
Coughlin did not rule Cruz, who is coming back from a torn right patellar knee tendon suffered midway through last season, out of Saturday's game against the Jets, although he did indicate that the receiver must practice first. He said Cruz is "day-to-day" and must first show an ability to practice for a few consecutive days before he would consider playing the receiver. Cruz has yet to appear in a preseason game, as his rapid return from action has come to a stuttering halt. Early in camp, and even during the joint practice sessions with the Bengals in Cincinnati, the receiver looked to be well on track in his recovery, the story said. In another story, Cruz believes he will be ready for Week 1.
Michael Vick said all along that a training camp injury would open a door for him to get back into the NFL.
That may have happened over the weekend.
Vick will be visiting with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday, per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. ESPN first reported the development.
His visit may have been caused by an injury to backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who left Sunday's game with a hand injury that will reportedly require surgery. This seems to be the ideal backup situation for Vick should the Steelers end up signing him. Unlike his short tenure in New York, he will not be forced into an awkward dual role of mentor and top competitor, the story said. Should something happen to Ben Roethlisberger, and Vick was indeed signed as the backup, he would have a ton of fantasy value in this impressive offense loaded with weapons.
A bigger loss would be TE Greg Olsen.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, receivers and tight ends made up 87 percent of Carolina’s total targets last season. That was the third-highest rate in the NFL even though the Panthers had only six games where individual receivers and tight ends were targeted 10 times in a game in 2014.
But if you take the tight ends out of the equation, specifically Olsen, the ranking falls to 17th.
In other words, Olsen is the most valuable piece of the Carolina passing game.
Olsen has been lining up all over the field for the Panthers in camp the story said. Since 2011, when Newton was the top pick of the draft, Olsen has been targeted 415 times. That’s the third-most of any tight end behind Jimmy Graham (548) and Jason Witten (457). Olsen has led Carolina in receptions the past two seasons, including a career-high 84 catches for 1,008 yards last season, the story added. We rank Olsen third among our TEs so we certainly see his value. And it could go up with the loss of Benjamin.
The hype machine has yet to start cranking for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson. When it comes to the team's offensive skill positions, running back Adrian Peterson, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and a handful of other receivers have all generated more discussion than Johnson.
However, Johnson's 10-yard touchdown catch in a preseason win over the Oakland Raiders on Saturday served as a subtle reminder of what he brings to Minnesota's offense.
"You talk about that touchdown catch he had today with the defensive back all over his shoulders," Bridgewater said, per ESPN's Ben Goessling. "Charles, he’s a big, physical guy. He helps out in the run game with his blocking for the running backs and it showed tonight in the passing game in just the first half -- not even the entire first half, but the first quarter. He showed that he’s going to be big for us this year."
At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Johnson hides in a cast of receivers that includes Mike Wallace, Cordarrelle Patterson and rookie sensation Stefon Diggs, among others. He is listed as the starting "WR2," opposite Wallace, on the Vikings' preseason depth chart, the story said. Johnson is 34th on our WR list and hasn't really been that big of a secret in drafts this season. Teams are taking him in the middle rounds because he's got a lot of positive press since the end of last season.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 10:28am
The Bills are still banged up in the backfield, but they got a playmaker back on the field this morning.
According to Ty Dunne of the Buffalo News, Bills wide receiver Percy Harvin was back on the field after missing two weeks with a hip injury. He wasn’t wearing pads, but having him active is a nice start for the Bills.
Harvin had a platelet-rich plasma injection last week because his injury wasn’t responding to treatment, and it apparently worked, the story said.
He's worked hard to shore up the holes in his game, most specifically his ability to catch the ball, and his improvements have led to a significant number of first-team reps in training camp and in the preseason. It's not out of the question that Williams overtakes Rashad Jennings for the Giants' starting running back job at some point this season, possibly even at the start.
But Williams isn't thinking about that. He's focused on getting better. And if you watched him wait patiently for the blocks to develop on his 11-yard run in Saturday night's preseason game, you saw the fruits of another specific offseason focus.
"I'm just really working on staying patient this year," Williams said after Saturday's game. "Not just 'go-go-go' as soon as you see the first hole, but remembering what's supposed to happen and waiting to make sure it's time to go. That's not an easy thing when you're working at game speed, but it's important."
Williams has been watching tape of Steelers running back LeVeon Bell, who established himself last year as one of the most patient runners in the league. It was Jennings who worked out with Bell two seasons ago the story said. Jennings said several times last year that the biggest thing Williams had to learn was to slow down and be patient, trust his blockers and the play. It appears those lessons are starting to take hold. The author didn't rule out Williams taking over for Jennings at some point this season, which should peak fantasy owners' interests a bit.
“I talked to him and he didn’t feel like it was that serious,’’ Smith said. “We wanted to get our (starters) into the second quarter and then get them out.’’
Evans left the game in the second quarter and did not return. Obviously good news but the hope is this doesn't linger into the season.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 8:25am
The Patriots aren’t making any promises when it comes to wide receiver Reggie Wayne’s role on the team or even that he’ll have a role on the team come the regular season, but the list of players standing between him and a roster spot got shorter on the day he agreed to join the team.
Brandon Gibson was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury and Brian Tyms will join him as long as a team doesn’t pluck him off waivers. The Patriots waived Tyms with the injury designation on Monday because of a foot injury suffered during last week’s practices with the Saints.
Tyms made the team off a strong preseason last year and played 11 regular season games and one playoff game after serving a four-game PED suspension to start the year. He caught five passes for 82 yards and a touchdown and also played on special teams.
Tyms and Gibson were both vying for spots on the Patriots receiver depth chart behind Brandon LaFell, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. That’s what Wayne will be doing in New England as well with Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and Chris Harper now looking like his chief competition, the story said. However Dobson is another WR with injury issues right now.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 8:23am
The Minnesota Vikings' running game has put up meager numbers so far in the preseason, and there's one particular area of it that coach Mike Zimmer feels the team needs to fix. Zimmer didn't divulge what the fix was, but it's probably a safe bet he doesn't have "get future Hall of Famer for backfield" on his daily to-do list.
Adrian Peterson certainly figures to provide a jolt to the Vikings' running game when he steps back on the field on Sept. 14, and his presence could minimize some of the issues the Vikings are having on the ground game. In the meantime, however, the fact Peterson isn't playing in the preseason probably gives the Vikings time to clean things up before Peterson covers them up.
The Vikings are averaging just 3.1 yards per carry in the preseason, and gained only 87 yards on 32 carries Saturday night against the Oakland Raiders. Zimmer had several points of emphasis for players when they returned to work on Monday; improving the run game was among the top priorities. While Peterson should be a quick-fix, it's also important the backups show some signs of life if something were to happen to AP.
Consider this: They're the only twosome who played together the last two seasons and totaled more than 3,000 rushing yards where the No. 2 back -- in this case Starks -- had at least 800 of those yards, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
So if the Green Bay Packers want to rely more on their running game to make up for the season-ending knee injury that Jordy Nelson sustained in Sunday's preseason game at Pittsburgh, then coach Mike McCarthy and play-caller Tom Clements certainly have that option.
While Lacy has been the workhorse, rushing for 2,317 yards combined in his first two NFL seasons, Starks' total of 826 yards the last two seasons has helped the Packers rank sixth in the league in rushing yards during that stretch. This could be great news for Lacy's fantasy value, but it also may give some value to Starks in deeper formats.
Monday, August 24, 2015, 8:26pm
"He's healing," Arians said. "He's had these [minor injuries] in the past, and they only lasted a few days, so hopefully it's one of those."
Johnson did not practice Monday.
Johnson hurt his right hamstring on the last play of Thursday's practice, which caused him to miss Saturday's preseason game against San Diego. Arizona plays at Oakland on Sunday.
Rams running back Todd Gurley, the No. 10 overall pick in the spring's NFL draft, has been cleared to begin practicing. Head coach Jeff Fisher made the announcement in a Monday meeting with the media at Rams Park.
“So that's good news,'' Fisher said. “Now we're going to progress him slowly, but he'll be able to participate in seven-on-seven and team drills. To this point, he's just been participating in the one-on-ones. We'll take it slow, but it's going to fun to get him on the practice field.''
Fisher said that Gurley, who underwent ACL surgery on his left knee in November, will not play in the preseason.
“No, we don't have any intention of doing that,'' the coach said. “We're just going to slowly increase his reps and see how he progresses. He may need a day off here or day, but it's good news. Dr. (James) Andrews was really pleased with his progress, so he's cutting him loose... (but) he'll continue to wear the brace.''
When asked if the team was anticipating Gurley being ready for the season opener Sept. 13 against the visiting Seattle Seahawks, Fisher said, “Don't know. Gonna bring him along slow.'' That's been the motto so far this whole offseason, and some beat writers even went as far as saying they didn't think Gurley would have the type of impact this year one would expect from a back taken 10th overall. Tre Mason looks like he'll at least have some early season value. At some point, it's going to be hard to keep a back like Gurley on the sidelines.
His rookie speedster had gained a step on cornerback Richard Crawford, but the veteran quarterback has thrown countless bombs in his career, and knows an overthrow when he lets one fly.
Except, this time, he was wrong. As the ball ended its descent, Nelson sat there waiting for it, actually slowing down in order to complete the 57-yard gain.
“I can’t wait to watch it on film,” Palmer said. “He must have hit the nitrous button because he took off.”
When the Cardinals selected Nelson in the fifth-round of the draft, they knew he had speed. The Alabama-Birmingham star had the fastest 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting combine and figured to come in and compete for kick and punt return duties immediately, the story said. His playing time at wideout was less certain, with Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown taking up the majority of the snaps and Jaron Brown and Brittan Golden battling Nelson for the fourth receiver spot. But with Floyd recovering from three dislocated fingers in his hand, it was Nelson who started alongside John Brown and Fitzgerald in a three-receiver set in the 22-19 preseason loss to the Chargers. Much like John Brown last year, Nelson could be a guy who comes out of no where on the Cards deep list of WRs.
Nelson, one of the top targets for NFL MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, was injured Sunday in a preseason loss at Pittsburgh. The team said Monday only that he suffered a "significant right knee injury" that would cost him the season.
Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said the team had hoped for good news in a re-evaluation of Nelson's injury. Instead, the Packers will be without a playmaker who set career highs in receptions (98) and yards receiving (1,519) in 2014.
There was some hope leading up to Monday's MRI since Nelson was moving around on the sideline and walked to the locker room under his own power after the injury. The team is still only calling it a significant knee injury, however reports surfacing from Sunday said it was an ACL tear.
Monday, August 24, 2015, 6:45pm
Since arriving in late January, offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has examined second-year running backs Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West like a detective. “Flip” watched all of their combined 319 carries from 2014 and he’s looked at hundreds of hours of practice film. On Monday, the month long training camp concluded and further information was acquired.
In this refurbished offense, West and Crowell will be asked to evolve from inside- the-tackle-box runners to do-it-all weapons. Mastering one running style in this league is an accomplishment; conquering others are how players go from solid to spectacular.
The Browns are expected to use more passes to RBs in this offense which would favor West, but also rookie Duke Johnson, who wasn't mentioned much in the story. However, Johnson has just returned from injury and could make a push for the starting role, something no Cleveland back has seemed to do so far in camp.