The good-time happy fun hour we’ve all been watching with star Rob Gronkowski just had a tornado warning interrupt all our viewing fun. Pro Football Talk reports that Gronkowski is "50-50" to play in Week 1. Gronk said he’d be ready for Week 1, but he also thinks the number 69 is funny. So we really have had no assurances that he would be ready to play after just eight months of recovery from an ACL and MCL tear. We are talking Adrian Peterson recovery here and I think we can be pretty happy that he has been practicing and making hard cuts.
Gronkowski still hasn’t been cleared for contact, but he was never even put on the PUP list. The 50-50 call actually seems like a good sign in some respects. He has been practicing, has no risk of being put on the PUP list to start the season and now he has a decent chance of playing Week 1 when he hasn’t even been cleared for contact yet. This looks to me like the Patriots are being very cautious with their best offensive weapon because they know how much they need him for the full season, especially if they make the playoffs. If they were really worried I think they would have him just working out with trainers instead of going one-on-one with Darrelle Revis.
Hopefully we’ll get a little more clarity in the next couple weeks, but I’m always willing to throw a little caution to the wind when it comes to difference makers like Gronk and with this news he may become a bit more affordable and then hopefully the storm clouds will drift away and the trees will turn to cotton candy and we shall all feast on fantasy points! I think my metaphor got away from me.
The Kelvin Benjamin hype is at its peak right now with ESPN Panthers reporter David Newton naming him the star of training camp. There was no award ceremony, but the biggest question for Cam Newton and the Panthers offense coming into this season was wide receiver and the rookie Benjamin is stepping up big time. He is their best receiver and will play the role this season. His ADP is starting to catch up with his #1 receiver status, but he has been a steal for most of the summer. But the really good news here is for Cam Newton. His ADP hasn’t caught up with the fact that he does actually have some receiving weapons this year, especially in the red zone with two very capable 6’5” receivers and touchdown hawk Jerricho Cotchery.
Cardinals rookie receiver John Brown continues to get praise, this time from GM Steve Kleim, who said, “(He) has uncanny instincts, unbelievable understanding of route concepts, leverage, being in the right spot at the right time. On top of great ball skills, he has unusual speed and explosiveness. ... I haven’t seen any of our players cover him." He also had a good first preseason game, catching five passes for 87 yards, to help backup all the practice hype he’s been given. It’s hard not to think he is pushing Ted Ginn for the #3 wide receiver spot at this point. Of course he is behind Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd even if he makes his way up the depth chart, but with very few looks being taken away by tight ends and Bruce Arians' pass first offense, it’s possible he could have some deep league value if his ascension continues.
Aaron Dobson was activated from the PUP list on Monday and spent about an hour at practice before doing his rehab on the side. Baby steps. The good news is Dobson won’t be on the official PUP list to start the season and will be able to play at any point he is ready. It’s still too early to tell how quickly he’ll get back into full practices and be cleared for contact, but if he can get ready in time to play early in the season, he still makes for a nice flier come draft day.
Teddy Bridgewater threw three interceptions in practice Monday and did not look great in his first preseason game while Matt Cassel drove his team down the field for a touchdown on his only series. All signs are pointing toward Cassel starting Week 1 at this point.
According to NFLN’s Ian Rapoport, Gus Bradley says that Blake Bortles will get some first team reps at some point this summer, but is still pushing Chad Henne as his season long starter. The chances of Henne performing well enough to stave of controversy, especially after Bortles looked good in his first preseason game, are slim to none. That of course doesn’t mean that Bradley won’t stick to the plan, but there is a very good chance we’ll see Bortles at some point this year.
Depth Chart Quick Slants
Justin Hunter was called out for not running out a route in the Titans first preseason game, but beat write Jim Wyatt reports that “not a practice goes by without some highlight-reel catches” from Hunter. . . . Jets OC Marty Mornhinweg is open to the idea of Michael Vick as a "change-of-pace quarterback." . . . Stephen Hill had been drawing some praise early in camp, but according to beat reporter Rich Cimini he continues to be inconsistent and won’t be overtaking David Nelson anytime soon. . . . Devonta Freeman is listed as the No. 4 running back on the unofficial depth chart, which must be mainly for motivation, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. . . . Jonathan Grimes is #2 on the Texan’s unofficial depth chart. . . . Mike Pettine said Johnny Manziel would start, but both he and Brian Hoyer will get work with the starters in Cleveland's second preseason game against Washington. . . . Christine Michael remains the No. 3 running back on the Seahawks' latest unofficial depth chart, but remains the superior talent. If Marshawn Lynch were to be injured Michael is who we would want over Robert Turbin. . . . Nick Foles is getting less than stellar reports from beat writer Jeff McClane this summer. He said he’s been decent, but not great. Not the harshest of words, but a little tempering of some expectations of him having last year’s numbers. . . . Brandon Bostick saw increased reps with the starting offense in Monday's practice.
Injury Quick Slants
Toby Gerhart (hip) returned to practice Tuesday. . . . Chris Ivory (ribs) is expected to play in the Jets' second preseason game vs. the Bengals this week. . . . Jordy Nelson (hamstring) returned to Packers practice Tuesday. . . . Knowshon Moreno (knee) participated in contact drills Monday for the first time since his scope. . . . Chiefs SS Eric Berry is still dealing with heel tendinitis. . . . ESPN's Adam Schefter confirms the Bengals are targeting Week 5 for Marvin Jones' (foot) return. . . . Broncos WLB Danny Trevathan has been diagnosed with a fractured knee, and will be sidelined 6-8 weeks. . . . Coach Bruce Arians said FS Tyrann Mathieu (knee) is close to being activated from the active/PUP list.