Shark Bites

Bucs RB Doug Martin has shown no lingering effects from his shoulder injury during this week's minicamp.  “Is he coming off an injury? You can’t really tell," HC Lovie Smith told The Tampa Tribune.  “He’s taken every rep we’ve asked him to."  Martin has also impressed his new coaches.  “To finally see him on the football field, he’s compact and he runs downhill an awful lot, but the wiggle that he has, he can make people miss in the open field."  Smith has indicated that Martin will be the Bucs' workhorse this year.  We'll certainly be watching him into and through the summer.  Martin figures to be one of the most interesting players as we put together our projections in the coming weeks.

Eagles RB Chris Polk underwent shoulder surgery after the season.  Insider Adam Caplan described it as "major."  That's surprising considering Polk got hurt in Week 8, missed just 1 game and played in Philly's final 8 games.  We don't have any other details on the injury or procedure.  We'll keep an eye on Polk in training camp.  He was pushing Bryce Brown for snaps behind LeSean McCoy late last season.

Cardinals LB Daryl Washington has been sentenced to 1 year of "supervised probation" for his assault charge stemming from a 2013 fight with his ex-girlfriend.  The light sentence comes as no surprise after Washington recently pleaded down.  The team website acknowledges, however, that Washington figures to see some league suspension under the personal conduct policy.  We'd bet on multiple games for a guy who already lost 4 weeks last year under the NFL's substance abuse policy.

1 day ago

Cowboys RB Lance Dunbar is back to 100% after suffering a season-ending knee injury last Thanksgiving.  “I’d say that I’m at 100%,” he said. “I’ve been able to do everything now for a couple of weeks without any restrictions. I’m feeling pretty good. I’d definitely say I’m 100%.”  Dunbar flashed in limited action last year, averaging 5.0 yards per carry and 8.4 yards per catch.  The Cowboys reportedly view him as a Darren Sproles-type player.  That's intriguing considering new play-caller Scott Linehan likes to get his RBs involved in the passing game.  Dunbar's role in Dallas' offense will be worth monitoring this summer.  He could hold sleeper appeal in PPR fantasy leagues.

Dolphins WR Mike Wallace is a fan of new OC Bill Lazor's offense.  Wallace describes it as, "my style: big-play offense."  Lazor spent last year as the Eagles QB coach under Chip Kelly.  He'll bring Kelly's aggressive, vertical passing attack to Miami.  That's a much better fit for Wallace's game than former OC Mike Sherman's west coast attack.  Wallace finished 2013 with career lows in TDs (5) and yards per catch (12.7).  Both marks should climb this season.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan likes what he's seen from TE Levine Toilolo this offseason.  "Levine's been in here for a couple weeks prior to us starting (voluntary workouts), and that's been a good thing for us," Ryan said. "I think he learned so much from Tony [Gonzalez], though, the past two years — just the way that he prepares, taking care of his body. I think Levine looks as good as he has since he's been here. I think he's put on a little bit of weight and put on weight in the right spot, which is good."  With Gonzo (supposedly) retired, Toilolo has a huge opportunity to emerge as Atlanta's lead TE in 2014.  He hauled in 11 of 14 targets last year and scored twice.  He's not nearly as athletic as Gonzalez but is a big-time red-zone threat at 6'8 and 265 pounds.  Toilolo has some sleeper appeal in 2014 fantasy drafts.

Falcons HC Mike Smith revealed that WR Julio Jones (foot) will be limited in offseason workouts.  Jones underwent foot surgery in October and has avoided any setbacks in rehab as far as we know.  "Julio is participating with our athletic performance department,'' Smith said. "He will be able to get out on the field and do some walkthrough stuff with us when we start going. Our focus on Julio is one thing, and that's having him prepared for our opener ... He's progressing well. We're not going to do anything to hinder his timeframe in terms of getting back to work with us."  Atlanta will play it safe with its star WR.  Jones probably won't do much in OTAs and might even be limited in training camp.  Remember that the foot he fractured last year was the same one he had surgery on prior to his rookie year.  We'll keep a close eye on his progress this summer.  A healthy Jones has top-3 fantasy upside, but he'll carry more risk than the other WRs at the top of drafts this summer.

Bills QB E.J. Manuel was on the field for the start of the team's offseason program on Tuesday.  He was a full participant in the session open to the media, according to ESPN's Mike Rodak.  Manuel was plagued by knee injuries all last year.  He underwent surgery on the left one in August and January and missed 4 games with an LCL sprain in the right one.  It doesn't look like any of those specific injuries will be an issue in 2014, but the general knee problems are definitely a concern for Manuel's long-term outlook.  He's the heavy favorite to be under center for the Bills Week 1 but can't be drafted as more than a QB2 flier in fantasy drafts this summer.

The Seahawks have traded a 7th-round pick to the Raiders for QB Terrelle Pryor.  Oakland was fully expected to release Pryor this week, so Seattle's front office clearly wanted to get its hands on him before he hit the open market.  Pryor has flashed as both a passer and runner but remains a major project.  He's completed 56.3% of his passes with 9 TDs and 12 INTs over the past 2 years.  In Seattle, he'll compete with Tarvaris Jackson for backup duties behind Russell Wilson.  Pryor will be a free agent next offseason.

3 days ago

The Bears have signed WR Josh Morgan.  He totaled 68 catches, 724 yards and 2 scores as a part-time player in Washington the past 2 years.  That 10.6 yards-per-catch average tells you all you need to know about his lack of play-making ability.  Morgan is at least an effective blocker.  He'll compete with Marquess Wilson and Domenik Hixon for #3 WR duties in Chicago.  Last year's #3, Earl Bennett, finished with just 42 targets.

Falcons insider Vaughn McClure says QB Matt Ryan was "more banged up than he let on" last year.  Ryan never appeared on the injury report but did absorb a career-high 44 sacks.  Atlanta added G Jon Asamoah and OT Gabe Carimi this offseason and will likely attack the offensive line early in next month's draft.  Ryan has plenty of bounce-back potential in 2014, but he'll need to get much better pass protection.

Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back) is ready for the start of the team's offseason program today, according to insider Calvin Watkins.  Romo is about 4 months removed from back surgery.  Rehab has gone smoothly by all indications, and the fact that he's participating in these April workouts is more good news.  The back issue adds some risk to Romo's 2014 fantasy profile, but he also carries tons of upside in new play-caller Scott Linehan's pass-happy offense.

The Vikings are widely expected to take a QB at some point in next month's draft.  But GM Rick Spielman would prefer to have that QB spend 2014 learning from the sidelines.  “Ideally, if we did pick a quarterback this year we would want to redshirt him anyway, and when he’d be ready to go, he’d play," Spielman said.  "But he’d probably use this year as a learning year."  That'd leave QB Matt Cassel as Minnesota's Week 1 starter.  He was serviceable last year, completing 60.2% of his passes with 11 TDs and 9 INTs.  The Vikings went 3-3 in Cassel's starts.  He'd be just a low-end QB2 in fantasy football drafts, but Cassel under center would be good news for WR Greg Jennings.  In Cassel's 6 starts last year, Jennings racked up 34 catches, 413 yards and 3 TDs.

Rams HC Jeff Fisher expects QB Sam Bradford (knee) to be able to throw in June OTAs.  “Sam’s in a very good place considering what happened last year,” Fisher said.  "He’s worked hard through the process, and I would expect him at some point to be throwing in OTAs.  To the extent of which I can’t predict right now.  It may be 1-on-1, it may be 7-on-7, it may be ‘team.’ We don’t know. But he’s doing great.”  Fisher added that Bradford is "way ahead of schedule" in his recovery from last October's torn ACL.  He should be a full-go for training camp, and we're not expecting the knee to be an issue in 2014.  It feels like a make-or-break season for Bradford, who's yet to meet expectations as a former #1 overall pick.  It's worth noting, though, that he was on pace for career highs across the board before going down last year.

ESPN's Paul Gutierrez considers RB Darren McFadden the "lead dog" in the Raiders' backfield.  "If healthy," Gutierrez adds.  That's always been the qualifier for McFadden, who has missed 19 games over the past 3 years and never played a full 16-game season.  On top of that, he's averaged an ugly 3.3 yards per carry each of the past 2 years. McFadden will need to be much better in 2014 to hold off RB Maurice Jones-Drew.  MJD has lost a few steps at 29 years old but remains one of the best passing-down backs in the game.  We're expecting a committee backfield in Oakland, with McFadden handling early downs and Jones-Drew entering in passing situations.

Giants insider Dan Graziano confirms that RB Rashad Jennings is the favorite to see "the bulk of the carries" this season.  "They believe he can catch the ball for them out of the backfield, that he can grind out yards between the tackles and that he's capable of delivering a big play," Graziano writes.  RB David Wilson's 2014 status remains murky as he recovers from neck surgery, and RB Peyton Hillis isn't worthy of a significant role.  Jennings is a Tom Coughlin kind of back -- a north-south runner and reliable in the passing game.  He's a good bet for 250+ touches and RB2 production this season.

The Saints have re-signed WR Robert Meachem to a 1-year deal.  He tallied a 16-324-2 line in a situational deep threat role last season.  That 20.3 yards-per-catch average was tops among WRs with at least 10 grabs.  Meachem also received positive overall and receiving grades from Pro Football Focus.  He's a valuable asset to New Orleans' passing game but is unlikely to see enough action to be a reliable fantasy option in 2014.  Meachem will compete with Joe Morgan, Nick Toon and possibly a rookie for #3 WR duties.

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