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FFL: Playoff Week 8 | NFL: Superbowl

Bryant practices with Saints, asserts he's 'not a bad guy.'

Fri Nov 9 3:10am ET
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer

Players: Drew Brees, Ted Ginn Jr., Dez Bryant, Mark Ingram, Cameron Meredith, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara

In this Dec. 10, 2017, file photo, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) runs for a touchdown against the New York Giants during the second quarter of an NFL football game in East Rutherford, N.J. A person familiar with the situation says free-agent Dez Bryant and the New Orleans Saints have agreed on contract terms that will add the former Cowboys star to one of the NFLs top offenses. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, because the roster move has not been announced. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File)


In this Nov. 4, 2018, file photo, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) pulls in a pass against Los Angeles Rams cornerback Marcus Peters (22) during the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans. Peters criticized himself for playing poorly when the Rams took their first loss of the season at New Orleans last weekend. That doesnt mean Saints coach Sean Payton can say anything about it, however. Peters reacted sharply in the Rams locker room Thursday, Nov. 8, when asked about postgame comments by Payton in which the veteran coach said the Saints liked the matchup of receiver Michael Thomas going against Peters, a former Pro Bowl selection. (AP Photo/Bill Feig, File)


In this Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, file photo, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) throws a pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in New Orleans. Brees and the high-powered Saints face an historically bad defense at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday. The Bengals have allowed more than 500 yards in each of the last two games. (AP Photo/Bill Feig, File)


METAIRIE, La. (AP) Dez Bryant wasn't about to declare himself a changed man just because he'd changed teams.

At age 30, the ninth-year NFL veteran receiver said he is comfortable with who he always has been and hopes he'll fit in with the New Orleans Saints, a team on a seven-game winning streak that looks like it's all-in to contend for a Super Bowl this season.

''I'm always going to be me, you know, who I am. I'm not a bad guy. I've always been a good guy,'' Bryant said after his first practice with New Orleans on Thursday afternoon. ''You can ask my teammates - my ex-teammates - how I am. I love the locker room. It's like family. Every locker room that I've been in - from middle school, high school, college, to the pros - it's always been like a family.''

Bryant was reticent when asked to go into detail about interest shown in him by other clubs. He is known to have met with Cleveland and Baltimore before his workout with New Orleans this week earned him a spot on a Saints offense that currently ranks seventh in the NFL and is led by the NFL's all-time leader in completions and yards passing.

''Who wouldn't want to play with Drew Brees,'' said Bryant, who caught passes from Brees at practice on Thursday. ''Not taking away from nobody else, but you got a guy like Drew Brees, like I said, you got a guy like Michael Thomas, (Ben) Watson, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram. You got those types of guys.''

Bryant spent his first eight NFL seasons with Dallas and in 2017 caught 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns, including a 50-yard scoring play, for the Cowboys.

However, his professional reputation has been marred at times by public confrontations with coaches and teammates during games and practices.

Last season was Bryant's best since he caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards and 16 TDs in 2014, which at the time was his third consecutive season with at least 1,200 yards receiving. He signed his last Cowboys contract right after that, but has not approached that level of production since - a central reason Dallas released him in April with two years left on his five-year, $70 million contract.

Saints players sounded eager to see how Bryant might help.

Thomas, who is New Orleans' leading receiver, said he has been following Bryant's career.

''He's definitely one of those guys you have to watch if you're playing the receiver position,'' Thomas said. ''He's a guy who's done some great things at the position, so you just have to respect it and pick his brain. I asked him a lot of questions, and it's just cool to play with a guy like that.''

Saints coach Sean Payton said Thursday that Bryant would be taking the spot on the active roster vacated by receiver Cameron Meredith, a free-agent signing last offseason who is coming back from a major knee injury, and who went on injured reserve after he and the club agreed he'd benefit from undergoing an arthroscopic cleanup on that same knee.

''He kept having the swelling week in and week out and he really was pushing through it,'' Payton said.

Receiver Ted Ginn Jr. also is on injured reserve and cannot come back until the final few weeks of the regular season, if he's ready by then.

It's not clear how soon Bryant will have a regular role in New Orleans' offense. Payton said Bryant is perhaps five pounds heavier than his ideal playing weight, which would be common among players who did not go through a training camp.

But Payton added, ''we felt like he did a number of things that we liked in the workout.''

The signing sets the stage for Bryant to play in Dallas when the Saints visit the Cowboys for a Thursday night game on Nov. 29.

''I am going to be excited. I'll get to see all the Cowboys fans. You know I still love those guys. I love my ex-teammates. They're my family,'' Bryant said. ''But I'm here on a new chapter. It's going to be fun, but I'm the opponent now.''

Bryant said he is ''not at all'' bitter about his departure from the Cowboys, adding, ''That chapter's closed. That's something I had to accept. I accepted that and moved on.''

Player Notes
Albert Wilson Jan 23 8:10pm ET

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From RotoBaller

Sam Darnold Jan 23 8:10pm ET

The New York Jets officially hired Dowell Loggains as their next offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach on Wednesday. Loggains has worked under head coach Adam Gase in both Chicago and Miami. With Gase likely running the show on offense, Loggains' main task will be to continue the development of quarterback Sam Darnold, who was very up and down in his rookie season. The Jets ranked 29th in yards per game (299.2), 25th in passing yards (197.8), 26th in rushing yards (101.4) and 23rd in the league in points per game (20.8) in 2018.

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Larry Fitzgerald Jan 23 12:10pm ET

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From RotoBaller

Greg Schiano Jan 23 10:53am ET

Former Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano is expected to land with the New England Patriots in a top defensive role when linebackers coach Brian Flores heading to the Miami Dolphins.

Steve Spagnuolo Jan 23 10:43am ET

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Larry Fitzgerald Jan 23 9:43am ET

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Fantasy Spin: Fitz had a 69-734-6 season, which was well below the 100-catch, 1,000-yard seasons the three years previously. The rookie quarterback was part of the problem, but he doesn't have much more upside next season. He's still a PPR asset, but he'll be a mid-round option as a WR3.

Larry Fitzgerald Jan 23 9:43am ET

Updating an earlier report, Arizona Cardinals impending free-agent WR Larry Fitzgerald re-signed with the Cardinals on a one-year deal. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Albert Wilson Jan 23 2:13am ET

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Fantasy Spin: After four largely nondescript seasons in Kansas City, Wilson flashed some playmaking ability before getting injured against the Lions. There are far too many variables in Miami for an accurate read on Wilson's fantasy prospects for 2019, but he did enough last year to warrant your attention.

Nick Foles Jan 23 1:53am ET

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Fantasy Spin: Mortensen indicates such a move would prevent Foles from going to a division rival, but it's all speculation at this point. While it's far from a sure thing, Foles could have some fantasy value in the right situation.

Daryl Worley Jan 23 1:03am ET

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Michael Crabtree Jan 22 11:53pm ET

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Cole Beasley Jan 22 5:23pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Beasley's frustrations are evident and understandable, although Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott and Michael Gallup are all bigger, more talented threats with the ball. Beasley does have a role to play and put together his second best season from a statistical standpoint. That being said, he's only a mid- to late-round PPR flier if he stays in Dallas.

Alex Smith Jan 22 4:50pm ET

Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen said the team is "optimistic" that quarterback Alex Smith (leg) will be ready for the start of the 2019 season, but he also said "we'll see." In his first year with Washington, Smith was a disappointment, throwing for 2,108 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions with an 85.7 QB rating in 10 games before his gruesome leg injury. He'll be heading into his age-35 season and is unlikely to be ready for training camp or the regular season, so he's one to avoid for fantasy purposes. The 'Skins are in dire need of a long-term quarterback.

From RotoBaller

Chris Jones Jan 22 4:30pm ET

The Kansas City Chiefs relieved defensive coordinator Bob Sutton of his duties on Tuesday. Sutton was head coach Andy Reid's defensive coordinator for all six of his years in KC, but the Chiefs defense continued to trend downward in 2018 and was their Achilles heel in the AFC Championship loss to the Patriots last weekend. Defensive end Chris Jones -- third in the NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2018 -- and linebacker Dee Ford are the linchpins of this defense, but they must improve their talent in the secondary. The Chiefs ranked 31st in yards allowed per game (405.5), 31st in passing yards allowed (273.4), 27th in rushing yards allowed (132.1), 24th in points allowed (26.3) and tied for eighth in takeaways (27) in 2018.

From RotoBaller

Jared Cook Jan 22 2:13pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Cook was one of the few bright spots for the Raiders this season, and maybe the lone bright spot. He's a top-five fantasy tight end candidate now after finishing 2018 as the TE5.

Julio Jones Jan 22 2:03pm ET

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones led all receivers with 24 receptions for first downs on 30 third-down targets this past season.

Fantasy Spin: Despite a slow start in the TD department (none in his first seven games) Jones also wound up leading the league in receiving yards (1,677) for the second time in the last four seasons. And even with Jones turning 30 this offseason (on Super Bowl Sunday), he remains an elite WR1 in all fantasy formats.

Marshawn Lynch Jan 22 2:00pm ET

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said the team is unsure if impending free-agent running back Marshawn Lynch plans to play in 2019. Gruden said "we'd love to have him back" if he decides to play another season. Beast Mode will turn 33 in April and is coming off a season in which he played in just six games due to injury. Lynch ran 90 times for 376 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and three scores. Even if Lynch returns, he'd be more of a low-upside, injury-risk RB2 for Oakland that is more attractive in standard-scoring leagues.

From RotoBaller

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Andy Dalton Jan 22 1:50pm ET

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Marshawn Lynch Jan 22 1:43pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Lynch will be 33 by the time next season rolls around, but he'd still be a fantasy RB2 consideration if were to be projected to be the primary RB in Oakland.