Don't be surprised if Bears TE Daniel Brown pushes the 32-year-old Zach Miller for a job. Miller was sidelined during the offseason program making his way back from the broken right foot suffered in the Week 11 loss at the Giants last season. It's similar to the injury he suffered in the 2014 preseason that wiped out that entire year for him.
Miller had career-highs with 47 receptions for 486 yards in only 10 games last season a year after he broke out with 34 catches for 439 yards (12.9 average) and five touchdowns in 2015 when he played in 15 games but was involved in the passing game for really only the second half of the season.
Miller's contract has one year remaining with a base salary of $1.5 million and the issue the Bears have to tackle is if they can take a chance knowing Miller's durability issues. He has played in 25 games and missed 23 since joining the team in 2014. He has been given props by teammates, coaches and management for being a positive influence in the locker room but if Miller can't stay on the field, intangibles are more difficult to quantify.
Brown, the converted wide receiver who was claimed off waivers from the Ravens in November, profiles for the same type of role in the offense. He caught 16 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown in the final six games and was just learning the offense after the Ravens moved him from wide receiver at the start of last year. The Bears turned to him quickly after Miller was injured and Brown averaged 43.5 snaps per game.
Over the past two seasons, Miller has averaged 3.7 receptions (on 5.0 targets) for 42 yards and 0.41 TD in 22 games. Those numbers would have been good enough for a #11 TE finish in 2016. His issue has been staying healthy, and now he’s going to have to build a rapport with a new quarterback since he’s coming off of a foot injury and has been missing crucial practice reps.
Maclin, who was released by the Chiefs on June 2 and later signed with the Ravens, missed four games last year with a groin injury and there was a steep drop in production from a sensational 2015 season. Maclin had 44 catches for 536 yards and two touchdowns in 2016 after he had 87 receptions for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns the season before.
Talking with ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s podcast “Know Them From Adam,” Maclin said that groin injury was worse than people knew. He revealed the injury when Schefter asked about the perception that Maclin was a step slower.
“Well, I tore my groin last year,” Maclin told Schefter. “So, if I’m supposed to be just as fast with a torn groin, then more power to them. Man, I guess they just have to wait and see. I don’t really have anything else to say about that. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I’ll still be able to get open. I’ll still be able to make big plays, that’s for sure.”
Maclin posted 87 catches for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns in 2015, but had a substandard 2016, struggling to a 44-536-3 line thru 12 games. He was a respectable No. 44 WR on a per game basis through the first eight weeks, but the groin injury submarined his season. He joins a Baltimore offense that has had the most pass attempts over the past two seasons and lost Steve Smith (101 targets), Dennis Pitta (121) and Kamar Aiken (50) from last year.
“Ever since we lost Ray, we haven’t had the type of back quite like Ray was and quite like (Danny Woodhead) is in the passing game,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “They just have a very good feel for when they’re open, how to get open, how to sit in holes, how to find my eyes.”
“He was somebody that we targeted early in free agency and signed him right out of the gate,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a very versatile running back for us. He can carry the ball, but he’s a big part of the passing game.”
Woodhead is an elite pass-catcher and an underrated runner. With Kenneth Dixon suspended for the first four games, Woodhead will form a committee with Terrance West. He should continue to be a good value in PPR formats. Keep in mind that Ray Rice averaged 4.25 receptions per game in his final five seasons in Baltimore, so if Woodhead's role is similar, he has 60- to 70-catch upside.
Maclin posted 87 catches for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns in 2015, but had a substandard 2016, struggling to a 44-536-3 line thru 12 games. He was a respectable No. 44 WR on a per game basis through the first eight weeks, but a groin injury submarined his season. His arrival will impact both Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, but it's probably the latter who is more negatively affected by the signing. The Ravens are trying to replace 335 targets from last year's team, so there is more than enough work to go around. We'll update team projections shortly, but Wallace still looks like a fantasy WR3, while Maclin and Perriman are WR5 types. Joe Flacco will get a slight upgrade.
James White has won over Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and Co., with his steadiness and continued improvement, elevating from a player who was inactive in Super Bowl XLIX to becoming unquestionably the Patriots' go-to guy in the all-important "passing back" role. White played 30 snaps as a rookie in 2014; upped it to 290 in 2015; and played 425 last season.
As for 2017, White is one of three running backs who are considered locks to make the roster based on contract status, along with Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead. Lewis is also likely to be there, while second-year man D.J. Foster has also shown promise.
White has now seized the spot with authority.
Coming off of an injury, Lewis played in 10 games last year, including the playoffs, and averaged 11.1 touches (8.9 carries, 2.2 catches) for 49 yards and 0.2 touchdowns, or 8.3 PPR fantasy points per game. He averaged 17.5 PPG in seven games in 2015, so his role was clearly reduced last year. White's role in the running game is minimal -- what's important is his role in the passing game after Lewis returned. In nine games without Lewis, White averaged 3.7 catches for 32 yards and 0.33 TD per game. After Lewis returned, White averaged 3.4 catches for 32 yards and 0.33 TD in the nine games leading up to the Super Bowl, so it appears that his passing down role remained mostly unchanged after Lewis returned. Of course, White had a huge performance in the Super Bowl, turning 20 touches (14 catches) into 139 yards and three touchdowns, and it appears that he's now entrenched as the passing down back. The Patriots don't seem inclined to give him as many carries as they would Lewis, though his 4.3 YPC in 2016 was an improvement. White is currently the 50th RB off the board in early MFL10s (PPR drafts), and he's a fantastic value in that format if this report that he has "seized" the passing down role is true. There’s always the chance that the Patriots turn back to Lewis if White gets a case of fumble-itis, but White should have enough leash to overcome a turnover or two.
Fast forward to the start of Baltimore’s Organized Team Activities (OTAs), and Woodhead took the field for the team’s first practice.
“Yes, I’m back. No restrictions,” Woodhead said. “I’m just playing football now. I haven’t been thinking about needing to do stuff to rehab it because I’m healthy now. It’s exciting to get football going.”
Woodhead’s knee injury came on Sept. 18 last year in a home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Thursday, April 6, 2017, 4:25pm
Michael Campanaro has shown in glimpses what he can do.
He’ll look to provide the Ravens an extended look in 2017.
Baltimore signed the wide receiver Thursday to a one-year contract worth up to $2 million. Campanaro was a restricted free agent on whom the Ravens placed a one-year original tender worth $1.79 million. This new deal is worth up to $2 million, featuring a $250,000 signing bonus and a $250,000 roster bonus, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun.
The New England Patriots announced the signing of the free agent running back, who joins the team after four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. Burkhead represents the seventh addition to the Patriots' roster this offseason.
A former sixth-round pick out of Nebraska, Burkhead proved himself as a third option for the Bengals during his four years with the team. Burkhead rushed for 344 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 2016, despite sharing time with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. The running back also added 145 yards receiving out of the backfield.
The 26-year-old posted a breakout game against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17, rushing for 119 yards on 27 carried to go along with two touchdowns.
With Giovani Bernard sidelined, Burkhead averaged 10.8 touches for 56 yards as the change-of-pace back. Then, in Week 17 with Jeremy Hill also out, Burkhead turned in an epic 29-touch, 144-yard, two-touchdown effort against the Ravens. As a junior at Nebraska, Burkhead rushed for 1,357 yards and scored 17 total touchdowns. Burkhead is similar in skillset to Dion Lewis and James White, though he's bigger. Even though LeGarrette Blount is 40 lbs heavier, Burkhead could assume some of Blount's work on early downs.
Well, this puts a dent in Kenneth Dixon's budding value. Woodhead is an elite pass-catcher and an underrated runner. He's likely to form a committee with Dixon, who will serve as the team's primary back. Both players look like PPR RB2/RB3 types at this point. The signing is good news for Melvin Gordon, who will have virtually no competition for touches. It's also good for C.J. Anderson, since it was rumored that the Broncos were interested in reuniting Woodhead with OC Mike McCoy.
The Washington Redskins have promoted Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator, the team announced on Monday. Additionally, the Redskins have hired Kevin O'Connell to be the team's next quarterbacks coach.
Prior to joining the Redskins’ coaching staff in 2015, Cavanaugh was previously quarterbacks coach for the Arizona Cardinals (1994-95), quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers (1996), offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears (1997-98), offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens (1999-04), quarterbacks coach for the New York Jets (2009-12) and quarterbacks coach for the Chicago Bears (2013-14).
In eight seasons as an offensive coordinator, Cavanaugh's offenses have never finished higher than 14th in yards gained, with an average ranking of 21.3.
Frazier has 12 years of experience as a defensive coordinator or head coach. His best years were in Minnesota when he guided the defense to a top eight finish in yards allowed in three straight seasons (2008-2010).
"This is to notify you that as of today, I, Steve Smith Sr., will no longer be antagonizing defensive backs. I am retiring from the National Football League."
In his illustrious 16-year career, Smith made five Pro Bowls and was named First Team All-Pro twice. He is 12th in career receptions (1,031), 7th in receiving yards (14,731) and 26th in touchdowns (81). He will be missed.
"Marty believes in running the football, and I believe in running the football," Harbaugh said. "We have not run the football well enough or enough, really, for the last two years. That has to change, and I think it goes hand-in-hand with being good at it and doing it a lot more than we do it."
Dixon could be the back trending up the most here, and before he got hurt in the offseason, some who followed the team felt he'd eventually take over as the lead back in 2016. The Ravens never really trusted a rookie back to carry the load, but Dixon was certainly involved this season and has a chance to have a bigger role in 2017.
Related players: Jordan Reed
Reed said he was going to play through the shoulder injury in this must-win game for Washington. He struggled when we last saw him back in week 15 so he's a risky fantasy play. Vernon Davis should also be in the mix, but the Skins have - overall - seen a decrease in production from the TE position in recent weeks.
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