Broncos lack experience behind QB Joe Flacco

Sun Jul 21 4:23pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock takes part in drills during the opening day of the team's NFL football training camp Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


Denver Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien looks to pass the ball during drills at the team's NFL football training camp Friday, July 19, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


Denver Broncos quarterback Kevin Hogan looks to pass the ball during drills at the team's NFL football training camp Friday, July 19, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco takes part in drills during the opening day of the team's NFL football training camp Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) If Joe Flacco stays healthy, it won't matter that rookie quarterbacks Drew Lock and Brett Rypien are greenhorns and incumbent backup Kevin Hogan has gotten off to a rocky start in Denver this summer.

Hogan, who has started just one game in the NFL, back in 2017 for the Cleveland Browns, threaded an 11-yard TD pass to Noah Fant past two defenders Sunday that was easily his best throw of training camp.

Before that, the fourth-year pro had been misfiring with no pressure, repeatedly overshooting open receivers with either a clean pocket or in 7-on-7 periods where there was no pass rush at all.

That was an alarming development for a team that lacks experience behind Flacco, the 34-year-old QB the Broncos acquired from Baltimore in the offseason.

''I saw some good throws out there today'' from Hogan, coach Vic Fangio said. ''I'll see more when I go in and watch the tape. But I think Kevin has made a lot of improvements, and I'm talking from the spring to now ... and hopefully he'll keep doing that.''

Competing with Hogan for the No. 2 job is Lock, a second-round draft pick who's taking a crash course in the pro passing game after lining up under center at Missouri only a handful of times.

Rypien, who went undrafted after winning 37 games at Boise State, is hoping to stick around either as the third quarterback or on the practice squad.

''I like Brett,'' Fangio said. ''Brett, I think, maybe has got a future.''

Lock might very well be the future in Denver, but he's got a long way to go. He relied on his athleticism in college and was known for side-arming the ball, something Fangio only wants to see when his quarterback has a defender in his face.

''It's good that he can do that, but he needs to use it when he needs to, not when he doesn't need to,'' Fangio said. ''His college offense really had no carry-over to pro offenses and he was under duress a lot of times at his college, so a lot of his plays he was running around.''

Therefore, Fangio said, ''I don't think he's far along being a ready NFL quarterback as he could have been. ... He's not a quarterback yet. He's a hard-throwing pitcher that doesn't know how to pitch yet, so the faster he gets that, the better off he'll be - and we'll be.''

Fangio is hoping Lock proves a quick study.

''Every player is different, especially at that position,'' Fangio said. ''It could happen fast, like we've seen some rookies do. It could be a process to where it could be a couple of years. So, fast or a couple of years, somewhere in between. We'll see. I tell him that is on him. He's got to do it.''

For now, the Broncos are counting on Flacco, who's hoping to follow in Peyton Manning's footsteps and have a solid second chapter in Denver.

General manager John Elway said he finally feels good about his QB room after trading a fourth-round pick to the Ravens for Flacco and selecting Lock in the second round of the NFL draft.

''We just felt that with Joe coming in, getting him in a trade, and where he is in his career, we feel like he's in his prime. At least we hope he is,'' Elway said. ''To have a young guy like Drew learn under him and be able to kind of solidify that position for a while, obviously we've been looking for one since Peyton retired.''

Elway cycled through Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler and Case Keenum following Manning's retirement in 2016.

''That's always a difficult position to fill,'' Elway said. ''But we finally feel pretty good about that position and where we are.''

Notes: TE Jack Butt took a scheduled day off, TE Troy Fumagalli is day-to-day with a sore hip and rookie LB Justin Hollins sat out Sunday with a sore hamstring. ... The Broncos hosted Alzheimer's Awareness D ay on Sunday, two months after team owner Pat Bowlen died at 75 following a long battle with the disease. Daughter Anabelle noted the sea of purple in the crowd replacing the usual orange. ''This day is hard,'' she said. ''But we are showing that we are strong and this is a way to raise money so things like this won't happen.''

Player Notes
Vance McDonald Aug 21 4:20pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald has never played a full season in his six-year career, and the team doesn't plan on using him extensively in order to keep him healthy. McDonald played a career-high 564 snaps last year and split time evenly with Jesse James, who is now with the Lions. "He still won't," offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said of McDonald's playing time increasing substantially this season. "He's never going to play the full game. That's never going to happen." That means that the Steelers plan to use Xavier Grimble quite a bit as the No. 2 tight end. While McDonald is still worth an investment as a low-end TE1, his production could be spotty and inconsistent.

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Mike Evans Aug 21 4:16pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said that wide receiver Mike Evans (quadriceps) will not play in the third preseason game against the Browns on Friday. He has been out all week with what is believed to be a quadriceps injury. Evans' injury isn't believed to be serious, but the Bucs are playing it cautious with their No. 1 wideout. It's unlikely he'll see any preseason action in the final week of exhibition games, so we probably won't see Evans again until Week 1. He's a strong WR1 choice in Arians' aggressive offense and is ranked as the No. 18 overall fantasy player at RotoBaller.

Drew Brees Aug 21 4:16pm ET

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton said that quarterback Drew Brees will start in the preseason game this weekend against the Jets. Brees is unlikely to play more than a half in the team's third preseason game. The 40-year-old hasn't shown any signs of slowing down, throwing for 3,992 yards and 32 touchdowns in another Pro Bowl season in 2018. While Brees should be solid once again this year in an explosive offense, the Saints could be more running-back centric to take some of the pressure off of him, which gives him a much lower ceiling as he nears the end of his career. The future Hall of Famer is still a QB1, but don't expect gaudy numbers week in and week out.

Todd Davis Aug 21 4:13pm ET

Denver Broncos LB Todd Davis (calf) is a bit behind schedule in his recovery from a calf injury, according to head coach Vic Fangio.

From TheHuddle

Melvin Gordon Aug 21 3:40pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon's contract holdout is expected to continue into the season, according to sources. Contract talks between Gordon and the team haven't progressed as hoped, and he'll continue to train in Florida for the foreseeable future. There's still time left, but it's looking like Gordon will miss regular season games for the Bolts. That will obviously hurt his fantasy stock quite a bit, as he came into the year as a surefire RB1 in an explosive offense. As a result, Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson are set to become much more attractive, although Gordon is still worth a selection around the fifth round of drafts in case he misses minimal time.

From RotoBaller

Melvin Gordon Aug 21 3:33pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers RB Melvin Gordon is expected to continue his holdout through the start of the regular season since there has not been any progress made in contract talks, according to sources.

Fantasy Spin: Gordon's fantasy value will take a big hit if he decides to sit out regular season games and will drop on draft boards. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson will handle the carries while Gordon holds out, and both players had success last season. Ekeler can be considered a No. 2 or No. 3 fantasy back, while Jackson could be a possible handcuff or late-round option.

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Joe Haden Aug 21 3:23pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers CB Joe Haden (foot) is still considered day-to-day because of a foot injury.

From TheHuddle

LeSean McCoy Aug 21 2:33pm ET

Buffalo Bills RBs LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore will both see more playing time during the third preseason game Friday, Aug. 23.

Fantasy Spin: McCoy probably will keep the starting job this season, but Gore should also have a solid role in the running game. McCoy probably can be a No. 3 running back, while Gore could be a handcuff to McCoy or a No. 4 or No. 5 back on a fantasy roster.

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Sam Darnold Aug 21 2:30pm ET

New York Jets head coach Adam Gase is still impressed with a throw that quarterback Sam Darnold made in last Thursday's preseason game against the Falcons. "The throw to Quincy, I dont know if Ive seen many that were better in my career," Gase said Tuesday. Darnold went 10-for-15 with no turnovers in practice on Tuesday. He's expected to play at least the first half of the preseason game this Saturday against the Saints. Darnold had his fair share of ups and downs in his rookie season, throwing for 2,865 yards, 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 13 games. He should be better in his second year with Le'Veon Bell in the backfield, but he'll need to show more before fantasy owners use him for anything more than a low-end QB2.

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David Moore Aug 21 2:10pm ET

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver David Moore has been quiet overall in training camp and seems to be behind rookie D.K. Metcalf on the depth chart when he's healthy. Jaron Brown also played with the first-team offense over Moore in the last preseason game. Moore had 26 catches for 445 yards and five touchdowns last year and caught just four passes for 32 yards over the final five weeks. NBC Sports Northwest's Joe Fann doesn't think Moore will have much more than the 53 targets he saw in 2018. The 24-year-old could be useful in deeper leagues to begin the year if Metcalf isn't ready, but you can probably ignore him in standard-sized leagues.

From RotoBaller

Rashaad Penny Aug 21 2:00pm ET

Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny has just 13 yards on 12 carries through two preseason games and hasn't shown much burst. The 2018 first-rounder could still have a breakout campaign in his second season, but he's falling further behind Chris Carson as the No. 2 option. Head coach Pete Carroll has blamed Penny's lack of production in the preseason on the team's offensive line. The 23-year-old looked pretty explosive at the end of last season, and he's more attractive in PPR leagues, but don't reach for him solely based on Carson's injury-prone ways. RotoBaller has Penny ranked as the No. 35 fantasy running back, and you should consider drafting him around the eighth or ninth round.

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Tarik Cohen Aug 21 1:50pm ET

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy regrets using running back Tarik Cohen so much down the stretch last season. The running back was used in the backfield, as an outside receiver and inside in the slot. We moved [Cohen] around a lot last year, and I do feel like there was a time probably later in the season where we probably gave him a little bit too much, Nagy said before practice Tuesday. And when you mentally drain them, it pulls them back physically. It's not to say that Cohen won't get his opportunities this year, but Chicago may elect to keep him fresh, especially with tons of other weapons in rookie David Montgomery, Mike Davis, Cordarrelle Patterson, Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel. Cohen is a home run hitter on any given play, but be careful not to overvalue him in an offense that has a ton of moving parts.

From RotoBaller

Rashaad Penny Aug 21 1:23pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny has 13 yards on 12 carries in two preseason games, and he has fallen further behind RB Chris Carson, in the opinion of NBC Sports Northwest's Joe Fann. Head coach Pete Carroll backed Penny by saying: 'We've got to block for him better. He didn't have a chance.'

Fantasy Spin: Penny will need a strong second half of the preseason to be worth more than RB5 or handcuff at this point. Carson looks like a solid RB2.

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Corey Davis Aug 21 1:20pm ET

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis has been named the training camp MVP by ESPN's Turron Davenport following an excellent offseason. Davenport praised Davis for his improved route running and footwork, both of which have helped him gain extra separation throughout camp. Although many fantasy owners have already written Davis off, some context is needed when analyzing his second year. Davis posted a team-leading 65 receptions for 891 yards and four touchdowns all while playing with a quarterback who had nerve damage in his throwing hand. On top of this, Davis lined up against top-25 corners on 43 percent of his routes, the highest percentage of any receiver in the league. Davis should benefit greatly in 2019 from both better quarterback play and an upgraded surrounding cast, making him a prime post-hype sleeper buy going into his third season.

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Dion Lewis Aug 21 1:20pm ET

Tennessee Titans running back Dion Lewis has become an afterthought to many drafters in 2019 due to his lackluster finish to last season. The ineffectiveness of Lewis paired with Derrick Henry's late season breakout has dropped his ADP outside the top 50 running backs being drafted. With Henry (calf) missing most of training camp, Titans running backs coach Tony Dews has continued to praise the positional versatility of Lewis in the offense. Although Henry is expected to be the feature back to start the season, Lewis is too talented to be kept off the field. Expect the Titans to find creative ways to get Lewis involved in both the rushing and passing game, making him a good value pick in the late rounds.

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Mike Evans Aug 21 12:33pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (leg) won't play in the third preseason game Friday, Aug. 23.

Fantasy Spin: Evans' injury isn't believed to be serious and shouldn't affect his Week 1 status. He's a WR1, but he has dealt with lingering issues like this throughout his career.

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Braxton Miller Aug 21 12:30pm ET

The Cleveland Browns signed free-agent wide receiver Braxton Miller on Wednesday. The former Ohio State star spent two years with the Texans and was on the Eagles practice squad in 2018. He tallied 34 receptions for 261 yards and two touchdowns in 21 games over his two seasons with Houston. He'll represent depth for a talented receiving group in Cleveland that includes Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Antonio Callaway and Jaelen Strong. It's unlikely that Miller will make his way into fantasy relevance among this group if he makes the final roster.

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Jake Butt Aug 21 12:30pm ET

Denver Broncos tight end Jake Butt (knee) is expected to be a full participant in Wednesday's non-padded practice, according to sources that informed NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Butt was the team's starter in 2018 for three games before he tore his ACL for the third time in his career. It's notable progress, but it doesn't guarantee that Butt will be ready to go for the regular season, and he also has Jeff Heuerman and impressive rookie Noah Fant ahead of him on the depth chart. The Broncos will be happy with whatever they can get out of Butt this season. You can ignore him for now in fantasy drafts.

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Jake Butt Aug 21 12:03pm ET

Denver Broncos TE Jake Butt (knee) is expected to be a full participant in practice Wednesday, Aug. 21, according to sources.

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Jakeem Grant Aug 21 11:53am ET

Updating previous reports, Miami Dolphins WR Jakeem Grant's four-year deal is worth up to $24 million, according to a source.

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