AFC Training Camp Notes 8-8: Deshaun Watson & More
Here are some AFC Training Camp news and notes from Wednesday 8-8 as training camps come to a close. Now it’s time for everyone to get on the field and show what they got. Enjoy!!
Cbssports.com – Jason La Canfora
Ravens rookie tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews are often featured on packages with the starting offense and their size and outside ability provide some matchup problems and new looks. Some of those sets are ripe for running the ball, or allowing for one of the tight ends to keep deep. Hurst made several diving catches and big plays during these two practices and he should be an immediate contributor if he can avoid nagging injuries. Andrews flashed as well. "He's really made a huge jump," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said of Hurst, "both in-line and with his route running."
Keep an eye on the ball when it comes out of rookie quarterback Lamar Jacksons hand. His spiral has consistently had a wobble to it throughout camp – most notable on deeper stuff – and he continues to adjust to the NFL football. "It's still a work in progress," Mornhinweg said.
With Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders taking vet days, the three receivers out of the gate first in team drills are Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton and River Cracraft.
Paxton Lynch found Tim Patrick for a pretty deep TD.
MikeHighReport.com – Scotty Payne
As for the tempo of practice, Joseph said it was good with the young guys stepping up. He singled out rookie wide receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton and said it was fun seeing them spend the day with Keenum and the first team offense.
“It was good. It’s always good to see those guys become ones for the day, especially ‘14’ [WR Courtland Sutton] and ‘17’ [WR DaeSean Hamilton]. They’re playing with [QB] Case Keenum in the huddle, so it was fun to see those guys play with the ones.”
If it weren’t for big Courtland Sutton making insane plays day in and day out, we all would be hyping up another big wide receiver. That receiver being the 6’4” first-year wide receiver, Tim Patrick.
Patrick continued his excellent play today by connecting with second-team quarterback Paxton Lynch on multiple occasions today. This connection will be something to keep an eye on as we head into the preseason. the two clearly have a good chemistry and could hook up early and often on Saturday night.
The 5th and 6th spots at wide receiver are a competitive spot right now, but I believe Patrick is in the lead for the 5th spot right now. That 6th spot will likely go to a returner like Isaiah McKenzie, River Cracraft, or Phillip Lindsay.
9news.com – Mike Klis
Three running backs looked especially impressive Wednesday: Royce Freeman, Devontae Bookier and Phillip Lindsay.
Texanswire.usatoday.com – Cole Thompson
The talk of the offseason was, of course, the on-going recovery of Texans quarterback, Deshaun Watson. The former 12th overall pick tore his ACL during practice back in November and sent the Texans down a spiral of woes for the rest of the season. While Watson was expected to make a full recovery, many were concerned with Watson’s longevity due to the fact this was his second time tearing the same ligament.
So far, it hasn’t affected him.
Picking up where he left off, Watson has excelled this past training camp under center. Fully padded and running the offense, the former Clemson standout has show improvement not only in his progression as a passer but finding a rhythm with his receivers.
When the Texans signed Lamar Miller back in 2016, they believed they were getting a bruiser in the backfield who could be a feature back in the NFL. While Miller has been the lead back for two seasons, he’s been anything but a bruiser for the offense. Managing to average just 3.7 yards last season, part of the reason for Miller’s regression is his weight gain. Earlier this preseason, Miller stated with reporters that last season, he weighed a career-high 220+ pounds in the backfield.
A healthy offseason and shedding several pounds later, Miller seems to have resurged in the backfield. Quicker, cleaner and agiler during practice, the former Hurricane has received high praise from both his coaching staff and teammates for his progression this offseason. With former third-rounder D’Onta Foreman still missing reps in the backfield, having a rejuvenated Miller could be a good thing for the Texans overall running game.
According to reports, WR Braxton Miller has slowly come into his element during training camp. Getting out of his head and into the playbook, Miller has looked clean in his route running while making consistent catches in practices. With plenty of positives coming from Miller’s training camp, it will be hard to leave him off the 53 man roster if he continues to impress during live games.
After gaining near 20 pounds of muscle this off-season, WR Will Fuller’s speed hasn’t been the only thing Texans coaches have praised him on. Physical on his routes while also bursting off the line, the former Notre Dame star has seemed to add more to his overall game, making him a complete receiver than in prior seasons. After a promising, yet short season last year with Watson under center, Fuller should only grow as a receiver and become a force to reckon with this season on the field.
Stampedeblue.com – Matt Danely
WR Ryan Grant is a bit of a different case then the rest of these you’ll read about. He’s definitely not flashy, he doesn’t possess any next-level speed, size or hands to speak of. But, that hasn’t changed the coaches minds for the worse about him.
Offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni recently doted about Grant speaking about his consistency and desire to improve, while mentioning his route running and daily approach to camp. While Grant was recently pegged as the No. 2 at the position behind T.Y. Hilton, it comes via what won’t show up on the stat sheet.
The lack of production and chemistry with Andrew Luck has me wondering how real this is right now, and deserves legitimate concern. But, he’s clearly become one of the staff’s favorites over the past couple weeks. He’ll really be one to watch closely.
WR KJ Brent has been one of, if not the most interesting players at camp so far. It’s been a nice surprise for the receiver position. He’s become an excellent route runner, has speed to burn and is a regular target for whoever is passing the ball.
At 6-foot-3, Brent gives the quarterbacks a big target, can rise to win 50/50 balls and is becoming one of the more reliable pass catchers from the unit. Last year Brent was active for 5 games, and though he didn’t put any catches, his potential for ascension was understood.
Brent has come in to camp and has dominated at points, creating separation with crisp breaks while having that speed to run away from defenders after the catch. With is potential in mind, Brent has risen from near the bottom of the receiver corps to own one of the top 5 spots at the position thus far. I can’t wait to see him versus different colored jerseys.
RB Jordan Wilkins has just been so good since the Colts strapped the pads on. Everything we’ve talked about up to this point in terms of expectations have been revealed to be true.
Wilkins is pushing for starter reps, can catch the ball in the flat or across the middle and is showing a little more speed than I expected once he breaks through to the second level of the defense. Pairing him with Marlon Mack seems ideal. Adding another weapon like Nyheim Hines is an added bonus and will theoretically give the Colts a fun three-headed monster for teams to deal with.
Our third receiver on this list, WR Deon Cain may be the most impressive of the bunch when it’s all said and done. As I mentioned earlier, this is a good development as the position was expected to be a real concern heading into the season.
From the start of camp to now, I think it’s fair to move Cain into the WR4 spot. He’s been a playmaker early, and even though he’s not continued to make big flashy plays each and every day, he’s remained consistent and reliable at the very least.
Cain has displayed the speed, route running ability and amazing body control that you would expect to see from an early-round draft pick. Yes, he was considered to have top-level talent, but he dropped and the Colts now are the beneficiaries of a ticked off, 6-foot-2 pass catcher with 4.43 speed and one massive chip on his shoulder.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
ChiefsWire.usatoday.com – Charles Goldman
The Chiefs have four undrafted rookie receivers on the roster and the one who has stood out the most in camp is a converted tight end. Blake Mack has size, quickness and some serious moves. His aggressive style of play is perfect going against the Chiefs press-man system.
The Chiefs don’t really have one of those physical go up and get the football types in the starting receiver group right now and I think that Mack can be one of those guys. He plays with a big time chip on his shoulder and it shows in practice, but can he make a big enough impact on the field to secure a roster spot?
WR Jehu Chesson seems to be tumbling down the depth chart for the Chiefs. Guys like Gehrig Dieter, Marcus Kemp, DeAnthony Thomas and Blake Mack have seen snaps ahead of him in Chiefs training camp. While he is listed as third string behind Sammy Watkins and Chris Conley on the depth chart, we know that those are not always accurate to the coaches thinking. In camp Chesson has had some drops, mental mistakes and seems to dive for every pass even when he doesn’t need to.
Jace Amaro has been the most impressive tight end not named Travis Kelce. Sure Demetrius Harris also had some moments, but Amaro has consistently made plays with the second team. We don’t know if the Chiefs will carry three tight ends this season, but that seems to be the magic number for them in the past.
Patrick Mahomes has been pretty good throughout training camp. Some would be quick to tell you that he threw a lot of interceptions early on in camp, but those people probably couldn’t tell you about his improvements over the past week. Most recently Mahomes went 24-for-25 in team drills with his lone incomplete coming on a drop. He’s looked a lot more sharp as we’ve got closer to the opening of the preseason.
PatriotsWire.usatoday.com – Henry McKenna
Sony Michel will be absent for a good portion of training camp due to a knee injury, and Rex Burkhead was limited for the first time on Wednesday. He has a long injury history. That makes things complicated at the running back position, where there was an open competition for the job on first and second down. James White will likely keep his job as the third-down option.
Burkhead was the favorite to win the job on early downs. Michel was expected to catch on quickly, and perhaps challenge Burkhead as the season continued. I won’t overstate Burkhead’s injury — the nature of the issue hasn’t been disclosed and he has missed just one practice. However, his absence might mean he won’t play in Week 1 of the preseason.
The absence of Michel and Burkhead could open the door for Jeremy Hill, Mike Gillislee and Ralph Webb to push for a roster spot with an increased workload during preseason.
Both Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have lost patience with their receivers during the course of training camp. Brady can be heard yelling or seen gesticulating angrily at receivers during drills. Belichick has cut two of them and signed another after just two weeks of camp.
Jordan Matthews and Malcolm Mitchell are out after entering spring practices as players who seemed likely to make the roster. Eric Decker is in — for now. And youngsters Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron can’t seem to develop fast enough.
PatriotsWire.usatoday.com – Henry McKenna
Rex Burkhead wasn’t a full participant on Wednesday. That’s a new development. He seemed primed to step into a starting role. His participation will be worth monitoring going forward.
Jeremy Hill and Brian Hoyer fumbled an exchange during the walkthrough. Hill also had a fumble on Tuesday.
In the first preseason game, expect a heavy workload for receivers Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron, quarterback Danny Etling and running back Ralph Webb in the first week of preseason.
NEW YORK JETS
ESPN.com – Rich Cimini
Rookie TE Chris Herndon, who continues to shine, made a diving catch on a throw by Teddy Bridgewater.
Trent Cannon muffed a punt. Dude can fly, but he's had the dropsies as a punt returner.
Wednesday was QB Sam Darnold's seventh camp practice; he missed the first three due to a contract holdout. The past two practices - on Monday and Tuesday - were a bit bumpy for Darnold. Tuesday was particularly streaky, with several strong periods that led to five touchdowns, but also a handful of lulls that resulted in a slew of incompletions and two interceptions.
Darnold's workload during both was markedly increased from earlier in camp, as the Jets prepare him for the preseason opener.
DetroitLions.com – Tim Twentyman and Mike O’Hara
I thought Oakland won both sessions on offense and defense. Darius Slay gave up a couple long touchdowns on short passes turned into big plays to Martavis Bryant and Amari Cooper.
Profootballtalk.nbcsports.com – Michael David Smith
Former Raiders wide receiver James Jones says current Raiders wide receiver Martavis Bryant is having a rough training camp.
Jones said on NFL Network that he talked to Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson, and Olson told him Bryant hasn’t learned the playbook.
“I just had a chance to speak with Coach Olson and he said talent-wise, there’s probably nobody that can compete with [Bryant] talent-wise,” Jones said. “But they said he’s not picking up the playbook, and that’s the reason of a little frustration right now because they want to get him on the field but he’s not able to grasp the playbook yet.”
Jones said Bryant can’t move around the way receivers usually do because the Raiders are trying to simplify Bryant’s learning process by having him line up in the same place on every play.
If you have any comments or questions feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @Fantasytaz
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