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8/2/2014
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Maurice Jones-Drew Looking To Prove His Doubters Wrong... Again (8/2 12:15 PT)

The Facts: Jones-Drew never had to search for motivation. It came in daily doses from people questioning him because of his stature. Time and again, the 5-7 Jones-Drew silenced doubters with his play. Now that he's with the Raiders, he has found a new source of motivation from those who wonder if he has anything left. "I know what I have left," Jones-Drew said. "I know the work I put in this offseason to get to where I need to get to be able to play at a high level. I stopped worrying about what people were saying." Reported by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Diehards Line: Jones-Drew, 29, led the league in rushing in 2011, and he was atop the chart again in 2012 when he suffered a broken left foot. The injury limited him to six games and required surgery. Jones-Drew had two screws inserted into his foot, which forced him to relearn how to walk, let alone run. So, perhaps it's no surprise that last season Jones-Drew rushed for only 803 yards and 3.4 yards per carry, or almost 1 yard less than his previous career-low. With that came doubts about whether Jones-Drew still has what it takes to be an every-down back. He calls such talk "hilarious. ..." From a fantasy football perspective, Jones-Drew's price tag is going to scare anybody away. His current ADP (RB36) makes him a reasonable enough risk -- assuming we gain some clarity on the how the workload will be divided between MJD and Darren McFadden.

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Michael Crabtree's Injury Is To A Hamstring (8/2 12:14 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters Friday that Crabtree is "working through something" and could miss a week or two of practices. The good news is that Crabtree's issue is not foot or Achilles related, Harbaugh said. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, citing a source who has spoken to Crabtree, reported that the receiver is nursing a sore hamstring and should be back within two weeks. Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: As NFL.com suggests, the 49ers haven't always been realistic about injury timetables under Harbaugh. As long as Crabtree is back on the field in time for the third preseason game, it's reasonable to expect him to be at full speed for the season opener. We'll continue to follow up as developments warrant.

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Observer: Eddie Lacy Couldn't Have Looked Any Better In Camp This Week (8/2 12:13 PT)

The Facts: Following up on a previous item. ... Training camp is almost a week old and Lacy couldn't have looked any better. Last weekend, Lacy was catching point-blank passes from position coach Sam Gash along the sidelines during a break in practice. He dropped one. Other than that, you'd be hard-pressed to find another subpar moment for the Packers' bread-and-butter back. "You know, I don't think he even cares if it's a zone or a gap scheme," QB Matt Flynn said this week. "He's going to find the hole. He's one of those guys that hates being on the ground." Reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Diehards Line: According to the Journal-Sentinel, every day, Lacy has made big gainers. He's running through arm tackles in the "thud"-only, 11-on-11 segments of practice. That is, when he isn't lowering his shoulders to ward off swarms of DBs or motoring into the clear and showing off his top-notch speed for a big man. Lacy, who turned 24 in June, the Packers and fantasy football owners can only hope he has a long, long career ahead.

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Marshawn Lynch Wanted A Lot More Money Than He Got (8/2 12:10 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... Lynch wanted $5 million more this season than the concessions he received on his contract before ending his eight-day holdout Thursday, sources confirmed Friday. The additional $1.5 million Lynch was given, bumping his guaranteed compensation from $5 million to $6.5 million this season, was offered to Lynch in May after he first made team officials aware that he wanted more money. The offer never changed.  Reported by ESPN.com

Diehards Line: Lynch also was told earlier this week that fines for the time he missed in training camp would be imposed if he did not report by the end of the week. The running back had accumulated nearly $500,000 in team fines for his absence through Thursday. A team source told ESPN.com's Terry Blount on Friday that whether Lynch must pay that fine remains unresolved. A source close to Lynch, however, told Blount Thursday that the running back would not have to pay it. As for his contract, no money was added to Lynch's four-year, $30 million deal, which has two years remaining. His base salary this season was increased by $1 million by moving incentives to guaranteed money. The Seahawks also moved $500,000 of his 2015 base salary to this season. He basically wanted all of his 2015 salary ($5.5 million) up front in 2014, something the Seahawks had no intention of giving him. All this because Lynch realizes there's a good possibility he could be released after this season for salary-cap reasons. The question now is what his attitude will be once he gets on the field. "If he's angry, maybe he'll run angry," running backs coach Sherman Smith said. Fantasy football owners should bet on that.

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Marshawn Lynch Wanted A Lot More Money Than He Got (8/2 12:07 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... Lynch wanted $5 million more this season than the concessions he received on his contract before ending his eight-day holdout Thursday, sources confirmed Friday. The additional $1.5 million Lynch was given, bumping his guaranteed compensation from $5 million to $6.5 million this season, was offered to Lynch in May after he first made team officials aware that he wanted more money. The offer never changed.  Reported by ESPN.com

Diehards Line: Lynch also was told earlier this week that fines for the time he missed in training camp would be imposed if he did not report by the end of the week. The running back had accumulated nearly $500,000 in team fines for his absence through Thursday. A team source told ESPN.com's Terry Blount on Friday that whether Lynch must pay that fine remains unresolved. A source close to Lynch, however, told Blount Thursday that the running back would not have to pay it. As for his contract, no money was added to Lynch's four-year, $30 million deal, which has two years remaining. His base salary this season was increased by $1 million by moving incentives to guaranteed money. The Seahawks also moved $500,000 of his 2015 base salary to this season. He basically wanted all of his 2015 salary ($5.5 million) up front in 2014, something the Seahawks had no intention of giving him. All this because Lynch realizes there's a good possibility he could be released after this season for salary-cap reasons. The question now is what his attitude will be once he gets on the field. "If he's angry, maybe he'll run angry," running backs coach Sherman Smith said. Fantasy football owners should bet on that.

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Zach Ertz Continues To Look Like A Player On The Rise (8/2 12:06 PT)

The Facts: When Chip Kelly was asked during the offseason how Philadelphia would account for the absence of DeSean Jackson, the Eagles coach surprised some with his answer, saying: "I think (Ertz) can have a huge role." OC Pat Shurmur confirmed that Ertz "made the biggest improvement" of anyone at his position. "I'm so confident this year in my abilities," Ertz said this week. "Last year, I was a wide-eyed rookie. I wasn't even here for OTAs. It's a completely different situation. I have confidence in myself, and I think the coaches do, as well."  Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: As NFL.com suggests, Ertz' arc last season suggests a bigger role right away come September. Ertz played in just 24 percent of Eagles snaps over his first three NFL appearances, but took the field for 47 percent of downs over his final 11 games. Kelly also began to use the young pass-catcher all over the formation. Still, last year's second-round pick was pulled off the field for long sequences when Philly leaned on the run and opted for its larger tight ends to occupy defenders -- something Ertz struggled with. "Last year, he didn't really believe he could block anybody in the NFL," linebacker Connor Barwin said. "And I think this year, he's got some new muscles and at least he's really trying to block people." GM Howie Roseman confirmed that Ertz has packed on muscle, but his doorway to a bigger role will be the explosiveness he brings as a pass-catcher. As for his fantasy potential? NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah shot out the following tweet back in June: "Fantasy tip: Draft Zach Ertz one round higher than you think you should. He'll be worth it."

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Stephen Hill Flashing; Will He Fade The Snaps Become Meaningful Again? (8/2 12:05 PT)

The Facts: Coming off two disappointing seasons, Hill is approaching training camp with a greater sense of urgency. As he said Friday after another strong practice, "Every day feels like it's my last day. That's how I have to play. Nothing is guaranteed in this league."  Reported by ESPN.com

Diehards Line: As ESPN.com's Rich Cimini understated, Hill is a perennial tease, tantalizing the coaches in training camp with his raw physical skills. Then comes the regular season, which means a big game against the Buffalo Bills (the only team he dominates), followed by a disappearing act and an injury -- or vice versa. He has only 45 catches and four touchdowns in two seasons. He has five dropped passes in 100 targets, according to ESPN Stats & Information -- not the kind of ratio that makes you look good. The organization is running out of patience, but it remains intrigued by Hill's potential -- that incredible size and his terrific speed. The question is, can he finally fulfill his potential? According to Cimini, Hill was fantastic Friday, burning CB Dee Milliner for two touchdowns, including a 60-yard strike from Geno Smith on a "go" route. Hill credited his fast start with being more comfortable in Marty Mornhinweg's offense. "It's that confidence that's building under his offense for the second year," Hill said. While nobody should get too excited about a few good training camp practices, Hill is a player worth watching based on physical attributes alone.

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Josh Gordon's Hearing Ran All Day; Will Be Continued Monday (8/1 7:58 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... Gordon’s hearing with the NFL is going to overtime. A league source tells PFT that Gordon’s hearing in New York went from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and will continue Monday. Reported by RaiderBeat.com

Diehards Line: In case you haven't been following along, Gordon’s potential year-long suspension for his latest violation of the substance abuse policy hangs in the balance, and going into the process, there was a “slight chance” of a settlement which might mean something shorter than a one-year ban from the league. According to PFT's Mike Florio, the fact today’s hearing went so long only furthers that perception. We'll see. In the meantime, fantasy football owners shouldn't get their hopes up until there's concrete reason to do so.

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Michael Vick Wants To Play Until He's 40 (8/1 7:56 PT)

The Facts: He can deal with the flecks of gray in his hair staring back him in the mirror, but he won’t concede much else. Age has not robbed Vick of his jaw-dropping skills, if you ask him. He lives in the moment, prays for another chance to show off his gifts and knows that, even at age 34, the end is not near. "I want to play until I’m 40,” Vick told the Daily News after practice on Thursday. Reported by the New York Daily News

Diehards Line: According to Daily News staffer Manish Mehta, Vick has done a masterful job handling his new role with the Jets, mentoring Geno Smith, the man with the job that he would love to have, rising each day believing that his time will come again. ... Here or someplace else down the road. The Jets are not in the middle of a quarterback competition. Vick understood that long ago, while some people in the organization suggested otherwise. He took no reps with the starters in team drills on Thursday. Although offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Thursday that the brain trust hasn’t even discussed which quarterback will start the first preseason game against the Colts next week, Smith will be the Week 1 starter against the Raiders, barring injury or an epic flop in the preseason. Still, Vick is doing his job and biding his time. And as long as there's no mileage being added, the notion he can roll on another six seasons isn't a reach. But we might want to revisit that if/when Vick gets another chance to start.

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Could Robert Griffin III Have Three 1,000-Yard Receivers? (8/1 7:01 PT)

The Facts: Andre Roberts acknowledged in April that he joined the Redskins with hopes of being the team's No. 2 wide receiver. Those plans were wiped away with the signing of DeSean Jackson, but Roberts is warming up to the idea of a timeshare in what figures to be an explosive passing attack guided by Griffin. "There's never enough balls to go around for a receiver," Roberts said this week. "We all want the ball, we all want to have the 1,000-yard season, we all want to have 50-, 60-, 70-plus catches, but we understand, in order for us to win, that may not happen for everybody." Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: HC Jay Gruden said last week that Griffin's designed runs might be "few and far between" this season, but fantasy football owners should still be very intrigued by his potential to deliver high-end production through the air. The Redskins have done an outstanding job this offseason surrounding their young passer with weapons, infusing the offense with a bona fide deep threat in Jackson and strengthening three-receiver sets with the underrated Roberts. Throw in Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed and Alfred Morris in the backfield, and it's clear the Redskins have are in great position to turn back the clock and prove last season was an anomaly for RG3.

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Jennings Continues To Hype Cordarrelle Patterson (8/1 6:59 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... Patterson has predicted that he will emerge as a top-five playmaker and teammate Greg Jennings is now convinced there's "no ceiling" to Patterson's potential and the second-year receiver's success is "going to shoot straight through the roof." "I'm excited," Jennings said this week. "I told him this, and maybe it was a little premature, but I told him, 'At some point, I'm going to tell my kids I played with Cordarrelle Patterson.'" Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: As NFL.com reminded readers, there is sentiment in some circles that Patterson's limited route tree and rudimentary instincts on route adjustments will end up holding the 2013 first-round pick back for another year or two. It's one of the few legitimate concerns for a player as talented as Patterson. A majority of Patterson's rookie-season touches came within five yards of the line of scrimmage. His receptions were limited to bubble screens, slants, crossers and go routes. But the Vikings insist that new coordinator Norv Turner is going to force-feed Patterson the ball, moving him around the field like a souped-up Percy Harvin. And again, given his current ADP (WR13), fantasy football owners are buying into it.

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Still No Timetable For Knowshon Moreno's Return (8/1 6:57 PT)

The Facts: As Lamar Miller continues to solidify the starting job, Moreno – a 1,000-yard rusher last season with Denver – is still unsure when he’ll return. With barely a month left until the regular-season opener, the Dolphins’ most accomplished running back sometimes still labors to walk, let alone run. Speaking with the Miami Herald on Friday, Moreno made no promises that his return to action was imminent. “I feel good, but at the same time, I just want to be right, be real good, so when I go out there, I can just be full-speed and not have any setbacks,” said Moreno. Reported by the Miami Herald

Diehards Line: In late June, Moreno underwent arthroscopic surgery to clean up his left knee. The original prognosis was he would miss four to five weeks. We’re now well into the sixth week of the rehab, and yet he remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list. When asked if he expects to be back for at least one preseason game, Moreno responded: “I don’t know. I don’t know. I really don’t even know. I just want to take each day one at a time. They have a schedule for me and they’re just going to tell me every day what I have to do, and I just go out there and do it.” And with each passing day, he appears to lose a bit more ground to Miller in the race to become Miami’s No. 1 tailback. Even before Moreno’s surgery, Miller was taking most of the snaps with the starters. Moreno’s time away from practice has done nothing to change that pecking order. ... Stay tuned. We'll continue to follow up throughout training camp.

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Geno Smith Says He's A More Confident Runner Now (8/1 6:56 PT)


Kelvin Benjamin To Return To Practice Saturday (8/1 6:55 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... According to Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, Benjamin is scheduled to return to practice tomorrow.  Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: The Panthers dodged a bullet this week when Benjamin’s MRI turned up no structural damage to his knee. The team doesn't have much to discuss at the position other than their first-round pick, as they filled out the roster with veterans and young projects. Benjamin has also developed a quick friendship with quarterback Cam Newton.AS PFT suggests, considering there was always a little frost between Newton and Steve Smith, that’s important for the Panthers moving forward.

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Brandon Lloyd Will Sit Out Two Weeks Along With Crabtree (8/1 6:53 PT)

The Facts: Michael Crabtree and Lloyd left practice early on Wednesday and did not take the field on Thursday. Both are on roughly the same time frame for getting back on the field, HC Jim Harbaugh said.  Reported by CSNBayArea.com

Diehards Line: As previously noted, Crabtree will miss a week or two with a minor injury not related to his foot or Achilles, Harbaugh said. The coach did not get into specifics about the physical conditions that are keeping both Crabtree and Lloyd sidelined. Lloyd signed with the 49ers this offseason after sitting out last season. He reportedly looked very fast in OTAS, but it's not clear what kind of role he can carve out. ... We'll follow up as needed.

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Is Ronnie Hillman Finally Ready To Handle Change-Of-Pace Role? (8/1 6:52 PT)

The Facts: Hillman, the mistake-prone former third-round draft pick, closed out last season fourth on the depth chart, failing to see the field in any of the Broncos' postseason games. While C.J. Anderson garnered fantasy football "sleeper" acclaim throughout the offseason, Hillman was slowly climbing his way out of the coaching staff's doghouse. "I love what Ronnie has done," RBs coach Eric Studesville said this week. "From when we started this spring in April forward, he has been unbelievable. He's a completely different guy in the best possible way and I'm just excited about what he's doing, how he's approaching it, how he's making plays on the field." Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: After impressive practice showings in May and June, Hillman entered training camp as the "second running back up" behind presumed breakout star Montee Ball in the backfield pecking order. Can he stay there? As NFL.com notes, the early-camp praise showered upon Hillman has been a constant in Denver the past three years, yet he's still fallen short. We'll see. At this point Hillman appears to be heading into the preseason with a chance to install himself in the change-of-pace role he seems so well-suited to holding down.

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Harbaugh: Marcus Lattimore Is Going To Be A 49er... In Some Form (8/1 6:51 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... Lattimore has yet to make an appearance in training camp with the 49ers, but HC Jim Harbaugh says he has already earned a spot with the organization. “Marcus is going to be a part of this team, in some form or fashion,” Harbaugh said Friday. “I know what he’s got inside of him and I know what he’s capable of doing on the football field. We all do.”  Reported by CSNBayArea.com

Diehards Line: Lattimore, a fourth-round draft pick in 2013, spent his entire rookie season on the non-football injury list as he rehabilitated a knee injury he sustained in his final season at South Carolina. After taking part in the 49ers’ offseason program and sustaining a hamstring strain, Lattimore was placed on NFL to open this camp, too. He is working out daily with the 49ers’ strength and conditioning staff. He hoped to be activated this week, but Harbaugh said he has not reached a high-enough percentage of health to receive clearance to practice. It's not clear when that might happen.

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Brady Quinn Worked Out For Patriots (8/1 6:50 PT)

The Facts: The Patriots worked out free-agent quarterback Quinn on Monday, according to a league source. Reported by ESPN.com

Diehards Line: Quinn, who was hired Thursday by Fox Sports to be an analyst, said during an appearance on "The Dan Patrick Show" on Friday that he worked out with a team this week, though he did not reveal which one it was. As it turns out, it was the Patriots, whose OC, Josh McDaniels, has experience with Quinn during their time together in Denver in 2010. The Patriots' quarterback depth chart behind Tom Brady includes Ryan Mallett and rookie second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo. It's unclear if the team remains in the market for a quarterback or if this was a case of due diligence. Quinn last saw action during the 2012 season with the Kansas City Chiefs, going 112-for-197 for 1,141 yards and two TDs in 10 games. He also had eight interceptions.

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49ers, Harbaugh Table Contract Talks Until After The Season (8/1 6:49 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... The San Francisco 49ers and Jim Harbaugh have pressed pause on contract talks. Niners CEO Jed York announced that he and Harbaugh mutually agreed to table talks toward a new deal until after the 2014 season. "Lots of people were talking to him about it," York said Thursday. "We just said, 'You know what, let's not do anything during the season. Let's sit down a week or so after the season is over and let everybody know we're not focused on anything that's off the field right now.' Jim and I will sit down a week or so after the season is over and we'll figure out where we go." Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: As NFL.com suggests, the decision could lead to a supreme windfall for Harbaugh if he's able to land a Lombardi Trophy this season. The Niners enter 2014 as one of the NFL's favorites to reach the Super Bowl. That said, Harbaugh has restored a winning tradition in San Francisco. He remains in the driver's seat in negotiations -- whether the Niners get over the Super Bowl hump or not.

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Report: Ruling On Josh Gordon Appeal Unlikely Before Monday (8/1 3:09 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... Gordon was absent Friday to plead his appeal of a drug suspension in New York before league-designee Harold Henderson. While Henderson, a former league vice president, heard the appeal, it is believed that a decision on Gordon will not be finalized until Commissioner Roger Goodell returns to New York Monday from Hall of Fame festivities this weekend in Canton, OH. At a press availability outside the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Friday, Goodell said, “Josh is going through the process right now. I am not a part of that process. At some point in time, I may have an opportunity to be involved. When I am, I look forward to meeting with him.”  Reported by ESPN.com

Diehards Line: There have been reports that the only way Gordon could receive a suspension less than “indefinite” -- a one-year minimum, per terms of the league substance abuse policy – would be if Gordon’s legal team negotiated some sort of settlement with the NFL. Gordon’s camp intended to claim secondhand smoke was the reason Gordon tested barely over the league threshold for marijuana. HC Mike Pettine told reporters on Friday he did not know if Gordon would return in time to be active for Saturday’s team scrimmage in Akron. ... We'll be watching for the ruling -- or anything else Gordon-related that arises.

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