We were expecting more out of rookie RB Andre Williams, but he's averaging just 3.2 YPC and hasn't cracked the 60-yard mark since taking over as the starter. The Giants are coming off of their bye and facing the Colts, who are giving up 4.4 YPC, so Williams should be able to post solid RB2 numbers provided the G-Men can stay in the game.
Although Alfred Morris is having an off year, HC Jay Gruden still has confidence in him. “Well, I think from an expectation level, I think we all expected him to have probably more yards, more touchdowns and that’s a combination of things—not getting as many looks, me not calling enough runs, maybe,” he said. “Like I said, in the running game, there’s a lot of things that can go wrong. But he is where he is. He’s still a force.”
Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman was limited in Wednesday's practice with a shoulder injury he suffered during the workout. However, later Wednesday afternoon, Hillman said he expected to practice Thursday and remained on track to again be the team's lead option at running back Sunday against the New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium.
"I just landed on it funny, it'll be all right," Hillman said following Wednesday's practice.
Asked if he had any concern he wouldn't be able to play in the showdown with the Patriots, Hillman said:
"No, I'm not, I'll be at practice (Thursday). So, I mean, I plan on being at practice (Thursday). I don't know what they're talking about. But I'll be fine. It's nothing that I can't deal with."
We'll monitor his practice activity this week, but antsy owners may want to pick up Juwan Thompson, who would see an increased role if Hillman's situation deteriorates.
"Not necessarily; I don't want him to feel that way either," Welker said. "I just want him to go play his game and whoever's open is open and whenever we need to score touchdowns, that's the way I want it to be. I'm not going to put any pressure on him or anything else, [saying] 'Hey, I really need the ball because I'm playing my old team,' or anything like that. I just want to go out there and whatever we need to do to win the game, that's first and foremost for me. Hopefully I make some plays along the way, but however that happens is how it happens."
Welker has faced the Patriots twice since signing with the Broncos, posting a combined eight catches for 69 yards and zero touchdowns. It doesn't appear that the Broncos have done anything special to force-feed him the ball against his old team. He has averaged 6.5 targets in his two games against New England.
Panthers beat writer David Newton: (TE Greg Olsen) was having a career season until Seattle held him to one catch. He still leads the team with 42 receptions and the Panthers would like to show the rest of the country that their tight end deserves some Pro Bowl consideration. Look for Carolina to toss in a couple of tight end screens that have been so effective. Also look for Olsen to be a bigger part of the game plan in the red zone, where the Panthers scored only six points on three trips against the Seahawks. Statistically, it looks like the Saints are vulnerable.
Olsen has caught at least five passes in six of his eight games this season. We're expecting he'll bounce back against the Saints on Thursday night.
Jets beat writer Rich Cimini on the team's initial usage of WR Percy Harvin: Harvin didn’t make much of a difference in his Jets debut -- seven touches on offense for a total of 50 yards. Instead of using him as a “gadget” receiver -- bubble screens, jet sweeps, etc. -- the Jets used him as a traditional X receiver. I guess they think they’re smarter than the Seahawks, but the only plays that worked were his old Seattle plays. Two of his three catches came behind the line of scrimmage. Elsewhere, he caught only one of seven targets. His four rushes came from a running-back position. He played 44 of 84 snaps last week, so look for that total to increase after another week of absorbing the system. He’s fast, all right, but he’s not the kind of player that can elevate those around him.
Harvin played more extensively (52% of the snaps) than we expected in Week 8 given his limited knowledge of the playbook. Expect his snap percentage to rise into the 70-75% range sooner rather than later.
Cowboys beat writer Todd Archer on DeMarco Murray's heavy workload: There’s some concern about it, and they have rested him at different times for a series or a few plays in the first half of the past three games, but he is their bell cow. He is their guy. They will be mindful of how much work he gets, but he’s too good to take off the field for extended spells. They like backup running backs Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar, but those guys can’t do what Murray does in the run and pass game. He doesn’t look like he’s wearing down. He had 19 carries for 141 yards against the Redskins, so his carries were down from what they had been. But I’d maintain he took more of a beating in that game than he did when he had 29 carries in Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans. Jason Garrett was around Emmitt Smith for the bulk of his career, so I think he has a watchful eye to this sort of thing, as does Scott Linehan, who was around Steven Jackson in St. Louis. They will be smart with Murray, but not to the point that it costs them games.
Murray is averaging 29.0 touches per game, which is a big increase from the 19.3 touches he averaged in 2013. So far, he hasn't shown any signs of wearing down, but Murray owners should try to secure Joseph Randle just in case. Those owners who don't own Murray would be wise to stash Randle (or hold him ransom) in case Murray breaks down.
Thursday, October 30, 2014, 9:48am
Cardinals beat writer Josh Weinfuss: With WR John Brown, Arizona added a reliable speed option. Carson Palmer and Brown developed a great rapport while working together in Southern California this offseason and it’s just translated onto the field. While Larry Fitzgerald has shown he can make a tough catch in traffic and break free for 80 yards and Michael Floyd can go up and over anyone who challenges him, it’s Brown who can take the top off the defense. He has started showing up more and more on opposing game plans over the last few weeks, but after his game-winning touchdown catch Sunday, I’m sure he’ll be a point of emphasis going forward, which will spread secondaries thin and open up the middle and underneath for the rest of the Cardinals’ receivers.
Bengals WR A.J. Green has missed parts of four games this season because of a nagging big-toe injury, and in his place the Bengals have just rolled out a strong group of receivers, running backs and tight ends. Mohamed Sanu has been the most direct replacement for Green, catching 21 passes for 383 yards and a touchdown in Green's absence. Since Sanu has served as a runner on reverses, and passed balls in addition to catching them, he has racked up 460 yards of total offense in relief of Green. That's good enough for 31.3 percent of the Bengals' entire offensive production in the games Green has missed. Even if Green returns, expect Sanu to factor in similar ways this week and on down the line.
We're seeing Sanu fall down WR rankings as Green is expected to return this week, but we still consider him a good WR2, especially since six teams are on bye in Week 9. Sanu averaged 8.8 FP in the three games in which Green has played, and those are #20-type WR numbers. Considering Green won't be 100 percent, Sanu should continue to be heavily involved in the team's offense.
With fewer three-receiver or more packages being called upon this season, the Patriots will likely continue to dress just four receivers on game day, with the final spot coming down to Brian Tyms or Aaron Dobson.
If there's one subject that has been met with nothing but positive commentary this week, following the Buccaneers' overtime loss to Minnesota, it's the ever-improving play of Mike Evans, the seventh overall pick in this year's draft. By the raw numbers, Evans has been consistent all season catching at least four passes in each game he's played and usually falling somewhere between 50 and 80 yards per week. But everyone from his quarterback to his coordinator to himself believes that Evans is riding an upward trajectory towards potential stardom.
After Evans caught four passes for 78 yards (and had one other big play erased by a holding penalty back at the line), Head Coach Lovie Smith said in his day-after-game press conference that the Bucs' offense needs to get the ball in Evans' hands more often.
Carolina Panthers (3-4-1) running back DeAngelo Williams had a "good" practice on Tuesday coach Ron Rivera said and because of that, he will get the start for the Panthers Thursday night against the New Orleans Saints (3-4), per NFL Network.
Williams missed the last four games due to a lingering ankle injury. Williams will split carries with Jonathan Stewart, who started last week for the Panthers against the Seahawks and finished with 79 rushing yards and hauled in three passes for 15 yards.
Cameron left the game Sunday with a concussion —his third documented one in less than two years — with 7:31 left in the second quarter. He caught a 21-yard pass over the middle from Brian Hoyer and took a shot from safety Brandian Ross.
“I don’t know where he was today, as far as symptoms, but you don’t even start the clock until they’re ‘symptom-free,’ ” HC Mike Pettine said. “I know he won’t go today, and that’ll be a day-to-day thing based on where he is.”
Bradshaw, who was not brought back after the 2012 season, and Hakeem Nicks, who was not re-signed after last season, will surely be determined to show their former team they made a mistake not keeping them. Because neither, particularly Bradshaw, ever wanted to leave.
This is an example of the #OldTeamTheorem that Senior Editor John Paulsen likes to talk about on Twitter (@4for4_John). Players are generally extra motivated to stick it to their old teams. It doesn't always result in a big game, but more often than not, players seem to outperform their usual production. We expect Bradshaw to play well. If Reggie Wayne misses another game, Nicks could be in the mix for a surprising game as well, though Donte Moncrief has been outplaying him thus far.