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.
QB Carson Palmer hasn't had a good preseason, and those struggles continued against the Texans. Coach Bruce Arians is not concerned.
The Cardinals continue to gush over RB David Johnson. At this point it's all about staying healthy. He scored a touchdown on a short-yardage run that featured an impressive cut against the Texans. Chris Johnson got carries with the first team offense and ran well again. He's not going away regardless of how David Johnson performs. Andre Ellington came in as the third option and also ran well.
WR John Brown finally returned to practice but the signs still aren't good. Brown left practices twice last week, suffering from headaches. He didn't play in the third preseason game and even if the Cardinals want to paint it as precautionary, it's been more than three weeks since he was concussed. If he's not active in Week 1 it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.
The Falcons' offense looked rough vs. Miami - especially the running game, with 15/31/0 rushing as a team. However, the depth chart is unchanged from 2015 with Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Terron Ward in the top three RB slots.
The team doesn't seem overly concerned about the poor Week 3 performance. “It's preseason,” WR Julio Jones said after the game. “I did a couple of series, and I was just done. I could have went, but I was just done. They didn't need to see any more out of me or even try to risk something because its preseason, and it really doesn't count. We just wanted to get the young guys in there and get them some good looks.”
More of that positive steady drumbeat for QB Joe Flacco. Flacco returned, confirming his on-schedule recovery from last season’s torn ACL. He looked very capable in his return, connecting especially with new receiver Mike Wallace.
The running back situation took a hit with Kenneth Dixon’s injury, but the depth chart is still rather jumbled with Justin Forsett likely to be the starter (by title only) of a committee approach with Terrance West, Javorious Allen, and Dixon. Dixon's knee injury is an MCL and most reports are that he'll be back in about four weeks.
The WR corps is taking shape. Mike Wallace showed rapport with Flacco; Steve Smith didn’t play but is expected to be ready for Week 1; Breshad Perriman returned from the PUP List and is targeting Week 1 as well; and Kamar Aiken is still “Mr. Reliable” and will have a role.
TE Benjamin Watson was lost for the year with a torn Achilles’ tendon. Crockett Gillmore appears to be the next man up with second-year man Maxx Williams behind at least Gillmore – and potentially Dennis Pitta as well. Pitta is still a wildcard with his fractured finger injury keeping him on the sidelines. His receiving ability could be an asset if he can get (and stay) healthy.
Unlike most teams who use the 3rd preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, the Bills held out most of their starters. Rex gonna Rex.
RB LeSean McCoy was held out against Washington for precautionary reasons, and potential backup Mike Gillislee also missed the game with a concussion. Reggie Bush got the start, and showed his vintage burst while picking up 17 yards on just 3 carries. Rookie Jonathan Williams came on with the 2nd string offense and saw plenty of time until leaving the game early with a rib injury (which was later reported to be non-serious).
WR Sammy Watkins made his preseason debut, but only lasted two series and finished with no catches. He should be ready for week 1 though.
As with most key players, TE Charles Clay didn’t play versus Washington. He dealt with a back injury early in camp, but played in the 2nd preseason game and should be ready for the regular season.
QB Cam Newton is still really good. Although Newton himself (13/29 for 100 yards passing, zero TDs and two interceptions vs. New England) disagrees with me saying after the game, "We're not that good yet."
Both WRs Devin Funchess (10 targets for 5/49/0 receiving) and Kelvin Benjamin (six for 3/27/0) caught 50% of their targets versus the Patriots. Funchess has been pushing Benjamin to be the top target, even though in this game he didn't start (Benjamin and Ted Ginn Jr Jr. were the starters).
TE Greg Olsen was held out Friday night, due to his recent bout of back spasms. He has been practicing with the team since last Monday, though, and is locked in as the lead tight end.
The offense continues to struggle as the starters were held to just 18 yards in the first half by the Chiefs. Out of 12 preseason drives with Jay Cutler under center, the Bears have only scored one touchdown and one field goal.
RB Jeremy Langford got the start and played most of the first half with the starters, but was bottled up and finished with just 17 yards on 6 carries with no targets in the passing game.
WR Kevin White has been a non-factor in preseason games, which is fruatrating as he's practiced well. His play in games isn't making anyone feel he's poised to make the type of impact many are expecting from the former #7 overall pick and he's going to have to pick up the pace.
Presumed starting TE Zach Miller sat out of the Chiefs games while still dealing with the after effects of a concussion. That opened the door for Rob Housler and Tony Moeaki to play with the first string offense against Kansas City, but neither player was able to separate from the other. Miller passed his concussion tests and was back at practice Monday.
QBs Andy Dalton and A.J. McCarron continue to calmly and consistently move the team in practice and in preseason games. Dalton is completely secure as the starter but there’s a strong argument McCarron is better than a handful of NFL starters right now.
WR A.J. Green limped off during last week’s preseason game but initial reports suggest the injury is minor and won’t keep Green from practice.
TE Tyler Eifert is targeting Weeks 4-6 as his likely window to return. The Bengals have not updated TE Tyler Kroft’s condition. He may not be ready for Week 1 either, leaving C.J. Uzomah as the lone healthy tight end of consequence. Uzomah has been quiet for the past two weeks after a strong start early in camp.
The third preseason contest left viewers with mixed emotions about QB Robert Griffin III III and the offense. On one hand, Griffin once again connected on deep shots (43 and 44 yards, respectively) to his receivers. He ended his night with eight of 14 completions for 119 yards and a touchdown. On the other hand, Griffin took a pounding to the tune of five sacks and multiple pressures.
WR Corey Coleman played from the first quarter on, needing to get every possible rep after being sidelined the entire preseason with a hamstring issue. Coach Hue Jackson confirmed Coleman will play in the week four preseason game in order to make up for lost reps.
TE Gary Barnidge is locked in as the starter for this team and has been targeted often throughout camp and preseason work.
QB suffered a broken bone his back. Early reports say he’ll miss 6 to 10 weeks. It's Dak Prescott time.
RB Ezekiel Elliott finally gave fantasy owners what they wanted – a dominant preseason performance. The rookie powerhouse ran seven times for 48 yards (6.8 per carry) and showed power, elusiveness, vision and excellent blocking. Maybe most importantly, he showed he wasn't awed by the big stage. On a couple of occaisions, Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor delivered what might have been crushing hits and Elliott more than held his own. What was clearly intended to be a "Welcome to the Big Time" trucking instead ended with Elliott showing he was on Chancellor's level.
WR Dez Bryant sat out the game after suffering a concussion in practice. Until this week, Dez Bryant had given everyone hope he was set to return to elite form. The concussion is a mild concern, and Bryant returned to practice on Sunday.
TE Jason Witten will likely be a comfort to QB Dak Prescott. Witten pulled down a touchdown with a great catch against Seattle. “He went and made a hell of a grab over a big defender, and I was thankful,” Dak Prescott said. “I told him, ‘I love you, thank you for catching that, I needed that.’” Expect more of that.
QB Trevor Siemian played the entire first half against the Rams and will be the Week 1 starter. Paxton Lynch handled the the snaps in the second half, while a suddenly on the roster bubble Mark Sanchez saw no action in the game.
RB C.J. Anderson is in line for a hefty workload this season. The Broncos dress rehearsal game featured six consecutive running plays on their first two possessions, five of which were handled by Anderson. Devontae Booker appears locked in as the backup to Anderson. Ronnie Hillman and Kapri Bibbs are waging a tight battle for the RB3 spot.
One of the reasons for optimism in Detroit is that the Lions are tailoring an offensive approach that makes QB Matthew Stafford comfortable and fits the things he does extremely well. Stafford has never been a quarterback that fares well holding the ball facing pressure waiting for deeper routes to develop, and the offense struggled against the Ravens when they took deep shots down the field. Interestingly enough, the first-team offense looked good when they went no-huddle and got the ball out quickly.
RB Ameer Abdullah missed training camp recovering from shoulder surgery, but he returned to practice last week and ran with the first team offense Saturday. Abdullah is far and away the most explosive back in a traditional sense, and he showed that explosion against Baltimore.
WR Golden Tate has always been known for having very good hands, but he’s dropping more passes this preseason games and that continued Saturday. Tate caught three passes for 29 yards and carried the ball once for six yards. The steady postive drumbeat continues for Marvin Jones Jr. He has amazing body control and continues to make dazzling sideline catches. He and Stafford have quickly developed rapport.
The Lions are not releasing any tangible information on Eric Ebron’s injury or his status for the regular season, and the possibility of Ebron not playing in Week 1 puts a damper on the offense.
QB Aaron Rodgers completed 6-of-9 passes for 69 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers in the Week 3 dress rehearsal. He's good.
Unlike last preseason, RB Eddie Lacy has put sizable distance between himself and the backups.
According to Ryan Wood of the USA Today Network - Wisconsin, “Jordy Nelson won’t play [next] Thursday in Kansas City, but the Green Bay Packers receiver returned to full practice this Monday August 29th. After returning from the physically unable to perform list Aug. 17, Nelson has been limited to individual drills in practice.
Jared Cook is surging to the top of the tight end position – he looks like the clear starter.
QB Brock Osweiler was incredibly efficient in Week 3 against the Cardinals, completing 11-of-13 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. He led three scoring drives on just four possessions on his way to compiling a passer-rating of 139.1. Osweiler has shown significant improvement in each outing.
RB Lamar Miller rushed four times for just four yards, but was able to pound in a touchdown from short distance. Miller has had an excellent camp and is firmly established as the workhorse back for the Texans. His fantasy outlook could be negatively impacted by the injuries along the offensive line however.
While WR DeAndre Hopkins remains locked in as the top receiver, the story of training camp in recent weeks has been the rapid emergence of rookies Will Fuller V and Braxton Miller. “Will’s a very special football player,” Osweiler said. “What people really need to know about him – obviously everybody knows about his speed, they saw him all last season, they saw him at the combine – but it’s his work ethic. That’s what really makes him special. He comes in every single day, he works extremely hard, studies hard and practices hard. We expect big things out of Will this season.”
After stating earlier in the week Colts starters would play into the third quarter, Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano wisely pulled QB Andrew Luck at halftime of Saturday night’s regular season dress rehearsal. Luck’s offensive line did him no favors against the Eagles, allowing six quarterback hits and three sacks. The line was a major reason Luck struggled and sustained injuries in 2015, and it looks like a problem again, especially after it was learned starting left guard Jack Mewhort will miss two to four weeks with a knee injury.
Robert Turbin solidified his grip on the Colts backup running back job, rushing for 24 yards on four carries against the Eagles. Turbin also had an 81-yard touchdown run called back on a Phillip Dorsett holding penalty.
WR Donte Moncrief was great against the Eagles, catching 6-of-7 targets for 58 yards, with five for 52 coming in the first half from Andrew Luck, including a pretty one-handed grab. Earlier in the week, former Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne raved about Moncrief on NFL Network. “He is going to be a stud in this league. You just watch,” Wayne said. “Donte Moncrief, he’s what you want as a receiver. He’s big, he’s fast, he’s physical, he can go over the middle, he can go over the top, he can make all the big blocks against linebackers, he’s probably the least-scared in that receiver room. He’s a tough guy.”
Despite the struggles from the first team unit on Sunday, there is no need to panic as some of the struggles were due to penalties and an early fumble that derailed the offense and got them out of rhythm.
“Well, we played pretty bad,” QB Blake Bortles said after leaving the game at halftime. “I do not think we did a whole lot of things. We played bad at every position and usually that is what happens when you play bad - you do not score a lot of points.” Although it was a regression from the first two preseason games for Bortles and the offense it is nothing to get overly concerned about as some of the problems on Sunday were just fundamental as penalties and an early fumble helped to get the offense out of sorts early in the game.
The Bengals first touchdown was set up by a T.J. Yeldon fumble on Jacksonville’s first possession deep in Jaguars territory. Despite the early fumble Yeldon battled back and actually looked like the best player on the field.
TE Julius Thomas caught 1-of-2 targets for just 4 yards against the Bengals. Bortles will continue to look for him in the red zone but he needs to start making plays if he still wants to see his share of opportunities.
QB Alex Smith has been dialed in all summer and could be in line for a bounce in productivity. You could do much worse for your QB2 on draft day.
All signs point to RB Jamaal Charles being a full go in Week 1 as he has resumed practicing without limitations. Spencer Ware appears to have a lock on the backup gig and has enjoyed a strong preseason.
WR Jeremy Maclin has looked great in the preseason and is fully in sync with Alex Smith. Chris Conley appears to have secured the WR2 role, and he could be the much-needed answer to further open things up for Maclin and the offense as a whole.
TE Travis Kelce looks to be fully ready to deliver on his top-five tight end projections.
For the second time in three games, first overall pick Jared Goff left a game because he was hurt. The official line was that he was just “shaken up.” More importantly, Goff has not been good. And that's probably being too nice. He was expected to take the starting job from Case Keenum, because he's Case Keenum, but Keenum is way ahead of the rookie. At this rate, Keenum might be the starter for a while.
RB Todd Gurley scored a touchdown against the Chiefs in the second game of the preseason and sat down. It turns out, that was his whole preseason. Gurley is being protected by the coaching staff, in both games and in practices, so they won't have been happy when he threw himself into a scuffle during practice this week. He found himself planted on the ground in the bottom of a pile. Gurley was fine but it made for a story at the very least.
If financial investment is indicative of future usage, WR Tavon Austin is going to play a huge role this season. The Rams gave him a four-year extension worth more than $10 million per season with a huge percentage guaranteed. Austin didn't touch the ball in the third preseason game though. Brian Quick has struggled massively with his consistency, meaning that Pharoh Cooper has moved ahead of him on the depth chart.
The Dolphins have been mixing in some zone read plays and QB RyanTannehill has been able to break out for some big gains in each of the past two preseason contests. Adam Gase is a creative play caller and should find ways to use Tannehill’s athleticism to advantage.
RB Arian Foster has always been an excellent receiver out of the backfield, which could give him the advantage over Jay Ajayi as the two battle for playing time. The Dolphins have been very coy about how they plan to split time between their top two runners. "I have no idea what the plan is there," said QB Ryan Tannehill.
TE Jordan Cameron has had a dreadful month of August and it looks like his confidence is shaken. He has been a “drop machine” and suffered another drop in Week 3 against the Falcons. Coach Gase has tried to move Cameron around to isolate him in favorable one-on-one matchups, but Cameron has not been able to make plays. He is likely to split time with Dion Sims.
QB Teddy Bridgewater suffered a major knee injury on Tuesday in practice that was later confirmed to be a full knee displacement and torn ACL. Bridgewater will miss the season, leaving the Vikings (and their playoff hopes) in veteran Shaun Hill’s hands.
RB Jerick McKinnon had a fine Week 3 Preseason game averaging 7.0 yards per carry as he finished with 8 carries for 56 yards. The running game made strides in this game compared to first two preseason games. McKinnon looks to have a role on the offense even when Adrian Peterson finally sees game action.
RB Dion Lewis needs another surgery on his knee and is expected to begin the season on the PUP list. It's unclear when Lewis will back on the field at this point. Lewis' absence should push James White into a prominent role, especially during the first month of the season. White has featured repeatedly on screen plays during the preseason. LeGarrette Blount has solidified his status as the team's starter through training camp and the preseason. Barring an unforeseen Belichick move (which should always be expected), Blount is in line for a big workload.
The Boston Herald described WR Julian Edelman as “rusty” during his preseason debut. Edelman was targeted three times and caught one pass. He lacked chemistry with Garoppolo as his timing in routes stood out for the wrong reasons.
While Edelman struggled to make an impression, WR Chris Hogan is looking like a nice surprise.
After missing more than a week with a minor ailment, TE Rob Gronkowski returned to practice ahead of the third preseason game. He didn’t play versus the Panthers, but that’s nothing more than Belichick taking care of a key player.
Pass blocking remains a concern entering regular season. “The one thing that's concerning and troubling right now is Week 3 of the preseason that our ability to protect and then our ability to rush the passer,” head coach Sean Payton said. “Those are two things I think that if you just watch the game that are concerning, obviously very concerning.”
Mark Ingram II (7 carries for 17 yards), Tim Hightower (8 rushes for 27 yards and an 8-yard reception), and C.J. Spiller (four carries for 20 yards and one catch) are locked in as #1-#3 running backs.
According to the New Orleans' Times-Picayune, the Saints' top three receivers are Brandin Cooks (one target for 1/10/0 receiving vs. Pittsburgh), Willie Snead IV (four for 4/58/1), and Michael Thomas (one for 1/23/0).
New TE Coby Fleener has not been stellar this summer. “Preseason is challenging in that you're mixing and matching different quarterbacks, different receivers, different offensive linemen,” Fleener (four targets for 1/4/0 receiving) said after Friday night's game. “That adds to the challenge of preseason, but I think another challenge is also learning from your mistakes... Unfortunately, we've made a lot of mistakes, but we hope we can learn from those and not take that into the regular season.” Fleener has had problems handling passes during the preseason, but he remains atop the depth chart.
The Week 3 dress rehearsal was as discouraging as the first two preseason games for the Giants. QB Eli Manning and the first team offense simply couldn’t execute. The veteran passer completed 10-of-15 passes for 65 yards (4.3 per attempt) along with an interception. Manning is a proven veteran and we know he’s capable of great things in this offense (he set career bests across the board in 2015), but the passing game is going to be a true test of whether the preseason matters. Giant fans are hoping it does not.
Entering the season, RB Rashad Jennings is the clear starter and Shane Vereen will reprise his role as the passing-down back and 3rd down specialist. What’s less clear is whether Paul Perkins or Andre Williams will be the backup on 1st and 2nd down.
WR Odell Beckham was targeted four times but only caught one pass for 8 yards. Sterling Shepard caught his lone target for 1 yard as the Jets defense was on him immediately. On a brighter note, Victor Cruz returned to the lineup. He only caught one 4 yard pass, but the fact he was healthy enough to play 32 snaps was the major news. "It felt great, man, just to be with my teammates and put this 80 jersey back on and to get the love of the crowd and the people again and go out there and be in position to make a few plays as well. It was a great feeling," Cruz said.
The quarterback position remains a concern. At the beginning of camp, everyone predicted that while Ryan Fitzpatrick would look a little rusty at first, he’d get it together. That hasn’t happened, at least not consistently. Saturday’s game against the New York Giants continued the trend of slow starts and erratic passes.
RB Forte looks to be a great addition to the offense, but the likelihood of a pretty close split in touches with Bilal Powell is going to limit his impact.
The Jets were somewhat cagey as to why WR Brandon Marshall didn’t play on a day when the aim was to get some chemistry going on offense, but indications are that he has some hip soreness. Coach Todd Bowles admitted Marshall could have played but that he wanted to “… get him ready for opening day… and I think he’ll be there.”
TE Jace Amaro continues to struggle, and now you can add a groin injury to his list of issues (including, but not limited too many drops and a lack of blocking ability).
QB Derek Carr and the Raiders first-team offense excelled in the first half. Carr was extremely accurate and moved well in the pocket.
The two rookie running backs, DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard, are coming on strong. At least one, and possibly both, should have major roles in the offense this season. Washington could take most of the third-down work from starter Latavius Murray and both rookies should steal carries throughout the season as well.
The pecking order at receiver is well established heading into the opener: 1) Amari Cooper, 2) Michael Crabtree, 3) Seth Roberts, 4) Andre Holmes, 5) Johnny Holton. Both Cooper and Crabtree are poised to have big seasons in their second year together in Oakland.
QB Sam Bradford saw extended action and was dynamic (against an awful Colts defense), completing 17-of-20 passes for 167 yards (8.4 per attempt) and 2 touchdowns to go along with an interception.
RB Ryan Mathews didn’t play long against the Colts but looked great nonetheless. He rushed for 31 yards on just three carries (10.3 per rush) including a 16-yard scamper that showed Mathews’ vision and elusiveness.
The surprise of the night was WR Dorial Green-Beckham taking snaps with the first team just one week into his Eagles tenure. Green-Beckham was a little uneven as should be expected, but did catch two of three targets for 15 yards and a touchdown.
WR Chris Givens had seen some time with the first team just two weeks ago, but was released on Sunday.
As we’ve noted throughout the preseason, Doug Pederson plans on utilizing the tight end as a focal point offensively. TE Zach Ertz could be the Eagles top playmaker until WR Jordan Matthews returns from a bone bruise.
The offense looked in mid-season form despite the big starts making their preseason debuts. They utilized no-huddle, something QB Ben Roethlisberger says should be a key weapon all season long.
Both RBs Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams were used as dual-purpose threats. They were primary targets on a couple occasions and were available as check-downs on others.
WR Antonio Brown is not rusty. No one gets open as easily as he does, and the rapport between Brown and Roethlisberger is palpable. WRs Markus Wheaton and Eli Rogers will start with Brown. Rogers will play in the slot, and he has received praise from Roethlisberger throughout camp.
TE Ladarius Green was placed on PUP. Jesse James is starting in his place. While James’ blocking is inconsistent and a work in progress, he showed his chops in the receiving game, catching a touchdown from Roethlisberger on the team’s first drive. At 6’7”, he’s a tall weapon that the team is otherwise lacking.
First round pick Joey Bosa finally signed and joined the team.
RB Melvin Gordon III has impressed throughout the preseason and could be in line for a sophomore campaign bounce. The team’s running back depth chart took a huge hit with the loss of Brandon Oliver.
The Chargers have been cautious with QB Philip Rivers throughout the preseason, but the veteran signal caller will come out firing for the pass-heavy offense once the regular season rolls around. The backup quarterback situation for the Chargers has trouble written all over it.
WR Keenan Allen has had an extremely impressive summer and is in line to be targeted heavily this year. Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin are intriguing deep threats for Rivers to be tossing the rock to.
TE Antonio Gates has looked solid in camp and should threaten Top 10 tight end production even at his advanced age. Rookie Hunter Henry may have carved out a role in the offense with his impressive work in camp.
QB Colin Kaepernick completed two passes in six attempts for 14 yards versus Green Bay, and according to The Mercury News Tim Kawakami, he sealed his fate with the poor performance. “Reality and rustiness interceded, and Kaepernick's unsteady second-quarter effort essentially sealed the deal. Really, it would've been a shock if Kaepernick was totally in rhythm. And he very much wasn't. Which makes things very simple. Whether or not coach Chip Kelly wants to announce it yet, Gabbert will be the 49ers' starting QB in Week 1.” People will try to make this about the protest issue, but the reality seems to be Kaepernick isn't producing on the field.
RB Carlos Hyde averaged 7.5 yards per carry during his brief appearance versus Green Bay (4/30/0 rushing). He is set as the lead back, though he did suffer a concussion. Hyde felt ill after halftime and was taken to the locker room, where he was tested for a concussion. He was placed in the concussion protocol.
TEs Blake Bell (two targets for 2/25/0), Garrett Celek (two for 2/14/0) and Vance McDonald (four for 1/2/0) all caught passes versus the Packers. Bell actually led the team in receiving. The offense didn't do much in the game, but the depth chart seems set with McDonald in the lead position at tight end (he has good chemistry with Gabbert, the likely starter during regular season), followed by Celek and Bell.
QB Russell Wilson hasn't been at his best during the preseason, but he saved his best performance for the most important game. Wilson completed 16-of-21 passes for 192 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks.
RB Thomas Rawls didn't make his debut in the third preseason game, so Christine Michael continued to shine. Michael is a hard player to hype because he has repeatedly been a preseason darling only to falter when the games matter. Still, it's encouraging to see the veteran hit holes with aggression while remaining aware of cutback opportunities.
The receiving corps is set and the only question that remains is how many passes can Tyler Lockett catch? The second-year receiver looks like an emerging star as his explosiveness consistently leaves defensive backs in his wake.
RB Doug Martin is the clear-cut starter entering September with Charles Sims in the change-of-pace/backup role. Martin posted 4/18/0 rushing last Friday, an average of 4.5 yards per carry, and he has been used sparingly during preseason while the team sorted out the depth chart below Martin.
WR Mike Evans is generating optimism. "Well, Mike wants to be great,' coach Dirk Koetter said. 'But Mike, he knows he left plenty on the table (last year). He knows how talented he is. He also knows we missed him a few times." Evans posted 5/115/1 receiving vs. Cleveland last week - he appears to be on the road to big numbers this season.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins was the only tight end to catch a pass vs. Cleveland (one target for 1/5/0 receiving). Neither Seferian-Jenkins nor Cameron Brate made a huge statement in the game, leaving the starting tight end position in contention. Brate has been a preferred target of Winston during training camp/preseason, but here on the eve of regular season the two are officially considered co-starters according to the coaching staff.
QB Marcus Mariota has completed 23-of-31 passes for 319 yards, one touchdown and an interception through three preseason games. He has also run five times for 33 yards. Mariota had arguably his best outing this week against the Oakland Raiders.
The Titans are sticking with DeMarco Murray as the primary RB. Murray started against the Raiders and received all the carries on the first two drives. Coach Mike Mularkey has never wavered about playing the veteran ahead of the rookie, Derrick Henry. So long as Murray doesn't completely collapse early in the year, he should be the primary ball-carrier. That’s to say nothing against Henry; every time he touches the ball he gains more admirers. Henry led the team with 12 carries for 49 yards (4.1 per rush) and a touchdown to go along with an 8-yard reception. Bucky Brooks of NFL Network notes that Henry has shown, “better instincts, lateral quickness and agility than most observers expected.”
WR Tajae Sharpe should have scored a touchdown but he was caught from behind after initially being left wide open over the middle of the field. He remains the favorite for the Titans' number one receiver role as Rishard Matthews has limped his way through the preseason. Kendall Wright remains sidelined with a hamstring injury.
QB Kirk Cousins’ preseason performance against the Bills in the Week 3 dress rehearsal was unquestionably encouraging. Cousins completed 12-of-23 passes for 188 yards (8.2 per attempt) and three touchdowns and an interception. After trailing 6-0 in the second quarter, Cousins put together three dynamic drives leading to touchdowns passes to Ryan Grant (38 yards), Jordan Reed (20 yards) and Pierre Garcon (9 yards).
TE Vernon Davis has played a lot in the preseason but mainly as a blocker; the team decided to dust off his receiving skills this week with three receptions for 42 yards. Jordan Reed is going to be unstoppable when healthy. Teams cannot cover him one on one in the red zone.
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.
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