Posted by Matt Olson

Weekend Wrap-Up (Part 1)

July 7, 2023

Arizona Cardinals – Looking at the wide receivers, the top two are set with Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk.  KeeSean Johnson and Andy Isabella look like they could be the next two guys. Johnson continues to get the most hype of the Cardinal rookies. Chad Williams is unlikely to make the team at this point with the other 3-4 WR spots likely going to Hakeem Butler, Trent Sherfield, Kevin White, and Damiere Byrd. Kyler Murray had a very good scrimmage this weekend.  Murray completed 14-of-18 passes, two of which came on drops and another on a throwaway. His only real miss was questionable, as Kevin White didn’t adjust to a ball thrown behind him as he ran along the sideline. Murray also wasn’t shy using his legs. KeeSean Johnson and Damiere Byrd earned first-team reps at receiver, and both came through. Byrd made three catches during Murray’s final drive.

Atlanta Falcons –  Brian Hill’s name keeps popping up. He was the standout player of the weekend. Per Falcons beat writers, he looked decisive and explosive on several runs, including one that could have been a legitimate touchdown in a real game. Hill also stood out in the Thursday night game, and has been drawing the praise of coach Dan Quinn lately. If he keeps this up, don’t be surprised if he wins the RB2 job and gets a lot of snaps behind Devonta Freeman this year. Russell Gage continues to stand out as well. He continues to make significant strides as a receiver. His position in the offense will be very interesting to watch as we inch closer to the regular season. 

Baltimore Ravens –  Mark Andrews has gotten the most pub out of the TEs so far. However, this past week, Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst showcased why this depth chart is so potent and versatile. Boyle appears to have made strides as a pass-catcher this offseason. Hurst demonstrated capable blocking ability last year but didn’t make much of an impact as a receiver. Soft hands and route-running were his main calling cards coming out of South Carolina, though, and he reminded us this week of his pass-catching chops with several impressive receptions. All three tight ends can fill different roles and play in multiple spots in the offense, and Andrews, Hurst, and Boyle will each play a significant role in Greg Roman’s system this season. The Lamar Jackson hype continues to build.  This offseason, Jackson worked hard on his fundamentals, spending time with a quarterback guru to improve his mechanics. He has been more consistent in practices this year. He still has the occasional misfire, but he has really impressed his teammates. With Marquise Brown finally joining practice, this offense can really start to take off.

Buffalo Bills –  Tommy Sweeney, 7th round TE from Boston College, has taken advantage of the injuries to all of the tight ends above him on the depth chart. He’s getting a lot of first team reps. Devin Singletary has been involved in the passing game during practices, something he didn’t normally do in college. The rookie says he thinks he has been catching the ball well and likes the chemistry he is building with quarterback Josh Allen. John Brown has established himself as the go-to target. He was having a resurgent year last year with Joe Flacco until Lamar Jackson took over.

Carolina Panthers –  Greg Olsen is 100% healthy, but still taking it slow. Cam Newton feels and looks good even if he isn’t 100% yet. He dropped a nice 40+ yard pass to Curtis Samuel at the Panthers Fan Fest over the weekend. Speaking of Samuel, by all accounts, he is having a more impressive camp than DJ Moore. The Panthers starting WRs will be Moore and Samuel outside, with Jarius Wright in the slot. 

Chicago Bears –  Trey Burton has gotten a few days of rest in a row after taking part in the first 6 practices. Adam Shaheen has also been held out of practice for a few days now and was seen walking pretty gingerly on the sideline. David Montgomery is hard to tackle. “The Bears went through a lot of situations, including an end-of-game scenario that required them to run for a first down. Montgomery showed off his footwork and finishing ability at the end of a long run that had Tarik Cohen and Taylor Gabriel sprinting from the sideline to celebrate.” Bears OC Mark Helfrich said of Montgomery – “Cautiously very, very optimistic. I like him a lot. I like him a lot. Unbelievable guy, great mentality. Is constantly asking questions. If he does something well he wants to make sure he saw it correctly, didn’t just get lucky. He’s a perfectionist, competitor. He’ll run the ball well. I’m very excited about him.” Another player that is standing out is WR Javon Wims. He has been consistently getting open and catching just about everything. Mitch Trubisky also likes targeting him.

Cincinnati Bengals –  Joe Mixon envisions himself having a huge year under new HC Zak Taylor. John Ross says he feels healthy enough to practice, but the Bengals are being extra cautious with him. Notable performances during this weekend’s scrimmage: Tyler Boyd and Tyler Eifert had a pair of great catches in the end zone. Trayveon Williams had a great play with the first team in the two-minute drill. Auden Tate is once again making highlight-reel grabs in training camp.

Cleveland Browns –  Jaelen Strong had a nice performance in the Orange and Brown scrimmage, along with TE Pharoah Brown. Brown hasn’t had a very good camp, but due to injuries to Seth DeValve and Demetrius Harris, he got some run with the first team during the scrimmage and made a couple nice catches. There were some nice quick plays to Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. We expect to see plenty of that. David Njoku made a nice catch in the back of the endzone during 7-on-7. He’s been a pain to deal with in the Red Zone. Rashard Higgins is still Mr. Reliable. He was the focal point for the second unit during a team period and ended the drive by scoring a touchdown on a throw from Drew Stanton. 

Dallas Cowboys –  Mike Weber had a very tough run during the Blue/White scrimmage. It initially appeared as if Weber was going to be stopped for no gain, but he was able to spin out of the pile. Three defenders had a shot at Weber but none of them could get their arms around him. He kept his legs driving, bounced it outside, and scored. Tony Pollard also had a good scrimmage and has drawn rave reviews for his performances. Wide receivers Michael Gallup and Jon’Vea Johnson have been two of the Camp MVPs thus far. 

Denver Broncos –  Courtland Sutton had a strong performance in practice yesterday as his rapport with Joe Flacco grows. Chris Harris Jr. with huge praise for Juwann Winfree: “He’s just strong. He’s just a strong rookie. You don’t see a lot of rookies like that… I’m definitely standing on 15 because he’s got a lot of talent. He can defintiely help us.” Good News – DaeSean Hamilton is back practicing. Emmanuel Sanders continues to progress and was used quite a bit in 11-on-11s yesterday. Theo Riddick is already getting first team reps and caught a TD pass. 

Detroit Lions –   T.J. Hockenson has shown great hands with nice routes and stellar awareness. His blocking looks to be promising as well. Travis Fulgham and Brandon Powell had get weekends. Powell beat Justin Coleman multiple times in team drills. Kerryon Johnson had a long run early in the scrimmage with the offense backed up near the goal line. Johnson didn’t play much and he probably won’t play much this preseason. He’s worn a sleeve on his left leg in recent days. That’s the knee he hurt last year. Just something to monitor. The Lions were using CJ Anderson as their third down back in the scrimmage early on with the first-team offense. Danny Amendola has been nearly impossible to cover in practices, just like last year’s training camp when he was with the Dolphins. Marvin Jones has quietly been putting together a strong training camp. He had a touchdown in Friday’s scrimmage and has been winning one-one-one battles both in drills and in game play. 

Green Bay Packers –  The Packers Family Night brought out the Packers’ best on offense, so far. On a 75-yard scoring drive in “move the ball,” Rodgers was 7-of-9 for 62 yards, completing throws to five different pass catchers. Then in two-minute, Rodgers hit three passes to three different receivers before the drive bogged down in the red zone and ended with a field goal. It probably would have produced a touchdown had Marquez Valdes-Scantling been able to haul in a sliding catch inside the 5.  Even before that, Rodgers previewed a good night for the No. 1 offense with back-to-back deep completions to Jake Kumerow and Davante Adams in one of the opening 11-on-11 segments. Kumerow added to his early deep grab with an impressive diving catch along the sideline for a 17-yard gain from Boyle. Moments later, Rodgers connected with Kumerow on a 13-yard back-shoulder toss to get that two-minute drive into field-goal range.  “Yeah, he definitely helped himself,” HC Matt LaFleur said of Kumerow in the receiver competition. “It speaks to just what we’ve been saying all along. You can always count on Jake. I think he dinged his finger in the one-on-ones when he caught a ball, too. He’s a tough guy and played through it. The catch he made on the right sideline was pretty incredible.”  Trevor Davis also had an outstanding night, catching a 70 yard TD on a go route then going up and over a defender for a 30 yard gain. 

Houston Texans –  In a surprise move, the Texans parted ways with D’Onta Foreman, opening the door for Josh Ferguson, Damarea Crockett, and Karan Higdon. Crockett has apparently looked the best out of the three, but Ferguson has impressed Bill O’Brien with his third down skill set. DeAndre Hopkins put on a show at practice this weekend, so he’s back. Jordan Thomas continues to sit out. The Texans are practicing with the Packers this week. 

Indianapolis Colts –  Marlon Mack, healthy all offseason and thus far into training camp for the first time in his career, has picked up where he left off last year, finding space, hitting holes hard and creating more big plays in the running game than any other back. Daurice Fountain, a fifth-round pick a season ago who spent most of the year on the practice squad, has been coming on for a couple of days after a slow start to training camp.  And he might have turned in his best day Sunday.  Fountain was active from the start, opening practice by hauling in a laser of an out route from Jacoby Brissett just in front of Rock Ya-Sin. A series later, Fountain got deep for a long throw from Chad Kelly.  T.Y. Hilton has been a human highlight reel throughout camp, and he didn’t disappoint a massive crowd for Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday, hauling in a deep bomb behind Quincy Wilson and Malik Hooker for a long touchdown, then making another touchdown catch past Pierre Desir on a deep ball.

Jacksonville Jaguars –  Nick Foles has injected life into the Jags’ offense during training camp. Since being signed, the receivers have especially adapted to his consistency at the position and they’ve looked like the best group in training camp so far. Dede Westbrook has especially taken the next step as the #1 WR, consistently getting open and making catches. The top three camp receivers have been Westbrook, DJ Chark, and Chris Conley, while Keelan Cole and Terrelle Pryor have had their moments. Leonard Fournette has had a very strong camp, looking fast and agile. Rookie running back Ryquell Armstead was limited with a quadriceps injury yesterday.  With Thomas Rawls also out with an injury, Armstead has a good chance to lock up the backup job as long as he can beat out Alfred Blue.

Kansas City Chiefs – Damien Williams is still the unquestioned starter at running back, but Andy Reid would like to see him back on the field. OC Eric Bieniemy on the running backs:    “I think that the preseason is still important because there are guys still learning their way. We still have not seen them against a live opponent. Let me backtrack on that. Without some bad luck, some of us wouldn’t have any good luck at all. So what does that mean? You have other guys having an opportunity to get more reps. That’s important. With those guys earning the reps that they’ve gotten, it is giving them a lot of experience and they’re doing some good things. We want to see them continue with the progress. Are we satisfied with where we are as a running back group? No, not yet. But we want those guys to continue to fight and continue to strain and see who can come alive and be that guy when it’s all said and done.” Mecole Hardman has really coming on lately, making a highlight play every day over the last few practices.

Part 2 will be coming your way soon… Several of news and notes come straight from blogs, team websites, and twitter. If you are interested in seeking out more information on a particular player, we can potentially point you in the right direction.

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