Multiple league executives recently told NFL Media’s Bucky Brooks that they expect Griffin to provide a short-term spark under Jackson’s tutelage and early-season game plans.
If the experiment blows up in Jackson’s face, on the other hand, it won’t be attributable to an inadequate supporting cast.
Here’s what else we learned from Monday’s action in training camps around the league:
1. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the Browns offense on Monday. Jackson noted that Josh Gordon will be the first to tell you that he needs to lose weight. Although Gordon is nursing a quadriceps injury, Jackson is hopeful that the suspended wideout will return to practice soon.
2. The Buffalo Bills’ injury woes continued on Monday, as NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that left tackle Cordy Glenn is expected to miss the preseason after suffering a high-ankle sprain. This news comes on the heels of injuries to first- and second-round draft picks Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland.
3. Don’t pencil in a monster workload for second-year Redskins running back Matt Jones just yet. General manager Scot McCloughan revealed on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports that seventh-round pick Keith Marshall will be part of a “two-headed monster” in the backfield.
“But out here, in the last week, he’s a one-cut guy, and when he puts his foot in the ground, he can fly,” McCloughan explained, via Sharp Football. “He’s 220 (pounds) and he can fly.”
Marshall also had the run of the day in Monday’s practice. A star recruit at Georgia, Marshall is an interesting name to monitor in preseason action. His 4.31 forty-yard dash at 220 pounds was one of the most impressive speed scores in the history of the NFL Scouting Combine.
4. Speaking of rookies flying under the radar, Cardinals third-round pick Brandon Williams has drawn raves during the first week of camp. The starting spot opposite Patrick Peterson is Williams’ “to lose,” coach Bruce Arians said Monday.
5. In other Cardinals news, Arians revealed that the organization is working on more contract extensions after signing Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald and Tyrann Mathieu to new deals in the past week. Defensive end Calais Campbell, pass rusher Chandler Jones and wide receiver Michael Floyd are obvious candidates for negotiations.
6. Halfway through last season, Amari Cooper was so dominant that NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah was inspired to pick the Raiders rookie over Odell Beckham as the young wide receiver with the highest upside. Cooper then stumbled down the stretch while playing through a foot injury so painful that the team considered shutting him down for the season in December.
How serious was the injury? Cooper said Monday, via San Francisco’s KGMZ, that he avoided watching his rookie tape this offseason because he was injured for such a large portion of the season that he was never himself.
7. Shaking off early-career foot injuries of his own, Julio Jones flirted with the 2,000-yard mark last season. The Falcons superstar acknowledged Monday that it’s difficult to even set his sights on 2,000 yards this year.
“When I go (into) games, I don’t think about 2,000 yards,” Jones said, via SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I had 1,800 yards last year, but I wasn’t even thinking about it. Everyone was like, ‘Oh, man, you’re so close, you’re so close. Are you trying to get it? Are you trying to get it?’ I’m like, ‘I’m trying to go out here and get a W, I’m trying to win the game.’
“But I think it’s possible, though. I definitely think it’s possible, but it depends on the defense, if they’re going to let that guy beat them that day.”
8. Nick Shook compiled the most interesting of Monday’s depth chart revelations from around the league. The first- and second-team wide receivers for the Vikings and Titans might surprise a few people.
The college football season is a few weeks away, but that doesn’t stop NFL scouts from surveying the landscape to see which players have the potential to emerge as game changers at the next level. As a scout for the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers, respectively, I would frequently jot down notes and make preliminary lists of the top players in my region to help me plan my travel schedule for the fall. Although these lists were etched in pencil instead of pen due to the constant change in the evaluation process, the compilation served as a nice starting point for my draft rankings.
I will share with you some of my preliminary lists this week to help pinpoint which college players to track this fall. Today, we will take a long, hard look at some of the top pass-catchers in college football.
1. JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC, WR: Every coach in America would love to build their passing game around a big, physical pass-catcher with speed to burn. That’s why USC’s Smith-Schuster is firmly entrenched as the No. 1 receiver in the minds of NFL scouts heading into the season. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior is a rugged playmaker capable of doing the dirty work between the hashes or acting as a vertical threat on the outside. In addition, he delivers big plays on “catch-and-run” concepts that allow him to showcase his impressive combination of strength, power and explosiveness with the ball in his hands. As a recent convert to receiver (Smith-Schuster primarily played defensive back and running back in high school), he is just beginning to come into his own as a pass-catcher. With a complete offseason devoted to mastering the nuances of route running and bump-and-run releases, Smith-Schuster should go from good to great as the Trojans’ WR1 this season.