Sat Jun 19 12:32pm ET
By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Sept. 2, 1999, file photo, Indianapolis Colts running back Keith Elias (23) runs by Seattle Seahawks' Sedrick Clark (45) and Scott Fields (46) to pick up a first down on the Colts' final drive of an NFL football game in Indianapolis. Elias dad never played football because he was too small but he influenced the way his son approached the game. Elias spent five seasons in the league as a running back with the Giants and Colts from 1994-99. (AP Photo/John Harrell, File)
Long before Usama Young's father co-starred with him in a Super Bowl commercial, he influenced his love for football.
''The other day we were talking about our heroes and I was talking about how my dad taught me how to tackle, just be fearless and look the opponent in the eye and don't put your head down,'' said Young, a safety who played for the Saints, Browns and Raiders between 2007-15.
''I played with that fearlessness. And I think my dad pushing me every day, being able to be at my game, praying with me before every game, and him being able to see my last game before he passed away, that meant the world to me.''
Young sold lemonade during NFL games in Washington as a kid. His father, Leroi Young, got him the job and helped him regain it when he was fired a couple times. Before New Orleans beat the Colts in the 2010 Super Bowl, the league featured the father-son in a television ad.
''That was amazing,'' Usama Young said. ''He kept reminding me: `You ever thought after getting fired you'd be here today shooting a commercial?' He said that only God could write this story.''
Keith Elias' dad never played football because he was too small, but he influenced the way his son approached the game. Elias spent five seasons in the league as a running back with the Giants and Colts from 1994-99.
''He helped me keep everything in perspective,'' Elias said. ''He had a really difficult life with some extreme challenges and so he approached every day that no matter what you did, love people, love what you're doing and give it your all.
''He didn't care if I played football or if I played chess. He was just like: `Treat people the way you want to be treated, work as hard as you can and live every moment to the fullest.' And that was the real life lesson I took from him.''
Both Young and Elias pass on the wisdom learned from their fathers with other NFL players in their current roles. Elias is the NFL's senior director of player engagement and Young is a member of the NFL's player engagement staff. They work closely with the league's fatherhood initiative for players.
''It's truly a brotherhood to celebrate how valuable fathers are in their families' lives, in the community and how being a father is just something that we can't take for granted,'' Young said. ''We understand how valuable we are. Now that I am a father, I see why my dad pushed me so hard. I see why my dad didn't let me give up.''
The initiative celebrates past and present players and the positive influence paternal relationships have on families and communities. Throughout the year, the staff provides parenting resources, support, events and creating opportunities for peer-to-peer learning among fathers inside the league.
''The message is to encourage, empower and equip guys,'' Elias said. ''We give them the tools to be able to reach out and build that relationship (with their children) and encourage them to do it right.''
Young, who has a 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, stressed the importance of leading by example, staying poised during adversity.
''Children watch our every move,'' Young said. ''How we can lead by example as fathers, that's of the utmost importance.''
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.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon has been impressive during training camp. After a foot injury limited him to just six games during the 2020-21 campaign, the former Sooner is getting plenty of attention based on his physical appearance. With an improved offensive line, the return of Frank Pollack, and the departure of Giovani Bernard, Mixon has first-round upside, so fantasy managers should be prepared to jump on him early in upcoming fantasy drafts. Nonetheless, as long as the 24-year-old remains healthy, the potential is there for him to finish as a top-10 back this season, possibly higher.
Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki (illness) was placed on the COVID-19 injured list on Sunday. Gesicki, along with co-offensive coordinator George Godsey, tested positive for the Coronavirus. Although they will likely be ready to go when the season begins in September, it's still unsettling for fantasy managers, primarily if the 25-year-old suffers any long-term effects of the virus. Gesicki has been one of the top producers at the position by compiling at least five touchdowns in each of his last two seasons.
Free-agent TE Tommy Stevens (Panthers) and WR Andy Jones (49ers) are scheduled to work out for the New York Giants.
Miami Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday, Aug. 1.
Fantasy Spin: Gesicki likely will miss a few practices but will be fine for the regular season. He is coming off a productive 2020 season and should be a No. 1 tight end in most fantasy leagues.
Miami Dolphins TE Cethan Carter and TE Adam Shaheen were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday, Aug. 1.
Free-agent QB Jake Rudock (Dolphins) has decided to retire from professional football, according to sources.
Free-agent CB Prince Amukamara (Cardinals) and CB KeiVarae Russell (Packers) are expected to sign with the New Orleans Saints in the near future. Both players worked out for the team Sunday, Aug. 1.
Seattle Seahawks QB Danny Etling was waived Sunday, Aug. 1.
Atlanta Falcons running back Qadree Ollison took first-team reps on Sunday, and he appears to be the leader in the race to back up Mike Davis. Ollison is competing with Javian Hawkins and Cordarrelle Patterson for the RB2 role in Atlanta, and right now he "seems like the early favorite for RB2." Ollison had a productive career at Pittsburgh and he was selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL draft. In limited NFL action, Ollison has only averaged 2.3 yards per carry, but he did score four touchdowns on just 23 touches in 2019, so he could be involved near the goal-line in 2021. Ollison is a fringe late-round handcuff in fantasy leagues this season.
Arizona Cardinals veteran free agent wide receiver addition A.J. Green is reportedly enjoying a resurgence early in training camp. Per Peter Schrager of NFL Network and Fox Sports, Green "looks incredible out there at Cardinals practice." This news is especially surprising considering that Green looked completely washed up with the Bengals in 2020. Green's pathetic 5.0 yards per target mark ranked 107th among all wideouts last season. It's possible that Green was mailing it in last season, however, as he made it known that he wanted out of Cincinnati. Green figures to be competing with Rondale Moore and Christian Kirk for secondary targets in the offense, so building early chemistry with Kyler Murray is key. If Green continues generating positive buzz later into camp he could make for an intriguing late-round dart throw, but there are higher upside options worth drafting over him right now.
Arizona Cardinals rookie wide receiver Rondale Moore is making an excellent impression in his first training camp. Darren Urban had this to say about Moore's performance "It sure looks like Rondale Moore is going to be a player. He hasn't been perfect but he shows up again and again." Urban's take here meshes with what others around the team have been saying as well. Moore, who ran a 4.37-second 40-yard-dash, has elite speed and quickness to go along with major opportunity in the Arizona offense. Like Moore, the other secondary wideouts on the team are yet to prove that they deserve to be the second option behind superstar WR DeAndre Hopkins. Moore's elite athleticism could translate to plenty of production out of the slot in year one if he can mesh with Kyler Murray. Moore's upside makes him one of the best late-round selections and his ADP should continue to rise as camp progresses.
Buffalo Bills running back Matt Breida is making noise early in training camp. Per Sal Capaccio, Brieda "has really shown off his speed and quickness through the first four days... he could wind up being more of a factor in the offense than many anticipated when they signed him as a free agent in March." The Bills didn't get much production out of Zach Moss or Devin Singletary in 2020, so Breida certainly could make his mark. Breida has plenty of speed and he's primarily been a change of pace back at the NFL level, averaging a robust 4.9 yards per carry for his career. Even if Breida does take over the backfield the upside isn't huge due to Buffalo's heavy pass rate and Josh Allen's propensity for scoring rushing touchdowns near the goal-line. Breida is only worth drafting in the late rounds of deeper league drafts at this time.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz is choosing rest and rehab over surgery at this point in time, and he's still hoping to be under center in week one. Per Ian Rapoport, "If all goes well, Week 1 is in play. If it doesn't improve, the answer may be surgery." It sounds like there is still plenty of uncertainty regarding Wentz's foot injury, but it is positive that rest is even an option at this point. Reunited with Frank Reich, Wentz is looking to bounce back after a rough 2020 season in Philadelphia. Wentz projects as a QB2 if he's healthy enough to play. Monitoring news on how Wentz heals over the next few days will be important, and all Colts fantasy options could see their value dip if Wentz ends up missing any extended amount of time.