Fri Aug 19 3:26pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
Atlanta Falcons coach Arthur Smith waves to fans during the NFL football team's open practice in Atlanta on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) There was some pushing, shoving and a couple of swings between the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons.
And, oh yeah, practice.
The teams got together Friday for the first of two joint sessions at the Jets' practice facility - and the tempers matched the sultry heat early on.
''Our defense, their offense - a little skirmish,'' Jets coach Robert Saleh said. ''We settled it down and got a productive practice out of it.''
New York's defensive line and Atlanta's offensive line got into two shoving matches during positional drills that were quickly diffused. Then came the main event during 11-on-11 team drills when Jets defensive lineman Bradlee Anae got into it with a Falcons player and appeared to throw some punches as players from both teams quickly gathered and shouted at each other before the sides were separated.
''It was fine,'' Falcons coach Arthur Smith told reporters. ''You're always going to have that. It's like people (doing) a little peacocking as they're running around each other. It was nothing.''
The team drills on that field were paused for a few minutes, with both the Jets defense and Falcons offense huddling separately, before the practice was resumed.
Smith spoke briefly to the Jets players and he and Saleh chatted about the situation, with practice running clean the rest of the way.
''You're always going to have that the first couple of plays, and you've got to knock that out,'' Smith said. ''You've got to understand it goes both ways. It's like people circling and whatever. It's nothing. We got in a lot of really great work and I appreciate their staff.''
The teams have another joint practice session Saturday, leading up to their preseason game Monday night at MetLife Stadium.
''It was good to be able to get into a little groove and get a handful of plays in row together,'' said Joe Flacco, New York's starting quarterback while Zach Wilson recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery. ''To get to see a little bit different style defense, you always get in good work when you get to do that.''
The Jets seemed to be a bit sharper on both offense and defense, including big plays by rookie running back Breece Hall (75-yard TD run in team drills) and second-year wide receiver Elijah Moore (a short catch turned into a long gain by an impressive juke move).
''It was a productive practice,'' Saleh said. ''Seeing different coverages for our offense, seeing a much more different offensive tempo and shifting - a lot of movement from their guys and a lot of personnel - so it was good for us to get lined up. It was exactly what you want it to be.''
BEARCAT ON BEARCAT CRIME
One of the highlights of team drills was Jets rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner picking off Falcons rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder - his former teammate at the University of Cincinnati.
Gardner was the No. 4 overall pick by New York and is competing for a starting spot opposite cornerback D.J. Reed in the Jets' secondary. Ridder was a third-rounder - No. 74 overall - in April and the second quarterback taken after Kenny Pickett went to Pittsburgh in the first round. Ridder is currently scheduled to be the backup behind Marcus Mariota.
Falcons rookie WR Drake London (knee) was with the team, but didn't practice while the team is cautious with the No. 8 overall pick. ... DL Marlon Davidson (knee) didn't practice. ... Jets DE Vinny Curry left during team drills with a hamstring injury. He walked to the sideline with a noticeable limp and slammed his helmet to the ground. ... DE Bryce Huff has an oblique injury that Saleh said could sideline him a few days. ... CB Brandin Echols (hamstring) returned to practice.
Saleh on Falcons second-year tight end Kyle Pitts: ''He's a `create-a-player' on Madden. That's exactly what you would look like. He's going to be a dynamic football player for a long time.''
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp won't play in the team's second preseason game on Friday night against the Houston Texans. Along with Kupp, most of the Rams starters will watch from the sidelines to avoid injury. The 29-year-old made his first Pro Bowl and was named a first-team All-Pro during a special 2021 regular season in which he led the league in catches (145), receiving yards (1,947), touchdowns (16) and yards per game (114.5) in 17 games. It earned him the WR1 title in fantasy, and he'll be a top-three wideout early in upcoming fantasy drafts, even with some questions surrounding quarterback Matthew Stafford's (elbow) health.
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is sticking with his plan not to play quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the second preseason game this Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Deshaun Watson, who has been suspended for 11 games, won't play in either of the team's final two preseason games, so Joshua Dobbs and Josh Rosen will see action this weekend. The 29-year-old Brissett will serve as the Browns' starting QB until Watson is eligible to return in December, and Cleveland will be hoping he can simply manage the offense and keep them competitive in 2022. Already a run-first offense, the Browns will most certainly rely on their ground game as much as they can, making Brissett a low-end QB2 in superflex fantasy formats.
New England Patriots wide receiver Nelson Agholor has been very consistent dating back to organized team activities in the spring, and it seems like he's in a good place as far as grasping the offense and earning quarterback Mac Jones' confidence. Agholor disappointed in his first year with the Pats in 2021, catching only 37 of his 64 targets for 473 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games. There have been reports that he's a trade candidate and he's in a crowded receiving corps alongside Jakobi Meyers, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne and rookie Tyquan Thornton. However, with a better grasp of the offense in 2022 and with more chemistry with Jones, Agholor could bounce back. Still, he'll probably go undrafted in most standard-sized fantasy leagues.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said he's not going to get into the extent of running back Miles Sanders' hamstring injury, adding that Sanders has tightness and soreness and that the team is being "precautious with him." Sanders missed another training camp practice on Friday, but it sounds as though this isn't a long-term injury that will cause him to miss the start of the regular season. It's unlikely that the 25-year-old will play this Sunday in the second preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. Sanders had a career-high 5.5 yards per carry in 12 games in 2021, but he failed to find the end zone and will need to hold off Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott in Philly's backfield. Sanders' fantasy stock continues to fall as more of an RB3/flex.
According to Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones, quarterback Dak Prescott is having the best training camp of his career this summer. "Velocity, his accuracy, the whole thing. Obviously, as the quarterbacks get older, they get better. The good ones do. They get better every year. There's no question in my mind, I think he's had his best training camp he's ever had," Jones said. It's good to hear, but fantasy managers probably aren't considering Prescott an elite QB1 this year with Amari Cooper now in Cleveland and with the Cowboys lacking experienced depth behind No. 1 wideout CeeDee Lamb. But Michael Gallup (knee) will return eventually, and Prescott is still a top-10 fantasy signal-caller.
Indianapolis Colts rookie tight end Jelani Woods looked hesitant early on in training camp and was dropping passes, but he's slowly made progress and the Colts are counting on him to be the third tight end behind starters Mo Alie-Cox and Kylen Granson now that fellow rookie Andrew Ogletree (knee) is done for the season. Indy is throwing a lot at Woods now and will narrow his role during the regular season. He has made strides as a blocker and probably had the best day catching passes on Thursday. The 23-year-old has a massive frame and could be a mismatch down the field, and although he might make an impact here and there in his rookie season, he'll only be an option in the latter rounds of rookie-only fantasy drafts.
No player has flashed more often in Indianapolis Colts training camp than wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. this summer, and the third-year pass-catcher looks primed to break out and build off his 1,000-yard season in 2021. The Detroit Lions didn't have an answer for him all week in two joint practices. With quarterback Matt Ryan under center in 2022, the Colts offense will evolve to more parts of the field, which will help Pittman become a more dynamic weapon. Pittman is unlikely to play in the second preseason game against Detroit, but he's becoming more and more attractive as a fantasy receiver with WR1 upside this season. As of right now, the Colts receiver pecking order appears to be Pittman, rookie Alec Pierce, Parris Campbell and Ashton Dulin.
The Athletic's Zak Keefer gets the sense that the Indianapolis Colts kicking job is Rodrigo Blankenship's to lose in training camp. Jake Verity missed an extra point in the preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills, which is close to a death knell in a kicking competition. Blankenship went 5-for-5 and hit a 55-yarder in Wednesday's practice, while Verity went 4-for-5 and badly missed his 55-yard attempt. Barring a collapse, Blankenship will be the team's Week 1 kicker. The 25-year-old played in only five games in 2021 due to a hip injury. With Indianapolis' offense looking to have a higher ceiling with quarterback Matt Ryan under center, Blankenship is worth a look as a low-end kicking option in fantasy leagues.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott (head) has returned to the practice field. The 27-year-old missed over a week of practice due to a concussion. Luckily, he is back on the field and competing in practice. Last season, Scott finished for 373 yards with a career-high seven touchdowns through 16 games with the Eagles. Despite that, he'll probably end up as the third string behind Kenneth Gainwell and Miles Sanders. Honestly, this seems like a frustrating situation all around. The Eagles could very well use a committee approach in the backfield. Scott might only have deep league value, but that could quickly change with an injury.
Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker has been named the starter for the second preseason matchup against the New England Patriots. This is an odd move with Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield battling it out for the starting gig. The Panthers are reportedly playing their second and third string players against New England. The organization has not named a starter for Week 1 yet. The expectation is that it will be Mayfield against his former team. Walker will likely fall into the third string role for Carolina, but might still see some snaps. Regardless, it's tough to imagine him having fantasy value with Darnold and Mayfield healthy.
New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco has reportedly been on fire during training camp, according to Zack Rosenblatt. The veteran quarterback completed 10 straight passes during 11-on-11 practice. Overall, Flacco finished the day 14-of-17 with four touchdowns, all of them came in the red zone. It's uncertain if Zach Wilson (knee) will be ready in time for Week 1. That being said, the Jets will likely start the season with Flacco under center. Honestly, Flacco might be a better fantasy option than Wilson, but fantasy managers shouldn't get too excited. The 37-year-old is probably only worth a look in superflex leagues.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (hip) said that he is fully healthy after dealing with a hip flexor issue. The 26-year-old mentioned that he has been running around and feeling like himself. It sounds like this injury is behind him and he has a nice new extension as well. Johnson was a stud last season and should remain the unquestioned No. 1 option in Pittsburgh. The change at quarterback shouldn't impact Johnson's value, so fantasy managers should consider Johnson a safe option with this injury behind him.
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones told reporters that he expects to play on Friday in the team's second preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. Jones was held out of the preseason opener last week. Offensive coaches Matt Patricia and Joe Judge split the play-calling duties last week, but the question remains: Who will call plays for Jones? Patricia is the favorite since he's done it for most of training camp, but head coach Bill Belichick has also called plays to Jones in full-team drills. The Patriots offense hasn't looked good for much of camp, but Jones has been much better in joint practices against Carolina this week. The 23-year-old held his own as a rookie, but with former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels gone, Jones could struggle in Year 2. He's a low-end QB2 in fantasy.
New York Giants wide receiver Kadarius Toney (knee) will sit out the team's second preseason game on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. Darius Slayton will also sit out due to an undisclosed injury. Toney hasn't done much in training camp this summer, but he did take part in individual drills at practice on Thursday. The 23-year-old looks to be progressing and should be good to go for the Week 1 regular season opener, but fantasy managers would feel a lot better about taking him as a late-round pass-catcher with upside if he was on the field more. Toney is still the most attractive Giants receiver with perhaps the most upside after he caught 39 of his 57 targets for 420 yards and no touchdowns in 10 games in his rookie season in 2021.
Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup (knee) ran routes during practice Thursday, Aug. 18, for the first time since having knee surgery.
Fantasy Spin: Gallup isn't expected to be ready for the start of the season, but he should be the No. 2 receiver when he returns to action. Fantasy owners willing to wait out Gallup's recovery time could end up with a WR3 at a discounted price.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf played the opening offensive series against the Chicago Bears on Thursday in the team's second preseason game, but he wasn't targeted at all. Metcalf sat out of the preseason opener last week. There's a chance the 24-year-old could see more playing time in the final preseason contest next week against the Dallas Cowboys, but fantasy managers shouldn't be worried if he sits out either. Metcalf is one of the most physically dominating pass-catchers in the league, but losing Russell Wilson as his quarterback will have consequences in terms of his overall production in 2022. He'll go from being a WR1 in fantasy to more of a low-end WR2 this year with either Geno Smith or Drew Lock throwing him the ball.
Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissly played just eight snaps in Thursday's preseason game against the Chicago Bears and wasn't targeted at all. Dissly sat out of the preseason opener last week and has been the clear backup behind George Fant so far in preseason action. The 26-year-old should be more involved during the regular season, but Fant's presence as the top pass-catching tight end doesn't make Dissly a target in fantasy football drafts. In his four seasons in Seattle, Dissly has 76 receptions for 900 yards and nine touchdowns on 96 targets. If anything were to happen to Fant, though, Dissly could be worth a waiver-wire pickup as a TE2 with some upside.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that quarterback Geno Smith (knee) banged his knee in Thursday's preseason game against the Chicago Bears but that he could have returned to the contest. The injury doesn't seem serious at all and shouldn't affect Smith's availability for the start of the regular season. The 31-year-old started on Thursday with Drew Lock out with COVID-19, and he went 10-for-18 for 112 yards. Even if Lock is healthy enough to start the team's final preseason game next week, Smith is looking like the favorite to start under center in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. Smith hasn't stood out by any means this summer at training camp, and he'll be nothing more than a low-end QB2 for fantasy managers in superflex leagues as the starter.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hasn't exactly been happy with his group of wide receivers in training camp this summer. "The young guys, especially young receivers, we've got to be way more consistent," Rodgers said. "A lot of drops, a lot of bad route decisions, running the wrong route. We've got to get better in that area." The current receiver corps is made up of veterans Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb, rookies Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Samori Toure and Danny Davis and inexperienced wideouts Amari Rodgers, Juwann Winfree and Ishmael Hyman. Lazard, the No. 1 receiver, has never had more than 40 catches or 513 yards in a season. With Davante Adams gone, it's understandable that Rodgers' fantasy ceiling and floor will be lower in 2022.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Drew Lock was "really sick" with COVID-19, according to head coach Pete Carroll. Lock can come out of the league's COVID protocols on Sunday, and the thought was that he would start in the team's final preseason game, but that might not happen if Lock isn't healthy enough to play. The plan from the beginning was to have the 25-year-old start against the Chicago Bears in the second preseason game on Thursday, but that had to be scrapped. Even if Lock is able to play in the final preseason game, it would be a surprise if Geno Smith isn't the starter under center in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. Lock has the stronger arm and could eventually overtake Smith during the regular season, but neither QB in Seattle will be very attractive in fantasy leagues in 2022.