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 email@example.com and let me know.
Let's get to it.
Coach Bruce Arians was hospitalized Tuesday night after feeling stomach pains. He was released Wedneday morning and seems ok.
QB Carson Palmer's coasting through camp and played one series in the preseason game against Oakland. He's still really good.
RB David Johnson is the unquestioned starter but Chris Johnson is going to have a role. Against the Raiders, David Johnson marched down the field with 31 yards on three carries before Chris Johnson came in at the goal line. Chris may be better suited to be the goal line back because of his nimbleness but chances are it was just a move to give David a breather after a 23-yard gain. Not to mention Andre Ellington ripped off a 35-yard run that showed off his explosiveness and elusiveness. Ellington followed that up with five-yard touchdown between the tackles.
WR John Brown remains sidelined because of the concussion he suffered at the start of training camp. J.J. Nelson and Jaron Brown would see work if John Brown can't go. Carson Palmer described Jaron Brown as a "security blanket".
The Falcons offense has been pretty quiet this week but nobody seems overly worried. QB Matt Ryan was ineffective in the preseason opener (0-for-4 passing, back-to-back 3-and-outs). Backup QB Matt Schaub seems like a solid backup.
QB Joe Flacco contines his return and things seem to be moving exactly as planned. He did not play in the preseason opener and may not play at all this preseason. But he's taking full reps in practice. As we said last week, Eric Weddle commented that if you didn't know Flacco had surgery, you wouldn't be able to tell anything was wrong.
"Yeah listen, I feel my knee," Flacco said while laughing. "My knee is not 100% but I mean it feels great. I don't think about it when I'm out there. It's not perfect, but I can feel it standing here right now, a little bit. It's not totally normal but, as far as going out there and operating on the field and running around and doing things I don't pay attention to it."
What's not settled at all is the RB situation. Presumed starter Justin Forsett did not play in the preseason opener, but reports say that he's still breaking big runs in practice and is in good shape. Terrance West, Javorius Allen, and Kenneth Dixon all had notable moments in the preseason opener. This is one that we'll continue to watch closely as things are murky now.
The WRs are just as cloudy. Breshad Perriman is still both on the PUP list and Steve Smith just came off, though John Harbaugh says both should be ready for Week 1. Mike Wallace is looking to fill the void as a deep threat but whether he still possesses elite speed remains to be seen. Baltimore's best receiver throughout camp has been Kamar Aiken. So for now, avoid until we have some clarity.
TE Ben Watson continues to shine in camp. With Maxx Williams and Dennis Pitta missing time, Watson's seeing extra reps and is building chemistry with Flacco. He's been the best and most dependable Raven TE since Day One of camp.
QB Tyrod Taylor signed a new contract extension. Good for him. He only played one series against the Colts on Saturday night, but continues to earn positive reviews in camp.
RB LeSean McCoy made a cameo appearance in the Colts game, picking up 9 yards on his only carry while also adding a short catch. Mike Gillislee replaced him midway through the first series, and picked up where he left off last year.
WR Sammy Watkins returned to practice last week, but the team held him out of the preseason opener as a precaution. He's running routes at full speed, but is also learning to adjust some of his route running techniques with the hopes of avoiding future injury.
"I just got too excited," Newton told reporters. "I was hoping they would give a warning."
Aside from that, Newton continues to be really good.
RB Jonathan Stewart is the clear number one RB. The Charlotte Observer reports Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the No. 2 running back is really a mixture of fullback Mike Tolbert and running back Fozzy Whittaker. But some feel Cameron Artis-Payne is the truer every-down running back among those three. Translation: it's murky behind Stewart.
WR Devin Funchess continues to shine. From Charlotte Observer's Jonathan Jones: "Perhaps no one at Wofford College is having a better training camp for the Panthers than second-year receiver Devin Funchess." "It's a reflection of the way he's been practicing and playing," Ron Rivera said. "He's done some really nice things and you see the growth. It's exciting to watch him out there." Rivera also addressed how the team is planning to bring along Kelvin Benjamin during the preseason: "That's one of the things that we'll start increasing. You'll see it - more and more of him. We want to get him to the point where he can go four, five, six plays in a row as we start getting ready for the opener. We'd like to see his reps increase, and by the time we're done (with the preseason) we'd like to see him get 30-35 reps and we'll see what happens." Bottom line, do not sleep on Funchess.
TE Greg Olsen seems ready to pick up where he left off last year.
QB Jay Cutler started the preseason opener against the Broncos on Thursday night, and completed 3 of 4 passes while playing the entire first quarter. His passes were accurate, but he had very little protection from the line or help from the running game, and took two sacks while gaining just a single first down.
RB Jeremy Langford got the start against the Broncos but was bottled up and finished with just 8 yards from scrimmage on 4 carries and 1 catch. He's expected to handle a heavy workload this year, but remains mostly unproven as a feature back.
Starting TE Zach Miller was recently cleared from the concussion protocol and practiced for a few days, but he did not get a chance to play in the opener.
QB Andy Dalton completed four of his five passes in the preseason opener. He looked comfortable and in rhythm, showing the mind meld with WR A.J. Green (3-4 for 26 yards) beat writers have been praising throughout camp.
RBs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard both saw time during the opening series. Hill played the first series and the first play of the second series. He was patient and looked comfortable on his three carries before coming off with what's being called a minor hand bruise. Bernard saw multiple carries on a 22-play drive that lasted into the second quarter.
WR A.J. Green continued his steady and strong camp play into the first preseason game. He played all eight snaps with Andy Dalton in the team's first series and was targeted four times on a variety of quick-hitting routes. Green looks in mid-season form already and all indications are that he'll be leaned on heavily.
The Bengals didn't update the condition of TE Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft last week. Eifert is now out of his walking boot but has multiple weeks of functional rehab remaining. He has not been ruled out of the opener, but there isn't much optimism he'll be ready.
QB Robert Griffin came out firing in his preseason debut with the Browns. His first pass was a beautiful deep ball for a 49-yard gain. Then threw an interception. But the aggressiveness was nice to see.
RBs Duke Johnson Jr and Isaiah Crowell did little to separate themselves in Fridays game with both only seeing one carry. Crowell sustained a shoulder injury on his carry and went for x-rays after the game. "I'm good. I'm perfect," he said afterwards.
The WRs were equally underwhelming. Corey Coleman missed the preseason opener but returned to practice Monday. "We'll see," coach Hue Jackson said when asked if Coleman will play Thursday. "Today was another opportunity for him to get out there finally and catch balls, run around. We'll see how he feels after today, and then we'll determine that as we move forward."
WR Josh Gordon (quadriceps) practiced for the first time since late 2014. Terrelle Pryor continued to practice with a sore hand. Jackson was encouraged. "Guys need to practice," he said. "That's the only way you're going to get better as a football team."
TE Gary Barnidge logged two receptions for ten yards. He nearly caught a touchdown in the preseason opener.
QB Tony Romo sat against the Rams, as expected. It was just one game, but Dak Prescott looked outstanding against the first team defense. The rookie was electric in the first half, completing 10-of-12 passes for 139 yards (11.6 per attempt) and two touchdowns. Maybe Jerry Jones wasn't bluffing about not needing Nick Foles.
RBs Ezekiel Elliott (hamstring) and Darren McFadden (elbow) sat out against the Rams in the preseason opener, which left Alfred Morris as the starter. Morris carried the ball three times for 11 yards (3.7 per rush) but it was an uneven showing as 9 of the 11 yards came on one carry. Morris also caught a 12-yard pass.
Elliot returned to practice Tuesday. "I think I probably have one of the easiest jobs in America," Elliott said, per The Dallas Morning News. "I get to run behind the best O-line in America."
After last year's offensive woes, Cowboys fans had to be thrilled to see both WRs Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams shine against the Rams. Bryant caught both of his targets for 28 yards and a 10-yard touchdown. Williams was only targeted once, but he made it count with a 32-yard touchdown.
QB Mark Sanchez earned the start for the preseason opener. He was brilliant on the first series and led the team on a 76-yard touchdown drive, and followed that up with a maddening interception on the next series. Basically, he was Mark Sanchez. Trevor Siemian seems to be right on his heels with Paxton Lynch more a work in progress.
RB C.J. Anderson is the starter. Ronnie Hillman and Devontae Booker were listed as co-No.2 running backs, For Booker, he's impressed in camp with both his burst and pass-catching ability. He's clearly the back of the future in Denver.
WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders saw limited action in the first preseason game as you would expect. They both hauled in a pair of passes, and Thomas was on the receiving end of a 32-yard touchdown toss from Sanchez on the team's opening drive. Cody Latimer flashed as one of the top performers of the night. He hauled in seven of his eight targets for 82 yards, and placed himself clearly in the lead for the WR3 role.
Virgil Green and Jeff Heuerman are listed as co-No.1 tight ends, and reports out of camp paint a flattering picture of both. A recent red-zone focused drill saw the pair combine for six touchdowns, and whoever secures the top spot figures to have a decent-sized role in the passing game this season.
QB Matthew Stafford was sharp during the week of practices and looked good during the game, but the first team offensive line gave up pressure and Stafford was hit a few times in his limited time. Stafford finished 4-for-6 for 58 yards, highlighted by an outstanding throw to receiver Marvin Jones Jr under heavy pressure.
RB Ameer Abdullah still hasn't been cleared for contact due to a January shoulder surgery and he did not play Friday. Abdullah hasn't missed a day of training camp but he stills is wearing the no-contact jersey. Kyle Meinke of M Live called RB Zach Zenner a big winner coming out of the first preseason game. Stevan Ridley had five carries in the second half and totaled 14 yards while catching one pass for five yards.
WR Marvin Jones Jr has looked like a No. 1 wide receiver during training camp he and Stafford are developing chemistry. Kyle Meinke quoted Stafford on the chemistry: "Yeah, I think so. There's a ton of work to be done between now and the season opener. That's what these days are for." Golden Tate isn't going anywhere and is still a 1B type, but Meinke is reporting that Tate had been dealing with an uncharacteristic case of the drops last week.
QB Aaron Rodgers did not play in the preseason game against Cleveland.
In Important news, WR Jordy Nelson passed his physical Wednesday and has been activated from the physically unable to perform list. He'll likely be limited over the next couple of weeks but looks to be on track for the regular season opener. Stay tuned. WR Jeff Janis will miss 4-to-6 weeks with a fractured hand. He may be on the roster bubble due to a poor showing in training camp coupled with the hand injury.
QB Brock Osweiler completed 4-of-7 passing, but never really got into a rhythm with the first team offense. It's hard to draw too many conclusions about how the offense will look in the regular season, as the Texans were running a vanilla scheme. Coach Bill O'Brien said he was playing it "close to the vest" and "running a lot of base offense" being the first preseason game.
RB Lamar Miller got off to a strong start with a 14-yard run on the first play of the game against the 49ers. He has shown blazing speed in camp, but has not always timed his cuts perfectly. While probably not the best situation for Houston, it's a plus for fantasy owners in that there doesn't seem to be a clear #2 behind Miller.
WR DeAndre Hopkins made a bunch of plays in practice against the 49ers and is unsurprisingly Osweiler's go-to guy. All signs seem to point to another big season.
Whether it was because of Rex Ryan's blitzing or something else, QB Andrew Luck didn't play in the season opener.
Earlier in the week, Luck's first training camp under new offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and position coach Brian Schottenheimer was described as uneven -- an assessment Luck agreed with. "I've made my fair share of mistakes, for sure, like anybody in training camp," Luck said. "I'd like to think that I haven't repeated any of the same mistakes. That's part of practice, making mistakes, but you try not to repeat them."
T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett (perhaps the Colts most improved player) are locked in as the top three receivers. Hilton especially is drawing praise. "I've never seen anybody practice as fast as he's practicing and compete at the level he's competing," coach Chuck Pagano said. Andrew Luck said this about Hilton: "(Hilton) consistently every day came out and (was) probably the best player at practice. It feels that way, and that's what an elite player is. I remember being a rookie with T.Y. and watching Reggie Wayne practice every day. He was probably the best player on the field every day, and he practiced like it. I think T.Y. is carrying on the tradition of great, hard-working, practice wide receivers on this team. He's special."
QB Blake Bortles made a lot of smart decisions and was accurate in his two series on Thursday night against the Jets. Bortles finished the night completing 6 of 7 passes for 105 yards and continued his success with Allen Robinson as connected with him 3 times for 80 yards. Bortles' only incompletion was a throw to Julius Thomas in the end zone that was very catchable but Thomas just missed it.
The running game looked sharp on Thursday as Chris Ivory rushed for 24 yards and a touchdown on six carries and T.J. Yeldon rushed for 24 yards on four carries. The offensive line was creating holes for the running game which showed on Ivory's 1-yard score on 2nd and goal.
Allen Robinson only played a couple of series for the Jaguars in their first preseason game but in those two series he put in a dominant performance with 3 catches for 80 yards with a 45-yarder being his longest.
RB Jamaal Charles remains on the sidelines, but signs continue to point to him being ready for Week 1. The question is who will serve as the primary backup? You can make an equally compelling case for either Spencer Ware or Charcandrick West, but Ware appears to have the edge at the moment.
WRs Jeremy Maclin, Albert Wilson and Chris Conley remain at the top of the depth chart. For what it's worth, De'Anthony Thomas was the most productive receiver in the preseason opener as he hauled in all three of his targets for 46 yards, including a 23-yard gain. He's still deep on the depth chart though.
TE Travis Kelce continues to have a solid camp.
QB Jared Goff did little this week to make anyone think he was ready for the starting job. He looked like a rookie in his first game action with a bad interception as he was hit and then some accurate throws and decisions on the next drive.
RB Todd Gurley was a healthy scratch in the preseason opener. Nothing to see there.
WR Tavon Austin needs to show more consistency. His battled droped balls for a while including a pass in the preseason opener where he was wide open for a first down. He's deeper on the depth charts but WR Nelson Spruce was the biggest winner from this week of camp and the first preseason game. Spruce is drawing comparisons to Danny Amendola as a possession receiver who can make plays on third downs.
TE Lance Kendricks is still the starter but Tyler Higbee is forcing the issue. Higbee has been the biggest star of training camp and his preseason NFL debut was no different. He caught five passes for 49 yards.
The first-team offense struggled to begin the week in a team scrimmage. QB Ryan Tannehill has had tunnel vision, locking in on WR Jarvis Landry too often. He has also received criticism for not taking enough shots downfield, which has allowed the defense to sit on underneath routes. Head coach Adam Gase defended the lack of deep shots however, saying he did not want his quarterback to "get sacked 60 times." The defensive line has routinely dominated the offensive line in camp, which has probably contributed to Tannehill's reluctance to air it out. He played just two series against the Giants and the offense went three-and-out on both.
RB Jay Ajayi has shown iffy hands throughout camp and the problem crept up again against the Giants. He had a short pass bounce off his hands, straight up into the air and into the hands of a Giants defender. While the second-year back is more explosive than Arian Foster, the critical mistakes will be difficult for the coaching staff to deal with and may lead to Foster seeing more time. Foster was held out of the first preseason contest as a precaution.
It may not be the best thing for Miami, but as noted above, Tannehill is locking onto WR Jarvis Landry. As one beat-writer joked, "This practice makes me feel like Ryan Tannehill drafted Jarvis Landry in a fantasy football league he intends to win."
WR Laquon Treadwell had a strong debut, hauling in 4 of 5 targets for 41 yards. Treadwell is enjoying his first NFL preseason: "It was fun, I got to play a lot - I got a lot of reps. It feels like football again, It feels like what I'm used to playing."
WR Cordarrelle Patterson remains a mystery as he was not listed as a pregame inactive, but he didn't play.
QB Tom Brady didn't play in the first preseason game as he dealt with a family matter. That allowed Jimmy Garoppolo to start and play two quarters. Newflash: Brady is better than Garoppolo. Garoppolo struggled in the game and did little to ease Patriot fan's worries about missing Brady.
RB Dion Lewis remains on the PUP list. Lewis is yet to step onto the practice field two weeks into training camp. There seems to be legitimate concern he could start the season on the PUP list meaning he wouldn't see the field until Week 7. LeGarrette Blount started against the Saints and carried the ball nine times for 20 yards and a touchdown. James White also played well.
NOLA.com's Tim Duncan noted that the Saints have tough choices ahead winnowing down the running back position: "Mark Ingram II is the clear bell cow. Behind him, the Saints have a variety of role players. Veterans C.J. Spiller and Travaris Cadet and emerging second-year man Marcus Murphy are competing for the satellite back role in the nickel and two-minute offense. Tim Hightower might be the best pure runner on the roster. And versatile rookie Daniel Lasco is a jack-of-all-trades type."
Coby Fleener had an 11-yard reception in limited action. All reports on Fleener continue to be positive as we head into the second round of preseason games.
QB Eli Manning sat against the Dolphins, which provided an opportunity for long-time backup Ryan Nassib to showcase his abilities. Newsflash #2: Manning is better than Nassib. Nassib completed just 7-of-15 passes for 75 yards (5.0 per attempt) and had three turnovers (two interceptions and a lost fumble). He was sacked four times and fumbled two other times (but they were recovered).
Starting RB Rashad Jennings ran three times for 11 yards and scored on a 3-yard run to give the Giants an early lead against the Dolphins. Just when we thought the Giants backfield situation was coming into focus, Andre Williams had an excellent game against the Dolphins in the preseason opener. Williams came in after Rashad Jennings and dominated with 41 yards on 9 carries (4.6 per carry). It's important not to read too much into the first preseason game, but Williams for now appears to be Jennings' number two over Shane Vereen and rookie Paul Perkins.
With WR Odell Beckham sitting out against the Dolphins, this was supposed to be the Sterling Shepard show. Shepard got off to an impressive start connecting on a 24-yarder from Ryan Nassib. But he tweaked his groin and was forced out of the game thereafter. Victor Cruz has been nursing a groin injury and missed the preseason opener versus the Dolphins, but returned to practice on Sunday. Unfortunately, he appears to have re-aggravated the injury and will be further evaluated in the coming days. It's a frustrating setback for a player working hard to get back into the mix. Sterling Shepard, on the other hand, returned to practice on Sunday with no setbacks after injuring his groin during the Dolphins game.
The Dolphins game didn't shed much light on the camp battle between TEs Larry Donnell and Will Tye. Stay tuned.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick got the start Thursday but only played two series. As has been the case since he returned, Fitzpatrick was up and down. Fitzpatrick's practices have improved since arriving in camp, and it's likely that he will do the same in games as well.
RB Matt Forte missed the game on Thursday but ran positional drills on Sunday. He has not begun 11-on-11 drills yet, but if the hamstring seems solid we might see him doing them by next weekend. Bilal Powell continues to impress, and scored a 4-yard touchdown against the Jaguars.
WRs Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker didn't do much in the opener, but Decker had a one-handed catch in practice on Saturday and Marshall made a leaping touchdown catch on a fade from Ryan Fitzpatrick late in the same practice. Those two are more than secure in the WR1 and WR2 spots.
RB Latavius Murray started and received all of the first-team reps against Arizona. He was solid, with 21 yards on four rushes. DeAndre Washington did not disappoint in his professional debut. He had a pair of big plays against the Cardinals backups. He broke off a 25-yard run up the middle and made a Cardinals safety look silly in the open-field. He also had a 32-yard reception, leaving a linebacker in the dust with a quick break to the inside that created huge separation. It was the type of play that recent Raiders backs were not capable of and justified the excitement about Washington's potential as a third-down back.
The assumption all offseason has been that WR Amari Cooper would emerge as the true #1 receiver in Oakland with Michael Crabtree easing into more of a secondary role. With a major Cooper breakout expected, he is going off the board in fantasy drafts four rounds earlier than Crabtree. Granted, it's a ridiculously small sample size, but a brief look at the first-team offense in two series of preseason action should give some pause to that view. Crabtree looked excellent while Cooper was unable to secure any of his three downfield targets. The Raiders tried to get Cooper involved early against the Cardinals, but Carr and Cooper were unable to connect on multiple deep passes. Cooper finished with just one catch for six yards (on four targets). On the first drive, Cooper beat his man down the sideline but was unable to get his second foot down in-bounds. The throw was slightly outside, but it's the type of catch that the Raiders need their star receiver to make. Cooper also had a drop, which was a major problem for him down the stretch of the 2015 season. Crabtree looked to be in mid-season form. He had two receptions for 38 yards (on two targets) in two series of action. Be careful.
TE Clive Walford took advantage of a broken coverage to score an 18-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Walford has had an impressive camp and is a potential breakout candidate entering his second season.
QB Carson Wentz's timeline has been pushed back thanks to a hairline rib fracture suffered against the Buccaneers in Thursday's preseason opener. He wasn't diagnosed until Saturday but is now officially out for several weeks at a minimum.
RB Ryan Mathews has been explosive since returning from his mild injury.
On Tuesday, the Eagles acquired Dorial Green-Beckham from the Tennessee Titans in exchange for offensive lineman Dennis Kelly. Green-Beckham is a former 40th overall pick but appeared to be in the coach's doghouse in Tennessee. The trade provides a fresh start for a talented yet unproven (at the NFL level) and further cements the risk that Randle's days in Philadelphia are numbered.
The Steelers have been more about developing backups than anything. QB Ben Roethlisberger's been on the "Hines Ward" plan with plenty of rest in practice.
Neither RBs Le'Veon Bell nor DeAngelo Williams suited up in the preseason opener.
WRs Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton did not suit up for the game. Brown did have a successful week, running circles around Detroit's secondary players in joint practices and generally being "uncoverable" per multiple reports. Darrius Heyward-Bey and Sammie Coates Jr played extended time as the starters with Eli Rogers manning the slot. Heyward-Bey was typically inconsistent.
The biggest story in Pittsburgh camp from the week was TE Ladarius Green's health. Until Thursday, it was thought that Green was on the PUP list while he recovers from a January ankle surgery. Reports surfaced, however, that Green was battling headaches which were likely a result of multiple concussions last season.
QB Philip Rivers only played a single series in the opening preseason tilt against the Tennessee Titans, but it was by far the most effective series of offense that the Chargers displayed for the whole game. The drive was a seven-play, 75-yard effort that was capped off by a 44-yard hookup with Melvin Gordon III for a score. "You can't overreact both good and bad, but it can be something we can build on and something we should get excited about," Rivers said.
The opening game offered up a solid glimpse of what might become of RB Melvin Gordon III as he continues to develop. "I was just way more comfortable. I kind of just told myself last year that I was really just stressing over every little thing with the run. I calmed myself down, was focused on my reads, trusted (the line) and tried to make the best of what I can do," Gordon said.
TE Antonio Gates is having a consistent, rock solid training camp. He has his sights set on Tony Gonzalez's all-time touchdown mark for tight ends. The record stands at 111, and Gates will need eight more this season to surpass him.
QB Colin Kaepernick was unable to play in the preseason and is battling a "dead arm", leaving rival Blaine Gabbert to start the contest. Gabbert had an uneven game, completing 4-of-10 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. "There were some real positives that you can build on," head coach Chip Kelly said, "but there were some throws I'm sure even if you ask Blaine, he's going to say, 'I wish I had those back.''
TE Vance McDonald played well in the preseason opener, according to Cam Inman of the Mercury News: "McDonald caught the two passes that came his way on the 49ers' initial scoring drive, which he capped with a 43-yard touchdown reception.
RB Christine Michael is being given every chance to disprove the doubters who have long since labelled him a bust. Ahead of their first preseason game, Pete Carroll said that Michael has "had an awakening" this year. Michael backed up his coach's words on the first two drives of the Chiefs game, running seven times for 44 yards, securing the football and breaking tackles. Michael's love affair may be short-lived as Thomas Rawls returned to practice this week. Rawls is still being managed but he was taken off PUP and Pete Carroll suggested nobody in camp was in better shape than Rawls.
The operative quote from Carroll is this one, "He's (Michael) an explosive, dynamic athlete," Carroll said, "and so we're just going to keep growing with him. And when Thomas gets out there, those two guys give you a little one-two punch that we're kind of excited about."
The "Jimmy Graham watch" came to an end this week, in a way. Graham returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since rupturing his patellar tendon last November. According to Sheil Kapadia, "Graham ran routes and caught passes from the quarterbacks during the first part of Wednesday's practice. Nothing he did required moving at full speed, and Graham stayed on the sideline once the offense and defense started going against each other."
WR Mike Evans had just one catch in limited snaps. He acknowledged that he's lost some weight. "I played heavier my first two years, around 235, 240, and now I'm between 220 and 225. That's helped me run more, longer and faster." Vincent Jackson had a 17-yard reception in the opener, playing after some concern that he might miss the contest. Jackson felt good enough to go during warmups despite his undisclosed training camp injury, and got in the action briefly.
The big news was a glimpse into the play action heavy, run-heavy offense that could change what's asked of Mariota. RB DeMarco Murray scored a 71-yard touchdown with relative ease after cutting back on a zone run. That play came after he gained 15 yards on his first carry to start the game. Mike Mularkey was using all of his playbook, showing off a variety of different play designs and running both inside and outside with Murray. He was the only back to carry the ball when Mariota was on the field. Rookie Derrick Henry also had a big night in his NFL debut. He had a handful of impressive runs but for the most part his yards came like Murray's, very easily. The offense ran through him for a time. Henry had 10 carries despite only playing in the second quarter.
Injury appears to be the only thing that will stop Tajae Sharpe from being a key contributor for the Titans this year. Dorial Green-Beckham's status as irrelevant continues to be solidified, which explains why the team was willing to trade the 2nd year physical marvel to the Philadelphia Eagles for lineman Dennis Kelly.
QB Kirk Cousins played one series and looked sharp; he completed 5-of-5 passes for 39 yards (7.8 per attempt).
Washington has seemed dead set on making RB Matt Jones the new workhorse. But Jones only carried the ball twice (two carries for 1 yard) against the Falcons in the preseason opener, so it's hard to draw any conclusions.
TE Jordan Reed missed the preseason opener with a previously undisclosed thumb injury. Fortunately, the severity of the injury was minimal as Reed was back on the practice field over the weekend.
And that's that for this week. Let me know if you found this type of thing useful by shooting an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And keep up with me on Twitter by clicking the follow button below.