NFL Rumors: Hottest Speculation of the Preseason
Now that we are actually getting back to playing live football, the rumor mill is only going to speed up as injuries, holdout, and trade speculation all begin to increase.
Already, there are star players that have faced injury and holdouts that are rumored to last long into the regular season. Now that the first round of preseason games are in the books, depth charts are becoming more defined, with some surprises along the way.
Here are some of the hottest rumors going around as the first week of preseason action winds down.
MJD Holdout Could Last into September, Dissention Among the Jaguars
The unthinkable is starting to become a reality for both Jaguars fans and fantasy football players who took MJD in the first round of their fantasy football draft (including myself).
Jones-Drew is ready to hold his ground and take this holdout beyond training camp, Will Brinson of CBSSports.com reports.
There is little doubting the fact that Jones-Drew is the most valuable player on the Jaguars, especially as they try to bring along Blaine Gabbert after a horrendous rookie season.
To make matter worse, coach Mike Mularkey, as Heath Evans said on NFL Network, is "distancing himself from his players." Some of this dissension may stem from his ridiculous policy of not allowing his players to talk about personal injuries to the media. A fine of $10,000 is levied to any player on the Jaguars who violates this rule.
There is still plenty of time for things to improve in Jaguars land, but this is not the kind of start Mike Mularkey had in mind with his new team.
Adrian Peterson Could Be Ready for the Opener
The Vikings' star running back has taken a significant dive on fantasy football draft boards because of the uncertainty surrounding his health. However, he has been taken off the PUP list and should return to practice this week, as reported by ProFootballTalk.com.
Still, coach Leslie Frazier has been hesitant to state whether or not Peterson will be ready to go for the opener:
I want to caution you, I know there are a lot of fans that are very optimistic and excited about seeing him back but for us it’s just a part of the process...It doesn’t mean in the future he’s going to be lining up with our team in the opening game, we don’t know that. We have a long time to determine that, this is just another step in the process.
Frazier's choice of words is more likely to protect Peterson and air on the side of caution in case of a setback. But the fact that Peterson is returning to practice before the second preseason game is excellent news for Vikings fans, and based on his terrific recovery time, it would be an upset if he didn't see action in Week 1.
Terrell Owens Could Start for the Seahawks
Owens has already done more in the NFL this year than most people thought he would, but he could take it a step further and not only make the team, but become an immediate starter for Seattle.
Coach Pete Carroll said that Owens has a chance to start for the receiver-starved Seahawks, according to the team's Twitter page:
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) August 7, 2012
The Seahawks are certainly taking an unusual approach to the receiver position this offseason, signing guys like Terrell Owens and Braylon Edwards and not ruling out any possibilities.
With Sidney Rice's availability up in the air for the season opener, the Seahawks are probably going to keep at least one of the two veteran receivers, and Owens appears to be on the inside track to starting.
Plaxico Burress Will Work out for the Patriots
In an effort to break the world record for signing the most pass-catchers in NFL history, the Patriots are bringing in veteran receiver Plaxico Burress for a workout, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. This will be Plaxico's first tryout of the offseason and the most interest he has garnished since the start of free agency in March.
The Pats certainly have a ton of receivers on their roster and have two defined starters in Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker, but neither player has the size advantage that Burress does.
Plaxico clearly lost a step last year and was ineffective between the 20's, but he was a huge asset for the Jets in the red zone, catching eight touchdowns.
Just imagine trying to cover the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Plaxico at the same time, with Tom Brady pulling the trigger. Yikes.
Nick Foles Could Be Rising Up the Eagles' Depth Chart
With backup Mike Kafka out with a broken hand and Vick battling hand injuries of his own, Nick Foles is going to get a lot more opportunities to shine this preseason.
Foles has already been impressive in camp and had a good outing in the first preseason game against the Steelers.
If Foles can capitalize on extra reps, he could be just one Michael Vick injury away from starting for the Eagles, which, based on Vick's injury history, is a virtual lock to happen at some point.
Jets' Offensive Line Woes Could Mean More Playing Time for Tebow
Neither Jets quarterback was particularly impressive in the preseason opener against the Bengals, but the offensive line did no favors for either player.
Rex Ryan is apparently not encouraged by the way his offensive line played as a unit and suggested that the Jets could use more Tebow-specific packages if the line continues to struggle in pass protection, according to Manish Mehta of the Daily News.
“We’re open to anything,” Ryan said regarding the possibility of using Tebow to mask protection issues.
Anyone who watched the Jets' preseason opener knows that while it is apparent that Mark Sanchez is the superior quarterback, he cannot shake off tacklers like Tebow can. Meanwhile, Tebow broke off a few big gains on the ground on broken plays.
Not only does Tebow have the ability to improvise on broken plays, but being about 40 pounds heavier than Sanchez, he can withstand hits with much less injury risk.
This is not to say that Sanchez will lose his starting job simply because his line cannot block, but if the Jets find themselves in a situation where they simply cannot move the ball because of line issues, it only makes sense to see what Tebow can to to rectify the situation.
Jake Locker Could Start in the Second Preseason Game
While veteran Matt Hasselbeck had a bit of a rough go in his debut against the Seahawks, Jake Locker appears to be closing the gap and getting closer to starting for the Titans.
According to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, Mike Munchak suggested that Locker could be the starter for the Titans as soon as the next preseason game based on his comments to the media:
I think overall, as the season progressed last year, we thought that Jake was coming on real strong. … So yeah, he has closed the gap and they are obviously both doing well. We are happy with both of them and at some point we’ll make a decision.
Whether or not Locker starts this week or not is almost irrelevant. The fact is, everyone on the planet knows that Locker is going to start at some point this season, especially if Hasselbeck continues to struggle and make the decision even easier that it should be.
Greg Jenning's Concussion Is Not Going Away
In one of the more under-reported news bits of the offseason, Greg Jenning's concussion, which he suffered in a preseason scrimmage, is taking a lot longer to go away than coaches anticipated, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Having already missed 10 days of camp due to the same concussion, coach Mike McCarthy's patience is growing thin:
"It's not going as well as Greg would like. It's going to be a couple more days."
The good news for the Packers is that they have a ton of depth at receiver and the best quarterback in the game to throw them the ball. It would be a shock to see this linger into the regular season, but if there is any team that is equipped to handle a situation like this, it's the Packers.
Still, concussions can be tricky and could become quite alarming if they do not go away in a "normal" amount of time. This situation bears watching.
Greg Schiano Has Yet to Settle on a Starting RB
When the Bucs selected Doug Martin in the first round of the draft, it was all but assumed that Blount's days as a starter in Tampa Bay were over.
However, Martin is taking a bit longer to seize the starting job than most expected. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Greg Schiano is not ready to name a starter just yet:
"Until it happens, I'm not going to make it happen...We have two good backs and a lot of teams do that."
Schiano does make a good point: A lot of teams utilize a two-back system, and it appears as if the Bucs are prepared to enter the season without a clear-cut starter.
However, it is unclear as to why the Bucs are hesitant to name their first-round pick a starter right away. Hopefully for Tampa Bay, it is because Blount has impressed coaches, but it could also be a negative reflection on Martin's performance in camp so far.
Ryan Tannehill Could Start Next Preseason Game
After a very impressive debut against the Bucs, Ryan Tannehill is getting more reps with the first team and could be on his way to starting in the next preseason game over veteran Matt Moore, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald:
Plan is to get Ryan Tannehill snaps with starters vs. starting Carolina defense. My guess is he STARTS. But just a guess.
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) August 12, 2012
Just a few days ago, the Dolphins were trying to decide between David Garrard and Matt Moore as to who will start in the opener, but after Garrard went under the knife this week, the door has opened for Tannehill to make a case to be the starter by Week 1.