Marshall, L.T., Welker and More
By: mike.beacom | 8/11/10, 11:09 AM EDT
Wes Welker is participating in 11-on-11, full-contact drills.
It didn’t take WR Brandon Marshall long to make an impression in Miami. After getting beat repeatedly by Marshall during one practice, Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis reportedly asked coaches, “What more can I do?” … Don’t push LaDainian Tomlinson into early retirement just yet. On the first play of the team’s intrasquad scrimmage, Tomlinson caught a pass from QB Mark Sanchez and took it 70 yards for a touchdown. “My plan was to show people that I can still play this game and that I still have a lot left in the tank,” Tomlinson said afterward. … Fantasy owners should be more concerned with another Jets pickup. Coach Rex Ryan inserted Nick Folk into the scrimmage for a 38-yard field goal that the kicker missed. Folk had not been given time to warm up prior to the kick, something Ryan said was by design. The coach and kicker made excuses afterward, but the damage might have been done. … During New England’s Tuesday practice, WR Wes Welker turned in another solid performance. Welker, coming back from knee surgery, has made a faster recovery than expected and is now even participating in 11-on-11, full-contact drills.
The foot injury Bengals FB Brian Leonard suffered in the 16-7 loss to Dallas might be worse than originally expected. Prior to the injury, Leonard had served as a situational back in an already-depleted Bengals backfield. Said quarterback Carson Palmer, “I’m very concerned. He’s a big-time player for us, and we have a lot of things built in specifically for him. So the quicker he gets back, the better.” … If last Saturday was any indication, QB Colt McCoy won’t push his way up the Cleveland depth chart just yet. The former University of Texas star was picked off twice and drew the public criticism of coach Eric Mangini. “It’s a totally different world for him,” Mangini said, “one he has to get used to ... and in a hurry.” … According to Ravens coach John Harbaugh, the competition between kickers Billy Cundiff and Shayne Graham is neck-and-neck. In reference to what he suspected the final decision would come down to, Harbaugh said, “My gut feeling is that it’s going to be a gut feeling, which is the toughest way to do it.” … Ben Roethlisberger might be off limits to the Steelers during the season’s first six games, but it doesn’t mean the veteran quarterback has been given time off in training camp. In fact, through Monday’s practice, Roethlisberger ranked behind only Dennis Dixon in total 11-on-11 practice snaps, with expected Week 1 starter Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch coming in third and fourth, respectively.
Texans rookie RB Ben Tate is not exactly in coach Gary Kubiak’s doghouse, but he hasn’t won the coach over yet, either. Said Kubiak this week, “He needs to know to get his motor going when he leaves out of the locker room and not 30 minutes in to practice.” The coach offered some encouragement for the back, but it’s clear Tate has a long way to go before he can be a viable fantasy prospect. … Colts officials admitted this week that four-time Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday had undergone arthroscopic surgery on one of his knees. A key to the team’s passing and rushing attack, Saturday has been missed in camp. No timetable has been offered as to when the team expects him back at full strength … It looks like the fight for the Jaguars’ No. 2 receiver spot opposite Mike Sims-Walker might have been decided. QB David Garrard has shown favoritism to speedy Mike Thomas. Garrard said of Thomas, “We still have other guys that have potential there as well, but he’s a guy that you know can make plays for you.” Added Thomas, “I know what I’m capable of. That kind of stuff is good to hear, but you gotta work at it. Ain’t nothing settled yet.”
Scar tissue from the foot injury he suffered in a pre-draft workout has bothered Broncos rookie WR Demaryius Thomas this week. If anything, fantasy owners can expect team officials to treat the injury with caution; fellow rookie Eric Decker injured an ankle Saturday and the team is already dealing with a couple of other injuries at the position. … Injuries to Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye prompted Oakland to sign former Hawaii star QB Colt Brennan. Jason Campbell remains the team’s projected starter, with Gradkowski likely to hold on to his backup spot. … Maybe there is some truth in Ryan Mathews being the heir apparent to LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego. Not only can fantasy owners expect the Chargers to use Mathews to fill the void left by Tomlinson in the ground game, but it appears the team plans to make him a big part of the passing game immediately, too. Mathews has been catching 50 to 75 extra passes each day to condition himself as a receiver. He caught just 19 passes in his final two seasons at Fresno State. … The Chiefs’ coaching staff admits it has made QB Matt Cassel a priority in camp. New offensive coordinator Charlie Weis spoke at length to reporters this week about his process in evaluating where the quarterback is, and coach Todd Haley said he feels good about the direction in which Cassel is headed. Cassel hopes to see extensive action in Friday’s game against Atlanta. “In these games, you never know how much you’re going to play, and so I’m preparing to play the whole game if I have to,” he said.
Cowboys TE John Phillips’ season-ending injury (torn ACL) is sure to boost the fantasy value of Martellus Bennett, who was already expected to make a greater contribution in 2010. Bennett is still nursing an ankle injury, but the team expects him back on the field soon. Dallas signed DajLeon Farr to replace Phillips on the depth chart … While the rest of Eagles camp was focused on DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin’s friendly verbal spat, the team’s No. 3 receiver, Jason Avant, was making the coaching staff take notice. Avant has been sharp so far in camp, and with very few mistakes. Said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg on Tuesday, “I just looked at the numbers about a day and a half ago, and he has caught up near 80 balls — now this … doesn’t include the competitive 7-on-7 — (with) zero drops. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a man do that.” … The Giants are relatively deep at wide receiver, thanks to their success in recent drafts, but Ramses Barden apparently is not willing to become a forgotten man. Barden has had a few strong showings and appears ready to push for increased playing time behind Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith and Mario Manningham. “Right now, my thing is every time I do something right, I’ve got to find something else to fix because I’ve got to make sure that I don’t settle and I keep the arrow up,” Barden said. … WR Malcolm Kelly has missed the bulk of Redskins camp with a bum hamstring. Coach Mike Shanahan announced this week that the injury would keep Kelly out of the preseason game against Buffalo.
Who says the tight end position is irrelevant in Mike Martz’s system? Of Bears QB Jay Cutler’s 12 red zone throws Sunday evening, Greg Olsen caught five touchdowns. He later caught a long pass in 11-on-11, full-field drills. … WR Donald Driver’s two-year contract extension is more a show of appreciation for years past than a sign of confidence from the Packers. The 35-year-old receiver must prove he is his old self — as opposed to just old — after having both knees cleaned this offseason. … Packers K Mason Crosby made 4-of-5 field goal attempts in Tuesday’s practice after beginning camp just 6-of-11. … Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has shown a lot of two-tight end sets so far in an attempt to get both Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler on the field. It’s good news for Matthew Stafford fans, but offers no help to fantasy owners trying to decide which Detroit tight end will be the better play in 2010. … Last year’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, WR Percy Harvin, had missed a combined 17 practices through Tuesday due to migraines and a death in the family. All indications are that Harvin will at least miss the team’s first preseason contest. The offense has also been without TE Visanthe Shiancoe and WR Sidney Rice. No wonder Brett Favre is taking his time deciding whether to return.
Panthers WR Brandon LaFell received an increased number of first-team reps this week. As things stand now, fantasy owners must consider him the favorite to win the job opposite Steve Smith. “When they drafted me, they said I had a chance, but I didn’t think it would come this early,” LaFell told a reporter. … When the Saints and Patriots held a joint practice Tuesday, one New Orleans player was noticeably absent: RB Reggie Bush. The Saints’ versatile playmaker was suited up and reportedly ran drills in the morning session but was left out of the 11-on-11 action … The shoulder injury suffered by Falcons WR Michael Jenkins is expected to keep him on the sideline for four to six weeks. Jenkins’ injury could open the door for Harry Douglas to see more playing time … At present, the top-performing wide receiver in Tampa Bay’s camp has been a rookie, and no, it’s not second-round pick Arrelious Benn. Fourth-rounder Mike Williams was listed as the No. 1 “X” receiver on the team’s latest depth chart.
Another wide receiver named Mike Williams — this one in Seattle — has drawn some praise from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, his former coach at USC. Williams, the 10th overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft by Detroit, entered Seattle’s camp 30 pounds lighter than when he last was on the gridiron in 2007. The receiver is in a perfect spot to fit into the depth chart, and Carroll said Williams has as good of a chance as anyone to stick. “He hasn’t had an up-and-down time with us at all,” Carroll said. “He’s been really on the upside of things for the whole time he’s been with us.” … San Francisco has already placed first-round picks Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati on the first-team offense. Davis is entrenched at right tackle, while Iupati has seen the bulk of the reps at left guard. However, the team’s outstanding batch of young linemen lost center Eric Heitmann on Tuesday for six to eight weeks to a broken left fibula. David Baas will move from guard to center to fill in. … On Saturday, Rams fans finally got a feel for just how good their No. 1 overall draft pick can be. QB Sam Bradford completed 8-of-10 passes for 96 yards during the team’s intrasquad scrimmage and connected with Keenan Burton on an 11-yard score. … Cardinals RB Beanie Wells took a shot to the ribs Monday that kept him on the sideline for the rest of the team’s workouts. Wells returned to practice Tuesday, but the team will likely limit his activity in its game against Houston on Saturday.
Mike Beacom is a contributing writer for FootballDiehards.com.
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