Training Camp Weekly Recap, July 29th
With each team having at least a few practices under their belt it’s time to take a look at what we’ve learned thus far from the NFL training camps.
Here’s a recap of the first week’s action as it pertains to fantasy football:
Philadelphia No. 2 receiver: This wasn’t a training camp battle coming in, but Maclin’s season-ending knee injury certainly changed that. With Maclin out, Riley Cooper has been taking first-team reps opposite DeSean Jackson. Veteran Jason Avant will challenge Cooper for playing time, with Damaris Johnson also in the mix. Rookies Russell Shepard and Ifeanyi Momah are long shots. None of those guys are going to put up Maclin numbers.
Baltimore No. 2 receiving option: Actually, this should be receiving option 2B, since Ray Rice is probably No. 1 and Torrey Smith is No. 2, but with Pitta now out for the season, the Ravens will be looking not only for Anquan Boldin’s replacement, but Pitta’s as well. Remember, Pitta’s 61 catches last season tied Rice for second-most on the team. Jacoby Jones didn’t exactly endear himself by failing the team’s conditioning test. He has since passed it, but Jones has never shown a lot as a receiver, making a career-high 51 receptions in 2010. He had just 30 in 2012. The best shot to pick up Pitta’s catches is tight end Ed Dickson, who had just 21 receptions in 2012, but grabbed 54 passes and scored five times in 2011. Dickson isn’t a down-the-field guy, but he’s steady. Visanthe Shiancoe was signed for depth. Look for Dickson to be the top red zone threat.
Oakland quarterback: People continue to rave about Terrelle Pryor’s athleticism, but this remains Matt Flynn’s job to lose. Flynn has been the better passer of the two so far and unless something goes horribly wrong in the preseason games, Flynn should hold on.
New England wide receiver: Since Julian Edelman is the only receiver on the roster who has ever caught a pass from Tom Brady, this was already an interesting group heading into camp. We all know about Danny Amendola’s sleeper status as the next Wes Welker, but with the Aaron Hernandez situation and Rob Gronkowski slowed by multiple offseason surgeries, things are really strange in New England. The current surprise is undrafted rookie free agent Kenbrell Thompkins, who has been looking strong in practices. In fact, Thompkins has looked better than second round pick Aaron Dobson. Thompkins had looked good in OTAs as well, prompting the team to release veteran Donald Jones just prior to camp opening. Of course the other guy to keep an eye on is nine-year veteran Michael Jenkins. Thompkins could have a leg up, at least for now.
Buffalo quarterback: Head coach Doug Marrone said that he views the battle between veteran Kevin Kolb and rookie E.J. Manuel as a dead heat right now. That tells me Marrone is leaning toward starting the rookie, who has reportedly looked good in early practices.
Steelers running back: The Steelers opened camp with Isaac Redman as their No. 1 running back instead of Jonathan Dwyer, who was the team's leading rusher last year. Redman looks leaner and quicker this season and wants the starting job. Rookie Le’Veon Bell is still down the depth chart, but that’s how the Steelers do things. They never hand a job to a rookie. He’s got to earn it.
Carolina No. 2 wide receiver: Brandon LaFell is the No. 2 behind Steve Smith, but all reports say that Ted Ginn has looked great in the first few days, catching everything thrown his way. Right now, Ginn is No. 3, but that could just be a number. We all know how much Cam Newton likes to throw deep and Ginn is a speedster.
Denver running back: Ronnie Hillman has opened camp as the No. 1 guy, ahead of rookie Montee Ball. Much like Redman in Pittsburgh, Hillman is not going to go down without a fight. He knows the offense better than Ball and is a better receiver out of the backfield.
San Diego wide receiver: Vincent Brown was a hot sleeper pick last training camp before suffering a broken leg. Reports are that Brown has again looked strong early on at Chargers camp and could become Philip Rivers’ top target. Unlike last season, however, he now has Danario Alexander ahead of him as well. Brown could certainly beat out Malcom Floyd for the No. 2 job.