Tue Jun 11 6:32pm ET
By CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass as tight end Eric Saubert (85) looks on during their NFL minicamp football practice Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (97), left, and wide receiver Julio Jones (11) chat after during their NFL minicamp football practice Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) walks off the field following their NFL minicamp football practice Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) watches from the sideline during NFL football practice Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Julio Jones left his helmet inside and wore a floppy hat to the opening day of the Atlanta Falcons' three-day minicamp.
As he prepares for his ninth season, Jones was in player-coach mode on Tuesday as he made mental notes to pass on to younger teammates.
For the Falcons, the biggest news was the wide receiver reported, one year after he missed the mandatory minicamp.
Last year he had the approval of coach Dan Quinn to work on his own. Jones has continued to set his own workout pace this offseason. He missed the voluntary organized team activities (OTAs) while making sure he is healthy for training camp.
Jones, 30, called his schedule the ''same thing'' as last offseason.
''I'm just taking it slow,'' he said. ''A little maintenance work. Just taking it slow for me. Not really trying to jump in and get in the swing of things right now. I'm a veteran. I've been doing it for a while.''
Jones said he knows how ''to get better and be where I need to be when the season comes around.''
The difference from 2018 is Jones can be a better leader when he is in minicamp, if only as an observer.
''He is the type of player who enjoys the mentor side of it and he takes that responsibility seriously to help the group and others, not just the wide receiver group,'' Quinn said.
Jones' leadership role was an appropriate topic on the day his mentor, former Falcons wide receiver Roddy White, was announced as the 11th player to be inducted into the Falcons Ring of Honor. The ceremony has been planned for the Dec. 8 game against Carolina.
White, who retired after the 2015 season, was a four-time Pro Bowl selection in his 11 years with the team and a first-team All-Pro in 2010. White's franchise records for TD catches and yards receiving are being challenged by Jones.
''Roddy mentored me,'' Jones said. ''... He didn't shy away from helping me out. You've got to understand we want to win. You can't win by hiding things from younger guys.''
Despite frequent problems with injuries that force him to miss practice, Jones has not missed a game the past two seasons. He was in top form in 2018 , when he had 113 catches and led the NFL with 1,677 yards receiving. He had eight touchdown catches.
Jones has had at least 1,400 yards in five straight seasons. He was a first-team All-Pro pick in 2015 and 2016 and is a six-time Pro Bowl selection.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank has said he wants Jones to play his entire career in Atlanta. There are ongoing talks about a new deal for Jones, who has two years remaining on his five-year, $71.5 million contract. His 2019 base salary under his current deal is $9.6 million, far below contracts given to other top wide receivers.
NOTES: DT Grady Jarrett, OLB Vic Beasley Jr. and LB Deion Jones also did not participate in OTAs. Each reported Tuesday. Jarrett has signed his $15.209 million franchise tag and he wouldn't comment on chances he will remain in Atlanta after the 2019 season. The Falcons have until July 15 to sign Jarrett to a long-term deal. ... Quinn said that all players still recovering from injuries or, like Jones, held out on Tuesday as a precaution, are expected to be ready for training camp.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers claimed wide receiver Emanuel Hall off of waivers earlier this week. Hall had been with the Bears earlier but could not make it through camp. The Buccaneers present a solid opportunity given their lack of depth beyond starters Mike Evans and Chris Godwin along with Hall's fit in their new offense. Although Hall is unlikely to make much of an impact in 2019, he could be a solid project for head coach Bruce Arians to groom.
It appears Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown has not gotten over his ongoing helmet issue as hes left the teams training camp once again. General manager Mike Mayock showed his frustration Sunday by saying it's time for him to be all-in or all-out." Brown submitted his old helmet in for testing, which it failed, and hes now left the team with no information on when, or if, hell return. The Raiders believe his frostbitten feet issues are behind him and hes healthy enough to practice, but they can only hope the seven-time Pro Bowler suits up for Week 1. Browns red flags make him a player to fade in the second round despite his immense talent.
Oakland Raiders WR Antonio Brown wasn't at practice Sunday, Aug. 18, because he's upset about his ongoing helmet issue with the NFL. General manager Mike Mayock said the team has 'exhausted all avenues' and it's time for Brown to be 'all in or all out.'
Fantasy Spin: And we're right back to square one with AB. While he's indisputably one of the best receivers in fantasy football, there's once again a legitimate chance he sits out the entire season, or more. He's far too risky to draft in the first round.
The Philadelphia Eagles released veteran LB Paul Worrilow Sunday, Aug. 18.
New England Patriots WR Josh Gordon was placed on the Non-Football Injury list Sunday, Aug. 18, upon his conditional reinstatement.
Fantasy Spin: It's largely a procedural move for the Patriots while Gordon is brought up to speed. He remains one of the most tantalizing fantasy prospects at wide receiver, but his off-field issues continue to carry immense risk when drafting him.
The New England Patriots granted WR Dontrelle Inman's request to be released Sunday, Aug. 18.
The Buffalo Bills released CB E.J. Gaines (groin) from injured reserve with an injury settlement Sunday, Aug. 18. Gaines will be free to sign with another team.
New York Giants WR Sterling Shepard (thumb) said Sunday, Aug. 18, his thumb has healed pretty fast and he is 'feeling good.'
Fantasy Spin: Shepard's injury was a near disaster for the Giants' offense with WR Golden Tate suspended to begin the season. Shepard is in line for a huge target share and has top-end WR3 upside with the Giants' poor passing attack holding him back.
Green Bay Packers TE Jimmy Graham (finger) ran off the field Sunday, Aug. 18, after appearing to dislocate his finger, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.
Fantasy Spin: The injury shouldn't affect Graham's draft stock, as he's unlikely to miss any regular-season action. He remains a fringe TE1 target, but he has upside based on his past resume.
Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Williams (chest) was diagnosed with a broken rib Sunday, Aug 18. The injury isn't believed to be a long-term issue.
Fantasy Spin: Williams is near the bottom of a depth chart led by RB Marlon Mack and also featuring Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins and D'Onta Foreman. The injury further hurts his chances of making the final roster.
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant looks to separate himself from his teammate tight ends on the roster for the Broncos, as the team drafted him with high expectations this spring. Offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello has spoken highly of Fant's preseason, as the rookie looks to follow-up a prolific career at the University of Iowa with similar results in the NFL. Fant's main competition is returning tight end Jeff Heuerman, who has been battling injury this preseason after a sub-par 2018 campaign.
Washington Redskins QB Case Keenum is on track to the be the Week 1 starter under center, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter Sunday, Aug. 18. Head coach Jay Gruden said Colt McCoy (leg) may not be ready to return from a broken leg until 'two or three weeks into the season.'
Fantasy Spin: Keenum has much more fantasy appeal than McCoy and boosts the potential of the rest of the Redskins' offense, as well. He'll be a low-end QB2, but he offers more hope for the likes of WRs Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, Trey Quinn and Terry McLaurin as late-round fliers.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton sees an opening for the number one receiver spot on the roster entering his sophomore season. The SMU product has a new-look offense, with quarterback Joe Flacco at the helm, and colleague Emmanuel Sanders aging and coming off an injury in 2018. Sutton looks to take the next step in his career, and he has looked the part with an impressive preseason.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders anticipates that he will be able to play week one, as the Broncos take on the Raiders in Oakland. Sanders season ended early last year due to an Achilles injury, but he has eased his way into practice this offseason and seems to be ready to go for 2019. The veteran receiver will have to be on his A-game to keep his role as the primary receiver in Denver, as the young guns alongside him fight for his job.
Buffalo Bills TE Tyler Kroft (foot) is 'moving in the right direction' in his recovery from foot surgery, according to head coach Sean McDermott Sunday, Aug. 18. McDermott didn't provide a timeline for Kroft's return to the field but added he has been working on his own behind the scenes.
Fantasy Spin: Kroft was a candidate to be a late-round fantasy pick for those punting the tight end position, buy fantasy roster managers will now likely be able to wait to see how he starts the season before picking him up off of the waiver wire.
Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten said he experienced some jitters Saturday, Aug. 17, as he made his return to live action for the first time since ending his one-year retirement. Witten caught one pass for 10 yards in the Cowboys' preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams. 'A year away from the game, all the work to get back here since March, getting in shape, getting your body ready, having an opportunity, I know I've got a lot to prove,' Witten said. 'It wasn't perfect. I thought we're on schedule with the things I want to work on. Able to get a third-down conversion. Dak showed he had the confidence on that. Some of the other things in the passing game, running game, I felt good with. It's always tricky when you're coming back out here ... so the jitters were real. A lot of work to get back to here, but it felt good.'
Fantasy Spin: Witten's return to the Cowboys will mean a lot more in reality than fantasy, where he isn't a consideration outside of super-deep and tight end-premium leagues.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Marcell Ateman is fighting for a roster spot in his second season in the NFL. He's currently listed behind Tyrell Williams on the WR2 depth chart, but he's been outplayed throughout most of the preseason by his teammates. With two catches for 33 yards in two preseason contests, Ateman hasn't seen as many looks or gotten as much praise as other receivers so far in camp. He appears to be on the outside looking in as of now, but there is still time for the roster to shake out. Even if Ateman does crack the roster, he won't hold any fantasy relevance in 2019.
Oakland Raiders tight end Foster Moreau is having a strong preseason, but likely won't find much success in the passing game this year. Rookie tight ends are notorious for starting slow offensively, and Moreau will likely follow this trend. With standout Darren Waller thriving as a pass-catcher so far in camp, the Raiders can afford to ease their fourth-round selection into the passing offense. The good news is Moreau has already surpassed veterans Derek Carrier and Luke Willson on the depth chart, but he remains a stash in dynasty formats for now.
Washington Redskins QB Colt McCoy (leg) said Sunday, Aug. 18, that he has visited a foot specialist to have his injured right leg examined as he's had trouble getting a full push off the leg when passing. McCoy said there has been no setback, but there's still no timetable when he'll be 100 percent.
New York Jets RB Le'Veon Bell hasn't played in the team's first two preseason games, and head coach Adam Gase is noncommital about Bell playing in the third. 'We'll kind of see how next week goes,' Gase said Friday, Aug. 16. 'He's played a lot of football. And I like where he's at right now. I love how he's working. If I feel like there's a need to play him next week, we will. If he has a good week of practice and it's not worth it for us to get him out there, then we won't.' If Bell doesn't play in Week 3 of the preseason, then there's little chance of him playing in Week 4 when starters typically rest.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy GMs and Jets fans are anxious to get a glimpse of Bell in a N.Y. uniform, but it likely will have to wait until the regular-season opener against the Buffalo Bills. In the meantime, he remains steady as a solid RB1 fantasy pick.