AFC Training Camp Notes 8-12: Blake Bortles & More

Here are your AFC Training Camp Notes from Sunday 8-12. Training Camp is almost done, so enjoy while you can…


Sunday’s Ravens practice opened on an ominous note when wide receivers dropped passes during individual drills with no defenders on them. Willie Snead IV and rookies Janarion Grant and Andre Levrone were a few players who could not hang onto the ball, and those struggles extended to the first six-on-seven exercise.

On the first play of the first full-team drill, Flacco’s pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree on a deep post was intercepted by strong safety Tony Jefferson. On the next snap, tight end Darren Waller bobbled a seam pass from Flacco, and Jefferson nearly came up with his second interception in as many reps. – Mike Prescott

He isn’t going to wow anyone with his speed or jump cuts, but Buck Allen has a way of finding holes in defenses on third down. He has caught the Ravens defense off guard several times in training camp, including Sunday, when they blitzed and he circled out in the area and turned a short pass into a 70-yard touchdown.

Another running back who has been impressive is rookie Gus Edwards, an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers. He is the downhill type who runs a little high, but hard. He has 93 yards on 22 carries in the two preseason games.

The catch of the day belonged to rookie receiver Janarion Grant, who hauled in a long pass down the right sideline while his left arm was pinned by cornerback Darious Williams. If Grant can shine as a punt or kick returner, he might make this team. 

One of the best things about watching rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson in practice is that when a play breaks down or the Ravens run a quarterback draw, he can take it 80 yards for a touchdown and make it look easy.


WR Corey Coleman participated in his first workout with Buffalo last Tuesday at camp, but most of the team’s focus was on getting the other wideouts ready to play the Panthers.

Now, another week of camp, and Coleman is expected to see the field quite a bit. The Bills want to see his 4.37 speed on display in an effort to get that dimension into their passing game.

HC Sean McDermott says Coleman will get plenty of looks in the next few days.

“My expectations at this point is getting him integrated into our wide receiving corps,” McDermott said. “Seeing how he fits. Now he’s started to soak in the system and we’ll go out there today and get a good look at him.”

Second-year wideout Zay Jones is getting team reps again today, even though he still wears the non-contact jersey. The Bills aren’t ready to throw him into full contact work yet, as he continues to bounce back from offseason surgery. But they can watch him run routes and play with the first team. – Sal Maiorana

Day after day at St. John Fisher College, running back Marcus Murphy does something that catches your eye.

Whether it’s a sharp cut to explode through a hole, a burst around the edge, or a catch and run with a short pass from one of the three quarterbacks who have hogged all the headlines this summer, Murphy flashes. Every day.

“He’s a competitive guy and he’s fun to watch at practice,” said coach Sean McDermott. “What you saw (Thursday night against Carolina) is what we see every day at practice. Whether it’s playing special teams or playing the running back position, he’s selfless and a team guy and I really appreciate that.”

in the Bills’ 28-23 preseason-opening loss, he rushed seven times for 35 yards and scored on a well-executed counter from seven yards out, and also caught four passes for 30 yards, a performance that could only help his chances of making the final 53-man roster.


Some people say there’s no such thing as momentum in sports. Those people may not have an explanation for Tyler Boyd’s offseason resurgence since finishing the 2017 season strong.

While 2017 first-round pick John Ross has had his share of highlights at wide receiver, it’s been Boyd who’s brought consistency from both the flanker and slot alignments on offense. His breaks on his routes have been just as flawless as his hands, and is starting to look like the weapon that we expected to see last year. A touchdown in the preseason opener against the Chicago Bears topped off a strong camp for the third-year player.

A little further down the wide receiver depth chart from Boyd, Auden Tate showed out nearly every time he was on the practice field. He hasn’t let the minimal reps stop him from showing why he was a productive red zone and jump ball specialist for the past two years at Florida State.

For the veteran receivers like Boyd, and Tate specifically, the release of Brandon LaFell early in camp made them all de facto winners in terms of increased reps. Boyd is now locked in as one of the starting three receivers, but Tate receives the greater potential benefit in comparison as his chances of making the roster increased tremendously with LaFell gone.

Like Boyd, Tate also scored in the first preseason game, which only validated the skill set he’s shown in practice. With news concerning Tate taking reps with the first-unit emerging recently, his stock has only been going up.


Fred Greetham @FredGreetham

#Browns David Njoku continues to make plays as he caught sideline pattern and out ran 3 defenders to the end zone. – Scott Petrak

It came as no surprise, but Hue Jackson and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese reaffirmed — with no wiggle room — that Tyrod Taylor remains the undisputed starting quarterback after the preseason opener. He and No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield played well against the Giants, with Mayfield receiving the bulk of the attention and praise.

Tyrod Taylor had a solid day connecting with his receivers. The best play was a 57-yard corner route to tight end David Njoku behind linebacker Jamie Collins. He also did a good job finding a window to throw through before hitting rookie receiver Damion Ratley on a slant, and hooked up with receiver Jarvis Landry three times.

DENVER BRONCOS – Kyle Fredrickson

Royce Freeman arrived at Broncos Stadium with something to prove Saturday. A rookie tailback fighting for a roster spot in a crowded position room.

The Broncos’ first four drives were miserable: 11 plays, 20 yards, zero first downs, three punts and one Paxton Lynch interception. Then, facing third-and-short just outside the Vikings’ red zone after a Minnesota turnover, Freeman took a handoff off right tackle, shook safety Anthony Harris with a wiggle and sprinted down the sideline for the team’s first touchdown of the preseason.

Freeman, a 2018 third-round draft pick (No. 71 overall), completed the first half with a team-high four carries for 38 yards — a significant development considering Denver’s options. Devontae Booker’s first-team snaps showcase the Broncos’ trust in the third-year tailback. The Broncos also gave carries to De’Angelo Henderson, Phillip Lindsay and David Williams.


Colts.comAndrew Walker

Andrew Luck was back and throwing on Sunday after taking a scheduled day off on Saturday. He completed 22-of-33 passes with three touchdowns total in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 work. His touchdowns were thrown to Ryan Grant, Jack Doyle and another one to Grant in a last-second heave from 12 yards out, trailing 29-24 with 14.9 seconds left in the half/game. On that pass, Luck (who is sporting a brand new mustache) was trying to connect with T.Y. Hilton near the front of the end zone, but he was covered up with three defense backs — Quincy Wilson, Kenny Moore II and Ronald Martin — all in the area. The pass bounced off Hilton’s hands and conveniently ricocheted right into the waiting hands of Grant, who was uncovered behind him in the end zone.

After Marlon Mack (hamstring) and Robert Turbin (ankle) suffered injuries during Thursday’s preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks, the Colts have been left with just three healthy running backs (Josh Ferguson has missed most of camp with a hamstring injury, too) for the time being.

The three healthy backs (Nyheim Hines, Christine Michael and Jordan Wilkins) were also used in heavy rotation with the various offensive sets throughout the rest of practice. Mack and Turbin remain week-to-week, while head coach Frank Reich said Ferguson could make his return to the practice field sometime this week.

The tight ends showed up in a big way on Sunday, catching big pass after big pass. Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, Erik Swoope and Ross Travis each logged major plays on the day, with Swoope making plays all over the field — one from Luck down the right sideline, one from Brad Kaaya in traffic where he had to jump and come down with the pass in heavy traffic, one from Brissett, and then another big catch during 7-on-7 work from Kaaya.

Ebron had an impressive play on the final play of 7-on-7s on a crossing route across the middle, snagging the ball out of the air with one hand and then bringing it into his body.

Right before the last-second heave that ended in a touchdown to Grant, the Colts were working with about five to 10 seconds left on the clock, and had to get into field goal range and stop the clock. On both of these scenarios, Luck found Nyheim Hines for a screen pass to the right and the running back sped to the sideline to stop the clock with one (or fewer) second left. On both of these occasions, Adam Vinatieri came on and drilled the field goal.


During 11-on-11 drills, tight end James O'Shaughnessy was targeted in the flat by quarterback Blake Bortles multiple times. O'Shaughnessy's final catch of the drill led him out of bounds, leading to a skirmish between him and defensive end Dante Fowler. Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey also got involved with the physical altercation on the sideline.

Starting quarterback Blake Bortles completed 12-of-18 passes during 11-on-11 drills. His highlight of practice came on a red zone throw to wide receiver Rashad Greene in the end zone. He followed up that toss with a perfect throw to wide receiver Keelen Cole in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Bortles also made a nice throw over linebacker Telvin Smith and safety Barry Church to wide receiver Dede Westbrook during 7-on-7 drills.

Bortles lowlight came immediately after the skirmish between Fowler and O'Shaughnessy. The quarterback targeted Westbrook deep downfield and cornerback A.J. Bouye picked off the pass.

As mentioned before, there were quite a few drops during practice. Wide receiver Marqise LeeDeAndre Smelter and Dorren Miller were among those who dropped catchable passes during team drills. O'Shaughnessy and fellow tight end David Grinnage also dropped passes.


Yesterday, second-year receiver Marcus Kemp made one of the best catches of the entire camp, which can be seen here.

Then on Sunday, Kemp followed it up by making another couple of fantastic catches down the field in which he used his entire 6-foot-4 and 210-pound body to go up and get it.

Patrick Mahomes threw one deep to Tyreek Hill for a touchdown. Rinse and repeat.

Former K-State receiver Byron Pringle caught a couple of touchdowns and continues his solid camp.

Running back Charcadrick West, who has missed the last several practices, has been cleared for the last two days as a limited participant as he works his way through the concussion protocol.

MIAMI DOLPHINS – Cameron Wolfe

Ryan Tannehill showed a surprise glimpse of that midway through the Dolphins' practice Sunday when the QB yelled at rookie Kalen Ballage and kicked him out of the huddle after the running back missed a blocking assignment that resulted in a clean sack by Charles Harris.

The typically reserved Tannehill temporarily stopped practice to show his displeasure with Ballage. He continued to get his point across to the rookie out of Arizona State a little later in practice, too. – Florida Football Insiders

The Dolphins have high hopes for rookie Kalen Ballage, but the last few days have been a reminder that it’s a process to transition even from big time college football to the NFL.

First, Ballage had an early fumble in Tuesday nights preseason loss to the Buccaneers at Hard Rock stadium.

Then during Sunday’s practice, he missed a blocking assignment that would have resulted in quarterback Ryan Tannehill taking a “blindside hit” had it been in a game situation.

And, Tannehill had no problem letting Ballage, and everyone watching, know that that kind of play will get you put on the bench. – Rotowire Staff

WR Kenny Stills will miss Sunday's practice due to an ankle injury, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports.

Stills likely suffered the injury during Thursday's preseason opener against Tampa Bay, catching two passes for 20 yards in the process. He can probably afford to miss some time at practice, considering there isn't much question about his role as a starting wideout and Miami's top deep threat.


Phil Perry  @PhilAPerry

Much more action for Tom Brady today. Had him down as 15-for-19 in competitive 11-on-11 work. No apparent issues with the back.

Doug Kyed  @DougKyed

Devin Lucien had two impressive catches where he had to track deep balls from Etling. Rookie Braxton Berrios laid out for two catches.

Eric Decker had some issues in side work with the QBs, Gronk, Dorsett and Edelman. Decker dropped a couple passes.

Mike Reiss  @MikeReiss

A few thoughts on offense from Sunday’s practice: Tom Brady’s reported back injury not an issue as he has expanded workload; Jeremy Hill as lead RB with Rex Burkhead/Sony Michel not present.

NEW YORK JETS – Rich Cimini

Some observations on today's rain-shortened, fight-marred practice with the Redskins: Facing an unfamiliar opponent didn't faze Sam Darnold at all. He was poised in the pocket, as usual. One of the things he's working on is trying to get out of the huddle faster. He said there were times in the first game where he got to the line with only five seconds on the play clock. Josh McCown threw his first interception of camp. RB Trent Cannon, who played college ball nearby at Virginia State, had a fumble. He's had his share of dropsies lately. 5.) Injuries to worry about: RB Isaiah Crowell (concussion), NT Steve McLendon (leg) and LT Kelvin Beachum (foot) didn't make the trip.


Dale Lolley @dlolley_pgh

Looks like Stevan Ridley is dealing with some kind of minor injury. Walking with a bit of a limp. – Alex Kozora

James Washington movin’ on up. Running with the first group in individual/”on air” drills, catching passes from Ben Roethlisberger instead of the backups.

Fitzgerald Toussaint runs a wheel down the left sideline, beating Vince Williams and making the grab.

Jesse James rips through Anthony Chickillo. Runs a corner route but the ball slips off his fingertips. Incomplete.

Jaylen Samuels stems to the outside before bursting up the middle and beating Jon Bostic for the catch.

Ball on the Steelers own 5. Situational football. Roethlisberger somehow floated a ball over Artie Burns, Antonio Brown making a nifty snag. Nice touch throw.

Deep out left side from Ben to Justin Hunter, Burns covering. Good grab by Hunter, reaching out and away from his body to pull it in as the ball crossed his face.


During red zone drills, Marcus Mariota threw to tight end Jonnu Smith, but cornerback Adoree’ Jackson got a hand on the pass and batted it to himself for an interception. A couple of plays later, Mariota came back and threw a touchdown pass to tight end Delanie Walker, who was being covered by safety Kendrick Lewis.  


Mariota just hit Delanie Walker twice for a touchdown in goal line work.

Titans Radio  @titansradio

Blaine Gabbert hits rookie Deontay Burnett for a big gain with some YAC. – Dan Cotton

Tajae Sharpe had the catch of the day when he got both feet in on a pass thrown by quarterback Marcus Mariota. The catch set up a successful field goal attempt by Ryan Succop on the very next play.

Corey Davis practiced again on Sunday. He had a nice sideline catch from Mariota during one of the team periods.


If you have any comments or questions feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @Fantasytaz

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