Training Camp Preview: NFC West

Thu Jul 28 1:38pm ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Related photo caption below

Penny has long injury history


This is the final preview in a series of training camp previews. The previews give you a quick look at each team, going over position battles and injuries to watch in camp. The season is right around the corner.

Rams

The Rams won it all last year, so the big story of this camp will be if they can do it again or will they have a Super Bowl hangover. It is so very hard to repeat, but the Rams certainly have the talent to make a run once again. Los Angeles begins their quest for a second straight Super Bowl at the University of California-Irvine in Irvine, Calif. 

Position battle: The Rams don’t have a lot going on with position battles. Things are pretty set with this team. The only thing we might keep an eye on is the running back spot. Cam Akers is the starter but his finish to last year was a little concerning, doing little during the Rams playoff run. Akers was returning from a major injury, though, so that could have impacted his play. Either way, Darrell Henderson might make a push for playing time if Akers shows any struggles. We would expect Akers to be fine, but his play is something to watch this camp. 

Injury watch: Matthew Stafford had to get an anti-inflammatory shot in his elbow this offseason. He is ready for the start of camp, but is going to be put on a pitch count for his throws. His elbow injury shouldn’t be much of an issue, but is at least something to watch. If he has any setbacks, this might impact the start to his season. 

Cardinals

Arizona had high expectations last year but faded down the stretch. Much of this camp will focus on consistency for a whole season. Can the Cardinals play at a high level all year? This team needs to avoid the late-season swoon if they hope to reach expectations. The Cardinals train at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Position battle: With DeAndre Hopkins suspended to start the season, the Cardinals have some openings at receiver. There are targets available. Marquise Brown should start and Rondale Moore will work out of the slot, but the No. 2 receiver opposite Brown is up in the air. A.J. Green, Andy Isabella and Antoine Wesley are the top candidates to win that job. It really is wide open, especially if you consider Green struggled a little last year with his chances. 

Injury watch: Marquise Brown injured his hamstring before the start of camp and is going to be slowed some to start camp. The good news is the injury isn’t considered too serious and he should be practicing very shortly. It is an injury to watch, though, because Brown is going to play a big role for his new team. He needs to get healthy and back on the field to get up to speed in the offense.  

49ers

San Francisco has their franchise quarterback, Trey Lance, taking over this year. This will be the story of camp for the team. Lance has a lot of pressure on him to get better and perform at a high level for the team. He certainly has the talent to do it, but seeing his progress on the field will be something for fantasy owners to keep a close watch. Lance could be a top fantasy player because of his skill set. Lance and his teammates will get a chance to show his stuff at the SAP Performance Facility in Santa Clara, Calif. 

Position battle: Elijah Mitchell is the starter for the 49ers, but the top backup job seems wide open. Rookie Tyrion Davis-Price, Jeff Wilson and Trey Sermon are the top options for the job. And this is a position battle to watch because the backup in San Francisco will get touches in this offense. Davis-Price might be the best bet to win the job, but he isn’t going to be handed anything. He will need to earn it. 

Injury watch: George Kittle had a calf injury at the end of last season that kept him out of OTAs during the offseason. Kittle should be just fine for the start of camp, but all the missed time because of this calf injury makes it one to keep an eye on to make sure it is properly healed. Kittle has endured some injury issues the last few seasons, so the 49ers are hoping to buck that trend. 

Seahawks

Seattle is in a full rebuild mode after trading quarterback Russell Wilson. He has been a mainstay for the team, so it will be interesting to see how the offense looks without Wilson at the helm. The Seahawks are going to have a quarterback battle on their hands. This should be the big focus on camp, seeing which quarterback emerges to start for the Seahawks. Seattle holds training camp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Wash.

Position battle: For the first time in a long time, the Seahawks will have a new quarterback this year. It is going to be either Geno Smith or Drew Lock. Smith seems to have a slight lead right now, but this job is truly wide open. Both players are going to get their chances to prove their worth. Lock might have the higher ceiling of the two, but needs to clean up his play on the field to win the job. 

Injury watch: Rashaad Penny has a long injury history but proved his worth late last season, posting huge numbers in a starting role. He is going to be the starter in this offense as long as he is healthy. Penny already had an injury this offseason, missing some work because of a sore hamstring. Penny will be the starter as long as he is healthy, though. The Seahawks just need him on the field, though, and can’t afford for him to miss any more time. 

Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

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New Orleans Saints practice squad RB Latavius Murray will be signed to the Denver Broncos 53-man roster, according to a source.

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Blake Martinez Oct 3 9:30pm ET
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Linebacker Blake Martinez is signing a deal to join the Las Vegas Raiders according to The Score's Jordan Schultz. Martinez was released by the New York Giants right before the season started after a two-year tenure in the Big Apple. He will rejoin former Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who is now with the Raiders. Martinez posted four straight seasons of at least 144 tackles from 2017 to 2020 and could have some value in IDP leagues if he garners a full-time role with the Raiders. The terms of the deal have yet to be posted.

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Matthew Stafford Oct 3 9:20pm ET
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Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman Coleman Shelton left Week 4's Monday night game against the San Francisco 49ers with an ankle injury and was ruled out for the remainder of the game shortly after. Shelton injured his ankle during the first quarter and then tried to play on the following drive but ultimately ended up heading back into the locker room. Shelton was replaced on the offensive line by Jeremiah Kolone at center. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford will have his hands full for the remainder of the game against the San Francisco defense.

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Latavius Murray Oct 3 9:10pm ET
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The Denver Broncos signed running back Latavius Murray off of the New Orleans Saints' practice squad on Monday. Murray logged 11 rushes for 57 yards and a touchdown for the Saints against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4 but he will now head to Denver to help fill out the running back room following the season-ending injury to Javonte Williams. Murray will join Melvin Gordon III and Mike Boone with the Broncos. It remains to be seen if Murray will have a role, or even suit up, against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5's Thursday night game after he just played in London on Sunday. Murray will be worth monitoring in fantasy in case he carves out a significant role with the Broncos.

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Latavius Murray Oct 3 8:33pm ET
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New Orleans Saints RB Latavius Murray and TE J.P. Holtz were returned to the practice squad Monday, Oct. 3, after being on the active roster for the Week 4 game.

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Cole Beasley Oct 3 8:33pm ET
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Cole Beasley was returned to the practice squad Monday, Oct. 3, after being on the active roster for the Week 4 game.

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Jordan Akins Oct 3 8:23pm ET
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Houston Texans TE Jordan Akins and Mason Schreck were returned to the practice squad Monday, Oct. 3, after being on the active roster for the Week 4 game.

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Treylon Burks Oct 3 8:13pm ET
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Brian Robinson Jr. Oct 3 8:13pm ET
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Randy Gregory Oct 3 8:00pm ET
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Chase Young Oct 3 8:00pm ET
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Russell Wilson Oct 3 7:50pm ET
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Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said that wide receiver Rashod Bateman (foot) was dealing with a foot injury in the second half of the Week 4 loss to the Buffalo Bills, which is why he was not on the field in the fourth quarter. The Ravens are listing Bateman as day-to-day for now, so fantasy managers will need to keep an eye on his practice status throughout the week leading up to a Week 5 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday Night Football. Unless the 22-year-old suffers a setback this week, he should be on track to suit up this week. He played a season-low 44 percent of the snaps on Sunday and caught just three of six targets for 17 yards. With better health in Week 5, fantasy managers will be hoping he can bounce back after scoring touchdowns in each of the first two weeks.

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Melvin Gordon Oct 3 7:40pm ET
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With Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams (knee) out for the season due to a torn ACL, the Broncos will have to rely more on Melvin Gordon III, who has fumbled five times in his last 44 carries over five games. Sunday's Week 4 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders marked the third time a Gordon fumble has been returned for a touchdown in the Broncos' last 12 games. The 29-year-old was listed as limited on Monday's practice estimate with a neck injury, but he should be fine ahead of Thursday night's Week 5 game against the Indianapolis Colts, where he should lead Denver's backfield despite his fumbling issues. Mike Boone might be involved as well the rest of the way, but Gordon should be Denver's primary back, giving him RB2 upside moving forward.

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Danny Gray Oct 3 7:30pm ET
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San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Danny Gray (hip) and defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (knee) are both officially inactive on Monday night against the division-rival Los Angeles Rams. The Niners also placed linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair (knee) on Injured Reserve. Tight end Ross Dwelley (rib) and defensive tackle Arik Armstead (foot), who were questionable, are officially active. Gray wasn't able to practice all week and came into this one doubtful to play. Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk will continue to work as the team's top pass-catchers, as well as tight end George Kittle. Jauan Jennings and Ray-Ray McCloud will battle for scraps against a tough Rams defense Monday night.

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Tevin Coleman Oct 3 7:30pm ET
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The San Francisco 49ers promoted wide receivers Willie Snead IV and Malik Turner and running back Tevin Coleman from the practice squad to the active roster for Monday night's game against the division-rival Los Angeles Rams. Snead and Turner will be battling for a depth role among the likes of Jauan Jennings and Ray-Ray McCloud behind Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk on Monday night. Meanwhile, Coleman will provide depth to a banged-up Niners backfield with Elijah Mitchell (knee) on Injured Reserve and rookie Tyrion Davis-Price (ankle) out for another week. Jeff Wilson Jr. will remain the team's primary back against the Rams, with rookie Jordan Mason and Marlon Mack behind him.

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Malcolm Brown Oct 3 7:30pm ET
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The Los Angeles Rams elevated running back Malcolm Brown and offensive tackle Chandler Brewer from the practice squad to the active roster for Monday night's contest against the division-rival San Francisco 49ers. The 29-year-oLD Brown won't have much of a role at all on Monday behind Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson Jr. and Jake Funk. Browns spent the first six seasons of his NFL career with the Rams before playing in seven games (three starts) for the Miami Dolphins last year, when he had just 33 carries for 125 yards and one touchdown while adding three catches for 10 yards. Unless LA's backfield is decimated by injuries on Monday night, it's highly unlikely that we'll see Brown on the field.

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