Welcome to another day of training camp news and analysis. The third preseason game dress rehearsal is over and the season kicks off a week from today! How can you contain your excitement? I’ll try long enough to bring you the news from around the league.
The biggest news of the day was a long time in the making as Josh Gordon’s yearlong suspension for violating the league’s drug policy was upheld. The abnormally long amount of time it took for the decision to come down gave many hope that Gordon might get a lesser sentence, but alas no. And if you thought they might be able to delay the suspension with red-tape it's looking very unlikely. A league source familiar with NFL cases like Gordon's told the Cleveland Plains Dealer, "he has no shot of having the suspension overturned in court. It's over."
Thankfully Gordon can apply for reinstatement after the season is over rather than waiting a full year and if he stays out of trouble he should be reinstated, but of course he also has a pending DUI. He’s too young and far too talented to give up on in your dynasty leagues, so if someone wants to cut bait I’d be happy to wait out this season for his long-term upside.
The Browns are extremely thin at wide receiver with Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins serving as their top-2, but Jordan Cameron looks to be in line for the lion’s share of the targets. His efficiency will most likely go down, but the opportunities should outweigh any efficiency issues.
Matt Schaub has looked awful this preseason and Derek Carr has looked okay, which is still better than awful. According to the Oakland Tribune’s Jerry McDonald, Carr will put pressure on Schaub with a good showing in the Raiders’ final preseason game against the Seahawks. He is already putting pressure on him and Schaub looks washed up right now, so getting the rookie playing time seems like the best move for the future. It will happen at some point.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport confirmed that the acquisition of Tim Wright had nothing to do with Rob Gronkowski’s health. Gronk and Wright are much different players and Rapoport likens Wright to Aaron Hernandez in that he will play the move tight end. It seems that Wright wasn’t just a throw-in player, but that Belichick actually would like to use him.
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According to the Broncos ESPN reporter Jeff Legwold, rookie receiver Cody Latimer will be involved in the offense in certain packages, especially in the red zone, even if Wes Welker does play in Week 1. The more he can get on the field and make plays, his specialty, the quicker he’ll move up the depth chart.
Carolina Panthers beat writer Joe Person reports that Cam Newton and Coach Ron Rivera said there is “no doubt” that Newton will play Week 1 against the Buccaneers. The hairline fracture in his ribs is concerning, but quarterbacks play through this injury and Newton will as well.
Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson is now predicting Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard to both see around 200 rushing attempts this season. The projections by beat writers in Cincy have been all over the place during training camp regarding their two top running backs. If this one does come true Bernard still is the superior fantasy player with his passing targets far outweighing Hill’s, but it would put a cap on Bernard’s totals and up Hill’s upside.
Eagles tight ends coach Ted Williams tells the Philadelphia Enquirer & Daily News that tight end Zach Ertz is "one of the best route-runners I've ever seen." The unfrozen headed Williams goes on to compare Ertz to Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten and Rob Gronkowski. Now the only question is if he will see enough consistent targets to push toward the numbers those players have. Brent Celek will remain the starter due to his blocking ability, which is extremely important in Chip Kelly’s run oriented offense, but Kelly is also no dummy and will get Ertz involved, especially around the red zone.
According to the Miami Herald, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin suggested Lamar Miller remains ahead of Knowshon Moreno for the starting running back job. Moreno will still cut into his work, but this is good news and should give Miller a head start in winning even more playing time on third downs.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette confirms the Steelers are not going to impose any suspensions on Le'Veon Bell or LeGarrette Blount. . . . Frankie Hammond is expected to start in place of Dwayne Bowe (suspension) Week 1. . . . Christine Michael missed practice Wednesday with a hamstring injury and won't play in the preseason finale. . . . Daniel Thomas (hamstring) will play in the Dolphins' preseason finale. . . . Kenny Stills (quad) is considered questionable for Week 1. . . . Wes Welker (concussion) is already in the exercise mode of the concussion protocol.