NFC South Blog
The Buccaneers have made it clear that Doug Martin won't be the only person getting carries this season. Head coach Lovie Smith made that even clearer on Thursday.
"We've made it known that we're going to play more than one (running back)," Smith said. "You need a lot. In order for us to be a good running football team, we need to have more than one good player, and we feel like we have at least about four that we feel like if we went into a game with them, we could have a good running game."
Cooks and Toon "have looked terrific throughout camp," according to ESPN's Mike Triplett. With Saints WR Kenny Stills missing time with a quad injury, Cooks and Toon have impressed coaches with the extra reps they're seeing. Saints head coach Sean Payton identified Toon in particular as a player having a "fantastic camp." Rookie Stills and third-year man Toon are vying for playing time in a Saints passing attack that has produced 5,000 yards for three straight seasons.
NFL Network reporter Daniel Jeremiah attended Tampa Bay's training camp and had this to say about the Buccaneers rookie tight end, "Bucs are pumped about ASJ's play in camp. He's picked things up quickly and made a lot of plays." Austin Seferian-Jenkins is currently in a battle in camp with fellow TEs Tim Wright and Brandon Myers. He sports a massive 6'7/267 pound frame and was drafted in the 2nd round at pick 38. Although the Buccaneer higher-ups might be impressed, coach Lovie Smith still has to be persuaded.
Jackson injured his hamstring during training camp on Monday, according to Falcons digital media manager Jay Adams via Twitter. Adams says that it was not the same hamstring that kept Jackson out of several games in the 2013 season. The 31-year-old Jackson has amassed 2,395 carries over his nine-year career. In 2013, his first year in Atlanta, Jackson tallied 543 rushing yards on 157 carries, for a 3.5 YPC average. Adams says that Jackson will be in the Falcons lineup for Week 1.
NFL.com's Jeff Darlington interviewed Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on Tuesday. His first question was about wide receiver Julio Jones and how he has looked on the field in the first few days of camp.
"I think he's looked great," Ryan said. "I think he handled the surgery well this offseason and the rehab. He was incredibly detailed in how he was in here going everything he needed to do in order to get ready for camp. Really, through the first four or five days of camp, I've thought he's looked back to himself and maybe even better. He's looked really, really good so far."
Jackson appears to have some of his explosiveness back early in training camp, according to ESPN's Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure. Jackson suffered from nagging injury concerns, but according to McClure, Jackson "still has a good year in him if he remains healthy. The 31-year old Jackson will compete with Falcons RB Devonta Freeman for touches in 2014, as he endeavors to improve on his 3.45 yards per carry average from last year.
It should come as no surprise that a rookie who missed every spring workout and practice is lagging behind the rest of his teammates in training camp. That's the position in which Buccaneers tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins finds himself. The second-rounder couldn't take part in OTAs and minicamp due to an NFL rule that prohibits rookies for joining their team until their college classes let out for the summer. Now he's in camp, fully recovered from February foot surgery, and "behind a lot," according to head coach Lovie Smith.
"He's an intelligent man, so he'll be able to [catch up]," Smith said of Seferian-Jenkins. "As much as anything, we wanted to get him healthy and he is that.''
Panthers rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin knocked knees with a teammate during practice Sunday and underwent an MRI. It revealed a bone bruise that isn't expected to keep him out for a long while. Head coach Ron Rivera said Monday that Benjamin's knee is stable but has some swelling.
It seems like everyone is falling in love with wide receiver Brandin Cooks at Saints camp. Especially and perhaps most importantly quarterback Drew Brees, who hasn't been shy in setting the expectations high for Cooks in his first season. Brees said this about Cooks on Friday:
"Here's a guy who's obviously extremely talented," Brees said. "But more so than that, very intelligent. You get this feeling that he wants to be great, he loves football, he wants to learn. Every time he comes up to me, it's eyes wide.
"He absorbs [information] very quickly and goes out and applies it. I'd say that's pretty rare for a young guy. Typically their head is spinning for a little while. Doesn't seem like anything is too big for him."
Jones is showing no lingering issues with his surgically repaired foot, according to ESPN's Vaughn McClure. Jones is moving well, accelerating and stopping with ease. While the Falcons are limiting his reps in camp, that is reportedly a cautionary measure, and not because of any setbacks in Jones' recovery. Jones missed 11 games in 2013 with a broken foot.