It’s been one week since the Steelers began training camp practices, and receiver Martavis Bryant remains on the sidelines as he awaits word from the NFL on the reinstatement process after he served a one-year drug suspension in 2016. A spokesman for the NFL said Friday morning Bryant still has to fulfill requirements before he can rejoin his teammates in practice.
“He would be permitted to participate in all preseason activities, including practices and games, once he satisfies requirements,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email Friday.
McCarthy was not specific in what requirements Bryant has to fulfill, but the league’s announcement in April indicates it might have to do with his arrangements for “clinical resources” in Pittsburgh.
“Bryant may join the Steelers at the training facility and participate in meetings, conditioning work and similar activities,” the statement said. “Once arrangements have been confirmed regarding Bryant’s clinical resources in Pittsburgh, he will be permitted to participate in all preseason activities, including practices and games.”
Bryant sat out the 2016 season after multiple failed drug tests, so he's a risky pick, even if he is on track to be reinstated. Given his production, he's worth the reward, though his ADP has risen into the late-4th round. In 24 career games, including the postseason, Bryant has averaged 4.0 receptions for 65 yards and 0.67 touchdowns, or 14.5 PPG (PPR). That would have been good enough to finish as the #13 WR in 2016, ahead of Jarvis Landry and Julian Edelman. He has posted similar numbers (4.4-67-0.56) in his last 16 games, which extrapolate to a 71-1074-9 season.
Heading into the Orange and Brown scrimmage on Friday at FirstEnergy Stadium, Kizer not only won the day Thursday, but has won the first seven days of training camp.
In fact, it's not even close. Now, all he has to do is more of the same in the scrimmage to earn the nod against the Saints.
"Obviously after we have the scrimmage and go through that process (I'll decide),'' said Jackson. "Next week, there's really two days of practice before we play.''
Jackson stressed however, that the order could flip again depending on how things go. But if all goes as expected, it will be soon be Kizer's job to lose.
The Browns are one of the few teams with a legit quarterback competition. If Kizer wins the job, it's conceivable that he'll work his way into the streaming conversation as the season wears on.
Ryan Tannehill’s MRI this afternoon to determine the extent of his new left knee injury proved inconclusive, requiring further study, and all options remain on the table per multiple sources.
That means that in the worst-case scenario, it could still be determined that Tannehill needs surgery on his left knee. It could also mean, however, that the quarterback could once again avoid surgery and find a way to get back on the field this season.
Reports that Tannehill basically got a clean bill of health from the MRI are not correct at this time because further examination of that MRI may give a specialist pause.
Tannehill’s MRI result and perhaps even the player will be examined by more doctors before a final determination is made and a plan for recovery is drawn up.
Related players: Matt Moore
Jim Wyatt: WR Corey Davis undergoing an MRI for his hamstring.
Hamstring strains are common in the preseason, but MRIs are not. We'll await word of the results, but in the meantime early drafters should move Davis down in case this is a long-term injury.
Redskins beat writer Master Tesfatsion:
At this point, it’s clear that Rob Kelley will be the starting running back. Kelley has been the first running back to receive carries with the first team, when he’s healthy. Redskins Coach Jay Gruden’s past would also suggest that Kelley should receive most of the carries during the regular season. He started Alfred Morris over Matt Jones two years ago. Last year, Jones had the starting job despite Kelley’s impressive performance during training camp and the preseason.
Chris Thompson will still be the third-down back, so that must be accounted for as well. I would think that, just as he did two years ago, Gruden will likely roll with the hot hand between Kelley and Samaje Perine. Kelley should get most of the carries, but if Perine can get something going during a game in his limited role, I would think Gruden would stick with him until he cools off or needs a breather.
Perine has been impressive, but I’m still a fan of Kelley. They are both aggressive runners who should give the Redskins a level of physicality they didn’t consistently have last year.
This positive Kelley mention comes on the heels of an earlier report that Perine was struggling with ball security and pass protection. Kelley won the RB1 job in Week 8, and from that point on, he was the #13 RB in standard (#15 in PPR) down the stretch. He averaged 4.19 YPC, which was the 14th-highest per carry average of the 27 running backs who saw at least 150 carries last year. Perine will make a hard push for the job, but it's clear that Kelley is taking his job seriously by getting leaner in the offseason. He currently sits atop the Washington depth chart, so he’s one of the cheapest starters available in early drafts.
Joe Buscaglia of WKBW:
It feels like almost on a daily basis now, I’m writing that “this was Zay Jones' best practice to date,” and then the next day, he raises the bar just a bit more. That’s the type of improvement you hope to see from young players in their first training camp and rookie year, and it’s what we saw yet again on Wednesday. What really stood out was his route running ability, and where some receivers loaf through breakdowns ahead of their cuts, Jones has seemingly thrived. It’s within the intricacies of route running that players that aren’t the most physically gifted to win with speed, can win all game long. That was Stevie Johnson’s game when he was working as the Bills’ top target, and it’s what kept him as a productive player until injuries derailed his career. Jones has that type of ability, and he’s clearly getting open against cornerbacks during training camp. Plus, they’re training him as both an outside receiver and in the slot. Now, the big questions are this: Can he do it during games, and eventually, in the regular season? That’s a bridge we’ll have to cross when the opportunities present themselves, but Jones has done just about as well as you could have wanted him to through the first six days of training camp. To me, he is winning the battle for the second wide receiver spot as it stands today.
Jones was the first receiver taken in the second round and the fourth wideout off the board overall. The Bills have been -- and should continue to be -- a run-oriented team, but there is plenty of opportunity for targets in Buffalo. The Rams signed Robert Woods away, and he averaged 86 targets in his four seasons with the Bills. Jones is 6-foot-2, ran a 4.45 40-yard dash, and generally tested well across the board at the Combine. He was a standout at the Senior Bowl, and showed the ability to run a full route tree in practice. Throw in the second-best drop percentage of his class and you can see why he’s a good bet to contribute immediately in Buffalo. If Sammy Watkins is active and healthy, fantasy owners will likely be using Jones only on a matchup basis, but if Watkins misses time, the rookie could quickly see WR1-type targets.
Tannehill fell awkwardly on the sideline while scrambling and didn't get up. Trainers looked at his left knee, which has a brace on it, before taking the quarterback inside. Tannehill suffered a sprained ACL and MCL in the same knee last season and didn't require surgery.
UPDATE: @ProFootballDoc David Chao writes, "It appears Tannehill won’t be able to avoid ACL reconstruction surgery this time. Whether the ACL is 'partially' torn is not the issue. The knee has proven to be unstable. Nine times out of 10, partial ACL ends up unstable and needing surgery."
Tannehill may still need to have surgery if the doctors determine the knee is too unstable to play. We'll wait to hear his short-term prognosis before updating our draft rankings. Matt Moore is the primary backup in Miami. Stay tuned.
The Chargers believe OL Forrest Lamp has suffered a torn ACL, source said. That's the initial diagnosis.
Related players: Melvin Gordon
Lamp was likely to win the starting job at right guard, so this is a blow to Melvin Gordon's upside.
Early in the day, Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden laid out what he wanted to see from a running back. It wasn't earth shattering; he says the same thing every year. It was noteworthy, though, because of what happened later.
Gruden wants his backs to be able to pass protect, to not fumble and to make tough yards.
During a red-zone drill, rookie running back Samaje Perine had the ball stripped from him at the 5-yard line. He did not carry the ball again. Maybe that was by design, but it also could have been Gruden letting Perine know that was unacceptable.
"Ball security is very important," Gruden had said before practice.
Perine showed mixed results in a blitz pickup drill against the linebackers, allowing Mason Foster to get inside him on one rush and stopping Zach Vigil on another.
Perine will continue to challenge Rob Kelley for the starting job. But days like Monday serve as a reminder Perine has to prove a few things. There's a lot to like -- and other stuff to clean up. Kelley does well with ball security and he's improved in the pass game. Gruden loved some of his short runs last season that he felt weren't blocked well.
Perine has a fairly clear path to major touches in Washington since he only has Kelley to beat out. Reports about Kelley have been mixed, so Perine is no shoo-in to win the starting job. Redskins OC Mat Cavanaugh said that Kelly is “obviously” the starter, but things can change. Chris Thompson is the best receiver in this backfield, so neither Perine or Kelley are likely to see many receptions regardless. Keep in mind that once Kelley won the job in Week 8, he was the #13 RB in standard (#15 in PPR) down the stretch.
Broken clavicles generally take 1-2 months to heal, so the Fuller's availability in September is in jeopardy.
It was a good first week of practices for Carlos Hyde. He looks – right now – to be in good position as the team’s starting running back. Veteran Tim Hightower is also looking very good. He appears to be the team’s second-best running back.
Hyde looks to be adapting better and better to the 49ers’ run scheme. And he has also placed a lot of emphasis on catching the ball out of the backfield.
Rookie Joe Williams, a fourth-round draft pick who was seen as a serious challenger to Hyde, has gotten off to a slow start and he is still gaining familarity with the system. He also must do a better job of securing the football.
GM John Lynch openly questioned Hyde's fit in Kyle Shanahan's running scheme and then traded up to draft Joe Williams, a Shanahan favorite, so Hyde was on the hot seat entering camp. But it appears that he his doing well while the rookie is struggling, a sign that Hyde is winning the job. Meanwhile, Hightower appears set to be the primary backup to start the season.
Sterling Shepard was looked at on sideline. He's in serious pain. Taken off on cart. Apparently in tears. Not good.
Jay Ajayi sustained a concussion during Miami Dolphins practice Monday, as feared, and he will miss at least a week of drills, sources familiar with the running back’s situation told The Miami Herald.
Although his concussion is considered mild, the Dolphins are wary of exposing the NFL’s fourth-leading rusher from a year ago to unnecessary contact. That is why once Ajayi is cleared to return to football activities, coaches are expected to be judicious with how much work Ajayi actually gets early in the preseason.
The Ajayi injury happened during a live tackling practice but it did not happen during a live contact period within the practice. The Dolphins were in a two-minute drill and Ajayi caught a pass. Safety T.J. McDonald rallied to the ball and bumped (thudded) Ajayi without taking him to the ground.
That is how the concussion happened.
Ajayi had a breakout season, but nearly 58% of his rushing yards came in four of his 15 games (against the Bills twice, the Steelers and the Jets). He averaged 6.74 YPC in those four weeks, and just 3.56 YPC in the other 11 games. Not coincidentally, three of those four big games came with center Mike Pouncey in the lineup, yielding a 5.96 YPC with Pouncey (versus 4.12 YPC without). As long as he and his offensive line can stay healthy, Ajayi should have a very productive 2017.
The Rams signed Dunbar because they liked his pass-catching ability. They were hopeful he could mimic Chris Thompson's role in McVay's offense during his two-year stint in Washington. But a lingering knee issue has kept Dunbar from practicing, and there is no timetable for his return. His injury has the Rams wondering when Gurley will actually be able to take a break this season.
"Regardless of whether Lance is available or not, we always knew that Todd would be the lead dog," McVay said. "And it's just kind of us figuring out what is that fine line between him being at his best, while making sure that he gets his touches necessary, and then also being mindful of having somebody that can spell him so that when the fourth quarter rolls around, and to finish the game, he feels good.”
After a strong rookie season, Gurely managed just 885 rushing yards on 278 carries (3.18 YPC) in the Rams’ anemic offense. Fantasy owners drafting him in the late 2nd round are banking on new head coach Sean McVay’s ability to turn around the offense, especially the running game. McVay was the OC in Washington from 2014-2016 and his teams finished in the No. 19 to No. 21 range in rushing yards all three years. However, his offenses did have two top 10 finishes in rushing touchdowns (2014, 2016) which is a reason for optimism when it comes to Gurley. If he’s on the field on third down, it will certainly raise his floor as a fantasy asset.
CBS NFL Insider Jason La Canfora wrote Tuesday that he has "heard plenty of rumblings about (Andrew Luck) starting the year on the physically unable to perform list...".
Right now, Luck (shoulder) is on the preseason PUP list, which means he can come off of it at any time, but LaCanfora is alluding to the regular season PUP list in which any player on that must miss the first six weeks of the season.
La Canfora notes: "As a first-time general manager just on the job, (general manager Chris) Ballard has time on his side, and undoubtedly Luck is the greatest thing this organization has going for it. This roster is far from the finished product, and with Ballard just beginning a five-year contract, the long view -- or at least the medium-view -- has to dictate the vision of the front office."
4for4's Steve Andress is a former team reporter for the Indianapolis Colts and notes any decision involving Andrew Luck usually goes through owner Jim Irsay's office. Irsay has spoken about wanting to win multiple Super Bowls in the Luck era after regretting only winning one with Peyton Manning. It's hard to imagine he would jeopardize Luck's long-term health just to get him on the field early this season, if his rehab is not 100 percent complete.
The Colts have given no timetable for Luck's return, and Luck, when asked, did not say whether he thought he'd be ready for the start of the season.
Indianapolis Star beat writer Zak Keefer also noted Tuesday night on Twitter: "1 thing to stress again about Luck: There are SIX weeks until regular season starts. He's begun the throwing part of his rehab. Lot of time."
Herald Bulletin beat writer George Bremer also tweeted: "For those asking, I'm told Chris Ballard's statement from last week stands. Luck expected to come off PUP before reg season begins."
There's no red alert yet on Luck, but drafters need to proceed cautiously at this point, considering how deep the quarterback position is and Luck's high 5th round ADP. When healthy, Luck is a top-five fantasy quarterback; however, this shoulder injury is one the Colts had put off surgically repairing since it first happened early in the 2015 season before later lacerating his kidney and missing the rest of that season. In 2016, Luck would regularly sit out a day or two of the practice week trying to manage the shoulder, before the Colts and Luck finally opted for surgery this past offseason. All parties have said the same thing, that they are going to methodically take their time with Luck's rehab. What that means exactly for his early season availability is still to be determined. Proceed cautiously in drafts.