Thu Jun 23 8:01pm ET
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Pro Football Writer
Tennessee Titans tight end Chig Okonkwo takes part in a drill at the NFL football team's practice facility June 1, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. Okonkwo has a really good reason not to be working with the rest of the Titans' rookies as they wrap up their offseason at the team headquarters. Okonkwo, the rookie who ran the fastest 40-yard dash among tight ends earlier this year at the NFL Combine had somewhere better to be: Tight End University, (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle runs against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game Jan. 2, 2022, in Santa Clara, Calif. Tight End U is back for a second straight year in Nashville, Tenn., the offseason home of Kittle. Kittle, a three-time Pro Bowler, started this a year ago with seven-time Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce and another three-time Pro Bowl tight end in Greg Olsen, who's now retired. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn, File)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee tight end Chig Okonkwo has a really good reason not to be working with the rest of the Titans' rookies as they wrap up their offseason at the team headquarters.
Okonkwo, the rookie who ran the fastest 40-yard dash among tight ends earlier this year at the NFL Combine, had somewhere better to be.
Tight End University, the equivalent of a master class at the rookie's position.
''It's just so amazing to be able to be here and do this ...,'' Okonkwo said Thursday. ''And it's just awesome. There's like 80 of us out here. ... And there's so many Pro Bowl guys, so many big contract to the guys. It's just really nice to be able to go out there as a rookie in my first season.''
Going into his first NFL season, Okonkwo is trying to be a sponge, soaking up everything he can, especially when seven-time Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks.
''He showed me something that I've never seen before,'' Okonkwo said. ''And I was like, `I think I should probably start working on that because he's really good, he's the best in the business.' So just learning things like that, like being able to just take little tidbits like that from different guys.''
That was the whole reason for Tight End U - or TEU for short.
A three-time Pro Bowler for San Francisco, George Kittle already had been working with eight to 10 tight ends in the offseason after moving to Nashville five years ago. He talked with Kelce and three-time Pro Bowler Greg Olsen about expanding the group, and Olsen said to invite everybody.
They expected 20, with 50 in attendance last year at the high school where Kittle's father, George, works as an assistant football coach for former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer. The invite list grew so much for this week's camp they had moved to Vanderbilt University and had at least 85 tight ends in attendance.
Kelce, Kittle and Olsen also had to tell a bunch of young tight ends no.
''We're still expanding and trying to find room for everybody to be able to come out here because everybody sees what kind of turnout it is,'' Kelce said. ''And on top of that, to hear the stories from the guys that are coming through and what they've learned, we know how unique of a situation it is. We're going to keep trying to make it bigger and better every year.''
The tight ends spend camp working through problems like blocking 300-pound linemen to running routes against much faster players. They picked the brains of veterans like Olsen in a classroom before moving onto the field to hone the physical techniques to thrive in an NFL season.
Getting that many people together costs money.
TEU has Bridgestone, Charmin, Gatorade, Levi's and Bud Light as sponsors. The tight ends also raised money again for the Boys and Girls Club. Dawson Knox of Buffalo winning the competition with Okonkwo second, and they brought in more than $131,000. Bridgestone brought that to $681,000 with a further donation Thursday.
More TEU expansion is likely in the future. Kelce said they would like to bring in more tight ends, possibly tight end coaches and maybe even college tight ends.
For now, everyone leaves having learned something, whether it's a new release on a route, a blocking technique or something off tape.
''And everyone here is hungry and everybody here wants to be a great NFL tight end,'' Kittle said. ''And so when you put all that hunger together, it's just big ol' nasty beast, and that's what a tight end is.''
Dynasty | Tyler Huntley completed 16-of-18 passes for 109 yards with one touchdown in the Ravens preseason opener. Dynasty Analysis: Of all the backup quarterbacks in the league, few are as exciting from a dynasty perspective as Huntley, who consistently shows well when given chances. Huntley has the perfect skill set to match the offense led by Lamar Jackson and would be an immediate option should Jackson ever miss time in the future. While it's hard to handcuff a quarterback in most dynasty leagues, there's some real intrigue here. Huntley remains outside our top 40, but that may change should his solid start continue throughout the preseason.
Dynasty | Tyquan Thornton had two catches for nine yards and a touchdown in the New England preseason opener. Dynasty Analysis: Despite being a second round pick in the NFL Draft this off-season, Thornton has been largely ignored by the dynasty community and is currently our 25th ranked rookie. While still a shocking selection, a few more touchdowns this preseason will make Thornton a fast riser in the dynasty community. At this point, he looks like a third round pick, but he clearly looked good in his debut.
Dynasty | Titans undrafted rookie Julius Chestnut started the Titans preseason opener. Dynasty Analysis: He showed well, rushing for 44 yards on seven carries. The Titans are going to keep Derrick Henry in plastic wrap the entire preseason, so the battle for the backup job behind him will be fun to watch. The story here is the fact Chestnut started over Hasaan Haskins and played better as well as Haskins could only muster 19 yards on six carries. You can't read too much into this, but it's clear Chestnut has made an impression early in camp.
Baltimore Ravens running back Mike Davis had five carries for 22 yards during the preseason win over the Tennessee Titans. He also scored a touchdown off a four-yard carry in the first quarter. With J.K. Dobbins (knee) and Gus Edwards (knee) both without a definitive return date, Davis may handle a majority of the snaps out of the backfield until either is ready to take the field. Tyler Badie, Corey Clement, and Justice Hill are also currently on the roster and could get some work. However, Davis has the highest upside for fantasy managers if he finds himself starting at any point in 2022-23.
Baltimore Ravens running back Tyler Badie had a team-high six carries during the preseason win over Tennessee on Thursday evening. However, he didn't do much with the opportunities he was afforded, as the rookie finished with only 19 yards. J.K. Dobbins (knee) and Gus Edwards (knee) don't have a clear return date. As a result, Badie could get some work immediately this season, although Mike Davis is predicted to handle the majority of the backfield duties until Edwards or Dobbins can suit up.
Baltimore Ravens running back Nate McCrary finished with five carries for a team-high 31 rushing yards during the preseason win over Tennessee. Despite the promising performance on Thursday evening, the 23-year-old still has a way to go before he earns meaningful work in 2022-23. However, if he continues to play well throughout the preseason, he has a chance to make a regular season appearance if J.K. Dobbins (knee) and Gus Edwards (knee) aren't available. Still, with Mike Davis, Tyler Badie, and Justice Hill on the roster and currently ahead on the depth chart, McCrary isn't expected to see the field enough at any point this season to warrant fantasy consideration in any format.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley looked good during the preseason win over Tennessee, finishing with 109 yards and a touchdown off an accurate 16-for-18 passing. He also added three carries for 17 yards. The 24-year-old served as the team's starter last season for four games after Lamar Jackson was sidelined due to injury. While he mostly struggled, he showed promise, especially on the run. Still, Huntley probably won't see much interest from fantasy managers in 2022-23 as long as Jackson remains healthy. However, if Jackson misses time, the Utah alum is expected to move back under center to handle things as the primary signal-caller, giving him some streaming potential throughout the year.
Dynasty | Treylon Burks was held without a catch on one target in his NFL debut. Dynasty Analysis: Yikes. Burks played as the fifth receiver on the night as the Titans rested Robert Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, then started Dez Fitpatrick and Racey McMath over both rookies Kyle Philips and Burks, who played with the third and fourth string offense. While the night was forgettable, it does show a level of concern for the young wideout, who has clearly not made a solid first impression in camp. While no opinions can be made after one night, Burks may start to slip just a touch in the rookie rankings, where he currently sits at #4 overall.
Dynasty | Malik Willis completed 6-of-11 passes for 107 yards and rushed for another 38 yards and a touchdown in the Titans preseason opener. Dynasty Analysis: While posing no legitimate threat to Ryan Tannehill right now, Willis still took advantage of the opportunity by showing off both his elite arm strength and rushing ability. Willis is a very intriguing roster stash as a quarterback who could get an opportunity at some point in the next couple of seasons. At this point, he's our 29th ranked rookie and a pretty solid pick in the third round of conventional rookie drafts and a fringe first rounder in superflex leagues.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Anthony Brown finished with 117 yards off 10-for-15 passing during the preseason win over the Tennessee Titans. He also added two carries for 14 yards. The undrafted rookie out of Oregon had an acceptable showing on Thursday night. However, he seemingly has a way to go before surpassing Brett Hundley and Tyler Huntley on the depth chart. Even if the 24-year-old makes the regular season roster, he's not expected to see any action. As a result, Brown has no value in any fantasy format, including dynasty leagues heading into the 2022-23 campaign.
Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins (knee) still isn't a lock for the regular season opener against the Jets. Head coach John Harbaugh recently shed some light on the topic during a SiriusXM interview, commenting the next two weeks will "tell the story" regarding Dobbins' Week 1 potential. The former Ohio State Buckeye will need to show progress surrounding his surgically repaired knee, specifically its range of motion, quickness, and how it extends during strides. With Dobbins and Gus Edwards (knee) uncertain to be active to start the year, Mike Davis, Tyler Badie, and Justice Hill could see more snaps versus New York and potentially beyond.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst has already earned the respect of his new teammates. He's also been continuously touted by head coach Zac Taylor. "He's been a great matchup for us in the pass game," Taylor said of the 2018 first-round pick while speaking with ESPN's Dan Graziano, "That's something we feel like we can lean on this year." Hurst signed a one-year contract with the Bengals in March after playing four semi-unproductive seasons with the Ravens and Falcons. While Drew Sample is in the picture, Hurst has an opportunity to thrive this season by catching passes from the ultra-talented Joe Burrow. He's someone for fantasy managers to consider after guys like Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, Mark Andrews, and George Kittle are off the board during drafts heading into the 2022-23 campaign.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Benny Snell Jr. (knee) didn't take the field during Thursday's practice. Snell was seen with a wrap around his knee on Wednesday. It sounds like the 24-year-old is dealing with a minor knee issue. He is currently battling for the backup role behind Najee Harris. The Steelers recently mentioned that they want to limit Harris this upcoming season. That means, whoever wins the backup spot on the team could get a decent amount of carries. Fantasy managers should expect Snell to be back on the field within the next few days.
The Houston Texans have issued a failed physical designation to tight end Adam Shaheen. He was recently acquired with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a sixth-round pick from the Miami Dolphins. That trade has now been voided and Shaheen will head back to the Dolphins roster. After this, it would be surprising to see Shaheen actually make the Dolphins final roster. Possibly, Shaheen can bounce back elsewhere, but he can remain off the fantasy radar for now.
Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III is expected to see a ton of snaps as a rookie. Head coach Pete Carroll mentioned the team would feel comfortable with Walker as a three-down back. The second-round rookie is currently competing with Rashaad Penny for the No. 1 role in Seattle. It sounds like Penny is ahead of Walker right now, but that could quickly change before the beginning of the season. Regardless, Walker is likely to make a significant impact during his rookie campaign.
New York Giants wide receiver Kadarius Toney (knee) won't suit up for the preseason opener. The young wideout is currently dealing with a knee injury that has kept him out of practice. This doesn't sound like a serious injury, but the Giants are going to play it safe. Toney should be fine within a week, but fantasy managers should continue to monitor this situation. He could have some WR3 appeal, but it depends on if the Giants can actually get him the ball.
Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny (groin) is unlikely to suit up for the preseason opener. He is feeling some minor groin tightness, so the organization is going to be cautious with him. This doesn't sound like a serious issue, but any soft-tissue injury is noteworthy. Kenneth Walker III will see more snaps without Penny available, but hopefully Penny won't miss significant time. Walker appears to be behind Penny on the depth chart, but there is still time for that to change.
Dynasty | Patriots running back James White has retired after eight seasons. Dynasty Analysis: One of the most underrated weapons in fantasy football, White is choosing to walk away after battling injuries over the past couple of seasons. While his career total of 1,278 rushing yards isn't exactly eye-popping, he was a PPR monster with 381 career catches for 3,278 yards and scored a total of 36 career touchdowns. His retirement could open the door for Ty Montgomery, but the Patriots backfield is always a quagmire.
Dynasty | Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams won't be ready for the season opener. Dynasty Analysis: This was pretty much expected after Williams tore his ACL in the National Championship game. Dynasty managers are going to need to be patient, though they should also be happy the Lions aren't pushing his recovery. Williams will likely miss at least the first month of the season, but he should be available to help dynasty teams towards the end of the year. He remains our overall 6th ranked rookie and that could actually prove to be a bargain.
The Cleveland Browns could look to trade for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo if Deshaun Watson's six-game suspension is to be increased after the NFL appealed the initial ruling. The 30-year-old is on the trade block after the 49ers handed the keys to their 2021 third overall pick Trey Lance, but there hasn't been a ton of interest in the veteran. With Jacoby Brissett currently in line to start in Watson's absence, Garoppolo would be an upgrade for the Cleveland offense, which in itself is a good reason to consider a trade. After posting 3,810 passing yards and 20 touchdowns in 2021, Garoppolo can be valued as a QB2 option with a limited ceiling for fantasy managers if he is to be acquired by Cleveland.