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Projected Broncos’ roster heading into the Hall of Fame game

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The first Denver Broncos depth chart is out, but where do things go from here? Let’s project the Broncos 53-man roster.

As someone who has spent the last six months watching and re-watching 2018 tape, I can’t tell you how awesome it is to be within hours of the Denver Broncos preseason kicking off. Yes, it’s going to be the Broncos third string matching up against the Atlanta Falcons third string, but it isn’t Case Keenum dropping back. It isn’t Bradley Roby falling asleep on a route. It isn’t Shane Ray getting run over.

Instead, Broncos Country has five games to speculate on what the final roster’s going to look like. To help that process, I’ve done a little digging into Shanahan and Fangio’s roster construction in the past here, and have followed every report coming out of camp.

What follows is how I see things now. Again, it’s very early. To help clarify, I tried to break things down into three different categories:

  • Names in bold are those I considered hard locks for the roster, I would be surprised if any of them get cut.
  • Italicized names are those I consider penciled in, based on reports, numbers, or film.
  • Everyone else is still looking at the bubble.

Let’s get started.

Special Teams

K: Brandon McManus

LS: Casey Kreiter

P: Colby Wadman

Last week I wouldn’t have been so certain on Colby Wadman, but with the decision to move on from Justin Vogel after all of a couple days of camp looks like a pretty clear vote of confidence.

Defense

5-7 Defensive Linemen

Derek Wolfe, Shelby Harris, Adam Gotsis, Zach Kerr, Dre’Mont Jones

DeMarcus Walker

Mike Purcell, Billy Winn, Deyon Sizer, DeShawn Williams

This is one of the bigger position battles to watch this preseason and reports out of camp have hardly illuminated much. Defensive linemen are typically a position group that gets looked over by most reporters. Oftentimes you’ll read a tweet such as “Kevin Hogan’s pass tipped at the line,” with no idea who did it.

With that in mind, DeMarcus Walker looks like the leader for what’s probably the last spot out of this group. Vic Fangio’s going to realistically base the defense out of nickel personnel, so most of these players will log the majority of their snaps as interior rushers. That fits Walker’s game a lot better than the previous scheme.

4-5 Edge Rushers

Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Justin Hollins*

Dekoda Watson,

Jeff Holland, Aaron Wallace, Malik Reed, Ahmad Gooden

Hollins makes this prediction tough. Everything I’ve read out of camp suggests the Broncos coaching staff has been working him as an off-ball linebacker more than as an edge rusher. His skill set suggests he could contribute in either role. Until I can get an eye on his snap distribution in the preseason, it makes more sense to assume that’s how he impacts the rest of the roster.

Watson could be a lock at this point. Broncos Insider Andrew Mason has suggested as much because of what he contributes as a special teamer. I’m not so sure, if only because I’ve heard so little of him out of practice while Jeff Holland and Malik Reed have popped up on reports quite a bit.

Both are young guys who didn’t get drafted. I wrote about Reed here and looked at Jeff Holland last week. At the moment, I’d consider Holland the leader in the bubble race. Reed is one of those players who really illustrates how messy depth charts are this early in the process. Every report out of camp suggests he’s been doing a really solid job. I need to see him in NFL action, but currently believe he’ll wind up on the final roster.

4-5 Linebackers

Todd Davis, Josey Jewell, Justin Hollins*

Alexander Johnson, Joseph Jones, Josh Watson, Keishawn Bierria, Joe Dineen

An optimist will tell you how Todd Davis’ injury is actually a blessing in disguise, as it provides all of the young guys a chance to play with the first team defense. A pessimist will tell you how there has to be concern Davis’ injury means the Broncos’ best linebacker won’t be at 100% all year. A realist will tell you both are the case and John Elway can cut Todd Davis after this year to save $5 million against the cap if Fangio and the Broncos coaching staff deems him expendable.

At last Thursday’s presser, the Broncos head coach sounded pleased with his second year linebacker:

“He’s been good. Josey’s been on top of his stuff from day one. I think every day—although he’s been pretty sharp—he learns something new, a thing or two every day that’s new to him or an adjustment or a route that he hadn’t seen yet and it’s good for him. He’s doing very well.”

Again, Justin Hollins complicates the projection. Reports suggest he’s playing a lot of his reps inside. He’s had good and bad moments so far and is currently listed as an Edge, not a backer. Where the staff plays him this preseason will give a lot of hints as to how they see him.

The other two players that I’ve noticed are Joe Jones and Alexander Johnson. Jones brings the kind of athleticism that most assume Fangio needs in the second level, while Johnson has taken a road less traveled to the NFL after a pretty good career at Tennessee.

Josh Watson looks like he’s in the mix, though the fact that he’s out of CSU may be inflating how often reporters have noticed him. If the Broncos keep five linebackers, he may be in a fight with Keishawn Bierria and Joe Dineen.

Hopefully some clarity comes form the Hall of Fame game.

Don’t sleep on Joseph Jones.
Casey Barrett / Mile High Report

5-7 Cornerbacks

Chris Harris, Bryce Callahan, Isaac Yiadom

De’Vante Bausby

Horace Richardson, Linden Stephens, Trey Johnson, Alijah Holder

Kareem Jackson’s status as a safety and Justin Simmon’s versatility complicates this projection a little. When I looked at Fangio’s Bears rosters, he never carried less than 6 cornerbacks on the active roster. With two safeties bringing NFL cornerback experience, that number could potentially drop down to five.

Isaac Yiadom’s development could turn this into one of the stronger position groups on the team, so long as Callahan and Harris stay healthy. Word out of camp has hinted that Yiadom’s made a big jump in his second training camp. If you’re new to Bausby, he’s the former AAF interception leader and played with Vic Fangio back in 2016. All reports suggest he’ll be CB4.

This may sound familiar, but the bubble competition is hard to suss out right now. Cornerback is one of those positions that only really get talked about when they pick off passes, even if the job is 100 other things. So it should be a wee bit illuminating that the coaching staff has Linden Stephens and Horace Richarson are currently slated as the CB5 and CB6 on the roster.

4-5 Safeties

Kareem Jackson, Justin Simmons, Will Parks

Su’a Cravens, Dymonte Thomas, Trey Marshall, Jamal Carter, Shamarko Thomas

Another position battle that’s going to be a bit murky until it isn’t, reports have suggested Marshall has had some good plays early on. Dymonte Thomas brings a skill set that looks like a good fit in the Fangio system.

More than once, I’ve read how Su’a Cravens is taking to a real safety job better than expected, so he’s my early sleeper here. He brings the kind of pedigree and athleticism that offers a tantalizing upside. His performance in coverage last year does leave me in a bit of a “wait and see” situation though.

Offense

Offensive Line 8-10

Garett Bolles, Dalton Risner, Connor McGovern, Ja’Wuan James

Ronald Leary, Elijah Wilkinson, Don Barclay

Jake Brendel, Sam Jones, Chaz Green, Quinn Bailey, John Leglue, Jake Rodgers, Austin Schlottmann, Ryan Crozier

Tentatively, I’d guess the top 7 guys are all soft locks for the roster. Leary is a question if only because of his health, and the way the coaching staff has managed him through camp suggests there is a small possibility he could wind up a surprise cut near the final down. Andrew Mason has predicted Wilkinson will wind up the Broncos 6th OL, as he can fill in at every position except for maybe center.

Barclay has shared first team reps with Jake Brendel when Leary is out. That’s one position that definitely bears monitoring.

Behind them, Sam Jones and Chaz Green look like the more safe bets. Every other name on the list I’ve yet to hear about, which may be a good thing, but it means I can’t make any proclamations until I can see them in action.

Hope remains Mike Munchak can find some keepers out of the Broncos young linemen.
Casey Barrett / Mile High Report

Tight End 3-4

Jeff Heuerman, Noah Fant

Troy Fumagalli, Austin Fort, Jake Butt, Bug Howard, Moral Stephens

Heuerman’s contract locks him in for this season. Noah Fant was the Broncos’ first round pick. After that, things get interesting: a news report by KOA’s Benjamin Allbright last week hinted that the Broncos offense is going to feature a lot of two tight end sets. This adds even more intrigue to a prediction by Andrew Mason that the Broncos would carry four tight ends.

If both reports are true, Bug Howard is going to be the name this preseason. He’s a converted wide receiver and seemingly offers the closest skill set to Noah Fant. Of course, he’s also coming back from an injury he suffered last Thursday.

Injuries have also impacted Jake Butt and Troy Fumagalli’s availability so far in camp. With all of the absences ahead of him, as well as Fangio’s philosophy to give all players a chance to shine, Austin Fort has been the story of camp so far. Every local media outlet has commented on how consistent he’s been. It’ll be fun to see if the undrafted rookie out of Wyoming can keep that up come game time.

Austin Fort is making it hard to root against him.
Casey Barrett / Mile High Report

Wide Receiver - 6+

Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton, Tim Patrick

Juwann Winfree

Fred Brown, Trinity Benson, Brendan Langley, Kelvin McKnight, River Cracraft, Steven Dunbar, Jamarious Way, Nick Williams

Winfree has been the hot rookie most of camp. So much so that it looks as though he’s locked himself into the fifth receiver spot heading into the games. Both facts are significant because talent was never the question for the 6’1 210 lb Winfree, injuries and collegiate production was. If he can stay healthy, he brings a mix of size and athletic tools.

The second part of Winfree’s standout performance so far is the waterfall effect it has on the rest of the receivers. It’s a bit of an educated guess to suggest the Scangarello offense will carry six receivers, but looking back at Kyle Shanahan’s roster construction dating back to his time with Washington, he carried less than 6 receivers once. In October of 2013, he had five on the roster before bumping that number to seven by season’s end. Every other month I looked at, he had six or more.

That still means there’s probably four or five guys realistically fighting for maybe two spots, tops. Reports have hinted that Brendan Langley, Trinity Benson, Kelvin McKnight, and now Nick Williams have had big moments, while River Cracraft’s been out hurt. Then yesterday Fred Brown landed on the depth chart ahead of all of them.

I suspect special teams will play a huge role in who sticks around on the active roster.

Running backs 3-4

Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman

Devontae Booker

Khalfani Muhammad, Devontae Jackson, David Williams

Theo Riddick?

The last week has made it pretty clear the Broncos aim to use Lindsay as a receiving threat more often in 2019. If and when he plays in the preseason, any hint of that is what I’m going to be looking for. Lindsay caught 117 passes during his career at Colorado.

Freeman hauled in 79 passes during his time at Oregon, as well. Even if the Broncos receiving corps didn’t contain so many unknowns, better utilizing both 2nd year backs as receivers should only help the offense as a whole.

Which brings me to Booker. Local radio and many in Broncos Country have begun to speculate that he’ll be supplanted by one of the more exciting young options behind him. I was skeptical until ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Broncos were bringing Theo Riddick in for a visit yesterday morning.

During practice, reports emerged that Riddick left Denver without a deal. Even still, it comes as a bit of a sign of where the coaching staff may see Booker, who enters the last year of his rookie contract.

My time looking at last year’s offense, as well as Joe Mahoney’s look at Keenum’s sacks in 2018 made it clear that Booker is not the rock solid pass protector some suggest he is. Still, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t still the best route runner from the backfield last season.

Booker’s also one of two backs after Freeman who weigh in over 200 lbs, which matters to many coaching staffs. Just a hunch, but I’d think he sticks to the roster this year unless he falls apart in the preseason or David Williams blows up.

As for D-Jax and Muhammad, both look more like RB4 and returner candidates. Jackson was turning heads early in camp while Muhammad has gotten more hype lately. Both make Lindsay look big.

Fullback - 1

Andy Janovich

George Aston

At present, it sure looks like Aston’s likely destination is the practice squad for a year as the Broncos ride out the last term of Janovich’s contract.

Examining A Possible Contract Extension For Andy Janovich – Thin Air

If Aston does not remain with the Broncos in any capacity, extension talks with Janovich should ramp up. Should he prove to provide comparable contribution to Janovich at a much cheaper price to what I’ve outlined above, then it becomes evident to let Janovich walk in unrestricted free agency. The tougher question is if Aston’s play is clearly inferior to Janovich now, but he still makes the practice squad. That scenario, which could be a likely one, could put both sides in a wait and see mode as Aston continues to strive to improve while on the practice squad in 2019.

Quarterbacks 2-3

Joe Flacco, Drew Lock

Brett Rypien, Kevin Hogan

My guess for the biggest reason drama about Garett Bolles, Devontae Booker, or Noah Fant is getting stirred up right here. Quarterback battles are routinely the high point for drama, and this year’s feud is anything but.

Joe Flacco is the established veteran who has seen it all before. Whether you like him, love him, or loathe him, he’ll start week one. Behind him, it sure sounds like Drew Lock looks.... exactly as I thought he would in his first training camp. Last Friday Denver’s Cecil Lammey went on the air to voice his dismay at this.

Saturday’s stadium practice brought all of the gushing reports about how much better he looked. At least, right up until he threw a pick six to Adam Gotsis to finish practice. This doesn’t diminish how he looked earlier, but continues to hammer home how Lock will look if pressed into action this year: a lot like Jay Cutler back in 2006.

Just in case you didn’t follow along with Mile High Report leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft, I had this to say months before Elway took Lock at 42:

Lock also has plenty of moments where he looks comfortable throwing on the run and has the kind of arm to make off platform throws. Another reason Broncos Country should be excited if he’s in orange and blue this Fall? Lock has that Brett Favre mentality to look for big plays and has flashed improvisational skills that a certain AFC West rival QB was celebrated for all of 2018.

Ironically, this strength of his also exposes one of his biggest weaknesses. Far too often he doesn’t connect his lower body with his upper as he’s making throws. This leads to wild bouts of inaccuracy and long term concerns about him as a QB prospect.

This isn’t meant as a shot at the Broncos rookie. After all, I had him as the second best scheme fit among all the collegiate passers coming out last April. The fact is, some quarterbacks come in and look ready to go from the jump. Others, such as Lock, look as though it will hurt their long term benefit:

My biggest concern with Lock is that he’ll be rushed into action too soon. Media and fan pressure will be immense from the minute Elway calls him on April 25th. The PR team will sell us on Joe Flacco as the starter, but it’s not as if Lamar Jackson didn’t just supplant him in Baltimore. I strongly believe that the Missouri Tiger needs a redshirt year to reach his ceiling. Rushed into action he’ll resort to survival tactics, and many of the crippling inconsistencies you see in his college tape will linger into his pro career.

If he has the time to truly iron out his issues, I think he has a franchise arm. The good plays are hard to ignore, but they don’t erase the bad ones.

The problem many encounter in the NFL is a rabid fanbase and media looking to monetize the drama and excitement a potential franchise savior brings. This leads to controversy that eventually kicks rookie passers onto the field early in their careers. If they make it, great. If not, the media moves onto the next story line.

Most quarterbacks are flash fried, even if they need to be slow cooked. There’s an incredible number of reasons young passers don’t work out, but draft analysts too often overlook the organizational responsibility in it.

Your Broncos Links

Denver Broncos release first unofficial depth chart of 2019 - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos have released their first depth chart of the 2019 regular season ahead of the Hall of Fame Game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Reactions to the Denver Broncos first depth chart - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos have released their first depth chart of 2019. Who are the biggest surprises?

2019 Denver Broncos Training Camp: Day 9 news and notes - Mile High Report

The stadium practice!

Return of Emmanuel Sanders will make Broncos offense more versatile - Mile High Report

One of the biggest concerns early in camp is the ability of the offense to stretch the field. Sanders should help in that regard when he’s fully back.

Little drama from Denver Broncos camp could be a sign of things to come - Mile High Report

It’s a prove-it year for Courtland Sutton in his sophomore season and for Emmanuel Sanders coming off an injury, but unfortunately, so far in camp, none of the receivers have been particularly impressive. When you start to hear undrafted guys “getting open” and former CB Brendan Langley becoming Drew Lock’s No. 1 target, it might be time to worry about the position as a whole.

2019 Denver Broncos Training Camp: Day 8 news and notes - Mile High Report

Tight ends continue to be heavily involved into the offense and something we will likely see all season.

Denver Broncos training camp observations: A look at the secondary - Mile High Report

Standouts from the defensive secondary from the Broncos training camp practice at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.

Vic Fangio is establishing a new culture with Denver Broncos - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos primary goal is to get back to winning football games, but they need to first establish how they’re going to get there and stay there.

2019 Denver Broncos Roster Review: Edge Rusher Jeff Holland - Mile High Report

Von Miller and Bradley Chubb are complete locks for the 2019 roster. Reports out of camp suggest Dekoda Watson should be considered one as well. Over his tenure with the Bears, Vic Fangio has always carried four or five edge rushers. Simple math reveals Holland is fighting with Malik Reed, Aaron Wallace, and Ahmad Gooden for two spots on the roster. Depending on how the coaching staff views Justin Hollins, it may actually be one. It’s just July, but I’d consider Holland the early favorite. Still, ask me again in a couple of weeks.

2019 Broncos Roster Review: Safety Dymonte Thomas - Mile High Report

Can the former UDCFA third-year safety make the 53-man roster again this year in a restocked defensive backfield?

Vic Fangio does not hate analytics - Mile High Report

NFL Twitter threw a fit last Thursday.

Joe Flacco exudes confidence as the Denver Broncos starter - Mile High Report

Joe Flacco’s comfort as a starter in the NFL is exactly what the Broncos need.

Chris Harris Jr.: Champ Bailey Gave Me Confidence Early In My Career – CBS Denver

Bean: Do you have a favorite memory of your time playing with Champ? Harris : Winning the AFC Championship in 2013. Just seeing his face, finally getting to go to a Super Bowl. Also, when we came back from being down 20-something against the Chargers. That was a fun game for us, too.

NFL scouts offer up their biggest draft-evaluation misses

The first was when I was an area scout, and I had Texas Tech [in my scouting territory]. Welker was there, and they had like four or five guys who had 70 catches on that team. They threw the ball something like 800 times [actually 777] that year. I just was suspicious of the whole operation. I feel dumb saying it now, because Mike Leach clearly knows what he’s doing. The guy they had who I thought had a chance was this Carlos Francis kid. He was fast and more productive and explosive. I think the Raiders took him in Round 3. But I was not shocked Welker wasn’t picked; I would have been more shocked if he was. I thought maybe he had a shot as a punt returner, but that’s about it. When we faced Miami a few years later, I knew I had underestimated [Welker]. By the time he got to New England, I clearly had egg on my face.

A look around the rest of the West

Notes from Day 3 of Los Angeles Chargers training camp - Bolts From The Blue

It’s still not known how long the team will be without Russell Okung, but it could be well into the regular season.

Notes from Day 2 of Los Angeles Chargers training camp - Bolts From The Blue

Jerry Tillery is still being brought along slowly. He once again participated in team drills but did not see time during 11v11. He’s looked good, showing strength and agility.

Chargers QB Philip Rivers fine playing out expiring deal - NFL.com

”The expectation and hope is to be here again next year, but it doesn’t need to be done right now. If it were to some time soon, great. If not, let’s play it out and worry about it in the winter.”

Is Austin Ekeler better than Melvin Gordon? - Bolts From The Blue

Before we get sidetracked from the question in the headline, let’s start by answering it. Yes, Austin Ekeler is obviously better than Melvin Gordon, and frankly it’s so obvious that it’s a little...

Looking at the NFL Training Camp Holdouts | Over the Cap

Gordon’s situation is similar to Elliot’s except he doesn’t have the cache of Elliott. Whereas Elliott may have the ability to fall back on the emotional strings of ownership, Gordon probably doesn’t have that. Given the recent contracts signed by “feature” backs I would assume that Gordon has a market in mind of $13 million or so a year. I can not imagine the Chargers even being in that same stratosphere. I think the point of compromise there is $10 million a season, assuming that the Chargers do want him long term. It would not be stunning to me to find out that the Chargers are happy with the other options on the team and see no long term future here unless he signs for cheap. Of all the players holding out Gordon has made the most noise of staying away for an extended period of time. If this drags into the regular season this likely will break down into the trade me category. I would imagine if they can find the right trade partner that they would make the move if they are indeed happy with the depth on the team. Gordon has a pretty substantial financial risk, forfeiting about $330,000 a week if he misses games, but he may see something in the Bell situation from last year that makes him confident in his decision.

Antonio Brown cleared to practice after brief NFI stint - NFL.com

The superstar wideout was surprisingly added to the NFI list Friday but there were no details on what exactly Brown had been dealing with.

Denzelle Good out two months after lower back surgery, opening door for Jonathan Cooper at left guard for Raiders - Silver And Black Pride

With Osemele’s departure, late season addition Denzelle Good was in line to start as he did late last season when Osemele was lost to injury. Despite this uncertainty at the position, the Raiders used no draft picks on it. They instead opted to sign formerly retired guard Richie Incognito despite knowing he would be facing some kind of suspension.

2019 NFL season: 49ers’ George Kittle leads top 10 tight ends - NFL.com

Breaking news: David Carr is an “expert”

The Rookie Scouting Portfolio (RSP)Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens: Finding A Fit for TE/WR Darren Waller (Oakland)

The real questions about Waller come down to the frequency that the Raiders will use these multiple tight end packages and if Waller can show enough as a blocker to earn Cook’s role in the offense. If not, will Waller be the unofficial third receiver posing as a tight end?

Embattled Richie Incognito trying to ‘re-write the ending’ with Raiders | NBCS Bay Area

“It’s something in this country that is stigmatized,” Incognito said. “It’s been well published that I’ve had my ups and downs. I hope to grow into that role. I’m still working through it, so I’m not comfortable speaking on it right now, but it has been a long journey to get here. What I bring to the Raiders is the best version of myself. I’ve worked hard to get here and the Raiders have work hard to help me. I really want to make a positive of this. I really want to extend gratitude…to the entire Raiders organization, and I want to make it right.”

Kansas City Chiefs move safety Armani Watts to non-football injury list - Arrowhead Pride

Watts became the third player placed on the Chiefs’ non-football injury (NFI) list this summer on Saturday, according to head coach Andy Reid. Watts joins defensive end Tim Ward and linebacker Darius Harris on the NFI.

KC Chiefs training camp 2019: Tyreek Hill, Chris Jones return to club - Arrowhead Pride

The two most significant stories surrounding the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason involved wide receiver Tyreek Hill and defensive tackle Chris Jones — Hill and his often-discussed, highly-debated (criminal and league) investigations regarding potential child abuse and Jones holding out of all offseason workouts, including three days of mandatory minicamp, as he pursued a new contract.

Tyreek Hill’s commitment to growth should include not holding grudges – ProFootballTalk

His commitment to growth and respectful treatment of others would all seem to be a lot more genuine and credible if Hill had simply answered Pryor’s question without asking her name, and without smirking when he realized who she was. And it will make people wonder whether he’s truly committed to growing, or whether he’s simply saying what he thinks he needs to say.

2019 Schedule links

‘I’ve never coached an athlete like this’: A closer look at Leonard Floyd and the Bears edge rushers - Chicago Tribune

If the Bears cut Isaiah Irving, Aaron Lynch, Kylie Fitts, or Matt Betts there’s a chance Fangio could sniff around.

Khalil Mack: Last year wasn’t good enough – ProFootballTalk

If Bears fans liked what they saw from Khalil Mack’s first year in Chicago, they ain’t seen nothing yet. Mack, who is beginning his first training camp as a Bear after arriving just before the start of the regular season last year, said he firmly expects a better season in 2019.

Roundup: Robert Griffin suffers fracture in right thumb - NFL.com

The Houston Texans announced a host of moves on Saturday. They have signed inside linebacker B.J. Bello and safety Tyvis Powell, while they waived-injured receiver Isaac Whitney and waived safety A.J. Hendy.

Vikings’ Mike Zimmer might look at Adam Thielen, Chad Beebe as candidates for holder – Twin Cities

“It takes a little time for those guys to get their rhythm back, especially if they are not together,’’ Maalouf said. “When (Bailey) finished (spring drills), they were doing really well. … We’ve got two long snappers, so you have to get used to a lot of different things. It wasn’t all on Dan. We have to clean up the operation.”

Inconsistency by Kyle Sloter could factor in Sean Mannion being Vikings’ backup QB – Twin Cities

“I’m not one to make excuses, but it’s tough because right now they’re giving Sean the reps,’’ Sloter said. “I know I’ve got to be on point with the few reps that I do get. But I think that there’s a pretty clear reason why practice isn’t necessarily always 100 percent smooth is because I’m not out there getting the reps.”

With Freddie Kitchens driving the bus, Browns players are getting some reps off but not days off - cleveland.com

If you have guys over there on the bike that can practice, they need ... to stand by their coach in their uniform with their helmet, ready to listen, learn and teach the other guys. Morgan Burnett has been in this league a long time. He knows what’s going on. That’s just my philosophy. They’re part of the team so be part of the team.”

Lions release RB Theo Riddick after six seasons - NFL.com

After six seasons in the Motor City, Theo Riddick’s stay has run out of gas. The Detroit Lions are releasing the pass-catching back, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday morning.

Injuries mount on Detroit Lions’ D-line (Da’Shawn Hand)

By the time the Detroit Lions finished their fourth practice of training camp Sunday, just four of the 14 defensive linemen on their roster were still on the field.

Sean McDermott compares Bills WRs to the Smurfs – ProFootballTalk

“I would say, with all of our wide receivers, they’re kinda like Smurfs. If you’ve ever watched the Smurfs, they live in like a small village so they can separate in small places. And all of our receivers are like this tall,” McDermott said while making a hand gesture indicating how short they are, via Heather Prusak of WGRZ.

Ed Oliver lines up with second-team defense in first Bills camp practice – The Buffalo News

“Football’s football. However you dissect it, look at it, guys are out here getting better,” said Oliver, selected ninth overall in the NFL Draft. “When you start looking at it differently is when you start getting different results. I want to keep the same success rate, so I look at it the same way.” Before practice started, coach Sean McDermott was blunt in assessing the transition Oliver needs to make from the spring to summer. He’s a rookie, you know, and this is his real first day of practice, like real practice,” the coach said. “It’s a journey, so it’ll take some time. He’ll have to go through, really, everything that the rookies go through in terms of getting themselves acclimated to the NFL. There’s a gap between major college football and the NFL, so he’s got a long way to go right now.”

The rest of the NFL Links

Aaron Hernandez estate settles wrongful death lawsuit

BOSTON (AP) — The estate of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez has settled a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the families of two men he was acquitted of killing.

A.J. Green carted off during practice – ProFootballTalk

Green, who turns 31 next week, played only nine games last season and failed to make the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career. He had a career-low 694 receiving yards in 2018 and finished the season on injured reserve with a toe injury.

A.J. Green has ligament damage in ankle and will miss 6-8 weeks, per ESPN - Cincy Jungle

Green’s injury will sideline him for around two months.

Sheldon Rankins unlikely to get on field during training camp – ProFootballTalk

“If I had a game I could give you, I’d give you that game,” Payton said, via NOLA.com. “Hopefully it’s earlier than later. But meanwhile, you’re counting on everyone else to step up, including the inside players.”

Derrick Henry placed in walking boot - Titan Insider

Henry left practice during the individual period Friday and did not return. He was not on the practice field at any time during Saturday’s practice. After practice on Friday, Coach Mike Vrabel indicated that Henry and rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown, who did not finish practice on the first day, were not seriously injured and were “day to day.” When asked about an update on Henry after Saturday’s practice, Vrabel said the team would adhere to its policy of not addressing such matters.

Bruce Arians has no concerns about potential health issues – ProFootballTalk

“You can die at any moment doing anything,” Arians says. “I mean, so why not do what you love to do? If I die on game day, have a drink. Celebrate.”

An NFL Team Will Probably Go From Last Place To The Playoffs. Could It Be The Jets? | FiveThirtyEight

The Jets are projected for 7.5 wins this season -- 3.5 more than last year.

Dolphins part ways with O-line coach Pat Flaherty - NFL.com

The Miami Dolphins are making a coaching change less than a week into training camp, firing offensive line coach Pat Flaherty after only six months with the organization.

NFL training camp winners/losers: Seven rookies creating a buzz - NFL.com

NFL Network’s crack Cowboys reporter Jane Slater should settle in and get comfortable making the daily “Zeke still isn’t here” updates. There’s little reason to believe the Cowboys will offer him a contract he’d accept anytime soon. The Cowboys have made it clear Dak Prescott is their first priority and a new contract for the quarterback could arrive in August. Executive vice president Stephen Jones said that Amari Cooper, on the last year of his deal, will get taken care of “for sure.” Elliott has two years left on his contract and any extension is complicated by the position he plays and the domestic violence suspension he was given. It’s hard to imagine Elliott taking his holdout into the regular season, but there’s no particular reason to believe we’ll see him in short order.

Giants’ Corey Coleman tears ACL in practice Thursday - NFL.com

Coleman was thought to be a potential fixture in three-receiver sets for New York in 2019 after the Giants retooled their wide receiving corps to fit their post-OBJ reality. But now he is most likely lost for the year.

Golden Tate appealing four-game PED suspension – ProFootballTalk

The news keeps getting worse for the Giants at wide receiver. After losing wide receiver Sterling Shepard to a broken thumb and wide receiver Corey Coleman to a torn ACL, the Giants may now lose veteran wide receiver Golden Tate to a PED suspension.

Training Camp Buzz: Fitz impressed by Kyler Murray - NFL.com

”I think that’s going to give us a great advantage, to play fast from the first preseason game all the way to the start of the regular season and giving him the keys to the car and letting him is going to be great for us.”

Cardinals cut former first-rounder Robert Nkemdiche - NFL.com

The Arizona Cardinals announced that they released former first-rounder Robert Nkemdiche on Saturday. The defensive lineman played in just 27 games over three seasons.