Training Camp Notes: Andre Johnson’s swan song?

On an otherwise uneventful news cycle on the first Friday of NFL training camp, it appears that the Titans have decided to add 35-year old wide receiver Andre Johnson into the fold. The veteran was ineffective in his only season with the Colts last year, securing just 41 of 77 targets for 503 yards and four touchdowns. He joins a bevy of options at quarterback Marcus Mariota’s disposal along with Kendall Wright, Dorial Green-Beckham, rookie Tajae Sharpe and free agent signing, Rishard Matthews. Johnson has yet to sign, but expects to do so early next week. An uptick on last season’s dismal numbers shouldn’t be shocking as he is expected to provide leadership to the Titans’ young corps of receivers.

  • LeSean McCoy makes it a point to shed weight prior to the start of training camp every season. For this year’s camp, he arrived at a lean and mean 210 pounds – the lightest he has ever weighed in. It’s at least one positive sign for a backfield that will be without Karlos Williams, who was suspended for the first four games, and rookie Jonathan Williams who is pending DWI charges. The Bills also expect to sign 10-year veteran Reggie Bush, who will be join his fifth NFL team. McCoy will be heavily relied upon in coach Rex Ryan’s run-heavy offense.
  • New information about the severity of Steve Smith’s 2015 Achilles injury came to light today. Smith has a rare double rupture of his right Achilles as well as a significantly atrophied muscle surrounding his tendon. Smith is expected to miss most, if not all of training camp, placing his chances of playing in Week 1 extremely doubtful. Smith will require time to regain strength in his leg and may not provide fantasy value for owners until the second half of the season, if at all.
  • Crockett Gillmore suffered a hamstring injury in practice on Friday. MRI results are expected soon and will shed some light on the severity of his injury. Gillmore was expected to compete with fellow Ravens’ tight ends Maxx Williams, Dennis Pitta and the newly-signed Benjamin Watson.
  • Saints’ running back C.J. Spiller (leg) has been limited to begin camp as the team intends to ease him  into action slowly. Spiller underwent arthroscopic knee surgery 11 months ago and his ability to make sharp cuts in open space was clearly impacted. Once healthy, he will serve as the team’s passing down back with Mark Ingram clearly entrenched as the starter and the resurgent Tim Hightower serving as his backup.
  • Giants’ fans are expecting big things from Sterling Shepard right off the bat in his rookie campaign. Shepard has been working alongside Odell Beckham in two-wide sets this week and is making progress on establishing a rapport with quarterback Eli Manning. Victor Cruz has returned to the field, though it may take some time to ramp him up to full speed. Shepard is a small (5’10’’, 194 lbs) yet quick wideout with good instincts who may be best utilized out of the slot.
  • Mike Wallace finally passed his condition test on Friday after failing one earlier in the week. Despite appearing to have lost a touch of his trademark speed with the Vikings last season, quarterback Joe Flacco will be happy to have the veteran’s vertical threat abilities at his disposal. With questions surrounding the health of Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman, Wallace should play a prominent role within the Ravens’ offense from the get-go.
  • Kevin White is looking forward to playing his first snap in the NFL, but will have to improve his efforts in training camp first. Early Bears’ camp notes report White struggling to understand play-calls in the huddle and properly reading defenses at the line of scrimmage. These are typical rookie challenges, but ones he will have to overcome to earn fantasy value on an average draft position that falls within the first 100 overall picks.
  • Tyler Eifert (ankle) will be brought along slowly and is considered questionable for the start of the season. Another step in his progress occurs next week when Eifert will get to shed his walking boot. Even if Eifert was able to recover and be deemed fully healthy for the season opener, fantasy owners are justifiably weary and expect regression on his 13 touchdowns from last season.