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.''
Minnesota Vikings running back Mike Boone is doing everything he possibly can to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, and his performance on Saturday against the Cardinals definitely helped his cause. Boone rushed 10 times for 41 yards and a touchdown, while he also caught his only target and continues to play a role on special teams. The undrafted second-year player out of Cincinnati leads the NFL in rushing during the preseason with 35 attempts for 177 yards (5.1 yards per carry). Boone has bulldozed his way into the backup running back conversation for Vikes, but his fantasy value is very limited unless starter Dalvin Cook goes down.
Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry did his job again on Saturday as he hauled in both passes thrown to him. Henry only racked up 13 yards over the course of the game, but he was also only on the field for 21 snaps in total. The Chargers have had to play it safe with Henry because they have wanted him to get some game experience again as he comes back from injury, but his injury history leaves everyone leery about putting him on the field when it isn't absolutely necessary. With Keenan Allen dealing with an ankle injury and Melvin Gordon holding out, Henry has a real opportunity to become one of the team's primary offensive weapons.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams only had two opportunities on Saturday against Seattle, but he did bring in one of the passes for 11 yards. Williams was used sparingly, only on the field for 18 snaps, as the team wants to preserve as much of its offensive powerhouse as possible. With Keenan Allen recovering from an ankle injury and Melvin Gordon holding out, Williams will likely serve a major role in the first couple weeks of the season. This could be his chance to truly break out and start to fill the shoes of being a comparable No. 2 to Allen's No. 1. Williams could be a superstar before November.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Troymaine Pope has been one of the stars of the preseason for the team. Last week, he ran back a punt for a touchdown. This week, he injected a big dose of energy into the squad when the rest of the offense just looked like they were going through the motions. Pope carried the ball five times for 27 yards, including an 18-yard breakout, and he caught three passes for another eight yards. He also got a bit of coverage on the broadcast as the announcers discussed some of the difficult decisions that face the Chargers regarding their roster. The second-year back is likely buried too far down the roster to see any meaningful playing time early in the season, but with LA already suffering a rash of injuries, he could eventually find his way into the regular rotation.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Artavis Scott continues to shine as he works to land a spot in the team's receiving corps. Scott hauled in the longest pass of the game when he snagged a throw from Cardale Jones late in the second quarter. A juke around the first defender to reach him gave him some space and let him stretch it out to a total of 31 yards. Scott would end up grabbing all four passes sent his way, totaling up 66 yards in the process. Scott's battle to be the team's fourth receiver hit a speed bump this week when they re-signed former Charger Dontrelle Inman, but he's still been the most impressive new wideout in camp. He looks destined to make the roster, and if he does, he could see serious opportunities early in the season due to injuries and a holdout.
New York Jets kicker Taylor Bertolet connected from 48 and 56 yards as well as an extra point in the third preseason game Saturday. It was a badly needed good game for Bertolet who missed two extra points in the second preseason game against the Falcons. There was talk around the team they may go out and sign a kicker but this strong effort from Bertolet could make the Jets brass think twice. If Bertolet is on the team come Week 1 he could be a usable option at kicker as the Jets struggled mightily in the red zone last season. He won't be drafted in standard size leagues but is a name to be aware of if your kicker gets off to a rough start.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson made a cursory appearance in Week 3 of the preseason when he carried the ball five times and caught a pass against the Seahawks on Saturday. While most teams use Week 3 of the preseason as a bit of a dress rehearsal for the regular season, the Chargers opted to rest most of their starters, many of who are already injured. Those regulars that did play only played a very limited number of snaps, Jackson included. Jackson is expected to work as Austin Ekeler's partner in the backfield this season if Melvin Gordon's holdout extends into the regular season, which looks likely. For now, he's likely to get the smaller side of the timeshare.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Cardale Jones seems like he's clearly third in the pecking order for the quarterback job at this point, but that didn't stop him from racking up the biggest single gain in Saturday night's game against the Seahawks. Jones threw a bullet to Artavis Scott late in the second quarter, and after a nifty move to evade the first tackler, Scott weaved his way for a 31-yard gain. Jones was also the only Chargers quarterback of the night to not tuck the ball and run with it, similar to how life is when Philip Rivers is under center. While Jones played the least of any of the three QBs who saw time in the game, he's still likely ahead of Easton Stick in the competition.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler was one of the few Chargers starters who actually played in Week 3 of the preseason, but he didn't play much. Ekeler carried the ball on the first play from scrimmage, but he would only carry it three more times before heading to the bench. He did snag a pair of passes as well, but the whole effort felt like it was just a formality as opposed to trying to get him some full-speed reps. Ekeler is the team's likely No. 1 running back if Melvin Gordon's holdout extends into the regular season, and it looks like it will. That said, Ekeler's size and shifty approach have previously worked best when he was used as a change-of-pace back, so expect Justin Jackson to play a major role as well.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder caught his only target for eight yards in the team's third preseason game Saturday vs New Orleans. Crowder finishes the preseason with three catches for 39 yards and a touchdown in his first year working with Sam Darnold. Crowder battled injuries last season but could be a value on draft day if he can stay healthy. The slot receiver role was productive in Adam Gase offenses in Miami and though Crowder is no Jarvis Landry, he could get plenty of targets early in the season with tight end Chris Herndon suspended. Draft Crowder as a WR3/FLEX with higher upside in PPR formats.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Easton Stick led his team on the comeback trail on Saturday night against the Seahawks, but he came up just short as the team lost by eight. Stick went 12-for-16, completing 75% of his passes, but he only tallied 82 yards. He did throw a touchdown and ran another one in, which was more than either Tyrod Taylor or Cardale Jones were able to do, but he's still unlikely to win the No. 2 job out of camp. The fifth-round pick still stands a chance at being the franchise quarterback of the future if Philip Rivers decides to hang them up, but for now, he's probably not going to see any measurable playing time in the regular season.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor got some more time as the starter on Saturday against the Seahawks since the Chargers decided to sit most of their regular starters including Philip Rivers. Taylor went 6-for-9 for 61 yards and carried the ball six times for another 34 yards, leading the team in rushing attempts and YPC. Taylor was also sacked once, but he still looks like the likely suspect to be the team's backup QB. There was nothing particularly special about Taylor's performance, but he also didn't trip all over himself to open up a window for Cardale Jones or Easton Stick. That said, he'll be slotted behind Rivers, who is one of the most durable quarterbacks in the league, so it's unlikely he'll see the field for much time this year.
Los Angeles Rams running backDarrell Hendersontook the first snaps of Saturday's contest against the Denver Broncos. With Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown sitting out, Henderson struggled as the leader, as his 11 carries were only good for 28 yards. With a string of lackluster preseason performances (overall 23 carries for 57 yards), odds are that Brown will receive the bulk of the work if Gurley goes down. On draft day, Brown's ADP of 199 may be of better value than Henderson's ADP of 83.
New York Jets tight end Eric Tomlinson only played four snaps in the team's third preseason game Saturday against the Saints. Tomlinson is expected to split time with fellow tight end Ryan Griffin while starter Chris Herndon serves his four-game suspension but didn't get much playing time and didn't see a single target. Tomlinson is more known for his blocking from the tight end position and doesn't carry any fantasy value even with Herndon out.
Cincinnati Bengals undrafted rookie wide receiver Damion Willis is expected to serve as the X receiver in A.J. Green's absence to begin the season. It means that Willis should be in three-receiver sets right away in Week 1 against the Seahawks alongside Tyler Boyd and John Ross in the slot. Willis has good size and speed and could be a deep DFS sleeper in the regular season opener. With Green not expected to miss much time, Willis probably isn't worth taking in redraft leagues, but he's certainly one to watch and could be worth a flier in dynasty formats.
Arizona Cardinals rookie wide receiver Hakeem Butler(finger) was placed on Injured Reserve Sunday afternoon. The rookie receiver will be ineligible to return this season, which ends his rookie campaign. Even if Butler would have remained eligible to play this season, the likelihood of him making an impact was very slim. The fourth-round selection will have a better chance next year with aging vets Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Crabtree more than likely out of Arizona. Butler's injury will give fellow rookies Keesean Johnson and Andy Isabella a better shot at contributing in 2019. Johnson is the more polished wideout right now and is worth a late-round flier.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that wide receiver Dante Pettis was kept in the preseason game on Saturday against the Chiefs late into the game because the team wants to see him "earn a role on the team." It's been assumed all along that Pettis would be the No. 1 receiver across from Marquise Goodwin this year, but apparently San Fran's coaching staff hasn't been very impressed with Pettis so far. He's still the most likely option to be fantasy relevant in an inexperienced receiving corps, but we'd label Pettis as more of a risky WR3 now. He's much more attractive in PPR leagues.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that running back Jerick McKinnon (knee) and defensive end Dee Ford (knee) are on schedule to return to practice this week. McKinnon was a very popular fantasy pick last year, but he tore his ACL before the season even started and never played in 2018. Now he's behind Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida in the backfield and isn't even a lock to be ready for Week 1. That makes McKinnon as strictly a late-round flier in deeper leagues. Ford is looking to make an impact in his first year in San Fran after totaling 55 tackles and career-high 13 sacks with the Chiefs. He should help improve San Fran's defense overall. Their unit should be more interesting but can be ignored for fantasy purposes to begin the year.
New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon is dressed in full pads on Sunday, which is an indication that he has been taken off the Non-Football Injury list. It puts Gordon on track to be ready for Week 1. The controversial wide receiver has had his fair share of problems off the field, but he proved in 2018 that he had great chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady late in the year. The 28-year-old finished with 40 receptions for 720 yards and three scores in his 11 games with the Pats, and he should be a top weapon through the air behind Julian Edelman. His return hurts Phillip Dorsett and rookie N'Keal Harry the most. Gordon, if healthy and active, has clear WR2 upside.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross (hamstring) returned to practice on Sunday. Ross should be ready for Week 1 and could have an expanded role with A.J. Green out to begin the season, but fantasy owners still shouldn't place much trust in the 23-year-old speedster. Despite his physical talent and top-notch speed, Ross has only played in 16 games in his first two seasons and has 21 catches for only 210 yards and seven touchdowns. He'll only be a late-round flier in deeper leagues until he shows us that he can produce at the highest level.