Thu Aug 4 7:36pm ET
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer
New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) catches the ball during training camp at their NFL football training facility in Metairie, La., Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) walks between drills during training camp at their NFL football training facility in Metairie, La., Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) runs through drills during training camp at their NFL football training facility in Metairie, La., Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
METAIRIE, La. (AP) New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu wasn't ready to discuss why he missed the first week of training camp.
The important thing, he said Thursday, was that he's back with the team and feeling good about it.
''I'm sure at some point I'll be more transparent about the first six days of practice,'' Mathieu said after his second practice since reporting for training camp earlier this week.
''But just more important, I'm happy to be back around the guys. I'm feeling good. I'm in great spirits, really healthy. So everything that's important is going good.''
The 30-year-old, nine-year NFL veteran agreed to a three-year, $33 million free-agent contract with the Saints in early May. But shortly before camp opened last week, the club announced that Mathieu had been excused for a personal matter.
''It's a little out of the norm for me. I'm usually one of those guys that never really misses a practice or anything like that,'' Mathieu said. ''At the end of the day it's a long season.''
Asserting that he sees the Saints as a club with realistic postseason aspirations, he said there's time for him ''to be where I need to be when the time is right.''
While Mathieu was reluctant to go into detail about what was troubling him, he praised both his teammates and the Saints as an organization for standing by him.
''A lot of times, especially with strong people, we kind of just let those people go through life and we never really show that support and we don't consider that,'' Mathieu said. ''So, I think having the team support, having the coaches' support - I think I'm a strong man, for the most part - but it allowed me to just embrace it, embrace that moment and embrace that support.''
The offseason addition of Mathieu to the Saints' secondary was met with much fanfare in New Orleans, where Mathieu grew up and played in high school before starring in college at LSU.
Mathieu was raised by his grandparents in New Orleans, then became a star football player and track athlete for St. Augustine High School, and he maintained deep ties to the city that brought him up, enhanced through his charitable endeavors and football camps in the area.
He also still has deep ties to LSU, where a players lounge at the football building is named for him.
Mathieu's tenacious play during two seasons at LSU earned him the nickname ''Honey Badger.'' As a sophomore in 2011, he was a Heisman Trophy finalist and won the Bednarik Award as the nation's top defensive player. But his college career was cut short when then-Tigers coach Les Miles dismissed Mathieu in the summer of 2012 for repeated drug test failures.
Matheiu spent time in a Houston rehabilitation program, but it wasn't until he was drafted by Arizona in the third round in 2013 that he put his life together. Mathieu became a dependable defensive standout for coach Bruce Arians and has since added two All-Pro nods with Kansas City to go with one earned in Arizona. He also has been selected to the Pro Bowl each of the past three seasons.
Mathieu said a number of his Saints teammates have ''followed my career a long time. They've seen a lot of ups and downs throughout my career.
''A lot of those guys want the best for me,'' Mathieu said. ''They want me in a great space. They want me healthy. They want my family doing well. Because, at the end of the day, all of those things kind of benefit us.''
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor continues to stack good days at training camp in what has definitely been his most consistent camp as a professional. At the moment, he looks too good to consider releasing, in the opinion of The Athletic's Bo Wulf, although a trade remains on the table. The former first-round pick has been a disappointment through his two NFL seasons, compiling 64 catches (111 targets) for 695 yards and three touchdowns in 28 games (24 starts). The 23-year-old will probably only be fantasy relevant if he's traded to a team that gives him a realistic chance to start. As things stand now in Philly, he's behind the likes of A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal.
Cleveland Browns All-Pro returner and wide receiver Jakeem Grant Sr. (Achilles) is feared to have torn his Achilles in training camp practice on Tuesday. He will undergo tests to confirm after he was carted off the field on Tuesday. This will be a big blow to Cleveland's special teams unit this year as well as their receiver depth. The 29-year-old speedy wideout was looking for a role on both special teams and as a pass-catcher in his first year with the Browns after catching 11 of his 17 targets for 132 yards and two touchdowns in 2021 with the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears. He was a Pro Bowler last year for his work as a returner, handling 23 kickoff returns for 539 yards and 26 punt returns for 309 yards and one touchdown.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Zach Pascal missed the first week-plus of training camp with food poisoning and has been slowly acclimating since, but Monday was his best day by a wide margin. He showcased nice route-running and dominated a portion of seven-on-seven drills with a one-handed catch. Pascal has yet to make much of an impact in team drills, though, and he's still trying to get on the same page as quarterback Jalen Hurts. Unfortunately for Pascal, he's currently fourth on the Eagles depth chart behind A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins, who had a productive day in team drills on Monday with a couple of nice catches. Pascal can be passed over on draft day in most leagues to begin the 2022 season.
Dynasty | Browns wide receiver and special teams ace Jakeem Grant was carted off with an apparent leg injury at practice. Dynasty Analysis: This has the looks of a potentially serious injury. Grant was making some headway on the depth chart and figured to be the Browns primary return man as well. If he's indeed lost for the season, it would open up more snaps and targets for the likes of Donovan Peoples-Jones and David Bell. As for Grant, he's already a fringe dynasty player and there would be little reason to keep him should this be a serious injury. Stay tuned.
Cleveland Browns WR Jakeem Grant (leg) was carted off the field after suffering an apparent left leg injury at practice Tuesday, Aug. 9.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley continues to look good in training camp this summer. He looked decisive and quick during training camp practice on Sunday when the team mostly worked on red-zone runs. Head coach Brian Daboll has called Barkley "explosive," and it's been evident on the field as well. Center Jon Feliciano said this version of Barkley is the best he's seen from any RB on any of his teams. The 25-year-old was still rehabbing from an ACL tear last summer and didn't look like the same player in 2021. But he's looking much different in 2022 as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. If your league mates are hesitant to touch Barkley in fantasy drafts, take advantage. He could be a massive value pick as a high-end RB2.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance finished Saturday's training camp practice with a flourish, but it didn't carry over to Sunday. He completed just four of his 12 passes on Sunday, which included a bad interception that was forced during the final period of the day. However, according to receiver Brandon Aiyuk, Lance was not fazed by his performance and talked to teammates about the plays he wanted back and how he could improve going forward. It shows Lance's maturity at a young age, but even though the Niners believe he's their long-term answer at the position, they're unsure how well he'll play in his first full year as the starter in 2022. The 22-year-old will surely have his ups and downs, but his dual-threat abilities give him low-end QB1 upside right away.
The Tennessee Titans signed former Cleveland Browns safety Adrian Colbert to an undisclosed one-year deal on Tuesday, according to his agents. Colbert spent the 2021 season with the Browns and New York Jets, but all of his production came in New York. He had 16 tackles (10 solo) in just four games played (three starts) for Gang Green. Originally a seventh-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers in 2017 out of the University of Miami, Colbert has put up 109 tackles (84 solo), eight passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 39 career games (22 starts) with the 49ers, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Browns and Jets. He'll simply provide defensive back depth in Tennessee if he sticks around.
Updating a previous report, free-agent QB EJ Perry (Jaguars) signed an undisclosed contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Tuesday, Aug. 9. QB Kyle Sloter was released to make room for him on the roster.
New York Jets former first-round offensive tackle Mekhi Becton (knee) suffered an avulsion fracture of his right kneecap in training camp practice on Monday. He'll visit with a surgeon on Wednesday, but Becton will likely miss all of the 2022 season. It's brutal news for the Jets and the 23-year-old, who missed all but one game last year due to an unrelated knee injury. In his absence, George Fant stepped in at left tackle and did a commendable job protecting quarterback Zach Wilson's blind side in his rookie season. Becton had a solid rookie season in 2020, but injuries in back-to-back seasons have quickly turned him into a bust early in his career.
Atlanta Falcons rookie running back Tyler Allgeier was listed as the team's eighth running back on the first official depth chart of training camp, but not much should be read into it, as head coach Arthur Smith generally puts rookies on the back end of the depth chart at this stage of the preseason. Along with Allgeier, eighth overall pick Drake London was listed fifth at the wideout position behind KhaDarel Hodge, Geronimo Allison, Damiere Byrd and Auden Tate. London has been working with the first-team offense in camp, and it's fair to expect him to play a ton once the regular season begins. Allgeier has a realistic shot to become the No. 2 in his rookie season behind Cordarrelle Patterson and ahead of Damien Williams.
Dynasty | James Robinson reportedly took first team reps in Jaguars practice on Monday. Dynasty Analysis: Robinson still has a ways to go before being ready for game action, but this is a big step forward after he was only participating in team drills prior to Monday. Travis Etienne's presence is obviously going to eat into Robinson's value, but Robinson and Cam Akers are both proving achilles tears may not be the death knell they used to be. Sitting at RB41, there could be some serious value in Robinson and he looks like a "buy" candidate.
Kansas City Chiefs WR JuJu Smith-Schuster could be the second-most targeted player behind TE Travis Kelce, in the opinion of Arrowhead Pride's Pete Sweeney on Tuesday, Aug. 9. 'Speaking of Smith-Schuster -- Marquez Valdes-Scantling looked like he could be the go-to WR in OTAs, but at training camp, through my looks, it's been Smith-Schuster. I'm now tending to think he'll be the second-most targeted Chiefs pass-catcher behind TE Travis Kelce in 2022.'
Fantasy Spin: With Tyreek Hill gone, Smith-Schuster has a chance to be the top WR for Patrick Mahomes. Given the ambiguous depth chart and the history of success early in his career, Smith-Schuster carries WR2 upside despite being drafted as a WR3.
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski has a plan for quarterback Deshaun Watson and the rest of the team's QBs for the team's preseason opener on Friday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he hasn't told them yet and won't tell the media. It's unclear if Watson will play. NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson handed down a six-game suspension for Watson, but the NFL has appealed and is seeking a full-season suspension, which could result in the case moving to federal court. It's anyone's guess as to how much he'll play in the preseason, but it doesn't really mean much in the grand scheme of things for fantasy. With at least a six-game ban for Watson in 2022, he's a low-end QB2, at best in upcoming fantasy drafts.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith took all of the first-team repetitions during Sunday's walk-through practice, while Drew Lock worked exclusively with the No. 2 offense as the QB competition appeared to remain status quo. Smith has gotten virtually all of the first-team reps in the first week and a half of training camp, but that could start to change based on Lock's strong showing in Saturday's mock game. Lock was clearly the better QB, while Smith underwhelmed while leading the first-team offense against backups. The Seattle coaching staff hasn't made any judgments on the two QBs since the weekend, but there's a chance that Lock could have his opening to take the starting QB job and run with it for the rest of camp and the preseason. Stay tuned.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Justin Watson is a precise route-runner that the team's quarterbacks - including Patrick Mahomes - love throwing to, according to Peter King of NBC Sports.
San Francisco 49ers rookie running back Tyrion Davis-Price is listed as the team's No. 4 RB on the first unofficial depth chart of training camp. Second-year back Elijah Mitchell is the starter, with Jeff Wilson Jr. and Trey Sermon directly behind him. Fantasy managers shouldn't read too much into these unofficial depth charts, but it's another reminder that the Niners backfield is very crowded. Davis-Price has looked impressive in training camp and could be involved early in his rookie season, but it's unrealistic to expect him to have a big role given all the other bodies in this backfield. The 21-year-old will be much more attractive in dynasty/keeper setups, and he might be worth a late-round dart throw in deeper leagues.
Only twice last year in his rookie season did Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rondale Moore have more than six targets in a game, and those two games ended up being his best. He caught seven passes for 114 yards and a touchdown over the Vikings and had 11 receptions for 51 yards in late November in a win over the Seahawks. But other than that, he was mostly used in gadget situations. Moore is expected to have a bigger role in 2022, especially with DeAndre Hopkins suspended for the first six games. The 22-year-old second-year wideout is a popular pick to break out for this offense. The Cardinals anticipate using Moore all over the field, even out of the backfield. In an offense that likes to throw the ball around often, Moore is absolutely worth a late-round pick in fantasy drafts for his upside.
Washington Commanders wide receiver Curtis Samuel has been practicing with the team at training camp, and his presence outside, in the slot or out of the backfield can create mismatches for the opposing defense. However, the fact that he's being nursed through camp without tackling puts doubt into how he'll get through a full 17-game season. Dyami Brown (leg) missed most of the second week of camp with an apparent leg injury and hasn't shined when he's been on the field. Brown has size and should have a roster spot, but his role appears limited for now, barring an extended absence from Samuel. With rookie Jahan Dotson standing out all offseason and summer, it's hard to envision Samuel being a consistent fantasy producer to begin the 2022 season.