Fri Jul 19 3:23pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (30) takes a hand off from quarterback Joe Flacco during drills at the team's NFL football training camp Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco throws a pass during drills at the team's NFL football training camp Friday, July 19, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders runs a route during drills at the team's NFL football training camp Friday, July 19, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello directs tight end Troy Fumagalli (84) during drills at the team's NFL football training camp Friday, July 19, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The Denver Broncos' revamped offense features a half-dozen key players coming back from injuries that ended their 2018 seasons prematurely.
Right guard Ronald Leary thinks so.
Like receiver Emmanuel Sanders, Leary is coming off a torn Achilles tendon.
Tight ends Troy Fumagalli (sports hernia) and Jake Butt (ACL) are also embarking on comebacks, as are Pro Bowl running back Phillip Lindsay (wrist) and new quarterback Joe Flacco , whose hip injury cost him his starting job last year in Baltimore when the Ravens turned over things to rookie Lamar Jackson.
All six players say their injuries forced them to reflect during rehab and gave them a newfound appreciation for football.
Collectively, Leary suggested that will prove a benefit as the Broncos embark on another new scheme under new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello.
''All the guys you named coming back from injury are big parts of this offense,'' Leary said Friday. ''And especially when the game's taken away from you with a significant injury, you appreciate everything more. Not saying we didn't appreciate it already, but when it's just like anything in life, when something's taken away from you, you appreciate it even more.
''I think we got a lot to bring the offense, a lot of juice. We've got the right mentality coming into camp. I mean, all of our teammates are happy to see us coming back.''
Leary said he realized during his recovery that he has more resilience and patience than he thought, and he's sure he's not alone in that discovery.
''With the type of injury I had there was so much down time in the beginning where you can't do anything,'' Leary said. ''You're just sitting around. So, I started reading more, just talking to my wife more, just learning more about myself and just realizing how much I appreciate the game, how much harder I wanted to work in rehab to get back out on that field.''
Leary was cleared near the end of OTAs, but Sanders and Lindsay missed the Broncos' entire offseason program. Both were back on the field this week, however, when the Broncos became the first NFL team to open training camp.
''Moving around, feeling no pain, feeling good and feeling like myself,'' Sanders declared. ''I know a lot of people didn't expect that, so it's just a testament of all the hard work I put in, all the pain that I went through to be standing here.''
Although Sanders is limited, he's building a rapport with Flacco by being on the field during camp instead of the sideline .
''Flacco is a baller,'' Sanders said. ''I think things are going to be OK. I think we're going to be OK. I like the way he spins the ball. I think we will have a lot of success this year. ... I call him `Pretty Boy' Flacco. That's his name. He's just smooth.''
Much like Peyton Manning did in 2012 after missing an entire season in Indianapolis following a series of neck fusion surgeries, Flacco is coming to Denver with a shot at resurrecting his career following an injury.
''There is an energy about coming here and an excitement that I feel about coming to this new team and getting another chance to be a starting quarterback in this league,'' Flacco said.
General manager John Elway said, ''Any time you get traded midway in your career or two-thirds of the way through your career, you've got something to prove.''
''Yeah, there's no doubt,'' Flacco agreed. ''Listen, I think I've got a lot left in the tank. And I feel like I can do a lot more than I've shown in my 11-year career. I'm excited about that.''
And starting his first training camp outside Baltimore, Flacco said, ''I feel like a little kid.''
So does Lindsay, who hated having to watch fellow running backs Devontae Booker and Royce Freeman get carries while he continued his rehab during OTAs.
''I like the grind. I like being tired. I like the sweat, the blood, the tears,'' Lindsay said. ''That's what I'm here for.''
NOTES: Alexander Johnson was the first of many ILBs who filled in for Todd Davis, the team's leading tackler last season, who is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with a partial tear of his right calf.
The Atlanta Falcons signed free-agent kicker Blair Walsh on Saturday. The 29-year-old is a former All-Pro that was taken by Minnesota in the sixth round in 2012. He hit 84.2 percent of his kicks in five years with the Vikings and was last with Seattle in 2017, where he made 72.4 percent of his kicks. Current kicker Giorgio Tavecchio has struggled this preseason, so Walsh will push him for the job as Week 1 approaches. Atlanta's kicker position could yield nice fantasy points in 2019, but this is a situation to avoid in fantasy until we have more clarity.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins went 3-for-13 for 35 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions Saturday in the third preseason game. He was sacked twice and was pressured often in the outing. Cousins had multiple passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. The stat line looks ugly, but it shouldn't serve as much of a deterrence for taking Cousins as a low-end QB1 or as a quality backup. The upside isn't where it once was, but he's a relatively safe option for your fantasy squad.
New England Patriots tight end Lance Kendricks has been suspended for the first game of the regular season for violating the league's policy on substances of abuse. Kendricks wasn't in line to see much work for the Pats and could be cut now, so this doesn't move the fantasy needle at all. The 31-year-old caught 19 passes for 170 yards and one score over a full season with Green Bay last year. With Benjamin Watson also suspended to begin the season, Matt LaCosse is likely to be the primary pass-catcher in Week 1, but he'll be a deep DFS sleeper, at best.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook rushed twice for 88 yards and one touchdown in the third preseason game Saturday. On one of his rushes, he started left and cut back to the right, breaking tackles on his way to an 85-yard touchdown run. Cook is showing he's all the way back from his torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He's a midrange RB1 that has the potential to be one of the best backs in the game.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray went 14-for-21 for 137 yards in the third preseason game Saturday. He didn't throw a touchdown or an interception, and he avoided taking a sack. He rushed four times for nine yards. The team has emphasized getting the ball out quickly with Murray, which hasn't led to many big gains. This dink-and-dunk approach limits his fantasy value in single-year formats. However, it could prove beneficial in the long run. Murray is an upside backup quarterback in fantasy, but he is a budding chip to have in dynasty formats.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Keesean Johnson caught all seven balls thrown to him in the third preseason game Saturday. He tallied 85 yards on the receptions for 12.1 yards per catch. He had five catches for 52 yards combined in the first two preseason games. This performance made a statement in his quest for the Cardinals' No. 3 receiver job. Johnson looks to be a value pick to target late in drafts, and his play could boost him into the WR4 category.
Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia said that linebacker Jarrad Davis (ankle) and center Frank Ragnow (knee) avoided season-ending injuries after getting hurt in the preseason game on Friday night against the Bills. It's great news, but both players could still be questionable to suit up in the regular season opener against the Cardinals in two weeks. Davis emerged as a solid inside presence for Detroit's defense last year, while Ragnow is an essential cog in the team's offensive line. You can avoid Detroit's defense/special teams unit in fantasy, though.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (foot) got treatment for his mid-foot sprain on Saturday, but head coach Ron Rivera thinks Newton will be on the field "pretty soon." The Panthers are hopeful that Newton will be ready for Week 1 against the Rams, where Newton would be a QB1 option. Rivera added that he's "cautiously optimistic" that Newton will be practicing soon. "There really isn't any timetable, but we're going to do everything we can to make sure it's right and ready to roll,'' Rivera said. Kyle Allen, Will Grier and Taylor Heinicke are all splitting backup repetitions behind Newton, so it's anyone's guess who would start the regular season opener if Newton isn't ready. Allen has seen the first reps behind Newton most of the last two weeks but hasn't looked good. Newton's fantasy stock was already on the decline due to questions about his surgically-repaired right shoulder, so most owners probably aren't taking him as a QB1 now.
Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson had nine carries for 34 yards and also caught both of his targets for seven yards in the passing game in Saturday's preseason game against the Vikings. Johnson should be able to bounce back in head coach Kliff Kingsbury's offense with rookie quarterback Kyler Murray leading the charge. The 27-year-old back is one of the more versatile runners in the game and is a top-five fantasy running back in 2019. The only question is whether Arizona's offensive line can improve enough to give him space to run.
Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater went 2-for-2, including a 61-yard field goal, in the Lions 24-20 loss in Week 3 of the preseason against the Bills. The veteran kicker has been a consistent top-10 fantasy kicker throughout his career and shows no signs of slowing down. His ability to hit from 61 yards is an excellent sign, making him worth a draft pick in nearly all fantasy formats.
Baltimore Ravens backup quarterback Robert Griffin III (thumb) is on scheduled to be ready for Week 1, according to head coach John Harbaugh. Griffin injured his right thumb early in training camp and hasn't played in any preseason games. As long as Lamar Jackson stays healthy, which is a big if considering his propensity to scramble, RG3 will be holding the clipboard on game day. He'll only have fantasy intrigue in two-QB leagues if Jackson goes down with an injury.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that tight end Ed Dickson (knee) is "still aways away" from returning. The 32-year-old veteran won't be ready for Week 1 and wouldn't even be a fantasy target if he was. When healthy, Dickson will compete for playing time with Will Dissly and Nick Vannett. Dickson had only 12 receptions for 143 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games played in his first year with Seattle in 2018. He's gone over 500 yards receiving just once in his career, and that was back in 2011 with Baltimore.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones (undisclosed) was able to play every snap with the first-string offense in the Lions third preseason matchup against the Bills. Jones was able to catch one ball on three targets for seven yards. This is a good sign, considering he was held out of last week's preseason matchup with what seemingly was the same injury. Jones should be in store for a productive season if he can remain healthy and is a WR2/3 option in nearly all formats.
Green Bay Packers running back Tra Carson is ahead of rookie Dexter Williams on the depth chart because of his work in pass protection, according to head coach Matt LaFleur. Williams will have a chance to climb the depth chart as the season wears on, but to begin he's behind Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and Carson. He's strictly one to stash in dynasty/keeper leagues for now.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was scrambling for his life most of the night in the preseason game against the Browns on Friday, but he managed to continue building chemistry with wide receiver Chris Godwin, hooking up with him four times for 52 yards. Winston finished 9-for-19 for 88 yards and a 60.9 passer rating. He scrambled well and didn't make bad decisions or risky throws, which is what he needs to cut out of his game in a contract year. Winston has all the things in place to have his best season to date in head coach Bruce Arians' offense, making him a low-end QB1/high-end backup for fantasy owners. Godwin should see heavy targets as well, making him a popular breakout candidate in 2019.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert (shoulder) suffered a dislocated left shoulder in the preseason game on Friday night against the Browns, according to head coach Bruce Arians. It's unknown if Gabbert will need surgery. The quarterback was 4-for-5 for 33 yards before leaving the game. Ryan Griffin stepped in for Gabbert and will likely be Jameis Winston's backup as we head into the regular season. Rookie quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is still recovering from a hamstring injury.
Detroit Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis (ankle) suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter of Friday's preseason game against the Bills. He was carried off the field by trainers and carted to the locker room. He'll undergo an MRI exam on Saturday. Center Frank Ragnow (leg) was also taken to the locker room in the second quarter after suffering a right leg injury. Davis, 24, would be a big loss for Detroit's interior defense, as he's had over 90 tackles each of his first two seasons, including six sacks in 16 games in 2018. Ragnow's injury could make life more difficult for the Lions offensive line heading into the regular season.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is possibly in the best situation of his career heading into the 2019 regular season. With an improved offensive line, a brand new pass-catching corps which includes Antonio Brown, and a first-round rookie running back to hand the ball off to, Carr has the recipe to break out this season. The 28-year-old is also making strides in his second year under head coach Jon Gruden and his system. He's looked much more comfortable in year two, and has shown more assertiveness in his throws with the playmakers around him who can help aid his fantasy ceiling. Carr is a solid late-round QB2 to target in two-quarterback leagues and may find value in certain matchups in single-quarterback leagues throughout the season.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle (hip) spent the offseason recovering from a hip injury that cut his 2018 season short. He's played with the starters sparingly thus far, as he's registered just 13 snaps, and those may be the last preseason snaps that we see of him. He has looked good when he was out there, and his focus is now on maintaining his health for the regular season. Currently going in the 13th round, Doyle remains a sneaky option as a backup tight end to give you good production throughout the year.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow is poised for an impactful rookie season with the Silver and Black in 2019. As the starting slot receiver, Renfrow will provide another set of reliable hands for short yardage passes while the defense focuses their attention primarily on Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams. The Clemson product was renowned for his catching prowess at the college level and has carried it over to the NFL so far through his first preseason. Quarterback Derek Carr and head coach Jon Gruden have both praised Renfrow for his sneaky ability to get open and haul in anything thrown his way. Until we see how significant his role will actually be in this offense he remains a dynasty stash, but could find value in PPR redraft leagues as the season progresses.