Mon Aug 8 6:00pm ET
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
Indianapolis Colts cornerback Stephon Gilmore (5) prepares for practice at the NFL team's football training camp in Westfield, Ind., Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Indianapolis Colts cornerback Stephon Gilmore (5) makes a catch during practice at the NFL team's football training camp in Westfield, Ind., Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Indianapolis Colts cornerback Stephon Gilmore (5) warms up during practice at the NFL team's football training camp in Westfield, Ind., Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
WESTFIELD, Ind. (AP) Stephon Gilmore arrived at training camp two weeks ago with an impressive resume - and something to prove.
After two injury-filled subpar seasons in New England and Carolina, the 31-year-old cornerback chose Indianapolis to revive his career.
So far, it looks like a winning match.
''I feel good, I feel strong, I finally feel like myself,'' Gilmore said at the team's camp complex, nestled between the cornfields in suburban Indianapolis. ''I like the vibe here, I like the guys, I like the coaches. Everybody here does everything to help the team win. That's one thing I've noticed.''
Gilmore has learned plenty of lessons over a decade-long career, none more valuable than detecting the difference between teams built to contend and everyone else. It's one reason he took nearly a month to sift through the free agent suitors before signing a two-year deal with the Colts.
On paper, Gilmore saw a promising defense on the verge of becoming an elite unit, an offense led by new quarterback Matt Ryan and defending league rushing champ Jonathan Taylor and an opportunity to shore up one of the Colts' most glaring weaknesses, pass coverage.
On the field, Gilmore has been one of Indy's most productive players. He's dominated the one-on-one matchups with rookie receiver Alec Pierce and has blanketed virtually anyone who dares to challenge him.
His instincts also appear to be back and Gilmore's penchant for routinely batting away passes has become contagious in this young rebuilding secondary.
New defensive coordinator Gus Bradley welcomes the impact Gilmore has made as does Ryan, the league's 2016 MVP, who has been victimized more than once by a familiar foe.
''Unfortunately, that's not the first time he's picked me off,'' Ryan said after Gilmore made an acrobatic interception during Sunday's practice. ''He's got excellent pattern recognition, really good - savvy, good ball skills. He's talented, and he's one of those guys who sometimes can put a seed of doubt in your mind of what he's going to do.''
That's been Gilmore's trademark for most of his career.
He earned a Super Bowl ring during Tom Brady's final championship run in New England by batting away 20 passes and was selected as the league's 2019 Defensive Player of the Year with 20 more passes defensed, tying for the league lead with six interceptions and returning two for scores.
But winning consistently has proven elusive for the former South Carolina star.
He endured four losing seasons and never made the playoffs during a strong five-year run in Buffalo. After appearing in back-to-back Super Bowls each of his first two seasons in New England, the Patriots suffered a rare wild-card round loss in 2019 before the bottom fell out.
Gilmore's 2020 season was derailed first by a positive COVID-19 test, then a torn quadriceps and finally by a rare Pats' postseason absence. When the injury lingered through the next summer's training camp, he landed on the physically unable to perform list and was eventually traded to Carolina.
There, he had 13 tackles and two interceptions in eight games and earned his fourth straight Pro Bowl selection despite not playing like one of the league's top coverage guys.
So when Gilmore became a free agent, he took his time, weighed his options and when the Colts finally came through, it was an offer Gilmore couldn't refuse. The Colts haven't regretted it, either.
''From a quarterback's perspective, he's the kind of cornerback you fear because of the way he sees the game,'' coach Frank Reich said. ''He knows what's coming before it's coming. He's so quick to recognize routes, concepts and then he has the ability to make plays on the ball and turn it over. That's what we've seen from start to finish. We love him.''
Playing the ball and sticking to receivers was Gilmore's trademark long before joining the Colts.
He starts this season with 27 interceptions and 116 passes defensed, tied for seventh and fourth among active players still in the league last season.
And now that he's healthy, back in a system where he can thrive and working with four Pro Bowl teammates on defense, Gilmore believes he can be back on top of his game this season.
''I asked him how it was and how the guys were in the locker room, the vibe,'' Gilmore said, describing a spring conversation with another Pro Bowl cornerback Kenny Moore II. ''He said all good things. I'm happy I made that decision. I think I'll be a great player for this team.''
The Colts are counting on it.
Tennessee Titans rookie wide receivers Treylon Burks and Kyle Philips are listed as second-teamers, behind Robert Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, on the team's first unofficial depth chart of training camp. Racey McMath and Dez Fitzpatrick are listed as on the third team, followed by a bunch of others. Burks had conditioning issues due to asthma in offseason workouts and is still working through the rookie learning curve in training camp. The first-rounder is a big-bodied receiver that has drawn comparisons to A.J. Brown, who is now in Philly, but fantasy managers in single-year leagues shouldn't expect too much from Burks out of the gates in Tennessee's run-first offense. Philips has impressed in camp with his route-running, but for now, he's just a name to monitor in rookie-only dynasty/keeper drafts.
Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Justin Outten is really excited for the running back room this year, but he said the RBs will be on a pitch count throughout the season. Here we go again. Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon III were in a near-even timeshare for all of the 2021 season, and they finished with very similar numbers as a result. Williams had 203 carries for 903 yards and four touchdowns, adding 43 catches for 316 yards and three more scores. Gordon had 203 carries for 918 yards and eight TDs, adding 28 catches for 213 yards and two more TDs through the air. Williams has clear RB1 upside in an offense that should be much more explosive with quarterback Russell Wilson at the helm, but Gordon's presence might make him more of a high-end RB2 target in fantasy drafts in single-year leagues.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool (shoulder) was in full pads for training camp practice and was participating in drills on Monday. Claypool initially injured his shoulder on July 29, but he's back in action now and will have plenty of time to get back to 100 percent health before the Week 1 season opener. It remains to be seen if he'll play in the team's preseason opener this Saturday against the Seattle Seahawks. The 24-year-old former second-rounder was a disappointment in 2021 and wasn't able to take advantage of JuJu Smith-Schuster's injury, totaling 59 catches for 860 yards and two touchdowns in 15 games (13 starts), a step back from his rookie campaign. There should be more opportunity with Smith-Schuster now in KC, but Pittsburgh's quarterback situation will make Claypool more of a WR4/5 target late in fantasy drafts.
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that wide receiver Diontae Johnson (hip) is working through a hip-flexor injury at training camp. The Steelers are likely to play it safe with their unquestioned No. 1 receiver, and fantasy managers shouldn't expect to see him on the field this Saturday for the team's preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks. The 26-year-old recently landed a two-year, $39.5 million contract extension to stay in Pittsburgh, and he will be the top target for whoever wins the team's quarterback competition this summer. Johnson had his first 1,000-yard season in 2021 and has 20 total touchdowns in three NFL seasons, but his fantasy floor as a WR2 will be lower than last year now that Ben Roethlisberger is retired.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller remains absent at training camp practice on Monday with an undisclosed injury. The fact that the Raiders haven't disclosed what is keeping Waller off the field most likely means it's nothing too serious, but we'll keep you updated once we hear more on the situation. For now, there's no reason to drop the 29-year-old tight end in your fantasy rankings for the upcoming 2022 season. Waller played in only 11 games due to injury in 2021 and finished with 55 receptions (93 targets) for 665 yards and two touchdowns. With All-Pro wideout Davante Adams now in town, Waller could see his target share drop enough to take him out of consideration as a top-three fantasy tight end.
New York Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton (knee) limped off the field in training camp practice on Monday, but head coach Robert Saleh said Becton's knee is stable and doesn't seem like a big deal in terms of severity. However, he'll head for an MRI exam. It's good news that the 23-year-old's knee injury isn't serious, but it's concerning for a player that missed all but one game in 2021 due to a knee injury. When he was sidelined last year, George Fant filled in and played really well at left tackle, prompting the Jets to move Becton from left tackle to right tackle entering his third NFL season. If the former first-rounder can stay healthy in 2022, it would be great news for New York's offensive line in front of second-year quarterback Zach Wilson.
Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell said that he wants to get the starters a quarter's worth of repetitions in Friday's preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons. While Goff won't be anything more than a low-end QB2 in fantasy, he could have some spike weeks with a receiver corps that includes D.J. Chark, Amon-Ra St. Brown, first-round rookie Jameson Williams (knee), Quintez Cephus, Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond, not to mention tight end T.J. Hockenson. The 27-year-old signal-caller will also operate behind a solid offensive line, so the Lions offense could surprise some folks in good matchups in 2022.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman returned to training camp practice on Monday after he missed practice on Friday with an undisclosed injury. It never seemed like a very serious, but fantasy managers shouldn't need to worry about the team's No. 1 receiver moving forward. The 22-year-old former first-rounder will have added opportunities in the passing game with Marquise Brown now in Arizona. In his first year in the NFL in 2021, Bateman caught 46 of his 68 targets for 515 yards and one touchdown in 12 games (four starts). Fantasy managers should consider him a low-end WR2/high-end WR3 with upside heading into his second season in the league.
While Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins (knee) was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list on Monday, fellow running back Gus Edwards (knee) is the furthest away and is likely doubtful for Week 1 of the regular season. When healthy, Edwards figures to be the No. 2 behind Dobbins, but it looks like he won't be ready to go early in the year. Baltimore also has Mike Davis, rookie Tyler Badie and Justice Hill to pick up the slack behind Dobbins. Like Dobbins, Edwards missed all of 2021 with a torn ACL, but the 27-year-old had 144 carries for 723 yards and six rushing touchdowns in 2020. Edwards will probably go undrafted in standard 12-team leagues to begin the year, but he'll be a handcuff waiver-wire pickup for Dobbins once he's healthy.
Miami Dolphins running backs Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert (knee) are listed as the team's starting running backs on Miami's first official depth chart of training camp. While Edmonds is the presumed lead back in new head coach Mike McDaniel's offense, there remains a strong competition in training camp that involves Mostert, Sony Michel and Myles Gaskin. Mostert is coming off another lost season due to a knee injury, but he has familiarity with McDaniel from their time in San Francisco. Edmonds, 26, has three-down versatility and is the most attractive fantasy back in Miami, but his ceiling will likely be limited in this crowded backfield. As of right now, fantasy managers should be targeting him as an RB3/flex with upside.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (ankle) rolled his ankle in training camp practice on Monday and is undergoing further evaluation. With Winston leaving, veteran Andy Dalton took over his repetitions in 11-on-11 work. Winston is attempting to return this year from a torn ACL that he suffered in Week 8 of last season, so this is yet another setback, although we don't know the severity of his ankle injury just yet. Although Winston isn't 100 percent yet with his knee, the expectation is that he'll be ready for Week 1 of the regular season. If Winston were to miss time again in 2022 due to injury, Dalton would be first in line for starting QB duties, although quarterback-turned-tight-end Taysom Hill could also see some snaps under center. Stay tuned for more information on Winston's ankle injury.
Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins (knee) was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list on Monday and is on track to be ready for Week 1 of the regular season against the New York Jets, according to sources. Dobbins has been saying all along that he was ready to practice in training camp, but the Ravens brought him along slowly after he missed all of last year with a torn ACL and other ligament damage in his knee. Gus Edwards (knee), who also missed all of 2021 with a torn ACL, remains behind Dobbins in his recovery. The 23-year-old Dobbins figures to be Baltimore's lead back in a run-heavy offensive attack if he's healthy this year, making him the most attractive RB in fantasy on this team. He'll continue to rise on draft boards as an RB2 if he doesn't suffer any setbacks between now and Week 1.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted rookie running back Rachaad White 91st overall after releasing veteran Ronald Jones, who has since signed with the Chiefs. White has been projected to primarily take on a role in the passing game given his receiving skill set, however, he has shown an ability to excel in other areas as well. White reportedly scored twice during the live goal-line drill and even thrived in pass protection, which will be key to seeing playing time in his rookie season. Leonard Fournette will undoubtedly open the season as the starter, but if White can continue to earn work on first and second down to pair with his receiving role, he could have standalone weekly flex value in deeper leagues, in addition to being a valuable handcuff for Fournette.
As reported on Sunday, Los Angeles Chargers tight end Donald Parham Jr. (hamstring) left practice with a leg injury. The severity of the injury was unknown at the time, but head coach Brandon Staley has since confirmed he expects Parham to miss this week of training camp. This is disappointing for Parham, who was making a real impression and challenging veteran Gerald Everett for the starting role. Hopefully, he will return to the field next week and continue to compete for the job.
Tampa Buccaneers wide receiver Scotty Miller was a possible cut candidate as recently as a few weeks ago, but he is now fully healthy and competing to secure a role. Miller missed seven games due to a turf toe injury in 2021 that really derailed his growth in the offense. Miller returned for the playoffs, catching four passes for 38 yards, but he has since struggled to regain his form. With more competition behind Mike Evans (hamstring) and Chris Godwin (knee) entering 2022, including Russell Gage and Julio Jones, Miller will need to impress in training camp to remain on the roster and attempt to climb the depth chart. He's well off the fantasy radar entering the season.
The New York Jets signed free-agent tight end Tyler Conklin to a three-year, $21 million deal this offseason. This coincided with a three-year, $24 million deal for fellow tight end C.J. Uzomah, creating some ambiguity at the position. While it's still early, it seems Conklin is leading the way. Head coach Robert Saleh said, "Conk is awesome. He's been fantastic for us." He further highlighted his three-down skill set, finishing by saying "he's been a pleasant surprise." While it's unknown at this point just how a big of a leap this offense will take, the lead tight end would slot in behind sophomore receiver Elijah Moore and rookie Garrett Wilson as the third option, providing sufficient production to be a weekly streamer with upside.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted rookie tight end Cade Otton 106th overall to join veteran Cameron Brate and future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski. Things changed, however, when Gronkowski announced his retirement, prompting the team to sign veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph. There are a lot of bodies to fill this position, but Otton has by far the most upside and untapped potential. Otton has reportedly flashed in camp and gained quarterback Tom Brady's trust, which is typically a difficult task for a rookie. With Chris Godwin (knee) potentially missing time to start the season, Mike Evans (hamstring) currently sidelined and a host of unproven options behind them, Otton has a chance to secure a meaningful role entering Week 1, making him a player to add to your watch list.
New Orleans Saints quarterback/tight end Taysom Hill (ribs) had a limited training camp practice on Monday and mostly did individual drills. It's all part of head coach Dennis Allen's ramp-up process for Hill, who suffered rib injuries early in training camp. The 31-year-old is making the transition from full-time quarterback to tight end this year, so the lost repetitions isn't ideal. Hill will continue to take some snaps under center, but his main contributions will be at tight end, where he's in a crowded room with Adam Trautman, Juwan Johnson, Nick Vannett and Chris Herndon. Unless quarterback Jameis Winston misses time with another injury, Hill is off the fantasy radar to begin the 2022 season.
Houston Texans tight end Pharaoh Brown lost 18 pounds this offseason after watching film of himself and deciding that he looked slow and unathletic. "He's listed as a tight end, but he can play in line, he can move out," head coach Lovie Smith said. "It's a tough matchup because he has big wide receiver skills. Just another weapon that we have to be able to use." Brown is looking to put up big numbers in a contract year after posting a career-high 23 catches for 171 yards and no touchdowns on 34 targets over 15 games (12 starts) in Houston in 2021. The 28-year-old could be a matchup nightmare when lined up against cornerbacks, but with Brevin Jordan also at the position, Brown can be avoided in most fantasy drafts to begin the season.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson (Achilles) is taking snaps with the first-team offense at training camp practice on Monday for the first time all summer, which seems pretty significant, according to SI.com's John Shipley. Robinson is attempting to come back from a torn Achilles suffered last year, and most of the offseason hype has gone to Travis Etienne Jr., who missed all of his rookie season with a foot injury. Robinson, 23, seems to be recovering nicely and has a chance to be ready for Week 1, but it remains to be seen how Robinson and Etienne will co-exist in head coach Doug Pederson's offense. At the very minimum, Etienne will take a significant amount of pass-game work, but Robinson shouldn't be overlooked as an RB3/flex in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.