While training camp is in session I will be selecting eye catching tweets from NFL beat writers, fantasy football writers, and football analysts, posting them here, and providing my take on the tweet.
Steve Smith (Carolina)
@josephperson Steve Smith: CAR new O is refreshing. Says Chudzinski is using him more effectively than Fox’s staff.
My Take: Smith says that Chudzinski is motioning him around the formation to gain more mismatches prior to the snap. This movement should also create easier opportunities for Cam Newton to process under center. I’m still skeptical that Smith is going to return to a level of production that rivals the height of his career, but the ability is still there. I also expect Greg Olsen to preoccupy safeties enough for Smith to see more single coverage. For you fantasy owners out there, I think Smith is worth a mid-round risk.
(More) James Starks
RobDemovsky: Looks like Starks is the third down back. He was in on third-and-13 with three wides and a TE.
My Take: Starks has been ripping off big runs in camp with his display of patience, shiftiness, and burst. He’s gained more muscle and now looks like a franchise back in build. Starks demonstrated good third down skills in the playoffs for a rookie who essentially hadn’t played two years of football. If you didn’t take that last factor into account when judging Starks for a missed block or two last year the you now see his coaches recognized the skills were there. Not sure if Starks overtakes Grant this year, but it’s going to be a lot closer than many people initially thought.
My Take: This sounds like a running back version of Mike Sims-Walker’s early years in Jacksonville. You have to feel for Hardesty, who knows he has the ability to be a starter in the league and is desperate to get on the field and prove it. He has to be enormously frustrated that his body his 100 percent. He’s likely pushing too hard and losing patience. I don’t envy his situation. It might not be a setback, but it could be more of a physical reminder that his body is not where he’s trying to push it. Remember, players coming off injury often like to inflate their “percentage of recovery,” that beat reporters ask them to give. This appears to be the case here.
@tomwatsonpats I know he has a slim to no chance but jeremyross has been pretty decent during the practices I’ve seen.
My Take: Ross might not make the Patriots but if he continues to perform well, another team will give him a shot as a return specialist. Ross is a terrific physical talent with better skills around the ball than where he must have been rated by scouts. If I were seeking a bargain basement special teams stud with slot receiver potential in a few years, Ross would be the first player on my short list of UDFAs.
My Take: In case you’re not a Footballguys subscriber (you should be if you play fantasy football – and I usually hate the word “should.”), you probably don’t realize that I have been engaged in a summer long debate with Footballguys senior staff writer and local Denver sportstalk radio superstar Cecil Lammey about Moreno’s prospects. Lammey liked Moreno’s prospects when the Georgia tailback arrived at Dove Valley.
But after two years of watching Moreno, Lammey has soured on the Broncos runner. He believes Moreno is at best a mediocre talent who shouldn’t be a lead runner for an NFL team. He still praises Moreno’s vision, but he cites the back’s lack of great speed, questionable work ethic, tendency to try to run over defenders in the open field, and issues with slipping when he tries to make cuts as reasons for his change of heart.
I still believe Moreno has what it takes to become a lead runner. The vision and burst are good enough to get into the second level and I think Moreno realizes his this year is his best (and last) chance to make good on his promise. He will never be a breakaway runner, but he does have the interior running skills to become a consistently good lead ball carrier. Thus far in camp, he’s been a little up and down, but he’s flashed enough moments of goodness that the Broncos organization seems very much behind Moreno as its lead runner. We’ll see what happens when McGahee gets rolling next week. Stay tuned…
My Take: Already running with the first team? This has a lot to do with Johnny Knox getting a little bumped and bruised. However, a UDFA getting first-team reps over other vets after a week of practice is validation of the skills that many of us felt Sanzenbacher showed. I thought he was the most impressive receiver at the 2011 Senior Bowl.
He walked into camp as an injury substitute on day two, learned the routes on the practice field as he was still getting fitted with pads, and promptly schooled every receiver in the art of route running for the rest of the week. By the end of the first practice, the Bengals receiver’s coach was pointing out Sanzenbacher as the example to the rest of the North Squad receivers – including Titus Young, Dwayne Harris, Austin Pettis, and a host of other players who were drafted. I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t make the team.
nfldraftupdateDion Caputi#Jaguars HC Jack Del Rio had high praise for rookie WR CecilShorts – was one of my favorite unsung prospects. Top route runner.
My Take: I didn’t get to evaluate Cecil Shorts, but I love what I’m hearing about him in practice reports. The reason is his route running and reliable hands. When I hear beat writers gush about height, weight, muscles, and speed, I don’t listen much. When I hear them talk about receivers getting open consistently and making plays, I take notice.
@OfficialBrowns: WR GregLittle had a few nice catches in the end zone drills including 2 TDs.
TonyGrossi: McCoy throws it up to left corner of end zone. GregLittle soars above 2 defenders for the grab. That’s his hallmark, we’re told.
My Take: Yes it is. Greg Little is the combo of height, weight, speed, and muscles that lesser beat writers gush over like school boys, but he’s also a very natural hands catcher with skills to make plays in traffic. Another hallmark Little displayed was the 360 spinning dunk over the cross bar of the goal post after a touchdown. Hopefully, his exuberance doesn’t get the best of him like it did at North Carolina.