Wed Aug 17 5:35pm ET
By STEVE MEGARGEE
AP Sports Writer
New Orleans Saints' head coach Dennis Allen watches a drill before an NFL football joint practice session with the Green Bay Packers Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The early exits by New Orleans Saints wide receiver Jarvis Landry and offensive tackle James Hurst exemplified how the second day of joint practices with the Green Bay Packers got much more physical than the first.
Wednesday's scrimmage featured three scuffles, two between the Saints offense and Packers defense plus a third during special teams drills. The first skirmish came in the opening minutes and sent Landry to the locker room.
''Everybody goes in and they get coached up a little bit, and so they come out with a little bit more fire the next day,'' Saints coach Dennis Allen said. ''You don't like seeing it, but it's part of what happens in these practices when you're going against another team. We dealt with it, we moved on from it and I thought we had a couple of good days of work.''
The more noteworthy issue for the Saints was Hurst's departure because of a foot injury. Allen said he would have no update on Hurst's status ''until we get a chance to delve into it a little bit more.''
Landry left practice immediately after the first fight, and Allen said the two events were related. This comes two weeks after the Saints removed offensive tackle Trevor Penning and defensive tackle Malcolm Roach from a practice for fighting.
''It just seemed he came out and he's looking just to hit,'' Packers cornerback Eric Stokes said. ''He didn't care about catching. He didn't care about nothing. He was just looking to try to hit us.''
Although he initially didn't say whom he was referencing, Stokes later acknowledged he was talking about Landry.
Stokes said he expected Wednesday's practice to get more intense because of how the Packers defense had outperformed the Saints offense a day earlier.
Even with the fighting that occurred, Stokes said he believes these joint practices are beneficial in how they prepare teams for the season.
''I actually think joint practices are actually better than real (exhibition) games right now, especially for preseason,'' Stokes said. ''You can run situations. You can do a lot of different things that you probably wouldn't get in a real game. I actually love it. It shows who's a competitor, who's a dog, who's this, who's that.''
The joint practices also provided tests for receivers on both teams.
After noting Tuesday the repeated mistakes some of Green Bay's younger receivers were making, Packers quarterback and reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers met with the wideouts Wednesday morning and expressed his concerns. Green Bay's young receivers responded with a better performance.
''It was just really giving us advice,'' said Samori Toure, a rookie seventh-round pick from Nebraska. ''Basically, letting us know that the Green Bay receiving corps has always been held to a super-high standard. All the legends who have been through here. It's just about us carrying on that standard and stepping up.''
Rodgers isn't expected to play in Friday's exhibition game. Neither is Saints starting quarterback Jameis Winston, who is recovering from a foot injury.
Winston performed in drills early in the day when the two teams were on separate fields, but he didn't participate in the scrimmage.
That meant Michael Thomas was catching most of his passes from Andy Dalton as the two-time All-Pro receiver continues his comeback from an ankle injury that caused him to miss all of last season and limited him to four games in 2020.
''The program that the team's had me on with coach DA and the training staff has really allowed me to like start slowly transitioning and getting back to my old self and getting a flow for the game,'' Thomas said.
''Being out here in these joint practices allows me to compete against another guy, work on some technique and just get back to the real thing.''
NOTES: The Packers signed safety De'Vante Cross and released wide receiver Malik Taylor. Taylor had played in 25 regular-season games and two playoff games over the past two seasons. He has seven career catches for 80 yards and one touchdown.
The Atlanta Falcons signed former Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers wide receiver KeeSean Johnson to an undisclosed deal on Wednesday. The Falcons can never have too much receiver depth after losing Calvin Ridley to a year-long suspension and Russell Gage in free agency in the offseason, but Johnson will merely be trying to win a spot on the roster to open the 2022 season. The 25-year-old was cut by the Niners on Monday. The former sixth-round selection by the Arizona Cardinals in 2019 spent the 2021 season with the Philadelphia Eagles, but he didn't play in a regular season game. In two years with the Cardinals, Johnson had 36 catches on 65 targets for 360 yards and one touchdown in 18 games (five starts).
The New England Patriots have been manufacturing touches for tight end Jonnu Smith, and he made some notable plays in Wednesday's joint practice with the Carolina Panthers. The Patriots are trying to get the ball in Smith's hands in several ways and there's a clear emphasis on getting him involved. Smith was making plays last summer as well, but a minor injury slowed his development. His overall production was down in his first year in New England, but he still ranked eighth in yards after the catch over expected among receivers with at least 45 targets. The 26-year-old should produce better numbers in his second year with the team in 2022, but Hunter Henry's presence, especially in the red zone, makes Smith a low-end TE2 in fantasy football.
New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen had good things to say about wide receiver Michael Thomas on Wednesday. "When I watch Michael Thomas at practice, I see the Michael Thomas that I saw pre-injury. I see a big, strong, physical, receiver that makes a ton of contested catches. I saw it in these practices. I see a guy that looks pretty good," Allen said. Thomas missed all of last year with an ankle injury, but he's expected to be full-go for Week 1 and should continue to slowly rise up fantasy draft boards as long as he stays healthy in training camp. A lot has changed since the 29-year-old was the best pass-catcher in the league in 2019, but Thomas could return to being the team's No. 1 wideout in 2022, even after the additions of rookie Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (foot, knee) will not play in the team's second preseason game on Friday against the Green Bay Packers, according to head coach Dennis Allen. Winston is still out after spraining his foot last week, and he's also attempting to return from a torn ACL in his knee last year. The Saints aren't going to rush the 28-year-old back in meaningless games, but they'd like to get him some action in the final preseason game next week. New Orleans won't ask him to do much on offense in 2022, especially early in the year, but he has plenty of weapons through the air with Michael Thomas (ankle) looking like his pre-injury self this summer. Winston will be a midrange QB2 in his second year as the team's starter under center.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (foot) isn't practicing on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Chargers due to a foot injury, but he's walking around without a protective boot. Lamb will almost certainly be held out of the team's second preseason game this week, but it remains to be seen if this is an injury that fantasy managers should be concerned about. Michael Gallup (knee) and James Washington (foot) won't be ready for the start of the regular season, so Dallas' receiving group has been thinned out considerably. While Lamb is likely to see plenty of attention from opposing defenses with Amari Cooper now in Cleveland, a big target share is guaranteed, making him a no-doubt WR1 in fantasy football.
Jacksonville Jaguars DL Malcom Brown was released on Wednesday, Aug. 17.
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III said that the coaching staff wants Javonte Williams "to be the guy" after he received the first snaps at training camp practice on Wednesday. It was expected that Williams would be more of the 1A to Gordon's 1B this year after the two basically split carries down the middle in 2021. The second-year running back is much more explosive with more big-play ability in an offense that should be more productive with quarterback Russell Wilson now in town. However, Gordon isn't going away, which caps Williams' fantasy ceiling in Year 2. Still, Williams will be a high-end RB2 target in fantasy drafts, and he has obvious RB1 upside if Gordon gets injured or put in the doghouse at any point in 2022.
New Orleans Saints QB Jameis Winston won't play in preseason Week 2, head coach Dennis Allen said on Wednesday, Aug. 17. Winston was dealing with a foot injury recently but has been taking part in practices.
Fantasy Spin: Considering Winston hasn't played in live-game action since October of last year after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament, getting some preseason reps would no doubt be beneficial. It remains to be seen if that will happen, though. Winston is a QB2 entering 2022.
New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas looks like he did before his injury, head coach Dennis Allen said on Wednesday, Aug. 17. 'When I watch Michael Thomas at practice, I see the Michael Thomas that I saw pre-injury,' Allen said. 'I see a big, strong, physical, receiver that makes a ton of contested catches. I saw it in these practices. I see a guy that looks pretty good.'
Fantasy Spin: From all accounts, Thomas has been having a good training camp and looks to be back to form ahead of 2022. Thomas could prove to be a major steal if he falls to the middle rounds of drafts. We'll tentatively call him a WR2 with elite upside for now until we see it on the field.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers estimated that it's realistic to think both running backs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon could surpass 50 receptions in 2022. Jones has had 49, 47 and 52 catches the last three seasons in head coach Matt LaFleur's offense, while Dillon had 34 in 2021. "We have runs to both of them, we have swing passes to them, we have screens, we have down-the-field stuff, we have action stuff, we have scat protection, we have six-man, seven-man protection stuff," Rodgers said. "There's a lot in the offense for those two guys." It confirms the fact that Jones and Dillon have standalone fantasy value, especially in PPR leagues as the Packers look for pass-catchers to step up with Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown all out of town.
Dynasty | Texans sophomore receiver Nico Collins is having a good training camp and is a breakout candidate in 2022 Dynasty Analysis: The team is looking for ways to get Collins singled up in coverage so he can use his size and body to gain separation and make plays. He's reportedly been working with Texans great Andre Johnson in his routes while emulating Johnson's work ethic as well. As a rookie, Collins produced a 33/446/1 stat line and is a good bet to well outproduce those numbers in his second season. Opposing secondaries will prioritize Brandin Cooks, allowing Collins to win on single coverage with his size. Found as DLF's WR62, Nico Collins is a low-valued starting receiver with a long runway to greater production in the future. As such, he makes for an intriguing "buy now" candidate ahead of kick off of the 2022 regular season.
Dynasty | Giants receiver Collin Johnson is in a groove in training camp and has been lauded by head coach Brian Daboll for his flexibility and intelligence. Dynasty Analysis: Johnson's name continues to emerge nearly every day from Giants training camp and, with high priced asset Kenny Golladay continuing to struggle, it could be Johnson to the rescue. At 6'6", Johnson is a huge target who has been modestly productive in the past but without the role to produce at a higher degree. That may be changing in 2022 should the soon-to-be 25-year-old continue his camp momentum. Unranked on DLF's receiver rankings, it's difficult to project Johnson to any material production given his size and history, but he's a name to stay abreast over the next few weeks as camps grind to a close.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles said that wide receiver Julio Jones will not play in the team's second preseason game this Saturday against the Tennessee Titans. Jones is taking part in joint practices with the Titans this week, but the Bucs will hold the veteran pass-catcher out as a precaution. Mike Evans (hamstring), Russell Gage (leg) and Chris Godwin (knee) are also sidelined at training camp, so Cyril Grayson Jr., Tyler Johnson, Breshad Perriman, Jaelon Darden, Scotty Miller and others will see more playing time against Tennessee on Saturday. Jones will be competing for targets in a crowded receiver room in Tampa this year, but he could see plenty of targets early in the year if Godwin isn't ready to return from his ACL tear.
Tennessee Titans rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks left Wednesday's training camp practice early on Wednesday due to undisclosed reasons. It remains to be seen if Burks is actually injured, but he was slowed in offseason workouts by asthma and conditioning issues. Stay tuned for more updates on the 22-year-old's condition. Jones has often been compared to former Titans wideout A.J. Brown, who is now in Philadelphia, and the rookie pass-catcher is expected to play a big role in the team's passing attack in his first NFL season alongside Robert Woods. For his upside alone, Burks is worth a late-round flier in single-season formats, but fantasy managers should temper expectations in this run-first offense.
Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins (illness) was cleared to practice on Wednesday, Aug. 17, after testing positive for COVID-19 recently.
Las Vegas Raiders DLs Bilal Nichols and Johnathan Hankins and WR Dillon Stoner were removed from the active/physically unable to perform list on Wednesday, Aug. 17.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Julio Jones won't play in preseason Week 2, head coach Todd Bowles said on Wednesday, Aug. 17. It is not injury-related, though.
Dynasty | Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers expressed frustration with "young receivers" who have been running incorrect routes and dropping passes Dynasty Analysis: Doubs was 'lowlighted' as dropping Rodgers' "best throw of the day" but the criticism was directed at all young receivers. Doubs has struggled with drops in camp but the young rookie continues to race up dynasty rankings for his early impact. Now found as DLF's WR102, there's still upside potential to the rookie but it must also accompany the fact that he's yet to play a down in the regular season and his value may be carrying a premium.
Dynasty | Falcons receiver KhaDarel Hodge was listed as a starter on the team's recently released depth chart Dynasty Analysis: Hodge played with Detroit last year, producing a 13/157/0 line in 2021 and has yet to score a touchdown in his four years in the NFL. This said, the team is obviously gaming their depth chart as first-round rookie receiver Drake London was appearing near the bottom (fifth) behind Hodge. There's likely nothing to see here and Hodge is unranked on DLF's receiver rankings.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (hamstring) returned to training camp practice on Wednesday. The Raiders have been holding Waller out of practice with what is believed to be a minor injury, but fantasy managers can breathe easier now that he's back on the field. The 29-year-old remains a top-five fantasy tight end, but his fantasy ceiling will be lower in 2022 now that All-Pro receiver Davante Adams is in the fold as quarterback Derek Carr's likely No. 1 target. Waller played in only 11 games due to injury in 2021 and finished with 55 receptions for 665 yards and just two touchdowns after back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns in 2019-2020.