We don’t quite know what NFL training camp will look like this year, but when it comes down to it, expect a lot of the same narratives to emerge as usual. Teammates will be battling each other for starting roles while coaches make difficult decisions about who has earned the right to start at key positions.
Which of these battles are worth keeping a close eye on? Here are five to watch this preseason.
Marlon Mack topped 1,000 yards rushing for the Indianapolis Colts last season, and it looks like he has a good chance of keeping his starting job.
In a conference call with the media on Monday, Colts coach Frank Reich hinted that Mack would start over rookie Jonathan Taylor. Reich did also indicate though that Taylor and Nyheim Hines would have prominent roles.
“There’s definitely inherent respect for the starter returning,” said Reich, per Kevin Bowen of 1070 The Fan. “And that’s the way I see this … I see it as a 1-1 [punch]. The way that the league has gone and the way role playing has been elevated in our league, it’s made it prominent. We used to say in San Diego that when we had Danny Woodhead. He was not our starter, he was our ‘role playing’ starter. He played such a significant role. He had 80 catches in a year.
“You look at a guy like Nyheim Hines,” Reich added. “We talk about Marlon and Jonathan, but what about Nyheim? He’s such a good third-down back that he’ll play a prominent [role]. In some ways, [Hines] is a starter. He’s a role-playing starter.”
The Colts used a second-round pick in this year’s draft on the first team All-American Taylor, leading many to believe that he could unseat Mack as the starter. But Mack had an excellent 2019 season, rushing for 1,091 yards and eight touchdowns despite missing multiple games with a hand injury.
In any case, Taylor’s speed (and Hines’ change-of-pace ability for that matter) is a good complement to Mack’s explosiveness, which is an encouraging development for the Colts in an offseason that has been full of them.
The NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award can be tough to predict. It’s based as much on opportunity as anything else; if you don’t play as a rookie, you’re obviously not going to excel. Add in the uncertainty of predicting how a first-year player will adapt to the league, and it can be a bit of a crapshoot.
Still, we can make some educated guesses based on opportunity and ability. With that in mind, here are our five early favorites for 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Standout Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor left Saturday’s game and was treated in the medical tent early in the second quarter.
While there was no obvious play where Taylor got hurt, Fox cameras caught him walking with a slight limp on the sideline. A few moments later, he was seen heading to the medical tent, and was replaced by a committee of Garrett Groshek and Nakia Watson for the team’s first drive of the second quarter.
Fox reporter Jenny Taft said Taylor was being treated for cramps and was being given fluids. He was considered questionable to return. He was having a mammoth day before leaving the game, having gone for 143 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter.
Taylor’s Michigan counterpart also seemed to be dealing with some sort of physical issue during the game.
We’re starting to get into the business end of the college football season, with conference championship games a little more than a month away. That means it’s not too early to start thinking of awards, including the Heisman Trophy, the sport’s most prestigious.
Even in late October, we have a pretty solid idea of who has a good chance of being invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony and ultimately winning the trophy. Here are the ten leading candidates as things stand.
10) Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemsom
Lawrence doesn’t quite have the elite stat line you look for in a Heisman contender, but he has a pretty favorable schedule coming up and a very real opportunity to lead the Tigers to an unbeaten record headed into bowl season. Those two factors alone mean his performances are worth watching. The freshman has thrown for 1,176 yards and 12 touchdowns to just two interceptions and looks like a budding star. Even if 2018 proves too soon for Lawrence, it’s easy to see him seriously contending for the Heisman in a year or two.
It may be early, but we know who’s starting to stand out among college football’s elite players. They may not necessarily be household names, and they may not ultimately be Heisman contenders, but they’re absolutely stuffing the stat sheet and doing big things for their teams on both sides of the ball.
Here are ten college football players who have stood out so far in 2018.
Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Maybe Murray is going pro in the wrong sport. With 863 passing yards, eight touchdowns, and one interception, he’s certainly looked the part of a star Oklahoma quarterback. He also adds a dual threat, with 169 yards rushing and two touchdowns so far. He’s been so good that he had one rival coach wishing he’d gone pro a year early. He’s looking like a promising early-season Heisman candidate through three games.
The college football season is upon us, which should have fans pumped across the country. Though it will take a while to get a sense for the best 25 teams in the country, we do have our preseason top 25 entering the first full slate of games. Those teams will be relying on some key players all season. Here is a look at the most important player for each of the preseason’s top 25 teams.
1) Alabama — Tua Tagovailoa, QB
After taking over the second half of the national championship game, Tagovailoa showed what he can do. He is mobile, fearless, and has a big arm. He can give Alabama the kind of big-play ability at quarterback they haven’t seen for a while — possibly ever. He has no shortage of talent around him, much of it NFL-level, and he has already demonstrated skill and poise in the most pressure-filled situation. Expect him to have a solid year at minimum.
Though we’re still months away from the start of the 2018 college football season, spring games and practices are a nice reminder that it’s not too early to begin considering who could contend for the Heisman Trophy. There will be no repeat winner with Baker Mayfield headed to the NFL, and the field looks to be wide open with no clear favorite — and a lot of young upstarts who could potentially vie for the famous trophy.
Here are ten leading candidates. It could be a very good year for running backs.
1) Bryce Love, Stanford
The 2017 runner-up could well end up taking the prize in 2018. He finished second in the nation with 2,118 rushing yards, plus 19 touchdowns. He surprised some by deciding against entering the NFL Draft, but the decision made him a favorite for next year’s Heisman. Stanford returns most of its offense. The big concern for Love is whether he’ll remain healthy considering he battled an ankle injury all season last year. If so, that could result in a huge season for the Cardinal star.
Georgia defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor was kicked off the team Wednesday about three hours after he bonded out of jail for a felony assault/family violence charge.
According to police, Taylor, a redshirt sophomore, allegedly “choked and struck his girlfriend several times with a closed fist after an argument in a Georgia residence hall room early Tuesday morning.”
The police report says the girlfriend told police she was physically assaulted by Taylor.
According to the Savannah Morning News, the police report said the victim had “visible scratches and red marks to her neck and bruises on her arm and leg.” The reporting officer wrote he determined that Taylor “had offensively used his hands to choke her and had also struck her several times with a closed fist.”
Taylor was arrested by school police and held overnight until bonding out. He met with Georgia coach Mark Richt soon thereafter, and his dismissal from the program was later announced.
Taylor was also arrested in March for misdemeanor theft charges. He is the third Georgia defensive player kicked off the team this offseason.