Wed Jul 17 5:11pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders takes part in drills at the team's NFL football training facility Tuesday, June 4, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The Denver Broncos are the first team in the NFL to kick off training camp Thursday, and they'll do it with Emmanuel Sanders on hand but maybe not Drew Lock.
Sanders won't be full-go as he continues his comeback from a torn Achilles tendon last December, but ''Emmanuel looks good. He's not going to go on PUP. He'll start practicing from Day 1,'' general manager John Elway said Wednesday. ''Obviously we're going to work him in slowly.''
Pro Bowl running back Phillip Lindsay, who hasn't taken a snap since suffering a wrist injury at Oakland on Christmas Eve, also will be eased into action.
''Lindsay's ready to go,'' new head coach Vic Fangio said. ''Lindsay, Emmanuel, we'll ease them in, but we'll get them in quickly.''
Rookies and veterans reported to UC Health Training Center on Wednesday, a week earlier than usual because of the Broncos' upcoming Hall of Fame game against Washington on Aug. 1.
Three other teams - the Cardinals, Seahawks and Ravens - also had rookies report Wednesday but their veterans get several more days of summer vacation, unlike the Broncos.
Lock, however, was missing.
He's the last Broncos rookie without a contract, leaving him a finite amount in Denver's rookie salary pool and his representatives hammering out details such as performance bonuses.
''We'll see,'' Elway said when asked if he felt Lock would be in camp for the first workout Thursday morning. ''I'm not going to make a prediction one way or the other but we're hoping that he's going to be here.''
Lock is vying for the backup job behind newcomer Joe Flacco, whom Elway acquired from Baltimore in yet another offseason makeover.
Widely viewed as a first-round prospect, Lock slipped to the second round, where the Broncos selected him with the 42nd overall pick, one spot behind their new left guard Dalton Risner. Lock has to get used to playing under center after hardly doing so at Missouri.
After the Paxton Lynch fiasco, Elway views his QB situation now like the Chiefs did with Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes two years ago, with the apprentice getting to take his time learning and the veteran preparing to be the starter.
''We feel like he's in his prime,'' Elway said of Flacco, 34. ''At least we hope he is.''
Elway said he's optimistic because new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello brings to Denver the roots of the Baltimore system in which Flacco excelled early in his career.
Also, ''anytime you get traded midway in your career, two-thirds of the way through your career, you've got something to prove,'' Elway said.
Adding Flacco in a trade and Lock in the draft allows the Broncos ''to solidify that position for a while,'' Elway said. ''Obviously, we've been looking for one since Peyton (Manning) retired. That's always a difficult position to feel. But I finally feel good about that position and where we are.''
The Broncos are coming off back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1971-72 and while they have another rookie head coach, Fangio is 61 and has decades of experience coaching in the pros.
''We've got a lot of work ahead of us,'' Elway said. ''We always have high expectations of ourselves but we just know that the position that we're in and the last two seasons that we've had we've got to take it one day at a time and that's what we're going to do.
''And we're in good shape, too. I think being in early, having the extra week, playing in the Hall of Fame game is going to help us with the new staff. I think that's a positive for us being in early.''
Fangio's first camp as a head coach includes an NFL-most 19 open practices.
''I think it's good to have the fans out here,'' Fangio said. ''You know, the history of the NFL, you had to go to college campuses back in the day because the facilities didn't look like this. When I first went to the Saints in the mid-80s, we had an 80-yard grass field, OK? We had no cafeteria.
''Guys who go to a greasy deli for lunch right across the street. So, you were forced to go to small college campuses to have your two-a-days because they had cafeterias, because they had classrooms and because they had dorms to sleep in. A byproduct of that was fans could come and watch.
''I think one of the things, small things, that has driven the NFL to being the most popular sport in the country is that you let people come and watch practice, people that maybe cannot afford to go to the game and maybe get an autograph from a player. Maybe a player shakes their hand and throws them a sweatband or a glove,'' Fangio added.
''You know, you do that with a young person, you've got a fan for life. And football has a fan for life. There's more to be gained out of that than any advertising slogan or any commercial that you put on TV.''
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell didn't improve his chances at securing a roster spot on Saturday, failing to catch his only target in a 20-9 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Treadwell was "showcased" in the previous preseason game, but he failed to make any type of impact in what was a poor showing for the Vikings offense as a whole (aside from Dalvin Cook's 85-yard touchdown run). It's possible that the fourth-year receiver could be subject to roster cuts with Chad Beebe, Jordan Taylor, Olabisi Johnson, and even Brandon Zylstra seemingly ahead of him on the depth chart. Look for Treadwell to get some run in the final preseason game as the team tries to sort out what to do with their former first-round pick.
The Pittsburgh Steelers defense held the Tennessee Titans to just eight points and 233 yards of offense in Sunday's preseason win over the Titans. The front seven got the Steelers on the board first when Stephon Tuitt sacked Marcus Mariota in the end zone for a safety on the Titan's second drive. Overall, the Steelers had no problem exploiting a weak Tennessee offensive line, recording seven sacks and eight tackles for loss. Defensive back Sean Davis and linebacker Bud Dupree had to leave the game with apparent injuries but there was no official word on their diagnosis. While the Steelers typically do a solid job forcing turnovers, a Week 1 matchup with the Patriots makes the Steelers defense a tough sell for fantasy.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald didn't pull in either of his targets in Sunday's preseason win over Tennessee. McDonald spent his entire time on the field with the starters. Earlier this week, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said there was no chance that McDonald would play an entire game as the tight end, but it's hard to expect that Xavier Grimble will steal work from the 29-year-old. His ADP has crept up into the 7th round of fantasy drafts, which might be right at his ceiling, but with over 200 targets missing from last year, McDonald should prove to be a vital piece of the offense.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Taywan Taylor played exclusively with the third string offense in the preseason Week 3 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Taylor, who was once projected to be a starter this season, has fallen down the depth chart with a poor training camp. It is now very possible that Taylor is cut by the Titans before the start of the season should they decide to keep just five receivers. Taylor's ineffective play has opened up a door for rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown to have an early impact in the 2019 season.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Eli Rogers was targeted twice and pulled in one of them for 11 yards in Sunday's preseason game against Tennessee. He has just three receptions this preseason, but he is still fighting for snaps at the slot position in Pittsburgh. His prime competition is Ryan Switzer and rookie Diontae Johnson. However, Rogers started the final three games of the 2018 season, finishing with 12 catches for 79 yards. He holds no fantasy value during the preseason, but if he earns a role through the season's early- going, he could wind up being a solid flex play in PPR formats.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Ryan Switzer was targeted once on offense but also returned three kicks and one punt in Sunday's preseason game with Tennessee. While Switzer didn't haul in his passing look, he looked solid in the return game. This wasn't encouraging for Switzer's outlook in the offense, especially since he only has one reception this preseason. Don't even consider him in the deepest of fantasy leagues. Even in PPR formats, it would be hard to justify a spot for Switzer as there are just too many other mouths to feed in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington caught a 41-yard touchdown pass to mark his only reception in Sunday's preseason win over Tennessee. It was his second touchdown of the preseason, which leads the team. He's shown off his big-play ability through three games, including receptions of 40, 41, and 43 yards. However, the majority of his work has come with Mason Rudolph, who is his former college teammate and is vying to be Ben Roethlisberger's backup in 2019. There is no telling if Roethlisberger will have the same connection that Rudolph does. Washington is a late-round sleeper going in the early parts of the 10th round of fantasy drafts. His upside is undeniable, but with Donte Moncrief also fighting for a high amount of targets, it's possible that Washington is Pittsburgh's WR3.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis caught one pass for 25 yards in the team's Week 3 preseason matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Davis was able to create separation on many of his routes, but his production was limited by both bad blocking and ineffective quarterback play. The 2019 fantasy value of Davis rests directly on the ability of quarterback Marcus Mariota to both stay healthy and perform consistently. With his talent, the ceiling is a fantasy WR1 season, but the floor is much lower than many owners are willing to risk.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown recorded his first career reception for 10 yards in the team's Week 3 preseason loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brown, who was selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, is set to be the WR3 for the Titans heading into the regular season behind just Corey Davis and Adam Humphries. While he doesn't warrant a roster spot in redraft formats heading into the season, Brown is a solid buy low candidate in dynasty leagues should the owner be looking for more immediate production.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Donte Moncrief caught both targets for 11 yards in Sunday's preseason win over the Titans. The first-year Steeler caught both passes for four and seven yards, respectively, on the team's first drive bust wasn't targeted after that. Moncrief hasn't been a feature of the offense during the preseason but word around the team is that he is still the favorite to start opposite of JuJu Smith-Schuster when the regular season begins. His training camp position battle with James Washington has been a topic of note, but there hasn't been much word from the coaching staff on who is the favorite. Moncrief hasn't quite lived up to his expectations he had coming out of college, but has a great opportunity in 2019 with his new team. His mid-10th round ADP has the chance to pay off great dividends if his connection with Ben Roethlisberger is as strong as reports suggest.
Tennessee Titans running back Jeremy McNichols had another strong showing in the team's preseason Week 3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, rushing nine times for 43 yards. McNichols has been the most effective running back for the Titans by far this preseason with Derrick Henry (calf) sitting out. McNichols is firmly on the roster bubble heading into the fourth and final preseason game and needs to continue his impressive play to solidify his role on the team. While unlikely he has any major role in the backfield this year, McNichols does make for an intriguing stash in deep dynasty leagues.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster caught four of five targets for 37 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's win over the Titans. Ben Roethlisberger hit the 22-year-old in stride in the back of the end zone from 17 yards out on the team's third drive. Smith-Schuster is Pittsburgh WR1 heading into 2019 and is being drafted as such. Typically going in the early picks of the second round of drafts, the USC product has an immense amount of fantasy upside this year. He hasn't topped seven touchdowns in either of his two professional seasons, but he could cement himself as one of the league's elite receivers in 2019.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 0 of 3 passes and was sacked for a safety in just two drives in the team's Week 3 preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The entire Titans offense looked out of sync in this one, only scoring six points on the night. While this was not the showing fantasy owners had hoped for, it is important to remember that it's still just preseason. Despite this, the inability of the offensive line to protect Mariota continues to be a concern for the injury-riddled quarterback, especially with the Cleveland Browns awaiting them in Week 1 of the regular season.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Benny Snell Jr. (groin) didn't appear in Sunday night's preseason game against the Tennessee Titans. Snell suffered a groin injury in last week's preseason game against the Chiefs and he did not practice all week. The rookie out of Kentucky has rushed for 42 yards on 20 carries through his first two career NFL games. As a third-round pick, his spot should be safe on the roster, but he won't have much value on the team unless something were to happen to either James Conner or Jaylen Samuels. He is merely a dynasty stash for the time being.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels carried the ball four times for 16 yards, while also hauling in two passes for 11 yards in Sunday's preseason win over the Titans. The 23-year-old has a solid role locked up as a pass-catcher in the Steelers' offense, but the team has made it known they plan to use both he and incumbent James Conner simultaneously this season. In PPR formats, Samuels has a mid-to-late ninth round ADP which would present fantastic value if anything were to happen to Conner. While there is no proof of his standalone role, Samuels is worthy of a draft pick based on his potential in a high-upside offense.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs finished 4 of 9 for 79 yards and an interception in Sunday's preseason win over Tennessee. Dobbs also rushed for 10 yards on five attempts. The third-year signal caller is fighting with Mason Rudolph to backup Ben Roethlisberger. In the preseason, he's thrown for 259 yards and two interceptions with no touchdowns. However, Dobbs' ability to make plays with his feet has kept him in the battle. While the odds are likely stacked against him, the Tennessee product doesn't carry any fantasy value, even if he wins the backup job.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner toted five carries for 41 yards, while also catching a pair of passes for 15 yards in Sunday's preseason win over the Titans. Conner most likely saw his last work of the preseason against Tennessee and performed well with his fellow starters. The University of Pittsburgh product carries some injury risk after missing three games in 2018 with an ankle injury, but his late-first round to early-second round ADP is understandable given his role in a top-tier offense. Have no fears taking Conner at his price tag, but don't be afraid to roster his handcuff Jaylen Samuels just in case Conner goes down early on.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph completed 6 of 9 passes for 75 yards, including a touchdown and an interception in Sunday's preseason win over the Titans. Rudolph connected with James Washington for a 41-yard touchdown, their second time in as many games. The second-year man out of Oklahoma State is vying to become Ben Roethlisberger's backup and has thrown for 243 yards, three scores, and a pick this preseason. His competition with Joshua Dobbs has been a tight race and will come down all the way to final cuts before a decision is made. The two offer different styles, with Rudolph acting as the typical drop back passer. He only holds dynasty value at the moment, and but if he wins the job and anything were to happen to Roethlisberger, Rudolph could hold week-to-week streaming value.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finished 6 of 13 for 63 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 18-6 preseason win over the Titans. Roethlisberger connected with JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 17-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The score ended the 37-year-old's day after three drives. This is likely all we will see of Roethlisberger this preseason, as the real issue is naming his backup of either Joshua Dobbs or Mason Rudolph. Roethlisberger has been going in the 11th round of fantasy draft's thus far and offers a high-ceiling for those who like to wait for their team's quarterback.