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6 Broncos offensive players coming back from injuries

Fri Jul 19 3:23pm ET
AP Pro Football Writer

Players: Joe Flacco, Emmanuel Sanders, Jake Butt, Devontae Booker, Troy Fumagalli, Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman, Lamar Jackson

Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (30) takes a hand off from quarterback Joe Flacco during drills at the team's NFL football training camp Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco throws a pass during drills at the team's NFL football training camp Friday, July 19, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders runs a route during drills at the team's NFL football training camp Friday, July 19, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello directs tight end Troy Fumagalli (84) during drills at the team's NFL football training camp Friday, July 19, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The Denver Broncos' revamped offense features a half-dozen key players coming back from injuries that ended their 2018 seasons prematurely.

Advantage Broncos?

Right guard Ronald Leary thinks so.

Like receiver Emmanuel Sanders, Leary is coming off a torn Achilles tendon.

Tight ends Troy Fumagalli (sports hernia) and Jake Butt (ACL) are also embarking on comebacks, as are Pro Bowl running back Phillip Lindsay (wrist) and new quarterback Joe Flacco , whose hip injury cost him his starting job last year in Baltimore when the Ravens turned over things to rookie Lamar Jackson.

All six players say their injuries forced them to reflect during rehab and gave them a newfound appreciation for football.

Collectively, Leary suggested that will prove a benefit as the Broncos embark on another new scheme under new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello.

''All the guys you named coming back from injury are big parts of this offense,'' Leary said Friday. ''And especially when the game's taken away from you with a significant injury, you appreciate everything more. Not saying we didn't appreciate it already, but when it's just like anything in life, when something's taken away from you, you appreciate it even more.

''I think we got a lot to bring the offense, a lot of juice. We've got the right mentality coming into camp. I mean, all of our teammates are happy to see us coming back.''

Leary said he realized during his recovery that he has more resilience and patience than he thought, and he's sure he's not alone in that discovery.

''With the type of injury I had there was so much down time in the beginning where you can't do anything,'' Leary said. ''You're just sitting around. So, I started reading more, just talking to my wife more, just learning more about myself and just realizing how much I appreciate the game, how much harder I wanted to work in rehab to get back out on that field.''

Leary was cleared near the end of OTAs, but Sanders and Lindsay missed the Broncos' entire offseason program. Both were back on the field this week, however, when the Broncos became the first NFL team to open training camp.

''Moving around, feeling no pain, feeling good and feeling like myself,'' Sanders declared. ''I know a lot of people didn't expect that, so it's just a testament of all the hard work I put in, all the pain that I went through to be standing here.''

Although Sanders is limited, he's building a rapport with Flacco by being on the field during camp instead of the sideline .

''Flacco is a baller,'' Sanders said. ''I think things are going to be OK. I think we're going to be OK. I like the way he spins the ball. I think we will have a lot of success this year. ... I call him `Pretty Boy' Flacco. That's his name. He's just smooth.''

Much like Peyton Manning did in 2012 after missing an entire season in Indianapolis following a series of neck fusion surgeries, Flacco is coming to Denver with a shot at resurrecting his career following an injury.

''There is an energy about coming here and an excitement that I feel about coming to this new team and getting another chance to be a starting quarterback in this league,'' Flacco said.

General manager John Elway said, ''Any time you get traded midway in your career or two-thirds of the way through your career, you've got something to prove.''

''Yeah, there's no doubt,'' Flacco agreed. ''Listen, I think I've got a lot left in the tank. And I feel like I can do a lot more than I've shown in my 11-year career. I'm excited about that.''

And starting his first training camp outside Baltimore, Flacco said, ''I feel like a little kid.''

So does Lindsay, who hated having to watch fellow running backs Devontae Booker and Royce Freeman get carries while he continued his rehab during OTAs.

''I like the grind. I like being tired. I like the sweat, the blood, the tears,'' Lindsay said. ''That's what I'm here for.''

NOTES: Alexander Johnson was the first of many ILBs who filled in for Todd Davis, the team's leading tackler last season, who is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with a partial tear of his right calf.

Player Notes
O.J. Howard Aug 17 7:44am ET

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.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling Aug 17 7:40am ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Jace Sternberger Aug 17 7:30am ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Kareem Hunt Aug 17 7:20am ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Jake Kumerow Aug 17 7:10am ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Dexter Williams Aug 17 7:00am ET

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.

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Equanimeous St. Brown Aug 17 7:00am ET

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

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Ndamukong Suh Aug 17 4:30am ET

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.

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Andre Ellington Aug 17 4:20am ET

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.

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Kevin Hogan Aug 17 2:43am ET

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.

From TheHuddle

Cole Beasley Aug 17 2:30am ET

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

From RotoBaller

Mike Evans Aug 17 2:20am ET

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.

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Devin Singletary Aug 17 2:10am ET

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.

From RotoBaller

LeSean McCoy Aug 17 2:00am ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Mack Hollins Aug 17 1:50am ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Charles Johnson Aug 17 1:50am ET

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Josh Allen Aug 17 1:50am ET

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Wendell Smallwood Aug 17 1:50am ET

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.

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Josh Adams Aug 17 1:40am ET

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.

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Darren Sproles Aug 17 1:40am ET

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.

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