Patriots’ Logan Mankins no guarantee for week 1

Already potentially missing one of their two stud starting guards from 2011, as right guard Brian Waters has yet to report and could retire, the Patriots are in danger of potentially not having Logan Mankins, the left guard, early in the season. Mankins partially tore his ACL in the Super Bowl and had surgery, though that was not even known until over a month after it happened. The Patriots are very good at keeping secrets.

Because they are such a secretive organization, we don’t know much either way. However, we do know he has been placed on the active/PUP list and is not practicing at the moment. The Boston Herald reports his return date is “uncertain,” which doesn’t really help. If the Patriots are missing both of their starting guards from last year week 1, it would be a huge loss and not just because they are such great players.

The Patriots would have to move center Dan Connolly, a mediocre player anyway, back to guard and start Dan Koppen, who is heading into his age 33 season and coming off a broken ankle that cost him most of 2011, at center. Options to start at the other guard spot would include veteran Robert Gallery, who was awful last season in Seattle, or one of two inexperienced players, Ryan Wendell and Marcus Cannon, the latter of whom is currently listed as a tackle.

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Brian Waters does not show up for start of Patriots’ Training Camp

Patriots’ right guard Brian Waters has not reported for Patriots’ Training Camp, though Bill Belichick has said the absence is “excused.” Waters was also “excused” from mandatory minicamp last month. This does nothing to quell the speculation that Waters, heading into his age 35 season, could retire, though a Boston Herald report from about 2 months back said that Waters would not be retiring.

Either way, the Patriots aren’t an organization who likes to enlighten the public. We either have to assume he’s retiring until we see him or assume he’s not retiring until he misses any games. If he does retire, it would be a huge loss to the Patriots because, in spite of his age, he still played at a very high level last season after being cut by Kansas City. Waters stepped in and immediately played very well, making the Pro Bowl (his 6th), and grading out as ProFootballFocus’ 4th rated guard.

To replace him, the Patriots would have to move center Dan Connolly, a mediocre player anyway, back to guard and start Dan Koppen, who is heading into his age 33 season and coming off a broken ankle that cost him most of 2011, at center. However, left guard Logan Mankins is also no sure thing for week 1 after partially tearing his ACL during the Super Bowl. Other options to replace him would include veteran Robert Gallery, who was awful last season in Seattle, or one of two inexperienced players, Ryan Wendell and Marcus Cannon, the latter of whom is currently listed as a tackle.

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Evan Royster took first team reps for Redskins in Training Camp

Proving once again that Mike Shanahan hates fantasy football, Evan Royster, not Tim Hightower or Roy Helu, took the 1st team snaps for the Redskins in Training Camp. Hightower is still recovering from the torn ACL that ended his 2011 season, while the Redskins apparently view Helu as more of a change of pace option.

However, it’s Mike Shanahan, so this is all subject to change. Hightower will be ready to go by week 1 and could supplant Royster as the starter or Helu, who had more carries than Royster last year, could flip spots with Rosyter at any time. Any one of these three backs could be their week 1 starter and he can change his mind on a weekly basis thereafter depending on the matchup without telling anyone.

Drafting any of Washington’s backs could lead to you missing half your hair by the end of the season out of frustration with the inconsistency. I’d stay away from Helu at his current ADP in the 6th round and Hightower at his current ADP in the 11th round, though Royster is worth the frustration as a late round pick. His ADP is currently undrafted.

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Seahawks’ James Carpenter might not play at all in 2012

Seahawks’ right tackle James Carpenter tore his ACL last November and predictably will start Training Camp on the active/PUP list when it opens for the Seahawks. After that, he’ll almost definitely be transferred to the reserve/PUP list when the regular season starts, which means he’ll miss at least 6 games. According to ESPN’s John Clayton, Carpenter will likely then be transferred to IR and will not play a snap in 2012.

Clayton cites that the knee injury was really bad and goes on to say that “it hasn’t really had a full time to heal. I think he’s slow in healing. If they get four games out of him they’re lucky.” In his absence, career journeyman Breno Giacomini played alright and he will remain the starting right tackle at least until Carpenter returns, which it doesn’t sound like is going to happen any time soon.

Carpenter struggled mightily as a rookie before his injury, after going 25th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, but rookies can struggle and still go on to have good careers. Missing his entire 2nd season, however, does not help at all and could lead to 2013 being a make or break season for him. None of his 2014 salary is guaranteed so they can cut him without penalty after the 2013 season if he doesn’t get his act together. Carpenter looks as close to a bust as any player who is just 1 year removed from being a 1st round pick can. Carpenter was a surprise pick in the 1st place and has not validated himself or Pete Carroll for “reaching” for him.

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Buccaneers’ Donald Penn out for a few weeks with a calf strain

Buccaneers’ left tackle Donald Penn has a calf strain and will miss “several weeks” of Training Camp, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Donald Penn is not an elite left tackle, but he’s a solid one and the Buccaneers can’t afford to be without him once games start for real. Right tackle Jeremy Trueblood led the league in pressures allowed in the regular season last year and he would be even more lost if he had to move to the left side. Meanwhile, top backups Jamon Meredith and Demar Dotson are inexperienced. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear as if he’ll miss any real games.

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Bengals’ Dre Kirkpatrick to miss significant time with a knee injury

While the Bengals received good news that #1 cornerback Leon Hall would be fully cleared for Training Camp, just 8 months after tearing his Achilles, the Bengals also received bad news regarding their secondary. Rookie cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, the 17th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, has injured his knee and will miss some time.

There are varying reports about how long Kirkpatrick will miss, ranging from “much of camp,” according to NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora, to “6 weeks,” according NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal. ESPN, meanwhile, is reporting 2-4 weeks. Either way, it doesn’t look too serious. Nothing is torn or broken, according to Kirkpatrick himself.

However, rookie cornerbacks tend to take a year to adjust to the speed of the NFL anyway (even Patrick Peterson struggled mightily in coverage last year) and missing a large chunk of Training Camp at least won’t help matters at all for Kirkpatrick. The Bengals might be better off using one of their veterans, either Nate Clements or Jason Allen, opposite Leon Hall and easing Kirkpatrick in with the intention of having him be a starter in 2013.

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Bengals’ Leon Hall has been cleared to participate fully in Training Camp

Bengals’ cornerback Leon Hall tore his Achilles only last November. Since this is normally a 12 month injury, there was a lot of speculation that Hall could begin the season on the PUP and miss at least the first 6 games of the season. However, Hall has silenced all of that speculation by getting cleared to participate fully in Training Camp just over 8 months after his injury.

Hall’s presence in the starting lineup will be huge for the Bengals. Including playoffs, Hall missed 9 games last year and the Bengals allowed 23.8 points per game in those games, as opposed to 17.5 per in the 8 he played. When he’s 100%, he’s one of the top-10 or so cornerbacks in the league. However, he’s unlikely to be 100% and might not be all season and such an early return increases the chance of re-injury. The Bengals, who didn’t beat a single playoff team last season (0-8), remain a strong candidate to regress this season, after improving 5 wins from 2010 to 2011 and making the playoffs last season.

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Cardinals’ Beanie Wells will miss the start of Training Camp

With the Cardinals opening camp, the team has placed running back Beanie Wells on the active/PUP list. Unlike the reserve/PUP list, which is for the regular season, Wells can be activated at any time and will not have to miss 6 games. However, he will not practice and it’s a very bad sign for someone who had what was described as “minor” knee surgery way back in January.

Wells assured everyone that he would be ready for week 1, but called himself 75% right now, which is not promising. Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt said that Wells would not be out for an “extended” period of time, but Wells’ comments do suggest that he expects to miss at least a week or two of Training Camp, while Whisenhunt’s comments are pretty vague.

I’ve already got Wells pretty low on my fantasy board because of his history of injuries and because of the glowing reports about his backup, 2011 2nd round pick Ryan Williams. I’ll drop Wells even lower if he starts missing preseason games. At his current ADP in the 6th round, he’s overvalued, while Williams is a good value in the 9th round.

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Lofa Tatupu to miss entire season, will be cut by Falcons

Lofa Tatupu is a 3-time Pro Bowler (2005, 2006, 2007), but his career has been derailed by injuries. He was completely out of football last year, but he was still heading into his age 30 season so the Falcons, needing middle linebacker help after losing Curtis Lofton this offseason, signed him to a low risk contract. The idea was to play Tatupu as a two-down run stuffer and then bring 2011 3rd round pick Akeem Dent in during nickel packages.

That plan has been completely derailed now that Tatupu has torn his pectoral muscle lifting weights. It’s worth noting that this is not the first time he’s injured that area in his career. Tatupu will require surgery and miss the entire season. Rather than placing him on IR, the Falcons have outright cut him, eating 600,000 in guaranteed money in the process. It’s definitely fair to question if Tatupu has played his last snap in the NFL. The market for a 31-year-old who hasn’t played a down in 2 years will not be very big next offseason, especially for not one as injury prone as Tatupu.

For the Falcons, this leaves them even thinner at linebacker, starting the inexperienced Akeem Dent at middle linebacker and the mediocre and injury prone Stephen Nicholas at one of the outside linebacker spots. The Falcons recently re-signed Mike Peterson, who is heading into his age 36 season, for linebacker depth, but he’s no lock to even make the roster at his age.

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Packers release Charlie Peprah

The Packers have released Charlie Peprah, their starting strong safety from 2011. Peprah had 5 interceptions last year, but struggled against the run and didn’t cover well overall. He surrendered a completion percentage of 66.7%, 9.1 YPA, and 4 touchdowns. He was ProFootballFocus’ 71st rated safety out of 86.

To replace him, the Packers will move Charles Woodson to strong safety in base packages and 2011 undrafted free agent MD Jennings, who the Packers are very high on, will play strong safety in sub packages, when Woodson continues to play the slot, which he’s done for years. Sam Shields and rookie 2nd round pick Casey Hayward will compete for Woodson’s vacated starting job at cornerback opposite Tramon Williams.

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