Training Camp Notes: depth chart watch

It was a busy night in the NFL, with seven games on the slate. The biggest news, however, came off the field, with reports from Pro Football Talk that a suspension for Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was now expected. The length of the suspension has yet to be announced, but one league source described the impending suspension as “definite”. Elliot is widely considered a top-3 running back, and his current ADP places him securely in the top half of the first round of most drafts.

Now for the notes from a busy night around the league:

  • The Broncos running backs depth chart got interesting, as rookie De’Angelo Henderson made the most of seven carries. He broke one loose for a 41 yard touchdown, and he totaled 54 rush yards on top of one reception. C.J. Anderson was effective in limited action, going for 21 yards on five carries. Steven Ridley also saw significant action, getting eight touches, but he was ineffective and totaled only 17 yards. Henderson currently ranks behind Anderson, Jamaal Charles (knee), and Devontae Booker (wrist) on the depth chart, but all three have injury histories. Henderson is rising, though he is probably still not worth considering outside of very deep settings.
  • The Redskins running back situation, on the other hand, got less interesting. Rob Kelley got the full first stringer’s treatment, starting and getting only three carries before taking a seat for the night. Samaje Perine, who many have pegged as a candidate to surpass “fat Rob” on the depth chart, recorded both a fumble and a drop while only reaching 15 yards on six carries. There is still a lot of preseason remaining, but Perine dug himself into a hole Thursday.
  • Saints rookie Alvin Kamara gained 35 yards on only four carries against a no-longer-terrible Browns defense. The Saints are bullish on Kamara, and have had him working out with the wide receivers at times in an effort to find more ways to get him onto the field. Though Kamara did not catch a pass, he still made excellent use of his playing time. He is unlikely to pass Adrian Peterson or Mark Ingram while they are healthy, but Kamara’s likelihood of surpassing Travaris Cadet and Daniel Lasco is increasing. Those in dynasty settings should give Kamara a serious look, though he currently remains outside of consideration for standard leagues.
  • No meaningful news on the Jaguars running back situation. Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory both looked good. T.J. Yeldon received only two carries, but it’s too soon to jump to conclusions off of that small workload. Third year pro Corey Grant actually had the best game of all of the Jaguars backfield members, but he’ll need more than one good preseason game to be considered any more than a somewhat distant fourth on the depth chart.
  • Eight different Packers received a carry Thursday, so it’s hard to read much into any of the results. Ty Montgomery had one of the worst nights of any of them, gaining zero yards on three carries and surrendering a fumble. Montgomery had some wiggle room having entered the game with a significant advantage over the other running backs in the depth chart. This outcome is only problematic if he continues to perform at this poor level in future preseason games.
  • Bears rookie Mitchell Trubisky looked decidedly not bad, which is very good for his first taste of NFL action. The Bears gave up a lot to trade up and acquire Trubisky, but with no expectations of a winning season, they are unlikely to rush him into live regular season action prematurely. He’ll probably start the year as Mike Glennon’s backup, but Trubisky has a very realistic shot at starting by the end of the season. He’d probably be a bottom-half QB, though his performance Thursday was encouraging for those in two-QB or superflex settings.
  • Broncos sophomore and former first-round pick Paxton Lynch did not look great, totaling only 42 yards on nine pass attempts. Trevor Siemian, on the other hand, completed the same number of passes except on fewer attempts and for more yards. Lynch is considered to have more upside than Siemian, but Lynch does not look ready for the NFL game. This is a quarterback battle unlikely to resolve itself any time soon, and even when one player does become starter, the presence of the other has potential to ignite a “quarterback controversy” after any loss.
  • DeShone Kizer clearly outplayed Brock Oswieler, with the former more than tripling the output of the latter on a similar number of attempts. The Browns quarterback depth chart remains a three-horse race, and Kizer made a strong statement Thursday.
  • Sammy Watkins caught three passes from Tyrod Taylor before Taylor left the game Thursday. Watkins has top-10 potential, but he is being drafted outside the top 15 at his position. Though health is always an issue with Watkins, seeing him back and connecting with his quarterback is a great sign for his on-field potential.