Cedric Benson really impressing Packers

According to multiple sources, Cedric Benson has really impressed the Packers since they signed him a couple weeks ago. These sources include the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, several scouts, the Packers’ official website, and even running backs coach Alex Van Pelt. Benson seems to have fully taken James Starks’ old job and will get the bulk of the running down carries, with Alex Green serving only as a passing down back and change of pace back.

James Starks, meanwhile, is on the roster bubble as he is currently suffering from turf toe and out indefinitely. The Packers may keep Brandon Saine, a less injury prone, albeit less talented back, as their 3rd back, assuming they decide to only keep 3 running backs. That’s a strong possibility because fullback John Kuhn can also play some running back on passing downs and short yardage plays.

As for Benson, he walks into a great situation. Because of how good the Packers’ passing game and offensive line is, Benson really just has to run through holes. Heading into his age 30 season, he not very explosive, but in the Packers’ system he could still be very productive. He’s also surprisingly durable considering how injury prone he was in his younger days. Benson has missed just 4 games over the past 3 years, despite one of the league’s highest usage rates over that time period, averaging 21.7 touches per game.

He’ll have a smaller role in Green Bay on a less run heavy offense with other backs behind him, but he should still have a solid season. In a weak year for running backs, Benson is a solid flex with RB2 potential depending on the matchup in standard leagues. He’s currently going in the 5th round on average, up from the 7th round on average just a week ago, but that might not be too high for him.

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (no draft date set yet, currently standard, with the option to become PPR with group vote). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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Steelers have not given up on David DeCastro for 2012

David DeCastro might have been the best interior offensive line prospect of the decade and he would have been a big addition to what’s been a poor Steelers’ offensive line for many years. For that reason, it’s very sad to see the 24th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft go down with a knee injury like he did during the Steelers’ 3rd preseason game last week. After the game, it was determined that DeCastro tore his MCL, partially tore his patellar tendon, and dislocated by knee cap. He was given a recovery of 3-5 months and it’s very possible we won’t see him play in an NFL game until 2013.

However, the Steelers are not giving up on him for this season, at least not right now as they are keeping him on the active roster, rather than putting on IR, in hopes that he can give them something come late season and playoff time. Normally that kind of treatment is reserved for elite veteran players, but that just shows how good DeCastro is and how highly the Steelers think of him. Had he been healthy this year, he could have easily been a top-10 guard this season. If his recovery isn’t going well, they won’t hesitate to put him on IR midseason though, which would free up a roster spot.

As long as DeCastro is out, Ramon Foster will continue to start at right guard. Foster was an average player as their right guard last season, but DeCastro would have been an obvious upgrade. Meanwhile, fellow rookie Mike Adams is struggling at left tackle this preseason, so I’m not as high on their young line as I originally was. Also on their young line are two solid young players, 2011 2nd round pick Marcus Gilbert and 2010 1st round pick Maurkice Pouncey, at right tackle and center respectively.

Willie Colon is a veteran at left guard making the position switch from right tackle. He’s looked good this preseason, but he’s played in just 1 game in the last 2 years since being ProFootballFocus’ 5th ranked offensive tackle in 2009. The Steelers will obviously be hoping he stays healthy because their depth is pretty thin with DeCastro going down and Foster having to fill in at right guard. Doug Legursky, who really struggled in limited action last year, would be the left guard if anything happened to Foster.

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (no draft date set yet, currently standard, with the option to become PPR with group vote). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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Colts originally offered a 5th and 6th for Vontae Davis

Earlier this week, the Dolphins sent Vontae Davis to the Colts for a 2nd and 6th round pick. However, according to the Palm Beach Post and confirmed on the recent episode of Hard Knocks, the Colts originally offered just a 5th and 6th round pick for Davis, before eventually being negotiated up to a 2nd and 6th round pick. Getting Davis for just a 5th and 6th round pick would have been highway robbery, but the fact that the Colts got negotiated all the way up to a 2nd round pick makes me lean even more towards Miami as the winner of this trade. The Colts are taking a serious risk that Davis, known for inconsistency and work ethic issues, continues his strong play from 2011, while the Dolphins were deep enough at cornerback to let Davis go for the right price.

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (no draft date set yet, currently standard, with the option to become PPR with group vote). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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Bengals could lose Kyle Cook for season, bring in Jeff Faine for visit

Bengals’ center Kyle Cook left last week’s preseason game with a foot injury and, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, he saw a foot specialist on Monday “indications are” he’ll miss a “large amount of time.” In response to this, the Bengals brought in Jeff Faine, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in for a visit this week as their 2nd string center is Reggie Stephens, a 2010 7th round pick who has never played a snap in the NFL.

Cook had a down year last season after signing a 4 year, 14 million dollar extension last offseason, but he was ProFootballFocus’ 10th rated center in 2011 and he’s overall had a solid career. He’ll definitely be missed, especially if the replacement is Jeff Faine. Faine was released by the Buccaneers in March and tellingly hasn’t made a single other visit this offseason.

Faine is heading into his age 31 season and was ProFootballFocus’ 31st ranked center out of 35 last season, especially struggling as a run blocker. The Bengals have also lost left guard Travelle Wharton for the season and 2011 4th round rookie Clint Boling will start in his absence. He played just 172 snaps last season and really struggled. Injuries on the interior offensive line are yet another reason why the Bengals will regress this season.

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (no draft date set yet, currently standard, with the option to become PPR with group vote). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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Buccaneers place Davin Joseph on IR

The Buccaneers were dealt bad news when they found out that right guard Davin Joseph tore his patellar tendon and would need to be placed on season ending IR. Joseph signed a 7 year, 52.5 million dollar deal last offseason and the Buccaneers were counting on him to be a crucial part of their new conservative, run heavy, smash mouth offense. However, despite his large salary, Joseph is actually not that great. In fact, I think he’s one of the most overpaid and overrated players in the league, so this won’t be a huge loss.

Joseph was ProFootballFocus’ 56th ranked guard in 2008, 71st ranked guard in 2009, and 72nd ranked guard in 2010. Last year was actually his best year as he ranked 46th, playing above average as a pass protector. He allowed 2 sacks, 3 quarterback hits, and 21 quarterback pressures, while committing 4 penalties, but he was the 66th ranked guard as a run blocker. Throughout his career, the 2006 1st round pick has actually been a better pass protector than run blocker.

Ted Larsen will start in his absence, though he’s been awful in limited action in his career after being drafted in the 6th round in 2010 by the New England Patriots. Still, I don’t think it’s as big of a downgrade as it’s being made out to be. Larsen will start next to right tackle Jeremy Trueblood, an awful right tackle who led the league by allowing 50 pressures last year. However, the rest of their line is fine. Donald Penn is an above average left tackle, while new left guard Carl Nicks is one of the best in the business. He moves Jeremy Zuttah from left tackle to center, where he’s an upgrade over incumbent Jeff Faine, who was cut and still remains a free agent, for good reason.

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (no draft date set yet, currently standard, with the option to become PPR with group vote). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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Panthers place David Gettis on PUP, Brandon Hogan on IR

David Gettis was in the mix for the Panthers #3 receiver job at one point this offseason, but he’s been on the active/PUP all offseason and has yet to practice. He’s still working his way back from a torn ACL that cost him all of last season and, rather than activating him, the Panthers have shifted him to the reserve/PUP list, which means he’ll miss at least 6 weeks. The Panthers have a bye week 7, so the earliest he’ll be eligible to return week 8.

In 2010, he caught 37 passes for 508 yards and 3 touchdowns as a mere 6th round rookie. That was actually the 2nd highest total on the Panthers that year as they really struggled to move the ball through the air with Jimmy Clausen under center. In his absence, Louis Murphy, acquired from the Raiders this offseason for a late round pick, will be the #3 receiver, but he’s missed 7 games in the last 2 seasons, so he’s no sure thing either. 4th round pick rookie Joe Adams could work his way into the mix in the middle of the season. With Steve Smith aging, wide receiver will be a position of need for the Panthers this offseason, unless 2010 3rd round pick Brandon LaFell can step up in his 3rd year in the league.

Brandon Hogan, meanwhile, was not even put on the reserve/PUP even though he was eligible. The Panthers just put him outright on IR, which is not a promising sign for his career. He’s really struggled to return from a torn ACL he suffered at the University of West Virginia way back in December of 2010. The injury caused him to slip about 2 rounds in the draft, as the Panthers snatched him up in the 4th round and he played just 4 games as a rookie. He’ll miss the entirety of the 2012 season.

Hogan won’t be guaranteed a roster spot in 2013. Once considered a candidate for the starting cornerback job, that position figures to be a weakness once again this year. Both Darius Butler and Captain Munnerlyn struggled there last year and Josh Norman is just a 5th round pick rookie. This could be another position of need next offseason.

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (no draft date set yet, currently standard, with the option to become PPR with group vote). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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Cowboys’ Jay Ratliff suffers high ankle sprain

Every year, there are injuries in the preseason. It’s inevitable. No matter how hard you try, guys are going to get hurt when you play 4 football games. You just have to hope they aren’t serious ones to serious players. One team hit a lot by injuries this preseason has been the Dallas Cowboys. Now they have another one to add to that list as nose tackle Jay Ratliff left their 3rd preseason game with what’s since been diagnosed as a high ankle sprain. Ratliff, ProFootballFocus’ 7th ranked defensive tackle last year, is expected to miss 2-4 weeks, which puts his status for week 1 in serious doubt. The Cowboys might not see him until week 2 or 3.

The Cowboys have suffered other injuries this preseason. Miles Austin has missed time with hamstring problems and, while he’s expected to play week 1, hamstring injuries tend to linger and Austin missed 6 games and was limited to just 43 catches for 579 yards and 7 touchdowns last year in the 10 games he did play because of hamstring problems. Jason Witten, who hasn’t missed a game since 2003, his rookie year, is questionable for week 1 after lacerating his spleen in preseason action. Dez Bryant, meanwhile, hurt his knee, but he appears to be fine. Their lack of receiving depth could really be exposed. Their backup wide receivers and tight ends have combined for 47 career catches.

The Cowboys have also suffered many injuries on the interior of their offensive line, where they were weak to begin with. Starting center Phil Costa missed the whole preseason with back problems, though he’s expected to play this week and be ready for the opener. David Arkin, Mackenzy Bernadeau, and Bill Nagy have also had injuries, with Nagy’s injury leading to his release. He signed with the Lions. For a team whose interior offensive line was weak to begin with, injuries are definitely not a good thing. On the defensive side of the ball, Mike Jenkins is expected to begin the season on the PUP, while Morris Claiborne dealt with some injuries and had what was described as a “frustrating” Training Camp.

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (no draft date set yet, currently standard, with the option to become PPR with group vote). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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Giants place Chris Canty on PUP

A key contributor of the Giants’ Super Bowl run last year, Chris Canty, will miss the first 6 weeks of the season after being placed on the reserve/PUP list earlier this week. Canty had knee surgery this offseason and has yet to practice. An above average defensive tackle, Canty had 4 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, and 22 quarterback pressures en route to a Super Bowl victory last year and played the run well as well. He’ll be able to play week 7 at the earliest, meaning he’ll miss at least 6 games.

In his absence, Linval Joseph, already a breakout candidate, will play more snaps, particularly on pass rushing downs, where the 2010 2nd round pick really improved as last season went on. Veterans Marcus Thomas and Rocky Bernard will also see an increase in snaps, as could 2011 2nd round pick Marvin Austin, assuming he too is healthy. Austin hasn’t played in a live game since December of 2009. He missed all of the 2010 season at North Carolina with suspension and missed all of last season with a torn pectoral. He recently suffered a setback with his back and is no sure thing for week 1.

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (no draft date set yet, currently standard, with the option to become PPR with group vote). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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Chargers’ Jared Gaither expected to miss regular season action

According to Chargers’ beat writer Kevin Acee, left tackle Jared Gaither is not expected to play in the Chargers’ preseason finale this week and the Chargers are preparing to play week 1 without him. Gaither has been suffering from back spasms and missed all of the preseason and Training Camp, very bad news for him because he missed essentially a year and a half with back problems from 2010-2011. Back spasms can often be lingering injuries so Gaither is a candidate to miss even more than 1 game with his history.

When healthy, Gaither is an elite left tackle. With the Ravens, in 2009, he allowed just 4 sacks, 3 quarterback hits, and 6 quarterback pressures, while committing 10 penalties in 13 games and in 2008, he allowed just 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hits, and 22 quarterback pressures, while committing 15 penalties in 19 games. Gaither was amazing in 5 starts last season for the Chargers, after being cut midseason by the Chiefs. He didn’t allow a sack or quarterback hit and only allowed 3 quarterback pressures, while committing just 3 penalties.

The Chargers rewarded him with a 4 year, 24.6 million dollar deal with 13.5 million guaranteed this offseason. That may seem like a lot to pay, but franchise left tackles do not grow on trees. There’s a reason they’re never available on the open market. Seeing one available is almost as rare as seeing a franchise quarterback on the open market.

If Gaither were to stay healthy, that deal would have been a steal. However, now it’s looking like that could very well not happen. The Chargers did not give themselves a very good security policy as undrafted rookie Mike Harris has been working on the blindside in practice in Gaither’s absence. He’ll almost definitely struggle in that role this season.

He figures to be one of three big holes on the Chargers’ offensive line. Left guard Tyronne Green will take over full-time for the retired Kris Dielman. Green struggled in limited action last year in place of Dielman. He rated 61st out of 76 guards on ProFootballFocus despite only really playing half the season. Right tackle Jeromey Clary has been awful for years. He was horrific last season, allowing 7 sacks, 7 quarterback hits, 42 quarterback pressures, and committing 11 penalties, while struggling as a run blocker. He was ProFootballFocus’ 71st rated offensive tackle out of 73. Right guard Louis Vasquez and center Nick Hardwick are solid starters, but Philip Rivers will be under pressure a lot this year.

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (no draft date set yet, currently standard, with the option to become PPR with group vote). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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Raiders’ Richard Seymour dealing with a bad knee

Richard Seymour has been one of the best defensive linemen in the league over the past decade, but he’s heading into the tail end of his career, going into his age 33 season this year. As players age, injuries tend to become more and more of an issue. That seems to be what’s happening with Seymour, as, according to Contra Costa Times, Seymour is dealing with an arthritic knee that may require “maintenance” all season.

Seymour played well last year. He was ProFootballFocus’ 11th rated defensive tackle, with 6 sacks, 9 quarterback hits, and 25 quarterback pressures on 550 pass rush snaps last season, good for a 7.3% rate, impressive for a defensive tackle. He ranked 3rd among defensive tackles as a pass rusher on ProFootballFocus and also played the run well. However, he’s so sure thing to play that well again this year.

The Raiders had the league’s 29th ranked defense in the league last year, allowing 27.1 points per game. After losing their top cornerback, Stanford Routt, and their top pass rusher, Kamerion Wimbley, they could be even worse this season. Rolando McClain is facing jail time, while Aaron Curry could miss the season with injury. Not only is Seymour aging, but so is Tommy Kelly, who is also going into his age 33 season. They’re a solid bet to be the league’s worst defense.

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (no draft date set yet, currently standard, with the option to become PPR with group vote). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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