Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers:
I think this pretty much says it all:
With injuries to Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, and Kyle Williams, Davis is looking like he’s ready to explode this season. Reports out of camp are that they Niners are using him in a variety of ways, and preparing to have him be their number one option when the season starts.
A tight end end as the number one option spells Pro Bowl, which is where a lot of people feel Davis may end up after this season. But then again, it’s only training camp.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Indianapolis Colts:
When DHB signed a one year deal with the Colts, I’ll be the first to admit that I had dreams of 1,000 yard seasons now that he actually has a stud quarterback throwing him the ball in Andrew Luck. After all, when he got Carson Palmer last season, his stats really started to soar before he got decimated by a Steelers defender.
But as with anything DHB-related, it always starts and ends with his hands. Early reports out of Colts camp are that Heyward-Bey is dropping balls even during non-contact, no pads drills. DHB has struggled throughout his career with this, as any Oakland Raiders fan can tell you. Fortunately, the Colts don’t have much of a choice but to play him.
Heyward-Bey has always had the speed to succeed in the NFL, but his inability to catch balls (especially without pads) might result in him getting cut before the season even begins. Still, he did follow up his poor performance with a decent third day, and he and Luck seem to have good chemistry together. I think the overreactions are a bit unnecessary, and see DHB sticking with the Colts and being targeted plenty.
- Side note: Davin Meggett is battling for a third string running back spot behind Ahmad Bradshaw and anyone not named Donald Brown. No news on his performance yet, though.
Kevin Dorsey, Green Bay Packers:
Initially I was pretty excited about Kevin Dorsey being drafted by the Packers because it meant that he’d be getting balls thrown to him by arguably the best in the biz. Much like Heyward-Bey, I assumed he’d thrive with a great quarterback like Rodgers, but again much like Heyward-Bey, things haven’t gone as planned.
Dorsey has been injured for the vast majority of his time with the Packers. First it was his hamstring, and now the former Terp is out indefinitely with a leg injury. Dorsey was drafted by the Packers, but that doesn’t automatically earn him a roster spot. The team didn’t even have enough receivers to play a full scrimmage last practice, and that has to rub the coaching staff the wrong way.
For now, Dorsey just has to get healthy and impress the minute he can. Coaches show at least some empathy to injured players, and you have to assume they’ll be patient wit him. Let’s just hope Dorsey gets it together soon or it’ll be over before it began.
AJ Francis, Miami Dolphins:
It’s early, but AJ Francis is getting noticed for his on-field performance already. A couple days ago he had a fantastic practice where he batted a ball and also had a would-be sack (if contact were allowed) after some sub-par practices.
Francis is going to have to continue to work his butt off if he intends to make the Dolphins roster, and it looks like he’s starting things off well. A few more practices like this and he’ll surely find himself on someone’s roster, in Miami or otherwise.
Joe Vellano, New England Patriots:
Joe Vellano is another former Terps defensive player who is shining early for the New England Patriots. During full-contact drills, Vellano apparently impressed with his speed off the snap, and apparently gave some linemen trouble.
Vellano is vying for an open spot, and as an undrafted rookie faces an uphill battle. But if he’s impressing early with the Patriots, they might keep him on if only because he’s got one thing they need most: character.
LaQuan Williams, Baltimore Ravens:
Williams is hoping to catch on with the Ravens for a third straight season, and even though he only recently returned to practice, he appears to be in the lead already. Williams has been with the Ravens for the longest amount of time, and is an effective special teams player (which the Ravens love). He will have to continue to prove himself to earn that last receiver spot, though.
His biggest opposition comes from Marlon Brown, the Georgia Bulldogs stud who tore his ACL and missed all of last season. Reports early are that he has not impressed, so things are looking up for Williams.
Darin Drakeford, Kansas City Chiefs:
Finding information on Drakeford is like prospecting for gold in 2014 — there’s just not much out there, and what is out there isn’t substantial.
Drakeford is on the Chiefs training camp roster, and he’s definitely batted away at least one ball, but for the most part little is known about his performance. The Chiefs are seemingly always riddled with injury issues, so my hope is that Drakeford puts together enough solid practices to warrant keeping around in the event of more injuries.
Adrian Moten, Cleveland Browns:
Not much to say about Moten other than he’s battling out a linebacker position with a lot of talented players. The position is virtually wide open though, except for D’Qwell Jackson’s spot as the annual leading tackler on the Browns. Oh, he a Terp.
Moten probably doesn’t have the upper hand here, but when they start full-contact drills perhaps Jackson can tip the team off to him further.
Last season, Moten finished with 7 tackles in ten games with the Colts.
Isaiah Williams, Oakland Raiders:
Same story with Heyward-Bey, actually. He’s been dropping balls at training camp and generally making the coaching staff upset. It’s kind of hard to blame him when Matt McGloin is throwing you the ball though.
Will Yeatman, Miami Dolphins:
The lax star-turned-tight end-turned-offensive lineman is probably going to remain on the Dolphins for the time being. He did get smoked pretty badly on one play, but he’s been on the roster for a couple years now and will probably remain there.