Outkicking the Coverage goes camping providing a daily recap of the big news, small tidbits and everything in between that is happening in all 32 training camps.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 28, 2015
Martavis Suspended – As if playing without Le’Veon Bell wasn’t hard enough, the Steelers now have to play without the services of wide receiver Martavis Bryant. Bryant is in the midst of appealing a 4-game suspension due to repeated substance abuse violations, which will leave the Steelers short-handed in the skills player department. Ben Roethlisberger has recently talked up Markus Wheaton as a breakout candidate much to the surprise of most people but it looks like now we know why.
Mallett is My Sleeper Pick at QB – Last week, Bill O’Brien named Brian Hoyer the starter at QB indicating to Ryan Mallett that he better stay ready and continue to prepare as if he was the starter. Obviously disappointed, Mallett took the news in stride as everyone assumed there would be a better than likely chance that we would see him start games at some point this year. Well that opportunity may have flown out the window after Mallett reportedly missed practice yesterday having overslept. I haven’t been watching Hard Knocks faithfully like I have in the past, but I for sure will watch this week’s episode.
Rex Being Rex – It’s no secret that Rex Ryan can coach a heck of a defense and can motivate a team to play above their expectations. It’s also no secret that Rex has a horrible time managing his quarterbacks. Rex appears to be heading down a familiar path in Buffalo as he continues to butt fumble his way through the starting quarterback conundrum facing his team. There’s no clear cut winner but it’s quite apparent that Tyrod Taylor will be named the starting quarterback. But instead of getting him more work with the first team offense, Ryan is electing to start a quarterback who has generated zero buzz or positive practice reports in E.J. Manuel. Perhaps this is Manuel’s parting gift.
Dez Returns to Practice, Doesn’t Fight – The Cowboys have been taking extra special care of their star player after he suffered a hamstring injury a few weeks back but Dez finally returned to practice yesterday. The Cowboys previously expressed little concern, holding Dez out strictly for precautionary reasons. Bryant wasted no time dominating the Dallas corners in his return to practice and will be all systems go for the start of the season.
Packing It In – The Packers have had enough of these faux football games and are opting out of Week 3. Generally used as a dress rehearsal where starters play the entire first half, the Packers have elected to not play any starters after last week’s crushing loss of Jordy Nelson. Head coach Mike McCarthy must feel his team is ready to start the season now and is taking a stand against what some argue to be a prolonged preseason. This stance is sure to spark discussion on revising the offseason and regular season schedule moving forward.
The Next Megatron Plays For the Browns – Per Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden, former quarterback turned receiver Terrelle Pryor “looks like Calvin Johnson.” Haden was, shall we say, effusive with his praise of Pryor much to the bewilderment of anyone who just read that quote. I suppose we can all be proved wrong but for that to happen, Pryor is going to have to actually play this weekend, something his injured hamstring may prevent.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 27, 2015
Sanders Still Out in Denver – Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is still boasting a top-35 overall ADP yet his continued absence in Broncos camp should be a bit alarming heading into draft weekend. Today will mark Sanders’ 20th consecutive missed day of practice as he continues to get over what obviously is a nasty hamstring injury. While we won’t get a chance to see Sanders in the preseason, it sure would be nice if he could return to practice before the weekend.
Ertz Not Ready – Zach Ertz was expected to be a larger part of the Eagles offense this upcoming year but he was unable to leap frog incumbent Brent Celek for the starting gig early on in training camp. Then before things could really get started, Ertz suffered a groin injury. He was expected to be ready for the regular season but his recovery from the surgery appears to be going slower than expected. When asked yesterday about Ertz’s status for the opening game, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur didn’t sound remotely optimistic.
Martellus Replacing Marshall In More Ways Than One – Already not happy with his contract, Martellus Bennett decided to make more waves yesterday with some oddly timed comments regarding leadership on the team. Bennett is expected to have a larger role on offense as the Bears look to replace Brandon Marshall but they did not need Bennett to fill the role of instigating the quarterback. Up to this point, Jay Cutler was enjoying a relatively drama free start to the year but thanks to Martellus, the Jay hating has started early.
Broncos Swap Kickers – There’s usually no big kicker news at this time of the year but for those that were banking on the Broncos rolling with Connor Barth as their kicker for the 2015 season, it’s time to make other plans. The Broncos screwed over early drafters and pulled the ‘ol switcheroo dropping Barth and naming Brandon McManus as the starting placekicker. McManus mightily disappointed on the job last year but any kicker kicking in mile high is worth drafting. UPDATE – Well it looks like the early drafters got a reprieve as Barth has landed with his former team in Tampa where he instantly becomes the favorite to win the kicking job.
McCown Wins By TKO – Well to be honest, Josh McCown was going to start the season as the Browns starter no matter what, but Johnny Manziel won’t get that last important chance to showcase his talent in the all important third preseason game as he will be resting his throwing elbow for the rest of training camp. Manziel may have looked better overall this preseason than he did at any point last year but he’s still a work in progress. Still, it’s a good bet that we will see him starting sometime throughout the season.
IDP Note of Day – Texans rookie inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney is reported to have a sprained MCL making him questionable to be ready for Week 1. McKinney is slated to start at inside linebacker for the Texans defense but suffered an injury in last week’s preseason game. He has been sitting out practice this week and will remain out for the foreseeable future.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 26, 2015
Sir Duke – The Browns tortured fantasy owners last year with their three-way running back committee as we were left to guess who out of Terrance West, Ben Tate or Isaiah Crowell would lead the team in carries week to week. With Ben Tate gone, the Browns added another third wheel in the draft with the selection of Duke Johnson. Could Duke Johnson be the running back we are looking for? After a slow start in camp due to hamstring injury, Johnson is heating up leaving head coach Mike Pettine impressed. Browns beat writers are beating the drum that Duke will lead the backfield this year. Maybe our long Browns nightmare is finally over. At least at the running back position. There’s plenty of other positions on this team to lose sleep over.
Evans Can Wait – Tampa Bay stud receiver Mike Evans suffered a hamstring injury in last week’s game. By all accounts, the injury is minor. While that hopefully is the case, the Bucs are not taking a chance with their second year star announcing yesterday that he will sit out the remaining preseason action as a precaution. If the Buccaneers are going to start off the Jameis Winston era on a good note, they’ll need Evans on the field at 100%
Broncos Solidify Offensive Line – The Evan Mathis tour has stopped in Denver. After free agent dalliances with the Seahawks, Dolphins, Titans and Chiefs, the former disgruntled Eagles Pro Bowl guard has decided to join the Denver Broncos on a one-year deal. Mathis said he chose the Broncos as he felt they gave him the best chance to win a Super Bowl although I’m sure it was a combination of winning and cash that made Mathis’ decision. The state of the offensive line has been a major concern for the Broncos this offseason but Mathis’ arrival should quell the fears somewhat of potential Peyton Manning and C.J. Anderson owners.
Ivory Receptions – Chris Ivory revealed that he has been concentrating on improving his pass receiving skills all offseason in preparation for his role in new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s offense and the extra work appears to be paying off. Ivory has impressed coaches and teammates throughout training camp and he appears to be ready for a prime season. Already locked in as the Jets starting running back, if Ivory can stay in on more third downs he’ll be even more of a bargain at his current draft price.
Vick Signs With Pitt – The Steelers were in dire need of a backup quarterback after their current #2 Bruce Gradkowski was injured and lost for the season in last week’s preseason game. With the market extremely bare, the Steelers decided to bring in Michael Vick for a workout. Vick evidently did enough to impress Coach Tomlin and will serve as a backup to Ben Roethlisberger. There will be no quarterback controversy in what may end up being Vick’s final stop.
No Geno Talk – While Geno Smith has returned to Jets practice as a spectator, the team has ostensibly moved on. New head coach Todd Bowles has made it abundantly clear that the team is focused and refused to get distracted. Brandon Marshall offered proof of this stance claiming that if he were to continue to talk about any situation that could distract the team that he would have to run laps. While Marshall remains Geno’s biggest supporter, the Jets and Todd Bowles have officially moved on. Until of course, Fitzpatrick’s play dictates they move back.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 25, 2015
Are You A Gurley Man? – Let’s kick off this update with a very outdated SNL ‘Hanz and Franz’ reference shall we? Running back Todd Gurley was cleared for practice yesterday but there are zero expectations that the prized rookie will be participating in any kind of preseason action. Gurley will start off with team drills as the Rams continue to preach patience as they are in no hurry to test Gurley’s ACL. This news is merely a positive step toward a very slow race but once Gurley cuts loose, Rams fans and fantasy owners will be more than excited.
Wayne’s World – This more popular SNL reference is brought to you by Reggie Wayne who did the unthinkable for Colts fans and signed with the Patriots yesterday. Wayne, of course, looked like a shell of his former shelf last season and with a youthful cast of up and coming wide receivers, there was little room for the past-his-prime all time great. The Patriots, of course, do not have a youthful cast of up-and-coming receivers and are hopeful Wayne, yet another year removed from his ACL injury in 2013, will have enough juice left to fill in the vast voids in the depth chart.
Quick Change – I guess that’s it for SNL references, although Bill Murray is of course a SNL alum and he had a film called Quick Change. Ok, yes, I’m pushing it. In the ever teasing young and talented receivers that have come through St. Louis over the past few seasons, Brian Quick may be the one to actually break through as long as he can stay healthy. Quick has been cleared for contact in Rams camp and will look to get back to the success he enjoyed at the beginning of last season.
Center of Attention – Panthers’ center Matt Kalil sprained his knee in this past weekend’s preseason game and will sit out the rest of camp in hopes of being ready for Week 1. The Panthers need some good news. Any loss along the offensive line would be bad but losing Kalil would be devastating.
Replacing Jordy – We’ll be keeping a close eye on the practice reps this week between Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery and Jeff Janis to see who emerges in the absence of Jordy Nelson. While we would all like to have a defined role for everyone involved this is most likely going to be a team effort to make up for the huge loss in the Packers offense.
You Down With JPP – While Jason Pierre Paul made light of his accident and referenced his lost finger on social media over the weekend, the NFL Network reported that the defensive end is planning to report to Giants camp before the start of the regular season. The Giants have yet to get a close look at Pierre Paul’s hand so it will be extremely interesting if and when he decides to show up.