Wed Jul 17 5:11pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders takes part in drills at the team's NFL football training facility Tuesday, June 4, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The Denver Broncos are the first team in the NFL to kick off training camp Thursday, and they'll do it with Emmanuel Sanders on hand but maybe not Drew Lock.
Sanders won't be full-go as he continues his comeback from a torn Achilles tendon last December, but ''Emmanuel looks good. He's not going to go on PUP. He'll start practicing from Day 1,'' general manager John Elway said Wednesday. ''Obviously we're going to work him in slowly.''
Pro Bowl running back Phillip Lindsay, who hasn't taken a snap since suffering a wrist injury at Oakland on Christmas Eve, also will be eased into action.
''Lindsay's ready to go,'' new head coach Vic Fangio said. ''Lindsay, Emmanuel, we'll ease them in, but we'll get them in quickly.''
Rookies and veterans reported to UC Health Training Center on Wednesday, a week earlier than usual because of the Broncos' upcoming Hall of Fame game against Washington on Aug. 1.
Three other teams - the Cardinals, Seahawks and Ravens - also had rookies report Wednesday but their veterans get several more days of summer vacation, unlike the Broncos.
Lock, however, was missing.
He's the last Broncos rookie without a contract, leaving him a finite amount in Denver's rookie salary pool and his representatives hammering out details such as performance bonuses.
''We'll see,'' Elway said when asked if he felt Lock would be in camp for the first workout Thursday morning. ''I'm not going to make a prediction one way or the other but we're hoping that he's going to be here.''
Lock is vying for the backup job behind newcomer Joe Flacco, whom Elway acquired from Baltimore in yet another offseason makeover.
Widely viewed as a first-round prospect, Lock slipped to the second round, where the Broncos selected him with the 42nd overall pick, one spot behind their new left guard Dalton Risner. Lock has to get used to playing under center after hardly doing so at Missouri.
After the Paxton Lynch fiasco, Elway views his QB situation now like the Chiefs did with Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes two years ago, with the apprentice getting to take his time learning and the veteran preparing to be the starter.
''We feel like he's in his prime,'' Elway said of Flacco, 34. ''At least we hope he is.''
Elway said he's optimistic because new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello brings to Denver the roots of the Baltimore system in which Flacco excelled early in his career.
Also, ''anytime you get traded midway in your career, two-thirds of the way through your career, you've got something to prove,'' Elway said.
Adding Flacco in a trade and Lock in the draft allows the Broncos ''to solidify that position for a while,'' Elway said. ''Obviously, we've been looking for one since Peyton (Manning) retired. That's always a difficult position to feel. But I finally feel good about that position and where we are.''
The Broncos are coming off back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1971-72 and while they have another rookie head coach, Fangio is 61 and has decades of experience coaching in the pros.
''We've got a lot of work ahead of us,'' Elway said. ''We always have high expectations of ourselves but we just know that the position that we're in and the last two seasons that we've had we've got to take it one day at a time and that's what we're going to do.
''And we're in good shape, too. I think being in early, having the extra week, playing in the Hall of Fame game is going to help us with the new staff. I think that's a positive for us being in early.''
Fangio's first camp as a head coach includes an NFL-most 19 open practices.
''I think it's good to have the fans out here,'' Fangio said. ''You know, the history of the NFL, you had to go to college campuses back in the day because the facilities didn't look like this. When I first went to the Saints in the mid-80s, we had an 80-yard grass field, OK? We had no cafeteria.
''Guys who go to a greasy deli for lunch right across the street. So, you were forced to go to small college campuses to have your two-a-days because they had cafeterias, because they had classrooms and because they had dorms to sleep in. A byproduct of that was fans could come and watch.
''I think one of the things, small things, that has driven the NFL to being the most popular sport in the country is that you let people come and watch practice, people that maybe cannot afford to go to the game and maybe get an autograph from a player. Maybe a player shakes their hand and throws them a sweatband or a glove,'' Fangio added.
''You know, you do that with a young person, you've got a fan for life. And football has a fan for life. There's more to be gained out of that than any advertising slogan or any commercial that you put on TV.''
Baltimore Ravens rookie running back Justice Hill caught a short pass from quarterback Lamar Jackson and darted upfield, causing two Eagles defenders to collide in Monday's joint practice. Hill is the Ravens leading rusher after the first two weeks of the preseason, amassing 82 yards on 20 carries. According to the Baltimore Beatdown, Hill forced a missed tackle on nine of 12 touches in Baltimore's Week 2 game against Green Bay. Hill's running style is intriguing; he's lightning-fast, he breaks tackles and he can catch the ball well. The first-year back currently sits fourth on the Ravens depth chart and likely won't see a ton of touches at the start of the season, but keep him on your radar toward the end of your drafts. He's being picked up in the 12th round of most drafts and poses as an exciting sleeper to handcuff to Mark Ingram.
The Arizona Cardinals are closing in on signing free-agent wide receiver Michael Crabtree, according to sources. The Cards released former first-rounder Kevin White on Wednesday, and it looks like Crabtree is who they'll replace him with. It remains to be seen how Crabtree might fit in head coach Kliff Kingsbury's offense behind Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, but the veteran wideout should make Arizona's offense more versatile and give them another weapon. He had 54 grabs for 607 yards and three touchdowns last year with Baltimore in a run-first offense. Crabtree is a nice red-zone option, but he'll have to battle for targets with rookies Andy Isabella and Keesean Johnson.
Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker has been a top-five fantasy option for the last five years and holds the crown as the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history. "I think we've got an if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it type of situation going on here," Tucker told the media after Tuesday's practice. Drafting a top kicker in your leagues might not win you the championship, but drafting one who has made 89.7 percent of his field goals in his seven seasons will obviously help. If you happen to catch the run for kickers at the right time in your drafts, Tucker is the best kicker you should be looking to target.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold had another solid practice Wednesday as he prepared for what will likely be his last preseason action Saturday vs the Saints. Darnold completed 10 of his first 11 passes in team drills Wednesday and also threw four straight touchdowns in red-zone drills, a major area of weakness in his rookie season. Head coach Adam Gase said the starters will play the first half plus one series in the team's third preseason game Saturday so this is the best look fantasy owners will get at the sophomore QB before drafts. Darnold has been having a strong camp and has higher upside than a lot of the other quarterbacks expected to be drafted as backups in fantasy.
Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell has had the cards stacked against him this preseason. After hitting just 13 of 20 field goals and only 43 of 48 extra point attempts in 2018, head coach Mike Tomlin was very vocal that he was going to test Boswell this preseason. However, the fifth-year kicker knows there's nothing wrong with a challenge. "It does bring out the best in everybody. Well see where it goes, he said. The team brought in rookie Steven Wright from UCF to challenge Boswell this preseason. However, the incumbent has answered all doubts, hitting both field goal attempts, including a 47 yarder, along with all three extra point attempts. If your fantasy league utilizes kickers, you can leave Boswell in the player pool on draft day, but if he proves he is capable of hitting the necessary kicks, he could be a solid streamer after the first few games.
New York Jets kicker Taylor Bertolet is making a strong first impression on his new team. Bertolet was signed only a few days ago after Chandler Catanzaro abruptly retired but has already made an impression on the team. Bertolet went 4-for-4 on field goals during team drills connecting from 44, 40, and twice from 33 yards away. Bertolet won't be one of the top kickers drafted, but if he keeps this up could be worth a look on a Jets team that finished 30th in the NFL in red-zone conversion rate last season.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier has been impressed with rookie linebacker Devin Bush, who the Steelers traded up to get with the 10th overall pick. "I think he's going to make a lot of splash for us. He's going to be a big-time player for us," Shazier said. Shazier continues to make progress in his recovery from a spinal injury he suffered in 2017, but he will not play this year. Bush is the inside linebacking presence that Pittsburgh needs in order for their defense to return to the elite ranks among the NFL. They have the potential to become fantasy relevant this year, but fantasy owners can probably wait and see.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald won't be the full-time tight end, according to offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. In an interview with Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports.com, the Steelers' OC said "He's never going to play the full game. That's never going to happen." Of course, this could be coach talk and McDonald ends up sees the majority of the time at tight end. His only real competition at the position is Xavier Grimble, who was undrafted out of USC and has just 22 career receptions. Don't look into this too much as the veteran McDonald is without a doubt the top dog at this position in Pittsburgh. His ADP has jumped up into the 7th round, which is fair for a player who should command 80-plus targets this year.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jordan Wilkins (foot) missed his sixth straight practice on Wednesday. Wilkins represents a change of pace from the two running backs, Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines, that are in front of him. Mack is an explosive player that's developing into a 3-down player, and Hines has firmly established his role as a pass-catcher. Wilkins can find his way on the field, but the team's running back is getting crowded which drags his stock down.
Denver Broncos LB Aaron Wallace (hamstring) was waived/injured Wednesday, Aug. 21, according to a source.
Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri (knee) has been resting for much of the preseason and training camp. That remains true, but he is expected to be ready for Week 1. Vinatieri remains one of the top kicking options in fantasy. He plays on an elite offense, and he is arguably the best kicker in NFL history. The Colts should give Vinatieri plenty of opportunities to score this season as long as he remains healthy.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell (hamstring) is still being held out of practice after he suffered a setback last week in his recovery from the injury. The third-round pick can bring an exciting and explosive dynamic to this offense. The longer he's on the sideline though makes it more difficult for him to build chemistry with quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett. His stock continues to fall with every day that he misses practice.
Seattle Seahawks QB Geno Smith (knee) will play in the preseason game Saturday, Aug. 24, and is expected to receive significant playing time.
Seattle Seahawks QB Paxton Lynch (head) will not play in the preseason game Saturday, Aug. 24.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Trey Quinn (thumb) will not play in the preseason game on Thursday against the Falcons, while wide receiver Paul Richardson (quadriceps) will "probably not" play either. Richardson played in just seven games and caught 20 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns in his first year in D.C. He continues to be bothered by injuries and can be left alone in standard-sized leagues. Quinn, 23, had nine catches in three games in his rookie season. He is slightly more attractive in the slot in PPR leagues with quarterback Case Keenum likely to be the starter, but Quinn is no more than a late-round deep sleeper.
The Detroit Lions agreed to a one-year, $11 million extension with defensive tackle Damon Harrison on Wednesday. Snacks Harrison won't do much in the sack column -- he has just nine total sacks in his six years in the league -- but he's most known for being an elite run clogger up the middle with his size (6-foot-3, 353 pounds). The Lions run defense was much improved after they acquired Harrison from the Giants at midseason last year.
Detroit Lions DT Damon Harrison signed a one-year contract extension with the Lions Wednesday, Aug. 21, worth $11 million, according to a source.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marcus Kemp (knee) is done for the season after suffering a torn ACL and MCL. Kemp suffered the injury during the second preseason game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday. He was great for the Chiefs on special teams last season, so losing him will hurt the team. He wasn't going to make an impact in fantasy leagues, but this will hurt the special teams unit for Kansas City.
Free-agent TE Orson Charles (Browns) signed with the Denver Broncos Wednesday, Aug. 21, according to a source. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.