Wed Aug 12 3:45pm ET
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
In this Friday, July 17, 2018, file photo, Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale directs players during an NFL football training camp practice in Owings Mills, Md. Martindale was quite pleased with a virtual minicamp that enabled his unit to get a grasp on the playbook this spring without actually getting on the field. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
In this Oct. 13, 2019, file photo, then-Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell (93) sets up to block on a field goal attempt during the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, in Jacksonville, Fla. By trading for Calais Campbell and signing free agent Derek Wolfe, the Baltimore Ravens shored up a line that was pierced for 217 yards rushing in a playoff loss to Tennessee. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
In this Jan. 14, 2020, file photo, LSU linebacker Patrick Queen speaks during a news conference after winning the NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game against Clemson in New Orleans. Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta drafted LSU linebacker Patrick Queen at No. 28 overall (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
In this Aug. 11, 2018, file photo, then-Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe looks on during the second half in an NFL football preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings in Denver. By trading for Calais Campbell and signing free agent Derek Wolfe, the Ravens shored up a line that was pierced for 217 yards rushing in a playoff loss to Tennessee. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)
Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale was quite pleased with a virtual minicamp that enabled his unit to get a grasp on the playbook this spring without actually getting on the field.
After the final session was completed, Martindale quipped: ''When we get to training camp, we'll find out who is All-Zoom team and who can play football.''
Although the Ravens haven't started hitting yet, Martindale is confident a defense that excelled last year will be even better this season. That's because Baltimore added talent up front and at linebacker via trades, free agency and the draft.
By trading for five-time Pro Bowl tackle Calais Campbell and signing free agent Derek Wolfe, the Ravens shored up a line that was pierced for 217 yards rushing in a playoff loss to Tennessee. General manager Eric DeCosta also slapped the franchise tag on sack-specialist Matthew Judon and drafted LSU linebacker Patrick Queen at No. 28 overall before taking Ohio State inside linebacker Malik Harrison in the third round.
That, along with the return of injured defensive back Tavon Young, leaves Martindale with a defense that should give Ravens fans something to talk about beside quarterback Lamar Jackson and Baltimore's record-setting offense.
''With the changes that we've made up front and the additions that we've made, we're big where we're supposed to be big and fast where we're supposed to be fast,'' Martindale said Wednesday on a Zoom call with reporters. ''We're really excited to see the product in this next month getting ready for (the opener against) Cleveland.''
The Ravens finally got the opportunity to get together on the field Wednesday after spending the first couple of weeks of camp getting tested for coronavirus, working in small groups and going over the playbook. All of it was necessary, but served only to whet Martindale's hunger for seeing what his defense will look like when fully assembled.
''August 12th was a day I had circled on my calendar because we're all on the same schedule now,'' he said. ''You're seeing the energy build.''
Martindale can't wait to unleash a defense that has five 2019 Pro Bowlers - Judon, Campbell and defensive backs Marcus Peters, Earl Thomas and Marlon Humphrey - along with newcomers Wolfe and Queen.
''We'll have the best 11 out there,'' Matindale said. ''The NFL, like the NBA, is all about matchups. And right now, with the talent that we have, it's a lot of fun.''
Martindale spent the past few months devising blitzes and cover packages designed to keep opposing quarterbacks guessing. In Campbell's eyes, no one does it better than Martindale, the latest in a long line of accomplished Ravens defensive coordinators that includes Marvin Lewis, Rex Ryan and Dean Pees.
''Coach Martindale is a defensive genius,'' Campbell said. ''Of the 11 guys on the field, pretty much eight of them can (blitz) at any time, and you might still be only rushing four. To have all of these different blitzes is very, very complicated, but he made it very simple - which I think definitely shows his genius.''
Martindale batted away the compliment, noting, ''It's nice that Calais said that, but the game will always be about the players.''
The Ravens appear to have the personnel of a top-flight defense, beginning up front with Campbell, Wolfe and Brandon Williams offering a combined 900-plus pounds of resistance to anyone who seeks to cross their path.
''Oh, we're going to be great together,'' Campbell said.
Five Cold Plays: Week 2
New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman was on the field for five of the 27 offensive snaps played with two receivers against the Miami Dolphins in Week 1. From 2017 to 2019, he was on the field for 41 percent of the snaps in two-receiver sets.
Fantasy Spin: One game isn't a big sample, and Edelman was still New England's most productive receiver in the opener. Fewer snaps would lead to less consistency, but Edelman is going to have WR3 potential regardless.
Baltimore Ravens TE Mark Andrews played a career-high 71 percent of the offensive snaps against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, topping his previous high of 55 percent of the snaps.
Fantasy Spin: Andrews emerged as an elite fantasy tight end last year despite playing about half the snaps. If his increased usage from Week 1 becomes the norm, he should be a lock for top-five production.
Los Angeles Rams TE Gerald Everett (back) is expected to play against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2, according to head coach Sean McVay. 'We put him as questionable, but he ended up going today,' McVay said. 'He felt good. I fully expect him to be ready to go.'
Free-agent S Doug Middleton (Titans) was signed to the Jacksonville Jaguars' practice squad Friday, Sept. 18.
Free-agent LB Devante Bond (Bears) and OG Dieter Eiselen (Bears) were signed to the practice squad of the Chicago Bears Friday, Sept. 18.
Cincinnati Bengals TE Mason Schreck was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster Friday, Sept. 18.
Cincinnati Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah (Achilles) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Friday, Sept. 18.
Miami Dolphins WR Antonio Callaway will be eligible to return from his suspension after the Dolphins have played seven games in 2020.
New York Jets rookie running back La'Mical Perine (ankle) is questionable to face the 49ers in Week 2. Perine was limited in practice the last two days, so he has a real chance to make his NFL debut after he was inactive in the season-opener. The Jets could really use some depth with Le'Veon Bell on Injured Reserve. But even if Perine suits up on Sunday, he's unlikely to see much of a workload behind veteran Frank Gore. Plus, he'll be facing a really tough San Francisco defense after an offseason in which he didn't get many on-field repetitions.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Dee Ford (neck) is listed as questionable for Week 2 against the Jets. Ford didn't practice the last two days after dealing with some neck stiffness following the season-opening loss to the Cardinals. San Francisco placed cornerback Richard Sherman on the Injured Reserve this week, so they won't be at full strength against New York. Ford had just three combined tackles in Week 1. He should be avoided in IDP leagues because of his injury, but even at less than full strength, the 49ers Defense remains a must-start fantasy defense against a Jets team that will be missing both Le'Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus didn't attempt a single field goal in the 16-14 Week 1 loss to the Titans, but he did make both of his extra-point tries. McManus has a very strong leg and kicks half the time in high altitude, but he'll be on the road this week and just can't be trusted in fantasy yet while the Broncos offense tries to get in sync. Quarterback Drew Lock showed potential last week, though, and he has plenty of talented weapons to work with in 2020. The 29-year-old kicker will become a streaming option at some point this year, but it won't be in Week 2 against the Steelers, especially if wide receiver Courtland Sutton (shoulder) misses another game.
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant caught five of his six targets for 81 yards and a touchdown in the Week 1 loss to the Titans, leading the team in receiving yards with Courtland Sutton (shoulder) inactive. Sutton is questionable heading into Week 2 against the Steelers, so Fant could once again be the team's leading receiver this Sunday. He'll obviously be a better upside TE1 if Sutton sits out, but at the very least, Fant will have some low-end TE1 appeal as one of quarterback Drew Lock's favorite targets. Some people believe the second-year tight end is primed for a breakout season with Lock under center for a full year.
The Denver Broncos won't have any rowdy fans to worry about on their trip to Pittsburgh in Week 2, but a healthy quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his cast of weapons will pose a big challenge to a defense missing Von Miller (ankle) for the year and cornerback A.J. Bouye (shoulder) for at least three weeks. Inside linebacker Mark Barron (hamstring) will also be out. Denver's run D didn't allow Derrick Henry to run wild last week, but their inexperienced rookie cornerbacks Michael Ojemudia and Essang Bassey will surely be tested by Big Ben with talented wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson leading the charge. While the Broncos Defense was worth starting last week, they should be avoided this week with key injuries mounting.
Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy showed off some of his trademark route-running ability and quick feet in the team's Week 1 loss to the Titans, but he also had a couple uncharacteristic drops in his NFL debut. The 21-year-old from Alabama caught only four of his eight targets for 56 yards as the team's lead wideout last Monday with Courtland Sutton (shoulder) inactive. There's a lot to like in the long-term with Jeudy in this offense, but there will continue to be some growing pains throughout his rookie campaign. He'll be a more attractive upside WR4/flex in deeper leagues if Sutton misses another game, but the matchup against the Steelers is a difficult one regardless.
Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman will be the primary backup to Melvin Gordon in the team's Week 2 matchup against the Steelers after Denver ruled Phillip Lindsay (toe) out for the week. Freeman won't have any standalone fantasy value, though, after he saw just two touches -- a carry for no gain and a 12-yard reception -- in the second half of the Week 1 loss to the Titans when Lindsay didn't return after the first half. On top of it, Pittsburgh's rush defense was one of the best in the league last year and held Saquon Barkley down in their season opener. The 24-year-old will see more than two touches over the full game, but he should be ignored in pretty much any fantasy format.
Denver Broncos WR Courtland Sutton (shoulder) was limited during practice Friday, Sept. 18, and is listed as questionable for Week 2.
Fantasy Spin: Sutton is expected to be a game-time decision, so fantasy players will need to check the inactive list. Players will need to have other options available in case Sutton is ruled out, but Sutton would be a risky option if he is active.
Updating a previous report, Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (concussion) was limited during practice Friday, Sept. 18, and is listed as doubtful for Week 2.
Fantasy Spin: Godwin likely will be a game-time decision, so fantasy players will need to monitor his progress during the weekend. He is a must-start option when healthy, but players should have other options available in case he is ruled out.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (hamstring) fully participated in practice Friday, Sept. 18, and is not on the injury report for Week 2.
Fantasy Spin: Evans should be more involved in the passing game this week since he was limited in Week 1 because of the hamstring injury. He should be considered a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Houston Texans WR Will Fuller (non-injury) did not participate in practice Friday, Sept. 18, but is not on the injury report for Week 2.
Fantasy Spin: Fuller led the team in receptions, receiving yards and targets last week and showed good chemistry with Deshaun Watson. He will be facing a tougher opponent in Week 2 but can still be a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Tennessee Titans WR Corey Davis (hamstring) fully participated in practice Friday, Sept. 18, and is not on the injury report for Week 2.
Fantasy Spin: Davis was upgraded during each day of practice this week and will be ready for his normal workload against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He likely will be the main option in the passing game for the Titans and can be at least a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues.