Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling‘s offseason work got a rave review from quarterback Aaron Rodgers and part of the reason may be because of who the wideout has been working out with. Valdes-Scantling is being tutored by Randy Moss as he prepares for his second NFL season.
Valdes-Scantling has a similar build to Moss, but the 2018 addition to the Hall of Fame’s advice has not centered on how to be more like him. Valdes-Scantling said Moss has advised him not to “try to emulate anybody” and be his own player once he’s back on the field for the Packers.
Ever since moving to receiver two years ago, Terrelle Pryor continues to seek help and advice from those who played the position. That’s why the Washington Redskins wideout is working out this summer with one of the NFL’s top wideouts -- Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown -- in Pennsylvania.
It’s not surprising; Pryor and Brown have been in contact in the past, and Pryor has heeded Brown's advice and incorporated his drills. Pryor will work out with Brown at various points in the summer, and also will head to Charlotte at some point in July to work with former NFL standout Randy Moss, a likely future Hall of Famer. Pryor lives near Pittsburgh.
“The good ones, they ask questions,” Pryor said, “and never think they’ve got it. They always want to learn. I’m not calling myself a great one, but I think I can get there. I’m always pinpoint in meetings, always answering questions. I jump on a question before anyone else can. I enjoy it. Once you stop learning and think you’ve got it, that’s when you lose. I never want to get to that point. I’m always curious, how to get better and how to be a dominant player and how to make people look at me and say, ‘I want to be like that.’ That’s what drives me.”
Pryor finished the season as the #21 receiver, though his numbers dipped over the final month of the season. Still, his output in the first 12 games -- 5.2 catches for 71 yards and 0.33 TD, #11 WR -- is very encouraging, as is his thirst for knowledge. Working out with Brown and Moss allows Pryor to learn from two of the all-time greats. He’ll certainly benefit from an upgrade at quarterback in Washington. The quality of his targets may offset the reduction in workload.
The No. 1 mission of this 49ers training camp: boosting the Colin Kaepernick-led passing attack.
The 49ers tout the deepest receiving corps of Harbaugh's four-year tenure, and they have arguably the league's best offensive line.
The 49ers clearly realized he couldn't improve the passing attack without better targets.
"We're a lot deeper at receiver," starter Anquan Boldin said.
First, the 49ers acquired San Francisco native Stevie Johnson in a draft-day trade with Buffalo. They lured Brandon Lloyd out of a one-year hiatus (as they did with Randy Moss in 2012). And they drafted speedster Bruce Ellington in the fourth round out of South Carolina.
"It gives us an opportunity as an offense to do a lot more," Kaepernick said. "You have a lot of weapons that you can put in a lot of different places. ... They all have the capability of getting open and making plays."
In his last 18 games with Crabtree in the lineup, Kaepernick has averaged 20.9 FP, which equate to #3 QB numbers. In 11 games without Crabtree, he averaged 16.1 FP. He averages 2.5 more pass attempts (i.e. the 49ers throw the ball more) and his YPA jumps from 7.4 to 8.4 with his top receiver in the lineup. The potential Vernon Davis holdout is a concern, but with Johnson in the fold, the 49ers are deep at receiver.
Tennessee's players and coaches are won over, with receivers aide Shawn Jefferson talking up Justin Hunter as the one who could carry the Titans into the playoffs, while fellow wideout Michael Preston turned heads this offseason by calling Hunter a young Randy Moss -- a claim he didn't back away from Monday.
"I know how great a player Randy Moss was, and in my mind, there's no reason Justin can't be the next greatest player," Preston told Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. "... I just want to be there to support him. I know he's going to grow, make a great leap this year, and impress the city and fans with his talent."
With Kenny Britt out of the way, Hunter owns a legitimate chance to make an impact come September. NFL Films guru Greg Cosell called him "the most intriguing" and "physically talented" wideout in last year's draft -- and his game tape is speckled with flashes of brilliance -- but comparisons to a rock-solid future Hall of Famer are wildly premature.
As a rookie, Hunter checked in with the #18 FP/T (1.41), which is encouraging, especially if he’s able to beat out Nate Washington and get on the field as more than a just a passing-down specialist. He only played 36% of the team’s snaps, while Washington played 82%. The good news is that under then-OC Ken Whisenhunt, Keenan Allen, Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal all played at least 67% of the Chargers’ snaps. So with Whiz calling the plays in Tennessee, there may be room for both Washington and Hunter in the lineup.