Sat Mar 2 6:12pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Nick Bosa found himself in the news again last week when Zion Williamson sprained his right knee in the opening minute against North Carolina.
The sight of his left shoe tearing apart and Williamson grabbing his right knee unleashed feverish debate over whether Duke's freakish freshman forward should ever again play for Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils.
Many wondered if he should just turn his attention to the pros like Bosa did six months ago when he got hurt in Ohio State's third game of the season. Instead of rehabbing for a return to the Buckeyes, Bosa began training for the combine, the draft and a career in the NFL.
Bosa figures to get drafted higher than his father, John, who went 16th overall to Miami in 1987, and maybe even higher than big brother, Joey, the third overall pick by the Chargers in 2016.
Williamson is the consensus top pick in the NBA draft this summer.
So, Bosa was asked at the NFL scouting combine Saturday what advice he'd give Williamson, who missed his third straight game Saturday with a mild knee sprain.
''I mean, just lean on the people that you love and go with your gut,'' Bosa said. ''I faced a pretty serious injury. I had surgery that took me out for the rest of the year, so kind of the choice was made for me.''
Bosa dealt with something much more serious than Williamson did - a torn bilateral core muscle, an excruciating injury that occurs when the rectus abdominus or adductor muscles are torn off the pubic bone. Surgeons fix it by inserting a mesh cone into the tear to plug the hole formed in the muscle.
''It's literally the muscle used to breathe, to cough, to go to the bathroom,'' Bosa said.
Bosa got tangled up with Horned Frogs left tackle Austin Meyers on a third down pass rush on Sept. 14 in Arlington, Texas, and stayed on the turf.
''I know what a serious injury is,'' Bosa said. ''I knew my season was in jeopardy and I had a doctor confirm that.''
Bosa had gotten off to a terrific start, collecting a team-high 14 tackles, including six for loss, and four sacks when he got hurt.
''It was the year that I been waiting for my whole career,'' he said. ''I kind of split reps my freshman and sophomore year. Coming in I was going to be the guy. ... It just got torn away from me. It's something that I'll always think back to.''
That first night was the toughest, he said.
''When I got home from that TCU game I was lying in bed, I could barely get up,'' Bosa said. ''It was one of the darkest moments of my life so far.
''So, for me to just talk to my family and let them bring me up and just know that my life is still good and I still have amazing blessings and a bright future, that's what helped me get through it.''
Five days later, he underwent surgery and in mid-October, Bosa had decided he wouldn't return.
He moved in with Joey in Los Angeles and after the Chargers' season was over, the brothers returned to their hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Bosa said he's finally back to 100 percent and wouldn't hold back during his testing at the combine nor skip any drills.
Bosa said that while he was told the injury likely came about because of the enormous torque his body experiences playing football, he's not worried that he'll reinjure himself.
''This is one of the injuries that once you get it fixed, it's pretty guaranteed to be good,'' Bosa said.
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah rates the 6-foot-4, 263-pounder the best player in the draft. Although he's an inch shorter and 13 pounds lighter than his brother, ''I expect similar dominance and production at the NFL level,'' Jeremiah said.
''That would just mean so much to be thought of as the best player in the draft,'' Bosa said.
The top pick belongs to the Arizona Cardinals, who recently hired Ohio State linebackers coach Billy Davis.
Joey Bosa said his brother made the right decision not to return to Ohio State: ''If anyone had the opportunity to hit the lottery tomorrow, would anyone risk that? He has that opportunity. There is a difference between high draft stock and No. 1 pick in the draft.''
Forget sibling rivalry , too: Bosa said his big brother wants him to do better than he did three years ago when only quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz were drafted ahead of him.
''It's crazy that both of us are in this position so soon after each other,'' the younger Bosa said.
Bosa finished his college career with 29 tackles in 30 games, 17 1/2 sacks and two fumble recoveries.
''I don't have as much tape as some people, but clearly my tape was enough to get me this far,'' Bosa said.
While Bosa will never forget the sudden end to his college career, he'd rather think about what lies ahead.
''I'm going to show it this year as a rookie,'' Bosa said. ''I didn't get to show as much as I wanted at Ohio State, it was very short, but I've got a lot of football to play in my career.''
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady posted a video on his Instagram of him throwing to suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon. He has been suspended indefinitely by the league for multiple violations of the substance-abuse policy, but there is a "chance" that Gordon could be reinstated by training camp next month. This is further proof that the Patriots think Gordon will become eligible to play at some point in 2019. With New England's lack of receiver depth, they really hope he's available to them eventually. If active, Gordon is a fantasy relevant receiver with big upside after he caught 40 passes for 720 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games for the Pats in his first season with them last year.
The Green Bay Packers waived tight end Michael Roberts (shoulder) with a failed physical on Wednesday less than a week after he was cut by the Lions following a voided trade to the Patriots. The 25-year-old landed on Injured Reserve last year with the shoulder injury and has appeared in 23 games for the Lions with 13 catches for 146 yards and three touchdowns after being a fourth-round pick in 2017. He can go on being ignored in fantasy leagues even if he latches on for good with another squad.
Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas (leg) was seen riding the stationary bike on the sidelines during offseason practices, and his left leg was wrapped in a sleeve. Head coach Ron Rivera said he is hopeful Thomas will be ready to go for training camp and the preseason. Thomas figured to have a large role heading into 2019, but veteran Greg Olsen is back. As long as Olsen (foot) can remain healthy, Thomas will likely see sporadic playing time. However, Olsen's health has been a major concern over the past two seasons, and Thomas could be just one play away from a big role. He is one to remember for waiver wire purposes during the season.
Arizona Cardinals rookie wide receiver Keesean Johnson is one of the three rookie receivers the team brought in during the draft, along with Hakeem Butler and Andy Isabella. Johnson didn't run the quickest 40-yard dash of the trio at the NFL Scouting Combine, but wide receivers coach David Raih likes Johnson's game. "You could put a glass of water on his head and he could run 80 yards without spilling a drop," Raih said. "He's like a motorcycle. It's all one piece." The trio of rookies will have a fierce battle for targets behind future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald and second-year wideout Christian Kirk. One rookie will likely have a larger role, while one might be the fourth or fifth receiver and fighting for crumbs. It's a battle to watch in training camp and the preseason before investing too much.
The Arizona Cardinals released veteran cornerback David Amerson, meaning Robert Alford will either remain at right cornerback during the absence of Patrick Peterson (six-game suspension), or move left during his suspension. If he moves, Byron Murphy and Tramaine Brock would compete for the starting job at right cornerback for the first six games. The team also has Nate Brooks, Chris Jones, Deatrick Nichols and Brandon Williams jockeying for position. It's going to be a spirited battle in training camp and the preseason, and the Cardinals defense should be improved heading into 2019, but not necessarily enough to warrant fantasy consideration outside of the deepest leagues.
Arizona Cardinals tight end Ricky Seals-Jones (neck) has been able to participate in organized team activities (OTAs), but he and fellow tight ends Charles Clay and Maxx Williams are finding the looks rather scarce in head coach Kliff Kingsbury's new spread offense. Early on in offseason practices the Cardinals have used a 10 Personnel package frequently, featuring four wide receivers, one running back and no tight ends on the field. RSJ, Clay and Williams might be fighting for scraps in the offense, and their fantasy outlooks are rather bleak at the moment.
Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds is making adjustments on the field and trying to put himself in better shape for a larger role in 2019. "I come on that field every day a lot more confident in my abilities," Edmonds said. "Last year was kind of walking on eggshells, and my mentality was more like to not mess up, as opposed to just make big plays." He played the spread offense in college, and is excited by head coach Kliff Kingsbury's new scheme, too. David Johnson will be the bellcow in Arizona, as long as he is healthy, but Edmonds is a player to watch in deeper fantasy leagues, particularly in PPR formats.
New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas and the team remain far apart in contract talks, and nothing is imminent. However, both sides are motivated to get a deal done.
Fantasy Spin: Thomas is an elite WR1 whether he has a new deal in place or not.
New England Patriots WR Josh Gordon, who is on the Reserve/Commissioner Suspended list, posted a video of him working out with Patriots QB Tom Brady Wednesday, June 19.
Fantasy Spin: There has been speculation that Gordon could be reinstated again, and he's still such a tease of a fantasy asset. Keep tabs on his situation.
Seattle Seahawks RB C.J. Prosise could be cut in order to keep RBs J.D. McKissic and Travis Homer, in the opinion of the Seattle Times' Bob Condotta, who believes the team may not be able to sneak Homer onto the practice squad and that McKissic's dependability gives him an edge over Prosise.
Seattle Seahawks TE Will Dissly (knee) is the only lock to make the 53-man roster among its tight ends, in the opinion of the Seattle Times' Bob Condotta, who gives the edge to TEs Nick Vannett and Jacob Hollister for the other two spots.
Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins averaged 3.11 yards per route run from the slot in 2018, the third-highest average among qualified receivers per Pro Football Focus.
New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas averaged 3.68 yards per route run from the slot in 2018, easily the highest average among qualified receivers per Pro Football Focus.
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford (back) played all 16 games in 2018 to run his consecutive-starts streak to 128 despite reportedly finishing the season with broken bones in his back, according to Mike O'Hara of the team's website. 'He had a broken back last year. Broken bones in his back. ... It's been reported. I read that. Word gets out in the NFL,' O'Hara said during a recent episode of his weekly podcast with WJR's Ken Brown.
Fantasy Spin: Stafford played through a multitude of injuries last season - chest, finger and back among them. His production slowed down considerably around midseason and took another hit in December, although most of his supporting cast was already gone or out for the season at that point. Detroit is talking up its desire to be a running team, but it's a safe bet Stafford will still perform at a solid QB2 level in fantasy if he stays healthier in 2019.
Atlanta Falcons WR JUlio Jones will have a long-term contract extension before training camp arrives, according to 'confident' team sources.
Fantasy Spin: Jones turned 30 in February but posted an NFL-most 1,677 receiving yards last season and is in a good spot to garner the last big contract of his career. As for fantasy 2019, Jones should be one of the top four receivers off the board in any format.
New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees turned 40 in January, but the team is dealing with the situation on a year-to-year basis. 'I think we look at it in terms of, 'Hey, this year,' you know? And man, he had a great season last year, and we expect a great season this year,' Saints general manager Loomis said recently. 'And so for as long as he wants to play and can play, he's going to have that opportunity.' Thanks to restructured contract that pushes a $10-million-plus cap hit to 2020, Brees will count more than $21 million against the cap that season, and number will increase if Brees isn't signed to a new deal that will kick some of that hit over future seasons.
Fantasy Spin: Brees is on the Tom Brady "better-with-age" track, throwing for 3,992 yards and 32 TDs in 2018 while finishing eighth among fantasy QBs -- his 15th straight season in the top 10. And, surprise, he looks to be a low-end QB1 again this fall. If he falls to you as your starting QB later in the draft, chalk it up as a good value.
Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton averaged 2.64 receiving yards per route run from the slot in 2018, which ranked fourth among wide receivers who played at least 100 snaps.
Fantasy Spin: Despite missing two games and being at less than something than full power in a couple others, Hilton bounced back with Andrew Luck's return last season to finish 15th among fantasy wideouts. Look for a low-end WR1 finish if Hilton (and Luck) have reasonably good health fortune in 2019.
Philadelphia Eagles FS Rodney McLeod (knee) expects to be ready for training camp, and he's on schedule in his rehab from torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans restructured his contract Tuesday, June 18, which created $3.2 million in 2019 salary cap space.
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy said he "feels good" about tight end Trey Burton (hernia) being ready for the start of training camp this summer. Burton had hernia surgery this offseason. The 27-year-old caught a career-high 54 passes (76 targets) for 569 yards and six touchdowns in his first year in Chicago with Nagy running the show. In this improving offense, Burton could improve further and will be a strong TE1 as long as he doesn't suffer any setbacks in training camp.