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Smith Announces That Doug Martin Is Bucs' Lead Back Monday, August 3, 2015 | Time: 10:02 PT |  Reported by NFL.com
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The Facts: Martin's revival has been one of the most surprising developments of the offseason. It's a story that will have a chance to continue into the regular season. HC Lovie Smith confirmed what had grown obvious over the last three months: Martin is the lead back of the Buccaneers. "We talked about being able to establish the run. Doug will be the lead guy doing that, so it's very important that we open up some holes and let him do his thing," Smith said.
Diehards Line: While the incoming regime drafted Charles Sims last spring, Martin is one of the most fascinating make-or-break players to watch this season because new coordinator Dirk Koetter gave him a career lifeline. Martin, in turn, stepped up with a huge offseason. The Buccaneers have responded by handing Martin the job just a few days into training camp. As NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal suggests, "that gives some surprising clarity to any fantasy owners out there that want to take a chance on a Martin bounce back season just like the Bucs are."
Latavius Murray Doing Nothing To Lose Featured Role Monday, August 3, 2015 | Time: 10:00 PT |  Reported by ESPN.com
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The Facts: Murray appears ready for the rigors of being a primary back, said GM Reggie McKenzie, who later added "he can do it all."
Diehards Line: No surprise here. The Raiders' starting tailback job has been Murray's to lose all along. He showed surprising burst in rushing for 424 yards on 82 carries last season -- a 5.2-yard average boosted by a 90-yard touchdown run. At 6-3, 225 pounds, Murray has the size to handle a heavy workload. Newcomer Trent Richardson has the pedigree as a former first-round pick, but in Cleveland and Indianapolis he failed to demonstrate the aggressiveness to attack the hole and make the most out of his carries (a trend that's continued so far in Oakland) -- attributes Murray has displayed in his limited action.
Setting Expectations For Joseph Randle Monday, August 3, 2015 | Time: 9:55 PT |  Reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
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The Facts: While Randle likely goes into the regular season as the presumptive starter after Murray’s departure for Philadelphia, Randle isn’t likely to come close to DeMarco Murray’s total. “Slim. Probably slim. Slim,” RBs coach Gary Brown agreed. “We’re going to try to spread that out and keep guys fresh.”
Diehards Line: Murray tied for seventh in NFL history with 392 carries last season as the Cowboys ran it 508 times and threw it 506. And for much of their history, the Cowboys have relied on a franchise running back. The Cowboys produced a 1,000-yard rusher in 25 of their first 55 seasons. But this season the Cowboys expect to spread it around like they did in the 10 seasons immediately after Smith’s departure before Murray stayed healthy enough to handle the load. The Cowboys didn’t draft a running back after signing Darren McFadden in free agency. They have stayed off the veteran free agent market, even after placing the oft-injured McFadden on the physically unable to perform list to start training camp with a left hamstring strain. Instead the Cowboys have stood pat, willing to give Randle, McFadden and Lance Dunbar a chance. The Cowboys have confidence the trio can get the job done as well as Murray did behind an offensive line that arguably ranks as the best in football. But it continues to sound like a committee approach is in the works unless Randle -- or somebody -- makes that impossible.
OC Not Ready To Commit To RB Rotation, Pecking Order Just Yet Monday, August 3, 2015 | Time: 9:52 PT |  Reported by CSNBayArea.com
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The Facts: OC Geep Chryst has no idea how the 49ers will ultimately attempt to replace running back Frank Gore, who was the main man in the team’s backfield for nearly all of his 10-year run with the franchise. “That’s what we need camp to find out,” Chryst said.
Diehards Line:Carlos Hyde will get an opportunity to be the featured back, but Chryst said he does not want tightly defined roles. He wants Hyde, Reggie Bush, Kendall Hunter and Mike Davis to be able to thrive in different roles. “We feel there’s real nice depth there,” he said. “Now we got to work on rounding out anybody’s game. ..." Fantasy owners will want to watch this one closely before investing too heavily in Hyde. We'll definitely follow up in coming weeks.
Giovani Bernard Prepared For Second-Fiddle Role Monday, August 3, 2015 | Time: 9:49 PT |  Reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer
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The Facts: Bernard will play this season alongside Jeremy Hill and likely won't have near as many touches as the second-year back out of LSU. Potential of the combo, however, has expectations of the best Bengals season running the football since James Brooks and Ickey Woods shuffled to Super Bowl XXIII.
Diehards Line:This time last year, Bernard prepared for a season as primary back carrying the bulk of the load in the running game. Hill brought with him second-round potential, but this still would be Bernard's opportunity to play the part of featured back. But hip, clavicle and rib injuries took their toll even forcing him out of three games. By the time he returned, Hill started his sprint to leading the NFL in rushing the final nine weeks of the season. Still, Bernard thrived catching more passes out of the backfield as the third-down complement to Hill's bruising style in December. The Bengals seemed to have found the ideal one-two punch.
Jordan Cameron Thinks He Can Regain His Pro Bowl Form Monday, August 3, 2015 | Time: 9:48 PT |  Reported by ESPN.com
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The Facts: Cameron, who signed a two-year contract with the Dolphins this offseason, has the potential and confidence to be an X-factor in Miami if he stays healthy. Just ask him. "In my mind I know I can play," Cameron said. "I know I can be a Pro Bowl player. I’m trying to help this team win. Right now I’m not going to set any goals and tell you what I’m going to do in the season. Right now I’m getting better at my craft and that’s the only thing I’m focusing on."
Diehards Line: The Dolphins and QB Ryan Tannehill are accustomed to getting tight-end production. Former Miami player Charles Clay recorded 127 receptions for 1,364 yards and seven touchdowns the past two seasons. However, the Dolphins lost Clay to the Buffalo Bills in free agency. Cameron isn’t taking the approach that he has to replace Clay. Instead, Cameron is focusing on being the best version of himself. Cameron brings more athleticism and a bigger target in the middle of the field. He was also a Pro Bowler just two years ago, when he caught 80 receptions for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. Jordan thrived in Cleveland without a solid quarterback and, at 26 years old, is still a young player in his prime. Unfortunately, Jordan suffered multiple concussions that limited him to 24 receptions for 424 yards and two touchdowns last season. Head injuries are difficult to gauge, and as ESPN.com's James Walker understated "Jordan’s durability could be in question."
Teammates Believe In Jimmy Garoppolo Monday, August 3, 2015 | Time: 9:46 PT |  Reported by NFL.com
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The Facts: Barring a reduction to Tom Brady's four-game suspension, Garoppolo will run the show until New England's star passer returns. LeGarrette Blount believes the team can win with either quarterback. "I feel like Jimmy can hold his own," Blount told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday. "I feel like if he goes in there, he's going to be productive and I think he's going to be good. I don't think he's going to go out there and do anything crazy. I think he's going to go out there and do exactly what they tell him to do."
Diehards Line: Garoppolo got his first few snaps with the starters during Saturday's practice, working with TE Rob Gronkowski and WR Julian Edelman, according to NFL Media's James Palmer, who noted that Garoppolo threw "pass after pass" to first-teamers and "showed that touch that (coach) Bill Belichick likes." As NFL.com suggested, we don't know if he can play, but Garoppolo won't be marched out as some clueless newbie signed off the street. Brady's backup will be well-prepared and packed into a game plan that caters to his strengths in the opportunity materializes.
Personal Tragedy The Reason For Andrew Quarless' Absence Monday, August 3, 2015 | Time: 9:45 PT |  Reported by Profootballtalk.com
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The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... When Quarless didn’t report to training camp on time, the team said it was because of an “extremely difficult family situation.” It was even worse than it sounded then. According to Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.com, the Packers tight end told reporters his baby daughter died at birth last week, which is why he wasn’t present for the start of camp.
Diehards Line: Quarless made headlines this offseason for his arrest in Miami on charges of firing a gun during an argument outside a parking garage, and could still face punishment from the league for violating the personal conduct policy. But as PFT's Darin Gantt notes, "Any of that trouble pales in comparison to this tragedy, and makes you wonder how he can concentrate on his job at all."
DeSean Jackson Believes He's Uncoverable Monday, August 3, 2015 | Time: 4:27 PT |  Reported by ESPN.com
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The Facts: When he was asked Monday how one teammate, CB Chris Culliver, challenged him in practice, Jackson made one point clear. "I don't think no one can guard me," Jackson said. "It's how I feel about myself. I don't feel no one can stop me. You can get Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman -- whoever you want to get."
Diehards Line: As ESPN.com's John Keim reminded readers, defenses certainly had a tough time stopping Jackson from going deep last season. He led the NFL with 13 catches for 40 yards or more -- five more than any other wideout. He also averaged an NFL-best 20.88 yards per catch -- nearly three yards more than the next receiver, Arizona's Michael Floyd. There's more: Since entering the NFL as a second-round pick in 2008 with Philadelphia, Jackson has averaged an NFL-best 17.68 yards per catch. Also during this time, Jackson has 48 catches for 40 yards or more -- 11 more than anyone else. Last season, the Redskins wanted their quarterbacks to take even more deep shots with Jackson than they did. They were told to throw to him even if he was covered, knowing one of Jackson's strengths was separating from defensive backs downfield. It's a learning process, one that's on-going with his QBs, including starter Robert Griffin III, who connected with him on five plays for at least 40 yards. This season, the Redskins want to focus heavily on the run and use more play-action. It could make Jackson even tougher to guard.
Fox: Still No Timetable For Kevin White's Return Monday, August 3, 2015 | Time: 2:40 PT |  Reported by NFL.com
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The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... The No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft has yet to take the practice field for the Bears, and at the moment, HC John Fox doesn't know when White (shin) will be able to.
Diehards Line:Fox says White is "making headway" but still vague about any timetable. The coach also confirmed that White has been on the shelf for six weeks. Still, as NFL.com's Conor Orr reminded readers, Giants rookie Odell Beckham (hamstring) demonstrated last year it's still possible to have an immediate impact without training camp, and White certainly possesses a high-end skillset. We'll continue to watch for more.