Thu Dec 19 3:20pm ET
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Pro Football Writer
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) scores a touchdown on a 1-yard run against the Houston Texans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)
Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) celebrates with MyCole Pruitt (85) after Brown scored a touchdown against the Houston Texans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton talks on the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in New Orleans, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. The Saints won 34-7. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) celebrates his touchdown reception in the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in New Orleans, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates his touchdown pass to tight end Josh Hill, which broke the NFL record for career touchdown passes, surpassing Peyton Manning, in the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in New Orleans, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel watches from the sideline in the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Ryan Tannehill has followed Drew Brees since he was still in high school. So Tannehill couldn't miss watching at least a little bit as the Saints quarterback wrote his name into the NFL record book a couple of more times.
“Obviously, he was on fire,” Tannehill said of Brees. “Kind of a cool moment for him, a guy that I've respected for a long time as a person, as a player. … So to be able to see him break that record, he's sustained success for a long period of time, and I was happy for him.”
That was Monday night. On Sunday, Tannehill and the Titans (8-6) get a chance at the Saints (11-3) with Brees having grabbed the NFL's career touchdown pass record at 541. Brees also set the NFL mark for the highest completion rate in a single game, completing 29 of 30 passes for 96.7%.
This could be quite the show. It's the first time since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978 that two starting quarterbacks with a passer rating of 114 or better have played this late in the season, though Patrick Mahomes and Philip Rivers came close last season in Week 15.
Brees is the league leader in both passer rating and completion percentage (115.3 rating and 75.8%) just ahead of Tannehill (114.6 rating and 71.5%). Brees and the Saints are chasing a first-round bye to go with their NFC South title.
Tannehill is 6-2 since taking over as the starter trying to help the Titans earn their second playoff berth in three seasons, which took a hit with a 24-21 loss to Houston last week.
Now with his second NFL team after being traded away by Miami in March, Tannehill is trying to earn a new contract after this season. Brees spent his first five seasons in San Diego before landing in New Orleans. Brees is in his 14th season with the Saints, and he said changing teams offers a fresh start.
“It's kind of like reestablishing the foundation, but you're also drawing on your experiences as a starting quarterback,” Brees said. "I mean, how many games did Ryan Tannehill start prior to arriving in Tennessee, a lot? He’s an experienced veteran quarterback, but yeah, new environment, new system and yet you're bringing some experience and wisdom along with it and that's a big deal.”
Saints coach Sean Payton says he's been impressed with Tannehill's decision-making in Tennessee and how quickly he's getting the ball out, helped by the Titans' run game and Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry.
“You can see the confidence that he’s playing with," Payton said. "I think he’s 6-2 now since he's been their starter, so it’s pretty impressive to watch.”
MORE HISTORY LOOMING
Brees completed his final 22 passes in a 34-7 win over the Colts and he need only complete his first four passes against the Titans to set another NFL record for most consecutive completions. That mark currently is shared by Nick Foles, Philip Rivers and both Tennessee quarterbacks. Marcus Mariota, now on the bench, completed 25 straight over two games last November, while Tannehill had 25 straight completions for Miami over two games in October 2015.
Saints receiver Michael Thomas is closing in on his own NFL history.
He's had eight games this season with at least 10 catches, including the win over the Colts, for the most such games in a single season in NFL history. He leads the NFL with 133 catches and 1,552 yards. He needs only 11 catches to pass Marvin Harrison's league record of 143 catches in 2002 for most in a single season.
NOT REVENGE GAME
The Saints drafted safety Kenny Vaccaro with the 15th pick overall in the 2013 draft, and he started 67 of 68 games for New Orleans over five seasons. When the Saints let him go as a free agent in 2018, Vaccaro remained unsigned until the Titans lost Johnathan Cyprien early in training camp. He signed a one-year deal, then earned a multi-year deal from Tennessee in March.
“I grew so much as a man the five years I was there, it's exciting,” Vaccaro said. "I'm excited to see all those guys again.”
While Saints starting cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Eli Apple are healthy, that didn’t stop New Orleans from claiming former Giants starting cornerback Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins off waivers this week. Jenkins, who was waived by the Giants after using an offensive word on social media, arrived in time for practice Wednesday. Jenkins has four interceptions, as many as free safety Marcus Williams, who led the Saints in that department before Jenkins’ arrival.
Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown leads all rookies with 893 yards receiving this season and also has four 100-yard receiving games. With two games left, he could become the first NFL rookie with five 100-yard receiving games since Amari Cooper in 2015 with Oakland.
The Saints are trying to adapt along the defensive line after two former first-round draft choices - end Marcus Davenport and tackle Sheldon Rankins - had season-ending injuries two games ago. The defense had just one sack last week, a big drop from two weeks earlier when the Saints had nine in Atlanta.
“You talk about what he’s been able to do as far as extending plays but looking downfield, he looks like he’s more poised than he was in Miami,” Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan said of Tannehill.
August 5th: ADP Value
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson is already expected to play a pivotal role in the offense in 2020. The first-round draft pick may not have the blow-away speed of departed receiver Stefon Diggs, but is a versatile route-runner who can play outside or in the slot. The Vikings have been decimated on the defensive side of the football this past offseason, putting more of an onus on the offense to step up. The absence of preseason games creates a challenge for fantasy owners to properly scout rookies before drafts. But Jefferson figures to have a role early on, making him an intriguing late-round fantasy option.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller enters training camp trying to put 2019 behind him after disappointing last season. The third-year receiver caught seven touchdowns during his rookie season in 2018 and Miller's future looked very bright. But Miller endured a sloppy training camp and struggled to see the field the first month of the season. He did rebound and finished the season with 52 receptions for 656 yards but caught only two touchdowns. Bears receivers coach Mike Furrey has made a litany of comments in the offseason about Miller's preparation but has praised, thus far, what he has seen. He's trying to learn. He's dropped the ego of this whole Memphis thing. Now he's coming here and learning from Allen Robinson, asking Allen Robinson, watching Allen Robinson," Furrey told reporters. "If you're starting to do that stuff, you're definitely heading in the right direction and starting to grow individually.'' Miller will be the definition of boom-or-bust heading into fantasy drafts.
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky threw to receivers on Wednesday but the real competition for the starting job begins on Friday when full-padded practices begin. Head coach Matt Nagy has intimated that the decision could come sooner than later with the condensed training camp schedule hindering the team's ability to get a full picture. To this point, Trubisky has said all the right things and has been praised for his preparation in zoom meetings. Even if he wins the job out of camp, Trubisky's leash will be extremely short with backup Nick Foles breathing down his neck heading into the team's Week 1 battle against the Lions.
Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles has already been praised by head coach Matt Nagy for "improving the quarterback room" as the team prepares for full-padded practice starting next week. Foles was acquired from the Jaguars in the offseason to not only compete with incumbent starter Mitch Trubisky, but perhaps snatch the starter's job from him. Foles had a disastrous season in 2019, breaking his collarbone in Week 1 and then underperformed when he returned to action in Week 11. The veteran has a history of poor quarterback play when given the keys to an offense right out of the gate but also has shown to be one of the greatest off-the-bench passer's in recent history. If Foles wins the starting job in Chicago, he still lacks any kind of fantasy appeal outside of two quarterback leagues.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones will look to take a step forward in his second NFL season, and will be doing so with a new offensive coordinator in former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. In his first public comments since being hired in January, Garrett raved about the sophomore-signal caller's work ethic and the work Jones put in to learn the offense without the two being able to meet face-to-face due to the coronavirus pandemic. Jones showed huge upside last season with five-300 yard passing games and three games with four-plus touchdowns. His main issue was turnovers as he threw 12 picks and fumbled a league-leading 18 times. Garrett had great success with Dak Prescott, so expect him to help Jones improve in year two making him a good QB to target if waiting on the position in drafts.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle agreed to a five-year, $75 million extension Thursday, Aug. 13, that includes an $18 million signing bonus. The contract language is still being worked out.
Fantasy Spin: Kittle is an elite tight end that should be among the top two or three taken universally in fantasy.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle signed a five-year $75 million contract with $40 million guaranteed. The $15 million per season average makes Kittle the highest-paid tight end in the league by a wide margin over Hunter Henry's $10.6 million franchise-tag deal. Kittle caught 85-plus passes and gained 1,000-plus yards each of the past two seasons in becoming arguably the best tight end in football. The 26-year-old was named a First-Team All-Pro last season and now will be locked-into Kyle Shanahan's offense in San Francisco that was fourth in the NFL in total offense last year. Kittle should be one of the top-two tight ends drafted in fantasy within the top-25 picks.
Free-agent DT P.J. Hall (Raiders) signed an undisclosed deal with the Houston Texans Thursday, Aug. 13.
Updating a previous report, Dallas Cowboys DE Everson Griffen agreed to a one-year deal with a $3 million base salary and includes $3 million in potential roster bonuses.
Free-agent DL Ziggy Ansah (Seahawks) was offered a one-year, $910,000 minimum salary by the San Francisco 49ers, but it wasn't enough for Ansah to sign.
Seattle Seahawks LB K.J. Wright (shoulder) had a 'marvelous' recovery from shoulder surgery and was able to practice Wednesday, Aug. 12, according to head coach Pete Carroll.
Free-agent DE Everson Griffen (Vikings) agreed to terms with the Dallas Cowboys Wednesday, Aug. 12, according to a source.
The Dallas Cowboys signed free-agent defensive end Everson Griffen to a contract on Wednesday evening. Griffen had spent over a decade with the Minnesota Vikings and had multiple suitors during free agency. The veteran lineman has recorded 74.5 sacks across his past 77 games and adds an extra pass-rushing element to the Cowboys' defense. The unit gave up the 11th-fewest points per game last season, but also lost Robert Quinn and Byron Jones over the summer. The Cowboys project to be a middle-of-the-pack DST unit in 2020.
Updating a previous source, free-agent TE Luke Stocker (Falcons) is expected to re-sign with the Atlanta Falcons, according to a source Wednesday, Aug. 12.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner said Wednesday, Aug. 12, he never considered opting out, despite the fact he's a high-risk player as a cancer survivor. 'Going on four years now removed from cancer,' Conner said. 'I didn't really have to talk to my family. It was never a concern for me. I've been healthy for years now. It was an easy decision for me. I never really gave much thought to it. I'm healthy and my immune system is back healthy. I'm not worried.'
Fantasy Spin: Conner stands to have a good bounce-back season with QB Ben Roethlisberger back under center for the Steelers. He totaled just 464 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 116 carries over 10 games in 2019. This is also a contract season for him, and he should be targeted as a low-tier RB2.
Seattle Seahawks RB Chris Carson (personal) is away from the team right now while dealing with family matters, according to head coach Pete Carroll Wednesday, Aug. 12.
Updating a previous story, Jacksonville Jaguars TE James O'Shaughnessy (undisclosed) passed his physical Wednesday, Aug. 12.
Updating a previous story, free-agent DT Mike Daniels (Lions) officially signed with the Cincinnati Bengals Wednesday, Aug. 12. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
Free-agent DT Timmy Jernigan (Eagles) is expected to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the near future, according to sources. Jernigan visited the Jaguars Wednesday, Aug. 12.