Saturday, August 20, 2016, 1:08pm
Dallas RB Alfred Morris is competing with Darren McFadden, who has missed the first two preseason games as he recovers from a broken elbow, and rookie Darius Jackson for the backup job behind first-round pick Ezekiel Elliott.
“He was more of a first- and second-down back in Washington,” coach Jason Garrett said, “so we’re giving him an opportunity to do some other things here. He’s a good football player and a pro. He’s working hard and learning every day.”
The story said the he’s running well enough to get it, but the Cowboys want him to be a better receiver and blocker. He caught a screen pass for a short gain and dropped another pass in the flat and pass catching was never something he excelled at with the Skins. He’s worked hard to improve as a blocker, the story said.
Not just for Dolphins WR Kenny Stills, but if Friday is a sign of things to come, it would pay off for the entire offense. As good as co-MVP Jarvis Landry is, he can’t do it alone. The Dolphins have long claimed they have three talented, complementary receivers when DeVante Parker is healthy. Now it’s time to prove it.
“It’s huge,” Tannehill said of getting Stills involved. “We’re going to target Jarvis a lot, and we’re going to target Kenny a lot and we’re going to target DeVante a lot. So when you have three really explosive, talented playmakers, it makes it tough to take away one guy.”
Stills has been putting in extra work since March, the story said, and is looking to get his career back on track after a disappointing 2015 season when he was acquired via trade from the Saints. Stills is likely still behind Landry and Parker in terms of targets, but is getting some late-round attention in fantasy drafts. The Dolphins offense has really struggled in camp so if Stills can continue to shine he could get more involved.
Their starting running back left the game after being tackled on the sideline late in the first quarter. The second-year player suffered a sprain to his left AC joint.
“Just a little bruised up,” said Jones after the game. “Somebody landed on my shoulder. I was going down on my shoulder anyway but somebody landed on it.”
Jones said that he has no history of shoulder injuries and that he really doesn’t have a good feel for how serious this one might be. Although he minimized the pain he was in he appeared to have difficulty raising his elbow up to the level of his chest.
The problem here is that the Redskins have little proven depth at the running back position. Rookies Keith Marshall and Robert Kelley are currently second and third (not necessarily in that order) on the depth chart. Neither was particularly impressive against the Jets with Marshall gaining 26 yards on 10 carries and Kelley gaining eight yards on three carries, the story said. There has been talk of the Skins bringing in another back and Pierre Thomas has been mentioned. Chris Thompson has admitted he's more of a change of pace, third down back than a direct backup to Jones. If Jones misses time, this has the looks of a committee situation, at least right now.
So here's Packers RB Eddie Lacy after two games this exhibition season with similar numbers. In two games, Lacy's limited work resulted in 13 carries for 69 yards, a 5.3-yard average, and one touchdown. He played the first series last week against the Browns and gained 24 yards on four carries. He took only the first series Thursday against the Raiders and posted 45 yards on nine carries.
Lacy could get a longer stint in Friday's game at San Francisco, where quarterback Aaron Rodgers expects to play for the first -- and likely only -- time this preseason.
The story said, if the preseason is any indication -- and based on last year's results for Lacy alone, it often is not -- coach Mike McCarthy wants to establish the run with Lacy as his point man early on. But Lacy does look good after losing weight in the offseason. We have Lacy 12th in PPR league but think he has a chance to be a top-10 back they way things have been trending this offseason.
Backup Ed Dickson also was out Thursday with an injury, so the tight ends today could be Scott Simonson, Beau Sandland, and Braxton Deaver. The staff has been looking for a third tight end to step up as an all-around player as Olsen has been, so this could be the best opportunity for one to separate from the pack -- if Simonson hasn’t already done that, the story said.
Saturday, August 20, 2016, 9:42am
Coach Ron Rivera didn’t just say he wanted three series out of Panthers QB Cam Newton and the first-team offense. He said he wanted three "good" series. Whether that means Rivera is willing to risk the NFL MVP and other starters past that remains to be seen.
The starters typically don’t see extensive playing time until the third preseason game. Rivera didn’t expand on what he meant by "good," but you can bet he’ll want to see more out of the running game.
The Panthers rushed for only 81 yards in their preseason opener at Baltimore, and 39 of that total came from third-string quarterback Joe Webb (22) and starting wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (17). Starting running back Jonathan Stewart didn’t play, so look for him to get a few carries. But most of the focus will be on second-year back Cameron Artis-Payne, who had only 10 yards on five carries against the Ravens.
Jones returned to the bench, which is probably a good sign. Our injury expert, Russell Manalastas, says this: "Depends on severity, but reports of him in a sling is just precautionary. Minor sprain 1-2 weeks, more significant 2-4 weeks. The Sports Injury Clinic: "A grade 1, 2 or 3 injury is usually treated conservatively without surgery. Grade 4,5 and 6 injuries and grade 3 sprains which do not respond to treatment usually require surgery." For now, we'll assume that he's going to miss 1-2 games to start the season. Chris Thompson is the 3rd-down/change of pace back. Rob Kelley came in as the primary back once Jones left the game.
Steelers running back LeVeon Bell has been suspended three games by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
The running back was facing a four-game suspension but appealed to the league. Though Bell will be eligible to practice and play with the team through the preseason, he will miss the team’s first three regular-season games against the Washington Redskins, Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles.
This will boost Bell's projections, but he's still a little dicey as a 1st round pick since he'll miss the first three games of the year. He has extra value in leagues where more than half the teams make the playoffs. He's also recovering from MCL and PCL tears but recently declared himself 100 percent, for what it's worth.
49ers WR Bruce Ellington has been perhaps Blaine Gabbert's favorite target this summer, and he seems ready for big season after a series of minor injuries -- hamstring strains, ankle sprains -- slowed his development over the past two seasons.
Ellington, however, didn't practice much this week -- another ankle sprain -- and he is iffy for the Broncos game.
Ellington has risen in our rankings and is a nice late-round flier, especially in PPR formats.
Eagles beat writer Reuben Frank (CSN Philly):
I don’t care if I write this every week, I really like Kenjon Barner. He just looks like a football player to me. Sometimes you see guys put up big numbers in the preseason but you don’t really expect them to ever carry it over into the regular season. Barner hasn’t done anything since he got here in 2014 to make me think he can’t play in this league. He runs hard, slashes through traffic, has a terrific feel for the defenders around him and is tough enough to run through guys (rushing stats: 7 for 35 vs. the Bucs, 6 for 41 Thursday night). He’s explosive in the return game, picks up the blitz, getting better as a receiver. We all know Ryan Mathews’ injury history. We all know Darren Sproles is a gifted player but not equipped for double-digit carries. We haven’t even seen Wendell Smallwood play yet. It’s pretty clear Barner has to be this team’s No. 2 back. Not only that, he needs to have a role on offense as well.
Reuben Frank of CSN Philly:
Paul Turner has been the Eagles’ second-best wide receiver this preseason, the best if you consider that Jordan Matthews has been out a couple weeks. Turner has done what you hoped Nelson Agholor and Josh Huff would do. Make plays. Flash. His highlight-reel one-hander from Chase Daniel for 23 yards to set up a touchdown in the third quarter is the kind of play we’ve been waiting to see Agholor make. Turner is an undrafted rookie free agent from Louisiana Tech, and Agholor is a second-year first-round pick, but Turner is flashing in a way that Agholor hasn’t. This team is desperate for wide receivers. So far, one guy is making plays. Not only does Turner deserve to make the team, he’s quickly showing that he deserves to play.
Turner may be worth a look late in drafts. The Eagles are hurting at receiver and the new regime isn't going to show favoritism to Agholor if someone else is outplaying him.
Olsen has back-to-back top 5 finishes in both formats, and hasn’t missed a game in eight seasons, so he’s one of the safest options available at his position. The back spasm is worth monitoring, however.
Mike Reiss on TE Martellus Bennett: I subscribe to the theory that with defenses paying extra attention to Rob Gronkowski, it will open up more opportunities for Bennett. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Patriots run more than 80 percent of their offensive snaps with both tight ends on the field, so it won't be a matter of playing time for Bennett as much as how defenses decide to handle the dual threat at the position. It also helps that Jimmy Garoppolo and Bennett have seemed to develop a rapport in the preseason.
Eleven tight ends played 80 percent or more of the snaps in 2015, so if Bennett reaches that sort of playing time, he'll have a good shot at posting TE1 numbers given the overall production of New England's offense. He also has top five upside if anything were to happen to the injury-prone Gronkowski.
Charles was playing at an elite RB1 pace prior to tearing his ACL in Week 5. Our injury expert, Russell Manalastas, predicts that Charles will be limited in camp and good to go for Week 1, and that his recovery is an opportunity to get him at a discount. The Chiefs found solid contributors in Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware (recommended handcuff and attrition play), so Andy Reid could elect to reduce his workload in an effort to keep him healthy. So far, it looks like Charles is on track to play in Week 1.
Jenna Laine on the Bucs' TE situation:
Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate has shown great chemistry with Jameis Winston and been one of the most consistent pass-catchers in training camp, receivers included. He's not going to get much yardage after contact, but he's still shown he can consistently catch passes in traffic and in the end zone, along the sideline (he's done a great job keeping his feet in bounds) and is terrific on back-shoulder fades. We could see Brate become what Nick O'Leary was for Winston at Florida State, so he's a potential fantasy sleeper pick.
Brate has slowly been moving up our rankings as the positive offseason news continues like a drumbeat. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is doing better of late, but it appears that Brate is poised to see the most snaps at the position.