Charles Johnson isn't one of the three Vikings-drafted receivers on the roster, nor is he the prized offseason acquisition.
But since Johnson was plucked off the Cleveland Browns' practice squad nearly a year ago, he's been one of Teddy Bridgewater's favorite targets in a receiver room that has been recently bolstered with developing young talent, like fifth-round pick Stefon Diggs, and a new face in Mike Wallace.
"Charles continues to make plays," coach Mike Zimmer said. "Catches the ball, runs good routes. The touchdown he caught, I thought the guy was grabbing the heck out of him the whole way."
After the Vikings jettisoned Jerome Simpson last fall, Johnson joined the Vikings after spending the 2013 season rehabbing a torn ACL under then-Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Less than two months later, Johnson became the Vikings' starting split end over 29th-overall pick Cordarrelle Patterson and turned 25 catches into 415 yards as Bridgewater's go-to target in the rookie quarterback's best stretch of play in December, the story added. We see potential for Johnson and think he could at least put up low-end WR3 numbers, like he did from Week 11 on last year when he finished as WR31 in that span. We rank him 39th on our WR list, and he's getting some mid-round draft attention.
Tony Romo is expected to get his first action, albeit briefly, but this game will mean more for the running backs: Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar. None played last week against the San Diego Chargers and all three will be available Sunday.
Nobody will run away with the job, but they can at least ease the fears some have about the position group with a positive showing, the story said. But, fantasy owners will hopefully be able to get a look into the future in terms of which one has the most value for their team. The odds-on favorite is Joseph Randle, of course, but all three are expected to have some role in the offense.
Chris Johnson wasn’t able to stay healthy for long in Arizona.
Johnson, the running back signed by the Cardinals last week, did not play in last night’s preseason game against the Chargers even though the Cardinals had initially planned to get him at least a few carries. Afterward, coach Bruce Arians explained that Johnson pulled a hamstring in Thursday’s practice and will be out for a week or two.
Johnson has been very healthy in his NFL career: The only game he’s ever missed was a meaningless Week 17 game. The Cardinals will try to get him healthy in time for Week One, when they hope he looks like the Chris Johnson of old.
If he’s out two weeks, that means he won’t play at all for the Cardinals, and his first live action in their offense wouldn’t come until the regular season. HC Bruce Arians said about rookie David Johnson that he wouldn't play in the season without the proper time in camp, so it remains to be seen how the team treats CJ2K. The Cards RBs have been banged up all camp and the hope was CJ2K would add some stability.
Sunday, August 23, 2015, 9:21am
And he saw enough.
“I’m glad we don’t have to play him twice a year,” the New England Patriots coach said after Cooks caught four passes for 117 yards – including a 45-yard touchdown – while the Saints jumped to a 21-0 lead Saturday. “He’s a really good player.”
Cooks also caught a 36-yard pass from backup quarterback Luke McCown. And he ran for seven yards on an end around before calling it a night before halftime.
Sure, it was only a preseason game. But the way Cooks has delivered so far this summer for the Saints, with touchdowns in each of their two games so far, is critical. They're counting on the 21-year-old second-year pro to emerge as their top playmaker this season after trading away Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills. Cooks is clearly part of the Saints transition to youth at the WR position.
Sunday, August 23, 2015, 9:19am
The Minnesota Vikings made their trust in kicker Blair Walsh clear at the beginning of training camp, by giving him a four-year contract extension that included $5.25 million in guaranteed money. So there's no real reason to think Walsh's struggles in the team's first three preseason games will put his job in jeopardy any time soon.
But there's also no escaping the fact that since last December, Walsh hasn't been the same kind of dependable kicker the Vikings had when he went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2012, or even when he drilled 26 of 30 field goals in 2013. Since Week 14 last season, Walsh is 7-for-16 in games, and 2-for-6 in the preseason.
He missed three field goals and an extra point on Saturday night against the Oakland Raiders, and while swirling winds played with the trajectory of Walsh's kicks on Saturday, neither the kicker nor coach Mike Zimmer was about to accept that as an excuse. Raiders kicker Giorgio Tavecchio made both of his field goals.
Other than that, to my eye, he's clearly been the team's best and most consistent receiver. He looks healthy, he sounds determined and he has a greater appreciation of the game after having it taken from him last year because of a devastating shoulder injury.
Does that mean Quick will become the No. 1 type of dominant wideout many hope he can? I don't know if I'd go that far. But barring a setback, I expect him to be the team's most productive pass catcher in 2015.
You've probably read a few stories on 4for4 about the Rams WRs, mostly how they don't have one standout but they expect to excel as a group. That's not always a good sign for fantasy owners, and while we have Quick rated the highest of the Rams WR, he's only 52nd on our list. The Ram WRs are more of late-round adds to fantasy teams for depth with the hope one stands out. Quick may at least give you the best odds.
Saturday, August 22, 2015, 8:33pm
But what they saw out of Sam Bradford in his first game back from his twin torn ACLs still had them holding their breath.
Bradford took several hard shots from the Ravens on his opening drive, with linebacker Terrell Suggs drawing a penalty after diving at his legs, and then defensive lineman Brandon Williams pounding him into the ground.
But Bradford led a crisp touchdown drive also, an 11-play, 84-yard march capped by a Ryan Mathews touchdown run. He completed 3-of-5 passes, but taking so many shots so early in his comeback will create a worry. That’s probably why Mark Sanchez took the field for the second possession, making it a short night for Bradford, the story said.
For all the issues the Seattle Seahawks still have to work out on offense, the chemistry between their quarterback and top pass-catcher isn't one of them.
It was again evident Friday night in Seattle's 14-13 preseason loss to Kansas City. Jimmy Graham caught all three passes that Russell Wilson threw his way during the two quarters in which the Seahawks' offensive starters played, but one of them stood out.
Lined up in the slot on second-and-18, Graham released up the seam against tight coverage from safety Ron Parker. Graham wasn't open when Wilson delivered a perfectly placed pass toward his back shoulder for a 21-yard gain. Then again, he didn't need to be.
"He's hard to miss, being 6-7 and being able to show up and run as fast as he can," Wilson told reporters.
Call it whatever you'd like -- chemistry, trust, rapport -- but Wilson and Graham certainly seem to have built plenty of it already, the story said. It's good news for those who were worried about Graham switching offenses. It sure looks like he's going to be a key part of the Seattle offense, too, and is of course one of the top TEs in fantasy drafts.
"Robert's fine," Washington tight end Je'Ron Hamm said on a conference call as the Redskins enjoyed a second straight off day. "He got a little banged up. I (don't) like to see any of my teammates down there on the ground, (but) I'm glad to know that he's going to be all right."
Griffin, who's expected to be Washington's opening day starter for a fourth straight season, was injured when Lions defensive end Corey Wootton landed on him while trying to recover his fumble early in the second quarter in a 21-17 Redskins victory.
It remains unclear if Griffin will be in the lineup in Washington's next game on Aug. 29 at Baltimore, the penultimate matchup on the Redskins' preseason schedule. Since NFL teams generally rest their starters in preseason finales, if Griffin is held out against the Ravens, the hope is he would be ready for the Sept. 13 regular season opener against Miami, the story said
Saturday, August 22, 2015, 3:56pm
Bowe and Johnson have both missed Cleveland's first two exhibition games and are hoping to be on the field next Saturday when the Browns play at Tampa Bay. A nine-year veteran, Bowe said the time off has helped heal his body.
Johnson has had hamstring issues since high school, but Miami's career rushing leader doesn't think the missed time has been any setback.
Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan said Saturday that both wide receiver Percy Harvin (hip) and running back Karlos Williams (undisclosed) will be ready for the Bills' regular-season opener Sept. 13 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Harvin has missed over a week of practice with hip soreness and received a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection last week.
"He’ll definitely be back for the opener," Ryan said. "We’re hoping that he comes back and is able to play in one of these preseason games."
Williams underwent an unspecified medical procedure to a "sensitive area," per Ryan, after being hospitalized last week.
"He looked like Fred Sanford walking into a meeting today," Ryan said Saturday. "But other than that, he’s fine. Like I said, everybody tells me that he’s going to be ready to go when we kick the thing off for real."
Rookie running back Duke Johnson set up a bit of a red alert Saturday when he admitted he’s struggled with hamstring issues since high school.
“I’m not a flexible guy,” Johnson said after taking part in the Cleveland Browns' slow-motion practice two days after the preseason loss to Buffalo, Johnson’s first time on the field since Aug. 1.
Johnson also said the hamstring strain that sidelined him was essentially the same issue that limited his running at the scouting combine. It should be said that even with hamstring issues and a lack of flexibility, Johnson left the University of Miami as the school’s all-time leading rusher.
“’I’ve never let it really stop me from producing and being the player than I am today,” said Johnson, the team’s third-round draft pick.
The Browns have big hopes for Johnson, to the point that they left minicamp in June thinking he had a chance to be the team’s every-down back. That progress was slowed by missing three weeks of practice. While Johnson has lived through the issue to have success, it may be something to deter fantasy owners if it comes down to Johnson and another RB to draft.
Saturday, August 22, 2015, 1:18pm
Perhaps Derek Carrier won’t be the Redskins’ savior at the tight end position. But he does have some NFL experience under his belt, something that all but two members of the injury-ravaged tight end corps of the Redskins lack.
General manager Scot McCloughan said that he likes tough football players and based on this one, very small sample size of work, a 22-yard catch over the middle against the Bears on Sunday night football last year, it looks like he fits the bill there.
In terms of snap counts, Carrier was the 49ers No. 2 tight end last year. He played 356 snaps at tight end, second to Vernon Davis’ 830. It should also be noted that Carrier played 168 snaps on special teams. With special teams stalwarts Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen and Adam Hayward all out for the year with injuries, the Redskins need some experienced special teams help. It is likely that Carrier will provide that.
Saturday, August 22, 2015, 1:17pm
Now, coach Mike Pettine says, Pryor is going to struggle to make the team if he can’t soon get himself healthy enough to practice.
“That window narrows every day that he’s not out there,” Pettine said today, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
Realistically, Pryor may be running out of NFL chances. He bounced around from the Raiders to the Seahawks to the Chiefs to the Bengals and failed to make it as a quarterback, and now he’s having a hard time proving himself as a wide receiver. If Pryor doesn’t make it on the Browns this year, he may not make it in the NFL at all, the story concluded.
Saturday, August 22, 2015, 1:15pm
Rex Ryan isn't sold on any of his quarterbacks in Buffalo.
The first-year Bills coach has once again been tasked with picking a respectable starter from a mediocre litter of gunslingers. Despite some flashy and consistent play from Tyrod Taylor in the first two preseason games, Ryan remains unswayed.
Ryan told the Buffalo media Saturday that there is a "high possibility" of keeping the Bills' top three quarterbacks -- Taylor, Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel -- on the roster for the season. He also reiterated that the Bills will give each of the Three Amigos a shot in the team's next preseason game.
"We haven't decided yet who's starting at QB next week," Ryan said. "We'll rotate all three in this week."