Joseph Randle’s fantasy supporters have had a good camp so far. After Jerry Jones “expressed confidence” in Randle’s ability to be the lead runner on the first day of camp, OC Scott Linehan confirmed Friday the Cowboys’ offense would continue to be the run-heavy unit which allowed DeMarco Murray to rack up 449 touches last season.
Darren McFadden is already sidelined by yet another hamstring injury, and even if he returns from this ailment another will surely follow. Unless the Cowboys bring in a veteran back, that leaves Randle as the only real option for early-down work. There is almost no chance he sees the same workload as Murray last season, especially considering Lance Dunbar is expected to be a “viable part of the offense” this year, but 15-plus carries a game with a few catches sprinkled in is well within reach.
A guy who is not having such a great training camp is Martavis Bryant, who is expected to miss 7-10 days after undergoing a minor procedure for an elbow infection. While the injury itself it not a concern, the timing could not be worse after Ben Roethlisberger called Markus Wheaton the Steelers’ No. 2 receiver and deemed him “our breakout player of the year” in a radio interview.
It is clear Bryant still has work to do to unseat Wheaton completely in two-wide sets, and that work will not be done sitting on the sidelines. There is a bright side for Bryant supporters, though. With any luck, all of this negative news should put the brakes on his steadily rising ADP.
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In Other News….
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman ordered Tom Brady and Roger Goodell to appear in court for two conferences on Aug. 12 and 19, but he strongly encouraged the two sides to reach a settlement prior to the Aug. 12 conference. With both sides hoping to resolve the issue before the season begins, we could mercifully be heading to the end of this ridiculous saga.
Bruce Arians said Sunday he envisions Andre Ellington handling 20 touches a game this season. Ellington struggled with a similar workload last year, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry before ending the season on injured reserve. Ellington was much more effective with a smaller workload his rookie season, but the Cardinals have no one outside over-hyped David Johnson to take on more touches. Volume alone should make Ellington a solid RB2 when healthy, but he is unlikely to stay on the field if the Cardinals use him as a workhorse again this season.
Melvin Gordon has reportedly struggled with pass protection early in camp. Most rookies struggle in pass pro, but Gordon's issues are compounded by his lack of experience as a receiver. With Danny Woodhead on the roster, there is little reason for the Chargers to put Gordon in passing situations in which he is unlikely to succeed. Gordon will get all of the early-down work for San Diego, but he is unlikely to be heavily involved in the passing game this season.
Both Devonta Freeman and rookie Tevin Coleman took reps with the first-team offense in Falcons’ camp. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter believes Freeman is the favorite “right now,” but this has the feel of a competition which will go down to the wire. No matter who “wins,” both players should have a role in the offense this season.
Jim Caldwell became very philosophical when discussing Joique Bell’s (Achilles’/knee) continued absence from training camp. “Sometimes you don't know." Too true. The red flags surround Joique Bell are too many to count at this point. The good news is those red flags have caused his ADP to drop half a round in the last week.
The Buffalo News considers Matt Cassel the "leader in the clubhouse right now" in the Bills' quarterback competition. Cassel has carried his terrible offseason performances over to the start of training camp, but E.J. Manuel has been even worse. At this point, the Bills best option might be Tyrod Taylor, who could at least serve as a weapon in the running game. Buffalo will have to ride their running game hard if they hope to have any offensive success this season.
Bill O’Brien said neither Brian Hoyer nor Ryan Mallett has pulled away in the team’s quarterback competition, but NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein believes Hoyer could win the battle “sooner than you think.” Though Hoyer received the majority of the first-team work on Saturday, Mallett ran with the ones on Sunday and earned positive reviews.
Trent Richardson is reportedly 50-50 to make the Raiders’ 53-man roster. With Latavius Murray locked in as the early-down back and Roy Helu the clear favorite for third-down and change of pace work, Richardson will have to beat out UDFA Michael Dyer for a roster spot. Starting camp on the active/NFI list because you are overweight is not a great way to begin that battle, especially considering Dyer has “jumped out” early in camp.
Michael Crabtree, the Raiders other reclamation project, has had a much better camp so far. Crabtree reportedly “had the look of a playmaker” and “stood out” on the first day of training camp. With Rod Streater on the active/NFI list, Crabtree has an early shot to lock down the starting spot opposite Amari Cooper.
Sam Bradford (knee) has been fully cleared for 11-on-11 drills. … Seahawks signed MLB Bobby Wagner to a four-year, $43 million extension through 2019. … Steelers acquired Brandon Boykin from the Eagles for a conditional fifth-round pick. … John Fox said Kevin White (shin, active/PUP) is “making progress.” … Breshad Perriman (bruised knee) will miss more time than originally expected, but the injury is not considered a long-term issue. … Brandon Coleman has “consistently looked good” early in camp. … James White worked as the with the first-team offense as a third-down back on Saturday. … Marcus Mariota has played “mistake-free football” through the first two days of camp. … Juwan Thompson is pushing Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman for the No. 2 running back job in Denver. … Duke Johnson (hamstring) and Terrance West (calf) sat out Sunday’s practice. Neither injury is considered severe. … David Cobb suffered a broken finger in Saturday’s practice, but he returned to the field on Sunday. … Mike Maccagnan said the Jets have had talks with free agent Evan Mathis, but Mathis’ price tag is still too high. … Terrelle Pryor saw some work with the first-team offense at wide receiver on Sunday. … Rex Ryan confirmed Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito will start at left tackle and left guard respectively. … Leodis McKelvin (ankle) is out indefinitely after suffering a setback. Rookie Ronald Darby is running with the first-team defense in his place. … Jeremy Mincey received a raise after ending his hold out on Sunday. … Andrew Quarless (personal) reported to camp on Saturday. … Michael Johnson will miss 4-6 weeks after suffering a Grade 2 MCL sprain in Sunday’s practice. … Devin Smith will miss 4-6 weeks after suffering broken ribs and a punctured lung making a leaping catch in camp. … Navorro Bowman (knee) will begin camp on the active roster. … The Ravens fear Matt Elam suffered a torn biceps, which would likely end his season. … Sen’Derrick Marks (knee) is expected to miss the entire preseason. … Panthers waived/injured Stephen Hill after he suffered a torn ACL in practice Saturday. … Dontari Poe was placed on the active/PUP list. … Vick Ballard (Achilles’) will begin camp on the active roster. … Robert Mathis (Achilles’) was placed on the active/PUP list. … Bills suspended Aaron Kromer six games without pay for conduct detrimental to the team.