Sun Jul 21 4:23pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock takes part in drills during the opening day of the team's NFL football training camp Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien looks to pass the ball during drills at the team's NFL football training camp Friday, July 19, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos quarterback Kevin Hogan looks to pass the ball during drills at the team's NFL football training camp Friday, July 19, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco takes part in drills during the opening day of the team's NFL football training camp Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) If Joe Flacco stays healthy, it won't matter that rookie quarterbacks Drew Lock and Brett Rypien are greenhorns and incumbent backup Kevin Hogan has gotten off to a rocky start in Denver this summer.
Hogan, who has started just one game in the NFL, back in 2017 for the Cleveland Browns, threaded an 11-yard TD pass to Noah Fant past two defenders Sunday that was easily his best throw of training camp.
Before that, the fourth-year pro had been misfiring with no pressure, repeatedly overshooting open receivers with either a clean pocket or in 7-on-7 periods where there was no pass rush at all.
That was an alarming development for a team that lacks experience behind Flacco, the 34-year-old QB the Broncos acquired from Baltimore in the offseason.
''I saw some good throws out there today'' from Hogan, coach Vic Fangio said. ''I'll see more when I go in and watch the tape. But I think Kevin has made a lot of improvements, and I'm talking from the spring to now ... and hopefully he'll keep doing that.''
Competing with Hogan for the No. 2 job is Lock, a second-round draft pick who's taking a crash course in the pro passing game after lining up under center at Missouri only a handful of times.
Rypien, who went undrafted after winning 37 games at Boise State, is hoping to stick around either as the third quarterback or on the practice squad.
''I like Brett,'' Fangio said. ''Brett, I think, maybe has got a future.''
Lock might very well be the future in Denver, but he's got a long way to go. He relied on his athleticism in college and was known for side-arming the ball, something Fangio only wants to see when his quarterback has a defender in his face.
''It's good that he can do that, but he needs to use it when he needs to, not when he doesn't need to,'' Fangio said. ''His college offense really had no carry-over to pro offenses and he was under duress a lot of times at his college, so a lot of his plays he was running around.''
Therefore, Fangio said, ''I don't think he's far along being a ready NFL quarterback as he could have been. ... He's not a quarterback yet. He's a hard-throwing pitcher that doesn't know how to pitch yet, so the faster he gets that, the better off he'll be - and we'll be.''
Fangio is hoping Lock proves a quick study.
''Every player is different, especially at that position,'' Fangio said. ''It could happen fast, like we've seen some rookies do. It could be a process to where it could be a couple of years. So, fast or a couple of years, somewhere in between. We'll see. I tell him that is on him. He's got to do it.''
For now, the Broncos are counting on Flacco, who's hoping to follow in Peyton Manning's footsteps and have a solid second chapter in Denver.
General manager John Elway said he finally feels good about his QB room after trading a fourth-round pick to the Ravens for Flacco and selecting Lock in the second round of the NFL draft.
''We just felt that with Joe coming in, getting him in a trade, and where he is in his career, we feel like he's in his prime. At least we hope he is,'' Elway said. ''To have a young guy like Drew learn under him and be able to kind of solidify that position for a while, obviously we've been looking for one since Peyton retired.''
Elway cycled through Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler and Case Keenum following Manning's retirement in 2016.
''That's always a difficult position to fill,'' Elway said. ''But we finally feel pretty good about that position and where we are.''
Notes: TE Jack Butt took a scheduled day off, TE Troy Fumagalli is day-to-day with a sore hip and rookie LB Justin Hollins sat out Sunday with a sore hamstring. ... The Broncos hosted Alzheimer's Awareness D ay on Sunday, two months after team owner Pat Bowlen died at 75 following a long battle with the disease. Daughter Anabelle noted the sea of purple in the crowd replacing the usual orange. ''This day is hard,'' she said. ''But we are showing that we are strong and this is a way to raise money so things like this won't happen.''
Buffalo Bills kicker Steven Hauschka converted four of his five kicks in the team's second preseason game against the Panthers. He hit all three of his extra-point attempts as well as a 30-yard field goal, but missed a 48-yard attempt. Hauschka had his least efficient year since becoming a full-time kicker last season, hitting just 78.6% of his kicks, compared to his career average of 86.4%. He shouldn't be targeted in fantasy drafts as there are many superior kicking options out there.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is being considered day-by-day by head coach Matt LaFleur. LaFleur commented that if it were the regular season that he would be out on the field and that he hoped the tightness won't follow him into the regular season. Rodgers is yet to be put into a game situation in the new offense, but given the quarterbacks, talent level missing some game time may not be the end of the world. However, fantasy owners should consider his injury in their drafts and draft with the thought of injury risk.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown was inactive for the team's second preseason game against the Panthers. The team hasn't disclosed any injury news at this point. Brown has solidified himself as the Bills' top receiver going into the season. He's shown great rapport with quarterback Josh Allen from the start of training camp. Look for him to suit up for the Bills' preseason week three matchup against the Lions on Friday.
Minnesota Vikings rookie tight end Irv Smith Jr. had an impressive night on Sunday, at least as far as preseason games go. Smith Jr. caught all five of his targets for 28 yards and a touchdown, and he looks firmly entrenched as the Vikings top backup option at the tight end spot. It's never a good idea to look too deep into how teams are scheming during the preseason, but it does seem fair to assume that Smith Jr. will be getting some opportunities in the passing game this season. He's more of a dynasty stash this year with Kyle Rudolph still in front of him, but he's probably worth keeping an eye on for ultra-deep leagues. Smith Jr. is currently going undrafted at 301 overall (TE32).
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook was listed as active but didn't see the field on Sunday night against the Seattle Seahawks. Cook was held out of last week's contest as well - the Vikings are being extra cautious with their third-year back during the preseason as he has struggled to stay healthy early in his career. He's an exceptionally talented player and has sneaky top-5 running back potential this season, but he's definitely not for the faint of heart. Cook's being drafted at 17 overall (RB10), which feels about right. Keep an eye on his status for the third preseason game, but don't expect him to play much, if at all.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen was his usual dependable self on Sunday, snagging all three of his targets for 45 yards in limited action with the first-team offense. Thielen made a nice over-the-shoulder grab for 34 yards in the first quarter and drew a pass interference penalty on a deep ball the very next play. Thielen is simply one of the top receivers in the league, breaking out for 1,373 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2018. He also tied the record for consecutive games with 100+ yards receiving with eight, joining Calvin Johnson. Thielen is being drafted at 28 overall (WR11) in points-per-reception formats and is worth a look as a rock-solid WR1 in 2019.
Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback Kirk Cousins was efficient in limited action on Sunday night, going 6-for-8 for 68 yards passing and leading the Vikings to a Dan Bailey 24-yard field goal in the first quarter. Cousins showed nice poise in the pocket and delivered a few beautiful deep balls to Adam Thielen before being pulled after just two drives. The veteran quarterback is entering a crucial second year with the Vikes, and he has the talent and offensive weapons to remain a high-end QB2 and even threaten to crack the QB1 tier in the right matchups. He's currently being drafted as QB16, but that may be underselling his value based on his 2018 production and this year's projections. Look for Cousins and the first-team offense to play much more in the next preseason game on Saturday against the Cardinals.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers claimed wide receiver Emanuel Hall off of waivers earlier this week. Hall had been with the Bears earlier but could not make it through camp. The Buccaneers present a solid opportunity given their lack of depth beyond starters Mike Evans and Chris Godwin along with Hall's fit in their new offense. Although Hall is unlikely to make much of an impact in 2019, he could be a solid project for head coach Bruce Arians to groom.
It appears Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown has not gotten over his ongoing helmet issue as hes left the teams training camp once again. General manager Mike Mayock showed his frustration Sunday by saying it's time for him to be all-in or all-out." Brown submitted his old helmet in for testing, which it failed, and hes now left the team with no information on when, or if, hell return. The Raiders believe his frostbitten feet issues are behind him and hes healthy enough to practice, but they can only hope the seven-time Pro Bowler suits up for Week 1. Browns red flags make him a player to fade in the second round despite his immense talent.
Oakland Raiders WR Antonio Brown wasn't at practice Sunday, Aug. 18, because he's upset about his ongoing helmet issue with the NFL. General manager Mike Mayock said the team has 'exhausted all avenues' and it's time for Brown to be 'all in or all out.'
Fantasy Spin: And we're right back to square one with AB. While he's indisputably one of the best receivers in fantasy football, there's once again a legitimate chance he sits out the entire season, or more. He's far too risky to draft in the first round.
The Philadelphia Eagles released veteran LB Paul Worrilow Sunday, Aug. 18.
New England Patriots WR Josh Gordon was placed on the Non-Football Injury list Sunday, Aug. 18, upon his conditional reinstatement.
Fantasy Spin: It's largely a procedural move for the Patriots while Gordon is brought up to speed. He remains one of the most tantalizing fantasy prospects at wide receiver, but his off-field issues continue to carry immense risk when drafting him.
The New England Patriots granted WR Dontrelle Inman's request to be released Sunday, Aug. 18.
The Buffalo Bills released CB E.J. Gaines (groin) from injured reserve with an injury settlement Sunday, Aug. 18. Gaines will be free to sign with another team.
New York Giants WR Sterling Shepard (thumb) said Sunday, Aug. 18, his thumb has healed pretty fast and he is 'feeling good.'
Fantasy Spin: Shepard's injury was a near disaster for the Giants' offense with WR Golden Tate suspended to begin the season. Shepard is in line for a huge target share and has top-end WR3 upside with the Giants' poor passing attack holding him back.
Green Bay Packers TE Jimmy Graham (finger) ran off the field Sunday, Aug. 18, after appearing to dislocate his finger, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.
Fantasy Spin: The injury shouldn't affect Graham's draft stock, as he's unlikely to miss any regular-season action. He remains a fringe TE1 target, but he has upside based on his past resume.
Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Williams (chest) was diagnosed with a broken rib Sunday, Aug 18. The injury isn't believed to be a long-term issue.
Fantasy Spin: Williams is near the bottom of a depth chart led by RB Marlon Mack and also featuring Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins and D'Onta Foreman. The injury further hurts his chances of making the final roster.
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant looks to separate himself from his teammate tight ends on the roster for the Broncos, as the team drafted him with high expectations this spring. Offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello has spoken highly of Fant's preseason, as the rookie looks to follow-up a prolific career at the University of Iowa with similar results in the NFL. Fant's main competition is returning tight end Jeff Heuerman, who has been battling injury this preseason after a sub-par 2018 campaign.
Washington Redskins QB Case Keenum is on track to the be the Week 1 starter under center, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter Sunday, Aug. 18. Head coach Jay Gruden said Colt McCoy (leg) may not be ready to return from a broken leg until 'two or three weeks into the season.'
Fantasy Spin: Keenum has much more fantasy appeal than McCoy and boosts the potential of the rest of the Redskins' offense, as well. He'll be a low-end QB2, but he offers more hope for the likes of WRs Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, Trey Quinn and Terry McLaurin as late-round fliers.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton sees an opening for the number one receiver spot on the roster entering his sophomore season. The SMU product has a new-look offense, with quarterback Joe Flacco at the helm, and colleague Emmanuel Sanders aging and coming off an injury in 2018. Sutton looks to take the next step in his career, and he has looked the part with an impressive preseason.