Posted by Matt Olson

Weekend Wrap-Up (Part 2) + Monday Observations

July 7, 2023

Los Angeles Chargers – Watch the Keenan Allen route and catch at the end of this video – Insane. Allen has been making plays all camp.  A lot of beat writers see a big year coming for Mike Williams. It’ll be interesting to see how the targets are distributed between KA, Williams, and Hunter Henry.  Melvin Gordon continues to hold out, which has given Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson plenty of first team run. They have both been pretty impressive. 

Los Angeles Rams –  Josh Reynolds has been “outstanding” all offseason, JoJo Natson is apparently untouchable and Mike Thomas has really stood out in training camp. Thomas may get cut, so watch for him to latch onto another team with a receiver room that isn’t as crowded as the Rams. Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett are performing well, but neither has pulled significantly ahead of the other. They both caught touchdown passes in the joint practices against the Chargers. Everett is more dynamic as a receiver, so he’s seen as the top choice right now. Todd Gurley has practiced about every other day. According to coaches and teammates, he looks just as explosive as ever. It seems fair to expect that the Rams may rotate in at running back a bit more given the presence and talent of both Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson at the position. But by and large, Gurley will likely still be a focal point of the offense. 

Miami Dolphins –  Preston Williams has been the most impressive Dolphin rookie so far. He was also the most impressive WR on Monday and in Saturday’s scrimmage. He caught plenty of passes, including a 40 yard touchdown. Josh Rosen has performed better of late, but is still behind Ryan Fitzpatrick in the QB pecking order. Kenyan Drake had a good practice yesterday, showcasing a nice cut back on one running play. Drake also delivered a number of big plays on passes caught out the backfield. Once Drake got into open space, he easily created separation from Miami’s linebackers. Isaiah Ford was working as the first-team slot receiver as Jakeem Grant and Albert Wilson continue to work their way back from last year’s season-ending injuries. Grant and Wilson have not been practicing in team drills. Nick O’Leary and Durham Smythe appear to have emerged as players chosen to be featured in the team’s two-tight end set, which likely pushes Mike Gesicki, the Dolphins’ 2018 second-round pick, further down the depth chart. 

Minnesota Vikings –  Check out this impressive catch from TE Brandon Dillon – . Dillon is an undrafted TE out of Marion, so he is unlikely to make the team. An impressive catch regardless. Chad Beebe seems to have locked down the 3rd receiving spot. Kyle Rudolph and rookie Irv Smith Jr. have been doing well in training camp this year, but the Vikings tight end that their coaches can’t stop talking about has been Tyler Conklin. He has excelled as both a blocker and receiver. Mike Zimmer on Alexander Mattison – “He’s going good. He runs physical. He looks like he’s got vision, finding the seams. I think he’s done a pretty good job in protection.” That last sentence could go a long way in determining his amount of playing time. 

New England Patriots –  It’s been the Jakobi Meyers show lately. Meyers is an undrafted wide receiver out of NC State. He has been working with the first team offense a lot in the last week and outplaying fellow rookie N’Keal Harry. On Monday, Brady targeted the undrafted rookie a team-high six times during either 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 work. Four of the throws were completed, with Meyers again showing his knack for the spectacular reception. The most encouraging development is that both Brady and Meyers appear to be on the same page when it comes to reading defenses and reacting accordingly. The Patriots’ offensive system relies on quarterback and receiver to make the same reads, and so far it looks as if the rookie is doing just that. Harry has also had a good camp, sans a few drops. Josh Gordon has filed for reinstatement. Stephen Anderson has been impressive at TE. He has shown great speed and reliable hands as a receiver at training camp. Watch for Sony Michel to catch more passes this year. He has gotten a lot of work as a receiver so far in camp. 

New Orleans Saints –  The Emmanuel Butler hype has slowed a tad as he has sat out the last few practices. Teddy Bridgewater shined yesterday. Jared Cook had the highlight of the day yesterday. Cook took off down the seam, getting behind linebacker A.J. Klein with the safeties split. Bridgewater immediately spotted Cook come open and lofted a pass down the middle of the field to a sprinting Cook, who didn’t have to break stride or adjust to the ball. It just fell in his hands, and Cook had nothing but green in front of him en route to the end zone. Cook is in line for a huge year. 

New York Giants –  Daniel Jones is progressing, but still has a ways to go. He had a very innacurate start to camp, but has gotten better as of late. Bennie Fowler has gotten many more snaps with the first team than he normally would with all the receiver injuries, but it’s Cody Latimer that has been the bigger standout. Both Golden Tate and Eli Manning have talked about how much Latimer understands the offense and is on top of his assignments. Latimer is the favorite to start alongside Sterling Shepard. Speaking of Shepard, he’ll be ready to go by Week 1 as he’s already back to practice and catching passes with both hands after fracturing his thumb a week ago. 

New York Jets –  Sam Darnold has more velocity on his passes this year according to Adam Gase. Darnold has been very impressive on all throws so far in camp. Ty Montgomery has become a fixture in the offense and all of a sudden the Jets have a lot of mouths to feed. Montgomery has been featured heavily in both the ground game and passing game. Darnold has found a good rhythm with him. Rookie tight end Trevon Wesco has been mostly lining up as a fullback, but he does split out and catch the occasional pass. Deontay Burnett has looked good after stepping in and shining last season. Tim White has been the breakout star of camp to this point. And Greg Dortch has had some nice moments, too. 

Oakland Raiders –  Darren Waller has reportedly been unguardable in camp. There’s a giant Jared Cook sized hole to fill, but Waller is showing he’s more than capable. Rookie WR Hunter Renfrow is already listed as the starting slot receiver. He has been consistently getting open. Josh Jacobs, the Raiders first-round pick, has been as advertised during training camp, and is showcasing his ability to be a factor in the passing game. Saturday — in one-on-one coverage — Jacobs hit linebacker Tahir Whitehead with a hesitation move, and then made a sharp turn into the flat, hauling in a one-handed grab. He’s made a lot of things look way too easy. 

Philadelphia Eagles –  Miles Sanders has been showing off. Sanders has been the most explosive back as far as running the ball goes. As a receiver, Sanders has shown some glimpses that he can be a factor in the passing game, but he’s not there yet. He had a bad drop yesterday in the red zone. Some Sanders highlights from the weekend scrimmage – “Miles Sanders flashed another sweet jump cut in the red zone, getting around the edge for a score. Later, on a run to the right, he patiently let his blocks develop, and then boom, he accelerated through the hole with impressive speed. And finally, a hole opened up on a play in the middle of the field and he exploded through it to the second level, then juked a safety for added yardage.” If DeSean Jackson can stay healthy, he’ll have a big year. Jackson and Carson Wentz have developed quite the chemistry. Dallas Goedert is ready to make the leap. After an impressive spring, JJ Arcega-Whiteside is still a work in progress. 

Pittsburgh Steelers –  The WR2 battle is still one to watch. James Washington, Donte Moncrief, and Diontae Johnson have all had their moments. If the season started today, Moncrief would be the starter, but there’s a lot of time left before Week 1. Johnson did leave practice with a groin injury over the weekend, so that is something to monitor. James Washington has been stacking some good practices. He’s moving all over the place and beating multiple matchups. There’s a nice, budding rivalry between Benny Snell and Devin Bush. Watch the battle for the last receiver spots between Eli Rogers, Ryan Switzer, and Diontae Spencer. Spencer continues to make splash plays, while Rogers and Switzer are pretty consistent. James Conner has had a pretty light workload to date. 

San Francisco 49ers –  Kyle Shanahan on Deebo Samuel – “Not only can he run but he’s a very physical player. He’s got some size to him. He’s not the tallest guy in the world — I think he’s six-foot — but he plays big. He’s built big. He’s a lot thicker than our other guys. He plays physical. He’s got a mentality where you throw him a screen, and he can make you miss, but he also wants to run you over, too.” Shanahan also said that Samuel has been practicing at “X,” which is the wide receiver position that’s isolated. That’s the guy you throw to that gets the most 1-on-1 opportunities. Tevin Coleman has had some fumbling issues of late. Jimmy Garoppolo had a rough start to camp, but has steadily improved each practice as he works his way back. Trent Taylor continues to be the most targeted receiver. Jerick McKinnon’s stock is down because he hasn’t been able to get on the field. Matt Breida, on the other hand, has been lining up all over the place. Kendrick Bourne replaced Dante Pettis in the starting lineup on Tuesday. Pettis had been decent in the Red Zone, but has reportedly been inconsistent every where else. This is something to watch.

Seattle Seahawks –  Chris Carson was a “winner” in the Seahawks scrimmage. He has a very steady hold on the starting RB job. The competition in the wide receiver room will be tight in the coming weeks, with a whole lot up for grabs behind Tyler Lockett. David Moore had a couple of good catches in the weekend scrimmage, but Jazz Ferguson stole the headlines with two late touchdowns, including the game winner. DK Metcalf didn’t participate in the scrimmage with a strained oblique, but he was back at practice yesterday. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers –  OJ Howard has been a go-to and reliable target for Jameis Winston in the Red Zone. Ronald Jones has had the more explosive plays, while Peyton Barber has been more consistent. Chris Godwin has been able to find space in the middle of the field and make catches in traffic. In training camp to this point  Jameis Winston has depended on Breshad Perriman to make plays, and the fifth year receiver has not disappointed to this point. Perriman is making a case to shake his bust label. As the team’s #3 WR, he should receive plenty of targets this year. Jameis Winston has had a very strong camp. Under Bruce Arians, Winston has a chance to put together a top 10 season. 

Tennessee Titans –  Taywan Taylor is listed as the starting WR opposite Corey Davis on the Titans first official depth chart. Adam Humphries is listed as the starting slot receiver. Corey Davis was held out of practice over the weekend, but returned on Monday and looked like his usual self. A.J. Brown has not practiced in a while, but he made a step in the right direction yesterday. Brown did some light jogging before practice, and he was involved with the receivers in individual drills, throwing passes to his teammates. Tajae Sharpe had a nice sideline grab in a 2 minute drill yesterday, then made a nice touchdown catch later in practice. Derrick Henry continues to sit out. In the scrimmage over the weekend, Marcus Mariota had a strong first drive, completing 6 of 7 passes. After that, he struggled mightily, only completing two more passes on his other three drives. Jeremy McNichols and Dalyn Dawkins accounted for 13 of the 16 RB carries in the scrimmage. Dawkins has been mediocre all camp. McNichols has had a good camp and looks primed to earn a roster spot. Alex Barnes only tallied one carry for 0 yards in the scrimmage.  

Washington Redskins –  Terry McLaurin continues to impress with speed and intelligence. Dwayne Haskins has made strides in camp, but still has his rookie growing pains. From all reports, he’s been eager to grow and learn. His talent is evident though. Trey Quinn is having targets “funneled to him” and is making big catches. Jordan Reed is finally having a healthy camp (knock on wood) and has been a huge weapon and top receiving target in camp. Cam Sims is having a great camp for the second straight year. Jay Gruden said Sims has “the skillset coaches live for.” That’s high praise.  We’re still trying to determine how the RB carries will be split between Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice. It may start off as a 50/50 split. 

Feel free to

follow us