Fri Jul 30 4:51pm ET
By TOM CANAVAN
AP Sports Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) When the New York Giants signed Adoree Jackson as a free agent in March, the hope was the cornerback would give the defense shutdown guys on both sides of the field.
James Bradberry, a free agent signee the year before, was certainly that in helping the Giants post a 6-10 record in Joe Judge's first season.
Three days into training camp, Jackson is starting to show playmaking ability The one-time Tennessee Titan scooped up a fumble by David Sills on Friday and had an open field in front of him before whistles ended the play.
''I would've hoped so,'' Jackson said after practice when asked if he would have scored. ''I hope nobody would've caught me or tagged me.''
Jackson is coming off a season in which he was limited to three games by a knee injury. He was released after the season in a salary cap move.
''I've never been injured and to not be able to do the things you love is tough,'' Jackson said. ''Sometimes you doubt yourself, but as long as you remain faithful and have some positivity around you, you'll be all right.''
Jackson is feeling a lot better about himself, but he needs to return to the form he showed as a first-round draft pick coming out of USC for the 2017 season. He had 23 pass breakups in helping the Titans reach the playoffs.
''You can see that he's very, very athletic, a lot of different movements and then running in general, he is a naturally gifted athlete,'' Bradberry said. ''We are going to take it one day at a time, trying to build off, trying to help him get into the system.''
While both players are talented, they are different. The 6-foot 1 Bradberry is a couple of inches taller than Jackson and stronger. He can handle the big receivers. Jackson is faster and can play both on the outside and in the slot.
If Jackson plays as Bradberry last season, the Giants secondary is going to be very tough. A former Carolina Panther, Bradberry made his first Pro Bowl last season. He had a team-high three interceptions.
Jackson said what they share is a desire to compete, and that's going to push everyone.
''They see us making plays and they're trying to compete, so I like the room with me and Bradberry and just trying to compete and make each other better, and that's what we're trying to do,'' Jackson said.
The secondary is deep with Jabrill Peppers, Logan Ryan and Xavier McKinney returning as the safeties and Julian Love, Darnay Holmes, Isaac Yiadom and third-round draft pick Rodarius Williams among the cornerbacks. Ryan and Williams had interceptions on Friday.
''It's going to be very competitive,'' Love said. ''I think we have a lot of talent. It's clear to see that. We're excited.''
LEMIEUX INJURY The Giants got some encouraging news regarding left guard Shane Lemieux, who hurt his knee in practice Thursday.
Judge said the early diagnosis ruled out the worst case scenario and the injury will be evaluated over the next few days.
Lemieux did not practice Friday but was on the field with the injured players working with trainers. The fifth-round draft pick started the final nine games after Will Hernandez was sidelined for two weeks following a positive test for COVID-19.
Hernandez has been working out at right guard since camp opened.
Judge is having the team finish its first week with a walk-through workout at Eddie Moraes Stadium in Newark, New Jersey. Roughly 2,000 people, mostly youths and high school football players, are expected to attend.
''We haven't had a chance to really interact with the fans and that's a different element,'' Judge said. ''The key focal point of this program is we're going to be a strong community.''
Newly signed New York Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson had a tough go of it in his first training camp practice as a professional. Per NYDN's D.J. Bien Aime, Wilson "wasn't good, and to be real, he was bad. Indecisive, inaccurate, threw a pick, held the ball a lot." Wilson's poor showing is alarming, but it was his first practice of training camp and he has plenty of time to sharpen up before week one. Wilson was known for getting outside the pocket and making plays down the field at BYU, and he if continues to play that way at the NFL level he'll likely be fairly mistake-prone early on. Overall, Wilson projects as a low-end QB2 in his rookie season, and there are sure to be plenty of ups and downs along the way.
Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott could see a slight drop in touches this season compared to years past. Head coach Mike McCarthy spoke to reporters on Friday about Elliott's workload, saying "We've got some younger guys who can play and produce, so it's not necessary for Zeke to run the ball 25-30 times a game. When you get to December, January football, you want him to be in top form." Elliott's fantasy upside could be slightly capped if he's not touching the ball 25-30 times a game, but he still projects for a heavy workload and should see around 20 touches per game. Elliott's status as a first-round RB1 is still intact, but his ceiling could be lower than anticipated.
Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields showed improvement in Friday's practice. Per Patrick Finley of the Sun Times, "Fields was sharper today than he was yesterday... [the] team has to be excited about the improvement." There are high expectations for Fields in Chicago, but it's unfair to expect him to light it up from day one. It's encouraging to see Fields improving early on in camp. Fields has plenty of fantasy upside due to his dual-threat ability at the quarterback position, and a strong training camp could mean that Fields nabs the starting job from Andy Dalton early in the season. Fields projects as an upside QB2 for fantasy purposes, and monitoring his progress in camp will be important.
Baltimore Ravens veteran wide receiver Sammy Watkins is turning heads early on in training camp practices. Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman called Watkins "one of the best receivers in the NFL, period," and ESPN's Jamison Hensley noted that Watkins "has been the Ravens' best WR in the first three days of training camp." Watkins' talent has never been in doubt, but he's struggled mightily with consistency and injuries over the last few years. Still, this level of praise is surprising, and it warrants consideration in fantasy drafts this summer. Watkins still projects as a late-round dart throw, but his appeal is growing and he could be an excellent value if he stays healthy in 2021.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones struggled mightily in the team's third training camp practice on Friday. Per Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com, Jones "was brutal" and he "looks out of sync with a few of his top receivers... there wasn't really anything positive to take away from [his] performance." In his first two NFL seasons, Jones has only managed 5970 passing yards and a 35-22 TD:INT. 2021 is a make-or-break year for Jones, and it doesn't sound like he's showing any growth early on in training camp. It's too early to panic, but the Giants offense as a whole could be a letdown for fantasy purposes if Jones doesn't make strides in year three. Jones remains a risky QB2 with a low weekly floor.
Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny is healthy and down to 223 pounds early in training camp. Penny said "I'm the lightest I've ever been... I feel way faster," and head coach Pete Carroll added that it's the "best he's looked since we've seen him." Penny has talent and pedigree as a former first-rounder, but he's struggled with conditioning and injuries while playing behind Chris Carson in recent years. Penny is clearly as healthy as he's been in a long time, and he also appears to be in great shape. Penny is a late-round flier in drafts at this point in time, but he has significant upside in the Seattle backfield if things break the right way. The bottom line is that Penny's sleeper appeal is growing by the day, and he's a player to target towards the end of drafts this summer.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (undisclosed) returned to practice Friday. Godwin sat out a couple of days for unclear reasons but was back in action, hauling in a deep touchdown pass from Tom Brady. Despite taking a step back production-wise from his breakout 2019 campaign, the 25-year-old Godwin was actually the Buccaneers' most-targeted pass-catcher on a per-game basis last season, showing the clear rapport he had in his first season with Brady. Godwin comes with both a nice ceiling and floor at his current WR2 draft price.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (foot) is "out indefinitely" as he undergoes further evaluation. He suffered a foot injury at the end of Thursday's practice. It's unclear how much time Wentz will miss, but second-year quarterback Jacob Eason took reps with the first-team offense while Sam Ellinger backed him up. Eason will become the Colts' starting quarterback if Wentz misses anytime. The former Eagle is considered day-to-day. Fantasy managers should continue to monitor the situation as Wentz undergoes further tests. If healthy, the 28-year-old has QB1 upside and is a decent bet to bounce back in 2021 with his new team after a disastrous 2020 campaign, where he was sacked a league-high 50 times. Stay tuned.
Updating a previous report, Indianapolis Colts QB Carson Wentz (foot) is undergoing tests Friday, July 31, on his injured foot, and the team is awaiting a firm diagnosis before proceeding.
Fantasy Spin: The waiting game continues, so we won't make any judgment either way until more is known. Stay tuned for another update.
Indianapolis Colts QB Carson Wentz (foot) is out of practice Friday, July 30, due to an undisclosed foot injury.
Fantasy Spin: There's no word on the severity so keeps tabs on it throughout the weekend. Wentz is an upstart QB2 possibility in fantasy.
For the first time since tearing his Achilles in October, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard has practiced with the team. Entering his fifth NFL season, Howard -- a former first round pick -- looks like he isn't going to fulfill the massive promise that he entered the NFL with, though maybe another year with quarterback Tom Brady can help get Howard back on track. In just four games last year, he had 11 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns and could wind up playing a key role in the red zone this year. Still, you won't be drafting Howard in most fantasy formats.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard (Achilles') practiced for the first time Friday, July 30, since tearing his Achilles' in October.
Fantasy Spin: Howard is a big-time question mark with all the receivers in tow alongside the injury. He's in his walk year so he'll be motivated to be more than the TE2 he's pegged for in fantasy.
The Tennessee Titans have a kicker battle in training camp, with Blake Haubeil and Tucker McCann competing for the job. Neither player has attempted a field goal in an NFL game, so training camp results will matter a lot here, which is why Thursday's showing from both players was such a disappointment. Turron Davenport of ESPN says that both kickers were 3-for-5 kicking, with both missing their 49-yard attempts and each missing a kick of 40 yards or less. Whoever wins this role won't be on your fantasy radar in 2021, though at this stage we can't rule out the Titans looking to free agency to bring stability to the position.
The Indianapolis Colts enter the 2021 season without a true No. 1 receiver for quarterback Carson Wentz, as T.Y. Hilton has seen his numbers dip the past two seasons. The team will be looking for second-year receiver Michael Pittman Jr. to be the guy who steps up and takes on that role. According to Zak Keefer of The Athletic, Pittman is ready for that role, saying "I want to be that guy" when asked about being the team's lead receiver. Pittman had five catches for 90 yards in the team's playoff loss last season, flashing his big-play ability and showing why the Colts believe in the young player so much. Currently ranked just outside of the top 100 by RotoBaller's rankings team, Pittman is a fascinating upside pick this year in redraft leagues.
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III "is in line to be the clear-cut starter at running back," says The Athletic's Nick Kosmider. While the team drafted Javonte Williams and signed Mike Boone, it appears those two will mainly work as relief for Gordon, at least in the early going. Gordon spent last training camp fighting with Phillip Lindsay for that lead role, something that wound up impacting Gordon mentally at times Williams will probably play a key role this season, but Gordon will get the first crack at showing he can handle the bulk of the workload. He's a high-end RB3 with upside who is going a little later in fantasy drafts than he should.
Through two training camp practices, it looks like Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has the lead over Drew Lock in the team's competition to be the Week 1 starter. The Athletic's Nick Kosmider reports that "there has been only one ball thrown by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater that has hit the ground during team drills." Bridgewater has looked like the team's most accurate passer, but even if he earns the starting gig, he's a low-end QB2 option when it comes to fantasy, though he has more upside than Lock has.
It appears we're in for a real quarterback competition in New Orleans, with Saints head coach Sean Payton saying that Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill will swap reps daily as the first-team QB. Winston's received the most praise so far in camp, but Hill's still a clear threat to Winston in the battle for the starting role. For fantasy purposes, both players have upside if they win the job, but both also come with one clear downside: the possibility that the Saints wind up using both guys under center during the regular season. NFL teams don't use committee approaches at the position, but we all know how much Payton loves to put Hill in the game.
The Washington Football Team placed wide receiver Curtis Samuel, defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis, and cornerback Chris Miller on the COVID-19 list on Thursday. This comes after Samuel was put on the Physically Unable to Perform list at the start of camp after sustaining a groin injury during the team's minicamp in June. This isn't an ideal way for Samuel to begin his tenure with his new club, as training camp was supposed to be the time where he built a rapport with new quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Samuel could experience some chemistry issues to begin the season, but he will remain a WR3 with some upside for the time being.
Jacksonville Jaguars second-year wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. looks like a different player early on in training camp. Per John Reid, Shenault is "bigger, faster and [a] better route runner" than he was as a rookie. Reid's report regarding Shenault comes on the heels of persistent positive buzz earlier in the offseason. Between reports backing Shenault's continued development and highlighting Trevor Lawrence's impressive camp, the second-year wideout sets up as an obvious breakout candidate in 2021. Shenault could lead the team in receptions playing out of the slot. For fantasy purposes, Shenault should be valued as a low-end WR3 with WR2 upside.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Jacob Harris will be held out of practice for the next couple of weeks after undergoing a procedure for a core injury. While it doesn't sound like the injury will impact Harris' availability for the regular season, he'll be missing valuable practice time, which is especially important as Harris is a rookie who is converting to tight end. He already wasn't on any fantasy radars, but this news pushes him even farther down the rankings.