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Training Camp Notes: Geno Smith, Jets Feeling Punch-Drunk

With one sucker punch heard 'round the internet, Todd Bowles' first year at the helm of the Jets took a very New York-level dramatic turn. Presumed starting quarterback Geno Smith found himself on the wrong end of a punch from (now former) teammate IK Enemkpali in the team's locker room Tuesday morning. The punch fractured Smith's jaw, and he's expected to miss 6-10 weeks. According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Bowles said that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is the team's new starter, and if he plays well enough he could conceivably start the entire season.

Fitzpatrick is coming off a fairly underrated season in Houston in terms of efficiency. He didn't put up eye-popping numbers, but in his 12 starts the veteran averaged over 200 passing yards per game and tossed 17 touchdowns to just eight interceptions. With newly-acquired wide receiver Brandon Marshall in tow and a lockdown defense, Fitzpatrick could theoretically be a much better producer than Smith simply because he won't turn the ball over with Smith's frequency. He's still nowhere near a starting quarterback in any fantasy league, but with a perfect storm matchup, Fitzpatrick could be worth a bench spot in a pinch.

  • The Texans' first depth chart was released Tuesday, and it listed Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett as co-starters at quarterback. Head coach Bill O'Brien said the battle between the two prospective gunslingers has been essentially even so far, which means how the two perform in preseason games could determine who winds up with the job come Week 1. It should be interesting to see which quarterback gets the first snap come Houston's first preseason game against the 49ers on Aug. 15. Hoyer started 13 games for Cleveland last season with subpar results, completing just 55 percent of his passes and throwing more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (12). Mallett appeared in three games for Houston last year, completing 54 percent of his passes while throwing two touchdowns and two interceptions. Neither is a viable starter in any fantasy league, but the team's eventual quarterback will determine who throws the ball to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, a valuable commodity in all leagues, so it's a battle that bears watching.
  • Despite reports of Nate Washington receiving more reps during early training camp practices, Cecil Shorts is listed as a starter over the veteran Washington on Houston's initial depth chart.  This is another position battle going down in H-Town that could be decided by preseason performances. 2014 was Washington's least-productive season since 2009, but it didn't help that he was involved in Tennessee's anemic offense. That said, Washington still hauled in 90 more yards and one more touchdown than Shorts last season, so it should be a relatively tight competition to keep track of as the preseason continues.
  • After missing the Hall of Fame Game, Steelers wideout Martavis Bryant returned to practice Tuesday. He underwent a minor surgical procedure in the first few days of training camp, but he's expected to be ready to see game time in the final two preseason outings. However, the missed time could cost the explosive Bryant any chance he had of overtaking fellow wide receiver Markus Wheaton for the team's No. 2 wide receiver spot behind superstar Antonio Brown. Ben Roethlisberger recently told reporters that Wheaton is expected to receive most of the snaps in two-wide formations. Wheaton caught 53 balls for 644 yards and two touchdowns last season, while Bryant caught 26 passes for 549 yards and eight touchdowns.
  • One of the more intriguing rookies in the league, Dorial Green-Beckham, has mixed in with the Titans' first-team offense at recent practices. After reportedly struggling with dropped balls and poor conditioning in the first couple of weeks of training camp, Beckham is seeing minor rewards for improvement. However, the Titans are relatively stocked up at wideout, and it could be difficult for Green-Beckham to force himself into the conversation. Hakeem Nicks, Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright all give the team viable options at wideout for rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota. While the team is likely looking at long-term development and success as its primary concern, head coach Ken Whisenhunt will go with the wideouts that give Mariota the best chance to succeed this season. Green-Beckham could be stuck playing the waiting game in his rookie year.
  • Dallas running back Joseph Randle (oblique) returned to practice Tuesday after missing just one practice. With Darren McFadden (hamstring) and Lance Dunbar (ankle) with more serious injuries, Randle seems to be the team's potential starter, at least for the time being. Behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, Randle will be expected to see a serious uptick in his responsibilities after the departure of DeMarco Murray. The Cowboys open the preseason Thursday against the Chargers.
  • After kicker Shaun Suisham suffered a torn ACL in the first preseason game of the season, the Steelers signed kicker Garrett Hartley on Tuesday. Hartley appeared in just two games last season with the Browns, making all three of his field goal attempts. His last extended time with a team came in 2013, when he made 22 of 30 field goals for the Saints, burying all 41 extra points. While his shaky performance in 2013 with New Orleans should give some fantasy owners pause, the Steelers' offense is likely to repeat is prolific production from last season and Hartley's extra points could pile up in a hurry.