Welcome to another day of training camp news and analysis. We are about a week into camp and reports keep coming and camp battles keep brewing. So let’s see what’s been going on.
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Joique Bell seems poised for a big year under new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and now we can mark off any thought of him not being up to speed after his offseason knee surgery. Beat reporter Justin Rogers says Bell has looked quick and is making hard cuts and accelerating at will.
Rogers is also quite enamored with running back Theo Riddick who is third on the depth chart behind Reggie Bush and Bell. He tweeted, “I'm reluctantly buying a ticket on the Theo Riddick hype train. I've been burned before with offseason wonders, but man, 41 looks good.” He also noted that Riddick looked great in one-on-one receiver drills Wednesday. Riddick’s ability seems to lend itself to the Lombardi/Saints receiving running backs offense. Riddick was used as a receiver for two seasons in Notre Dame and probably has the best hands of any of the backs. We saw Bush and Bell both get nicked up often last season, even if they didn’t miss many starts. As you can tell I like Riddick’s upside quite a bit in PPR leagues this year.
Rob Gronkowski has been doing one-on-one work against Darrelle Revis the last two days of practice according to beat reporter Mike Reiss. No word on how he has fared, but just the fact that he can even compete against Revis shows that he’s well on his way to play Week one.
Teddy Bridgewater has closed the gap on Matt Cassel according to NFL Network’s Albert Breer. On Wednesday they split first team reps and even though neither stood out in what turned out to be multiple passes to running backs, Bridgewater did nothing to discourage them from keeping him on the front lines. Unless he starts taking a real nose-dive it is looking like he has a great chance to start the season behind center.
At some point Adrian Peterson will go from All Day to Half-Day to Day-Napper or whatever they call old football players and someone will have to step into those monster shoes. If we had to pick that person from the current roster it would be Jerick McKinnon. He of course is no Peterson and won’t be, but he does have tremendous strength and good speed and even though he wasn’t known as a pass catcher out of college has looked good in that department during training camp according to ESPN’s Ben Goessling. That’s a nice strength to have to get in Norv Turner’s good graces. He might not be the starter if Peterson were to go down with Matt Asiata being the veteran, but he would be the player I’d want for upside and if Peterson does get injured, the chances the Vikings want to see what they have for the future would be good and that might be McKinnon.
Bucs beat reporter Pat Yasinskas writes that Doug Martin has looked good in training camp so far and so has rookie Charles Sims and that he sees Sims as Martin’s direct backup. Yasinskas had mentioned a bit of a “rotation” at running back this season and that has many worried about Martin’s usage. The Bucs have a good amount of upside backs right now, so it does make some sense, but Martin is the starter. He won’t be run into the ground, but his ability as a receiver while also getting the bulk of the carries still makes him a top fantasy player. And with Sims also looking good and in the lead for the backup job, he makes for a nice handcuff.
The news for Bucs rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins had not been good to start training camp with Lovie Smith stating that he was behind after missing off-season programs, but NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah reports that ASJ is picking things up quickly and made a lot of plays on Wednesday. Jeremiah also noted how great Doug Martin looked, tweeting that he “looked quick, showed impressive vision on several runs today...in good shape. Looks lighter.”
Trent Richardson has been out of practice for three days with a hamstring problem, but returned Wednesday and took snaps with the second-team behind Ahmad Bradshaw. Beat reporter Mike Wells didn’t seem to think this was out of the ordinary, so I’m guessing his second-team reps were just due to him being eased back into practice.
Brian Quick and Kenny Britt have been the standout receivers for the Rams this training camp. Both players had been left for dead by much of the fantasy world so it’s interesting to see them putting it together so far in camp. Quick of course is still young and Phil Savage the Executive Director of the Senior Bowl and scout tweeted about Quick, “His production is beginning to match the raw size/speed.” Both Britt and Quick are running as the starters in camp over Givens and Austin and now all they need is for Sam Bradford to turn into Kurt Warner.
Also in St. Louis, Zac Stacy remains the starting running back with Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham trailing far behind. He will get plenty of work for a team who wants to play great defense and run the ball well.
Malcom Floyd looks to be back to his old self after his scary neck injury that ended his 2013 season. ESPN’s Eric Williams reports that Floyd was the “star of the day.” Floyd’s 6’5” frame will always be a nice red zone target.
The Jaguars two second round rookie receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson have been getting their fair amount of praise as they get starting reps while Cecil Shorts and Ace Sanders are out. Robinson’s 6’3” 210 pound frame and Lee’s quickness have been on display in camp and cornerback Will Blackmon has been impressed with both as he told Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times Union, “Lee has just got so much raw ability. He’s so quick and fast. He doesn’t even realize it yet. He can easily get a step on us and take off, because he’s so fast up the field.” Blackmon goes on to praise Robinson, “with Allen, he’s a great combination of that new breed of size and speed. You say ‘OK, he’s a big, strong receiver, so he’s going to try to body me, box me out and get jump balls.’ But, at the same time, he’s able to run by you.”
Of course there is much work to do for the Jaguars as a team and they plan on using Toby Gerhart early and often as they slow the game down with a ball control offense. Lee looks to have the best chance for consistent targets once Shorts returns and will be used more often in shorter, quit hitters, which puts him on the PPR radar for this season.
Last season we watched tight end Zach Sudfeld’s ADP skyrocket as he looked good in training camp for the Patriots and then go on to be released. And here we are a year later once again hearing praise for Sudfeld, but this time for the Jets. Beat reporter Rich Cimini reports that rookie tight end Jace Amaro has not adjusted to the NFL well as he’s been dropping passes, running the wrong routes and getting an earful from coaches. This of course is all happening while Sudfeld is outplaying the whole group, leading coach Ryan to call him “absolutely tremendous.” We’ve of course been burned by “Baby Gronk” before, but Ryan’s nickname for Sudfeld this season is “Sasquatch” and I don’t think they like fire.