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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
Dwayne Haskins Aug 23 11:30am ET

Washington Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins completed seven of 13 passes for 74 yards in Thursday's exhibition against the Falcons. Despite how well Haskins has played this preseason, he's still likely to start the year out as Washington's backup behind Case Keenum. The positive outlook is that Haskins has performed well enough to legitimately give head coach Jay Gruden something to think about. With Haskins looming in the background after an impressive trio of preseason outings (minus his two interceptions in the first one), Keenum's leash won't be especially long if things aren't going well. In any case, Haskins is best left on the draft board and addressed via the waiver wire when the time comes.

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Terrelle Pryor Aug 23 11:30am ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Terrelle Pryor was on the field for the first time this preseason in Thursday's loss to the Miami Dolphins, catching three passes for 26 yards before exiting with a hamstring injury. It's the same issue Pryor's been dealing with all preseason, and a flare up at this point while Pryor is fighting with Tre McBride for the final roster spot at wide receiver isn't going to help Pryor's case. Even if he does make the final roster, it's hard to see much usage for Pryor, though he could carve out a small role as a big target in the red zone.

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Samaje Perine Aug 23 11:10am ET

Washington Redskins running back Samaje Perine carried the ball four times for 16 yards in Thursday's preseason game, with his highlight coming in the form of a three-yard touchdown trot. Perine's teammate and ostensible lone competition for the fourth RB spot, Byron Marshall, racked up only 11 yards on as many carries. Neither Perine nor Marshall have looked the least bit interesting this preseason outside of the touchdown by the former, so it's anyone's guess as to whether Thursday's performances helped or hurt either in the depth chart battle. Either way, keep your distance from this situation in all fantasy formats.

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Adrian Peterson Aug 23 11:00am ET

Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson did not play on Thursday night against the Falcons, ceding the backfield work to Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson instead. Both had positive showings in his absence, especially Guice, who had not played a live game since tearing his ACL in August 2018. There's not much to see here in terms of Peterson being given the night off. He's 34 years old with a well-documented track record of high-level performance in the regular season. Peterson's 2019 ceiling is limited thanks to Guice, and could be much lower if Guice runs away with the workhorse role at some point in the season. But he could be looking at a high floor early on as the Redskins split carries between the two in order to ease Guice back into action.

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Trey Quinn Aug 23 10:50am ET

Washington Redskins wide receiver Trey Quinn didn't play against the Falcons on Thursday. Per a report, Quinn rested so as not to aggravate a thumb injury he sustained earlier in the preseason. Like teammate Paul Richardson, Quinn has not appeared in either of Washington's last two preseason games. Unlike Richardson, Quinn has PPR intrigue in his role. You're probably better off avoiding both on draft day, but Quinn isn't a bad bet to begin the season seeing a usable target share out of the slot.

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Paul Richardson Aug 23 10:30am ET

Washington Redskins wide receiver Paul Richardson did not play on Thursday against the Falcons, sidelined with a quad injury, per Richardson has not been utilized in any of the Redskins' three preseason games to this point, and with the fourth contest traditionally serving as a last stand for fringe 53-man roster hopefuls, he might not get any action in prior to Week 1. Richardson's big-play potential may resurrect his fantasy value at some point down the line, but you don't need to factor him into your draft plans.

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Jordan Reed Aug 23 10:10am ET

Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed exited Thursday's preseason game due to injury, and was subsequently evaluated for a concussion, per an report. Reed's injury borders on uncanny, as his otherwise good health leading up to it has been one of the more positive stories from Washington's camp. From a human standpoint, you just hope he's okay and the head injury is nothing serious or long-term. From a fantasy standpoint, you'll obviously want to monitor his situation if you were planning on drafting him in the next couple of weeks (or if you already did). We're a little over two weeks away from the first NFL Sunday, which isn't an extensive amount of recovery time. If Reed is unable to go to start the season, Vernon Davis and Jeremy Sprinkle would both figure to see more snaps--though neither would be a viable fantasy option.

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Case Keenum Aug 23 9:40am ET

Washington Redskins quarterback Case Keenum completed nine of 14 passes for 101 yards in Thursday night's preseason game. He also lost a fumble, but from a passing standpoint it was his best performance of the preseason. Keenum has probably shown just enough to fend off Dwayne Haskins for the Week 1 starting job. It's worth noting his most successful season as a quarterback came in 2017 with a Vikings team that ran the ball often and played exceptional defense--the same formula the Redskins are going to try to win with in 2019. Keenum likely won't be asked to do enough to vault himself into the upper echelons of fantasy scoring among QBs, but he has much higher upside than any of the Redskins' options at the position from last year. He's at least worth paying attention to early on.

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Daniel Carlson Aug 23 9:00am ET

Oakland Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson lifted his team past the Green Bay Packers in Thursdays Week 3 preseason contest. On an 80-yard shortened field in Winnipeg, Carlson didnt have any problems kicking on the questionable turf nailing all three field goals including the game-winner from 33 yards out with eight seconds remaining. His other two kicks went for 40 and 42 yards, keeping his perfect preseason kicking percentage intact. The 2018 fifth-rounder was given the boot after Week 2 by the Vikings last season, but the Raiders have reaped the benefits of his new team-record 94% success rate since picking him up for the final 10 games of 2018. On this improving offense, Carlson could hold sneaky fantasy value for fantasy footballs most overlooked position.

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Christopher Herndon IV Aug 23 8:53am ET

New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon is getting a significant amount of work this training camp as head coach Adam Gase made it clear he wants the sophomore tight end to be ready when his suspension is up. Gase wouldn't even rule Herndon out for the team's fourth preseason game, a rarity for NFL starters. The league hasn't decided if Herndon can be around the Jets practice facility during the suspension, but Herndon said he has a trainer lined up just in case to make it as game-like as possible to stay sharp if he needs to be away from the team. Herndon caught 39 of 56 targets last season for 502 yards and was a favorite target of Sam Darnold on third down and in the red zone. The sophomore tight end won't be available until week 6, but he is a great stash candidate in deep leagues if you miss out on a top-flight tight end.

Ryquell Armstead Aug 23 8:52am ET

Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Ryquell Armstead played in his first preseason game on Thursday as the Jaguars lost to the Miami Dolphins didn't go so well. Armstead had 18 rushing yards on eight carries and caught three passes, but finished with negative receiving yardage. As long as Alfred Blue (ankle) is out, Armstead is the number-two back in Jacksonville, but this is clearly Leonard Fournette's backfield, and head coach Doug Marrone would likely look to a healthy Blue first should Fournette deal with an injury. Armstead can be ignored in re-draft leagues.

Marcell Ateman Aug 23 8:40am ET

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Marcell Ateman caught one of his four targets for 19 yards in Thursdays preseason game versus the Packers. Hes now caught one pass in each of the teams first three exhibition contests, racking up a total of 52 yards. Ateman hasnt impressed all that much so far this preseason and has been getting outplayed by the rest of the wide receiving corps. His roster spot could be in jeopardy, although he wouldnt carry any fantasy value if he made the squad regardless.

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Qadree Ollison Aug 23 8:40am ET

Atlanta Falcons running back Qadree Ollison was extremely active in Thursday's preseason game against the Redskins, carrying the ball 12 times for 42 yards, good for 3.5 yards per carry. Ollison has gotten a lot of run this preseason. He led the team in both carries and rushing yards in the Falcons' previous outing against the Jets with nine rushes for 44 yards. The rookie fifth round pick will likely be third on the team's depth chart at running back to start the season behind Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith. He isn't worth drafting in standard leagues but in deep dynasty formats, he's worth keeping an eye on.

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Curtis Samuel Aug 23 8:40am ET

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Derrius Guice Aug 23 8:40am ET

Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice finally got onto the field in the team's third preseason game Thursday, and he showed fantasy owners what they've been looking for. He rushed 11 times for 44 yards and hauled in his only target. Simply having been medically cleared to participate is a massive step in the right direction for Guice's early-season fantasy value, but to see him perform well in his first live game action since tearing his ACL is the icing on the cake. This backfield is still best viewed as a timeshare, with veteran Adrian Peterson still hanging around. The Redskins will almost certainly avoid putting too much on Guice out of the gate. His value for the first few weeks, while positive, could be capped by limited volume.

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Ito Smith Aug 23 8:30am ET

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Chris Thompson Aug 23 8:30am ET

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Christian McCaffrey Aug 23 8:30am ET

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey made his preseason debut in the loss to the Patriots, finishing the night with 16 yards on three carries to go along with one reception (two targets) for 10 yards. With the team looking to monitor its star backs workload, McCaffrey may not suit up for the teams preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers, especially after quarterback Cam Newton left this one in a walking boot. He arguably will remain the top overall fantasy pick in all drafts, regardless if he sees any more action this preseason.

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Justin Hardy Aug 23 8:30am ET

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Justin Hardy was the team's receiving yards leader on Thursday and all it took was one catch. Hardy was only targeted once in the game and reeled the target in for a 24-yard gain. The team's passing game wasn't quite operating on full efficiency, totaling just 80 passing yards on the night. Matt Ryan played the first half and was relieved by Danny Etling in the second half. The absence of lead receiver Julio Jones was a contributing factor to the low offensive output but it was a clearly conservative gameplan from the team as a whole. Hardy isn't a viable fantasy option going into the season as he's buried behind Jones, Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu on the team's depth chart.

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Austin Hooper Aug 23 8:20am ET

Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper had a quiet game on Thursday with just one reception for two yards on two targets. The Falcons had a pretty run-heavy attack during the game with over 30 rushes compared to just 20 pass attempts. Hooper is a low-end starting option at tight end this year. He totalled 660 receiving yards and four touchdowns last year and is likely to be right around those same numbers this year.

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