One of the best and most comprehensive features we do every year are our Footballguys Training Camp Updates. Every week in August, our Update Team covers every player that matters from every NFL team. It's incredible and frankly, probably worth the price of the Footballguys Insider PRO subscription just by itself. Each edition is almost 40 pages long.
While I encourage you to read every word of every week, I also understand Life Happens. And one of the more valuable services Footballguys can add is saving you time. For this article, I had the idea of taking the comprehensive Training Camp Update and distilling it down into 80 proof shots of the "Need To Know" material. Some teams will have more news than others. Because that's how it works in real life. Much of it will be from the Camp Updates, some of it will be my takes but all of it will hopefully be useful to you. And make sure to jump on our Insider PRO subscription to continue seeing this type of stuff all year long. And if this feature is helpful to you, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.
Let's get to it.
QB Carson Palmer was ineffective in limited snaps versus the Chargers. The veteran passer completed just 4-of-8 passes for 37 yards and an interception – good enough for a 23.4 passer rating. Backup Drew Stanton was worse. Nothing to see here.
It's been another week of superlative filled comments for RB David Johnson. Teammate Tyrann Mathieu compared him to Marshall Faulk, and GM Keim said that Johnson is “probably the best receiving back I've seen.” Johnson impresses in practice, but struggled (along with the entire first team offense) against the Chargers with four touches for eight yards. In spite of Johnson’s obvious talents, there continues to be debate among beat writers about Johnson’s role – will he be a workhorse? ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss expects Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington to be mixed into the backfield. Chris Johnson has consistently drawn plaudits, showing off as a blocker and receiver while remaining a quality runner. Bottom line is looks like David Johnson will get the lions share, but Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington aren't going away.
Tyrann Mathieu is off the PUP list.
QB Matt Ryan played much better in the second game of the preseason slate. 6/11 for 78 yards passing, with zero TDs or interceptions while leading a touchdown drive. He sounds like the veteran he is: “I feel like our operation is really smooth. I feel we were efficient. I got in and out of the huddle really well and really fast. I felt like the tempo was really good. I'm pleased with where we are at... 'It's a process. You have to continue to work and be focused on the process during the (exhibition) season. The main goal is to get ready for the regular season and everything in front of it.”
RB Devonta Freeman is running away with the top job – he looks like he'll be featured heavily again this year. He rushed four times for 42 yards, including a nice 19-yard touchdown. Tevin Coleman was less impressive with just 16 yards on five carries.
The steady drumbeat of positive progress continues for QB Joe Flacco. He hasn’t missed a rep in training camp since returning to practice. He tore his ACL last season, but the recovery has gone smoothly. All signs point to Flacco making his in-game return next Saturday in the team’s third preseason game.
Despite a big camp from RB Terrance West, it seems as if Justin Forsett will be the starter with Javorius Allen handling passing downs unless either proves to be ineffective. It’s certainly possible, though, that this is a committee similar to Detroit with a clear between-the-10s early down player (Forsett), a third-down player (Allen), and a goal line specialist (West).
The Baltimore Sun notes that what the Ravens have in depth, they lack in a “home run hitter” type. The big plays will have to come from the passing game.
Free agent acquisition WR Mike Wallace has made steady improvement in building rapport with Flacco. They have adjoining lockers, and their connection is showing on the field. Labeled a “one trick pony,” Wallace has shown versatility in camp. Even with WR Steve Smith’s activation and pending return, Wallace should be in the mix for the team’s leading receiver.
WR Breshad Perriman was activated and removed from the PUP list. It's possible he could play in this Saturday's game.
TE Ben Watson continues to shine.
QB Tyrod Taylor's been steady and should continue to be undervalued.
Few teams draw more conversation about their #2 RB than Buffalo. The Bills releaased Karlos Williams. As our Cecil Lammey says, Williams "Has what doctors call a bit of a weight problem". Reggie Bush has been seeing a lot of work with the 2nd unit offense lately, and spelled McCoy at times early in the Giants game. However, head coach Rex Ryan has said that they will use Bush sparingly to try and maximize his effectiveness. That likely means there is an opportunity for Mike Gillislee, who Ryan referred to as the number two back “right now”, as well as rookie Jonathan Williams. Neither player stood out much in the Giants game, but Williams got a lot more work. We like Williams as the longer term answer there but it's clearly unsettled.
QB Cam Newton is still really good.
WR Ted Ginn is still really fast. Ginn caught a 61 yard TD Saturday night and had this nugget afterwards: “After I made the guy miss, I knew there was only one guy to beat. Once I got past him I knew it was history. I can’t get caught from behind."
WR Kelvin Benjamin is playing sparingly through two preseason games and appears to have conditioning issues as of the third week of preseason games. Devin Funchess may be overtaking him to be the #1 wide receiver.
TE Greg Olsen has back spasms limiting him currently - he may be tender to start the season.
The first string offense looked efficient against the Patriots in their second preseason game, as QB Jay Cutler looks to be relied upon heavily. It's preseason but he looked decisive and the offensive line gave him solid protection.
RB Jeremy Langford showed off his fantasy potential against the Patriots as he ran hard between the tackles, broke off a big 34-yard gain on one run, and capped it off with a 5-yard touchdown. He posted 63 yards from scrimmage on 8 carries and 1 reception, solidifying his grasp on the feature back role when healthy. Unfortunately, he missed practice on Saturday while wearing a walking boot to recover from a foot injury that he suffered in the game. He was out of the boot Monday, but there's talk he could miss the Week 3 preseason game.
TE Zach Miller sat out the Patriots game while still recovering from his concussion, but he was able to return to practice on Saturday.
RB Jeremy Hill looked nice against Detroit. Running backs coach Kyle Caskey feels Hill has put the disappointing 2015 season behind him, “He’s decisive. He’s confident. He’s running with power and aggression and doing it with acceleration we all knew he had.”
WR A.J. Green remains dominant.
WR Brandon LaFell returned to practice and immediately saw first team reps after missing two weeks with a ligament injury in his hand.
WR Tyler Boyd continues to draw praise for his route running and hands. The team believes he’ll be a weapon immediately in the slot and outside.
TE Tyler Eifert has been cleared to jog this week but his Week 1 availability remains very much in doubt. The Bengals have another two weeks to closely monitor Eifert’s status before being forced to decide whether he’ll remain on PUP or move to the active roster.
The biggest story of the Browns’ second preseason game was unquestionably what QB Robert Griffin lII was able to do. Griffin had a phenomenal night, completing six of his eight passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He also scrambled for 36 yards on three carries, at least one of those clearly being a designed run. Unlike last week, Griffin looked comfortable in the pocket and had time to deliver his deep strikes down the field to his receivers and tight end.
For the second week in a row, WR Terrelle Pryor made a splash play. He beat Desmond Trufant down the right sideline on a go route, bringing in the 50-yard bomb for the first Browns touchdown of the evening. Pryor said of the catch, “I knew I had him when we called the play, I knew I was going to beat him.” Yes, it's preseason. But Trufant was a first round pick in 2013 and made the Pro Bowl last year.
Despite not playing in the game, WR Josh Gordon is now practicing and getting first team reps in an effort to find his role in the offense upon his week five return.
QB Tony Romo played one series and executed a near pitch perfect drive. He completed 4-of-5 passes for 49 yards (9.8 per attempt) and led the Cowboys to a touchdown.
RBs Ezekiel Elliott and Darren McFadden missed their second consecutive preseason games, and Alfred Morris took full advantage of the opportunity. Morris ran for 85 yards on 13 carries (6.5 per rush) with a 15-yard rushing touchdown in the opening drive. Morris also caught a 15-yard pace. It’s clear that Morris can be a dominant contributor running behind the best offensive line in football, and feels like a nice high upside late round flier pick if you have room.
WR Dez Bryant is back and looks ready to let everyone know.
TE Jason Witten looked in mid-season form with two receptions for 24 yards. Importantly, the Romo-to-Witten connection looked like it never missed a beat.
The quarterback situation remains incredibly cloudy, and no clear edge has been established with two preseason games in the books. Gary Kubiak has acknowledged that Paxton Lynch is in the mix to start in Week 1. The pressure is clearly on for Mark Sanchez and/or Trevor Siemian to deliver in the all-important preseason Week 3, but the Broncos QB situation is shaping up to be a clear avoid for fantasy purposes regardless of who wins out.
RB C.J. Anderson has looked strong in camp and that carried over to preseason Week 2. He capped off the team’s opening drive with a 19-yard touchdown run. Anderson appears headed for a heavy workload this season with all of the question marks at QB. Devontae Booker has assumed the No.2 spot on the depth chart. That leaves Ronnie Hillman and Kapri Bibbs to battle for the third spot, and the loser could be looking for employment elsewhere once final cuts are announce.
TE Virgil Green has had a very strong camp and preseason, and even Gary Kubiak has taken the time to point out that Green is taking full advantage of the opportunity in front of him. He’s clearly in the lead for the starting TE gig, and he could be in line for a decent amount of volume as a safety blanket for the Broncos shaky QB situation.
The Lions passing game looks very sharp through the first two preseason games. Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter is designing an offensive plan that makes QB Matt Stafford comfortable, and it’s shown in practice and through two preseason games. Stafford has shown great chemistry with his primary weapons, even with some offensive line issues popping up.
The Lions are getting healthy at a good time. Running back Ameer Abdullah has been cleared for contact and is ready to practice without limitations.
TE Eric Ebron looks to be edging closer to a return after a big scare at the Lions mock game three weeks ago.
RB Eddie Lacy continues to run well in training camp and preseason games; he gained 45 yards and a touchdown on nine carries versus the Raiders.
WR Jordy Nelson returned to action but the team is taking it slow with him. From coach Mike McCarthy, "Aaron and Jordy will work as much as they possibly can on one-on-one routes and things like that. We've got a plan. We'll start that plan and based on how it works out (in terms of) play time, I can't really answer that question.”
TE Jared Cook is playing well since returning from his foot surgery.
WR Will Fuller has come on strong the past couple weeks and seems to have passed Jaelen Strong for the starting job across from DeAndre Hopkins. Fuller again played nearly every snap with the first-team offense and caught a touchdown on a pretty fade route.
RB Lamar Miller looks excellent. He consistently made the first man miss against New Orleans playing behind a makeshift offensive line. If the Texans offensive line can get healthy (a major concern with three starters currently injured), Miller should have a big year.
WR Braxton Miller looks like he could make an instant impact as the third receiver. He has been operating primarily out of the slot and has been a playmaker for the Texans offense.
QB Andrew Luck was sharp in his first game action since last November, which was a welcome sight for fantasy owners after early reports he was having an uneven camp. He played two series in the Colts 19-18 loss to the Ravens, completing all eight of his passes for 71 yards, and adding two scrambles for 12 yards.
WR T.Y. Hilton was held out Saturday night as a precaution after suffering a minor hamstring injury in the preseason opener. Phillip Dorsett led the Colts with three catches for 37 yards in Hilton’s absence. Donte Moncrief chipped in two catches for 25 yards. Earlier in the week, ESPN Colts beat writer Mike Wells speculated Moncrief could lead the team in receptions this season since he’s the receiver Luck will turn to when plays break down.
Quarterback Blake Bortles continues to play well in preseason and has earned positive words from Head Coach Gus Bradley who keeps praising him for his “consistency and decision-making.” Those have been the constant areas Bortles has been working on during the offseason and into training camp and it is showing on the field in in-game situations.
Wide Receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson continue to shine. Bortles has nothing but good things to say about his star WRs . “They (Hurns and Robinson) are obviously two guys who kind of make our offense go. They are the playmakers that can go up and make a big play at any moment. I thought we did a good job of kind of feeding each one of them the ball and letting them make the plays.”
The running back duo of Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon makes the Jaguars offense look much faster. The Jaguars were known as the “pass-heavy, run when you can” team in the past but now with the duo of Ivory and Yeldon teams will have to play both the run and pass game equally.
QB Alex Smith has been locked in throughout camp, and that carried over into Saturday’s preseason tilt against the Rams. He led the offense to scores on three of his four drives, and he could be in line for a slight uptick in productivity in 2016. Nick Foles has secured the backup job.
RB Jamaal Charles has been activated off the PUP list, and he’s ramped up activity even quicker than expected. All signs point to him being ready for Week 1. Spencer Ware delivered a solid performance against the Rams, and he may have the edge over Charcandrick West for the backup gig. West sat out the game with a minor elbow injury.
The chemistry between QB Smith and WR Jeremy Maclin was on full display in preseason Week 2, and the duo connected on a picture-perfect 20-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Chris Conley was impressive in hauling in all three of his targets for 66 yards. Albert Wilson is currently penciled in as the Chiefs WR2, but the eraser may be coming out soon if Conley continues his strong play.
QB Jared Goff's disappointing performances through practices and in games continued during the second week of the preseason. Goff is a better physical talent than Case Keenum and he's more accurate overall, but he looks lost on the field too often. He doesn't react well to pressure and hasn't shown off an ability to move in the pocket in games. At this point, Case Keenum looks set to open Week 1 as the team's starting quarterback.
RB Todd Gurley continues to be the star. Gurley's preseason debut lasted just one series as the Rams prioritize protecting him over everything else. He came in the game last week, scored a touchdown, then left.
QB Ryan Tannehill showed improvement this week. He competed 12 of 20 passes for 162 yards and two scores against Dallas. He was sacked just once. “It was pretty good — everything as advertised as far as how tough he is and just battling,” coach Adam Gase said at halftime. “I liked the mentality that he had going into that first half. I liked the fact that the ones wanted to stay in and do another series. That’s what I wanted to see.”
The Dolphins are playing it very cautious with RB Arian Foster, who has only played a few snaps in the preseason. Foster made his debut with two carries for minus-five yards. Thus, there is little clarity as to how the snaps will breakdown between Foster and Jay Ajayi during the regular season. "With his history as far as playing a lot of football, really, how much do any of us need to see?" Gase said of Foster. "We know what he can do." (Joe's Note - Actually Coach, we'd like to see quite a bit more...)
RB Jay Ajayi carried six times for 19 yards.
Most intriguing from a fantasy perspective was how often the Dolphins went with an empty backfield and motioned the backs out as receivers. Gase looks like he will be creative in getting the ball to Foster and Ajayi as receivers. Whichever runner emerges as the lead back has real upside in PPR leagues.
For preseason Stars, WR Kenny Stills is your man. He caught a 55-yard deep pass on the first drive and finished off both the second and third drives with touchdown catches.
QB Teddy Bridgewater sat out Thursday’s game on a decision by Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
RB Adrian Peterson will only play in the preseason if he wants to, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said. “Well I’m going to sit down and talk to him about it. If he wants to play, we’ll discuss what we think. If he goes in there, he’s probably not going to get one pass and out. He’s going to play."
Rookie WR Laquon Treadwell followed up his solid opening game with one that was not so great as he failed to catch a single ball on 4 targets. Treadwell primarily played with rookie quarterback Joel Stave so reading much into no catches is a bit unfair until we see him on the field with Teddy Bridgewater.
QB Tom Brady was expected to play in the Patriots' second preseason game but a last minute accident with a scissors sidelined him. Brady cut his hand while preparing for the game, meaning that Jimmy Garoppolo was surprised with a starting spot. Garoppolo was 16-of-21 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown to tight end A.J. Derby.
RB LeGarrette Blount once again started for the Patriots and he appears to be the foundation of their offense without Brady. Talk of Blount being cut during the offseason appears to be a distant memory at this point. He is healthy and carrying the ball on early downs.
WR Julian Edelman earned rave reviews after returning as a full participant in practice. He didn't play against the Bears as a precaution though. Edelman should be able to play in the third preseason game.
TE Rob Gronkowski was a scratch for the Bears game but that was to be expected. Gronkowski returned to practice Wednesday 8/24.
Offensive line woes are making trouble for QB Drew Brees and the rushing attack through two preseason games. It's two Pre Season games compared to a multi year stretch of excellence for Brees. So nobody is panicked. But nobody is happy. From NOLA.com's Josh Katzenstein, “In a shocking turn of events, the New Orleans Saints' offense has looked like the more problematic unit through two preseason games. The Saints lost their second straight exhibition game, falling to the Texans 16-9 Saturday night at NRG Stadium, as the offensive line struggled from start to finish.”
Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com had this on the running game: “So far, no good. In 56 preseason carries, the Saints have exactly one run of more than 10 yards by a running back.” Again. No panic. But don't ignore.
TE Coby Fleener reeled in both of his targets for 12 yards.
Top WRs Brandin Cooks (undisclosed minor injury) and Willie Snead (undisclosed minor injury) didn't play in the second preseason game, leaving hyped rookie Michael Thomas to fend for himself. Thomas had a rough outing versus the aggressive Texans; he only caught one pass for 5 yards.
The Giants played poorly against the Bills. Head coach Ben McAdoo is displeased with the state of his offense: "I just finished talking to the team. I told them we worked too hard to put a performance like that on film. They were more physical than we were, that was obvious. We need to take a long look in the mirror and bounce back."
WR Odell Beckham is fine, but he struggled against the Bills catching only one of his three targets. Rookie Sterling Shepard has been a revelation in practices but failed to catch a pass this week versus Buffalo.
TEs Larry Donnell and Will Tye seem unable to distance themselves from the other, and it could well turn into a committee situation; much to the chagrin of fantasy owners.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets offense continue to be sluggish to start games. The starting offense has been without Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker though, so we’ll be watching to see if Week 3 is any improvement or if we should be worried.
RB Matt Forte is getting healthier, but Bilal Powell has made inroads into the backfield and both backs will get plenty of carries to keep Forte fresh. We believe Forte will be the main back and get most of the carries, but this could hurt his value a little.
TE Jace Amaro is reverting to type as he's begun dropping passes again. After a lot of talk this summer about how he is modeling himself after Brandon Marshall and catching 1,000 balls from the JUGS machines, he dropped two of four passes Saturday night.
QB Derek Carr was unconcerned with his poor stat line and came away excited about his growing rapport with WR Amari Cooper. "The one that we hit down the Green Bay sideline, that was such growth, because I alerted him in the huddle that, hey, if they play a certain coverage, to be ready for that on that particular play. They played it and he knew what to do. He ran the route perfectly and knew where the ball was going to be. That stuff where we can be on the same page, we can grow like that and do things like that. Last year I don't know if we would have done that. That is definite growth and that was good to see."
RB Latavius Murray has not come off the field early in preseason action, playing all but one snap with the full first-team offense. He is positioned be the workhorse back for the Raiders and should see 300+ touches if he can stay healthy.
RB DeAndre Washington continues to impress in practice, but surprisingly did not get any playing time with the first-team offense, despite Carr and the starting offensive line playing the entire first half. Washington is being brought along slowly, but is going to be the Raiders second back and will have an impact in the passing game.
The team isn’t going to rush QB Carson Wentz back from his hairline rib fracture, but the rookie quarterback hopes to be cleared to play in the 4th (and final) preseason game. For better or for worse, that means Sam Bradford under center.
More important than the box score is RB Ryan Mathews’ continued good health and ability to practice hard. He seems to have a clearly defined role as the team’s starter. In spite of reports that Darren Sproles would play a major role in place of Mathews, it’s hard not to conclude that Kenjon Barner is the true backup tailback.
WR Jordan Matthews continues to rehab his bone bruise and his timetable for return remains uncertain.
The biggest story in Pittsburgh last week was the reduction of RB LeVeon Bell’s suspension from four games to three. Also significant for Bell is that he stays in the same stage of the NFL’s substance abuse program, meaning that his next infraction would be a four-game suspension instead of 10.
QB Ben Roethlisberger once again sat out the team’s preseason game. Pittsburgh should probably cover him in bubble wrap considering what’s happening on the depth chart behind him.
The Ladarius Green Saga continues, as the team continues to insist that Green is on the PUP List due to his ankle – not due to headaches and concussion-related problems.
QB Philip Rivers was given the night off for preseason Week 2, but he came away quite pleased with the offensive results from the joint practices that were held with the Cardinals.
There has been a good amount of buzz coming out of camp about a potential sophomore season bounce in productivity for RB Melvin Gordon. For his part, Gordon is pointing to increased confidence in both the playbook and his decision making. Branden Oliver has been one of the standouts at training camp, and he appears to have secured the third spot on the depth chart as a result, behind Gordon and Danny Woodhead.
WR Keenan Allen enjoyed a strong week of camp and shined against the Cardinals in joint practices. He was matched up with Patrick Peterson for a good portion of it, and he reportedly looked very impressive while doing so.
It was a quiet week for veteran TE Antonio Gates, as he was given the night off against the Cardinals. All signs point to him looking great in camp, and he remains in solid tight end conversation.
QB Blaine Gabbert remains in the lead for starting quarterback, but Colin Kaepernick's arm strength is returning. From NFL.com's Tyler Dragon: “Kaepernick's arm appears to be getting its strength back. The quarterback was spotted throwing a 55-yard pass and had some other throws with improved velocity.”
TE Vance McDonald has caught five passes for 92 yards from Gabbert through two preseason games, and looks like he is building off the rapport he established with Gabbert at the end of last season.
QB Russell Wilson hasn't been at his best throughout this preseason. Through two games he’s completed just 8-of-17 passes for 111 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception while getting sacked four times. But nobody seems overly worried.
RBs Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise came off the PUP list this week. Rawls practiced fully but didn't appear in the team's second preseason game. Coach Pete Carroll expects Rawls to get some snaps in the preseason though they may come during the fourth outing rather than the third.
TE Jimmy Graham (patellar tendon) is back at practice but he didn’t play in the second preseason game. Pete Carroll backed off his expectation that Graham would play in Week 1 of the regular season but didn't shut the door on the possibility either.
Tampa Bay Time's Rick Stroud was not impressed with the first team offense on Saturday night. “There is slow, like the line at the DMV. There is slower, like beach erosion. Then there is slowest, like the way the Buccaneers start football games... Saturday night against the Jaguars, quarterback Jameis Winston missed his first six passes and had an interception.”
RB Doug Martin missed the second preseason game a minor rib injury, even though he practiced all week.
TE Cameron Brate (three targets for zero receptions in the game) took a hit to the back of his head in the end zone on Saturday, drawing a personal foul penalty. Brate is being assessed for a possible concussion. Austin Seferian-Jenkins also caught all three targets for 36 yards. ESPN's Jenna Laine reported that Brate has the trust of and rapport with Winston. “...he has been the most consistent of the Bucs' tight ends in training camp, catching virtually everything that's been thrown his way, including in the red zone. He might not be catching passes with two linebackers draped on his body and still moving, but it's pretty clear that he's one of Jameis Winston's favorite targets.” Seferian-Jenkins does still seem to be in the mix though.
RB DeMarco Murray started against the Panthers and had a good-but-not-great night (five rushes for 20 yards). Murray struggled at times which is understandable given the Panthers defensive prowess.
WR Tajae Sharpe's concussion concerns were short-lived after the San Diego Chargers game. He returned to practice almost immediately and started against the Panthers. Sharpe caught Mariota's first pass and was then used on an end-around. The end-around was stopped for a loss but it was a sign of just how big of a piece of the offense Sharpe is set to become.
QB Kirk Cousins was one of nine starters that coach Jay Gruden opted to rest so he could see how younger players performed in bigger roles. "It was my decision this morning,” Gruden said. “We have a lot of good players in this locker room and I wanted to make sure our backups were ready to play at all times. We had a lot of our backups step up into starting roles last year and I thought it was important for Colt [McCoy] to get some quality work and quality defense, along with some of the other guys that played, in first-team roles.”
RB Matt Jones was diagnosed with a Grade 2 should sprain and will be sidelined for the remainder of the preseason. Jones doesn’t sound concerned about his readiness for Week One: "I'm feeling great right now," Jones said. "On a scale of 1 to 10, it's probably like a two right now. It healed up fast, I got great treatment in so it wasn't bad for what I did. We're looking great right now and hoping for a speedy recovery."
And that's that for this week. Let me know if you found this type of thing useful by shooting an email to email@example.com. And keep up with me on Twitter by clicking the follow button below.