NFC Training Camp Notes 8-8: Golden Tate & More

Here are some NFC Training Camp notes and some players to watch in preseason games that start in earnest tonight. Enjoy!!


DETROIT LIONS – Tim Twentyman and Mike O’Hara

There was one big play to Golden Tate from Matthew Stafford for the Lions' offense, but they also allowed two sacks, and Marvin Jones Jr. was called for an offensive pass interference. 

On the other side of the ball, it looked like the Lions’ offense had made a big play when it had the ball in the team drill. With six seconds left in a drill simulating the game clock running, Marvin Jones Jr. made a catch in the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown. It was wiped out by a flag for offensive interference. Flag or not, it was a good throw by Matthew Stafford and a tough catch by Jones.

In all the games and practices I’ve watched Theo Riddick take part in since joining the Lions in 2013, I can’t recall a time when I witnessed the talented running back drop two passes in a row. That’s why it caught my eye in Wednesday’s practice. It was during passing drills against the linebackers. Like he always does, Riddick wiggled himself free from coverage on a nice option route and was wide open over the middle. He dropped a perfect pass. He was visibly upset with himself. His next rep, he ran right by the linebacker and couldn’t haul in a ball that was maybe a touch high but hit both hands. – Dave Birkett

Marvin Jones spent a lot of the week behind the Raiders' secondary. He averaged 18 yards a catch last season, and if he played 16 games against Oakland's cornerbacks, I'd venture to say that number would go up this year.


Before the season, all the talk was about the three rookie wide receivers that GM Brian Gutekunst selected in this year’s draft. As expected, their performance in training camp has been inconsistent, but Jake Kumerow, a first-year player out of Wisconsin-Whitewater has been the surprise of the group.

Kumerow has great size at 6’4” and 209 pounds and more importantly has run the right routes and caught everything thrown his way in camp.

When QB Aaron Rodgers called out his young wide receivers after practice on August 7, he specifically excluded Kumerow from criticism.

In addition to winning Rodgers’ trust, Kumerow has made Gutekunst take notice. “Certainly, his combination of athleticism and size was something that we were intrigued by,” Gutekunst told USA Today. “I thought it was nice for us to get him on the practice squad. He’s taken the most of that opportunity through last year and into this year and really applied it. He’s had a nice camp so far.”

LOS ANGELES RAMS – Jason La Canfora

Cooper Kupp was more or less unstoppable in practice. The second-year receiver was a go-to guy for Goff and the chemistry was obvious in the 11-on-11 unscripted portion. The Ravens tried lining up slot corners and regular corners and even hybrid linebackers on him but to no avail. In general, he was a matchup problem and with Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks on the outside, and the Rams hopeful for a breakthrough season for tight end Tyler Higbee, Kupp remains in line for a bevy of targets. Goff and he have something special going on.


Chris Tomasson‏ @christomasson

#Vikings WR Kendall Wright isn't a special teams ace. Mike Zimmer was asked what he might need to do to overcome it if he's not playing special teams. "Probably won't be dressed on game day,'' Zimmer said. "I can't dress 6 WRs on game day and they don't help us on special teams." - wludford

Several notable players did not participate today - Xavier RhodesStefon DiggsAnthony Barr, and Brandon Zylstra among them.

With Stefon Diggs and Brandon Zylstra out today, Kendall Wright got more reps and looked more engaged. He had a couple targets and catches, but despite being more involved, still didn’t stand out. Nevertheless, he was improved from yesterday, if not outstanding.

WR Stacy Coley was a little better today than yesterday, and also got more reps with Diggs’ and Zylstra’s absence. He had a couple nice catches today - one in end zone drills and another in second team drills.

With Stefon Diggs out today, Laquon Treadwell looked the best receiver out there - or at least on par with Adam Thielen. In the two-minute team drill, under the gun and forced to get plays off fast, you could tell Treadwell was Cousins’ go-to receiver - he looked his way first nearly every play.

Well, from the glass half-full perspective, the Vikings red zone defense was pretty stout today. But from the glass half-empty perspective, Kirk Cousins threw a bad pick in the end-zone, another bad pass to Dalvin Cook that killed another red zone opportunity, and didn’t connect with Kendall Wright on a third- after each voicing his displeasure. He did manage a nice corner throw to TE Kyle Rudolph for a TD, but even then he tried to copy Stefon Diggs yesterday by throwing the ball into the stands afterword with a big yell... but somehow managed to miss the stands- 20 yards away- on the throw.


It’s not as if the New Orleans Saints don’t care about their execution against Jacksonville on Thursday night. But the player evaluation process really ramps up now. Here are a handful of players to watch against the Jaguars:

Tom Savage/Taysom Hill essentially can be listed as one, since they’re engaged in a battle for the backup quarterback spot behind Drew Brees. Honestly, Savage, the five-year veteran who has started nine NFL games – including seven last season – appears to have the edge on Hill, the second-year player who only has played on special teams in the five games for which he has been active. But Hill’s athleticism is such that he can create gains from losses, and possible sacks may turn into 8-yard scrambles or 25-yard, broken-play completions.

The only reason to not have been impressed by rookie receiver Tre’Quan Smith is that you haven’t yet seen him in training camp. Otherwise, you’d like what you’ve seen. Now, we just want to see it under game-like conditions. I don’t believe that’ll be a problem for Smith but, still, we want to see it transferred from the practice field to the game.

Count converted tight end Dan Arnold among the early training camp standouts. He’s another prospect who has to carry that momentum into the preseason games and show that he’s a player who, perhaps, is valuable enough to keep on the 53-man roster. He’s a big target (6 feet 6) who needs to play that way.


It's a Wednesday edition of Roob's random Eagles observations just for you! (not all FF related, but I found them extremely interesting)

RB Donnel Pumphrey literally looks like a different person. But can he carry it over to the games?

I’m not sure how this is possible, but no Eagles quarterback has ever thrown 25 or more touchdown passes in consecutive seasons. Among the 53 NFL QBs who have? Brian Sipe, Ken O’Brien and Aaron Brooks.

I try not to get too carried away by rookies at training camp, but my goodness, TE Dallas Goedert looks scary good. 

This is insane: Carson Wentz in his last nine games last year averaged 248 passing yards, three TDs, 60 percent accuracy and 0.6 interceptions per game. The last Eagles quarterback before Wentz with two consecutive games with 248 yards, three TDs, 60 percent accuracy and one or fewer interceptions? Would you believe Randall Cunningham against the Cards and Broncos in September of 1992? Wentz averaged that over nine games.

There are 28 quarterbacks in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Only six of them have had more career playoff games with a passer rating of at least 100 than Foles (Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Troy Aikman, John Elway, Dan Marino and Steve Young).

I’ll be surprised if RB Corey Clement doesn’t catch 50 passes this year. – Jeff Kerr

TE Dallas Goedert has established himself as a red zone presence in the Eagles’ offense through the first two weeks, which is why the Eagles drafted him in the second-round. Philadelphia lost Trey Burton as a red zone presence and the second tight end in "12" personnel, but upgraded with the more athletic Goedert, who is better at route running and creating mismatches in coverage with his 6-6 frame.

Goedert is becoming a player in the Eagles’ offense. His development has been staggering. 

WR Rashard Davis has been gaining traction on the depth chart by becoming a deep threat with his 4.39 (40-yard dash) speed and deep ball tracking. He also adds value on special teams in a variety of different roles, which may be his ticket toward making the roster.

Davis, who spent time on the Eagles practice squad last season, will finally get an opportunity for extended preseason snaps with the Eagles. 

He roster chances are long, but he's played his way into the conversation. 

The biggest thing going for RB Wendall Smallwood is that he's been healthy through 12 training camp practices, which is huge for his roster chances. Smallwood is arguably the most talented of the bubble players at running back, but health has always been a concern with him. 

Being on the second team for the preseason opener means Smallwood will get plenty of carries. The Eagles may view him as a trade candidate, but Smallwood still is proving to the front office he can be reliable through the first two weeks. 

RB Donnel Pumphrey has showcased consistency during the full contact team drills, breaking multiple runs of seven-to-10 yards against the Eagles second-team defense. Pumphrey is bigger, but has kept the same agility from his rookie season. The difference is he has been able to absorb hits. 

The Eagles have been using Pumphrey in the slot as more of a pass-catching back, even lining him out wide. They have a plan for him, and will give him plenty of reps in the preseason. 

After a bad first few days of practice, RB Josh Adams has found his way into the roster competition at running back. 

When the Eagles ran goal line drills in full pads last week, Adams was impressive in the short yardage situations, demonstrating power and agility once the ball was in his hands. Adams may have found a niche with the Eagles.

The preseason will be exciting to watch him run. 

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – Patrick Holloway

For those of you longtime readers, you may have been hearing about Jimmy Garoppolo’s issues with the deep ball. He struggled in OTAs getting these things out and of course was struggling a bit as training camp moved on. As we all know, throwing it 70 yards should be a defining trait of one Jimmy G.

Well, let those concerns be put to rest. Garoppolo has had some throws that are nothing less than beautiful.

Ahem. Don’t forget the Aldrick Robinson receptions on Tuesday.

This doesn’t mean Garoppolo’s deep ball woes are over. On the contrary, I won’t say he’s perfectly fine until I see some dimes placed in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings. Even then, we need some consistency throughout 2018 for me to say Jimmy Garoppolo has excelled at the deep ball issues. – Chris Biderman

Here are some things to watch in the 49ers’ preseason opener Thursday night against the Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium. 

Will Joe Williams capitalize on his opportunity? The 49ers last season kept three running backs on the active roster. This year, the expected trio would be free-agent addition Jerick McKinnon, promising second-year player Matt Breida and special teams ace Raheem Mostert.

Williams could be on the outside looking in. But if he plays well in the preseason, Shanahan might think about keeping four running backs on the 53-man roster. After all, it remains to be seen if McKinnon (205 pounds) and Breida (200) are durable enough to carry the load over an entire season. McKinnon never logged more than 213 touches in his four campaigns with the Vikings while Carlos Hyde last season had 299.

“I’m just excited to watch him play out on the field,” Shanahan said of Williams this week. “I’m a lot more excited now than I was last year just because of what he’s shown in practice. … He’s come a long way in a year and he’s given himself a chance to be a good running back. We’ll see how it looks on Thursday.”

Receiver appears to be the 49ers’ deepest position group (which, admittedly, is an odd thing to write given the club’s recent history). But there are a slew of intriguing options competing to round out the group behind Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor and Dante Pettis.

Kendrick Bourne, Garçon’s primary backup, has a strong rapport with Jimmy Garoppolo and offers size unique to the position. Aaron Burbridge has been working as one of the team’s primary gunners in punt coverage, which seems to bode well for his chances. Victor Bolden Jr. has return skills and offers unique quickness in the slot. Same for rookie seventh-round pick Richie James, who has made impressive catches at every level of the field and has Garçon-like toughness. It’s likely Shanahan keeps six receivers, which means two of those four wideouts won’t make the cut.


Perhaps no rookie will play faster than running back Ronald Jones. The second-round pick from Southern Cal is known for his explosive, long runs. The Bucs didn't have many of those last season, averaging only 3.7 yards per carry as a team.

"I'm anxious to get out there,'' Jones said. "I don't know how much or what plays I'm going to get, but, you know, I know I'm going to be playing, so every time I'm out there, try to make an impact. Just try to stand out.

Jones has had some good days and bad days in training camp. He's struggled in pass protection. Having only caught 32 passes in three years at USC, his hands need to become softer.

"They've improved since he's been here,'' running backs coach Tim Spencer said. "They didn't throw him a lot of balls at USC. But his hands have improved, and if he keeps on improving, that speed is something else.''

Peyton Barber will likely get the start at running back. "I can definitely see us as a one-two punch just as the Saints do it with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara,'' he said.


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

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