Thu Jul 18 1:53pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, file photo, Denver Broncos president Joe Ellis speaks during a news conference at the team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. Ever since soon-to-be Hall of Famer Pat Bowlen stepped down from his daily duties as owner of the Denver Broncos, team president Joe Ellis ran the team in a "What would Pat do" sort of way. With Bowlen's death last month, that's no longer the case. Ellis tells The Associated Press it's time for the Broncos to establish a new identity. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Ever since soon-to-be Hall of Famer Pat Bowlen stepped down from his daily duties as owner of the Denver Broncos, team president and CEO Joe Ellis ran the team in a ''What would Pat do?'' sort of way.
With Bowlen's death last month, that's no longer the case.
Ellis told The Associated Press that while the team will always honor Bowlen's memory, it's time for the Broncos to establish a new identity.
''I got to thinking about that,'' Ellis said Thursday from the sideline as the Broncos became the first NFL team to open training camp . ''I think it's a fair question at this point because he's no longer with us. He was with us (the last five years) even though he was not out here. I got to go see him and I always sort of felt his presence. And I think Pat would want us to move on from him a little bit, you know? I don't think we're going to be able to do that totally because of what he's provided all of us ...
''But it's time to buckle up your chin strap here and do things the Broncos way,'' Ellis said. ''Yeah, we want to make Pat proud. We're going to honor him. It's a subtle honoring with the decal on the helmet and he'll always be in the back of my mind. But you know what, we have to act independently now in some fashion. I hope you can make sense of this.''
Bowlen died June 13 at age 75, nine weeks shy of his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
When Alzheimer's forced him to step away five years earlier, Bowlen entrusted Ellis to operate the team with full authority and represent the Broncos in league matters until one of his seven children was deemed ready to take over. Ellis drew on his working relationship with the notoriously publicity-shy Bowlen that spanned nearly three decades to continue operating the team as Bowlen would have during those five years.
Ellis said he doesn't want to look back anymore.
''There's been so much talk about Pat and his excellence and everything that he's done and it's all well-deserved and it's well-acknowledged - he's going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,'' Ellis said. ''But I know if he were here and he were advising me, he'd say, `Listen, you know, your job is to get everybody in the organization to pull together and do this for our fans and do this for themselves and each other, players, coaches. And do what I always wanted to do and not make it about me, make it about them, make it about yourselves, make it about the fans. Make it about winning. Let's focus on that. Let's not focus on me anymore.'''
Ellis noted the Broncos have to change the way they do things to reverse their recent slide that includes back-to-back double-digit losses for the first time since the 1960s.
Even with those 5-11 and 6-10 seasons, the Broncos have as many Super Bowl appearances - seven - as losing seasons during Bowlen's ownership that began in 1984.
''We need to establish our own identity,'' Ellis said. ''So much of our identity the past several years has been based on the success of Pat in some ways, right? And people talk about the Pat Bowlen era. Even if a child were to take over, it's not the Pat Bowlen era anymore. So, this is kind of in some ways this is Year 1 of establishing a different identity as an organization. Never forgetting everything that was Pat.
''No one's ever going to forget what he did. We'll remember him. We've got the decal on the back. His name is on that field house. His father's name is on this facility's front here at UC Health Center. So, he will continue to be honored and remembered, but I do know that he would want us to put our own stamp on this program. I just know that in my heart.''
Ellis said he'll meet with Brittany Bowlen, who is hoping to take over the franchise, next week about returning to the team to gain more front office experience. She's currently working for global consulting firm McKinsey & Company in Denver. Ellis said her role would be generally focused on the business side.
''She's going to come here and work hard. She's got to prove herself,'' Ellis said. ''There's more pressure on her than any other employee. And then we'll see. If that works out, then there's room for growth. Pat always said, `Listen, I'd love to be able to keep it in the family if I can and have a child run it, but if that's not the case, then the team will be sold.' And so we're not there to assign anybody that role yet.''
Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard was targeted twice and hauled in one catch for 16 yards Friday against the Dolphins. This was only the second game of the preseason which makes sense as to why he was not heavily involved ankle injury cut his 2018 short and the last thing Tampa wants is for him to get hurt again in meaningless preseason games. Howard did not play in week one as he is presumably one of the Buccaneers' premier players. He absolutely is worth his round five ADP at the moment due to his performance last season, presence of Bruce Arians, and the load of targets available with the departures of Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling has been finding it tough to make an impact in the preseason. However, the stories coming out of training camp mean that fantasy owners shouldn't be too worried about that. Valdes-Scantling has been touted as the second option in the Packers offense, behind Davante Adams. The Packers offense is thought to be on the up under Matt LaFleur's leadership, and so there should be plenty of opportunities to be fantasy relevant. In the mid-rounds, Valdes-Scantling is a great value for fantasy owners.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jace Sternberger is still yet to see any significant time on the field for the team. The Packers have incumbent veteran Jimmy Graham as the starting tight end, who has impressed this offseason. However, Robert Tonyan has been making improvements in offseason and could challenge Sternberger as the pass-catching tight end on the roster. Sternberger is unlikely to be fantasy relevant this season, especially if he continues to miss time through injury.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt could see "meaningful action" during Saturday's preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts. Hunt struggled with a groin injury early in camp and did not take the field last Thursday in the team's preseason opener against Washington. Hunt saw a lot of reps in this past Thursday's practice and only has limited preseason time to get acclimated to the offense before his eight-game suspension begins. It will be worth monitoring how the team uses Hunt in the offense on Saturday against the Colts.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jake Kumerow has been impressing in preseason so far. In doing so, Kumerow has really put his case forward to be the next man up if any of the starting trio of receivers miss time in the season. Kumerow has really developed over the past season and has strengthened his rapport with starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers. While he is unlikely to be drafted by fantasy owners this season, he is certainly a player to monitor for waiver wire pickup.
Green Bay Packers running back Dexter Williams has a chance to make an impact this season. Fellow running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have struggled with fitness during the offseason and are yet to take the field. Dexter Williams may have fumbled in the preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, but given the struggles of the other players in camp- Williams should be set to be the next man up in the new offense in Green Bay.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown is more likely to be cut than make a real impact on the field this season. St.Brown entered camp potentially looking to challenge Marquez Valdes-Scantling for the third receiver spot on the Packers offense, but that has not been the case. St. Brown has been limited in the preseason games that have been played so far and didn't get a single reception and only one target in the teams recent loss to Baltimore Ravens. Jake Kumerow looks to be the next player up if either of the starting trio miss time, meaning St. Brown is currently buried on the Packers depth chart
This is fairly obvious given how poor the Bucs' defense has been over the past few seasons, but is still worth pointing out even with the Bucs' additions throughout the offseason. They essentially replaced Gerald McCoy with Ndamukong Suh, Kwon Alexander with Devin White, and upgraded their secondary with several mid-round defensive backs, however, none of this will make much of a difference. The Bucs still do not possess much of an edge presence, they have no high-end secondary talent, and they lost last season's first-round pick, Vita Vea, to injury again for a chunk of the regular season. Avoid them even in deeper leagues unless they miraculously gel the first month or have a string of poor opposing offenses lined up.
Buccaneers running back Andre Ellington has carried the ball 10 times for just 24 yards and caught five passes for 20 yards throughout these past two preseason games. On top of disappointing yardage totals, he also fumbled away the ball on Friday against Miami. Ellington's disappointing showing thus far could play into whether he makes the team or not. However, his connection to Bruce Arians from his Cardinals days might give him some leeway. Ellington is not fantasy relevant this season outside of some extraordinary circumstances.
Denver Broncos QB Kevin Hogan is 'absolutely' still in competition for the backup job with QB Drew Lock, according to offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello; Lock has received the majority of the second-team reps during practice this past week.
Signed as a free agent this past offseason, former Cowboy Cole Beasley is becoming one of QB Josh Allen's favorite targets, with Beasley catching all five of his targets for 44 yards in a game that Buffalo would eventually win 27-14. With Zay Jones, John Brown, and Robert Foster not playing, Beasley made it look easy on Buffalo's first drive of the game, hauling in four catches on the way to a Bills' field goal. Allen had a 70% completion-rate on passes under nine yards last season, which is the part of the zone in which Beasley usually works, leaving some to wonder whether the pairing could set the 30-year old veteran to return monster value, as he currently has a throwaway 259 ADP in NFBC
Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans was targeted just once Friday and ended the game without posting any stats. Evans did not dress for last week's preseason game but saw the field just a bit against Miami. He probably sees more than one drive next week given that the third week of preseason is historically the closest thing to full exposure teams provide prior to week one of the regular season. Mike Evans is Mike Evans, he is a reliable producer who could have an even better year if Jameis Winston takes a step forward. A great pick in the late-second/early-third.
A popular sleeper pick so far in 2019, Buffalo rookie Devin Singletary couldn't build on his success from the Bills' first preseason game, as Buffalo defeated Carolina 27-14 in Friday night's preseason action. Singletary only carried the ball twice this week, collecting just six yards but did add 25 yards receiving on three catches, while being targeted five times, mostly by backup quarterback Matt Barkley. While his breakout potential is intriguing, Singletary is in a crowded backfield with LeSean McCoy and will have to earn his touches where he can.
Perennially injured Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy played the first two possessions of Buffalo's 27-14 preseason victory over the Panthers on Friday. McCoy rushed four times for only six yards, adding 11 receiving yards on two catches and left the game after scoring a touchdown on his final present. With the presence of backup Frank Gore as well as rookie Devin Singletary -who's being drafted five spots before McCoy - and given his constant injury concerns, McCoy is a riskier pick, even with a 134 NFBC ADP.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Mack Hollins is likely to play a depth role in 2019 if he makes it on the final roster. Buried on the depth chart behind at least Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Hollins will appear on special teams a lot more often than he does on offense. It'll take at least a pair of injuries for Hollins to develop a meaningful fantasy role in 2019.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Charles Johnson is on the outside looking in for a roster spot in 2019. Johnson excelled in the AAF as part of the Orlando Apollos and looked promising on the Vikings in 2014, but he's already 30 and buried on the depth chart. Behind at least Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, and rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Johnson will have to beat out Mack Hollins, Braxton Miller, and several others to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
Second-year quarterback Josh Allen took another step forward in Buffalo's second preseason game, a 27-14 victory over Carolina. Allen looked sharp from the jump, completing seven of nine passes for 103 yards, leading scoring drives in the only two possessions he played. Of those seven completions, five were to new Buffalo receiver Cole Beasley, including four in the first drive of the game. Currently being drafted as the 22nd quarterback by NFBC ADP, Allen could leverage his big arm and running ability to a breakout fantasy year, as the only player in 2018 who had more 25+ yard runs than Allen's seven was Saquon Barkley.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood could be left off the final roster before the season begins. Smallwood set a career high in touches last season, but he was average at best. With the Eagles drafting Miles Sanders and trading for Jordan Howard, Smallwood was pushed down the depth chart and will need to compete with Josh Adams and Donnel Pumphrey for the last spot in the running back room. It'll likely come down to who looks best on special teams in the remaining preseason games.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Josh Adams might not make the final Eagles roster this season. Adams led the team in rushing last season after joining the team as an undrafted rookie, but shoulder surgery combined with the additions of Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard have left Adams on the outside looking in. Sanders, Howard, Corey Clement, and Darren Sproles are all essentially locks for the roster, so Adams could find himself competing with Wendell Smallwood and Boston Scott for the last spot on the running back depth chart. Both of those backs provide value on special teams that Adams doesn't.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles should have a somewhat consistent role in 2019. He'll work on special teams as a returner, but should also see playing time on offense, splitting passing downs with Corey Clement. Sproles and Clement will eat into one another's fantasy value, but either back would be a solid option if the other were to go down. Sproles should have more value in leagues that count return yards, but at age 36, he's certainly an injury risk.