Jun
04

David Wilson expects to be ready for Week 1

Wilson still awaiting clearance: The waiting game continues for David Wilson as he attempts to return from a serious neck injury. The Giants running back still hasn’t been cleared for full-contact activities, but both sides are hopeful that Wilson get a thumbs-up in time for training camp. Even if that happens, it’s hard to imagine Wilson seeing the same type of workload the team envisioned for him when he was drafted in 2012. Coach Tom Coughlin is going to be very careful with how they use Wilson, and with Rashad Jennings likely to start the season as New York’s top running back, Wilson’s immediate future will probably be as a change of pace back with inconsistent fantasy value.

Foster to be a three-down back: From 2010-12, no running back had as many total touches as Arian Foster. In 2013, Foster broke down and played in just eight games. But in 2014, the dynamic rusher could be back to carrying a full workload — if you believe coach Bill O’Brien. The head Texan says Foster is a “three-down back” who can be worked into the team’s passing game. While it’s a change in philosophy for O’Brien, who has employed third-down backs like Kevin Faulk or Danny Woodhead in the past, it matches up with recent statements by Foster that he would catch the ball more this season. The idea of Foster getting more touches is a wonderful thing for fantasy owners … provided the fear of another injury doesn’t concern you.

RB rotation coming in Tampa: After a frustrating 2013, there was hope that Doug Martin could make a bid for a fantasy bounceback. If he does, it could come in a diminished role. According to Buccaneers offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, the offense is likely to employ a committee approach to the running game. Presumably Martin will be atop the depth chart at the start of the season, but his understudies — notably Bobby Rainey and Mike James — have shown that they can also be productive players when called upon. Add rookie Charles Sims to the mix and that’s a lot of players for not many carries. It’s hard to believe Tedford will use all four consistently, but it’s another potential running back headache for fantasy owners to be aware of.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

Jun
03

Dolphins worried about Knowshon Moreno’s conditioning

Moreno takes second-team snaps: After leaving Denver for Miami, Knowshon Moreno was destined to suffer a dip in his fantasy draft value. Recent news that last season’s fantasy breakout back isn’t making a good first impression with the Dolphins won’t help. Coach Joe Philbin is reportedly unhappy with Moreno’s conditioning and has had the running back working with the second team while Lamar Miller takes first-team reps. That’s not how things were supposed to go for the guy expected to walk into a starting role in South Florida. This isn’t likely to be the last that’s written about Miami’s running back situation, but Moreno putting himself at an early disadvantage isn’t encouraging.

Rivers praises Green: Antonio Gates isn’t the player he once was, a fact that is painfully obvious to anyone who’s watched even a few minutes of Chargers football recently. To that end, the door could be opening for Ladarius Green to take over the role of San Diego’s top tight end. Right now, Green has the respect of quarterback Philip Rivers, who says “the sky is still the limit” for the third year pass-catcher. While he might not supplant Gates this season, Green should see more snaps (and potentially more targets) in 2014. Green’s value might be greater in dynasty leagues, but he shouldn’t be overlooked as a potential waiver wire option should Gates falter during the season.

Criner impressing at OTAs: Beyond James Jones, there isn’t much depth in the Raiders’ receiving corps — something Juron Criner is trying to take advantage of. Entering his third season, the former University of Arizona standout has been surpassed on the depth chart by the likes of Rod Streater and Andre Holmes. So in what could be a make-or-break year, Criner is opening eyes at Oakland’s offseason workouts. According to reports, he’s looked like the best receiver on the field. Of course, he wouldn’t be the first player to look amazing in OTAs and be unable to carry it over to the regular season. We’ll need to see a little more before we can suggest drafting Criner.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

Jun
02

Falcons taking it slow with Julio Jones

Jones out of OTAs: The Atlanta Falcons are hopeful that Julio Jones can recover fully from the foot surgery that cost him the bulk of last season. However, the team isn’t quite ready to rush the talented receiver back on the field. It’s not a surprise. After all, we’re just in the first week of June — just about three months away from the start of the regular season. That should be plenty of time for Jones to get himself ready to go. If we get into training camp and the foot is still an issue, then we’ll change our tune. Until then, consider this a case of a team exercising caution.

Jets WR2 job open: When it’s come to the Jets, most of the focus has been on the alleged competition at quarterback. But that’s not the only camp battle going on in Florham Park. There is expected to be a contest to see who will be the team’s No. 2 receiver. The early leader in the competition appears to be Jacoby Ford, though there are a host of players who will also vie for the job. At this point, none of Eric Decker’s potential receiving mates are particularly attractive from a fantasy perspective. However, it’s certainly viable to believe that Gang Green’s group of wideouts will be a lot more productive than it was a season ago.

Cotchery to line up in slot: While the Jets have seen an upgrade in their receiving corps, the Panthers have gone the other direction. Jerricho Cotchery enters the season as Carolina’s most experienced wideout — by a fairly wide margin. It’s also giving him a leg up on the team’s slot receiver job. Sure, he caught 10 touchdowns last season, but it was also the first time he’d even approached double digits in his career. He’ll be 32 at the start of the season and entering his 12th campaign, neither of which inspires confidence in his ability to repeat those numbers. There’s not much to like with Carolina’s group of receivers and fantasy owners might do well to be wary of drafting anyone from this troop.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

May
30

Tre Mason expects to compete for starting job

Rams to stage RB competition?: Last season, Zac Stacy rose from being buried on the depth chart to becoming a breakout rookie star. This season, he might have to fight to keep his starting gig … at least if you believe Tre Mason. The recently drafted runner says he’s been told that he will compete for the Rams starting running back job. That’s probably a surprise to Stacy and it should serve as a surprise to fantasy owners who were under the belief that the former Vanderbilt rusher was going to be St. Louis’ go-to back in 2014. Before you start to panic, it’s worth reminding yourself that it’s still late May and sometimes these are the things coaches tell players in order to motivate them. Mason has the potential to be a sleeper as a change of pace, Gio Bernard-type back. But until further notice, treat Stacy as though he’s going to see the bulk of the carries.

Jets’ QB race slants toward Smith: The Jets are having a quarterback competition. This much everyone agrees on. How evenhandedly that competition is being staged depends on who you ask. Coach Rex Ryan has suggested that Michael Vick will have a chance to win the job. Vick disagrees. Now offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has weighed in, admitting that the competition isn’t exactly “50-50″. Jets fans might not like it, but it’s hard to see the logic of impeding the progress of a second-year quarterback in favor of an aging veteran with continual injury issues. With the additions on offense, Geno Smith could be in line for a breakout season. If the Jets really believe he can be the future, they’ll have to put these rumors to rest.

Texans ‘trying to mimic’ Patriots: Texans coach Bill O’Brien spent time as an assistant with the Patriots from 2007-11. Now he’s trying to bring some of New England down to Houston. Quarterback T.J. Yates says the Texans are watching lots of film of the Pats’ offense and “trying to mimic them right now.” It certainly makes sense to study one of the league’s most productive offensive units — although Houston lacks a trigger man even close to the caliber of Tom Brady. If the Texans can find a portion of that type of efficiency, fantasy owners should rejoice.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

May
29

Seahawks have ‘high expectations for’ Christine Michael

Michael ‘to get a ton of work': Don’t expect the Seahawks offense to go away from Marshawn Lynch as its focal point any time soon, but the team could be preparing for a Beast Mode-less future. Head coach Pete Carroll recently told reporters that Christine Michael is “going to get a ton of work.” Last season, Michael had only 18 carries and was buried behind Lynch and Robert Turbin on the depth chart. This season, the young runner from Texas A&M could battle with Turbin for the No. 2 running back job. Michael’s value will be greater in dynasty leagues than most other formats, but with Lynch set to be a free agent after the 2015 season, Michael is a name worth remembering for the future.

Wheaton pegged as Steelers’ WR2: When Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery left the Steelers as free agents, the belief was that it opened the door for Markus Wheaton to step into the role of the No. 2 receiver. So far, that is what’s happening in Pittsburgh. Wheaton, the speedster from Oregon State, started opposite Antonio Brown in the team’s first practice session. There is certainly a long way to go before we get to Week 1, but signs point to Wheaton being given every opportunity to win the gig in 2014 over the likes of Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Wilson to get shot at WR3: While Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have locked down the top two receiver slots for the Bears, there’s a definite question as to who will be Chicago’s third receiver. The early answer is Marquess Wilson. The second-year pass-catcher worked as the No. 3 wideout with the first time during the Bears early workouts. Whether that translates into production is another story entirely. Last season’s No. 3 receiver, Earl Bennett, had just 32 receptions on 43 targets — significantly fewer than both Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett. Getting Wilson on the field should give his fantasy value a bump, but fantasy owners should wait to see how Wilson gets used before reaching up to draft him.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

May
28

Texans QB job still ‘wide open’

Houston to stage QB competition: Just because the Houston Texans signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to replace Matt Schaub on the roster, doesn’t mean the veteran is going to be gifted the starting job. Head coach Bill O’Brien told reporters that the job is still “wide open”, though he did toss some praise in Fitzpatrick’s direction. Considering the competition includes Case Keenum, T.J. Yates and Tom Savage, it would be a mild surprise if the former Harvard man didn’t win the job. But whoever wins the job is likely going to have an impact on the receiving corps — especially an already disgruntled Andre Johnson.

Ellington to see big workload: Chalk up another reason to believe in Andre Ellington’s sleeper status in 2014. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says he wants to get the second-year running back 25-30 touches per game this season as the team’s lead back. As a running back (and a fantasy enthusiast), it’s everything you like to hear heading into a new campaign. But it also seems optimistic for a rusher who averaged fewer than 19 touches during his most productive season at Clemson — and that was in just 13 games. Expecting that Ellington could shoulder that type of load for a full 16 games in an offense that also boasts Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd is either very optimistic or very foolish. Look for Ellington to take a big step forward this year, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Arians switches up the game plan midway through the season.

Hixon done for the year: It looks like Domenik Hixon’s NFL career is over. The journeyman receiver signed with the Bears this offseason, but announced his injury via social media Tuesday. It’s the third time Hixon has suffered the injury, which makes it more likely that he won’t ever play in the NFL again. Hixon was likely going to find himself in a battle for the third receiver slot along with veteran Josh Morgan. It remains to be seen which of Chicago’s other young receivers could challenge for the position now.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

May
27

Shonn Greene’s roster spot in jeopardy?

Greene on the bubble?: When the Titans drafted Bishop Sankey with the No. 54 overall pick, most assumed that the former Washington standout would adopt a large chunk of the rushing duties, sharing the job with Shonn Greene. However, that might not be the case. According to The Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt, Greene’s spot on the roster might not be so certain. After a pair of knee surgeries, the veteran could be headed for a training camp competition — especially if coach Ken Whisenhunt truly has big plans for Dexter McCluster. Right now it’s mostly speculation, but the idea that Greene is in for a smaller role than anticipated could help boost Sankey’s value even more.

Cardinals offense improving: After an uneven showing in 2013, the Arizona Cardinals offense is optimistic about its fortunes for 2014. Carson PalmerLarry Fitzgerald and Bruce Arians all proclaimed their excitement about the prospects for this season, with the coach going so far as to say the team was “light-years” ahead of where they were at the same point last season. That’s encouraging not only for Fitzgerald and his fellow pass-catchers but also for Andre Ellington, whose sleeper credentials seem to be growing by the week.

Jags WRs getting better: It doesn’t look like Justin Blackmon is going to be in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ plans this season, but that hasn’t dampened Ace Sanders’ enthusiasm about what is to come. The second-year wideout proclaimed that the team’s receiving corps is going to be significantly better in 2014. The additions of Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in the draft are definitely reasons to be excited, but it will take enormous seasons from them to help Sanders and Cecil Shorts elevate a team that was 22nd in passing offense last season. We’ll need to see some results before we can share Sanders’ passion.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

May
22

Browns preparing Josh Gordon backup plan

Browns to ‘hodgepodge’ WR corps: The Browns haven’t shown much panic over a possible suspension to Josh Gordon, maybe because they’re already putting a plan in place. General manager Ray Farmer says the team doesn’t need a “mega-guy” like Gordon at the position and instead will try to “hodgepodge it … use a rotation.” It doesn’t seem like an ideal situation for Cleveland and it certainly isn’t one for fantasy owners. The Browns have a slew of receivers on the roster, but none really move the meter — unless you really think Miles Austin or Earl Bennett are primed for huge seasons. I laid my thoughts out on how to handle any potential Gordon suspension in the latest Fantasy Mailbag, but there’s little reason to be excited about any of the guys playing behind him.

Foster likes new role in offense: As he continues his recovery from back surgery last fall, Arian Foster is learning coach Bill O’Brien’s new offense. The early returns? He likes it. The veteran running back is excited about the opportunities the new scheme offers, including a chance to catch more passes out of the backfield. It’s not foreign to Foster, who caught a career-high 66 passes in 2010. It could also signal that the new Houston regime is going to get Foster back to being a workhorse back after former coach Gary Kubiak tried to lighten the load in recent seasons. There’s no doubt that Foster can produce, but can he stay healthy?

Beckham draws high praise: This year’s class of rookie receivers has been praised for its depth, but according to Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman, only one appears ready to jump in right now. That would be Giants wideout Odell Beckham, Jr. According to Gettleman, Beckham was the only rookie who can “run the entire route tree.” It’s a skill that would seem to give the LSU standout a leg up over fellow rookies like Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans. But it might not be enough to change Michael Fabiano’s opinion of drafting rookie wideouts.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

May
21

Austin Seferian-Jenkins favored to start for Bucs

Bucs favoring rookie TE: When Tampa Bay selected tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins early in the second round, the construction of the “Tampa Towers” was complete. Now all signs point toward the rookie being the team’s starter in Week 1 of the 2014 season. Lest you think Seferian-Jenkins has completely wrested the job away from last season’s fantasy surprise, Timothy Wright, think again. New Bucs head coach Lovie Smith is still keeping an eye on the incumbent starter. This could all be a smokescreen to help create a competition in camp, but it’s also a reminder that fantasy tight ends are rarely impactful as rookies. Seferian-Jenkins is worth taking a chance on as a second tight end, but be sure to wait before making the pick.

Rice could still face suspension: Ravens running back Ray Rice could avoid court following a charge of third-degree aggravated assault, but that’s no guarantee that he won’t still be disciplined by the NFL. While it’s unlikely that any possible suspension would be a lengthy one, it’s worth understanding that it’s still a possibility. Bernard Pierce seemed poised to grab a bigger role in the offense this season and would be the presumptive starter for Week 1 if Rice can’t fulfill his duties. Regardless of what happens, fantasy owners would be wise to pair the two backs together on their respective rosters.

Locker closer to full return: Titans quarterback Jake Locker was limited when the team met last month for organized team activities. However coach Ken Whisenhunt says the oft-injured quarterback should be cleared for more expanded work in Tennessee’s upcoming OTAs. For now Locker is the favorite to start for the Titans in Week 1, but considering his injury history, keep an eye on the battle between Charlie Whitehurst and Zach Mettenberger for the No. 2 quarterback job.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

May
20

Malcom Floyd expected to play this season

Floyd feeling like ‘old self': After his 2013 season was cut short by a serious neck injury, reports say Malcom Floyd will play for the Chargers in 2014. Despite entering his 10th season in the NFL, Floyd has always struggled with injuries and has played a full 16 games just once in his career. Signs point to the veteran competing with Vincent Brown to fill the No. 2 receiver role behind Keenan Allen, however it seems more likely that Floyd will fall down the depth chart a slot or two. Getting back on the field is certainly encouraging, but from a fantasy perspective, it’s unlikely that Floyd will draw a lot of interest in drafts.

Little joins Raiders: Last week, Greg Little was released by the Browns. A couple of days later, he was claimed off waivers by the Raiders. For Oakland, there’s not much risk to adding a player like Little to fill out a receiving corps in need of depth. But the Raiders also recently cut ties to a receiver who had problems catching the ball when they cut Darrius Heyward-Bey after the 2012 season. Since a promising rookie season, Little’s numbers have steadily declined. Now entering his fourth campaign, there is immense pressure for him to perform. He’ll need to show progression on the field before fantasy owners can take a chance on him.

Cowboys sign Williams: Running back Ryan Williams has found a home in Dallas just days after being released by the Arizona Cardinals. The former second round pick has failed to stay on the field in any notable way. In three NFL seasons, Williams has played in a total of five games — all of them coming in 2012. With little chance to unseat DeMarco Murray for the top job, Williams could find himself in a pitched battle with Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar for the backup gig. Because of his health track record, things don’t look promising.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

May
19

Jets ‘trying to feature’ Jace Amaro

Amaro wants to catch ‘100 balls a year': The Jets drafted Jace Amaro, hoping that the tight end could be a playmaker akin to Vernon Davis. So far the former Texas Tech standout seems excited about filling that role, saying he wants to “be the tight end that catches 100 balls a year.” While that could be ambitious, New York’s coaching staff seems to be doing all it can to help the rookie reach his goals. According to head coach Rex Ryan, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is looking to feature Amaro in the offense. Don’t read too much into it, however, since rookie tight ends almost never make an immediate impact in fantasy football.

Cooks wants to make ‘immediate impact': By adding Brandin Cooks in the draft, the Saints appear to be restocking a wide receiver position that has been deep for years. The former Oregon State star is ready to jump in with both feet, telling reporters that he believes the team sees him as a player who can “make an immediate impact.” If there’s an NFL offense that lends itself to Cooks being heavily involved early, it’s New Orleans’. Still, fantasy owners shouldn’t reach too high to select Cooks in their respective drafts. He has sleeper appeal, but the chances of him posting an A.J. Green-like rookie campaign are remote.

Hillman fighting for job: Once upon a time, it looked like the Broncos were grooming Ronnie Hillman to eventually take over the team’s top running back spot. A couple of seasons later, Hillman is battling with C.J. Anderson to remain second on Denver’s depth chart. Whoever wins that battle will work behind Montee Ball, but considering how the Broncos tend to rotate their backs, being second isn’t a terrible gig. Keep an eye on that competition in order to find a handcuff for Ball when the time comes.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

May
16

Marcus Lattimore: ‘I’ve had no knee problems’

Lattimore ready for competition: One of the more interesting camp battles to watch this summer will be in the 49ers backfield. While Frank Gore is still the leader of the pack, the additions of Marcus Lattimore and Carlos Hyde in the last two years signals that San Francisco is thinking about the future. The Hyde selection is especially telling, considering Lattimore is trying to recover from a pair of devastating knee injuries with no guarantees that he’ll regain his previous form. However, the former South Carolina star says he’s “had no knee problems” and is looking forward to the competition. San Francisco’s running back situation could be a difficult one to figure out this season — that could be bad news for defensive coordinator and fantasy owners alike.

Rams release Richardson: After drafting Auburn standout Tre Mason, the Rams have cleared some room in their backfield by releasing Daryl Richardson. Before last season, Richardson was expected to challenge for the starting job, but tumbled down the depth chart after struggling mightily. Zac Stacy eventually took over the gig and is expected to hold on to it heading into the 2014 campaign. That leaves Isaiah Pead and Benny Cunningham as the other obstacles to Mason landing as Stacy’s understudy. Considering Pead and Cunningham combined for 282 rushing yards, Mason should have a good shot to win the competition.

Browns add two WRs, cut one: As we await word on Josh Gordon’s future, the Browns are making a few moves to adjust their receiving corps. The team signed veteran free agents Miles Austin and Earl Bennett on Thursday. Cleveland followed it up by reportedly releasing Greg Little on Friday. Currently the Browns have 14 receivers on their roster — but either Miles or the injured Nate Burleson  is the best one not name Gordon. Everything Cleveland has done since the announcement of Gordon’s potential suspension suggests the team doesn’t expect the ban to be significant. We shall see.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

May
15

Alfred Morris: ‘I know I can catch the ball’

Morris wants a bigger role: As a rookie, Alfred Morris was a large part of Washington’s offense. Last season, that role was diminished. Now with a new coaching staff that has designs on throwing it all over the field, Morris could see his role shrink even more. That’s likely why the back is asking for more responsibility, telling ESPN.com that he knows he “can catch the ball.” If it’s a skill Morris has, it’s one that he hasn’t shown much with just 20 receptions in his first two NFL seasons. Even in four seasons at Florida Atlantic, Morris logged just 30 catches. If he doesn’t want to lose snaps to Roy Helu — which is a definite possibility — he’ll need to prove that he can be a credible receiver out of the backfield.

Could Finley return to GB?: As the football world continues to wait for Jermichael Finley’s recovery from a neck injury, Packers coach Mike McCarthy says he wouldn’t mind seeing the tight end return to Green Bay. That goes against the conventional wisdom that said Green Bay would be reluctant to bring back Finley, but he has already shown that he is a great fit in the Packers offense. Before the injury ended his season, it appeared that the veteran pass-catcher was on his way to posting career numbers. It’s hard to imagine he could immediately regain that form when and if he gets back on the field, but he would have interesting sleeper potential — especially in Green Bay.

Cowboys open to Austin return: When the Cowboys released Miles Austin in March, it opened the door for Terrance Williams to step into the team’s No. 2 receiver role. However, it doesn’t mean that Austin’s time in Dallas is over. Coach Jason Garrett says the team would be “absolutely” open to re-signing the veteran receiver. Certainly if the 29-year-old does return to Dallas, it would be as a No. 3 receiver at best and he could find himself battling with Dwayne Harris or Cole Beasley for the job. When he’s on the field, Austin has proven to be a quality fantasy option, but his propensity to injury makes him a risk that fantasy owners will need to think long and hard about before making the selection.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

May
14

Browns standing behind Josh Gordon

Haslam not cutting ties to Gordon: Cleveland fans hadn’t even had 24 hours of happiness celebrating the drafting of Johnny Manziel before the news broke that Josh Gordon could potentially be suspended for an entire season. But Browns owner Jimmy Haslam isn’t fretting over the news of what might be, saying he expects Gordon to be with the team “for a long time to come.” There is much that needs to be played out, but Haslam sounds like a man who isn’t worried about losing his best receiver for an extended period of time. It might also be the reason that Cleveland didn’t pursue a wideout in the draft — to the consternation of many. Until further notice, Gordon should be ranked as one of the top five fantasy receivers available. But it would also be smart to have a contingency plan … just in case.

Bills tried to trade up for Hyde: Earlier this month, the Buffalo Bills swung a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles for running back Bryce Brown. Now comes word that the Bills tried feverishly to trade back into the second round in order to draft Carlos Hyde. They were ultimately unsuccessful with Hyde going to the San Francisco 49ers. However, Buffalo’s recent moves suggest that the team is preparing for a future that doesn’t heavily involve Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller. The 33-year-old Jackson will be a free agent after this season and seems unlikely to remain in Buffalo. Meanwhile, Spiller has struggled with his consistency and doesn’t seem to be in the team’s plans as a lead back going forward. Plan accordingly in your drafts this season.

Henne the expected 2014 starter: The Jaguars might have spent the No. 3 overall pick on Blake Bortles, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to rush him into their lineup. The hope for general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley is that Chad Henne starts all 16 games this season while Bortles develops from the sidelines. Henne wasn’t great during the season — averaging slightly fewer than 11 points per game — but he did improve late in the season, just missing the top 10 over the final four weeks of the season. It’s not likely that the Michigan man will come off the board in a lot of fantasy drafts, but he could remain an interesting bye week option.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

May
13

Johnny Manziel told to ‘act like a backup’

Manziel to compete for starting job: It became well known that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was a fan of Johnny Manziel. But now that Manziel is in Cleveland, he won’t just walk into a starting job. The team owner has said he’s told the Heisman Trophy winner to act “like a backup quarterback.” That echoes the sentiments of head coach Mike Pettine, who said Brian Hoyer was likely to be the team’s starter when the season opened. This wouldn’t be the first time a coach said one thing and did another, but until further notice, it’s probably best to consider Hoyer as the man who will be under center in Week 1.

Texans could still trade for Mallett: All throughout the draft, most observers were waiting for the Houston Texans to draft a quarterback. Most of those observers were underwhelmed when Houston selected Tom Savage in the fourth round. But the team might not be finished in its search for a quarterback. The rumors persist that the Texans are interested in swinging a deal with the New England Patriots for Ryan Mallett. Mallett and Houston coach Bill O’Brien worked together briefly with the Patriots before the coach took over at Penn State. As things currently stand, Ryan Fitzpatrick is slated to be the starter but if Mallett comes to H-Town, that could all change.

Cardinals release Williams: The Ryan Williams experiment is over in Arizona. The Cardinals drafted the running back in the second round back in 2011, but injuries have limited him to just five games in three seasons. As such, the former Virginia Tech star has been released. That creates some room in the Arizona backfield. There’s little doubt that Andre Ellington will be the lead back for Bruce Arians’ team, but it could open an opportunity for Stepfan Taylor to see more touches. Last season, the rookie carried the ball just 36 times — that’s a number that’s likely to increase in 2014.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

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