Training Camp Notes 8-2: Evan Engram & Much More

Here are a ton of Fantasy Training Camp notes from Thursday 8-2. Enjoy!!! – Ryan O’Halloran

Be excited about quarterback Case Keenum. Through five days, he has not thrown an interception in 11-on-11 play. Per our network, even New England’s Tom Brady can’t say that. Most impressive is Keenum hasn’t been saved by a dropped interception. He just knows where to go with the football.

Also be excited about rookie receiver Courtland Sutton. He has made plays in every situation: Individual drills, 7-on-7, 11-on-11, hurry-up, red zone. Sutton is developing so quickly, the Broncos, if they haven’t already, should be committing themselves to being a base “11” personnel (three-receiver, one-back) offense.

Dan Schneier @DanSchneierNFL

What I've learned at #GiantsCamp thread: 1. Evan Engram has been the best offensive player on the field. He was also the best in spring practices. He is also being used on different route depths + all over the formation. He was lined up on one play as the Z with 3 WRs trips left.

Dan Schneier @DanSchneierNFL

As for Engram, there's no way he sees the targets he saw last year, but he'll make more of them + #Giants figure to be in RZ more often where he has done some of his best work at camp. He has been a mismatch all camp, getting the best of LC more times than not.

Dan Schneier @DanSchneierNFL

Cody Latimer is going to win the No. 3 WR job. Put me on freezing cold takes if it doesn't happen. Latimer provides the size/physicality that is so key for holding blocks downfield in Shurmur's run-heavy scheme. Aside from today (quad), he's seen vast majority of 1st-team reps.

Jason Wilde  @jasonjwilde

On 4th down with 8 seconds left in the 2-minute drill, Aaron Rodgers draws the #Packers D offsides and turns a free play into a 26-yard TD to Geronimo Allison vs. Alexander. Oh, and 12 was looking at the left side of the field as he threw and hit Allison on the far right side. #NoLookPass

Tom Silverstein  @TomSilverstein

Davante Adams had two nice catches in drill. He’s been consistently good throughout camp.

Joe Fann  @Joe_Fann

Things are starting to click. Jimmy Garoppolo just hit Marquise Goodwin in stride on a 55-yard bomb down the left seam. #49ersCamp

Eric Branch @Eric_Branch

#49ers TE Cole Wick was carted off the field during practice with an apparent knee injury. – Phil Perry

Both players who left Wednesday's practice with injury -- Sony Michel (pictured) and Marcus Cannon -- were not spotted. Cannon left Wednesday's practice early on with an undisclosed injury. Michel dealt with a lower-body issue that landed him on the stationary bike, then into the medical tent, before he left Wednesdsay. 

Mike Gillislee returned to practice Thursday after spending his time on a lower field Wednesday.

Riley McCarron (pictured) had a hard time getting on the same page with Brady in team drills.  Yesterday's "Long Shot" looked unsure of how to handle a motion before one snap, leading Brady to call timeout. McCarron was promptly subbed out for Julian Edelman. Later, McCarron was open over the middle but faded his route toward the sideline. Not what Brady was looking for. The throw went behind the receiver and fell incomplete. Brady could be heard shouting instruction to McCarron immediately after the ball hit the turf. 

Brady looked dialed in during 7-on-7 work before the full team sessions began. He went 4-for-5 in his reps, including one contested completion to Phillip Dorsett, who continues to have a rock solid camp. Dorsett looked a little slow to get up after one incompletion earlier in the practice -- Jomal Wiltz collided with Dorsett at the end of the play -- but Dorsett said after that he was no worse for the wear.

Cordarrelle Patterson and Brady continue to develop their chemistry on back-shoulder balls. Patterson made the play of the day, with Jason McCourty all over him, reeling in Brady's throw one handed as if it simply stuck to his mitt, which he threw at the ball at the last possible second. It elicited "Ohhs!" from the crowd in attendance. That kind of play will only help Patterson earn Brady's trust moving forward. 

Ben Volin  @BenVolin

Phillip Dorsett with two outstanding catches today, both closely contested — a 50 yard bomb down the left sideline, and now a tough catch over the middle in tight traffic. Getting close to naming him my Favorite Player of 2018 Training Camp.

Ian Rapoport  @RapSheet

As was building when Jordan Matthews went down... the #Patriots are signing WR Eric Decker, source said. They’ve been in talks for a few days. Will be a one-year deal. – Bryan Strickland

The team period was a long one and continued after the two-minute drill was done with a welcome sign – a leaping catch in traffic by Curtis Samuel against two defenders. Thursday was Samuel’s second consecutive practice after sitting out the first five sessions of camp.

“His quickness and speed were a big asset for us last season, so seeing him returning back to form is huge,” Rivera said. “He’s got to be able to make those plays consistently.”

-That period continued – and wrapped up the practice - with some red zone chances for the first three units. Newton hit Greg Olsen for a 3-yard score with the first team, then Gilbert hit receiver Rasheed Bailey for a 6-yard score in the front of the end zone. – Matt Lane

This week, we’ll highlight a player who may not see the enough snap counts to be widely considered to have made a leap. But if his production can become less variable, he could become more effective on fewer snaps than last year.

I’m talking about third year wide receiver Demarcus Robinson out of Florida.

His route running is becoming a strength. He had issues catching at times, and until he cleans that up, the 23-year-old shouldn’t be considered anything more than a situational player.

Robinson’s best trait is easily his footwork and body control within his routes. This allows Robinson to excel in short areas, and his start-stop ability help generate separation in these routes.

While he’s still working on the technicalities of his route running, Robinson is very good at getting open during the play. He shows different breaks out of his stems, and uses his hands and head to help sell the fakes. His one to two step cuts (bam and rocker steps) can generate a lot of separation for being such quick moves.

Currently the third wide receiver position is up for grabs — although Chris Conley remains the favorite to win the job. But unlike Conley, Robinson’s physical traits align with a traditional slot role — which could give him a slight edge for a coach (and a quarterback) who don’t normally operate with a big slot receiver.

Goodberry  @JoeGoodberry

Two WR set for Cincy the first time. It was John Ross and AJ Green.

Goodberry  @JoeGoodberry

2nd team WRs are Cody Core, Alex Erickson and Kermit Whitfield. Auden Tate and Josh Malone aren't out here.

Manish Mehta  @MMehtaNYDN

#Jets S Marcus Maye and WR Terrelle Pryor are both participating in 11-on-11 team drills for a second consecutive day. Maye doesn't have the red no-contact jersey on today. Progress. #JetsCamp

Manish Mehta  @MMehtaNYDN

#Jets RB Thomas Rawls, who was nicked up at various times in Seattle, is not practicing today. 

Brian Costello  @BrianCoz

I don’t see Quincy Enunwa out here as practice begins. He missed yesterday’s practice with an undisclosed injury. – Matt Lombardo

Throughout the course of Thursday's practice, quarterbacks Eli Manning and Davis Webb frequently aired it out, including a 50-yard bomb from Manning that Russell Shepard ran under for a long touchdown. 

Much has been made this camp about the threat that No. 2 overall pick rookie running back Saquon Barkley poses as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, and the Giants took that to another level on Thursday when they lined Barkley up out wide as a receiver. 

Similarly to how former Penn State offensive coordinator would line Barkley up in the slot, or put him in motion back into the backfield, even at times lining him up out wide to create mismatches, the Giants put Barkley out as a wide receiver on Thursday and passed it to him in the flat, which allowed him to race upfield for a nice gain. – Matt Lombardo

It's difficult for Barkley's stock to rise much higher after being chosen with the No. 2 overall pick in April's 2018 NFL Draft, with the expectation that he becomes a focal point of the Giants' offense as a rookie. 

However, through the early portion of camp, Barkley looks as advertised as a dynamic threat as a pass-catcher out of the backfield which separated him from the other prospects in this year's class, in addition to quickly improving in blitz pickup and as a pass-protector. The latter, has the chance to lead to him rarely coming off the field this season. 

Through five practices in full pads, Odell Beckham Jr. has looked just as explosive and dynamic as he ever did prior to shattering his ankle in Week 5 of the 2017 season, and has been the runaway star of the show.

Had it not been for the constant reminders and questions during press conferences, there would be little reason to believe that Beckham is coming off an injury at all. After spending the spring attending a majority of voluntary offseason workouts and all of the mandatory practices, the ball is squarely in the Giants' court to get an extension done. 

The early frontrunner for this summer's "fan favorite" to make the 53-man roster just might be second-year wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo

With the exception of Odell Beckham Jr., Etta-Tawo has been among the more impressive offensive performers during the first two days of practice. 

Etta-Tawo has plenty of speed, and showed it off when he went full-extension to haul in a deep pass in stride, between defenders, from Davis Webb on Friday. Friday's circus catch by Etta-Tawo came one day after he got behind the defense for a long touchdown in the first practice of training camp. 

Dan Schneier @DanSchneierNFL

Saquon Barkley hasn't made too many flashy plays but more important he hasn't made any mistakes. Hasn't dropped a pass despite many targets. Has caught red zone TDs, picked up a screaming blitzer (Landon) with perfect tech. on the long Shep TD, has lined up all over at WR. – Stephen Holder

“What keeps them on their toes right now is that they have to learn everything,” coach Frank Reich said. “But as we get more towards the games, we will be game-plan specific.”

That’s exactly what Reich’s former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, have become known for. From week to week, it was impossible to predict which running back would take the lead role for last season’s Super Bowl champs. There were games in 2017 in which as many as four running backs carried the ball in Philadelphia.

That’s the Eagles' model. Now, Reich is adopting it in Indianapolis.

And it’s workable here, too. The main reason: These backs are mostly dissimilar, meaning they can be used in different situations and in different ways.

“It will be opponent specific in what we are trying to do. ... Certain guys have a little better feel on gap scheme runs. Other runners, as you know, have a better feel for zone scheme runs and you just kind of gear guys towards what they’re best.”

Turbin is as physical a runner as the Colts have. (He'll miss the first four games after violating the league's performance-enhancing drugs policy.) But Turbin is a great third-down option as well, given that he’s the best pass protector in the group.

Then there’s Mack, an explosive one-cut runner who has thrived on the perimeter. He hopes to become a more efficient inside runner in 2018, saying he needs to be as decisive on his inside runs as he is on those to the outside.

Hines is a great example of a wild card player, one who can -- theoretically -- do just about anything. The former slot receiver at North Carolina State has, perhaps, more on his plate, given his undefined role.

“It just depends on the day,” he said. “I feel like on one day in OTAs, I caught seven passes and had two carries.”

Hines is often sent in motion out of the backfield – that is, if he isn’t already lined up in the slot.

Wilkins has been coming into his own since the pads went on over the weekend, showing his physical, determined running style. His performance of late is going to give coaches lots to contemplate if he continues to have the same kind of production in preseason games.

Emory Hunt @FBallGameplan

WR Antonio Callaway has the game of a 10-year vet; no panic in his route running and has looked really good the two days I’ve been here. #Browns


Other than the Cyprien news, here are some thoughts from practice today: 1. #Titans had a heavy emphasis on play action in the initial team period. Mariota was lethal on the move. He connected with TE Jonnu Smith on a perfect deep pass for a long TD. #8 looked very comfortable.


2. WR Tajae Sharpe is coming along. Had 2 nice reps against Malcolm Butler in team period. Sharpe beat Butler at the line and got open on a go rte but he & Mariota couldn't connect. He turned Butler around on another one for a catch though.


3. The Rishard Matthews watch is on. Matthews was on the field an hr before practice running routes, catching passes from QB coach Pat O'Hara. He looked fine running routes and even jumped up to catch a couple of errant throws. #Titans – David Newton

New Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner agrees it is realistic for running back Christian McCaffrey to get 25-30 touches a game, more than double what he had as a rookie last year. As for how many rushes quarterback Cam Newton will get Turner wasn't so specific on Carolina's leading rusher a year ago with 754 yards. – Nick Shook

Antonio Brown is out of commission, though the cause is unclear.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters Thursday the team sent Brown from the team's camp in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to Pittsburgh for evaluation for an unspecified injury.

Jeremy Fowler  @JFowlerESPN

Steelers play of day: James Washington's one-handed touchdown catch from behind his body coming across the formation in 11-man work. – John Boyle

Up until this point, Brandon Marshall had been limited to work early in practice during position drills. The veteran receiver is coming off of toe and ankle surgeries, so the Seahawks are being cautious with the six-time Pro-Bowler. But on Thursday, Marshall took part in team drills for the first time in camp, and while limited in his reps, he did make his mark, most notably going up high to catch a touchdown pass from Russell Wilson during red-zone drills.

“It was a unique situation for me this whole offseason, pretty much rehabbing for eight months,” Marshall said. “I didn’t have time to really train, so now, today was like the first day where I really felt like myself. I felt like—it’s the best I’ve felt in over a year. I’m still trying to get there in midseason form. I have time, but today felt good and it reminded me that I can play some ball.”

It seems like every practice brings a new receiver standing out, be it a veteran like Doug Baldwin early in camp or Tyler Lockett or Jaron Brown, or a young up-and comer trying to make his mark like Amara Darboh, David Moore, Marcus Johnson or Keenan Reynolds.

On Thursday, it was Cyril Grayson Jr. and Damore’ea Stringfellow coming up with some of the day’s biggest plays. Grayson Jr., who has had a couple solid practices in a row, used his All-American track speed to get open down the left sideline and catch a well-placed deep ball from Austin Davis. Stringfellow, meanwhile, had several catches, including a touchdown from Wilson in red-zone drills, an impressive leaping grab in 7-on-7s, and another touchdown late in practice from a scrambling Alex McGough. – Tom Silverstein

The Packers might really like their three receiver draft picks, but the reality is they may be counting on them too much. Davante Adams is having a terrific camp, Randall Cobb has been solid and Allison has been consistent. Tight end Jimmy Graham all but counts as a receiver, so you can add him to the group. If injuries strike, they could have a real problem because the rookies just aren’t going to contribute that much. Adams, who is a top-flight pro, caught only 38 passes as a rookie. Cobb caught 25. Jordy Nelson caught 33. All three were second-round picks. 

J’Mon Moore(fourth), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (sixth) and Equanemious St. Brown (seventh) weren’t deemed that caliber of player. It’s early, but there’s a lot of growth needed before any of them are ready to play. “The volume of the new plays we’re putting in is starting to slow down a little bit, so I think that’ll help these guys as they move forward here,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. “I expect to see some real improvement and some real development here these next couple days.” – Jimmy Kempski

Undrafted rookie free agent running back Josh Adams flashed on Wednesday, and he carried his momentum over to Thursday. On one run during the live tackling sessions, Adams hit a hole off tackle, and then bounced it wide outside, churning up good yardage and then finishing his run. A month ago, Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz noted that Adams wasn't just a between-the-tackles runner at Notre Dame, and we saw that today.

Later, Adams had a hard run up the middle on 3rd and 1 in which he lowered a shoulder into Corey Nelson and got a solid 2-3 yards after contact for a first down.

Adams also looked good in pass protection 1-on-1's, which the Eagles ran with the running backs and tight ends against the linebackers and safeties for the first time this camp. On Adams' first rep, he was beaten by Malcolm Jenkins, but then won all of his reps thereafter, which is a good sign for a guy who has mostly not participated in camp until the last few days.

Wendell Smallwood had a rough series. He was beaten badly by Joe Walker, and then again by Rodney McLeod. His pass protection issues persist.

Donnel Pumprhey seems willing in pass pro, but the difference between him and Darren Sproles in that regard is night and day. Perhaps overcompensating for his lack of size, Pump vaulted himself into safety Kyle Wilson, but Wilson simply stepped aside and let Pump whiff. 

Sproles remains the best Eagles back in pass pro, though it's worth noting that Corey Clement is much better than he was this time last year. – Grant Cohn

WR Dante Pettis
showed his stuff on Wednesday when he took reps with the first-team offense. Pettis beat both of the 49ers’ starting cornerbacks — Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon.

Pettis made a 12-yard catch against Sherman, then made a 17-yard catch against Witherspoon and finally made a 45-yard touchdown catch against Witherspoon on the final play of practice.

Pettis generally has played well during training camp. He also has returned punts and kickoffs. He might become the primary punt returner as a rookie.

When he’s one on one with a cornerback near the sideline, Pettis is tough to stop. When he’s running across the middle and looking back at the quarterback, he seems tentative, perhaps because he can’t see the linebackers and safeties — people who mean to harm him — and seems to expect contact that doesn’t always arrive. Occasionally, he drops passes.

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

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