Wed Jun 16 6:10pm ET
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Pro Football Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The phrase ''Pick your poison'' has been used a lot to describe the Tennessee offense since the Titans traded for Julio Jones.
That's the effect of adding a seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver to a unit already featuring a Pro Bowl receiver in A.J. Brown and the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year in Derrick Henry, the back-to-back rushing champ.
The man tasked with distributing the ball is pumping the brakes on the enthusiasm and high expectations.
''A ton of quote unquote potential, but at this point potential doesn't really get you a whole lot,'' quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. ''We have to put in the work and put the time in and ultimately go out and make the plays on Sundays.''
The Titans have ranked among the NFL's best offenses since Tannehill took over as the starting quarterback in October 2019. In 2020, they tied for second in the NFL averaging 396.4 yards a game and fourth scoring 30.7 points a game.
They scored at least 30 points in 10 games, reaching 40 points or more in five.
Now the Titans have Jones, the man with the most yards receiving since entering the NFL in 2011.
''Obviously, you know what he will bring to the table,'' Tannehill said. ''I've seen big things out of him this whole career, so that's all exciting. But at the end of the day, we have to get on the same page here this year and make sure we're doing everything we can to go out and make plays on Sunday.''
Tannehill and Jones have worked to make the most of their short time together since the trade was announced June 6. The quarterback threw a career-high 33 touchdown passes last season. Only a nagging hamstring injury in 2020 snapped Jones' streak of six straight seasons with more than 1,300 yards receiving.
Then there's Henry, the fourth man in NFL history to run for at least 1,500 yards and 15 TDs in consecutive seasons, joining Terrell Davis, Shaun Alexander and Larry Johnson in that category. Henry's coming off a season where he ran for 2,027 yards, fifth-most in NFL history.
Henry called Jones a dynamic player, ''one of if not the best receiver in the league.'' That means Jones will be respected by opposing defenses, but Henry didn't want to peek ahead about how that might affect the number of defenders he sees crowding the line to stop him.
''We just try to put it all together while we're here and just try to work and try to make each other better ...'' Henry said Wednesday. ''He likes to work hard, I like to work hard, and that's all we try to bring to the table as far as being teammates.''
Todd Downing, the Titans' new offensive coordinator, says there's times to get excited about what an offense can do with Jones and his skillset. But Downing made clear the Titans aren't changing their foundation or scheme for the addition of one player.
''I'm excited that he has history in a scheme like this in his time in Atlanta, and I think that that's going to help transition a little bit and it's going to make it a little bit easier for us to highlight some of those skills,'' Downing said.
Brown will have to wait until training camp to practice with his new teammate. Brown did not take part in the Titans' minicamp that wrapped up the last practice Wednesday as he recovers from offseason surgery on both knees. He said he was bored when he started his social media campaign for Jones to come to Tennessee.
Through his first two seasons with the Titans, Brown has 122 catches for 2,126 yards with 19 TD catches as the 11th player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first two seasons. Playing with Jones will be ''real fun.''
''We talk about it all the time,'' Brown said. ''Who are they going to try to take away?''
First comes lots of work before that fun starts Sept. 12 in the opener against Arizona.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb is standing out at Cowboys training camp. Cowboys beat writer Jon Machota reports that, "There is a significant gap between Lamb and everyone else. He's having the best camp of anyone on the roster." That's high praise for a guy on a team with a lot of extremely talented skill position players. Lamb showed many glimpses of greatness in his rookie season, but with the Cowboys offense having a hard time in general, he didn't get the chance to shine that he may be ready for this season. Machota adds that every practice seems to include some kind of incredible play by the sophomore wide receiver. There are a lot of mouths to feed on the Cowboys offense, but Lamb has as much upside as anyone else on the roster.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz is seeing most of the first team reps in Cowboys training camp so far. With Blake Jarwin (knee) being brought along slowly, Schultz has been the "starting" tight end in practice. He's reportedly looked excellent, leading Cowboys beat writer Jon Machota to write that, "Schultz seems like he has only scratched the surface of what he can be entering his fourth season." Both Jarwin and Schultz are expected to see the field often as part of the Cowboys offense. With the offense expected to be strong again with Dak Prescott back under center, both Schultz and Jarwin could end up being valuable fantasy assets, with whichever of the two emerges as the true starter easily putting up TE1 numbers.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is reportedly having a strong showing at Eagles training camp so far despite the "odd circumstances" that are surrounding him. Ertz had the play of the day on offense on Sunday, catching a long pass from quarterback Jalen Hurts and rumbling through the defense to add yards after the catch. Ertz now sits behind Dallas Goedert on the tight end depth chart and was given permission to look for a trade but was unable to find one. Still, with the Eagles not particularly deep at wide receiver, they'll likely be running two-tight end sets fairly often so Goedert and Ertz should see the field at the same time. Ertz has a very low floor in fantasy this season, but could end up with a surprisingly high ceiling if the Eagles can figure out their offense.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders "has an edge" in training camp and is "running with purpose." He reportedly got into it with defensive players on several occasions and even escalated to a "quick tussle" with cornerback Zech McPhearson. Even though Sanders sits comfortably atop the Eagles running back depth chart, the Eagles have repeatedly downplayed the idea of having an every-down back for the upcoming season. Sanders should see most of the early down work, but Boston Scott figures to mix in for third downs, and fifth-round pick Kenny Gainwell will likely see the field as well. Sanders always has upside, but his team situation makes him at least somewhat of a risky pick based on his ADP at this point.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor was back on the practice field in Eagles camp, taking team reps for the first time. Reagor failed his initial conditioning test and is reportedly dealing with the loss of a family member, so he may need some time to be brought up to speed. With rookie DeVonta Smith (knee) officially week-to-week, Reagor should get plenty of chances to show what he can do with quarterback Jalen Hurts. Coming off a disappointing rookie season, Reagor has a lot to prove and will hope to improve on his 31-396-1 rookie campaign.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is practicing again with the team on Monday, but John McClain of the Houston Chronicle says that he's practicing with the fourth team behind Tyrod Taylor, Davis Mills, and Jeff Driskel. It's another sign that Watson isn't playing football for the Houston Texans in 2021 and that Taylor -- who missed Sunday's practice for personal reasons -- is the starter. Why Houston has Watson on the practice field at all is another question, but don't let his presence confuse you when it comes to the fantasy outlook of this team.
The kicker competition in Tennessee has taken a turn, as the Titans have claimed former Jets kicker Sam Ficken off waivers and have waived Blake Haubeil. Haubeil had been competing with Tucker McCann for the role, but both players have struggled in camp, especially on longer kicks. Ficken should be expected to win this job at this point after going 12-for-15 on field goals last season. There's not much reason to roster whoever the Titans kicker is in fantasy, though.
The Miami Dolphins have made a pair of moves at wide receiver, activating DeVante Parker (foot) off the Physically Unable To Perform list and placing Preston Williams on the COVID-19 list. For Parker, this move gets Miami's No. 1 receiver -- for now -- back in the mix as he works to build more rapport with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Parker is a WR4 with upside. As for Williams, after a promising rookie year that saw him play in eight games and catch 32 passes for 428 yards and three touchdowns, he dropped down to 18 receptions for 288 last year. He needs all the practice time he can get if he wants to make an impact in 2021. He's just barely a top-100 option at the wide receiver position.
We have a kicker competition on our hands. The Colts have a pair of promising players competing for the starting job, with second-year kicker Rodrigo Blankenship trying to hold off Eddy Pineiro. Blankenship had a decorated college career at Georgia, then went 32-for-37 last season. But he was just 1-for-3 on kicks of at least 50 yards, which could be part of why the team brought in Pineiro, who kicked for the Bears in 2019, making both of his 50-plus yard attempts while going 23-for-28 overall. Blankenship should win the job, but the fact there's a competition at all is reason to not draft a Colts kicker in most formats.
Houston Texans wide receiver Nico Collins continued his impressive training camp performance on Monday, catching a deep touchdown after getting past corner John Reid. Collins is expected to play a key role as an outside receiver for this Texans team, though how soon he plays that role is still unclear. It's probably safe to assume he'll be the third receiver on the field, but with Tyrod Taylor likely starting at quarterback, it'll be difficult for Collins to make much of an impact this season, at least on a consistent basis. He's an intriguing dynasty pick, though.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown is currently dealing with a hamstring injury that's reportedly worse than originally thought, according to head coach John Harbaugh. Brown has now missed three consecutive practices. There's still a lot of time before the regular season, so while hamstring injuries are a definite concern, especially with a receiver like Brown who relies so much on speed, fantasy managers shouldn't panic yet. The Ravens have continued to add pieces at wideout and Brown has struggled with consistency during his career, making him just a WR4 heading into the 2021 season.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith is currently "week to week" with a knee sprain. It doesn't sound like it's something that's worrying the team at this point and a sprain is probably the best-case scenario when it comes to a knee injury, but it's worth noting that Smith will miss some valuable practice time until he returns. He could also miss the preseason, putting him further behind. With second-year receiver Jalen Reagor on the team and quarterback Jalen Hurts showing last season that he isn't great at supporting fantasy receivers, this setback could slow down Smith's development and makes him a riskier fantasy pick in redraft than he already was.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (knee) is "making a lot of strides," per head coach Joe Judge. "Very pleased with where Barkley's at," Judge said. "He's mirroring our practices to build up confidence for when he returns." Barkley has shown "tangible progress" while doing rehab work. He is running routes, cutting hard, and sprinting full speed. The 24-year-old began training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform List. New York plans to take a "long term" approach with the star running back as he continues to work his back from knee surgery. Judge reportedly wouldn't say how close Barkley is returning to practice or give a potential return date. It's unclear if the No. 2 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft will be ready by Week 1, but Barkley is expected to have a reduced workload to begin the year. Barkley has the talent to be a high-end RB1 and currently has an ADP of 6.3.
Free-agent running back Alfred Morris re-signed with the New York Giants on Monday. The 32-year-old had modest success last season and had averaged 4.2 yards per carry. He logged 55 carries for 238 rushing yards and one touchdown over nine games for the Giants in 2020. Morris will compete for a spot on the Giants running back depth chart behind Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker. The veteran RB is a depth signing and won't have much fantasy value unless Barkley and Booker miss time. Fantasy managers can avoid Morris in upcoming drafts.
Las Vegas Raiders RB Jalen Richard (illness) is expected to come off the COVID-19 list and return to practice Monday, Aug. 2.
Minnesota Vikings QBs Kirk Cousins, Nate Stanley and Kellen Mond were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday, Aug. 1.
Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper (ankle) came into training camp in great shape, according to head coach Mike McCarthy. 'Everything's been extremely positive from the strength staff,' McCarthy said. 'His weight is as low as it's been since I've worked with him, so he looks great.'
Fantasy Spin: Cooper is expected to be recovered from an ankle injury in time for the start of the season, and with Dak Prescott back under center, he should be in line for another steady campaign as a main target in a potent pass attack. Consider Cooper a WR2.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Foster Moreau had an impressive rookie campaign, finishing his inaugural season with five touchdowns. However, injuries plagued the 24-year-old in 2020, and he ended with just seven catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Nonetheless, head coach John Gruden remains excited about the duo of Moreau and Darren Waller in two tight end formations, so it appears as if he will get some attention from signal-caller Derek Carr. Although Waller is still listed above Moreau on the depth chart, it seems as if there could be plenty of room for him to flourish as well heading toward the new year. As a result, managers looking to fill the void at the position in the later rounds of fantasy drafts should keep him in mind.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (ankle) is still working his way back from ankle surgery in January. Although Cooper currently sits on the physically unable to perform list, head coach Mike McCarthy recently touted the veteran's weight loss during the offseason. While his fantasy outlook is rocky based on his health ailments and competition with Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb for looks from Dak Prescott, the upside is certainly there, so he is worth the risk for those looking for a practical option at the position.
Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Jonah Williams reportedly bulked up during the offseason. Currently weighing in at around 315 pounds, a 10-pound increase from last season, the 23-year-old hopes the added bulk will make him better equipped to handle opposing defenders. With Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon both suffering season-ending injuries during the 2020-21 campaign, Cincy's offensive unit will undoubtedly benefit from Williams' increase in strength and size.