Matthews has been out with what has been described as a "minor injury", but it turns out he was just holding out. Matthews has 118 receptions in 30 career games as a Titan and will be in a position to lead the team in receiving in 2018 if Corey Davis continues to struggle with nagging injuries. The Titans' passing game should be in a position to break out under new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur.
Vrabel said he will likely not update the media regarding the extent of the injury, so we will have to do some waiting to find out exactly what is going on. Walker paced the Titans with 111 targets in 2017. It would be a big blow to the offense if he were out for any length of time. Second-year player Jonnu Smith would stand to benefit most from his absence.
Davis dealt with a nagging hamstring injury early last season, causing him to miss five games. The story didn't mention if it was the hamstring keeping him out or another issue.
The excitement about Taywan Taylor’s game gradually quieted during a frustrating rookie season, but it’s time to crank things back up.
“I know it takes more than just enough to be great—and I don’t want to be good, I want to be great,” said Taylor, whose offseason included a week in Florida doing some unique training with mentor and teammate Rishard Matthews.
Taylor has been getting the injured Matthews’ first-team reps on the outside and is ahead of Sharpe in the pecking order for the No. 3 WR spot, the story said. Davis sat out Sunday's practice so the story said Taylor was getting a lot of work and taking full advantage. Taylor appears to be third on the depth chart for the Titans and seems to be worth monitoring this summer.
Wide receiver Corey Davis was a no-show at Sunday's practice after fully participating — and looking great — Saturday. Davis, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, might be the most important player on the Titans outside of quarterback Marcus Mariota this upcoming season.
"By plan, there’s a lot of guys who will be practicing and a lot of guys that won’t," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. "I would say that he’s one of these guys that, by plan, wasn’t working today."
Vrabel then elaborated further:
"It’s based on the fact that one, we’re going to need Corey Davis to play a lot of football for us," he said. "Two, there’s a difference between somebody like me running out there for two hours and a guy like Corey… It’s a lot of powerful movements, explosive movements, so we just wanted to make sure that he’s ready to go tomorrow (when) we’ll put the ball down in a more simulated-type scrimmage."
Seems as if it was by design so no need to worry. As the story said, Davis has looked good so far after some big fantasy expectations and lots of fantasy disappointment last year.
It's big money for a 33-year-old tight end and speaks to just how important Walker is to the offense. After leading the team in targets in 2017, Walker is likely to be one of the target leaders at the position yet again.
The Patriots, meanwhile, are well-insulated from an injury hampering their running attack. Mike Gillislee struggled at times early in 2017. But he's still effective. It speaks volumes for the Patriots' running back depth that he was inactive for much of last season. With Dion Lewis gone, it's very possible that he could re-take a spot in the running back rotation.
The story was mainly about comparing the Patriots' RB situation with that of the Steelers and LeVeon Bell's holdout. The Pats still have White and Burkhead but still lack a between-the-tackles type of runner. With Gillislee around yet, it's possible he once again emerges, but the New England backfield lately seems to need many weeks of understanding before someone is deemed a safe fantasy play.
“Obviously, (we want to move Mariota) around, get him out of the pocket,” Vrabel said. “That’s something that he does as a special player with his athletic ability, and his ability to throw on the move.”
Added LaFleur: “You don't ever want to take that element, that creativity, his ability to create off-schedule … you never want to take that away from a quarterback that has the athleticism that Marcus has.”
After accumulating over 2,200 rushing yards in three collegiate seasons, it has been a bit disappointing that Mariota has only rushed for 913 yards in three NFL seasons. That said, it sounds like the new coaching staff is going to take the shackles off of the offense, and that should yield more fantasy production for Mariota. Of 13 quarterbacks with at least 40 rush attempts in 2017, Mariota was second only to Dak Prescott in fantasy points per rush. He should break his career-high of 60 attempts in 2018.
For the first time in his NFL career, Marcus Mariota is enjoying an offseason without the pain and burden of rehabbing an injury.
It’s allowed him to focus on football, and after tossing more interceptions than touchdowns in 2017, the Titans’ franchise quarterback is retooling his mechanics, notably working to widen his stance when throwing the football. The improved legwork should increase his accuracy.
The story said Mariota is also working to stay on the field, which is partially tied to his decision-making outside the pocket. The team wants him to play smarter when he's on the run. He's entering his fourth season but has yet to play a full 16 games because of injuries.
Dion Lewis saw a career-high 36 percent of the offensive reps in New England last season. With injury concerns and size limitations, there will likely be a cap on Lewis' workload. But he still could match or even surpass his workload from last season and still leave plenty on the bone for Henry.
Last season, DeMarco Murray claimed 63 percent of offensive snaps to Derrick Henry's 40. A reasonable June estimate for 2018 would be a similar workflow, with Henry getting about 60 percent and Lewis 40 percent.
Our projections currently have Lewis at 180 carries and 44 receptions, 51 percent of the touches projected between Henry and him. Last season, Henry saw 187 touches. So even though our projection for him is only 49 percent of the touches between Lewis and him, it is still a total of 209 touches, an increase from last season. We expect Lewis to get the bulk of the receptions out of this backfield, making him more valuable in PPR formats. Also working in the Titans' backfield's favor, the entire starting offensive line returns from last season.
“Until you get the pads on and really get going through preseason, I look at them both as 1A and 1B,” LaFleur said. “I feel confident in both of those guys. They both bring a little bit different qualities to what they do. But I think we’ve got two really good backs that we’re excited about.”
Fantasy owners are expecting 2018 to be a breakout year for Henry, but they may want to temper those expectations. While Henry will likely lead the team in carries, the gap between he and Lewis, who ran the rock 14.6 times per game over his final 11 regular season contests in 2017, remains to be seen. Lewis is also expected to be the primary receiver out of the backfield. 4for4 ADP has Henry going in the late-third round, while Lewis is not coming off the board until the middle of round five.
Tajae Sharpe wrapped up practice recently and immediately headed to the JUGS machine for extra work.
It’s part of the daily routine for the Titans receiver, who appreciates it all even more after missing the 2017 season with an injury.
“It just feels great to be back out here with the guys,” Sharpe said. “Missing all of last year was tough, so I am just excited to be back.
“We are all starting with clean slates, so we all have to prove ourselves. We just have to compete and get better each day.”
Sharpe has made a nice recovery from the foot injury that resulted in him being placed on Injured Reserve in 2017. A fifth-round draft pick by the team in 2016, Sharpe caught 41 passes for 522 yards and two touchdowns during his rookie season. It looks like Sharpe will have some competition to battle back to a top-three WR spot in 2018.
From Week 10 to Week 17 of last season, Lewis was the No. 5 scoring fantasy RB. He finished the season on a high-note, averaging 31 touches, 143 total yards, and two touchdowns the last two weeks. Lewis will be a valuable commodity in PPR leagues, and could turn into a high-end RB1 if Henry were to miss any time due to injury.
It appears the Titans will be shoring up their secondary with the addition of Malcolm Butler on a five-year deal worth $61 million, with over $30 million guaranteed. The Titans have added a No. 1 corner in Butler and he should pair up with another former Patriot in Logan Ryan.
The Titans plan to release running back DeMarco Murray, the team announced Thursday. It's a move that appeared likely once Derrick Henry established himself as the lead back down the stretch last season.
This move was expected. Henry should be locked into a two-down role, at least. He could play on third downs as well, but the Titans may bring in a passing game specialist to complement Henry.
- Page 1