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FFL: Offseason | NFL: Offseason

Saints look to keep rolling with Bridgewater against Bears

Thu Oct 17 7:27pm ET
By ANDREW SELIGMAN
AP Sports Writer

Players: Drew Brees, Jared Cook, Chase Daniel, Dak Prescott, Teddy Bridgewater, Mitch Trubisky, Alvin Kamara

Chicago Bears quarterback Chase Daniel (4) prepares to throw during the second half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)


Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew, lower left, is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, center, as Jaguars offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, right, tries to slow Jordan down during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)


New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, left, looks for a receiver as he is pressured by Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)


Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) tackles Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) during the second half of an NFL football game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)


LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The New Orleans Saints kept their sights set on a Super Bowl even after Drew Brees went down with an injury.

While their superstar quarterback continues to recover following thumb surgery, the NFC South leaders will try to remain unbeaten without him.

The Saints look to improve to 5-0 with Teddy Bridgewater as their starter in Brees' place when they visit Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

''It just shows this is a team that's determined to win and do whatever it takes,'' Bridgewater said.

The Saints (5-1) are getting big contributions from their defense and special teams and enough from their offense even if they're not moving the ball the way they did a year ago. They're averaging 344.7 yards - down 34.5 yards per game from last season, when Brees made 15 starts. He's been sidelined since he tore a ligament in his right thumb during a loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2.

Bridgewater has completed about 69 percent of his passes for 1,089 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He wasn't as effective last week at Jacksonville, after throwing for 314 yards and four touchdowns against Tampa Bay, but he hit Jared Cook for a tiebreaking 4-yard TD early in the fourth quarter against the Jaguars.

He will try to keep the Saints rolling against a team looking to bounce back. The Bears (3-2) are coming off a loss to Oakland in London two weeks ago in which their defense got pushed around a bit after dominating the first four games and their offense continued to struggle.

Here are some things to know:

TRUBISKY'S RETURN

The Bears hope to get quarterback Mitchell Trubisky back after missing a game because of a left shoulder injury.

If he returns, he'll try to build on a promising showing against Washington in Week 3.

Trubisky threw three touchdowns in an easy win over the struggling Redskins after mediocre outings in a season-opening loss to Green Bay and a narrow victory at Denver. He was then injured on the opening drive against Minnesota on Sept. 29.

''I felt that each game leading up to that Vikings game, until he got hurt, that there was (improvement),'' Bears coach Matt Nagy said. ''Progression-wise where he's going, playing faster, seeing at the line of scrimmage that he's getting into checks or seeing progressions, adjustments at the line of scrimmage - way quicker than what he was.''

Veteran Chase Daniel figures to make his second straight start if Trubisky is unavailable.

GETTING PRESSURE

With 18 sacks, New Orleans is tied with Green Bay and Tennessee for sixth in the NFL.

Coach Sean Payton has been pleased by how depth along the front has helped keep linemen fresh and pressure high. While Cameron Jordan leads the club with five sacks, he's one of eight defensive linemen who've had at least half a sack. Payton said the Saints put an emphasis on improving depth on the defensive line after defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who was second on the club in sacks last season with eight, tore his Achilles tendon last January. That helped the Saints remain stout up front until Rankins returned in Week 4.

The Saints have not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season - or in 32 games, for that matter. They've also held their previous three opponents - Dallas, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville - to season lows in total yards.

INJURED PLAYERS

While the Saints could be thin at running back if Alvin Kamara is unavailable or limited because of knee and ankle injuries, the Bears placed right guard Kyle Long and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks on injured reserve this week.

Long will miss the remainder of the season with a hip injury. Hicks could return after eight weeks from an elbow injury he suffered against Oakland. Both players have made the Pro Bowl - Long from 2013-15 and Hicks last year.

RISING ROOKIE

Saints rookie defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson has had a promising start to his career. And he is expected to be tested more this week because primary nickel back P.J. Williams was suspended two games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Johnson's biggest moment was a hit on Cowboys QB Dak Prescott on a delayed blitz that forced an interception on the final play of the Saints' 12-10 triumph over Dallas in Week 4.

DEFERENCE TO DANIEL

While the Saints weren't sure which quarterback they'd be facing, several spoke highly of former teammate Daniel.

Rankins said Daniel - who played for New Orleans from 2009-12 and in 2017 - was always respected by the Saints' offensive brain trust: Payton and Brees.

''Coaches respected his opinion if he had an opinion on certain plays, or Drew would go to him about certain things, or they would converse back and forth about things they were seeing on the field,'' recalled Rankins, who was Daniel's teammate in 2017.

Player Notes
Jimmy Garoppolo Feb 26 1:40am ET

San Francisco 49ers left tackle Joe Staley (leg) is expected to return for the final year of his contract in 2020 after there was speculation that he would retire from the game after a Super Bowl run in 2019. The 13-year veteran missed nine games last season due to a broken leg, but he was solid as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's blind-side protector when he was on the field. Staley allowed just seven QB pressures in 240 pass-blocking snaps last year for a pressure rate of 2.9 percent, which trailed just Ronnie Stanley and Taylor Lewan among left tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. Staley's return would be great news for Jimmy G.

From RotoBaller

Dante Pettis Feb 26 1:30am ET

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that he wants wide receiver Dante Pettis to go on an offseason "mission" after taking a huge step back in his second season in 2019. After catching 27 passes for 467 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games in his rookie season, Pettis had just 11 grabs for 109 yards and two scores in 11 games in 2019 and was in Shanahan's dog house for the majority of the season for multiple reasons. But with Emmanuel Sanders a free agent and the Niners looking for someone to step up behind Deebo Samuel, Pettis could get another chance this spring and summer to prove he belongs. Still, it'll take a lot of convincing for fantasy owners to invest in Pettis off the waiver wire to begin the year.

From RotoBaller

Jalen Ramsey Feb 26 1:10am ET

Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead said that there is "no timeline" on a long-term contract extension for cornerback Jalen Ramsey. The Rams acquired Ramsey from the Jaguars in the middle of last season for two first-round picks. The 25-year-old played in just 12 total games last year (nine with the Rams), and he had 33 tackles (31 solo), one forced fumble and an interception in his time in Los Angeles. The former fifth overall pick in the 2016 draft has made three straight Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro back in 2017 when Jacksonville made an AFC Championship appearance. Ramsey will be expensive, but he'd be a huge asset for the Rams secondary for years to come if he sticks around.

From RotoBaller

Jacob Hollister Feb 26 1:00am ET

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll thinks highly of tight end Jacob Hollister and the team wants to bring him back as a restricted free agent. Will Dissly is coming off a torn Achilles last year and has two major lower-body injuries in the last two seasons, but the Seahawks also recently signed veteran Greg Olsen at the position. There's no guarantee that either of Olsen or Dissly will stay healthy for a full season, though, so perhaps Seattle wants to keep Hollister around for depth. The 26-year-old had a career-high 41 catches for 349 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games in 2019. He might have some low-end TE1 fantasy appeal if he were to land with another team as their starter.

From RotoBaller

Gardner Minshew II Feb 26 1:00am ET

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone and general manager David Caldwell said that the team will let quarterbacks Gardner Minshew and Nick Foles compete for the starting job in 2020. Joshua Dobbs will also be a part of the competition, which will begin as soon as organized team activities kick off this spring. Marrone suggested that the Jaguars won't select their starter until the preseason. Caldwell may have a soft spot for Minshew, but the Jags also signed Foles to a four-year, $88 million deal ($45 million in guarantees) in March of last year. Foles broke his collarbone in Week 1 and was benched upon his return. Minshew, a rookie in 2019, showed flashes but was mostly a game manager in this run-first offense. Whoever is under center to start next season will be a middling QB2 option.

From RotoBaller

Rashaad Penny Feb 26 12:50am ET

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that he expects running back Rashaad Penny (knee) to begin training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Penny needed reconstructive knee surgery after injuring himself in early December against the Rams. If he were to start the season on the PUP, Penny would have to sit out the first six games. The former first-round pick started riding a stationary bike on Feb. 12, but he has a long ways to go in his rehab. With the oft-injured C.J. Prosise hitting free agency, Travis Homer could be the direct backup to Chris Carson to open the 2020 season if Penny isn't ready to go.

From RotoBaller

Deshaun Watson Feb 26 12:40am ET

Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said that he will hand play-calling duties over to offensive coordinator Tim Kelly in 2020. O'Brien had been calling the offensive plays in Houston since he took over from former offensive coordinator George Godsey in 2016. Kelly will be in his second season as the OC and has worked with O'Brien since he was a graduate assistant at Penn State. The Texans finished 13th in the NFL in 2019 in yards per game (362). Kelly will also work closely with quarterback Deshaun Watson, and this news could actually raise the ceiling of Houston's entire offense next year. "Deshaun and [Kelly] have a great relationship," O'Brien said. "... Deshaun has great trust in Timmy and the work that Timmy puts in, what Tim brings to the meeting room and on the field. Tim is an excellent coach."

From RotoBaller

Chris Carson Feb 26 12:40am ET

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that running back Chris Carson (hip) is making progress but can't do much yet in his rehab. However, the Seahawks expect Carson to be ready for the 2020 season. The 25-year-old missed just one game in 2019 and handled 278 carries for 1,230 yards and seven rushing touchdowns for Seattle in his third year in the league. It was Carson's second straight 1,000-yard rushing season, and he also added a career-high 37 receptions for 266 yards and two scores through the air. He has yet to play in a full season but has missed just three games in the last two seasons. With Rashaad Penny (knee) doubtful to be ready for Week 1, Carson should handle the bulk of the load heading into the regular season and will be a strong RB1 in this run-first offense if he's fully healthy.

From RotoBaller

Jamal Adams Feb 26 12:10am ET

New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas said he wants to keep safety Jamal Adams "a long time." "Jamal is an unbelievable player. We're excited about Jamal. The plan is for Jamal to be a Jet for life," Douglas said of his now fourth-year playmaker and two-time Pro Bowler in the deep middle of his defense. The Jets have had extension talks with Adams, but he's also under team control for another two years, which means the Jets don't have to rush into anything. As one of the top safeties in the league already, Adams will surely be trying to become the league's highest-paid safety when the time comes. He'll be one of the more attractive safeties in IDP leagues in 2020 and beyond.

From RotoBaller

Jarius Wright Feb 26 12:00am ET

The Carolina Panthers declined the fully guaranteed $1 million option for wide receiver Jarius Wright on Tuesday, according to a source. With the move, the Panthers will free up $3 million in salary cap space. Wright had just 28 receptions for 296 yards and no touchdowns in a full season in his second and final year in Carolina. It didn't help that quarterback Cam Newton (foot) played in just two games, but Wright probably wouldn't have contributed all that much in the passing game to begin with. Wherever he lands next, Wright will be receiver depth and contribute on special teams.

From RotoBaller

David Njoku Feb 25 6:33pm ET

Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku is likely to have his fifth-year option picked up, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.

Fantasy Spin: Njoku had a down year in 2019, as he didn't seem to gel with former head coach Freddie Kitchens. He finished the season with just 41 yards a touchdown in four games played. A first-rounder in 2017, there's still plenty of hope for his future.

From TheHuddle

Jadeveon Clowney Feb 25 6:03pm ET

Impending free-agent DE Jadeveon Clowney will be a target of the Seattle Seahawks for a new deal, according to head coach Pete Carroll Tuesday, Feb. 25. 'We are going to try,' Carroll said. 'We are trying to get it done. He had a fantastic season. We'd love to have him back.'

From TheHuddle

Le'Veon Bell Feb 25 5:53pm ET

New York Jets RB Le'Veon Bell will remain a part of the team in 2020, according to general manager Joe Douglas Tuesday, Feb. 25. 'There hasn't been talk as far as him going anywhere,' Douglas said. 'We're excited about Le'Veon. Le'Veon has been a great teammate. I can't tell you how great he's been. ... We're excited to have him.'

Fantasy Spin: Bell rushed for just 789 yards and three touchdowns in his first season with the Jets while adding another 461 yards and a touchdown as a receiver. He has dropped into the RB2 tier for 2020 and will need to reprove himself within the Jets offense.

From TheHuddle

Jacoby Brissett Feb 25 5:43pm ET

Indianapolis Colts QB Jacoby Brissett needs to be seen in a larger sample of work, according to general manager Chris Ballard Tuesday, Feb. 25. 'We did a 2-year deal with Jacoby to find out,' Ballard said at a press conference from the Scouting Combine. 'We like Jacoby Brissett. Love what he stands for. It was almost a tale of two seasons where we're 5-2, he's playing good football. He had the injury and we had injuries as a team and we kind of slid down. We did the short term deal to see what we had. To say we're going to create competition, we're going to create competition at any spot. That's going to be a year-to-year thing.'

Fantasy Spin: Brissett threw for 2,942 yards with 18 touchdowns and just six interceptions last season, but he was able to lead the Colts to a record of just 7-8 in his 15 starts. It's clear he needs more help in the passing game than he had in 2019, and he should be able to be a serviceable QB2 in fantasy leagues if Indy makes some additions this offseason.

From TheHuddle

Cam Newton Feb 25 5:33pm ET

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (foot) hasn't yet played to the best of his abilities, according to new head coach Matt Rhule Tuesday, Feb. 25. 'I'm really excited to coach Cam Newton,' Rhule said. 'Just getting to know him, being around him, seeing the way he's rehabbing, taking this seriously. I think if he does this right and we do this right, his best football is ahead of him.'

Fantasy Spin: It's a bold claim for the former Offensive Rookie of the Year and MVP, but he should certainly be able to bounce back from his more recent decent years. If Newton does in fact stay in Carolina, he'll be a low-end QB1 at draft time.

From TheHuddle

Jarran Reed Feb 25 5:13pm ET

Impending free-agent DL Jarran Reed is wanted back for the 2020 season, according to Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider Tuesday, Feb. 25.

From TheHuddle

Marshawn Lynch Feb 25 5:13pm ET

Impending free-agent RB Marshawn Lynch hasn't shared his plans for the 2020 season, according to Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider Tuesday, Feb. 25.

Fantasy Spin: Lynch won't warrant fantasy consideration if he does return to the Seahawks. He'll be behind both Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny when both are healthy and won't receive reliable work.

From TheHuddle

Kenyan Drake Feb 25 5:03pm ET

Impending free-agent RB Kenyan Drake is wanted back by the team, according to head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim Tuesday, Feb. 25. 'We'd love to have him back, he's a perfect fit for our offense,' Kingsbury said. 'He's certainly a guy we would like to have back but again not sure what the market is going to do,' said Keim.

Fantasy Spin: Drake rushed for 643 yards and eight touchdowns over eight games with the Cardinals after being acquired from the Miami Dolphins. He dethroned David Johnson and Chase Edmonds in the backfield, and he'll be a top-end RB2 wherever he plays in 2020.

From TheHuddle

David Johnson Feb 25 5:03pm ET

Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson is still valued by the team, according to general manager Steve Keim Tuesday, Feb. 25. 'He's a guy who's shown he can do it,' Keim said. 'I think because of the success that Kenyan (Drake) had, because of the success Chase (Edmonds) had, I think that's something that will be a chip on his shoulder. He's going to want to come back and play well and again because of his skillset, he's such a big talented athlete, we certainly think he can jump back in and do some good things for us.'

Fantasy Spin: Johnson has struggled the last three seasons since his All-Pro 2016 campaign while battling various injuries. He lost work to Kenyan Drake at the end of last season and he's a wild card until it's known how the Cardinals' backfield depth chart will stack up.

From TheHuddle

Chris Carson Feb 25 4:53pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RB Chris Carson (hip) is expected to be ready for the start of the season, according to head coach Pete Carroll Tuesday, Feb. 25. Carroll added Carson isn't yet able to do much work.

Fantasy Spin: Carson rushed for a career-high 1,230 yards with seven touchdowns in 15 games before suffering the injury. He'll be a low-end RB1 entering 2020 with RB Rashaad Penny (knee) further behind in his recovery.

From TheHuddle