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Thursday, July 24, 2014, 4:16pm
The Packers don't view keeping WRs Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson as an either-or situation. They believe they will be able to get both players signed to long-term deals before free agency next March and for the sake of continuity in one of the NFL's most prolific offenses, re-signing Nelson -- even at that price -- and Cobb is worth it.
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 4:10pm
The Giants don't have a definitive starter at tight end no matter what the depth chart says, and, as we wrote yesterday, that is not a problem right now. In the meantime, Tom Coughlin said he's giving equal reps to each player in hopes that a few will separate from the pack and that all will be able to play in games. In the short-term, it appears that Coughlin has no interest in making a snap decision. Injuries, inevitably, will also help him parse out the depth chart. "Plenty of time for that," Coughlin said. "We don't have to rush into anythi
Daniel Fells was running with the first team early in camp, but GM Jerry Reese recently compared Adrien Robinson to Julius Thomas. It's not likely that any Giants TE will be trustworthy in fantasy leagues this season.
Rob Gronkowski practiced for about an hour and 15 minutes before watching the remainder of the workout, which spanned almost two and a half hours. Gronkowski was limited during his drills, mostly watching the walkthrough portion before jogging and stretching with the team and then participating during positional drills, which included ball control and agility work, blocking and route running. He wore a sleeve around his right knee and the bulky brace on his left arm. Gronkowski did not take part in any of the team’s 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills, so all of his reps were against air. He lined up when the offense went through running formations and caught a handful of passes from Tom Brady in simple route-running drills. He did take part in one basic ball control drill midway through the practice when a defensive player would try to strip the ball, but Jamie Collins took it easy on Gronkowski as they jogged sideline to sideline. On two occasions when the Pats practiced kickoffs, Brady, Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Kenbrell Thompkins worked on an adjacent field. They ran through a variety of routes, including fade patterns, screen passes and crossing routes. Gronkowski actually came down flat-footed after one leaping catch, which looked awkward from this vantage point, but he jogged back to the line without pause. After practice, Brady and Gronkowski worked together going through the route tree as they traversed the field. Again, it looked like some quality conditioning work.
Gronkwatch 2014 is underway. The team is expected to ease him in as he continues to recover from ACL surgery. At this point, he is in the seventh month of his recovery and is aiming for a Week 1 return. Owners who draft Gronk in the early rounds should expect a setback or two. Delanie Walker is an ideal backup with his low cost (13th round ADP) and Week 9 bye.
Terrance West’s stay on the Browns’ non-football injury list was a short one. The Browns announced Thursday that West, a rookie tailback from Towson, has been removed from the list, clearing the way for him to be on the practice field when Cleveland’s training camp practices begin Saturday. According to multiple reports, West’s inclusion on the list was related to the club’s conditioning test, but the matter looks to have been quickly squared away — good news for a rookie who could challenge for major work in Cleveland’s backfield.
West is expected to compete with Ben Tate for carries behind a good offensive line. Given Tate's injury history, there's a good chance that West will start at least one game in 2014.
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 2:15pm
Early in training camp, the Giants' goal line work is 'very heavily' rookie RB Andre Williams, per beat writer Ebenezer Samuel.
It's early, but notable. The Giants may be working Williams in to get some goal line reps knowing what they have in Jennings. Or this could carry over to the season and Williams could turn into a TD vulture. Stay tuned.
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 1:32pm
If an Eli Manning pass intended for Giants receiver Rueben Randle was intercepted last season, there is a good chance it was because of miscommunication. At least that is what Randle is claiming now that the Giants are running a new offense under a new coordinator that has universally been declared simpler for the receivers. Coordinator Kevin Gilbride is gone and Randle doesn't seem all that disappointed that his offense (which asked for receivers to often run option routes depending the defense) is gone, too. Manning threw 27 interceptions last season. Seven were on passes intended for Randle. "At least a majority of them [were miscommunication]," Randle said. "Maybe some were not being competitive or open a lot on my part. But at least 80 percent of them are miscommunication, not being on the same page."
This is one of the main reasons we're expecting better seasons from both Manning and Randle in 2014. After eight straight top 15 finishes, Manning (and the Giants offense) tanked in 2013. He finished #21, but his play seemed even worse than that. A bounce back season is likely given his talent and the arrival of OC Ben McAdoo, who is installing a quick hitting offense from his days in Green Bay. Hakeem Nicks is gone, but Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle are expected to emerge.
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 1:12pm
Andre Roberts currently sits atop the Redskins’ depth chart at punt and kickoff returner, the wide receiver said Thursday. “Right now, I am,” Roberts said as training camp opened at a rain-soaked Bon Secours training center. “You never know during training camp what they’re going to do. [It could] depend on how much they use me on offense ...Right now, I’m on top. But we’ll see.”
Nick O'Malley of Mass Live broke down the Patriots' WR depth chart this way... WR1 (Z - off line): Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Matthew Slater, Derrick Johnson WR2 (X - outside): Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Greg Orton, Wilson Van Hoosen WR (slot): Danny Amendola, Josh Boyce, Jeremy Gallon
So according to this depth chart, LaFell is playing behind Edelman, which means Dobson and Thompkins are competing for snaps at WR2. Dobson has the inside track, but his foot injury is worrisome.
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 12:43pm
How much does Steven Jackson have left in the tank? The veteran running back just turned 31 on Tuesday and enters his 11th NFL season. The Falcons would be happy to get one more good year out of him. Jackson averaged a career-low 3.5 yards per carry last season, but he suffered an early season hamstring injury and ran behind a pathetic offensive line. A revamped front five and a renewed emphasis on the run should help Jackson's cause. He never appears to be out of shape and has a little added motivation with rookie Devonta Freeman now in the mix.
Jackson pulled his hamstring last season, which was just one of the many injuries that plagued the Falcons in 2013. However, his FP/touch of 0.607 was not far off his career average of 0.617 prior to arriving in Atlanta. So while he was on the field, Jackson was pretty much himself from a fantasy standpoint. He’s no longer a 1st/2nd round pick, but with his ADP down in the 6th/7th round, he’s shaping up to be a good value assuming he can hold off rookie Devonta Freeman.
Panthers GM Dave Gettleman said Jonathan Stewart will likely be out 1-2 weeks recovering from hamstring injury.
Stewart has been injury-prone and this hamstring pull will do nothing to endear himself to the fantasy community heading into 2014 draft season. It's not a serious injury but it's a reminder that he's not physically dependable. His ADP is in the 15th round, so he's a very low-risk option at this point.
Panthers QB Cam Newton (ankle) has been cleared to practice, per GM Dave Gettleman.
Newton has finished in the top 4 in each of his three NFL seasons, but his PPG has dropped from 22.9 to 20.6 to 18.7 in that same span. He was unable to do much at OTAs, but has threw with his new receiving corps before training camp. He should still be a solid QB1 given his ability to run the ball, but there are several red flags heading into the season.
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 12:30pm
Expect to see a lot of two tight end sets by the Lions, which will give them an opportunity to mix things up pre-snap and move pieces around. Ebron can play in-line, in the slot and outside, which will give offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterback Matthew Stafford a lot of options after reading defenses. Ebron gives Stafford something he hasn’t had from that position in his five years in Detroit. In Ebron, Stafford has a tight end that can take a five-yard pass and turn it into an 80-yard touchdown. He also has a player who can run by defenders down the seam and create mismatches from the tight end position.
The Lions want Ebron to fill the Jimmy Graham role in new OC Joe Lombardi’s offense, so he should see playing time immediately despite the presence of Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria. Of the 21 tight ends who have been drafted in the first round in the last 10 years, 14 have managed to play at least 14 games. They averaged 35-371-2.6, or #31 TE numbers. (Oddly enough, that's where Brandon Pettigrew finished in 2013.) It usually takes a while for a young tight end to make a fantasy impact, though there has been the occasional exception. Jeremy Shockey (#3 TE in 2002), Heath Miller (#11 in 2005) and Dustin Keller (#14 in 2008) all posted TE1 or fringe-TE1 numbers as rookie first round picks. Cam Cleeland, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and John Carlson all had a TE1-type impact as rookies even though they weren't drafted in the first round. Ebron is an intriguing TE2-type in a potent offense, but he's no shoo-in to make a big fantasy impact in his first season, especially if he’s struggling to learn the offense, which was the case in OTAs.
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 12:24pm
As Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson started laying the groundwork of his new scheme this spring, he implored the players on his side of the ball to pick up their pace of play. He wanted them to break huddles quicker and get to the line of scrimmage at a similarly stepped-up tempo. His hope has been that in doing that, the Bengals will be able to get plays snapped earlier in the play clock. If they do that and move the chains as regularly as Jackson anticipates, they'll be calling more plays and wearing down more defenses by the fourth quarter. Quarterback Andy Dalton had to adjust to the stepped-up tempo during minicamp and organized team activities. Overall, Jackson was quite pleased with the way Dalton led the group through that modified hurry-up, but he wants to see what the entire unit will be able do once the temperatures go up and the shoulder pads come on. I'll be keeping an eye on how well the group continues pushing the tempo it established in the spring, and if that will allow it to get into the rhythm Jackson is seeking. After all, the best offenses are the ones that can get in and stay in sync.
If the Bengals are successful in pushing the tempo, they'll likely be running more plays which may offset some of the concerns about Jackson going too run-heavy with his offensive play-calling.
Despite recording just 63 catches for 771 yards and three touchdowns last season -- his lowest total in all of those categories since 2006 -- and despite the fact he'll turn 33 in November, the Falcons announced Thursday that they've agreed to terms on a contract extension for receiver Roddy White. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, it will mean up to $30 million for White, including $18 million during the next two years.
After five straight top 10 finishes, White battled injuries during the 2013 season to finish #52 in standard scoring formats. He’s over the hill, right? Not so fast. Once he finally gave his ankle some rest, he returned in Week 10 and averaged 6.1-73-0.38 over his final eight games, and 8.6-100-0.40 in his final five. If Julio Jones comes back strong, the defensive focus will turn to him, and White should benefit. But don’t be worried about targets – Matt Ryan will continue to throw Roddy's way with Tony Gonzalez out of the picture.
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 12:07pm
All it took was one offseason of practices for All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to become convinced that QB Josh McCown is going to take the NFL by surprise in 2014. "I don't know how much people really know how good Josh McCown is," McCoy said Thursday morning, via the Tampa Bay Times. "I think a lot of people are about to see how good he really is."
McCown has a chance to work his way into the QB2/QBBC ranks, assuming his fine play carries over from Chicago. He'll have Vincent Jackson and rookie Mike Evans to throw to, though the Buccaneers are expected to be somewhat run-heavy under defensive-minded Lovie Smith.