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Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Breaking down the backfields

Senior Fantasy Writer
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If Fantasy Football were played in an ideal world, we'd have every team use a three-down running back like the Vikings, Buccaneers and Browns. But unfortunately for every team that has a featured runner there are two more with a tandem or committee.

It makes for a frustrating experience at times, and it's why we preach drafting running backs early. The more three-down running backs you have the better off you'll be during the season.

The problem is that not every owner in a 12-team league can lock up even two running backs who do it all. You have to deal with specialists -- guys who play on passing downs or work at the goal line.

Figuring out how to dissect each backfield can be tough, so we're here to help. This is a look at all 32 backfields with a breakdown of how each prominent running back will be used during the year.

We'll break down the workload for each team and hopefully give you an understanding of some of the running backs to target late on Draft Day based on what role they will play.

AFC East

Bills
C.J. Spiller/Fred Jackson
This is a role reversal from the past three seasons when Jackson was the starter and Spiller was the backup. We know how it's going to work now with Spiller getting the ball "until he throws up," according to offensive coordinator Nathanial Hackett. That doesn't sound like much work will be left for Jackson. But as we saw in the third preseason game against Washington, all it takes is one injury for Spiller (he hurt his knee against the Redskins) and Jackson could be right back in there. Make sure you handcuff Jackson to Spiller with a pick in Round 10.
Rushing downs split: 80/20 Spiller
Passing downs split: 80/20 Spiller
Goal-line split: 60/40 Spiller

Dolphins
Lamar Miller/Daniel Thomas
The Dolphins want Miller to be their workhorse running back, but his struggles in pass protection have kept Thomas in the mix for the starting job. But don't be mistaken, Miller will dominate carries -- he just might come off the field in passing situations. That was the case in the third preseason game against Tampa Bay. Miller had eight carries for 35 yards, while Thomas ran more south than north with seven carries for 3 yards. Thomas played more on passing plays, but Miller remains worthy of a third or fourth-round pick in all leagues. Thomas is just a late-round flier.
Rushing downs split: 70/30 Miller
Passing downs split: 60/40 Thomas
Goal-line split: 55/45 Miller

Patriots
Stevan Ridley/Shane Vereen
This might be the best Fantasy backfield in the league. It was in 2012 with Ridley and Danny Woodhead, and they can easily repeat. Ridley and Woodhead were each Top 24 Fantasy running backs last year in standard leagues, but Vereen has more upside than Woodhead. Their roles are defined with Ridley handling the rushing duties, and Vereen will work in passing situations. The good thing for Vereen, however, is he will also get plenty of attempts since New England was second to Seattle in carries last year and should again be run dominant. Ridley will likely be drafted in Round 2, and Vereen is someone to target in Round 5. LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden would only become relevant with an injury.
Rushing downs split: 70/30 Ridley
Passing downs split: 90/10 Vereen
Goal-line split: 70/30 Ridley

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Jets
Chris Ivory/Bilal Powell
Maybe I'm stubborn, but I'd rather have Ivory than Powell even though Powell may open the season as the starter. While Powell has sleeper appeal based on Ivory's injury concerns, he doesn't have Ivory's upside. Ivory has the potential to be a Top 20 Fantasy running back when he's on the field if he gets the majority of carries. If Powell is put in that role he would only be a flex option at best. We'll see how it shakes out during the season, but I'd rather gamble on Ivory if I had to choose. No matter what, Powell will be on the field for passing downs since Ivory has just 18 career catches dating back to college. I wouldn't worry too much about Mike Goodson this year.
Rushing downs split: 55/45 Ivory
Passing downs split: 80/20 Powell
Goal-line split: 70/30 Ivory

AFC North

Ravens
Ray Rice/Bernard Pierce
The Ravens want to get Pierce involved this season based on how he played in 2012. He will play a significant role, but Rice is still going to be the bell cow of this backfield. He remains a first-round pick, and will likely be great value toward the bottom of the first round. Rice has at least 250 carries and 60 catches in each of the past four years, and he's scored 21 touchdowns the past two seasons. Pierce is a great handcuff and could end up as a flex option. With Dennis Pitta (hip) going down and Anquan Boldin gone, the Ravens need Rice and Pierce to be successful and will use both in tandem at times. This is one of the best backfields in the NFL this year.
Rushing downs split: 70/30 Rice
Passing downs split: 70/30 Rice
Goal-line split: 70/30 Rice

Bengals
Giovani Bernard/BenJarvus Green-Ellis
I'm giving Green-Ellis the edge in every category except passing downs because I expect him to still get more work in those areas, at least early in the year. But no one wants to draft Green-Ellis. We all want Bernard, and rightfully so. He has more upside than Green-Ellis, and we'd love a role reversal where Bernard was the starter. He's someone to target in Round 4 or 5 in all leagues, and Green-Ellis is only worth a mid-round pick at best. In PPR leagues, Bernard could be a star.
Rushing downs split: 55/45 Green-Ellis
Passing downs split: 80/20 Bernard
Goal-line split: 55/45 Green-Ellis

Browns
Trent Richardson/Brandon Jackson
The Browns have already lost two backup running backs with Dion Lewis and Montario Hardesty going on injured reserve. That doesn't bode well should Richardson get hurt, but no one wants to think about that. This is going to be the Richardson show. He has the chance to be a Top 3 Fantasy running back this year if he can avoid the minor aches and pains that plagued him as a rookie. Draft Richardson with confidence as early as No. 5 overall, and Jackson has now become the handcuff.
Rushing downs split: 90/10 Richardson
Passing downs split: 90/10 Richardson
Goal-line split: 90/10 Richardson

Steelers
Le'Veon Bell/Isaac Redman/Felix Jones/LaRod Stephens-Howling
It sounds like Bell (foot) isn't going to be out very long, and he could even return before Pittsburgh's bye in Week 5. That would be a best-case scenario, but we're optimistic Bell avoided a long-term injury. He should be considered the best Pittsburgh running back this year. Redman has the chance to step in for Bell until he returns, and he's worth a late-round flier. We'd ignore Jones and Stephens-Howling since they have limited upside, but the key is getting Bell back on the field. When he's there -- and healthy -- he should dominate touches.
Rushing downs split: 60/20/10/10 Bell/Redman/Jones/Stephens/Howling
Passing downs split: 50/20/20/10 Bell/Redman/Stephens-Howling/Jones
Goal-line split: 60/20/10/10 Bell/Redman/Jones/Stephens-Howling

AFC South

Texans
Arian Foster/Ben Tate
This used to be such a simple backfield to break down. Foster was the man, Tate would get some occasional work as a handcuff and Fantasy owners would be thrilled. That might not be the case this season. Foster is coming off a season with too much work (460 total touches including the playoffs) and could be in line for a breakdown or a scale back in touches. That opens the door for Tate to be a potential flex option, and he had over 1,000 total yards and four touchdowns in 2011. Foster remains a first-round pick, but he's no longer a Top 5 overall selection. And Tate is worth drafting in Round 6 in all formats. Should Foster get hurt and miss an extended amount of time then Tate could be this year's Spiller as a backup who elevates to Top 10 status.
Rushing downs split: 70/30 Foster
Passing downs split: 80/20 Foster
Goal-line split: 70/30 Foster

Colts
Ahmad Bradshaw/Vick Ballard
All of these percentages for Bradshaw are based on him being healthy, and he's expected to miss the entire preseason with a foot injury. If he plays 16 games, Bradshaw could be a solid No. 2 Fantasy running back or flex option. But it's hard to count on him for a full year given his history of foot problems. If Bradshaw is out, Ballard would be the featured back, but he's now getting pushed by Donald Brown. We still consider Ballard the No. 2 option, and he's worth a late-round flier. The Colts want Bradshaw to be the man here, but he needs to get on the field and prove he can stay healthy.
Rushing downs split: 80/20 Bradshaw
Passing downs split: 80/20 Bradshaw
Goal-line split: 80/20 Bradshaw

Jaguars
Maurice Jones-Drew/Jordan Todman/Denard Robinson
It's good to have Jones-Drew back from last year's foot injury, and hopefully he won't have a setback this season. When healthy, Jones-Drew is a workhorse, and the Jaguars don't have anyone to keep him off the field. Todman has done well this preseason, and he earns No. 2 status ahead of Justin Forsett. Robinson is not a handcuff option, but he will get some work. If Jones-Drew goes down this backfield could be a mess, so hopefully that doesn't happen. Draft Jones-Drew in the third round, and leave everyone else on waivers.
Rushing downs split: 70/20/10 Jones-Drew/Todman/Robinson
Passing downs split: 70/20/10 Jones-Drew/Robinson/Todman
Goal-line split: 85/10/5 Jones-Drew/Todman/Robinson

Titans
Chris Johnson/Shonn Greene
This is another backfield that could be special based on what the Titans did to improve their offensive line. Johnson is going to have a bounce-back season, and he's worth drafting early in Round 2. The yards will be there for Johnson, but we'll see how many touchdowns he scores with Greene now on the roster. Don't overlook Greene with a late-round pick (he could score eight touchdowns), and Johnson will hopefully restore your faith in him after two down years. I'm excited for the Titans running game this season.
Rushing downs split: 70/30 Johnson
Passing downs split: 80/20 Johnson
Goal-line split: 60/40 Greene

AFC West

Broncos
Montee Ball/Ronnie Hillman/Knowshon Moreno
Ball has always been the Broncos running back to target on Draft Day, but he wasn't given the chance to prove it in the preseason with Hillman as the starter. The Broncos appear to be turning the job over to Ball sooner rather than later with Hillman having fumble issues. Moreno is also expected to play a role since he's the best option in pass protection. Heading into the final preseason game, we'd rank the Broncos backfield Ball, Moreno and Hillman. All three are worth drafting, but Ball is the only one with starter potential.
Rushing downs split: 50/30/20 Ball/Hillman/Moreno
Passing downs split: 50/30/20 Moreno/Hillman/Ball
Goal-line split: 60/20/20 Ball/Hillman/Moreno

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Chargers
Ryan Mathews/Danny Woodhead
I hate to say it, but Mathews has been impressive in the preseason. He looks like the running back we expected to see last year before collarbone issues and a poor offensive line ruined him. He's now in the conversation as a potential starter, and he's a definite flex option with a pick in Round 5. Woodhead will play on passing downs, and either Ronnie Brown or Fozzy Whitaker will also play a role. Besides Mathews, Woodhead is the only other running back worth drafting in San Diego with a late-round pick.
Rushing downs split: 70/30 Mathews
Passing downs split: 70/30 Woodhead
Goal-line split: 70/30 Mathews

Chiefs
Jamaal Charles/Knile Davis
This backfield should be one-sided with Charles about to become a star for coach Andy Reid. We got a scare from Charles with a foot injury in practice, but he's fine now, putting Davis back in a secondary role. Charles should have a career season in 2013, and Davis is worth a pick in Round 10 as a handcuff. Look for Charles to do it all, and we'd draft him as early as No. 3 overall.
Rushing downs split: 80/20 Charles
Passing downs split: 80/20 Charles
Goal-line split: 80/20 Charles

Raiders
Darren McFadden/Rashad Jennings/Marcel Reece
We all know the drill by now with McFadden. If he can stay healthy he'd be a star, but every year he finds a way to miss games for one injury or another. Jennings or Reece don't inspire much confidence should McFadden go down, so let's hope McFadden has a career season in a contract year. Reece was great in place of McFadden last year, but he remains a fullback. McFadden is the only Oakland running back to draft, and if (when?) he gets hurt just see who fills in to add off the waiver wire.
Rushing downs split: 80/10/10 McFadden/Jennings/Reece
Passing downs split: 60/30/10 McFadden/Reece/Jennings
Goal-line split: 70/20/10 McFadden/Jennings/Reece

NFC East

Cowboys
DeMarco Murray/Lance Dunbar/Joseph Randle/Phillip Tanner
The only reason for listing three guys behind Murray is the uncertainty surrounding the handcuff option, which is important given Murray's injury history. He's missed nine games over two seasons and has proven to be fragile to start his career. If he were to miss time, the initial thought was the Cowboys drafted Randle for that role, but Dunbar showed he was the early favorite in training camp. Then he sprained his foot, which has re-opened the door for Randle and Tanner. The only guy worth drafting here is Murray, and he should be great if healthy. That's a big if, however, given his track record.
Rushing downs split: 70/10/10/10 Murray
Passing downs split: 70/10/10/10 Murray
Goal-line split: 70/10/10/10 Murray

Giants
David Wilson/Michael Cox/Da'Rel Scott
The Giants must now find a backup running back behind Wilson after Andre Brown broke his leg in the final preseason game against the Patriots. Brown is likely out until at least Week 10, meaning Wilson will be a star. Behind him, at least to start the season, is a combination of Cox and Scott, and it's not very encouraging. We wouldn't draft Cox or Scott in any leagues, and the Giants will likely add another running back for depth. Wilson is the only one worth drafting, and he should be considered a high-end No. 2 Fantasy running back early in Round 3. He will handle every-down work, and we expect Wilson to have a breakout campaign.
Rushing downs split: 80/10/10 Wilson/Cox/Scott
Passing downs split: 80/10/10 Wilson/Cox/Scott
Goal-line split: 80/10/10 Wilson/Cox/Scott

Eagles
LeSean McCoy/Bryce Brown
You've probably heard a lot about Chip Kelly's offense and how much they're going to run the ball. That's true. But this isn't Oregon, and the Eagles aren't going to be sitting on a lead late in games most weeks. McCoy is going to dominate touches, and he's undervalued in some regard going at No. 11 overall in Average Draft Position. I consider him a Top 5 running back. Brown is a good backup and a tremendous handcuff, but he's not going to keep McCoy on the sideline often. Chris Polk could also be in the mix, but he's not worth drafting.
Rushing downs split: 70/30 McCoy
Passing downs split: 70/30 McCoy
Goal-line split: 70/30 McCoy

Redskins
Alfred Morris/Roy Helu
Morris was awesome last season and should continue to be a star. He's going to work on all rushing downs and be featured at the goal line. But in passing situations, Helu will be a factor this year after missing most of 2012 with a toe injury. He had 49 catches in 2011, and he could be around 40-plus receptions this year. He's the handcuff to Morris and worth a late-round flier in all leagues, especially PPR formats. You can forget about Evan Royster this season barring an injury.
Rushing downs split: 80/20 Morris
Passing downs split: 70/30 Helu
Goal-line split: 80/20 Morris

NFC North

Bears
Matt Forte/Michael Bush
The addition of coach Marc Trestman is going to help Forte regain superstar status. He's worth drafting early in Round 2 in standard leagues, and he should be a first-round pick in PPR formats. The Bears might even keep Forte in near the goal line, which would only enhance his value. Bush is a good handcuff and also worth drafting in touchdown-only leagues. But barring an injury to Forte we're not expected to see Bush doing much heavy lifting this season.
Rushing downs split: 70/30 Forte
Passing downs split: 80/20 Forte
Goal-line split: 55/45 Bush

Lions
Reggie Bush/Joique Bell/Mikel Leshoure
We're giving Leshoure a token mention here based on name only, but he's fallen to third on the depth chart, which is disappointing. Bush could have a career year with the Lions if he runs like he did with the Dolphins the past two seasons and is used as a receiver like he was with the Saints to start his career. The latter is almost guaranteed since the Lions attempted 116 passes to Bell (68 targets) and Leshoure (48) last season, and they combined for 86 receptions. Bush is a better receiving threat than both. Bell is now the handcuff for Bush, and he's worth drafting with a late-round pick, especially in PPR formats.
Rushing downs split: 70/20/10 Bush/Bell/Leshoure
Passing downs split: 70/20/10 Bush/Bell/Leshoure
Goal-line split: 60/30/10 Bush/Bell/Leshoure

Vikings
Adrian Peterson/Toby Gerhart
The only way Peterson is coming off the field is because of an injury. Otherwise he will dominate touches like he did last season compared to Gerhart with 388 (348 carries) to 70 (50 carries). Gerhart is only worth a late-round pick as a handcuff option.
Rushing downs split: 90/10 Peterson
Passing downs split: 90/10 Peterson
Goal-line split: 90/10 Peterson

Packers
Eddie Lacy/Johnathan Franklin/Alex Green
Lacy is trending up with DuJuan Harris (knee) out for the season and Franklin struggling. He has moved into No. 2 running back territory based on his opportunity, and he could dominate carries for an explosive offense. We'd take Lacy as early as Round 3. Franklin and Green are only worth late-round fliers, and Harris' injury also allows James Starks to remain relevant. And, of course, don't forget about John Kuhn, who could ruin a Fantasy week for a Packers running back when he steals an occasional touchdown.
Rushing downs split: 70/20/10 Lacy/Franklin/Green
Passing downs split: 40/30/30 Lacy/Green/Franklin
Goal-line split: 70/20/10 Lacy/Franklin/Green

NFC South

Falcons
Steven Jackson/Jacquizz Rodgers
The Falcons brought in Jackson to replace Michael Turner, and he gives Atlanta an every-down back, which relegates Rodgers to just a handcuff option. He will likely see action on some passing downs and to give Jackson a breather, but Jackson can do it all and has the chance for a big year. We consider Jackson a high-end No. 2 running back worth drafting in Round 2, and Rodgers is just a late-round flier.
Rushing downs split: 80/20 Jackson
Passing downs split: 70/30 Jackson
Goal-line split: 90/10 Jackson

Panthers
DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart/Mike Tolbert
We're keeping Stewart second on the list because if he can return from the physically unable to perform list at 100 percent with his injured ankles he could play a prominent role. This backfield without Stewart is uninspiring, but Williams still has flex potential. Tolbert will also play a role, especially near the goal line, and the Panthers should try to involve speedy rookie Kenjon Barner as much as possible. Williams would be the only one worth drafting, but Tolbert did lead the Panthers in rushing touchdowns (seven) and catches (27) last year.
Rushing downs split: 50/40/10 Williams/Stewart/Tolbert
Passing downs split: 40/30/30 Tolbert/Stewart/Williams
Goal-line split: 40/30/30 Tolbert/Williams/Stewart

Saints
Darren Sproles/Mark Ingram/Pierre Thomas
This backfield is pretty cut and dry despite being a three-headed monster. Sproles plays on passing downs, which gives him an edge since the Saints are a pass-heavy team. He led the backfield with eight touchdowns last season (seven receiving) despite being fourth in carries behind Ingram, Thomas and Ivory. Ingram and Thomas have the chance for solid years this season and look like flex options. Ingram will handle rushing duties and should work at the goal line, and Thomas is the hybrid of the other two. We'd draft Sproles first (Round 4 in standard leagues, Round 3 in PPR), and Ingram and Thomas are worth mid-round picks.
Rushing downs split: 50/30/20 Ingram/Thomas/Sproles
Passing downs split: 60/30/10 Sproles/Thomas/Ingram
Goal-line split: 50/30/20 Ingram/Thomas/Sproles

Buccaneers
Doug Martin/Mike James/Brian Leonard
Like Cleveland with Richardson, Tampa Bay would be in trouble if Martin went down. James and Leonard would likely share touches, but the Bucs are going to give Martin plenty of work in his sophomore campaign. He's a Top 5 overall pick in all leagues, but you don't have to draft his backup in most re-draft leagues. Should Martin go down, you can add either James or Leonard off the waiver wire depending on who is slated for more work.
Rushing downs split: 80/10/10 Martin/James/Leonard
Passing downs split: 70/20/10 Martin/Leonard/James
Goal-line split: 80/10/10 Martin/Leonard/James

NFC West

49ers
Frank Gore/Kendall Hunter/LaMichael James
Gore, 30, is getting older and coming off consecutive seasons with a heavy workload after going to the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl in back to back years. It's troublesome, but there's one saving grace -- the 49ers have the best offensive line in the NFL. So even though the 49ers do a good job of limiting his carries (he only had five games with more than 20 carries and didn't have consecutive games with 20 carries until the playoffs) he's still effective in limited doses (11 games with double digits in Fantasy points in 2012). Hunter will take some carries from Gore, and James will work some on passing downs. But unless Gore gets hurt he's still a Top 20 Fantasy rusher.
Rushing downs split: 70/20/10 Gore/Hunter/James
Passing downs split: 50/30/20 Gore/James/Hunter
Goal-line split: 60/30/10 Gore/Hunter/James

Seahawks
Marshawn Lynch/Christine Michael/Robert Turbin
Lynch remains the featured option in this backfield, and he should be considered a Top 10 overall pick in standard leagues. In two years as the starter for Seattle he has scored 25 total touchdowns with more than 1,400 total yards in each season, and he could easily get 1,500 total yards and 10 touchdowns this year. Michael is the handcuff option, and he's worth a late-round flier. We'd only consider Turbin in deep PPR leagues, but you probably don't need to draft him, especially with Michael having a stellar preseason.
Rushing downs split: 70/20/10 Lynch/Michael/Turbin
Passing downs split: 50/30/20 Lynch/Turbin/Michael
Goal-line split: 80/10/10 Lynch/Michael/Turbin

Cardinals
Rashard Mendenhall/Ryan Williams/Stepfan Taylor
The only Cardinals running back worth drafting is Mendenhall. Coach Bruce Arians said he only likes one guy in the backfield, and based on his options in Arizona, we don't blame him. Williams can't stay healthy, and Taylor isn't ready. He could use Andre Ellington or Alfonso Smith, but Mendenhall will get plenty of work as long as he can stay healthy, which could also be a problem given his knee troubles. Mendenhall is a flex option in all leagues, and he's the only Cardinals running back to draft.
Rushing downs split: 80/10/10 Mendenhall/WilliamsTaylor
Passing downs split: 80/10/10 Mendenhall/Williams/Taylor
Goal-line split: 80/10/10 Mendenhall/Williams/Taylor

Rams
Daryl Richardson/Isaiah Pead/Zac Stacy
When training camp started this was a jumbled backfield with all three running backs having the chance to start, but Richardson has run away with the job. He's looked good, but the other two have looked equally as bad. Pead and Stacy will still play a role during the season, but Richardson is really the only one to target on Draft Day. He should be considered a flex option worth a pick beginning in Round 6 or 7.
Rushing downs split: 60/30/10 Richardson/Pead/Stacy
Passing downs split: 70/20/10 Richardson/Pead/Stacy
Goal-line split: 50/30/20 Richardson/Stacy/Pead

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Player News
Chargers' Franklin: Rivers more 'approachable' than Manning
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(10:47 am ET) Chargers offensive lineman Orlando Franklin, in an appearance on NBC Sports Network's Pro Football Talk Live, said Philip Rivers is a more "approachable" quarterback than Peyton Manning

Franklin spent the past four years with the Broncos and has played with Manning the past three seasons. He joined the Chargers this offseason as a free agent. 

“[O]ne thing I noticed immediately when I got here is that Philip Rivers is definitely more approachable than Peyton,” Franklin said. “I don’t know if it was because I was a lot younger being that I met Peyton in my second season and now meeting Phillip going into my fifth season but definitely I will say Phillip is more approachable than Peyton.”


Lions DT Caraun Reid taking strides during early OTA's
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(10:28 am ET) With Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley gone, there will be a lot of opportunities for defensive tackle Caraun Reid to contribute for the Lions, per mlive.com.

Though it's still early during organized team activities, Reid has impressed coach Jim Caldwell thus far. 

"I think he's done a tremendous job just in terms of his approach to it," Caldwell said. "He looks good, increased his strength, his lean muscle has gone up, I mean, the whole gamut. So, hopefully we'll see that translate when we get an opportunity to go out there and go after it."

Reid, a fifth-round pick out of Princeton in 2014, has gotten a majority of the first-team reps during OTA's, which defensive coordinator Teryl Austin says ties back to the hard work he put in during the offseason.

"He's trained really hard, he's in really good shape," Austin said. "He looks good right now. Obviously, we'll have to wait and see once we get to pads where we are, but I like what he's done so far."

Reid appeared in 12 games last season and recorded just two tackles.


Colts Bjoern Werner: 'I can be a baller' when healthy
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(10:26 am ET) Since he was selected in the first-round of the 2013 draft, Colts defensive end Bjoern Werner has been banged up and bruised with various injuries. 

For Werner, playing through these ailments has frustrated him through the first two years of his career. He's totaled 68 tackles and 6 1/2 sacks through 28 regular-season games int wo seasons. 

"I don't want to sound cocky, but personally, I feel like when I'm out there and healthy, I can be a baller," Werner said, via the Indianapolis Star. "I can do it all. You always have to get that mojo going of course. But I'm telling you, I'm confident I can be an NFL player and a starter in this league."


Jets' Bowles: Leonard Williams 'more mature than the average rookie'
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(10:20 am ET) Jets coach Todd Bowles has been impressed with rookie defensive end Leonard Williams' maturity since bringing him on board. 

"He's more mature than the average rookie," Bowles said, via NJ.com. "He's grasping the system quickly and he's moving around well out of pads, but to really judge him, you have to see him in pads for the linemen."

Williams was taken by the Jets with the sixth-overall pick, even though the organization has plenty of defensive line talent on the roster. Bowles said that Williams doesn't look the part of someone coming out of college when it comes to the way he presents himself on and off the field. 

"Just the way he carries himself," Bowles said. "He doesn't carry himself like a young 20-year-old. He's got years beyond his age and the way he comes in and walks into it, treating it professionally."


Jaguars DE Dante Fowler has surgery to repair torn ACL
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(10:14 am ET) Jaguars rookie defensive end Dante Fowler underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL sustained in rookie minicamp, according to the Florida Times-Union

Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery. 

Fowler will miss his rookie season as a result. He was the team's first-round selection and the draft's third-overall selection. 


Lions TE Eric Ebron struggling with drops early in OTA's
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(10:13 am ET) The Lions need tight end Eric Ebron to be one of their primary offensive weapons, but the second-year player has not looked like that early on in organized team activities, per mlive.com.

The 22-year-old is suffering from a severe case of butter fingers. He dropped at least three well-thrown balls and mishandled a high pass that hit his hands.

Ebron, though, is confident he will work through the drops and expects them to be a thing of the past.

"The one over the middle I shouldn't have dropped. Got down on myself, and it made me drop the next one," Ebron said. "That's just stuff that I've been practicing (to prevent), and I let it get to me.

"But it's Day 2 of OTAs. We're just out there competing. I'll settle down. Today was a bit jittery, but I'll settle down and that'll never happen again."

Ebron caught 25 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown in 13 games last season.


Colts getting Jack Mewhort reps at right tackle
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(10:10 am ET) Colts offensive lineman Jack Mewhort received the majority of his snaps on Wednesday at right tackle, according to ESPN.com. 

Mewhort was getting these reps due to Gosder Cherilus unavailable. Mewhort entered the league as a left guard. 

"Versatility is hard to find," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "So obviously him playing a bunch of spots and playing everywhere along the line is definitely the more you can do. I think everybody is well aware of that spot and us trying to fill that hole right now. I'm fully confident that we've got the guys in this building right now that we're going to be fine there."


Broncos LB Brandon Marshall still rehabbing foot injury
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(10:01 am ET) Broncos inside linebacker Brandon Marshall was able to lift weights with his teammates during Wednesday's OTA practice, according to the team's website. 

Marshall is still recovering from a foot injury which has kept him off the practice field thus far. 

"I think it will be fairly soon," Marshall said, "because I feel really good, honestly."

Marshall injured his foot in a December game against the Chargers and later played through the pain in the playoffs against the Colts. He said that watching practice hasn't been as much fun as being out there. 

"It's kind of tough, because while I'm out here, I need to pay attention; I need to watch more film, because when you do it more, you get a better feel for it," he said. "I have to learn through visual learning and just trying to soak up as much information as I can, because when training camp comes, it's going to come fast, and I've got to learn fast. I'll be all right.


Giants new-look offensive line on display in OTA's
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(10:00 am ET) The Giants have completely remodeled their offensive line unit for the start of organized team activities.

Compared to last year's o-line, only two players are back but even those guys have switched positions and shifted along the line. Justin Pugh has gone from right tackle to left guard and Weston Richburg shifted from left guard to center.

Will Beatty, who was a mainstay at left tackle last season, will miss five to six months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Beatty's injury has paved the way for rookie Ereck Flowers to step in at the left tackle position.

Quaterback Eli Manning is still adjusting to all the moving pieces in front of him.

"Obviously, having a new center can be an adjustment," Manning said. "But (Weston) Richburg was here last year and I got snaps with him last year, so that hasn't been a big deal. Anytime you have a rookie at left tackle, it can be an adjustment."

Geoff Schwartz and John Jerry are splitting time at right guard, while Marshall Newhouse has been taking the snaps at right tackle.


Texans' Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett splitting first-team reps
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(9:52 am ET) As expected, Texans quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett split reps with the first-team during Wednesday's OTA practice, according to the Houston Chronicle

Hoyer is no stranger to competing for a starting job after going through the process in Cleveland against Johnny Manziel a year ago. 

“I’ve been through it before,” Hoyer said. “I’m not going to let it affect me and I’ll just be myself and really focus on the things that I can control.”

Hoyer, behind an offensive line that struggled following Alex Mack's season-ending injury, finished 2014 with 3,326 yards, 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Mallett, who suffered a season-ending torn pectoral, appeared in three games for Houston and threw for 400 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. 


 
 
 
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