Dennis Pitta TE BAL 1 day ago
Pitta (hip) took part in individual drills at OTAs on Thursday, CSN Mid-Atlantic's Bo Smolka reports.
The Ravens have generally expressed optimism regarding Pitta potentially resuming his career, but the team has also acknowledged the possibility he won't play again, and TE Maxx Williams was recently drafted in the second round. While there probably won't be anything approaching certainty until the season draws closer, it does seem that Pitta's recovery is progressing as expected. Even with Williams expected to assume a significant role, the Ravens could certainly use Pitta's help, given the lack of proven veteran receiving options on the roster.
Walter Thurmond DB PHI 1 day ago
Thurmond (chest) is playing safety at OTAs, Philadelphia Magazine reports.
Thurmond, who signed a one-year, $3.25 million deal in the offseason, has exclusively played cornerback to this point in his NFL career. It seems Chip Kelly has an affinity for DBs that can play both safety and cornerback, as Jaylen Watkins recently made the switch to safety, and 2015 second-round pick Eric Rowe could end up at either position. With Rowe currently working at cornerback, it looks like the competition for one safety spot will include Thurmond, Earl Wolff (knee), Watkins, Chris Prosinski and Chris Maragos. At the other safety spot, Malcolm Jenkins is locked in as the starter.
Jaylen Watkins DB PHI 1 day ago
Watkins, a 2014 fourth-round draft pick, is playing safety at OTAs, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
With versatile 2015 second-round pick Eric Rowe starting off at cornerback, the Eagles are giving Watkins a look at strong safety, which is a position of greater need. Watkins could perhaps compete with Earl Wolff and Chris Prosinki for the starting job, and it's also possible the Eagles will eventually give Rowe a look. Both Rowe and Watkins have the size/speed combination to play safety or cornerback.
Justin Hunter WR TEN 1 day ago1 Comment
Hunter has had a couple of good mini-camp practices, according to head coach Ken Whisenhunt, The Tennessean reports, but the coach qualified that in telling reporters "at some point, you either get it or you won't be in this league anymore. That's the natural order of the NFL."
Those are pretty ominous words from the coach, but it's something Hunter realizes. The 2012 second-round pick out of the University of Tennessee has shown flashes, but he's been invisible for long stretches and unable to get himself open. On the plus side, he averages 18.5 yards per reception and has scored seven touchdowns in 46 receptions. On the negative side, he's had zero or one catch in 14 of 26 NFL games and has caught just 42 percent of his targets. He's got size, speed and impressive leaping ability, but it hasn't added up yet. Hunter faces competition for his targets this season after the Titans added free agents Harry Douglas and Hakim Nicks, while drafting Dorial Green-Beckam (2nd round, 40th overall) and Tre McBride (7th round, 245th overall).
Jimmy Smith DB BAL 2 days ago
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Smith (foot) is ahead of schedule, Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports.
Smith is already participating in parts of OTAs, after undergoing season-ending foot surgery in November. He's been excellent when healthy over the last two seasons, leading the Ravens to give him a four-year contract extension that includes $21 million in guarantees. Smith is locked in as the starting right cornerback, with Lardarius Webb on the other side. It's a talented corner duo, but both players have troublesome injury histories, and neither is a high-end IDP.
B. J. Raji DL GB 2 days ago
Raji (biceps) said Thursday that he is back to full strength, Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Raji suffered a torn biceps in August, and it came with a recovery timetable of six-to-nine months. There was never much question he'd be ready for Week 1 in 2015, but his effectiveness is far from assured. Even if he gets back to the best version of himself, Raji has never topped 39 tackles or 6.5 sacks in a season, with both of those marks recorded in 2010. In a best-case scenario, he shores up the Green Bay defensive line but still isn't an IDP option.
Kenny Vaccaro DB NO 2 days ago
Vaccaro said he played through a hamstring injury and two quad tears last season, Larry Holder of The Times-Picayune reports.
The slew of injuries helps to explain Vaccaro's disappointing sophomore campaign, but given that his impressive rookie season included a concussion and a fractured ankle, durability is becoming a concern. To be fair, he's only missed three games through two seasons despite all the injuries, averaging 76.5 tackles, 1.5 interceptions, 6.5 passes defensed and one sack. If he can stay relatively healthy, Vaccaro has a good chance to post his best IDP season yet in 2015.
Dez Bryant WR DAL 2 days ago
Bryant took part in a limited portion of Thursday's OTAs, ESPN.com reports.
Bryant, who hasn't signed his franchise tender, probably won't participate in full until he agrees to a long-term deal, which has to be worked out by July 15. If no agreement is reached by that date, he'll have to play under the one-year, $12.823 million tender, and the Cowboys will risk losing him next offseason. Bryant's participation in OTAs, while only partial, is seemingly indicative of confidence that he'll get his massive contract. With the salary cap rising, and the 26-year-old superstar coming off of three straight seasons of 1,200+ yards and 12+ touchdowns, the Cowboys will likely find a way to make it work.
Benjamin Watson TE NO 2 days ago
Watson, due to his superior block ability, will likely play more snaps than Josh Hill, according to ESPN's Mike Triplett.
The departure of Jimmy Graham could lead to a more prominent role for the 34-year-old Watson, who caught 39 passes in 31 games over the past two seasons with the Saints. Of course, even if Watson plays more snaps than Hill, the latter is far more promising as a receiver and a more natural replacement for Graham's role in the offense. Watson may prove quite useful to the 2015 Saints, but if that's the case, it'll probably be because he's paving holes for the running backs and pitching in with the occasional reception. Hill is much more likely to become a key target in the passing game.
Tim Tebow QB PHI 2 days ago
Tebow's throwing motion doesn't appear to be significantly different, despite reports that it changed after his work with quarterback guru Tom House, according to Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
House, a former MLB pitcher, is known for working with some of the NFL's top quarterbacks, although his work with Tebow seems to have garnered the most attention. Tebow is competing with Matt Barkley for the No. 3 quarterback job, and Barkley is currently ahead on the depth chart. There's been some talk that the NFL's new extra-point rules could make Tebow useful as a two-point conversion specialist, but even if Chip Kelly decides to approach the PAT more aggressively, he'd probably prefer to do so with Sam Bradford under center. All in all, Tebow still faces an uphill battle to make the final roster.