Examining Adrian Peterson's fit in Washington and other notable free agent situations

Jay Asser 20/08/2018
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Another injury has opened the door for Adrian Peterson to get back on the field this year.

After losing rookie Derrius Guice to a season-ending torn ACL in the opener of the preseason, Washington signed Peterson to a one-year deal on Monday to bolster the team’s depth at running back, according to reports.

Washington hosted the 33-year-old on Monday, one day after working out free agent running backs Orleans Darkwa and Jamaal Charles.

The starting job currently belongs to Rob Kelley, with back-ups Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall dealing with ankle injuries. Pass-catching back Chris Thompson is also on the roster, although his recovery from a broken leg suffered in November of last season is ongoing.

Washington could have prioritised singing a third-down back capable of helping in the passing game as both a receiver and blocker in case neither Thompson or Marshall are ready for the start of the regular season.

However, by bringing in Peterson, it could be an indication Washington aren’t thrilled with Kelley as the clear-cut starter and will use more of a committee approach.

With Kelley and Perine handling a majority of the work last season, Washington finished with the fifth-fewest rushing yards in the league (1,448) and third-fewest yards per carry (3.6).

Peterson, meanwhile, had a pair of 100-yard games with the Arizona Cardinals after being traded from New Orleans to fill the void left by David Johnson’s injury.

Now, Peterson will face his former team in Week 1 of the regular season when Washington travel to face Arizona.

DEZ BRYANT

It seemed like the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver was set to sign with the Cleveland Browns when he visited the team this past week.

However, he left without a contract and it appears as if the interest from the Browns side has cooled, especially with Josh Gordon back in the fold.

Bryant is reportedly seeking a one-year deal to prove he’s still one of the best receivers in the league, despite failing to crack 1,000 yards since 2014.

He may be past his prime, but at 29, he’s still young enough to bring his athleticism to the table and contribute in the red zone, where he’s been a monster throughout his career.

But for Bryant to join a team, it will likely require him to bring down his asking price.

COLIN KAEPERNICK 

The Buffalo Bills are exploring signing another quarterback after A.J. McCarron suffered a shoulder injury and Kaepernick remains a free agent.

The likelihood of the Bills becoming the team to finally bring in Kaepernick is slim, but there are few options comparable to the former San Francisco 49er.

Matt Moore could be a good fit, but there’s little to suggest he’s a better player than Kaepernick.

Eric Reid is similarly suffering for his national anthem protest, with the 26-year-old former Pro Bowl safety also a free agent.

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Nick Foles' health and form still important for Philadelphia Eagles until Carson Wentz returns

Jay Asser 17/08/2018
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Carson Wentz is expected to return sooner than later this season, but until that time comes, Nick Foles remains crucial to the Philadelphia Eagles’ success.

The Super Bowl MVP is still the Eagles’ starter with Wentz in the final stages of his recovery from a torn ACL and LCL that cut short his campaign last year.

Wentz has yet to be cleared for contact by the medical staff and said his availability for the regular season opener against the Atlanta Falcons will be “close”.

That leaves Foles as the starter for the moment, making his health and form critical for Philadelphia in the short-term.

Both of those facets were put to the test in the Eagles’ 37-20 loss to the New England Patriots on Thursday in a Super Bowl rematch.

Foles left the contest with a shoulder strain in the second quarter, when he grabbed his throwing arm after Patriots defensive end Adrian Clayborn swatted his arm to cause a fumble and 54-yard return touchdown.

After the game, Foles sounded optimistic about the prognosis of the injury.

“I’ll go in tomorrow and get treatment on it and sort of go from there,” he said. “It feels all right, it feels pretty good. Hopefully there’s no issues.”

Even if the injury doesn’t sideline Foles, there’s still the question of whether or not he can replicate last year’s magical run.

After coming on in relief of Wentz, Foles was nothing more than a steady hand in the regular season as he finished with a passer rating of 79.5 in his seven appearances.

The playoffs, however, were another story as he carved up Atlanta, Minnesota and New England to produce a 115.7 passer rating en route to a title.

Aside from his stellar 2013 season in which he was hyper-efficient and recorded a 119.2 passer rating, Foles has been an average quarterback capable of rising to the occasion at times.

He didn’t look sharp against New England on Thursday, completing just 3-of-9 passes for 44 yards. If he misses another preseason game or two, the Eagles will be in a difficult position if Wentz can’t go in the opener.

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Tom Brady picks up where he left off and other takeaways from Thursday's NFL preseason action

Jay Asser 17/08/2018
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Week 2 of the NFL preseason got under way on Thursday as arguably the two best quarterbacks in the league made their first appearance of the season.

Tom Brady led the New England Patriots in a 37-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in a rematch of February’s Super Bowl, while Aaron Rodgers looked like Aaron Rodgers in the Green Bay Packers’ 51-34 shootout victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Elsewhere, Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater split work under centre for the New York Jets in their 15-13 loss to Washington.

Here are some takeaways from Thursday’s slate.

Tom still terrific

It doesn’t seem like turning 41 has made a bit of difference to Brady’s game as he looked in midseason form against the Eagles.

Somewhat surprisingly, he played the entire first half after sitting out the first week of preseason and led the Patriots on four scoring drives while on the field.

He completed 19-of-26 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns, with his only missteps coming on two incomplete deep throws which could have just as well been intercepted.

Otherwise, Brady was masterful as usual, taking what the defence gave him and showing good chemistry with familiar faces James White, Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan.

Though newcomer Eric Decker went catch-less and Philip Dorsett only had one reception, speedster Cordarrelle Patterson had a promising performance as he looked dangerous in space off screens.

Brady’s protection took a hit, however, as rookie tackle Isaiah Wynn suffered a torn left Achilles, which will keep him out the entire year. The Patriots were preparing to use Wynn as a regular at right tackle in the preseason, though starter Marcus Cannon – currently injured – is expected to return by the start of the regular season.

Still, losing Wynn hurts New England’s depth and puts more responsibility on veteran LaAdrian Waddle, who will now become the first back-up at both right and left tackle.

Birth of a new connection

It didn’t take long for Rodgers and Jimmy Graham to get on the same page as the duo connected for a touchdown to cap Rodgers’ only drive of the night.

The score came on a red zone play where Rodgers threw it up for Graham and let his big tight end make a play on the ball. If Rodgers continues to put his trust in Graham in the red zone, the connection has a chance to yield a lot of points for Green Bay this season.

Last year, no tight end had more targets (24), receptions (15) or touchdowns (10) than Graham in the red zone, while for Rodgers, he hardly threw to the position in that area of the field.

Graham is no longer a go-to receiver, but when the ball gets near the end zone, he remains an elite option thanks to his size and hands. That’s not something Rodgers has had from a tight end – at least consistently – in some time, and especially with Jordy Nelson now in Oakland, there should be more targets available in the offence.

Cross that Bridge

Darnold followed up his impressive debut in the preseason opener with a mediocre outing in Week 2 as his case to be the Jets’ starter was dented.

The rookie had moments where he looked every bit worthy of being a starter, but also had his hiccups, including a red zone interception. He finished 8-of-11 for 62 yards with no touchdowns and the one pick.

Teddy Bridgewater, meanwhile, continued to look like the best quarterback on the team as he completed 10-of-15 passes for 127 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Through two weeks of preseason, Bridgewater has thrown for 54 more yards than Darnold on six fewer attempts.

Incumbent starter Josh McCown didn’t play against Washington and was on the field for just one series in the opener, so it’s unclear what the status of the starting spot is.

But in Bridgewater, the Jets have a quarterback who is still young (25) and full of potential. Whether or not he’s traded, Bridgewater has made a strong bid to at least get an opportunity, wherever he is.

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