NFL training camp buzz: Can Eli own 70 percent completion rate?
If there was ever a doubt, Eli Manning is now aware of what the completion percentage standard is, according to new Giants quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf. It’s 70 percent.
While Manning has never eclipsed a 63 percent completion rate, the veteran quarterback is hopeful he can connect with his targets a bit more frequently.
“I think that’s the goal,” Manning said, via the team’s news conference transcript. “That’s what we’re working toward, finding completions and getting the ball out in a timely fashion. We’re hoping to get into that high 60s and maybe into that 70 percent. That’s kind of a goal that we set for the beginning of the year.”
Playing in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s West Coast-style offense, Manning will be called upon to make shorter passes with quicker releases. Operating behind a re-tooled offensive line with a handful of pass-catching additions, the optimism is growing that Manning can rebound from a dismal 2013 campaign.
Accounting for 31 turnovers and taking 39 sacks a season ago, Manning looks to be more decisive. It all starts from the ground up, including the most important quarterback fundamental of all: footwork.
“We want our footwork to match what’s going on downfield,” Langsdorf said. “If our footwork is correct and such that it’s telling you, ‘OK, it’s time to throw the ball,’ then we want to trust our feet and know that it’s time to get rid of it or it’s time to get out of there. So that’s part of it. We don’t want them standing back there and holding the ball, taking sacks.”
Challenging Manning to complete 70 percent of his passes is one thing, but it won’t be easy. It’s a short list of quarterbacks, including Drew Brees, Joe Montana and Steve Young, that have ever reached that mark in a season.
No Suh for you?
Contract talks between the Lions and three-time All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh hit a snag Monday and will be tabled until after the season, team president Tom Lewand said. Both Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew remain optimistic, however, that a deal will eventually be agreed upon.
With a salary cap number of $22.4 million, a long-term extension was expected. As negotiations incurred, the talks between the two sides slowed down.
Despite a franchise number of $25.7 million in 2015, Lewand told reporters that the Lions remain open to slapping the tag on Suh.
After not picking up the fifth-year option on Nick Fairley’s rookie deal, the Lions may have put themselves in a situation where they could lose two stout interior linemen next season.
Time for a little hope in Buffalo
The devastating news that Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso would miss the season with a knee injury shook the franchise to the core. If it’s any consolation, rookie linebacker Preston Brown has showed glimpses of greatness thus far in training camp. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz pumped the brakes on the early buzz, though, as he’d like to see how the rookie performs in game situations. Brown, 21, will get his first chance on Sunday against the Giants in the Hall of Fame Game.
“He’s been impressive so far, but practice is different than games,” Schwartz said Monday, via the team’s transcript. “There’s a different nature to being out there when there’s real action going on out there and he’s under the clock and a different offense and those things. That’s really the hallmark of a player, is what he does on game day. But he’s given us every indication that he’s ready for it.”
In other Buffalo news, the mysterious illness that has sidelined left tackle Cordy Glenn for the first week of training camp will likely not prevent him from missing the season opener, according to The Buffalo News’ Tim Graham, citing a source.
Young desert phenom brewing?
Third-round picks out of Pittsburg State aren’t supposed to generate the type of buzz wide receiver John Brown has created.
In fact, the rookie wide receiver has become one of the team’s most tantalizing storylines outside of running back Andre Ellington’s workload and wide receiver Michael Floyd’s emergence in the offense. Even Arizona brass has been dazzled by the 24-year-old.
"I can tell you so far we haven’t been able to cover him," Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said via ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss.
While the Cardinals added another straight-line speed threat this offseason in Ted Ginn, Brown could prove to win the role in the slot.
Colts LB Werner gaining ground
Moments after Colts linebacker Robert Mathis’ four-game suspension was levied, questions about who would replace the league’s sack leader emerged. While it wasn’t a shock that second-year pass rusher Bjoern Werner would get the first opportunity, the imposing defender made the most of his first offseason.
“He looks excellent,” Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said of Werner, via the team’s transcript. “You can see the dividends are paying off, the time he put in. He looks really good.”
The first five days of step-up duty have amounted to heaping piles of praise. After being a disruptive force and reportedly tallying multiple sacks on Andrew Luck, the third-year quarterback noted Werner’s play.
“He’s savvy. He’s got a great athletic sense,” Luck said. “You see him dropping back into coverage and he covers a lot of ground. He’s a big body and he has great ball instincts.”
Notable nicks and bruises
Just because it’s training camp doesn’t mean that players aren’t susceptible to injury — especially with many teams practicing in pads for the first time.
Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin: An MRI revealed a bone bruise to the rookie wide receiver’s left knee, head coach Ron Rivera said. “There is nothing structurally wrong,” Rivera said, via the team’s Twitter account. Benjamin should be sidelined just a few days and will get back to work once the swelling goes down.
Redskins WR Pierre Garcon: The sixth-year wide receiver had his hamstring flare up, but it’s nothing that should bleed into the season. While hamstring injuries are wildly unpredictable, head coach Jay Gruden assured reporters that Garcon will be fine.
Bears WR Alshon Jeffery: A sore foot, according to Bears head coach Mark Trestman, sidelined the third-year wide receiver. While Jeffery is considered day-to-day, the Bears will resume practice Wednesday.
Bucs CB Alterraun Verner: The Bucs’ prized offseason acquisition sat out Monday’s practice while he deals with a hamstring injury. It’s nothing to be worried about, though, as the cornerback said it wasn’t serious.