Thu Apr 18 3:06am ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Sept. 23, 2018, file photo, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo runs with the ball during the first half of the team's NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo. Garoppolo has resumed throwing and taking drop backs as he rehabilitates from a major knee injury that derailed his first full season as San Francisco's starting quarterback. The process of coming back is going smoothly and Garoppolo hopes to be able to take part in seven-on-seven drills when the 49ers begin OTAs next month and be fully cleared by the time training camp starts in late July. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Jimmy Garoppolo has resumed throwing and taking drop backs as he rehabilitates from a major knee injury that derailed his first full season as San Francisco's starting quarterback.
The process of coming back is going smoothly and Garoppolo hopes to be able to take part in seven-on-seven drills when the 49ers begin OTAs next month and be fully cleared by the time training camp starts in late July.
Once the season begins Sept. 8 in the opener at Tampa Bay, Garoppolo believes the only difference will be the brace he will wear on his surgically repaired left knee.
''I wore one initially as a rookie,'' he said. ''Then, I kind of got away from it. I think this year it's a certainty. But, we'll see how it goes down the road.''
Garoppolo said he doesn't believe the brace will impact his mobility a bit since the new ones are so lightweight that it's almost ''like you're not wearing anything sometimes.''
The 49ers are counting on Garoppolo being back to the player he was when they acquired him during the 2017 season from New England and he won his first five starts with the team to end that season.
He was rewarded with a five-year, $137.5 million contract that offseason to be San Francisco's franchise quarterback only to go down with the season-ending ACL injury in a Week 3 loss at Kansas City last season.
''I think initially probably was the hardest part, the acceptance of everything,'' he said. ''The first couple weeks, really, you can't put any weight on it with the meniscus and all that stuff. Probably the first month or two was the worst. But, after that, you get running and everything and you start to feel like yourself again.''
Garoppolo was helped in his rehab by the fact that running back Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL earlier in September and was a good guide and partner during the process that has continued throughout the offseason.
Garoppolo said it took some time to get the trust back in his knee, but now feels comfortable running and throwing the ball.
''It's encouraging,'' he said. ''Every day gets easier and easier. Able to make this throw better than I was a week ago. It's small victories like that. Throughout the whole process, it's all about small victories because you're not going to jump out and be able to throw it 60, 70 yards again. Small victories.''
Having a healthy Garoppolo and McKinnon will be key this season for the 49ers, who are coming off a 4-12 season in coach Kyle Shanahan's second year with the team.
Shanahan let the players know as they gathered this week for the start of the offseason program that improvement is necessary.
''His big thing was the past couple of years we really needed to get the culture and everything,'' defensive lineman DeForest Buckner said. ''He feels like the culture is here and we have the talent. Now we have to go out and execute. We had setbacks on the way, especially last year. We had big expectations for the team and we didn't achieve those expectations and those goals.''
Buckner was one of the few bright spots for the Niners last season with a career-high 12 sacks. The seventh overall pick in the 2016 draft proved he was a foundation piece for the 49ers.
Now the team will have to start planning on how to keep Buckner. He is eligible for a contract extension this summer if the 49ers want to lock him up long term before he can become a free agent following the 2020 season.
''We had conversations here and there,'' Buckner said. ''It's very early. Just because I'm eligible for a new contract going into my fourth year, it's still very early in the process.''
The Denver Broncos have signed running back David Williams, who the team originally drafted in 2018 before letting go. Williams was a Jaguar last season, but carried the ball just eight times for 36 yards with Jacksonville. It's hard to imagine a situation where Williams has fantasy value in a Broncos backfield that already has Royce Freeman and Phillip, but stranger things have happened. He's not draftable in any format, but a good training camp could put him in the mix for some of Devontae Booker's snaps as the number-three back.
The NFL will not suspend Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill for violating the league's player-conduct policy. Hill was under investigation for an incident in which his son's arm was broken. With Hill cleared to be on the field, the Chiefs wideout is once again on track to be one of the league's top receivers thanks to his speed and the prolific passing of quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Hill's a second-round fantasy pick at worst now, and will be a huge value for fantasy owners who drafted early and took him at his lower offseason ADP.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill is unlikely to resume contract talks for several weeks or months with the team.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill will not be suspended by the NFL as the league found that he did not violate the personal conduct policy. He will be able to attend training camp and participate in all team activities.
Fantasy Spin: The news has a big impact on the fantasy landscape as Hill immediately returns to WR1 status with the cloud clearing over him. Hill had an 87-1,479-12 breakout last season, and talks on a long-term deal could also rekindle.
Rival teams believe the Buffalo Bills could release someone from the group of RBs LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon, according to MMQB's Albert Breer, who notes that McCoy is set to earn far more money than Gore or Yeldon.
Fantasy Spin: Barring injury, Devin Singletary is going to make the 53-man roster. Beyond that, training camp will sort things out, though Yeldon seems the most like casualty at this stage.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is now the top receiver on his team but still has to prove to some that he belongs among the league's elite. After finishing top six in the NFL last year in both receptions (111) and receiving yards (1,426), the third-year pass catcher is in a position to repeat his breakout season. Without Antonio Brown in town, Smith-Schuster will be Ben Roethlisberger's first look. In half-PPR mocks, he's been going in the early-to-middle of the second round. The talent and opportunity are certainly there for the 22-year-old to be considered a top eight receiver in fantasy drafts.
Denver Broncos TE Troy Fumagalli spent time with the first-team offense during training camp Thursday, July 18.
Oakland Raiders RB Jalen Richard could lose a 'good chunk' of his snaps on receiving downs to RB Josh Jacobs, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic.
Fantasy Spin: Richard's value was already limited to PPR formats, and now that Jacobs is in the mix and potentially headed for an every-down role, Richard is slipping into handcuff territory. Meanwhile, Jacobs looks like a RB2 candidate as a rookie.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones remains unsigned with one week remaining before training camp opens. He is one of five first-round picks yet to agree to terms with his organization. Jones is still scheduled to arrive to training camp on Monday when all rookies and select veterans report. He is expected to sign a four-year, $25.5 million contract, with a $16.6 million guarantee, when he arrives, or even shortly before. That is the financial slot for the No. 6 overall pick in the draft. Last season RB Saquon Barkley signed a day before he arrived at camp, so there isn't cause for alarm with Big Blue.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Demarcus Robinson will be expected to take over the role that Jacksonville Jaguars WR Chris Conley filled for the offense last season.
Fantasy Spin: Conley finished last season with 32 catches for 334 yards and five scores while Robinson logged 22 grabs for 288 yards and four scores. Combine those numbers on top of a potential suspension for Tyreek Hill, and Robinson could be worth a late-round flier as a WR5.
Denver Broncos WR River Cracraft's chances of earning a spot on the 53-man roster have improved following the retirement of WR Aaron Burbridge, according to Benjamin Allbright of 104.7 FM Denver.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley rolled up 261 carries, 1,307 rushing yards while adding 91 receptions last season. Beat writer John Schmeelk expects the number of receptions for Barkley to drop by as many as 15-20. Early in the season Barkley had many non-consequential dump-off receptions, posting 58 grabs in the first half and 33 in the second half. Barkley likely will have more impactful plays that gain more yardage, even if his catch total declines. Running backs coach Craig Johnson expects the improvement in Year 2 for Barkley to be in his attention to detail, including pass protection, more precise route running, technique and perfect execution of the playbook. Barkley remains a sure-fire Round 1 selection in all fantasy formats, and is a consideration for No. 1 overall pick in PPR formats.
New York Giants placekicker Aldrick Rosas booted 32 field goals in 2018, the fifth-most in franchise history. He connected for a 97.0 field-goal percentage, setting a franchise record. His only missed field-goal attempt was a 52-yard try with 28 seconds remaining in the first half in Week 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles. He also hit a 57-yarder against the Chicago Bears, setting a new franchise record. Rosas has emerged as a fantasy option after a rough first season for Big Blue. And the team should struggle at times on offense, settling for more field-goal attempts than point-after tries, which is always good for fantasy.
Houston Texans tight end Jordan Akins expects to be used in various spots on the field in 2019. While the battle for playing time at the tight end position will be tough between Akins, Jordan Thomas, and rookie Kahale Warring, Akins being able to be used in the backfield and in the slot can help him carve out a role. Still, with wide receiver Keke Coutee expected to see most of the slot minutes, Akins' versatility isn't enough to make him a trustworthy fantasy player in 2019 unless injuries hit in Houston.
New York Giants safety Jabrill Peppers was the main kick and punt returner man for the Cleveland Browns, and beat writer Lance Medow expects him to reprise that role with the Giants in 2019. However, since he is the team's starting safety, too, his usage will likely be managed at times. "It's a lot of different scenarios, and it's good to have options," special teams coach Thomas McGaughey said last month. Peppers is considered the front runner for the job, however, and others like wide receivers Corey Coleman, Bennie Fowler, Golden Tate, Cody Latimer and Brittan Golden have also see time in the return game in the past. Rookie Darius Slayton could also factor in.
New York Giants undrafted rookie tight end C.J. Conrad turned heads during organized team activities, making a lot of plays and rarely dropping passes, according to beat writer Dan Salomone. He has plenty of size at 6-foot-4 and 248 pounds and he could emerge as an option in the red zone, and Conrad could be used in two tight end sets with fellow TE Evan Engram as more of a hybrid wideout-tight end, running fly patterns and working out of the slot. At this point he doesn't warrant fantasy consideration, but he is a name to watch as he head into camp.
Denver Broncos TE Jake Butt (knee) was limited to seven-on-seven drills during practice Thursday, July 18.
In an article this week discussing the Buffalo Bills as potential playoff contenders, NFL.com writer Adam Rank expressed his optimism for the team, and in particular, for Robert Foster. Rank deemed Foster "the best receiver on this roster," while also favorably discussing fellow wideouts John Brown and Cole Beasley. The 6'2" Foster certainly showed flashes of potential as a legitimate #1 outside receiver during his rookie campaign last year, but he still has a lot to prove, and now he has more competition for targets from the aforementioned Brown and Beasley. Nonetheless, Foster is a very intriguing sleeper option heading into 2019 and should be on everyone's radar throughout training camp and preseason.
Denver Broncos LB Todd Davis (calf) has been diagnosed with a partially torn calf and is expected to be sidelined for three to four weeks, according to a source. He should be ready for the start of the regular season.