Palmer and Cardinals First Team Unit Struggle Behind Disappointing O-Line Play.
Palmer finished his Sunday Night outing going 8/22 for a 103 yards and two interceptions. Anyone not named Palmer shouldn't have had any trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep last night, Palmer on the other had to be waking up in sweats. Kahil Mack should be giving him nightmares until at least the regular season gets going. Bradley Sowell struggled mightily, blocking Mack and while it wasn't an easy task for Earl Watford either, he seemed to fair a lot better. In essence, there was three real takeaways from Palmer's poor outing. The first being that the Palmer-Fitzgerald connection hasn't been completely fazed out just yet. The two connected for a beautifully executed 26 yard catch and run in the first as well as a 5 yard completion earlier on. The second takeaway relates to rookie receiver JJ Nelson. His speed is something that deserves not to be questioned, but his route running miscues that led to an interception and another incompletion are something that's going to have to be cleaned up if he wants to see valuable playing time in the regular season. The third takeaway of the night I've already alluded to, but if Bobby Massie is indeed suspended, it looks like Earl Watford (not Bradley Sowell or DJ Humphries) is the man who's going to replace him. A.Q. Shipley was another lineman who struggled Sunday night. The former Cardinal Dan Williams manhandled him, blowing by Shipley and slamming Palmer to the ground. You'd think in a preseason game you'd be a little more friendly to your former quarterback, but the big man is a known run stuffer and his opportunities to hit an NFL quarterback come at a premium, so you can't knock a man for wanting to capitalize even if it's preseason . Come week one, the Cardinals' line should read left to right Jared Veldheer, Ted Larsen, Lyle Sendlien, Jonathan Cooper, and Earl Watford.
David Johnson Bounces Back From Early Fumble.
After a spectacular week two preseason debut, Johnson would start the night almost coughing one up on the ground if it wasn't for a Darren Fells fumble recovery. Who can blame him though, guess who forced the fumble, Khalil Mack, the same man who had two sacks and multiple hurries on the night. While his chances to pound the rock on the ground were limited, Johnson continued to show us why the Cardinals grabbed him so early in last May's Draft. While David Johnson just managed to run backwards for a total of negative two yards on his four carries, through the air he grabbed four balls for 40 yards and a touchdown. In the two minute drill towards the end of the half he caught a check down in midfield and headed straight for the sideline to stop the clock. A sign of maturity that most would chalk up as rare among young backs all too obviously focused on statistical outputs in today's game. David Johnson would haul in his 8 yard over the shoulder touchdown pass from Drew Stanton. A play that was clearly designed to go to him.
Simms and Thomas Battle To Be Continued. . . . .
With Sunday night and his play throughout the first two weeks of preseason taken into account, one would think that Sims had Logan Thomas beat out for the number three spot as he cruised the offense down the field for the a 61 yard touchdown drive and an 8 point lead half way through the fourth quarter, but if one thought so they'd be wrong. The battle continues to rage on as Logan Thomas had a response of his own. On his only drive of the night Thomas went three for five with sixty-one pass yards leading the Cardinals 91 yards down the field for the game winning touchdown. Granted Thomas wouldn't have been able to do it without Ifyeani Momah's 56 receiving yards and Marion Grice's 17 rushing yards and an 11 yard score, Thomas still remains in the chase for the number three quarterback spot. The number three quarterback will be decided this Thursday versus the Broncos when Phillip Sims and Logan Thomas both should see a plethora of playing time in comparison to what they've seen so far. Not to be bold, as it's been widely speculated, but I don't see either of the two making the team. It'll probably be a pick one situation for the practice squad if both clear waiver wires come Saturday.
Ifyeani Momah Hopes To Become A Force!
Ifyeani Momah was a player I mentioned to keep an eye on heading into week two (check out the article here) and just like in week two when Ifyeani Momah displayed increasing serviceable blocking skills, Momah showed up again last night. Momah would lead the Cardinals in receptions yards with 61 coming off of four targets and three receptions. His last drive on the field was the most impressive. If it weren't for Momah the Cardinals would have been playing in extra time. After Logan Thomas took a six yard sack from the Cardinals' own 24 yard yard line, the Cardinals started the fourth quarter two minute warning 82 yards away from a score. Momah caught his second ball of the night about six yards short of the first down and proceeded to shake off two defenders and plough his way through four more to move the chains for the first. Just two plays later with a minute and twenty-three second remaining in the game Momah would catch a ball up the seam, taking a punishing blow from two dropping Raider safeties. Shaken and dazed, but not confused, Momah knew exactly what he had to do when he found himself standing straight up after the devastating hits, he raced down the field for twenty more yards. Momah is a man who seems pegged to see a big role during regular season. It's a shame that fantasy footballers find him on a team that doesn't really favor pass catching tight ends, but any Cardinals' fan should be more than happy with the veteran combine signee.
Cariel Brooks and Kerywnn Williams Make Their Case.
Cardinals' coaches have mentioned Brooks as a camp standout and he did everything he could to help his chances of making the team Sunday night. Brooks took a third quarter interception back for an 81 yard touchdown Sunday night, the first of the game. With Tim Jennings (a man who had nine interceptions in 2012 and four in 2013) recently cut by the Bears, it still remains to be seen whether the Cardinals will fill their fourth cornerback position with a guy off the waiver wire or someone from the current roster. If the second is the case, Brooks seems to be the lead man. On the offensive side of the ball it will be interesting to see who makes the 53 man cut at the running back position. The team probably only projects to keep four at best, but they could stretch it to five. Kerywnn touched the rock four times on the ground Sunday night for sixteen yards and twice through the air for eighteen, but the man who rushed for a 100 yards subbing in against the Chiefs in 2014 seems to be in a tight position battle with Stephon Taylor. While Taylor hasn't done anything to impress he's a solid special teamer. Most likely the Cardinals will try to slide one of the two onto the practice squad come next weekend, but nonetheless Kerywnn has impressed with his shifty running style that reminds us of the Jaguar great, Maurice Jones-Drew.
Calias Campbell was his regular old self Sunday night, leading the team in tackles (6) through just a half of play. Kevin Minter played the run well as expected, but something that did come as a surprise was how well Alex Okafor played the run Sunday night. Okafor would make his presence felt taking down Murray for negative yards on two occasions, a loss of five in the first, and for a loss of three coming out of the two minute warning in the second. In the fourth quarter Ta'amu would follow up his own one yard tackle for a lose with his first sack of the preseason, a five yard lose. The next play of the night, Kareem Martin came up with a sack of his own as he continues to play well in his switch from defensive end to outside backer. In the secondary, Jerraud Powers and Tyrann Mathieu played well aggressively contesting the balls that were thrown their way. Look for the Cardinals to once again be a force defensively in 2015.
Watching Bradford get hit on Sundays (Saturdays in the preseason) always reminds me of the sinking feeling you get in your stomach as you hit a bump in the road on the way home from the local grocery store. The feeling of watching Bradford pick himself up off the floor is reminiscent of the rest of the way home. Will the eggs be broken or will they be securely taken care of in their little cardboard crates? Last night Bradford's cardboard cratered shoulder pads, just like those sturdy egg crates, did the trick. You never like to see anyone get hurt in the NFL, but that doesn't meann every time someone's getting up from a tackle your praying for their health. Bradford on the other hand is a different case. Fantasy owners everywhere, myself included (Bradford in the 7th, 14 team league, 6 pts. for QBTDs), view things a little differently when watching Bradford get hit. Bradford is a champagne glass waiting to fall down in the pocket, but it has been encouraging to see him take some big hits in the last two weeks, including the shot around the knees he took from Terrell Suggs last Sunday.
On Saturday night, Bradford went 10-10 for 121 yards and 3 TDs through his first three series of play. Standing tall in the pocket and moving fluidly, Bradford scanned the field and delivered a number of "Dilfer Dimes" as he connected with Darren Sproles on a beautiful touch pass to get his first score of the night. Bradford's third score of the night came on another perfectly placed ball to Brent Celek from about seven yards out on a seam post. Sanchez would go on to tack on two more TDs in the second half. The Eagles offense would finish their Saturday night showdown in Green Bay with 314 yards through the air and five total passing scores. Last year, the Eagles' Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez combined to throw for 4581 yards and a 27:22 TD to interception ratio in 621 attempts. Over the span of his NFL playing days, Bradford has average an interception every 43.6 times he puts the ball in the air. According to the laws of mathematics, we are effectively provided with enough reason to say that if Bradford had started all sixteen games for the Eagles last year he would have only thrown a total of 14 interceptions (14.24 to be exact).
Bradford has played 33 games in his last four seasons in the NFL, but he flashed his potential once again last Saturday night. If he can stay on the field in what projects to be an explosive Chip Kelly offense in 2015, he should be in for a hell of a year. With a ground game that includes Demarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, and Darren Sproles he won't be short of help in the backfield and with second year receiver Jordan Mathews, rookie receiver Nelson Agholor, and with tight ends Brent Celek and ascending Zach Ertz he won't be short of weapons in the aerial attack either.
If you're keen to drafting backup QB's, take Bradford, If you're keen to waiting until theres two or three viable sleeper QB's left on the board, take Bradford for your starter QB. If he's on your waiver wire because you've already drafted, go pick him up. Bold Prediction of the year: Bradford plays sixteen games, passing for more than 4,500 yards and 30 TDs.
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Patriot's Skill Positions Still Undecided.
The regular season dress rehearsals have finally arrived. While most teams look to find the long awaited answers to their pending preseason predicaments, fantasy football fans try do the same. It seems like a question we've been asking for years, but savvy fantasy owners will keep their eyes on the situation until an answer is unearthed. The simple question is, besides Rob Gronkowski, who can we trust in a New England uniform to put up constant fantasy points? In the backfield, Jonas Gray stole the show to open the preseason, but in week two, Jonas handled seven carries while, LeGarrette Blount carried the load with 13. While it's believed that Blount will get the majority of work and seems to be a lock for goal line and short yardage situations, if Jonas Gray shows up like he did in week one things could get interesting.
With Brandon Lafell set to start off the season on PUP and Julian Edelman not having practiced since August 2nd, the Patriots signed Reggie Wayne last Tuesday. The incumbent and often injured, Free Agent Signee Danny Amendola is the next man on the depth but, Reggie Wayne, Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson the most intriguing of the three should make a push for the receiver three role. It shouldn't be too hard to beat out Amendola the only question is "Who's going to be the man to do it?"Logically Aaron Dobson is the man we expect to make the jump, but he has been continually plagued by the infamous Bill Bellichick doghouse. Reggie Wayne has the veteran presence, but does he have enough gas left in the tank? Josh Boyce has the speed, but can he hold onto the ball and run good routes? Whoever claims the wide receiver spot will essentially be the Patrios number two receiver for the first half of the season and pending Edelman's progress they may just be in line for the leading receiver spot come opening Sunday.
Can Jarrett Boykin Continue His Week Two Success?
After seeing little playing time in week one, it seemed as though the former Packer standout, Jarrett Boykin was standing on the outside looking in to make the 2015 Panther roster. After Kelvin Benjamin went down with a season ending ACL tear heading into week two, we figured to see a lot more Boykin and Funchess alike. Boykin came out and notched six receptions for fifty-three yards on ten looks throughout the night. Unfortunately none of those ten targets came from Panther's starting quarterback, Cam Newton. Funchess on the other hand, sat out the evening with a flared up hamstring. Like Kelvin Benjamin last year (73-1008-9 on 146 targets) these young Panther's receiver have an opportunity to put up relevant receiver three fantasy numbers, the question is, "Who's going to step up to the plate?" Keep your eyes on Cam and his receivers Friday night, whoever he targets the most will be a respectable late round steal for those of you who are waiting for their late August and early September drafts. If you've already drafted and have got a bench spot to fill, stay close to your computer as we'll most likely find out early who is Cam's favorite. Carolina management is looking to Funchess to have a similar rookie year to Benjamin, but if Boykin can carry over his success with Derek Anderson to Cam Newton there's no question he'll be an impactful fantasy player come regular season.
All Eyes On Ameer Abdullah.
After an electrifying week one performance and a somewhat disappointing week two outing (2 carries for just 7 yards), Ameer is looking to bounce back in week three. While his week two outing wasn't poor production wise, it was disappointing to see him get such a little work load. Although Ameer stated early Wednesday that it doesn't bother him much playing in a committee backfield for fantasy sake, we've got to hope he becomes the feature back before year's end. Friday night should tell us about how much the Lions plan to use him come regular season.
Will The Other Allen Show Up In Jacksonville?
With Allen Robinson's average draft position hovering around the 31st receiver coming off the board, a lot of Fantasy Pundits are tending to look over a guy who had a respectful fantasy campaign in his first year in the big leagues. Allen Hurns finished the 2014 year with 55 receptions for 667 yards and 6 TDs on 97 targets. Although he had his rookie growing pains in 2014, Allen was a homerun hitter logging three 40 plus yard receptions in the first four weeks of football. If Blake Bortles gets on track and Allen Robinson can fullfill his lofty expectations, expect Hurns' numbers to be on the rise, after Cecil Shorts' recent free agency departure. Hurns has done little to turn heads throughout preseason games thus far, but Friday night is a new opportunity. Keep your eyes peeled for the smaller Dez Bryant look-alike dawning the original Michael Irvin's 88 jersey number.
Can TJ Yeldon Impress
In 2014 Toby Gerhart widely underwhelmed, as a feature back and although Denard Robinson impressed in a change of pace role early on, towards the end of the year it was clear that he wasn't going to be carrying the load as a lead back come 2015. The Jaguars drafted TJ Yeldon in the second round of this May's draft, but it still remains to be seen what kind of role he'll have come September. While some reports have him waking up on the wrong side of the carry timeshare, Gus Bradley has him slated to see work with the Jaguar's first team. Fantasy owners with earlier drafts are probably eager to see a sample size of their return on investment. As owners who are yet to draft will likewise be eager to have an opportunity to glimpse a sneak peak of what TJ Yeldon's 2015 campaign should provide. All eyes on twenty-four's playing time come Kickoff.
As Jordy Nelson limped off the field early in the first quarter of the Packers second preseason showcase many fans casually wondered how severe of an injury could he possibly have. Jordy didn't require any help at all getting to the sideline and I myself chalked it up as a simple turn of the ankle. Less than an hour later early reports have Jordy Nelson down with a torn ACL, pending an early MRI Monday morning Nelson should miss all of 2015. If that is the case come Monday, arguably the league's best NFL quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, is going to have to find a new home to realocate the 151 balls he threw Jordy's way in 2014. In a game that was riddled with injures (Steelers center Muarkice Pouncey will require ankle surgery), the Packers appear to have gotten the worst of it, losing 98 receptions, 1519 yards and 13 td's of productivity. The biggest of the Packer's receivers, Nelson will surely be missed in the end zone where we'd expect Richard Rodgers and Andrew Quarless to pick up some of the slack, but the biggest benefactor of Nelson's injury will be Devonte Adams.
While we hate to see a guy go down, we can't knock anyone for seizing the far and few between opportunities that today's game presents. In our review of the Pack's first preseason game which can be found in the News/Noticias section under other NFL teams, I mentioned that there was no doubt Davonte Adams would contribute in 2015. Now that he's got one less man standing infront of him Davonte Adams projects to put out production similar to Randall Cobb's 2014 numbers. Davonte Adams saw 38 receptions for 444 yards and 3 td's on 66 targets in 2014. In 2015 the latter of those numbers (targets) should approach 120. Cobb finished last year with 91 receptions and 1287 yards with 12 TDs on a total on 126 targets through sixteen regular season games; expect Davonte Adams to match those numbers in Nelson's absence.
ESPN currently has Jordy Nelson as the fifth receiver coming off fantasy draft boards with an average draft position of 18.5, Randal Cobb currently lands somewhere around the 26th pick (25.9) and Davonte Adams is coming in around the tenth to twelve rounds depending on the size of your league(123.6). While Jordy Nelson's average will surely plummet and Randal Cobb's and Adam's will definitely be on the rise Adam's should still be available as the 15th to 25th receiver taken in the draft. If Adam's falls into your lap in rounds six or seven you're in luck, pull the trigger and keep on moving. Adams could even come of boards as early as the third or fourth rounds and although he didn't see much playing time verse the Steelers, failing to haul in his only target of the night, Davonte Adams was the target of four out of the first six aerial attacks Rodgers logged last Thursday against the Patriots . By the end of the first quarter of the Packers first preseason game, Adams had totaled seven targets on Rodgers' three series of play. We wish Jordy Nelson a speedy recovery, but owners should be praying that Adams is on the board when they're ready to pull the trigger in early September fantasy drafts. In addition expect Lacy to see more work throughout the year and don't forget about Davonte Adam's running mate Ty Montgomery. Take a flyer on Montgomery when your filling out your bench. As the Packers's third receiver he'll be a viable option come fantasy owners midseason nightmares; league wide bye weeks. Other beneficiaries have to include Jeff Janis. After buzz of a poor camp started circling, Janis had an underwhelming preseason week one performance (albeit scoring a touchdown), he looked strong out there versus the Steelers.
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Queue Rodney Gunter's Opportunity.
By now most Cardinal's fans should be more than familiar with Rodney Gunter. The Cardinals traded up seven spots in the back of the 4th round to nab their small school product. A physical specimen who has a knack for handing out pain at one time had to quit high school ball to support his single mother and two younger brothers. After recording a sack safety on what looked like a botched line call in last Friday's outing against the Chiefs, Gunter will be tasked with helping fill the shoes of recently injured Corey Peters. After tearing his right achilis in 2013, Corey Peters tore his right one in Thursday's practice session. Although the Cardinals plan to fill his roll by committee, don't be surprised if you see Gunter come in and make that committee a one man show. Keep an eye on Gunter throughout the night.
Undrafted Free Agent Linebackers Continue To Battle.
With Sean Weatherspoon nursing a torn hamstring, the Cardinals proceeded to move on from inside linebacker Daryl Sharpton. An early free agency signee, Darryl Sharpton couldn't even make it to the first round of roster cuts. That leaves four undrafted free agents fighting for what projects to be one roster spot come September. Edwin "Pound Cake" Jackson might be a coaches' favorite thanks to his mother's pound cake, but Gabe Martin, Alani Fua, and Andrae Kirk are all fighting just as hard. Keep an eye on all of them as the standouts will at the very least trickle down onto the practice squad. While on the subject of linebackers, keep an eye peeled for Markus Golden. Golden provided constant pressure last Friday night, but Steve Keim mentioned Monday he'd like to see the 2015 second round pick start to close a little more. Nobody's complaining about Golden's multiple week one hurries, management's only saying they'd like to see a few of those turn into week two sacks.
The Johnson's First Action As Cardinal's.
Chris Johnson was pegged to see about 5-6 carries against the Chargers, but after coming off the practice field in a leg wrap Thursday he might have to wait a week until the Cardinals square off against the Raiders in a nationally televised week three regular season dress rehearsal. Cardinal's rookie David Johnson on the other hand, is in no risk of missing tonight's game. Originally slated to see an extended work load through the second and third quarter expect to see David as early as the first quarter if Chris Johnson can't suit up come seven pm mountain standard time.
Can Bethel Maintain His High Level Of Play?
Bethel responded well to being tested early against Kansas City last friday night, but as is the case with almost any other young player what were looking for now is consistency. You won't find a better open field tackler than Mr. 28 himself, but if an added consistency in pass coverage is something Bethel can provide on a constant basis, Jeraud Powers may indeed be back to the slot for his third consecutive season under the Cardinal regime. With the Cardinals in need of a fourth corner, I'll finish off quoting Cardinals beat reporter Darren Urban to close, "This is a big game for (anyone) not named Peterson, Powers, or Bethel."
Will Humphries And Watford Step Up?
With injuries and suspensions mounting ,Humphries and Watford will each have their own opportunity to prove that they belong. Watford's annual offseason hype hasn't been met with the tape needed to warrant a starting role and Humphries has been knocked for his lack of consistency. Both players have tremendous upside, but neither of them will be handed a starting role without earning it. While Mike Iupati's injury isn't season threatening like Corey Peters; it will be an opportunity for Watford to prove to Cardinals coaches after three seasons that he's here to stay. It remains to be seen whether it's Jonathan Cooper who moves back out to his rookie position at Left Guard or if it will be Watford who'll be shift to the left side of the line, after being given an extensive work load on the right side throughout the preseason. Tonight we'll have our answer and it should go without saying that it will be interesting to see how the Cardinals shake things up. Ted Larson is currently billed as Iupati's replacment, but just as Bradley Sowell is being billed the man to start in place of a suspended Bobby Massie, things are coming off as more of an Arians' challenge than a definite depth chart declaration.
Bonus: Ifyeani Momah To See Targets and Progress.
Momah, an offseason free agent combine add, saw six targets in his first outing as a Cardinal. Although it's unclear where he'll end up in the tight end pecking order come September, one thing that is certain is that Momah's 6'7 frame will continually cause mismatches tilted in the Cards' favor. Momah is a player who looks destined for passing down situations and although that may be all he needs to create an impact, it would be nice to see him improve as a run blocker. Momah was called for a hold and struggled often against the Chiefs. Although he should continue to see a spike in targets, keep an eye on how Momah's blocking comes along; it just may be his greatest indicator of 2015 playing time.
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