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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Coach Flores says Dolphins are heading in right direction

Wed May 29 3:48pm ET
By STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer

Players: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chandler Cox, Josh Rosen

FILE- In this May 14, 2019 file photo. Miami Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) talks to head coach Brian Flores, left, during NFL football practice in Davie, Fla. As Brian Flores settles into his job as coach of the Miami Dolphins, he's trying to establish a culture and choose quarterback. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)


In this May 14, 2019, file photo, Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores speaks before NFL football practice in Davie, Fla. As Flores settles into his job as coach of the Miami Dolphins, he's trying to establish a culture and choose quarterback.(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)


DAVIE, Fla. (AP) Brian Flores loves fullbacks as a coach because he hated them as a linebacker.

That small but illuminating revelation came Wednesday, helping a bit to answer the biggest question around the Miami Dolphins these days: What is the new coach like?

Fans and players won't really know until Flores and the Dolphins start winning and losing this fall. Flores acknowledged he's still in the early stages of a multiyear rebuilding effort ordered by owner Stephen Ross, and one phase ends next week with the conclusion of offseason practices.

''We're moving in the right direction,'' Flores said. ''We've got two weeks left. We need to finish strong. That's the challenge to the group.''

For Flores, who took over a team that doesn't have a postseason victory since 2000, the challenge is to establish a winning culture. He's trying to do that in ways large and small.

''It's ongoing,'' he said. ''It's something new every morning. I can't give it all to them every day, so I try to give it to them in bits.

''We're trying to build a culture that is about improvement, hard work and competition, but also about honesty and humility. Those are core values of mine. When you're not doing those things, that's when I get a little bit upset.''

Flores was hired following 15 seasons with the New England Patriots, and four months into the job, his stamp on the Dolphins' battered brand is becoming increasingly evident.

One example: a wall in the corner of the practice field that bears the initials TNT, for ''takes no talent.'' Players called out for mistakes during practice must run to the wall and back as punishment, a way of bringing discipline to a team that lacked it last year.

''The expectations when we step on the practice field have been set right away in terms of the hustle and the competitiveness,'' said well-traveled quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has experienced the difference between good teams and bad. ''We're going to practice the right way. That has been a point of emphasis, and it's something I enjoy.''

Flores has said every starting job is open, and while that's probably not true, players embrace his emphasis on competition and discipline.

''Competition creates chemistry,'' cornerback Bobby McCain said. ''When you're out here and you're balling and the loser does push-ups, no one wants to do push-ups.''

While the team adjusts to Flores, he's adjusting to being a head coach for the first time. Check back after he has lost on a last-second field goal, but so far he enjoys the job.

''I love coaching,'' he said. ''I'm passionate about it. It's just a bigger group I get to impact. Challenging them and being demanding is important to me. That's how you bring out the best in people. I love being in front of a big group.''

A big spotlight comes with that. Flores will be under a microscope this year for his development of potential franchise quarterback Josh Rosen, who was acquired from Arizona last month and is competing with Fitzpatrick for the starting job .

More immediately, Flores must deal with the potentially polarizing status of two-time Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones, who was unhappy about his playing time under departed coach Adam Gase and is skipping the offseason organized team activities , which are voluntary.

When asked about Jones' playing time this year, Flores said it's to be determined.

''There are no sacred cows, not in this game,'' the coach said. ''You've got to earn what you get. That's the case for everyone on this team.''

Even at fullback - although the Dolphins are likely to keep one on the roster, perhaps seventh-round draft pick Chandler Cox of Auburn.

''I value that position,'' Flores said. ''It brings a toughness and grit I like in my team. I played linebacker, and I've had to deal with fullbacks. It's not always the easiest thing to do.''

Player Notes
Robert Foster Jul 18 7:50pm ET

In an article this week discussing the Buffalo Bills as potential playoff contenders, NFL.com writer Adam Rank expressed his optimism for the team, and in particular, for Robert Foster. Rank deemed Foster "the best receiver on this roster," while also favorably discussing fellow wideouts John Brown and Cole Beasley. The 6'2" Foster certainly showed flashes of potential as a legitimate #1 outside receiver during his rookie campaign last year, but he still has a lot to prove, and now he has more competition for targets from the aforementioned Brown and Beasley. Nonetheless, Foster is a very intriguing sleeper option heading into 2019 and should be on everyone's radar throughout training camp and preseason.

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LeSean McCoy Jul 18 7:30pm ET

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane had encouraging words to say about LeSean McCoy to beat reporters. "Were focused on this year," Beane said. "Thats what we have him under contract for, and I definitely think hes got enough left in the tank to help us in 2019. McCoy is 31 years old and entering a contract season. His 3.2 yards per carry last year was a career-worst mark, but the Bills have added some offensive line help as well as more reliable backups in Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon. Don't reach for McCoy on draft day, but there's some sneaky value in McCoy if he falls in your draft. As of now, he stands to receive a good amount of carries in what should be an improved Buffalo offense.

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Randy Gregory Jul 18 6:50pm ET

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory will reportedly apply for reinstatement this week. Gregory recorded six sacks last season, playing in 16 games including playoff games. He was suspended in February for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. It seems that Dallas feels Gregory at least has a good chance at being reinstated however, as the team signed him to a one-year extension in April. For now, the talented defensive lineman is suspended "indefinitely" but no one knows what that means in the NFL's discipline department.

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Jalen Mills Jul 18 6:50pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills (foot) is unlikely to be ready to go for the start of training camp. Mills was placed on injured reserve in October after suffering a foot injury and did not participate in any of the offseason program. Reports state that Mills was not even on the field working with the other injured Eagles players. It's unknown for now if Mills is expected to be ready for Week 1, but he'd need to get a lot of work in soon for that to be a realistic possibility. The Eagles may have some depth chart issues in their secondary if some of their guys don't heal quickly.

From RotoBaller

Jalen Mills Jul 18 6:50pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox could have a bigger role in the defensive secondary this season. He played very well in his rookie season last year and reports stated he was "one of the best players on the field" throughout the Eagles offseason program. Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills seem to be atop the depth chart, but both have legitimate injury concerns which could open up a starting role for Maddox. Even if both guys are healthy, Maddox has looked good enough to earn some time in base packages besides playing his role as slot corner.

From RotoBaller

Deebo Samuel Jul 18 2:40pm ET

Approaching training camp, the San Francisco 49ers first two picks of 2019 remain unsigned. Defensive end Nick Bosa, the second overall pick, and wide receiver Deebo Samuel represent two of the eight total 2019 NFL draftees that have not reached a deal. Bosa, who many experts expect to make an immediate impact, could lift the Niners defense from its 28th-ranked fantasy DST. More worrisome is Samuel, who will miss valuable reps with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo if hes unable to report to camp on time. With a crowded receiving corps, the rookie could conceivable sink on the depth chart, severely negating any redraft value he currently possesses.

From RotoBaller

Jalen Mills Jul 18 10:43am ET

Philadelphia Eagles CB Jalen Mills (foot) is unlikely to be ready when training camp opens.

From TheHuddle

Sidney Jones Jul 18 10:43am ET

Philadelphia Eagles CB Sidney Jones could wind up being trade bait for a team that is patient as Jones develops in the weight room.

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Damon Harrison Jul 18 9:03am ET

Detroit Lions CB Darius Slay and DT Damon Harrison's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, will meet with the Lions this week to discuss contract extensions for both players.

From TheHuddle

Matt Judon Jul 18 8:40am ET

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Matt Judon said this week that his representatives have opened contract extension talks with the team. He is entering the final season of a four-year, $2.595 million rookie deal, and he can be an unrestricted free agent after the 2019 season. Judon has registered 131 total tackles with 19 sacks, three forced fumbles and seven passes defensed in three NFL seasons, and he has 15 sacks over the past two campaigns. He is a key member of a Ravens defense which will be a Top 5 fantasy DST again this season.

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Miles Boykin Jul 18 8:20am ET

The Baltimore Ravens signed rookie wide receiver Miles Boykin to a four-year contract this week. Boykin signed his four-year rookie deal, the team announced on Wednesday, and the club now has all of its rookies signed just in time for them to report to training camp. Boykin, a third-round pick out of Notre Dame, missed time during offseason training activities (OTAs) due to a hamstring injury. He will be jockeying with Willie Snead, Seth Roberts and Chris Moore for a meaningful role in the Baltimore offense to start.

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Luke Stocker Jul 18 8:10am ET

The Atlanta Falcons brought in free-agent tight ends Logan Paulsen and Luke Stocker during the offseason to provide depth behind Austin Hooper, who is in a contract year. Stocker, who signed a two-year, $5.5 million deal in the offseason, received a $1.5 million signing bonus. He might also see some time at fullback in addition to tight end, but neither is expected to move the needle in terms of fantasy appeal unless disaster strikes Hooper. TE Jaeden Graham has also seen some time at fullback during offseason practices.

From RotoBaller

Eric Saubert Jul 18 8:10am ET

Atlanta Falcons tight end Eric Saubert was one of the team's three players at the position in 2018, but team re-signed Logan Paulsen while adding Luke Stocker in free agency. And Austin Hooper is the unquestioned starter and one of the more productive tight ends in the NFC. Saubert might be the odd-man out heading into training camp and the preseason unless they elect to keep four tight ends on the 53-man roster. Either way, Saubert isn't someone to bother with in fantasy football.

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Austin Hooper Jul 18 8:00am ET

Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn feels tight end Austin Hooper might be primed and ready to step up his play in 2019. Hooper, who is in a contract year, posted career highs across the board with 71 grabs, 660 yards and four touchdown in 2018 while being targeted 88 times. "Now, he's ready to go to another level, and I'm looking forward to seeing him make that growth," Quinn said. "The addition of having (tight ends coach Mike Mularkey) here, he's done everything that Mike has asked in terms of getting him ready." Hooper is worth targeting as a low-end TE1 in most fantasy leagues heading into 2019.

From RotoBaller

Grady Jarrett Jul 18 7:50am ET

The Atlanta Falcons and middle linebacker Deion Jones have agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $57 million, with $28.5 million guaranteed. The deal comes on the heels of a long-term pact with defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, who inked a four-year, $68 million deal earlier in the week. Jones bounced back to record 53 tackles in six games after suffering a broken foot in the regular-season opener. While the Falcons have some key components on their defense locked up for the long haul, they're still nothing more than a streamer DST in most fantasy formats heading into 2019.

From RotoBaller

Eric Saubert Jul 18 2:43am ET

Atlanta Falcons TE Eric Saubert could be released if the team elects to carry just three tight ends on its 53-man roster, in the opinion of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter.

From TheHuddle

Zach Zenner Jul 18 2:43am ET

Detroit Lions RB Zach Zenner could challenge veteran RB C.J. Anderson for the No. 2 spot behind RB Kerryon Johnson, in the opinion of The Detroit News' Justin Rogers, who notes that Zenner's north-south running style is a good fit for the team's blocking scheme.

Fantasy Spin: At this point, Johnson is the only sure thing in the Lions backfield, so you'll need to keep an eye on the preseason to see how Anderson, Zenner and Theo Riddick slot in behind him to see if anyone other than Johnson warrants a selection in fantasy drafts.

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Derrick Henry Jul 18 12:00am ET

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry finished the 2018 season on a tear, rushing for 625 yards and eight touchdowns in the month of December alone. New Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith has stated that he plans to "ride" Henry going forward, but perhaps expectations should be tempered. While the Titans did improve their offensive line through free agency and the draft this offseason, Henry's involvement should remain game-script sensitive with receiving back Dion Lewis still in Tennessee. Henry is likely going to win you some matchups this season with his big play ability and touchdown upside, but he is also likely to lose you some weeks should the Titans fall behind early, making Henry a risky pick in the late second or early third rounds of fantasy drafts.

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Cameron Brate Jul 17 10:13pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate could see 60 targets in 2019 while working as the backup to starter O.J. Howard, according to Taylor Jenkins of PewterReport.com.

Fantasy Spin: Jenkins projected just 45 targets for RB Peyton Barber, leaving extra work in the passing game for Brate. The 28-year-old has been a reliable red-zone threat over the past four years, but the chance for more catches and yards could make him a more reliable option in fantasy leagues. He's best left to the waiver wire, but he'll be worth starting as a bye-week replacement.

From TheHuddle

Peyton Barber Jul 17 10:03pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Peyton Barber will receive close to 45 targets in 2019, according to Taylor Jenkins of PewterReport.com.

Fantasy Spin: Jenkins projects Barber to be the every-down back for the Bucs this season. The 25-year-old caught 20 of 29 targets while starting all 16 games last year, but he went for just 92 yards and one touchdown through the air. He's an adequate RB3 play in standard leagues if he's able to hold off Ronald Jones II in training camp, but Jones has the higher upside.

From TheHuddle