Adam Levitan

Training Camp Lowdown

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NFC Team-by-Team Camp Notes

Monday, August 05, 2013

Joe Morgan is running unopposed for the No. 3 WR job behind Marques Colston and Lance Moore. It’s Nick Toon vs. Kenny Stills for the No. 4 job. Keep Morgan on your radar as long as the injury he sustained during Saturday’s black/gold scrimmage isn’t serious. … Note that Colston remains on active/PUP due to a foot injury, but no one in New Orleans seems concerned in the least. Toon is Colston’s backup, Morgan is a strict outside receiver. … The Saints are insisting that a finally healthy Mark Ingram will be a “big part” of their offense. We’ll see. Ingram fumbled during the black/gold scrimmage and is expected to split base carries with Pierre Thomas.  

Hakeem Nicks has been nursing a groin injury since the first few days of camp, causing coach Tom Coughlin to admit “frustration.” Meanwhile, No. 3 wideout Rueben Randle has been the talk of the town. Randle is worth rostering even if Nicks surprisingly sustains health all year, but he’ll absolutely explode if Nicks misses time. … The Giants have been practicing as if David Wilson and Andre Brown will operate in a relatively even, hot-hand kind of committee. They’ve listed the pair as “co-starters” on their initial depth chart. All we know for sure is that Wilson has far more natural talent and is the favorite to start games – giving him a far greater chance at getting that hot hand. We also know that Brown is the heavy favorite for goal-line work.

The quarterback battle was about even until the pads went on. Then Michael Vick began to separate from Nick Foles a little. It’s still Vick’s job to lose, and he’s shown no signs of a faceplant. … Matt Barkley has only gotten reps with the third stringers. … Jeremy Maclin was a good bet to be overdrafted as the No. 2 wideout in a run-heavy Chip Kelly offense. Those overdrafters are off the hook now that Maclin is out for the season with a torn ACL. … Maclin’s backup, Riley Cooper, subsequently became another candidate to be overdrafted. The 6’3/222 Cooper was going to play a lot of snaps because he excels as a run-blocker and can win 50-50 balls up top, not because he’s a difference-making receiver. But then a video emerged of an apparently drunken Cooper using a racial slur because he was peeved about not being let backstage at a Kenney Chesney concert. Now Cooper has been excused from the team and fined. It’s possible he’ll end up released. … Potential replacement Arrelious Benn has been sidelined by a hyperextended knee, just getting back in work Sunday. A name to watch is Damaris Johnson, a pint-sized poor man’s Tavon Austin whom the Eagles are high on. … Bryce Brown continues to pop runs to the outside far too often. It was one of his biggest faults as a rookie. LeSean McCoy is entrenched. … Rookie TE Zach Ertz has gotten some first-team reps, mostly in packages that also include one or both of Brent Celek and James Casey. Expect Celek to be primarily be used as a blocker and Ertz to get called upon when Kelly needs a flex tight end. None of the three are particularly appealing fantasy options.

We at Rotoworld are probably partially to blame for this, but there’s some thought out there that Vernon Davis is converting to wide receiver. That’s not the case. He’s getting significant practice reps there, but he’ll continue to primarily operate as a tight end. Still, Davis is working on his route-running because the Niners are going to lean on him heavily in the pass game. Michael Crabtree (Achilles) is out and no one is stepping up across from vet Anquan Boldin (who has been a go-to-guy for Colin Kaepernick at camp). Davis has been the best deep threat during camp and is a good bet to lead the team in receiving. … Speaking of the No. 2 wideout job, second-year man A.J. Jenkins is getting the first crack and not impressing while dealing with hamstring issues. Kyle Williams (ACL, hamstring) has been sidelined. The team signed Austin Collie, who will be a name to watch because he immediately steps in as the best talent in the room behind Boldin. … Marcus Lattimore’s recovery continues to progress well ahead of schedule. Dynasty owners need to take note as Frank Gore enters his age-30 season. … Rookie TE Vance McDonald opened up camp behind Garrett Celek, but that won’t last long. McDonald has been raising eyebrows. … Kendall Hunter (Achilles’) remains on active/PUP. If he can resume practicing soon, he’ll be Gore’s recommended handcuff. … Colin Kaepernick’s touch has reportedly improved dramatically since last season. He has MVP-level upside.  

In a best-case scenario, the Seahawks will get Percy Harvin (hip surgery) back for Week 13. That’s in time for the fantasy playoffs, but it’s also a very long time to stash a guy who will be eased back in slowly. The Seahawks’ goal will be to get Harvin to 100 percent for the playoffs. … With Harvin out, the unquestioned star of camp has been Golden Tate. He’s been practicing in every single formation and doing a lot of the things Harvin does. Tate has long possessed more talent than his stats have shown, and now he’ll have a major role while in a contract year. Plenty of upside. … Sidney Rice missed time in camp while getting PRP therapy on his knee in Switzerland. It’s not an invasive procedure, but it’s clear he’s not 100 percent. … Harvin’s injury will be a good thing for Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks were going to be run-heavy again, but now they threaten to be among the most run-heavy teams in the league. … Rookie Christine Michael has shined while Robert Turbin (foot) just came off active/PUP Sunday. Michael is a good bet to end up as Lynch’s handcuff.  

The Rams continue to talk up the likelihood of a full-blown running-back-by-committee. Explosive outside runner Daryl Richardson is the slight favorite to start, but all-around back Isaiah Pead and power rookie Zac Stacy are also going to get chances. Their varying skill sets make the plan realistic. … Jared Cook is predictably having a big camp as he essentially becomes the Rams’ slot receiver. … Tavon Austin is generating more buzz in the return game than as a receiver. He’s significantly overvalued in fantasy circles right now. … The Rams listed Austin Pettis and Chris Givens as their starting outside wideouts heading into camp. There have been no reports that that’s changed over the last two weeks.

The Bucs’ public challenges to Josh Freeman during the offseason look like mere motivational tactics. Mike Glennon has moved past Dan Orlovsky for the backup job, but he’s not getting first-team reps. … Vincent Jackson is being asked to line up all over the field. Coaches are scheming ways to get him the rock. … One defensive note because it impacts fantasy matchups so significantly: Darrelle Revis (ACL) is covering wide receivers again and is firmly on track for a Week 1 matchup with his old friends, the Jets. … Peyton Hillis was signed to slide in and battle for the backup job with Michael Smith. He’s not a threat to Doug Martin’s potentially massive workload. … Luke Stocker is in the lead for the starting tight end job. Yawn.

Robert Griffin III (knee) continues to progress according to plan. He’s sustained no setbacks whatsoever after gradually increasing his reps each day and moving from 7-on-7 to 11-on-11. He’s not expected to play in any preseason games, but it will be a surprise if he’s not under center when the Redskins face the Eagles in Week 1. … Roy Helu is finally healthy after dealing with heel and toe issues for the better part of two years. Predictably, he’s running circles around Evan Royster and is on track to handle third-down duties and be Alfred Morris’ backup. … Fred Davis is reportedly looking explosive and speedy just nine months after his Achilles’ rupture. He should be creeping up draft boards. … Speaking of health, Pierre Garcon (toe, shoulder) has been able to sustain it so far. If he continues to feel good, he’ll far exceed his fifth-round ADP. … Garcon’s backup, Aldrick Robinson, has been one of camp’s standouts. Leonard Hankerson is scuffling.

Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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