One of the best and most comprehensive features we do every year is our Footballguys Training Camp Updates. Every week in August, our Bob Henry and his team of Footballguys Staffers cover 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.
The Cardinals continue to limit QB Carson Palmer’s workload this preseason to keep him fresh for the regular season.
RB David Johnson changed his diet over the offseason and said he feels more energized. The backup running back spot looks like it is up for grabs with Chris Johnson and Kerwynn Williams battling it out and with Andre Ellington also in the picture.
WR John Brown continues to be sidelined with a quadriceps injury as he’s been limited in practice since early in camp. Coach Bruce Arians is losing patience, “He’s not available,” Arians said. “You’re only as good as when you’re available.” Brown has a sickle-cell trait which can cause leg soreness and fatigue. Arians went on to call Jaron Brown the Cardinals number two wide receiver behind only Larry Fitzgerald.
QB Matt Ryan has been efficient in the Steve Sarkisian offense and the changes haven’t been drastic enough to worry about an adjustment period.
RB Devonta Freeman missed practice last week with a concussion and did not play against the Steelers on Sunday. There doesn't seem to be any serious concern going forward though.
WR Julio Jones earned more practice time but Atlanta’s approach remains cautious, resting its star receiver over the weekend. Jones told beat writer D. Orlando Ledbetter that he was “in shape and ready for action.”
TE Austin Hooper has done everything asked of him and is a legitimate breakout candidate.
Quarterback Joe Flacco’s prognosis isn’t at red-alarm status yet, but it gets closer with each passing week. He won’t practice this coming week, and the team has already said he won’t play any preseason games. Ryan Mallett has played poorly, but he's the #2 for now.
RB Terrance West looked bad in Thursday’s game, but short of a long-shot signing of Ryan Mathews, the early downs role is undisputedly his. Danny Woodhead might lead this team in receptions if healthy, but that’s a legitimate disclaimer when discussing a 32 year-old coming off a torn ACL. Woodhead's been missing time with a hamstring injury which is something to keep an eye on, but doesn't seem to be a major concern.
TEs Ben Watson, Maxx Williams, and Nick Boyle have been fighting throughout camp to fill the void left behind by Dennis Pitta’s career-ending injury. Free agent Larry Donnell is making a late push for the role. Donnell scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion against the Dolphins just a week after signing. In the "Things Move Fast Around Here" department, Ben Watson went from a front-runner to a part of a committee in a matter of a week.
QB Tyrod Taylor continues to struggle while adapting to the new offense and trying to develop chemistry with an ever-changing group of WRs. Rookie Nathan Peterman looked impressive against the Eagles and seems to have solidified his grasp of the backup QB job. Which could be relevant.
RB LeSean McCoy only touched the ball five times in the preseason game, but again looked to be in midseason form.
WR Anquan Boldin announced he was retiring on Sunday, just a short while after joining the team as a free agent. WR Rod Streater was carted off the field with a toe injury during the Eagles game that leaves his status for the year in doubt. Jordan Matthews missed the Eagles game while recovering from the injury he suffered in his first practice with the team, but he did take part in individual drills on Sunday and could be back relatively soon.
TE Charles Clay is the undisputed starter, so the only real question is his role in the new offense. He played 29 snaps against the Eagles game and caught three of four passes for just 16 yards.
Quarterback Cam Newton did not play in the game against the Titans, stirring widespread speculation that his surgically-repaired shoulder may present a problem even into the regular season. Head coach Ron Rivera remains unconcerned, maintaining, “He had a really good week this week. … He’s on target. We’re happy with it.”
RB Christian McCaffrey continues to impress with his elusiveness and his route running. However, one slight weakness has become evident. McCaffrey has yet to really master the ability to run between the tackles in tight space.
WR Kelvin Benjamin has been building off the momentum he gained during the first preseason game, making big plays each day in practice.
TE Greg Olsen received veteran rest and did not play in the contest with the Titans.
The placekicker battle continued this week against the Titans; with both players showing well. Harrison Butker made a 46-yard attempt and an extra point attempt while Graham Gano made a 37-yard field goal attempt and two extra point attempts. The veteran (Gano) remains in the lead because he’s been more consistent in recent weeks.
QB Mike Glennon rebounded from a disastrous outing in the first preseason game to solidify his hold on the starting job, but he doesn’t instill a lot of confidence. It was a quiet game for Mitch Trubisky, who has now played 8 series in the preseason with two touchdowns and zero turnovers.
WR Markus Wheaton underwent surgery on his broken finger last week, and there was no timetable provided for his return.
TE Zach Miller caught two of three passes and could serve as a reliable check down option for Glennon this year. Dion Sims was very effective blocking in the run game but seems like an afterthought as a receiver.
By most accounts, Joe Mixon has been the best back in training camp by a decent margin and has the look of an elite feature back. But Jeremy Hill started the second preseason game and was effective enough that the running back position in Cincinnati looks like it could be headed towards an RBBC early in the year. We have to think this is more old school Marvin Lewis making the rookie "earn it". Mixon's past history is likely part of this as well. Giovani Bernard will see his first preseason action against Washington on Sunday.
WR A.J. Green’s is having the best training camp of his career. “He’s looked as good as he’s ever looked to me,” receivers coach James Urban said. “He’s in great shape physically. He’s in a great spot mentally. He’s lean, fast, strong. He works his tail off.” John Ross was cleared for contact early last week and will make his NFL debut on Sunday.
A report moments before kickoff of the Browns-Giants game indicated that a solid night from Brock Osweiler could lock up the starting job. However, Osweiler didn’t deliver. He continued to flounder as he had done in practice, throwing passes either too high or too low. On Wednesday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Osweiler would not play in the Week 3 Preseason game. DeShone Kizer will start the game. Bottom line, it appears the Browns are about as confident in Osweiler as we are. A trade could be possible.
WR Corey Coleman has started to come on in practice and seems to be Osweiler’s preferred receiver.
QB Dak Prescott has been exemplary throughout the preseason and played very well in limited snaps this week.
WR Dez Bryant is healthy and he and Prescott have a rapport they sorely missed last year.
TE Rico Gathers has been eye-popping as a downfield mismatch and should see plenty of snaps in 2TE formations. However, he's in the concussion protocol and has been ruled out for this Saturday's preseason game.
The offensive line has made a smooth transition replacing Doug Free and Ron Leary with La'el Collins and either Jonathan Cooper or Chaz Green.
RB C.J. Anderson has looked great in the preseason, and he remains locked in at the top of the depth chart. De'Angelo Henderson continues to turn heads, while Jamaal Charles should make his preseason debut against the Packers.
WR Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders remain the top two targets in the Broncos passing attack regardless of who is under center. Bennie Fowler continues to hold the lead for the WR3 job, but there’s plenty of jockeying for position going on.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has looked very good as the first team offense is starting to get in sync.
Running back Ameer Abdullah is firmly entrenched as the feature back and could have a large role in the Lions offense. While running back Theo Riddick and tight end Eric Ebron are both still out injured, they are both on track to return for the regular season opener.
Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr has a featured role as a down the field weapon for the Lions, and he and Stafford are showing nice chemistry as camp goes on.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is still really good.
TE Martellus Bennett hopes to build a strong rapport with Aaron Rodgers – and their only possession in Saturday’s preseason game spoke to their efforts (two targets and a short-yardage touchdown connection).
QB Tom Savage added some separation in the quarterback competition with an excellent performance in Week 2 of the preseason and was named the starter.
RB D’Onta Foreman starred for the second straight week in the preseason. The rookie is coming on strong and should see plenty of snaps in the regular season. Lamar Miller was ineffective for the second straight week. He managed just 18 yards on seven carries and was replaced in the red zone by Alfred Blue.
WR DeAndre Hopkins sat out all week. Bill O’Brien said he’s “doing fine” and on “a bit of a pitch count.”
Starting TE C.J. Fiedorowicz is set to hit free agency next spring and isn’t expecting to sign an extension before the season.
It's looking to us like QB Andrew Luck may not be ready for Week 1. We think he'll be there eventually. Maybe as early as Week 2. The next week will tell.
RB Marlon Mack exploded onto the scene in his preseason debut, rushing for 45 yards on five carries and adding another 14 yards on two catches. Mack flashed big-play skills both Frank Gore and Robert Turbin lack, and drew comparisons to Jamaal Charles from head coach Chuck Pagano after the game. Even if Turbin is still ahead of him on the depth chart, Mack made a case for a Week 1 role alongside Gore and is the preferred handcuff in the Colts backfield.
While WR Donte Moncrief returned to practice last Wednesday after spraining his AC joint, he still hasn’t worked his way back to full participation. Moncrief’s shoulder injury still needs to be monitored since it is to the same shoulder he injured last season. Phillip Dorsett is reportedly on the trade block. If Dorsett is not on the Colts final roster, Chester Rogers is all but assured WR3 duties.
TE Jack Doyle caught all three of his targets for 12 yards against Dallas. With QB ScottTolzien almost exclusively attempting short throws underneath, Doyle’s value in PPR formats should be considered if/when Luck misses time. Concerns about basketball convert Erik Swoope cutting into Doyle’s production can probably be shelved for now after he underwent minor knee surgery to relieve swelling.
Coach Marrone, insist that the starting quarterback spot is up for grabs and Blake Bortles has to earn it. Looks like Bortles will have Chad Henne looking over his shoulder the rest of the way this preseason.
Rookie wide receivers Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole have looked impressive in practice and in the team’s preseason games and will look to lock up the WR4 and WR5 roster spots.
The offensive line struggled to create holes in the running game as the team could only rush for 57 yards on 20 carries.
QB Alex Smith has enjoyed an excellent preseason, and rookie Patrick Mahomes continues to turn heads. It’s Smith’s job, but Mahomes is clearly the future in Kansas City.
RB Kareem Hunt was given time with the ones against the Bengals, but Spencer Ware remains atop the depth chart. Andy Reid noted he simply wanted to see how Hunt looked with the first team, but this is a situation that merits watching as the preseason continues.
TE Travis Kelce hauled in a 36-yard reception against the Bengals, and he’s showing no lingering effects from the knee swelling that slowed him in the early part of camp. Demetrius Harris hauled in a pair of scores to bolster his case for the primary backup gig.
The Chargers have an impressive one-two TE punch in the form of Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates. We’ll look for the youngster to see a jump in targets in his second year, while the veteran will continue to be a threat in the red zone.
Quarterback Jared Goff is 19 of 24 for 194 yards and a touchdown this preseason, locking himself into a starting job for the beginning of the regular season.
Running back Todd Gurley is the only running back on the roster with a significant financial commitment from the team. Expect Gurley to be the centerpiece of the offense again this season.
With WR Tavon Austin still out with a hamstring injury and Sammy Watkins (two receptions for eight yards) still getting situated in Los Angeles, Cooper Kupp stands out from the other receivers on the roster.
QB Jay Cutler made his preseason debut and looked comfortable and in command. So far so good in his return. “He looks like we really weren’t apart for a year,” coach Adam Gase said. “I thought his tempo was really good.”
RB Jay Ajayi is back from his concussion and focused on continuing to improve as a receiver.
WR DeVante Parker has been the talk of training camp. His increased professionalism has been the key to his improvement. Parker seems to have quickly developed a strong connection with Jay Cutler, who called him a “faster Alshon (Jeffery).
TE Julius Thomas missed some time last week with back pain. While he was healthy enough to play against the Ravens (one reception for two yards), he has struggled with back issues in the past, and the injury is yet another red flag for fantasy owners.
QB Sam Bradford has been solid but not spectacular. Which surprises no one.
Running back Dalvin Cook has the support of the coaches and teammates and has shown well in back to back preseason games. Latavius Murray and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell were the notable players not playing against the Seahawks this week. Jerick McKinnon only handled the ball three times with a single rush, reception and a kickoff return. He is becoming an interesting name to watch in the return game.
WR Stefon Diggs remains locked in as Bradford’s top target.
TE Bucky Hodges made a leaping touchdown grab at the end of the game with defenders crowded around him. Although Kyle Rudolph is secure as the starting tight end, Hodges has a good chance to also contribute on offense.
Tom Brady is just waiting for the season to start.
RB Mike Gillislee remains out of action, and Rex Burkhead has looked like a featured back in his place. Dion Lewis is making a strong roster push – or perhaps the Patriots are showcasing his trade value.
We still have little clarity on the No. 3 wideout spot, though Chris Hogan has looked fantastic on vertical routes and will absolutely carry a role into 2017.
TE Rob Gronkowski surprisingly suited up Saturday night, his first preseason action in five years. He wasn’t targeted in 14 snaps, but it was encouraging to see him play – let alone play multiple possessions – after late-2016 back surgery. He’s healthy.
RB Alvin Kamara flashed his explosive, big play potential with a 50-yard touchdown run while also displaying his chops as a receiver. The team anticipates utilizing him in the old “joker” role previously manned by Darren Sproles and Reggie Bush. Adrian Peterson impressed during joint practices with the Chargers on Thursday and Friday, displaying nifty jump cuts and second-level burst for several big runs
WR Michael Thomas and Chargers DB Jason Verrett put on a show during joint practices; Verrett with the upper hand on Thursday before Thomas getting some revenge on Friday. Meanwhile, Ted Ginn Jr missed three consecutive practices before returning on Friday and Tommylee Lewis continued his impressive preseason with more dazzling plays against the Chargers in Friday’s joint practice.
TE Coby Fleener missed a couple of days of practice during the week for unknown reasons, but he returned to play against the Chargers. Fleener remains the unquestioned starter, but one with questionable fantasy value despite playing in a target-rich offense.
QB Eli Manning continues to look out of sorts because of the woeful play of the offensive line, most notably Ereck Flowers.
RB Paul Perkins cannot separate himself from a pack of uninspired running backs. This is shaping up to be a committee again.
WR Odell Beckham (ankle) and Brandon Marshall (shoulder) were both hurt against the Browns, but appear to have avoided significant injuries
While there is a good chance QB Josh McCown ‘wins’ this job, many feel the Jets should roll into the season with Christian Hackenberg. They have nothing to lose and are eying a quarterback in next year’s draft. They might as well find out what they have in Hackenberg once and for all. It’s not like it will hurt the offense’s production all that much as McCown isn’t exactly Tom Brady.
RB Bilal Powell is showing he can be an effective three down back. He’s also showing that with no offensive line and no passing offense, there is a limit to what he can do. Put him behind a good offensive line with a competent passing offense and he will be productive. The Jets have neither of those things.
The Jets can say they have some playmakers at wideout all they want, but saying it won’t make it true. Somebody here will get a lot of garbage targets but the group lacks the ability and experience to do something with those targets. Quincy Enunwa was a nice producer. Without him, this position is a mystery and a mess.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (when he gets back in Week 3), along with Bilal Powell, would benefit the most from Hackenberg’s presence as the former Penn State quarterback loves a good dump pass. Seferian-Jenkins has been one of the few bright spots in camp this year and is an athletic player. If he can finally get his head on straight, he might produce some nice games.
Quarterback Derek Carr made his preseason debut and looked in midseason form.
RB Marshawn Lynch played the opening drive of the second preseason game and looked like he did in his prime years. To be fair, he had two carries.
WR Amari Cooper missed some recent practices with a minor leg injury but looked fantastic in his first preseason game action. He got stronger in the offseason to try to become more of a jump ball threat.
Carr’s first two completions were to tight ends and Jack Del Rio continues to talk up Jared Cook.
QB Carson Wentz has been sharp throughout the preseason, but the backup situation is alarming.
The rushing attack hasn't gotten on track through two preseason games, and LeGarrette Blount has been awful. Blount's role is unclear despite his head coach's vote of confidence. Wendell Smallwood has a chance to win the starting job. Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich was effusive in his praise of Smallwood. "You know, I think Wendell is a true three-down back," Reich said.
WR Alshon Jeffery returned to practice and played well against the Bills, but he hasn't mastered the playbook yet.
Zach Ertz is the best offensive player on the roster and will push for elite TE1 numbers if he stays healthy.
QB Ben Roethlisberger has been sharp in practices and is still insistent that he hasn’t lost his competitive fire, despite his consideration of retirement this offseason.
RB Le'Veon Bell indicated on Twitter that he'd be joining the team September 1. Ben Roethlisberger seemed a little frustrated talking to the press wondering what kind of shape Bell will be in. There's always a worry of a conditioning related injury but Bell seems to be the clear #2 player on draft boards behind David Johnson. In Bell's absence, the team is giving rookie James Conner all the workload he can handle, both in practice and in Sunday’s game. Conner ran well but missed some opportunities in the passing game.
WR Martavis Bryant was back and immediately reinstated as a starter. Bryant kept himself in great shape and looked impressive. And his condition translated to positive on-the-field reviews as well. “He looked like Martavis,” said Head Coach Mike Tomlin.
Jesse James is the most interesting Steeler TE fantasy prospect, but David Johnson started Sunday’s game. Considering the weapons on this team once Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Le'Veon Bell are rolling, the Steelers might be best-served using a blocking tight end.
QB Brian Hoyer has looked solid in camp, but the first team offense has struggled through two preseason games. C.J. Beathard has looked great in both preseason outings, and he’s pushing Matt Barkley for the backup gig.
WR Marquise Goodwin continues to impress in camp, and he seems determined to prove he can be a complete receiver. Pierre Garcon is locked in at WR1, but there’s a lot of jockeying for position going on further down the chart.
Quarterback Russell Wilson looks to be 100 percent back from last season’s injury.
RB Chris Carson will make the roster. The question is, does that mean Alex Collins doesn’t? We know the backfield is crowded but the herd got thinned last year and if it does again, Carson could have a dynamite rookie year. What is going on with Eddie Lacy? Is it that he hasn’t played more than a handful of games in the last year? Or was his rookie season really the top of his career arc? We need to see more, but as we mentioned above, this is a crowded backfield and we know Pete Carroll has no qualms about sitting a guy even if he was a big free agent acquisition. Right Matt Flynn?
Losing left tackle George Fant isn’t a disaster but it’s not good. Germain Ifedi struggled a bit and the rest of the line is a big question mark. That impacts the backfield and Russell Wilson, though Wilson creates his own yards. The backfield doesn’t though. How the line looks these last two weeks could impact the ceiling of the running backs.
It seems like it is Doug Baldwin and a bunch of guys at receiver. Nobody is standing out, and we aren’t sure how Paul Richardson Jr and Tyler Lockett will impact things when they return. Baldwin is a safe bet to perform every game, but the rest is going to be hit or miss.
TE Jimmy Graham has been dealing with back spasms all week, so he didn’t play against Minnesota. It’s not like he needs to practice; he’s locked in as one of the team’s major weapons.
QB Jameis Winston’s deep game is improving but he remains too reckless. His red zone efficiency has been a focus but he’s still making mistakes.
RB Doug Martin’s past behavior still has him on shaky ground with coach Dirk Koetter and General Manager Jason Licht, but he has convinced his teammates that he’s far and away the best back on the team. Charles Sims looks like he'll keep his passing down, and change-of-pace duties.
QB Marcus Mariota has continued to show his trademark confidence and decisiveness with the football.
RB DeMarco Murray returned to practice and looked good on limited repetitions. The coaching staff decided to play it safe and held Murray out of the preseason contest. Continuing the momentum he has created through the offseason, Derrick Henry showcased his power and ability to push the pile on his 16 carries. He found the endzone twice, showing owners a glimpse of what he could do if Murray misses any more time this year.
WR Taywan Taylor had outstanding practices this week and continued showing why the Titans were excited to move up and snag him in the third round of the draft.
TE Delanie Walker had a fan ask him about his production for the upcoming season as he came to the sideline during joint practices. Echoing what he had said earlier in the offseason, Walker replied that he didn't expect to have as much in 2017, but was not worried about it. Jonnu Smith also continues to shine. He caught multiple passes across the seam for intermediate gains in practices.
QB Kirk Cousins' numbers against the Packers looked good, but were misleading as they mainly came against second teamers
RB Robert Kelley has outperformed Samaje Perine in practice but Kelley looked awful against Green Bay, while Perine was excellent. "I think there was a major step up and I expected that from Samaje," said Jay Gruden. "He’s the type of guy that I figured would bounce back. I’m glad to see him play so hard, so well."
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