The slate of exhibition games wrapped up Thursday with most of the regulars already in rest mode waiting for the games to count. But at least a few fringe contributors saw enough of the field to make an impression.
Start in Cincinnati, where Bengals coach Marvin Lewis gave Jeremy Hill 20 carries so the rookie could get used to the workload of an NFL feature back—a workload he didn’t see as part of a deep backfield rotation at LSU. Hill responded with 90 yards on those 20 carries and added another 70 on six receptions. It was impressive enough that, to the surprise of almost no one, the Bengals released BenJarvus Green-Ellis Friday afternoon--leaving Hill to pair with Giovanni Bernard in Cincy's "Thunder & Lightning" backfield.
Also flashing in Week 4: Bears WR Santonio Holmes, in camp as a potential replacement for injured third receiver Marquess Wilson. Holmes had just one catch but demonstrated he still has explosive speed by turning a short slant into a 32-yard touchdown. Holmes also burst upfield for a 30-yard punt return, a skill set less used over the past few seasons but one that might secure him an NFL roster spot—if not in Chicago, then certainly for a receiver-challenged squad like the Browns.
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Patriots WR Aaron Dobson saw his first work of the preseason after missing time while recovering from foot surgery. Dobson caught three passes for 57 yards, including a 33-yard TD grab, and looked ready to step into New England’s patchwork receiving corps—maybe as the WR1. Also looking good in New England was newly acquired tight end Tim Wright, who caught four balls for 43 yards. Unfortunately the Pats had to give up Logan Mankins to get Wright and Mankins’ expected replacement at left guard, Josh Kline, gave up a pair of sacks while playing the entire game.
As if the Giants needed more reason to worry about their struggling offense, the toe injury to guard Geoff Schwartz might not be as innocuous as once believed. The word now is that Schwartz’s dislocated toe might land him on the IR/Designated to Return list, which would free up a roster spot but also keep Schwartz on the sideline for the first half of the season. A two-month absence for Schwartz would be bad news for Eli Manning and Rashad Jennings in particular and the Giants’ new-look offense in general.
With NFL rosters needing to be at 53 by Saturday afternoon, you can expect the cuts to start pouring in. Nothing of fantasy note has happened as of this writing, unless you view Marc Mariani’s contributions to the Titans’ D/ST as fantasy noteworthy, but one position sure to see some shakeup is kicker. Shayne Graham is no lock to beat out Derek Dimke in New Orleans for the cushy job of kicking indoors for a prolific Saints offense, and Cody Parkey’s pair of 50-plus field goals in the exhibition finale may not be enough to unseat Alex Henery in Philly but will certainly get him a look elsewhere.
And finally, Friday tends to be “suspension announcement day” for the league offices as they look to bury the bad news while everybody’s heading out for the weekend. Vikings wideout Jerome Simpson saw his three-game suspension upheld, which might end up costing him his spot on the Minnesota roster—though being buried behind Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings and even Jarius Wright on a run-first offense didn’t exactly make Simpson a hot fantasy commodity.
Don’t be surprised if later Friday interested IDP parties finally learn the fate of 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, who has been waiting on a decision regarding his appeal for the past three weeks.
That’s it for The Huddle Daily; bring on the regular season!
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