Fri Jul 30 3:22pm ET
By KYLE HIGHTOWER
AP Sports Writer
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones throws a pass during an NFL football practice, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots running back Damien Harris (37) greets quarterback Mac Jones (50) during an NFL football practice, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry speaks to media after an NFL football practice, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton throws a pass during an NFL football practice, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton walks to an NFL football practice, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Mac Jones is amazed at how Cam Newton can bring instant levity to the meeting room. Though he's sure he could never pull off the veteran's often unique clothing choices.
Newton is equally taken aback by how much ''swag'' his clean-cut 22-year-old rookie teammate has displayed and his surprising knowledge of hip-hop music.
''Cool as the other side of the pillow,'' Newton said with a smile Friday.
''I'd say the same about Cam,'' a chuckling Jones said later.
It's all part of a budding friendship between the two and rare detente between alums of the bitter Auburn and Alabama college football rivalry: Newton led Auburn to a national title in 2010 and Jones did it with the Crimson Tide a decade later.
It has also ratcheted up expectations as they build their bond now as teammates and compete to be the Patriots' Week One starter this season.
''It's still a learning process. And I told Mac this yesterday. He doesn't know me yet, I don't know him yet,'' Newton said Friday. ''I've been around Brian (Hoyer) long enough for him to know how to get me going. Obviously, Stiddy (Jarrett Stidham). So just a couple months with Mac, he's a person that over time you'll get to understand and know.''
Through three days of training camp both have had their highlights on the field.
Newton looks surer of his decision making in his second season in Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' system. And Jones has already shown glimpses of the fast-delivering, confident and pinpoint passer he was in college.
While he's trying his best to be himself, Jones says he already sees a lot in Cam's approach that he wants to emulate.
''Obviously, with any relationship and meeting someone new, regardless of position or whether he's a teammate or not, you have to form the bond and the trust,'' Jones said. ''The first couple of practices as a rookie are going to be hard. So, he just tries to stay positive with me, and that's just who Cam is.''
It's the kind of acclimation to the NFL that Newton said he remembers well.
''As a young player, man, you know what your expectations are, and you know you're better than what you're producing,'' Newton said. ''And it still happens with me. It doesn't matter if you're 11 years in, one year in, 14 years in. For us, it's knowing that we have a standard we have to meet each and every day.''
Receiver Jakobi Meyers said he already sees a lot to like about Jones and can see how Newton's command of the offense has taken a leap.
Meyers said he isn't concentrating as much on who will win the job as learning the different nuances each brings to the huddle.
''Two different styles of quarterback,'' Meyers said. ''Just coming out, getting as many reps with them as I can. Off the field, on the field. Picking their brains when they're talking, just seeing how they see things and their different perspectives, just understanding that. It's been different, but I'm enjoying the process.''
That process, Newton said, is part of what makes any training camp fun for a quarterback, no matter what stage of your career you're in. Being pushed by your teammates only adds to that.
''Ever since I've been here, there's been a quarterback competition. I think in essence, that's the underlying Patriot Way,'' Newton said. ''Every position has a competition there, and the quarterback position is no different.''
NOTES: It's been a few weeks since receiver N'Keal Harry's agent asked the Patriots for a trade, a surprise move by a player whose production has been largely disappointing in his two seasons in New England. But he said Friday there's been no awkwardness between him and the team since he reported to camp.
''Right now, I'm at a New England Patriots training camp,'' Harry said. ''I'm just trying to make sure I do everything I can to fit in with this team and do anything I can to help this team get wins.''
Limited by injuries, the 2019 first-round draft pick has appeared in just 21 games, pulling in 45 catches for 414 yards and four touchdowns.
While the Patriots could still trade him before the start of the season, he faces stiff competition for a roster spot following the signings of free agents Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. Still, Harry said he feels like there's room for him to make an impact.
''Definitely,'' he said. ''I feel like we have so many good players on this team, and at some point, at one point or another, we're going to be able to make a difference. I'm just trying to make sure I can fit in somewhere in there.''
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.
Free-agent DE Justin Houston (Colts) will play in the 2021 season and has been pursued by multiple teams in the offseason.
Seattle Seahawks S Jamal Adams and OT Duane Brown are present but not participating during the early part of training camp as they wait for contract extensions, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.
Los Angeles Rams WR DeSean Jackson is a 'special player' and 'definitely looks like the same DeSean that I've seen,' according to head coach Sean McVay.
Fantasy Spin: McVay was the offensive coordinator for the Washington Football Team from 2014 to 2016, which accounted for the entirety of Jackson's time in the nation's capital. Speed has never been a question with Jackson, but durability has. It is the primary reason - along with the fact Jackson will turn 35 years old during the season - that he goes undrafted in most fantasy leagues. There is a very good chance Jackson will be an early waiver-wire darling given the combination of his penchant for big plays and his new quarterback (Matthew Stafford).
Denver Broncos WR Courtland Sutton (knee) 'is still holding back a little bit' and displaying 'a little hesitancy' early in training camp, according to head coach Vic Fangio.
Fantasy Spin: It is not the glowing report fantasy managers want to hear, but it is also not that surprising for a player in his first few practices after undergoing ACL surgery. Fangio notes that he "sees progress" and believes Sutton will "keep getting better and better" as time goes on, so his comments are likely words of encouragement to help his receiver push through the lack of trust he might have in the knee. Unless his "hesitancy" becomes a common theme over the next month, continue to view Sutton as a WR3 with WR2 upside.
Seattle Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny told reporters Thursday, July 29, that he dropped 12 pounds from his college weight of 235 and 'is the lightest I've ever been (since turning pro).' Head coach Pete Carroll seconded Penny's assertion, stating that Penny is the 'best he's looked since we've seen him.'
Fantasy Spin: Penny is entering a contract year following three injury-plagued seasons to begin his NFL journey. While numerous fantasy managers are likely to give him another chance after getting burned, he is still a former first-round pick who was making a push to forge a committee with Chris Carson not too long ago. In dynasty leagues, he's a smart buy-low player. In redraft, he is an intriguing handcuff who could have standalone value if he manages to stay healthy this fall.
Denver Broncos RB Melvin Gordon is 'CLEARLY RB1' for the team so far in training camp and running ahead of Javonte Williams, according to KOA Colorado's Benjamin Albright.
Fantasy Spin: The fantasy community has been quick to anoint Williams as the fantasy back to own in Denver. It still may end up that way, but it seems more likely Gordon will split touches with Williams for the majority of this season. And given the likelihood Gordon is probably significantly ahead of Williams in terms of pass blocking, he is the favorite to get most of the receiving work out of the backfield as well. Both backs are best viewed as flex options unless one of them can pull away from the other during camp.