Bryce Brown had an up-and-down rookie campaign. He enters 2013 as the #2 RB in new HC Chip Kelly's run-heavy offense. Will that be enough to give Brown standalone fantasy value? Or is he just a handcuff to LeSean McCoy?
The Steelers hope that adding some outside zone blocking to its power scheme can get the ground game running. C Maurkice Pouncey and OT Marcus Gilbert told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that they like the new tact. RB Jonathan Dwyer said he thinks it will allow the backs to take advantage of cutback lanes to create big plays. Consider us skeptical that Pittsburgh has the style of runners to take advantage of such a scheme. The players mentioned as successes in the story are K.C.'s Jamaal Charles, Houston's Arian Foster -- both much smoother, speedier and more agile than Le'Veon Bell, Dwyer and Isaac Redman. Pittsburgh doesn't plan a full system switch and instead plans to mix looks to confuse defenses and keep its blockers fresher late in games. We'll see how it works. Change certainly must come after 1 of the league's poorest rushing efforts last year.
The Ravens announced Thursday that rookie LB Arthurn Brown had sports hernia surgery just after the team's rookie minicamp earlier this month. Brown is expected to miss 4-6 weeks total, which would bring him back before the start of training camp. As long as he's ready to go in late July, Brown should still be the front-runner to win a starting ILB job in Baltimore. He should be 1 of the first rookie IDPs of the board whether you're drafting in a dynasty league or redraft format.
Lions WR Nate Burleson took the field with teammates Thursday, 3 months ahead of his scheduled return. Burleson said he skipped the depression stage after breaking his leg last season and dove right into rigorous rehab. The 33-year-old worked out twice a day in Seattle this offseason -- unbeknownst to his team -- with plans to get back on the field and surprise everyone. Jettisoning Titus Young and losing Ryan Broyles to a late-season ACL tear could leave the Lions needing Burleson to start come September. He still wouldn't be an exciting fantasy option in that situation. Perhaps a WR5 in most formats.
The Akron Beacon Journal reports that Browns RB Trent Richardson and TE Jordan Cameron sat out Thursday's OTA session with minor injuries. Richardson strained a muscle in his shin. Cameron strained a groin muscle. Neither situation seems significant. Cameron, though, can use all the practice time he can find to deliver on the promise his coaches have touted.
Yahoo! Sports' Jason Cole has issued a correction on his report that Giants WR Hakeem Nicks is skipping the OTA to push for a new contract. The same unnamed team source reportedly changed course to say he/she didn't know why Nicks stayed away. Agent Peter Shaffer has declined to provide a reason for his client's absence. Whatever the motivation, the unexplained no-show for the voluntary session left HC Tom Coughlin miffed. Nicks is in the final year of his rookie contract.
Bills TE Scott Chandler tore his ACL on December 23rd. He underwent reconstructive surgery on January 9th -- just 4-and-a-half months ago. But Chandler think it's "realistic" that he'll be ready for the start of training camp in just another 2 months. "I feel good, and I'm excited for the season," he said. "The
injury is different than it used to be. The doctors are better." Chandler started running routes 3 weeks ago and has been running and catching passes off to the side of OTAs this week. The Bills didn't draft a TE until adding Chris Gragg in the 7th round, so it looks like they're counting on Chandler making an impact this season. He's scored 12 times over the past 2 years but has averaged just 33 yards per game. Coming off a serious knee injury, he'll be nothing more than a late-round depth pick in fantasy drafts this summer.
Redskins WR Pierre Garcon avoided surgery this offseason on the right foot that bothered him all last year. It turns out he underwent shoulder surgery instead. The injury to Garcon's labrum occurred in Washington's playoff loss to the Seahawks. The procedure was considered minor and Garcon is already able to catch passes off to the side of practice. “I think Pierre, his rehab has been unbelievable,” HC Mike Shanahan said Thursday.
“Anytime you get operated on like he did and you’re able to come back
as quickly as he has, I was watching him this morning in the weight
room and he was lifting weights that he shouldn’t be able to lift. And
he feels very comfortable, and it’s been a slow process. But he’s in
excellent shape, so I’ll be surprised if he’s not full-speed, ready to
go once we go to training camp.” We'll be keeping a close eye on Garcon this summer. In addition to the shoulder, there's concern that the foot problem will linger. Garcon has played all 16 games in just 1 of his 5 NFL seasons.
Redskins QB Robert Griffin was spotted throwing passes off to the side of Thursday's OTA session. Here's a video of him making a couple throws from the shotgun. Afterwards, he confirmed that he's had no setbacks and deemed himself "a little ahead" in the rehab process. But he also admitted that he still hasn't been cleared to sprint or cut. That's expected to happen in a few weeks. Griffin said his goal is to be ready for the start of training camp. That seems doable at this point. It's still early, but RG3 seems on track to be under center come Week 1.
Cardinals RB Ryan Williams says the knee he injured in August of 2011 is finally back to 100%. “This is the healthiest I’ve felt in the past two years,” he said.
“It feels good to be able to run like myself, instinctive and not
having to think about what I’m doing, just going out and doing it. I’ve
been working real hard, so things are looking good. My stars are aligned
this year.” Williams suffered a nasty patella tendon injury back in 2011 and admits that he was "scared to run" last year. It showed in his 2.8 yards-per-carry average. Williams will need to be much better this summer to beat out Rashard Mendenhall for the starting RB job. Rookies Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor could also enter the fray.
Eagles TE James Casey will undergo athroscopic knee surgery to clean out loose cartilage. The procedure will keep him out of the rest of OTAs and minicamp, although he's expected back for the start of training camp. Still, the missed practice time is bad news for an unproven player trying to settle into a new offense. Casey was on our early list of fantasy football sleepers. But between this injury and the addition of rookie TE Zach Ertz, Casey hardly seems even draftable at this point.