Pitta shows Kubiak he can block

Kubiak knows tight end Owen Daniels from his time as head coach in Houston but said he's been impressed with Dennis Pitta's ability as a blocker.

"That's part of their job, too," Kubiak said. "We know they can get open, we know they can catch balls. But if we're going to run the ball well, everybody has to give it up for the team, and I've been impressed with what Dennis has done."

Pyro's take: It can be tough when you have a new coach coming in. That is the situation for Dennis Pitta. What makes it worse is that Kubiak is not the only change, as his tight end from Houston, Owen Daniels, is also on board. Pitta is clearly more talented, but he still needs to impress his new coach.

Pitta is a football player, and he will do what it takes to be a dominant player this season. He has the chip on his shoulder coming off the injury, and Daniels should actually help him acclimate to Kubiak faster. Pitta has a chance to be a top five tight end this year.

08/01/14, 10:00 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.baltimoresun.com

Wheaton impresses Ike Taylor

“He can be that guy that teams look at in the first four games and are like, ‘Who is that dude running past people?’ ” Ike Taylor said. “After those first four games, they’re like, ‘OK, we know who he is now.’ ”

Wheaton has been elevated to the No. 2 receiver alongside Brown.

Can he be that guy?

“Hell yeah,” Taylor said, without hesitation. “But he’s got to be consistent. He’s got to have that Antonio Brown mentality, just like I feel Cortez Allen has to have that Ike Taylor mentality. You can’t care about anything but that person trying to beat you. That’s only thing I care about, and 10 other guys relying on me.

“Cortez got to have that personality, and Markus Wheaton has got to have that personality, like A.B. That’s what makes A.B., A.B. That’s why he’s a Pro Bowl guy. Wheaton has all the talent. He just has to have that mentality. Once he gets that mentality, it’s lights out for him.”

Pyro's take: The biggest question mark in fantasy for the Steelers is who is going to take hold of the #2 receiver spot. Wheaton is the one the Steelers, and us at Pyro, are rooting for. He has a ton of talent, and has been hanging around Antonio Brown all off-season like a little brother.

He should end up winning the job, but he is still not a recommended starter to start the season. He would be a good player to target as a bench receiver, and should be available past round 10.

08/01/14, 09:53 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.post-gazette.com

Gio showing he can handle the goal line

Gio Bernard was one of the stars of Friday night's Bengals practice, including a 1-yard touchdown where he bulled his way into the end zone.

The 5-9, 208-pound halfback displayed his familiar shake early on, as he broke some long runs. Near the end of practice, Bernard also showed his power as he charged in to score. It was as plausibly "live" as could be, with tackling allowed.

"Goal line is just all about determination, who wants it more," Bernard said.

Pyro's take: Jeremy Hill may weigh 20 more pounds than Gio, but the rookie has yet to prove it on the big stage. Bernard ran for five touchdowns last season, and with a more run focused offense that number should rise in 2014.

The good news for those who are fans of Gio, like me, is that he will get work in the redzone, and on the goal line. While he is not a true workhorse back, he is also not a back that is pulled inside the five-yard line. He is a determined runner, and should be able to build on his rookie season where he had 1,209 yards from scrimmage with 56 receptions.

08/01/14, 09:45 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.cincinnati.com

Hoyer in dead heat with Johnny Football

According to Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, Manziel has yet to surpass Brian Hoyer as the favorite to start. The AP writes:

“Shanahan said there is no clear leader between Hoyer and Manziel. Shanahan is hoping one of the QBs takes off and makes the decision easier for Cleveland’s coaching staff.”

As for Hoyer, he seems to have nothing but great things to say about his young and popular rival. He told Sports Illustrated:

“All I can say about the kid is when he’s in the building, he does everything the right way. He’s in meetings, he’s asking questions, he’s working hard. I got asked the other day about his offseason. I don’t know anything about that. I have no idea. But there are no rules about what you can and can’t do when you’re away from the building. He’s definitely a talented kid and he is who he is, a guy who won the Heisman Trophy.”

Pyro's take: The ceiling is definitely higher on Manziel, but Hoyer is the more polished quarterback at this point. That does not mean he is going to win the job. As Shanahan said, it is going to come down to the preseason games. If Johnny Football can show flashes, while not turning the ball over, the job will be his. If he is inconsistent, then Hoyer will start the season.

08/01/14, 09:29 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.washingtonpost.com

Megatron happy to have Tate

“I think you realize that he’s a very important piece to our offense,” head coach Jim Caldwell said of Tate. “He adds a lot just in terms of his ability to catch the ball, run with it, block, he’s a high-energy guy. His leadership is extremely important as well.”

Tate is the best No. 2 receiver the Lions have teamed with Johnson and that’s an important piece to have if the Lions are going to be a better all-around offense.

“Playing away from one of the best receivers in the league and one of the best to ever play the game is going to be fun,” Tate said. “He’s going to open it up for me and I’m going to do my best to hold my part and open it up for him.

“I think we can be dangerous if we just play fundamental-sound football."

Johnson has been begging for another receiver to step up and take advantage of one-on-one matchups the last few years. He thinks he finally might have that missing piece in Tate and tight end Eric Ebron.

"Golden's going to get a lot of one-on-one coverage," Johnson said. "With all the weapons we have, those one-on-ones will go full circle and I might get some more myself.

Pyro's take: Tate is an interesting fantasy player this season. Last season in his fourth season in Seattle he had career highs with 64 catches for 898 yards. He also added five touchdowns. That was playing for a team that only threw for 3,236 yards. Now Tate joins the Lions as their second best target in the passing game, which threw for 4,482 yards. Golden has a golden opportunity in Detroit, and should be able to reach his first 1,000-yard season. He should still be considered a WR3 as you enter your drafts.

08/01/14, 05:45 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.detroitlions.com

McKinnon showing his potential

Billed largely as a scat back-type who could help on special teams, as well, McKinnon has demonstrated inside running ability during camp. He scored two touchdowns during the goal line period of Monday night’s practice, with both of those runs coming between the tackles. Yes, McKinnon looks to be an effective receiver and potential 3rd down back, but he may also contribute as a between the tackles runner, too.

Pyro's take: If you have listened to our podcast, then you know I am a big fan of Jerick's. He is currently battling Matt Asiata for the backup role to AP. If McKinnon continues to impress in practice, and can make some plays in the first preseason game, he will be well on his way to sealing up the position. He has an amazing skill set, and if he can prove to be effective in a pro-set, something he did not have to do in college, he will be utilized in the offense.

08/01/14, 05:37 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.vikings.com

Lacy wants to be known as "Moss", as in Randy

Given Eddie Lacy’s punishing running style on the field and laughter-filled personality off it, a quippy nickname is bound to emerge sooner rather than later for the Packers star running back.

The one he’s apparently chosen, however, isn’t likely to stick.

“Eddie has a self-appointed nickname of ‘Moss,’ as in Randy Moss,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “He thinks he’s got incredible hands. His hands actually are very good.”

That they are, and it’s become a frequent sight through the first three days of training camp to see Lacy catching any and all manner of passes out of the backfield – on screens, quick flips to the flat or checkdowns.

The extensive pass-catching work is in line with Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s declaration in the spring that he wants all Packers ball-carriers, and Lacy in particular, to be three-down backs who don’t necessarily need situational substitutes.

Pyro's take: It's good that Lacy is setting his sights high with his self appointed nickname, but let's be real. Eddie has been working on his pass catching, and he did have 35 catches as a rookie. Lacy is currently a top 6 back in my tiers, and if he does become a bigger threat in the receiving game, he has a chance to challenge the best in the game. There are so few workhorse backs left in the game, and Lacy is one of them.

08/01/14, 05:31 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.packers.com

Marshall thinks Cutler can be league MVP

Hall of Famer Michael Irvin visited Chicago Bears practice on Wednesday, and Brandon Marshall continuously bent the former Dallas Cowboys receiver's ear, telling him that in 2014, quarterback Jay Cutler could be the MVP of the league.

"I don't think anybody would believe it," Marshall said. "I don't know why they wouldn't believe it. [But] this is a different person. I don't know this guy. I don't know this new Jay Cutler. Maybe his new name is like Joshua or something. This is a totally different guy. Just call him Joshua Cutler. That's what the 'J' stands for."

Marshall "absolutely" believes Cutler could win MVP, citing changes in the quarterback's personal life and a strong supporting cast as his reasoning. Cutler comes off a strong 2013 campaign in which he finished with the second-highest completion percentage (63.1) in franchise history, in addition to posting a career-best passer rating of 89.2.

Pyro's take: I love what the Bears are doing on offense, and as a Bears fan I am drinking the Kool-Aid, but not as much as Brandon. Cutler should put up some real nice numbers this season, and should be top ten when the season is over. The biggest issue for Jay, or Joshua, is can he stay healthy?

If he does stay healthy, and Marc Trestman's offense goes to another level there is a shot, but it is a very long one. Cutler is being valued between 10-13 at the QB position in mocks right now. If you can bag him as your backup, or as starter if you wait on quarterbacks, he could pay off big in 2014.

08/01/14, 05:24 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: espn.go.com

Out of commission

Allen Robinson and Tandon Doss will be out of commission for two weeks, depleting the wide receiver corps even further. Justin Blackmon is suspended indefinitely, Cecil Shorts was injured last week, and he will be gone for at least two weeks. Ace Sanders left for personal reasons as he prepares for four-game suspension to start the season.

Robinson strained his hamstring, while Doss sprained his ankle on the final play of practice. Rookie Damian Copeland missed Friday's practice with a wrist injury, he's listed as day-to-day, and second-round pick Marqise Lee was given the day off.

Pyro's take: The Jaguars passing game is already ugly, and the last thing they need is wide receivers that are new to the team such as Robinson, Lee, and Doss to be out as well. Its going to be a long road for this team in the passing department as they try to improve on their 20th ranked passing offense, and if the veteran leadership, and rookies are not there to get in sync with Chad Henne or Blake Bortles, the path will just get longer.

As for your fantasy team, most of these players are waiver wire fodder, or dynasty league material.

08/01/14, 10:32 AM CDT by Michael Valverde
Source: members.jacksonville.com

Bowe and Smith trusting each other

Coming into his second year with quarterback Alex Smith, Bowe admits there’s a comfort level with Smith that they didn’t necessarily have last season.

“I would say trust,” Bowe said. “Definitely trust is a big factor. The first year we were getting to know each other, but this year, it’s like trust is there [and] the timing is getting better. And that’s all you can ask for is more time with the guy. And that’s what we’re out here doing—timing and working together. And it’s all coming together.”

It’s important for Bowe to know Smith can trust him to make those plays in traffic, delivering passes when there isn’t much room for error.

“It’s comfortable for me to know that he trusts me,” Bowe said. “If it’s 1-on-1 and a safety on top, I know that he knows that he could put it there and I’m going to come down with it. Because we’re paired off in practice so they are saying ‘do it in the preseason,’ and then from there we’ll take it into the regular season.”

Pyro's take: Bowe needs a lot of trust to become fantasy relevant after his 57 catch, 673 yards and five touchdowns last season. Alex Smith has always been a quarterback that plays it safe, not willing to take many risks. That has earned him the nickname "Checkdown".

Bowe has never had more than 1,162 receiving yards in a season, and won't this year. We are now four years removed from his breakout in 2010 where he had 15 touchdowns. Unforntunately that is the only season in which he had more than seven. Dwayne has become that steady veteran who is going to give you average points, but no breakout games.

07/31/14, 11:47 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.kcchiefs.com

Wright asked to lose weight and run tighter routes

Wright will be expected to adapt not only to a more disciplined approach to route-running, but also to a more disciplined approach at the buffet table, where coaches hope to trim his weight to increase his speed.

"We've asked him to do what this offense dictates, and he's done that very well," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "I've been very impressed with Kendall, how he goes about his business. He's changed since when we first got in here, and I'm really excited to see what he's going to do for us this year.

"He's matured a little bit. I think we've put more responsibility on him. I can't compare it (to last year), because I don't know (how he was) before. But I've asked him to do some things, and he's responded well."

Pyro's take: Wright had a great season last year, catching 94 passes for 1,079 yards, but only two touchdowns. Under Ken Whisenhunt Kendall is going to be asked to be more precise in his routes, something he was not asked to do last season. If he makes the adjustment, which I am confident that he will, Wright should have a much more prolific season in 2014.

07/31/14, 10:55 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.tennessean.com

Gerhart not going to be a 300 carry back

Jedd Fisch knows what Toby Gerhart brings, and wants to use it.

What the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator doesn’t want is to over-use Gerhart, which is why Fisch said Thursday he doesn’t see Gerhart being a 300-carry running back this season.

Twenty carries a game? Twenty-five?

While such workloads haven’t been uncommon for backs in the past – and while Gerhart perhaps would not mind that many carries – Fisch said that’s not the plan for the player the Jaguars signed as an unrestricted free agent this past off-season.

“I think 300 carries is a lot of carries,” Fisch said Thursday before the sixth practice of Jaguars 2014 Training Camp at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields. “We have to really see how we’re running the football and what we’re running well.”

Pyro's take: Toby has been getting a lot of love now that he is finally getting his shot, but it looks like he is not going to be the workhorse back that many thought he would be. It makes sense that OC Jedd Fisch does not want to put too much pressure on Gerhart who only has rushed for more than 20 attempts twice in his career. Toby will need to prove that he can handle the increased workload. If you were expecting workhorse back numbers you will need to go back and adjust your tiers.

07/31/14, 10:18 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.jaguars.com

Wayne looking good

It was fitting that with the lights of Macholtz Stadium shining down on the Colts, Reggie Wayne might have been the brightest star. Wayne caught seven of Andrew Luck’s first 10 completions and was the main threat with T.Y. Hilton out on Thursday night with a jammed finger. Several of Wayne’s catches he had to make adjustments to, which was a good sign for a player needing to be tested during a continued rehab process.

Pyro's take: Wayne is the cog that really makes the Colts offense move. Luck has such faith in him, which is why without Wayne Luck threw for more than 500 less yards than he did in his rookie season.

Now that Reggie is back, and looking good, the calming influence in the offense is back. With the question marks surrounding the running game, Wayne's health is crucial to their success.

07/31/14, 10:06 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.colts.com

Wilson needs a miracle

Sources are stating that David Wilson needs a miracle to see the field again. "One person with knowledge of the running back's medical condition told NJ.com that Wilson "needs a miracle." Each source reporting to NJ.com had to remain autonomous, as they did not have permission. to talk freely about Wilson, and his injury status.

David Wilson has countered these reports by tweeting that "everything was fine" Wednesday night. The Giants, however, don't feel the same way.

On Monday, Wilson will be examined and that examination will determine the effect of his burner, and if David Wilson's career is over.

Pyro's take: Wilson will most likely need a miracle to see the field again, I hope he gets it. He is a tremendous athlete, but just has gotten a lot of bad breaks.First came fumbling problems, then the neck injury last season, after just five games.

In two seasons, he has rushed for 504 yards and five touchdowns. He has six receptions for 42 yards and another TD. Not the kind of numbers the Giants were expecting.

07/31/14, 02:45 PM CDT by Michael Valverde
Source: www.nj.com

Dobson has a permanent screw in his foot

Before practice began this morning, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reported a new detail about Aaron Dobson's surgery from back in March. According to Howe, the surgery required the insertion of a permanent screw to aid the healing process. As a result, Dobson's recovery has been moving slower than originally expected.

"Dobson didn't even begin running until July, and that progression ultimately leads to aggressive planting and cutting," says Howe. "The Patriots medical staff is making sure Dobson is able to handle the rigors of the job before allowing him on the field."

Pyro's take: This news hurts, and means that the Patriots have yet another fragile member of their receiving corps. When Dobson gets back on the field he will have a chance to make an impact in the offense, but injury is a real risk. We all saw what happened to Julio Jones last season, who also has a screw in his foot. There are a lot of other options for New England, so it is imperative that he gets back as soon as he can. It will be important to see him play in actual games and make cuts before I feel comfortable drafting him as WR3 or Flex.

07/29/14, 10:08 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.patriots.com

Matthews continues to impress Kelly

Chip Kelly is absolutely right about the overheated NFL hype machine, particularly when it comes to the draft. And yet, right after Kelly expanded yesterday on remarks he originally made to Sports Illustrated's Peter King over the weekend, Jordan Matthews showed a crowd of just under 15,000 people at Lincoln Financial Field why he got so much media attention all spring.

"I see a guy that has a big, huge motor, man. I see a guy that's going to bust his tail from the minute the ball's snapped to the end of the play. He's going to finish every play," Eagles corner Cary Williams said after the first of the team's three scheduled public practices. "I see a guy that goes up to get the ball away from his body - all those intangible things that you can't coach. You see those things out of that guy. Him and [third-round rookie Josh] Huff both have done a tremendous job for us. They're young guys, but they came in with a veteran mentality, making plays."

Pyro's take: We are big fans of Jordan Matthews here at Pyro, and he is proving the Eagles made a good choice selecting him in this year's draft. The Eagles hope that Jordan will be able to step in from day one and earn a starting receiver role. In this fast paced offense he will a rookie that is worth drafting this year in fantasy.

07/29/14, 09:51 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.philly.com

Wilson suffers a "burner"

During Tuesday’s practice Wilson suffered a “burner,” also known as a stinger, which is a pinched neck nerve that can cause muscle weakness and pain down an arm.

Kimberly Jones tweeted updates on HC Tom Coughlin’s reaction to the news:

NYG RB David Wilson didn't finish practice after sustaining a burner. Tom Coughlin: "We were all praying" for no setback. This could be one.

NYG RB David Wilson will undergo tests after suffering what Tom Coughlin called a "burner." I'm told NYG "will be careful" w/him.

Pyro's take: This is horrible news for Wilson, who just can't seem to stay healthy. He has become such an injury risk, and after this injury his chances of making an impact this season take a real hit. This gives a bigger opportunity for rookie running back Andre Williams, although the Giants are still in need of a change of pace back. Get better 22.

07/29/14, 09:21 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.fanatix.com

Ivory in line to be the goal line back

Running backs coach Anthony Lynn said he hasn’t determined who the Jets’ short-yardage back will be, though it sounds like Chris Ivory is the early favorite.

“If we were playing tomorrow, Chris Ivory would be on the goal line, obviously,” Lynn said on Monday. “Sometimes in those situations you have an extra defender that you can’t block, and you need a back that can take him on.”

Ivory, given his hulking 222-pound frame, looks from the outside as the clear-cut choice. Lynn, in a week when the Jets are pumping their chests, went so far as to call Ivory “the best power runner in the game.”

Pyro's take: It does make sense that the Jets would lean on Ivory in the redzone, and it is also the one thing Chris Johnson owners have feared. The Jets are going to be using a committee backfield, and if Ivory gets the touchdowns, he could be the more valuable back. Ivory is a hard nosed runner who is always moving forward. This moves Ivory up a few slots in my tiers.

07/29/14, 09:04 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.nydailynews.com

Demaryius back at camp

After missing the first four days of camp to tend to his grandmother’s funeral in Georgia, Demaryius Thomas returned to Dove Valley on Monday and participated in the evening walkthrough.

His grandmother essentially raised him and the weekend was not easy for him.

“You know, it was tough yesterday burying my grandma but since then everything’s been better,” Thomas said. “She’s in a better place now so I’m fine and I’m ready to play football.”

Though she had been sick for awhile, he still wasn’t prepared for her death.

“You’re really not [prepared] because when I went home to see her after the Super Bowl she was fine, she was talking and then one night it was just, she wasn’t responding,” he said. “So it was like [snaps fingers] a flip of a coin, she was gone.”

He was glad to be back on the field and he said his teammates “are keeping me smiling.” It is comforting for him to come back to the team.

Pyro's take: It is always tough to lose a loved one, but thankfully Demaryius was able to be there with his family. Now he is back with his football family and will look to continue his stellar play. He has over 1,400 yards and 92 catches in each of the last two seasons. The time missed at camp will not effect Thomas and he is once again a top five receiver this season.

07/29/14, 08:33 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.denverbroncos.com

Kelvin Benjamin dealing with bone bruise

The athletic training staff wants to make sure the Panthers' first-round draft choice is fully healed from a bone bruise to his left knee sustained Sunday before he returns to practice. Benjamin also missed practice Monday when he returned to Charlotte for an MRI.

"I went for a catch and just came down with all my body weight on my knee," Benjamin explained. "We looked at it and iced it, and the doctors checked it. Once I woke up the next morning, it was stiff, so (head athletic trainer) Ryan (Vermillion) just wanted to make sure it was OK."

Benjamin admitted to being nervous awaiting the results – "You always worry that it will be bad news," he said – but shortly after returning to Wofford College on Monday, he got the good news.

"It's minor," Benjamin said. "I'm going to come back even harder."

Pyro's take: Never a good sign to come down with an injury early in camp, especially when you are a rookie, and especially when you are a rookie receiver on the Panthers who has a chance for a lot of playing time. This time in camp is so important for a rookie receiver to create chemistry with his quarterback, and that translates into slow starts. Hopefully Benjamin gets back on the field soon, but this injury hurts his fantasy chances off the bat.

07/29/14, 08:12 PM CDT by Houdini
Source: www.panthers.com

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