We are back with more updates for the AFC West Training Camps! With the Broncos set to play in the Hall of Fame Game, we got to see some of these guys in action! I’ll keep you updated on the news and notes from around the AFC West as training camp bulldozed forward this last week. Be sure to get some foundational information by checking out last week’s AFC West Training Camp update.
- The offense took some notable strides over the last few practices, with both HC Fangio and starting QB Joe Flacco commenting on how they’ve started to turn a corner. Flacco stated, “It’s been a struggle at times, but we’re starting to get some things to pop and guys being pretty consistent.” Good news for an offense that needed some positive momentum going into Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game.
- QB Drew Lock put together a solid 7-on-7 showing and by all accounts is getting “better”, but Fangio quick to point out that 7-on-7 isn’t “football” but likes Lock’s progress. I guess he will get to see how much of it translates to a game decision soon enough vs Atlanta (though he is not the starter for HOF game).
- Denver just added Theo Riddick, released by Detroit, to the backfield. RB Royce Freeman is receiving all the rave reviews out of camp and now reports stating that Denver wants to establish a split between Phillip Lindsay and Freeman. New OC Rich Scangarello compared Freeman-Lindsay to Devonta Freeman-Tevin Coleman, so it is looking an RBBC could happen. You should get a good look at him during the HOF game since Lindsay will not be playing.
- Phillip Lindsay actually sat out practice on Saturday following an appointment with his chiropractor. Fangio summed up by saying that he “overdid it”. That doesn’t really bode well for seeing Lindsay as a workhorse if he is already pushing too hard. Hopefully, this is the team helping him find his limits though I’m sure it’s hard to discourage his endless energy. When he returned to practice this week, he continued to make big plays and look solid.
- OC Scangarello wants his RBs involved in the receiving game and it is a point of emphasis at camp.
- Emmanuel Sanders continues to progress in his recovery with no setbacks. Reports continue to say that he plans to be ready Week1 vs Raiders.
- WR Juwann Winfree (calf) returned to practice on Thursday. He’s been a stand out at camp, so it’s good to see him back on the field.
- Injures of note: WR River Cracraft (undisclosed muscle injury), LB Todd Davis (calf), DaeSean Hamilton (hamstring), TE Bug Howard (ankle); TE Jake Butt out (knee). The team is concerned about Butt’s recovery at this point, as it has been full of “little potholes” as Fangio likes to say. They aren’t lacking for TE depth, so this is good news for rookie Noah Fant.
- Head Coach Vic Fangio spent the majority of Thursday in the hospital with a kidney stone, but news right now is that he will do his best to coach the Hall of Fame Game. He sees it as much as a practice for him as the new HC as he does for the players fighting for a spot on the roster. Look for him to see what he has in his young guys, as most starters won’t be suiting up.
Kansas City Chiefs
- Let’s just start with the reassuring yet obvious news: Patrick Mahomes is killing it.
- Second-year Tremon Smith made training camp headlines this week after switching from defense (cornerback) to running back. This is interesting especially because he joins the crowded backfield of Damien Williams, Darrel Williams, Carlos Hyde, and Darwin Thompson. He isn’t a stranger to the offense, as Smith played quarterback in the past. Smith clocked a 4.32-second 40-yard dash in 2018, so Reid wanted to “take a peek at him and we’ll see how that goes”. Reid alluded to the fact that D Williams is “nicked up” and Smith told reporters that this isn’t a new idea–Reid brought it up last season as well. The main thing he thinks he can bring? Speed and mismatches.
- As we alluded to above, Damien Williams continues to miss practice with a hamstring injury that caused him to leave practice early on Sunday. Coaches don’t seem too concerned about it, but soft tissue injuries are a thing to watch. In Williams’ absence, Carlos Hyde took most first-team snaps and even got involved through the air. Darrel and Darwin split second and third-team reps. Much speculation surrounds this backfield, so it should be interesting to see how it shakes out and who gets cut.
- Tyreek Hill limped off the field Tuesday and missed practice Wednesday with a quad contusion. He should return after a few days, with this not being considered much of a concern. The Chiefs get Thursday off which will help, so we could see him as soon as Friday.
- CB Keith Reaser suffered what they believe to be a torn Achilles at practice on Monday. Injuries hampered Reaser in the past as well, but then he succeeded in the AAF and earned another shot. Unfortunately, he’ll be done for the season with that injury, leaving Kendall Fuller, Bashaud Breeland, and Charvarius Ward as the top guys for the CB slot. Don’t count out D’Montre Wade though. He stepped up during camp when Breeland (thumb) missed practice and Tremon Smith switched offense.
- Defensive players praise new Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and what he’s been able to bring to that side of the ball.
- WR Mecole Hardman is one to watch. He’s had a decent camp, with some criticism concerning his drops but nothing that should overshadow his positive performance. Reports note that his route running is improving, so he’ll have more than just speed to create separation. WR Sammy Watkins is also looking good, catching leaping passes in traffic. This receiving corps is going to be hard to stop.
- Joey Bosa, kept out of much of the 2018 season with a foot injury, is fully healthy and ready to put last season behind him.
- Melvin Gordon, still not at camp and reportedly requests a trade last week, but the team did not give permission. They are holding firm at $10 million per season offer, while Gordon is insisting on more. Justin Jackson and Austin Ekeler sit behind Melvin Gordon on the depth chart and would most likely form a RBBC should Gordon not report (Ekeler getting more touches, I think, but Jackson might limit his ceiling/upside.
- There’s a heated WR battle behind Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Travis Benjamin. Names currently standing out: Andre Patton and Artavis Scott.
- Hunter Henry = strong asset and fully healthy. Described as “explosive and fast”. Henry said he’s pain-free and having fun.
- Mike Williams made some great catches today, reminding us all that there’s going to be the triple threat of Allen, Williams, and Henry on the field together in 2019.
- While Rivers took a rest day on Monday, Tyrod Taylor took the majority of first team reps. Reports note that he is picking up the offense well and developing chemistry with the younger receivers. Taylor emphasized how great the QB room is due to being able to soak up Phillip Rivers’ experience and knowledge of the game.
- Rivers = steady and sharp. Keenan= good as ever (best play of the joint practice).
- Justin Jackson showed off his receiving skills out of the backfield and won praise from HC Lynn for his “good hands”. Austin Ekeler showed his goal-line-ups by flying overtop of an obstacle placed for an RB drill in impressive fashion. Ekeler called Coach Lynn a running back “guru” and that he learns something every time he interacts with the HC. When camp opened last Thursday, it was Ekeler that received the opening reps with the first team.
- Offensive Lineman Forrest Lamp is a training camp comeback story. He’s played just two games since being drafted in 2017 due to injury (ACL, second surgery) and is finally healthy. Lamp is alternating first-team reps and Chargers rotated him in both right and left guard. The offensive line needs him, with Russell Okung out with no timetable for return. Veteran player Mike Pouncey (Center) will help anchor the line. But, the Chargers are still trying to figure out the best constellation after losing Okung.
- The Chargers and Rams held a joint practice on Thursday. HC Anthony Lynn felt that the practice was “good and professional” (no fights) and that practicing against some new opponents created a “good energy on the field”. They’ll practice together again on Saturday.
- Though he started camp on the non-football injury list, Antonio Brown is now practicing in pads and completing 1-on-1 drills (and burning all the DBs).
- With AB held out of full practice at this point, JJ Nelson took some first-team reps across from Tyrell Williams. JJ is making a big splash early in camp with some impressive catches.
- The defense is excited about rookie Johnathan Abram (safety), if he can control himself. Reports indicate that Abram has difficulty controlling his aggression (e.g. hitting players when shouldn’t; accidentally hit coaches). Coach Gruden stated they have “tried to control” him. Even Vontaze Burfict, no angel himself, commented on Abram’s aggression and the need to remind him that these are his teammates. Hopefully, Abram can learn to harness this and channel it into his playing.
- One of the training camp battles to watch is at free safety–Jaylen Watkins, Nasir Adderley, and Rayshawn Jenkins are all fighting for the spot.
- TE Darren Waller looked great at camp so far. Gruden called him “one of our most impressive players physically and athletically”. With the release of Eric Swoope, this leaves Derek Carrier and Luke Wilson behind Waller on the depth chart. The Raiders fed Jared Cook 101 targets last season, so Waller could be a late round TE to target. Yes, AB and Tyrell Williams certainly will eat up some major target share, but Jordy Nelson (93 targets) retired and Seth Roberts (70 targets) is also gone. So, there’s some love to go around if Waller continues to progress.
- WR Hunter Renfrow reportedly “dusted” Ryan Grant in training camp so far. He could snag WR No 3 duties behind AB and Tyrell Williams if he keeps this up.
- Raiders split second-team reps between Nathan Peterman and Mike Glennon. In a great quote, Gruden said that Peterman is “growing on [him]”. Aw.
- Rookie left tackle Kolton Miller hasn’t disappointed and entertained onlookers with his tough match-up vs defensive end Bruce Irvin.
- Injuries: RB Jalen Richard left Sunday’s practice with a calf strain; Gareon Conley (CB) missed a few practices over the weekend (hip);LB Tahir Whitehead (ankle); RB Chris Warren waived after starting camp on PUP list and missing three practices
Thanks for joining me for this AFC West Training Camp Update! Be sure to stay up to date with reviewing news/notes from last week for the Broncos in Week 1 and last week’s AFC West update. Find me on Twitter @TheOnlyJenSmith. And, of course, check out all the great content TheFantasyAuthority has to offer as you prepare for your drafts!