Training Camp Update
Volume 7, Issue 1 – 8/07/12
Training camps are in full swing and we want you to feel like you have attended every practice and seen every preseason game.
To keep all our Footballguys subscribers on top of everything, we’ve created our incredibly detailed Training Camp Updates. They're an exhaustive look each week covering every bit of news you need to know to stay completely on top of all 32 teams. Quite simply, they're the key to Dominating Your Draft.
This is the first of four training camp updates from us. We'll break down every team's skill positions and position battles. It’s the stuff you'd see if you were there at every camp watching practice yourself. Our own Bob Henry creates the Training Camp Updates with significant contributions from Jason Wood, Mark Wimer, Mike Herman, Greg Russell, Jene Bramel, Aaron Rudnicki, Sigmund Bloom, Maurile Tremblay, Andrew Garda, Colin Dowling, Anthony Borbely, Heath Cummings and Ryan Hester. Each camp update reflects the most up-to-date information from each of the 32 training camps; the type of information that will help maintain your advantage over the rest of your league mates.
Happy reading and let's have a great 2012 season,
Joe Bryant and David Dodds
QB: Kevin Kolb drew the start in Sunday night’s Hall of Fame game, but it was a night that Kolb will want to quickly forget. He was intercepted on his first pass by the Saints Malcolm Jenkins. His second series didn’t go well either as his next two passes were incomplete and the Cardinals went three-and-out. On the first play of the Cardinals’ third possession, Kolb scrambled to his right and completed a 4-yard pass to FB Anthony Sherman only to be slammed to the ground by Sedrick Ellis. Kolb bruised his ribs and chest on the play, left the game and didn’t return. While Kolb looked downright awful, he also suffered from poor protection as the Saints swarmed him each time he dropped back to pass. John Skelton took over and also got go against the Saints first-team defense completing 4-of-6 for 32 yards. Skelton enjoyed better protection as the Cards’ offensive line seemed to settle down a bit and he led the offense to a second-quarter touchdown drive that covered 90 yards in 14 plays. Afterward, Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt was asked about Kolb’s condition. "He has a bruise in his chest and that makes it kind of tough to rotate, move," Whisenhunt said. "I think he'll probably be practicing sometime this week."
For Kolb, it’s yet another setback after having a scare in last Monday’s practice when he suffered a right thigh contusion then sat out of practice on Tuesday. Kolb entered camp first on the depth chart and he’s being given every opportunity to win the job after the team shelled out another $7 million in a roster/option bonus during the offseason. Needless to say, Kolb is on a short leash and is nearly undraftable in most fantasy league formats. The sentiment is growing that Kolb is either a bad fit for the Cardinals offense, he can’t stay healthy or that Skelton is simply a better option. NFL Network analysis and former linebacker Willie McGinest believes the Cardinals players are "gravitating toward Skelton a little more". Richard Bartel entered the game after Skelton and completed 3-of-7 for 61 yards. Rookie Ryan Lindley saw the most action for the Cardinals, but failed to get the Cardinals offense into the end zone as he completed 10-of-21 for 118 yards with an interception.
RB: Neither Beanie Wells (knee surgery) nor Ryan Williams (knee, patella tendon) suited up for Sunday’s game. LaRod Stephens-Howling got the start and gained 25 yards on four carries. Alfonso Smith scored the Cardinals lone touchdown on a 4-yard run. Smith finished with 46 yards on eight carries, including a game-high 22 yard run. William Powell ran 10 times for 31 yards and caught three passes for another 26 yards. Thomas Clayton, who was signed last week with Javarris James sidelined for at least a week, ran six times for 10 yards. As for Wells, he’s expected to begin practicing sometime during the next week and make his debut August 17th against the Raiders. "He will probably start doing some work next week," Whisenhunt said. "We'd like to get him involved in preseason games, probably a little bit later. We'll see how it goes." The details have been sketchy around Wells’ offseason knee surgery, so his return to the field has fantasy owners anxious with the talented Williams beginning to round into shape. Williams looked good to the NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks, who was impressed by his "remarkable stop-and-start quickness" and "ability to find seams in the middle of the defense and stick his foot in the ground to explode through holes". On his return, Williams said, "I'm in no rush to get back on the knee. I'm just chilling. Rehab is going well. It's just not worth it to risk it in a game that doesn't mean that much."
WR: No news is good news when it comes to Larry Fitzgerald. The Pro Bowl receiver had a quiet night on Sunday catching one pass from Skelton for 10 yards. The focus of camp has been squarely on Michael Floyd and his spot on the team’s depth chart. The 13th pick in the draft is currently 4th on the depth chart and playing behind third year WR Andre Roberts. Floyd will have to earn a promotion to the starting lineup, but according to the NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks he has been one of the standouts in camp. For now, his contributions will come in four-receiver sets. Early Doucet has the edge as the team’s 3rd (slot) receiver and when they go to four wide Roberts will move inside next to Doucet with Fitzgerald and Floyd on the outside. On Sunday night, Floyd caught one ball for 15 yards and Roberts caught two for 14 yards.
TE: Much has been made of Rob Housler, the team’s 2011 third round pick, and his expected role as a 6’5”, 250 pound pass-catching tight end this season. Whisenhunt reportedly has big plans for Housler and he has been working in with the starters during the first week in camp. He got off to a nice start in the preseason by grabbing three catches for 51 yards in Sunday night’s opener. He missed on another pass targeted for him, although it was a poorly thrown ball from Richard Bartel. Housler is competing with veteran incumbent Todd Heap, who is nearing the end of a long and injury-riddled career, and Jeff King.
Defense: The Cardinals defense is looking to use last year’s No. 5 overall pick more involved in the defense by matching him up against opposing No. 1 receivers this year. Peterson struggled early as a rookie, but improved throughout the season and he’s already perhaps the league’s most dangerous punt returner and a threat to score anytime he intercepts a pass. William Gay opened camp opposite Peterson at left corner while A.J. Jefferson moved up to third on the depth chart after being benched mid-season last year. Greg Toler returns from injury to provide Gay, Jefferson and rookie Jamell Fleming competition for what promises to be an improved secondary. The team discussed signing ILB Daryl Washington to a contract extension, but no offer has been made yet. NT Dan Williams reported to camp at 314 pounds. Williams is key to the Cardinals defensive front and he has struggled with his weight and nagging injuries since being drafted 26th overall two years ago. SS Adrian Wilson helped the team by reducing his cap figure as part of a four-year extension that will allow him to retire a Cardinal. LB Paris Lenon left Sunday night’s game with an ankle injury and he didn’t return.
Special Teams:“Pretty inspiring walking through the Pro Football hall of fame in Canton. Made me want to go play better than I ever have before,” tweeted kicker Jay Feely prior to the Hall of Fame Game. He was good on his limited attempts in the game – a 27-yard field goal and an extra point. Dave Zastudil hit a HOF Game record 79-yard punt and averaged 62 yards on his three punts. Ricky Schmitt, who serves as the camp leg behind both Feely and Zastudil, handled the punting in the second half of the game. Starter Mike Leach is the lone long snapper in camp.
Cardinals Depth Chart
QB:Kevin Kolb (inj),John Skelton,Ryan Lindley,Richard Bartel
RB:Chris Wells (inj),Ryan Williams (inj),LaRod Stephens-Howling (KR),Alfonso Smith,Javarris James,Thomas Clayton,William Powell
WR:Larry Fitzgerald,Andre Roberts,Early Doucet,Michael Floyd,Demarco Sampson,Stephen Williams,Jaymar Johnson,Isaiah Williams,Gino Crump
TE:Todd Heap,Rob Housler,Jeff King,Jim Dray,Stephen Skelton,Martell Webb
LT:Levi Brown,Nate Potter
LG:Daryn Colledge,Chris Stewart
C:Lyle Sendlein,Ryan Bartholomew
RG:Adam Snyder,Senio Kelemete
RT:Jeremy Bridges,Bobby Massie
NT:Dan Williams,Nick Eason,David Carter
DE:Darnell Dockett (DT),Calais Campbell,Vonnie Holliday,Ronald Talley,Landon Cohen,Ricky Lumpkin
ILB:Daryl Washington,Paris Lenon,Stewart Bradley,Quan Sturdivant,Reggie Walker
OLB:Sam Acho,O'Brien Schofield,Clark Haggans,Brandon Williams,Antonio Coleman
CB:Patrick Peterson (PR),William Gay,Michael Adams,A.J. Jefferson,Jamell Fleming,Greg Toler,Marshay Green,Crezdon Butler,Larry Parker
S:Adrian Wilson (SS),Kerry Rhodes (FS),Rashad Johnson (FS),James Sanders,Justin Bethel,Eddie Elder
QB: New OC Dirk Koetter recently reflected on Matt Ryan, saying, “How he’s won as a starter in the league, we think he’s a top 10 quarterback.” Koetter continued, “His play backs that up.” Ryan is excited about his tandem of dynamic receivers: “... I think we can be really good. Really, very good. The two of them together are extremely unselfish. They just want to win and want to make plays. They push each other to get better. I think it’s a unique relationship that they have. I think they can be as good as anybody in the league.”
RB: Jacquizz Rodgers is challenging stalwart Michael Turner for touches. Turner, Rodgers and Jason Snelling are fighting for snaps ramping up to the first preseason game. Meanwhile, Antone Smith is getting a look on punt and kick returns. “Antone is an interesting dynamic for us on special teams, because he's such a good cover guy, he's such a good blocker, but he's also got the speed to be a returner,” Head Coach Mike Smith said. On offense, Smith is competing for the No. 4 running back job. Rookie OG Peter Konz had a strong showing in short-yardage drills at the close of practice Tuesday. He cleared paths for running back Dimitri Nance to score from 1 yard and 2 yards out. “He’s [Konz] doing well,” Koetter said. “He’s played both right guard and center and is doing a good job at both spots.”
"We wanted to give them a real competitive finish to the day [August 2]+," said Smith. "... I think there was some good execution down there on the offensive side. There was good hard running. It wasn't like they walked in. They went behind our young offensive lineman." Note - the starters were not involved in the plays Smith was referring to.
WR: Julio Jones has been on fire. The star 2nd year receiver is enjoying a full offseason this time around, and is 100% healthy. “I'm out here and stronger than ever,” Jones said. “It's so much easier when you're not tired. You can come out here and really focus. Everything has just been so much easier this time around.I just want to be in [three wide receiver set] all day long, but I’m not the offensive coordinator. The more weapons we have out there, the more opportunities we have to make plays.” Julio Jones and Roddy White combined for 2,255 receiving yards last season.
Defense: Defensive tackle Travian Robertson (seventh round, 249th) is making the most of his opportunities. With starting defensive tackle Corey Peters out with a foot injury, Robertson is getting more repetitions at nose tackle early in training camp. “He’s a big strong guy that has a lot to learn as far as techniques go, but again he’s a big strong guy,” DC Mike Nolan said. “We’ll just see how it goes when we get the pads on full time. For the linemen it’s really too early to tell. … Running around in their underwear is not really too impressive.”
Special Teams:The Falcons entered camp with two players at each of the three specialist positions. Starting placekicker Matt Bryant is backed up by rookie Erik Folk (Nick’s brother). Starting punter, holder and kickoff specialist Matt Bosher is backed up by rookie Dawson Zimmerman. Who will be snapping to the starters in September will be determined during August. Returning starter Joe Zelenka’s hold on the job is tenuous. His competition is Josh Harris, who although a rookie was the top long snapper prospect in this year’s class. The longer the battle endures, the longer Matt and Matt’s reps are split with the eventually starter.
Falcons Depth Chart
QB:Matt Ryan,Chris Redman,John Parker Wilson,Dominique Davis
RB:Michael Turner,Jacquizz Rodgers,Jason Snelling (FB),Antone Smith,Dimitri Nance
FB:Bradie Ewing,Mike Cox,Lee Meisner
WR:Roddy White,Julio Jones,Harry Douglas (KR/PR),Kerry Meier,Kevin Cone,Michael Calvin,Drew Davis,James Rodgers(KR/PR),Tim Toone,Marcus Jackson,Kenny Stafford
TE:Tony Gonzalez,Michael Palmer,Tommy Gallarda,Marquez Branson,Aron White
LT:Sam Baker,Will Svitek
LG:Justin Blalock,Mike Johnson
C:Todd McClure,Joe Hawley
RG:Garrett Reynolds,Vince Manuwai,Peter Konz
RT:Tyson Clabo,Lamar Holmes
K:Matt Bryant,Erik Folk
DT:Jonathan Babineaux,Corey Peters,Peria Jerry,Vance Walker,Travian Robertson,Carlton Powell,Regis Micanor,Elish Joseph,Conrad Obi
DE:John Abraham,Ray Edwards,Kroy Biermann,Lawrence Sidbury,Jonathan Massaquoi,Cliff Matthews,Louis Nzeqwu
MLB:Akeem Dent,Mike Peterson,Max Gruder,Pat Schiller
OLB:Sean Weatherspoon (W),Stephen Nicholas (S),Spencer Adkins (S),Robert James(W),Rico Council,Jarrell Harris
CB:Brent Grimes,Asante Samuel,Dunta Robinson,Dominique Franks (KR/PR) ,Christopher Owens,Darrin Walls,Robert McClain,Marty Markett,Peyton Thompson
S:Thomas DeCoud (FS),William Moore (SS),Shann Schillinger (FS),Charles Mitchell,Chris Hope (SS),Chad Faulcon(SS),Suaesi Tuimaunei(FS)
QB: Two stories emerged from the first week of training camp regarding Ravens starting quarterback Joe Flacco. The Ravens have met with Flacco’s agent to discuss a long-term extension as he goes into his contract year. While no deal is imminent, all signs point towards an amicable negotiation process and a possible deal being struck at some point during the season. The second bit comes from ESPN’s John Clayton, who reported that Flacco has writers, coaches and teammates raving about Flacco’s improved focus and execution. While establishing himself as more of a leader, Flacco is also challenging offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to be more aggressive and call more pass plays on early downs. For what it’s worth, Head Coach John Harbaugh even suggests a breakout year could be in the making for Flacco. In the team’s first full practice, the offense began at the defense’s 20-yard line and scored touchdowns on four out of nine plays. The second unit scored twice in 10 attempts, including back-to-back scores from Tyrod Taylor to receivers LaQuan Williams and Dorian Graham. The team waived undrafted John Brantley, securing Curtis Painter’s spot as the team’s third QB.
RB: Ray Rice was rewarded with a five-year, $40 million deal on the eve of training camp. Rice and Marshall Faulk are the only players in NFL history to have multiple seasons with 1,000+ yards rushing and 700+ yards receiving. It didn’t take Rice long to make an impact in camp either, as he busted a long run up the middle only to be caught from behind just before the reaching the end zone, prompting fullback Vonta Leach to give him a hard time. "We would have scored if your fat [butt] didn't get caught,” teased Leach. Rookie Bernard Pierce has been sidelined by a hamstring after missing several off-season practices with a tight hamstring. Pierce is competing with Anthony Allen for the backup spot behind Rice. Leach was given a day off from practice to rest a sore back. “Yeah, I held him out,” Harbaugh said. “His back started to tighten up, too, so I held him out a little bit. That’s part of the camp deal, especially those guys who are a little bit older.” One player to watch for deep dynasty leagues is rookie Bobby Rainey, an undrafted free agent with similar measurables (5-8, 212) to Rice. Rainey broke several long runs during the first few practices with Rice being worked slowly into team drills, Pierce on the sidelines and Allen not separating himself.