Sat Jul 31 8:28pm ET
By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Aldon Smith runs a drill during NFL football practice Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Aldon Smith talks to reporters after NFL football practice Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Aldon Smith talks to reporters after NFL football practice Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
RENTON, Wash. (AP) Aldon Smith knows the Seattle Seahawks are giving him another chance at prolonging his once derailed NFL career.
It remains unclear whether another off-field transgression will keep Smith from playing for the Seahawks this season.
Smith spoke with reporters Saturday following the conclusion to the first week of Seahawks training camp, but said, ''I can't comment on it right now,'' when asked about his offseason arrest for battery in Louisiana. He is scheduled to be arraigned in late August.
The outcome of that case could determine whether Smith faces any additional discipline from the NFL and if his comeback that started last season with Dallas will continue in Seattle.
For now, Smith's focus is on the field and appears to have the support of the organization.
''We're gonna be there for him, we're gonna look after him. He's gonna get everything we got every step of the way,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ''The burden falls on him and he knows that. But it's really important, I think, for him to feel the support.''
Smith was arrested in April in St. Bernard Parish near New Orleans on a second-degree battery charge. Deputies responding to a call for medical assistance found a man who said he had been assaulted by an acquaintance outside a business in Chalmette. Detectives identified the suspect as Smith and took out a warrant.
The incident took place two days after Smith signed his one-year deal with Seattle.
The arrest was another in a lengthy list of off-field problems for Smith. Police in San Francisco issued a warrant for his arrest on a domestic violence charge in 2018.. He avoided jail time in the domestic case by serving a 90-day sentence as part of his alcohol and drug rehab.
He's also been arrested on multiple drunken-driving charges and spent four full seasons out of the league due to suspensions.
Smith was reinstated by the NFL last spring after signing a one-year deal with the Cowboys. He had not played in the NFL since 2015 but in his lone season with Dallas, Smith appeared in 16 games and had 48 tackles and five sacks.
Smith has been candid about his past off-field problems and the importance of his sobriety in getting back to being capable of playing football again.
''There's a lot of people who wish that they could play this game and I'm glad that I just got a chance to be able to do the things I needed to do to get mentally right,'' Smith said. ''That I could be in a position that when I came back, I could be focused on giving what I need to give it to be able to play.''
After going to the 49ers with the seventh overall pick in the 2011 draft, Smith set an NFL record with 33 1/2 sacks in his first two seasons. San Francisco reached the Super Bowl in his second season, losing to Baltimore, and played in the NFC championship game each of his first three years.
His career spiraled from there but the opportunity last year in Dallas provided Smith hope of still being a productive player.
The Seahawks told Smith he didn't need to be around for their offseason program or minicamp following his arrest, trusting he would do what was needed to be ready for the start of training camp.
''It was just letting let me know that the people here have my back and that they were willing to work for me,'' Smith said. ''It just made me feel that much more comfortable with the decision that was made.''
Carroll's been impressed with what Smith has shown the first few practices. Smith said he's slimmer than he was last year in Dallas when he was asked to play inside and on the edge, joking he was ''kind of fat,'' last year.
But while he's slimmer and still looks the part of a productive pass rusher, there will remain uncertainty about what he can provide for Seattle until there is clarity about his legal situation.
''He's been very open with us. He's told us when things were harder than others, and he's been upfront in that regard. That's helped us understand and believe, and trust that he's working at it, and that it isn't easy and it's a lifelong commitment that he has to make,'' Carroll said. ''We really sense that the more we can support him, the more obviously we can be there for him, the stronger it makes him.''
Jacksonville Jaguars veteran wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. is off to a strong start in camp. Per Jamal St. Cyr of News4Jax, Jones "has made big plays on every day of camp. He will be a big-time player for the Jaguars this year." It's no surprise that Jones is already making plays. Jones has been of the most consistent wide receivers in the NFL over the last few years, often thriving as a secondary option on the outside. Jones doesn't have the ceiling of Laviska Shenault Jr. or D.J. Chark, but he's proven and figures to be a priority target for rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence has looked excellent in camp thus far, increasing the likelihood that Jones can provide value despite fierce target competition. Jones projects as a WR 4/5 coming into 2021, but he has a WR3 ceiling that is reachable if the Jaguars air it out and target him in the red-zone.
Going into his third season, Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin is ready to make that next step into the elite category of receivers. Peter Hailey of NBC Sports Washington said McLaurin "balled out" during one-on-one drills on Friday. This is noteworthy because recently McLaurin said he "anticipates more one-on-one matches" because of the improved weapons that Washington has on offense heading into the 2021 season. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and McLaurin have already connected on several deep passes during some practice drills, so it seems their chemistry is right where it needs to be at this point during training camp. McLaurin is being drafted as a WR1 in fantasy, and with good reason. He is primed for a breakout season and has top-5 wide receiver potential this season.
Fresh off a three-year contract extension, Washington Football Team tight end Logan Thomas is building a strong connection with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick at training camp. While running red zone offense drills, Fitzpatrick connected with Thomas multiple times. Washington Football Team reporter Zach Selby said that Thomas will be a favorite target of Fitzpatrick's close to the end zone this season. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Thomas caught six touchdowns in 2020, and with a bigger role in the red zone this season, can improve his production in what projects to be a much improved offensive unity this season. He will probably be second in line for targets behind Terry McLaurin, with newly signed Curtis Samuel also pushing for targets. Thomas remains a safe option as a TE1 going into 2021.
Washington Football Team All-Pro offensive guard Brandon Scherff and offensive tackle David Sharpe were added to the COVID-19 Reserve List on Saturday. The two join wide receiver Curtis Samuel, cornerback Chris Miller, defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis, and offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas, bringing the team's total up to six. The loss of Scherff for the time being could have an impact on running back Antonio Gibson and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick during camp, as the offense will have to take reps with some second-team offensive linemen. This is not a cause for concern, as there will be plenty of time for the Washington Football Team to get their COVID-19 situation under control.
Washington Football Team wide receiver DeAndre Carter has made quite the impression through the early stages of the team's training camp. The 28-year-old is battling for a roster spot, and head coach Ron Rivera has been impressed with his play. Team reporter Zach Selby noted that Carter has been making plays throughout the entirety of training camp, and his versatility is giving him a strong chance at a roster spot. The dual return ability of Carter is making him stand out, along with some impressive touchdown receptions during the team practices. Carter will not be on the fantasy radar even if he were to make the roster, but his impressive camp is worth noting. A lot would need to transpire for Carter to possess any sort of fantasy value, so he can be disregarded for the time being.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. appears to have taken head coach Urban Meyer's offseason challenge to heart. Meyer challenged Chark to play stronger, and per SI's Kassidy Hill "Chark has worked to respond, by all indications, even bodying up a few defenders on Saturday." Chark is reportedly up to 6-foot-4 210 pounds after playing below 200 pounds in 2020. Despite a disappointing 2020 season in which he finished as just the WR48 in PPR formats, Chark is still an athletic freak and he has plenty of upside this season. With rookie phenom Trevor Lawrence on board, Chark will benefit from the best QB play of his career, which should allow for better efficiency after he posted a poor 7.5 yards per target in 2020. Chark projects as a high-end WR3 with plenty of upside in 2021.
The Cleveland Browns and running back Nick Chubb have agreed upon a contract extension. The three-year, $36.6 million extension comes with $20 million fully guaranteed and will keep Chubb in Cleveland through the 2024 season. Chubb was the No. 35 pick in the 2018 draft and has been selected to the Pro Bowl twice over his three years in the league. One of the best pure runners in the league, Chubb will continue to form a formidable one-two backfield punch with teammate Kareem Hunt, who was lobbying for the Browns to extend Chubb earlier in the offseason. Chubb can be trusted as a rock-solid RB1 in fantasy drafts for the 2021 season.
The New Orleans Saints have agreed to a one-year contract with free-agent running back Devonta Freeman Saturday. The terms of the deal are unknown, but the agreement comes after New Orleans hosted Freeman for a visit. Both Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray were participants at practice, so the move seems to be a depth signing unless the team indicates otherwise. The seven-year veteran was an All-Pro with the Falcons back in 2015 and 2016 but hasn't reached such highs since, largely due to injury. Freeman figures to be little more than a change-of-pace back in New Orleans unless an injury occurs.
According to head coach Kevin Stefanski, the Cleveland Browns plan to grow tight end Austin Hooper's role in 2021. Hooper was a disappointment in 2020, his first season with the Browns, finishing with 46 catches for 435 yards and four touchdowns. While his numbers weren't great, Hooper did see a decent target share, drawing 70 targets despite missing three games. If Cleveland does end up utilizing Hooper more frequently, he could wind up a value in fantasy drafts, considering he's being drafted as a low-end TE2 in fantasy drafts. With a full offseason to work with quarterback Baker Mayfield and another year of continuity in the Stefanski offense under his belt, Hooper has some sleeper upside in 2021.
There has been no recent progress toward a contract extension between the Buffalo Bills and QB Josh Allen, according to NFL Network's Kim Jones. Both sides could agree to shelve discussions until after the season if no deal has been reached by Aug. 15.
Fantasy Spin: The 25-year-old Allen is coming off a breakout 2020 campaign, where he threw for a career-high 4,544 yards and passed for 37 touchdowns while scrambling for eight more. Most of his offensive weapons will be back this season and he should be one of the first quarterbacks selected in all fantasy formats.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has been mostly working out of the slot in the early days of training camp. During the summer, Smith-Schuster lobbied new OC Matt Canada for more outside snaps but it appears that he will remain in the slot, where he spent most of his time during the 2020 season. While playing out of the snap will limit Smith-Schuster's explosive plays, he caught 97 balls and scored nine touchdowns from that spot in the offense last year. Many expect this to be Smith-Schuster's final season with the Steelers as he attempts to cash in on a long-term deal in free agency following the 2021 season, so it is understandable that he wants to put up big numbers. Smith-Schuster is worth drafting as a high-end WR3 in fantasy drafts this season.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins put together a good week of practice as he attempts to win the No. 2 QB job in camp. Head coach Mike Tomlin stated, "I like what he's doing. He's taking care of the ball, but at the same time, he's being aggressive." Haskins has been working as the No. 3 quarterback behind Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph thus far. According to The Athletic's Mark Kaboly, Haskins is fitting into new OC Matt Canada's offense, has flashed a strong arm, and has shown good accuracy. While he's far off the radar in redraft, Haskins is worth keeping tabs on in deep, superflex dynasty leagues as this is expected to be the final season of Roethlisberger's career and Haskins could get a shot at the starting job in 2022.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor failed his initial conditioning test and developed a lower body injury in the process. Reagor was reportedly dealing with the recent murder of a childhood friend and was not "physically or mentally ready to pass the test." Reagor was disappointing as a rookie last season, but so was most of the Eagles offense. DeVonta Smith and Travis Fulgham have been running with the first team offense early in training camp, but as long as he stays healthy, Reagor should be on the field more than enough to develop some fantasy value if the Eagles figure out how to move the ball. He's worth a later round pick in most formats in case he can reach the upside that got him drafted in the first round just a year ago.
Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook has been intentionally limited in training camp for the second year in a row. In 2020, it was believed the reprieve was due to Cook having yet to sign a contract extension, but after inking a new deal since then, he is being given the same treatment through the start of the 2021 camp's practice sessions.
Fantasy Spin: This is a wise move on Minnesota's part in effort to avoid unnecessary wear and tear on the star back. Cook knows the system and is obviously more than capable of producing within it. He touched the ball 356 times in 2020, second in the NFL behind Tennessee's Derrick Henry (397). Cook is the No. 2 overall selection per ADP consensus, and there's a reasonable argument he could warrant being chosen first.
Minnesota Vikings TE Irv Smith has shown better chemistry with QB Kirk Cousins through the first three days of training camp than Cousins did with former Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph. Vikings reporter Judd Zulgad believes this could result in a big season for Smith. Zulgad said, 'There has been talk about how much of a factor the recently signed Dede Westbrook might be as the third wide receiver. But it's much more likely that if someone other than Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen put up significant numbers, it will be Smith.'
Fantasy Spin: This is music to the ears of gamers already on the Smith bandwagon. The third-year tight end has a real opportunity to make a dent for fantasy purposes, but he may be quite inconsistent based on how much Minnesota loves to run the ball and the pass-catching role of RB Dalvin Cook. Smith is a stronger choice in best-ball formats, but he makes for a worthwhile TE1 selection once the top eight or so safer choices come off the board.
Minnesota Vikings DE Danielle Hunter has been rotated between left and right defensive end during practice in effort to create mismatches. He appears to be 'a full go,' even though the Vikings are not yet in pads.
Free-agent TE Jordan Matthews (49ers) agreed to terms with the San Francisco 49ers Friday, July 30. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
New Orleans Saints OT Derrick Kelly (undisclosed) and CB P.J. Williams (undisclosed) passed their physicals Friday, July 30, and were activated from the Active/Non-Football Injury list.
Atlanta Falcons TE Lee Smith was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Friday, July 30.