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.
Following surgery to repair his meniscus yesterday, Chargers WR Stevie Johnson has learned he's out for the season, source said.
Johnson was shaping up as a nice late-round sleeper after an efficient first season with the Chargers. The team signed James Jones for depth, but Dontrelle Inman is/was Johnson's direct backup. Tyrell Williams (6'3") could potentially push Keenan Allen to the slot. Johnson's absence probably makes Travis Benjamin a solid pick in the double-digit rounds, though he has missed several practices with an unknown ailment.
The Chargers are signing long-time Green Bay Packers wideout, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source aware of the move.
Rapoport reported earlier that the Chargers were hosting Jones and former Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline on Tuesday, per sources. In addition, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported former Lions receiver Lance Moore would also work out for the team.
It's clear the 32-year-old has lost a step, won't get much separation from corners and will rely on timing with the quarterback to earn any production in his 10th NFL season, the story said. With Keenan Allen and Travis Benjamin look like they will start, so the Chargers might be comfortable using Jones as a veteran replacement in a limited role in 2016. However as we reported several times, it's not out of the question Allen gets time in the slot with Jones on the outside.
Williams also worked heavily with the ones when a hamstring injury limited Travis Benjamin this spring. Benjamin seems back to full strength this training camp, running at full speed opposite Keenan Allen.
This falls right in line with news items we had yesterday right after Johnson went down. Williams is a bit of an unknown but has been taking advantage of injuries as far back as spring. The story also mentioned Dontrelle Inman as seeing plenty of wide-receiver reps in the early going of camp.