Dak Prescott Back Practicing in Team Drills
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Dak Prescott (shoulder) took part in team drills at Wednesday’s practice for the first time since injuring the arm earlier in camp. Prescott attempted 12 passes across 18 snaps and completed 11 of them. It sounds like Prescott’s shoulder is about as close to 100% as it can be, and he’s very much on track to play Week 1. Nobody around the organization has seemed concerned about Dak’s availability for the real games. He’ll be out there against the Bucs.
With Cam Newton away from the team following his “misunderstanding” of COVID policies and protocols, Mac Jones has dominated the Giants in joint practices this week. NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran believes Jones has now earned the Patriots’ starting job. With Newton gone, Jones has taken 500-plus practice reps, working exclusively with the ones and getting all of the work. Newton was great in last week’s preseason game, but Jones has also been impressive. New England has held joint practices with the Giants this week, and Jones has carved up the G-Men’s defense by all accounts. Coach Bill Belichick has said he’d be open to a committee quarterback situation, but Jones may be pulling away with the job this week.
Rams Bolster Backfield with Sony Michel Trade
With the Patriots overflowing with running backs and the Rams losing Cam Akers earlier in the summer to a torn Achilles’ and Darrell Henderson nursing a thumb issue, L.A. dealt a pair of 2022 late-round picks to New England for Sony Michel. It’s bad news for Henderson’s fantasy stock and gives Michel some real fantasy appeal as an RB3 with upside. Michel played pretty well in the Patriots’ run-heavy offense last season, setting career highs in yards per carry and actually flashing a bit as a pass-catcher. Headed into fantasy drafts, managers should treat Henderson as a later RB2 and Michel as an upside RB3 in what will likely be some type of committee until/unless one pulls away from the other during the year. Coach Sean McVay is the same guy who signed C.J. Anderson off the street in December 2018 and turned him into the most productive running back across Weeks 16 and 17 and into the playoffs when Anderson strung together consecutive 20-167-1, 23-132-1, and 23-123-2 rushing lines in that span. Michel has real touchdown upside with the Rams. In New England, this solidifies Damien Harris as an RB2 for fantasy, with rookie Rhamondre Stevenson now operating as Harris’ backup.
Watkins Running as Eagles’ Slot WR
After his strong summer and preseason, Quez Watkins is now operating as the Eagles’ starting slot receiver in practice. While Greg Ward probably opened the summer as the favorite to man the slot for the Eagles, it’s been Watkins who has earned the spot with stellar practice and preseason performances to this point. Watkins worked on his route running with Calvin Ridley over the offseason and credits Ridley with furthering his development. Watkins looks like he’ll open the season inside with first-round rookie DeVonta Smith and 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor on the outside for Jalen Hurts. Watkins has speed for days.
Injury Updates on Starting WRs
After missing all of camp with a groin injury and COVID, Curtis Samuel is expected to be back at practice next week in preparation for Week 1. He’s missed a whole lot of reps this summer and will miss the preseason finale. It sounds like Samuel will be ready for the season opener, but who knows what his chemistry will be like with Ryan Fitzpatrick or what his playing time will be.
Marvin Jones has been diagnosed with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder but is expected to be ready for Week 1. With D.J. Chark (hand) missing most of camp, Jones has developed chemistry with Trevor Lawrence as the Jaguars’ top outside wideout. Chark should be ready for the opener, and Laviska Shenault will work from the slot, but Jones has a path to WR3 status.
In Detroit, Tyrell Williams has been sidelined with a groin issue, but he’s expected back next week. Signed as a free agent following his release from the Raiders, Williams looks like he’ll head into the season as the Lions’ default top outside receiver. He’s someone to watch early.
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Jalen Hurd (knee) returned to practice Wednesday. He needs a big preseason finale if he wants to win a 53-man roster spot. … Devin Funchess broke his collarbone in Week 1 of 2019 and missed the rest of that season, opted out of 2020, and was placed on season-ending I.R. by the Packers Wednesday. … Browns third-round WR Anthony Schwartz (hamstring) returned to practice Wednesday. … Cowboys No. 3 RB Rico Dowdle (hip) was placed on I.R. and will miss the season. … Texans released WR Taywan Taylor. … After signing with the Seahawks Tuesday, TE Luke Willson retired Wednesday. … Saints backup TE Nick Vannett will miss 2-4 weeks with a knee injury. … The Bills signed WR Steven Sims after he was cut by Washington earlier in the week. … Kyle Rudolph was removed from the PUP list Wednesday and will be ready for the season opener as Evan Engram’s blocking complement in New York.