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Jets backup QB Teddy Bridgewater ups trade value in preseason debut

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Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets debuted in the preseason hosting the Falcons Friday and while the big story for them is the debut of rookie first round pick QB Sam Darnold, it’s another reserve QB that may now be in play for trade.

Teddy Bridgewater was dealt by the Vikings to New York earlier this off season, essentially as an insurance policy. This as, the Jets already had re-signed last year’s most of the year starter Josh McCown before drafting Darnold.

In Friday’s performance against mostly Falcons second team defenders, Bridgewater showed composure and accuracy.

Bridgewater finished with modest numbers at 7-8 for 65 yards and later threw a touchdown. Still, it’s a great comeback nearing full completion.

Bridgewater suffered a horrific knee injury at the end of training camp in in Minnesota in 2016. That sidelined him for all of that season and into 2017. The Vikings put together a magical run to make the playoffs and Bridgewater made it back to full health returning mid-season as a backup. He did play a series late in the year in “mop up” duty to as standing ovation to the Vikings fans.

So, the question now becomes: is there a team that needs or maybe just wants, some quarterback depth?

One such team is the Bucs, who know that QB Jameis Winston is suspended for the first three games of the regular season. That leaves them with 14 year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter and largely unproven backup Ryan Griffin, as the options.

Now the phrase “largely unproven” applies a little less to Griffin after Thursday night’s Tampa Bay preseason opener at Miami. That’s where Griffin completed a tremendous percentage of 20-26 passes and led two big scoring drives. First a tying touchdown and then he led the game wining field goal drive in the final minute, as the Bucs won 26-24.

So, as preseason goes along, Griffin should get more experience.

However, if the Buccaneers are concerned about needing another QB to help them or wanting “injury insurance” against one of their Ryans getting hurt, then a proven vet like Bridgewater could make sense.

The same could be said of a couple of other teams around the league that might see a healthy Bridgewater who looks good now, as an upgrade.

Then again, the Jets may decide they want to keep him and see if a team suffers a serious injury to a starting quarterback just like they did two years ago. Then, they could get even more in a trade.

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Browns coach Jackson to Antonio Callaway- “I’ll have your

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The second edition of “Hard Knocks” with the Browns aired Tuesday night on HBO and the dominant story line involved rookie former Gators WR Antonio Callaway.

One of the draws for the series each August is the the show has 24/7 access to the team through NFL Films’ cameras and microphones. And, it typically reveals insight and conversation not yet known.

And, the segments with Callaway did not disappoint in that department.

First, “Hard Knocks” already had Callaway mic’ed up for the Sunday afternoon August 5th workout, which was hours after Callaway was cited, but not arrested in a nearby town of Strongsville, OH, for driving with a suspended license and a small amount of marijuana in his car.

Something he did not tell anyone about.

We recapped the incident and wondered, if Callaway isn’t about to be out of chances already with his new team.

Callaway’s story took up the first approximate 10 minutes of the show. And on the episode, both coach Hue Jackson (above) and offensive coordinator Todd Haley could sense something is wrong with Callaway, as his body language and ineffective play were going on that day.

Then, came the most intriguing and riveting part of entire show, as GM John Dorsey and Jackson met with Callaway after the news media found out about the traffic citations and told the team.

Dorsey was upset, as much with Callaway not telling them, as anything, but it was Jackson, who cut to the chase on Callaway’s expected behavior accountability in the future. “If you’re lying to me, I’ll have your ass,” he told the rookie.

Later in the episode, Jackson had Callaway stand up and apologize to the entire team.

And, then, as we wrote about Tuesday morning, when “Hard Knocks” filmed during the Browns opening preseason game with the Giants, you got more insight into Callaway playing the entire four quarters and 57 snaps of action. Callaway excelled during the game, including a catch and run touchdown from Baker Mayfield in the fourth quarter.

Again, Jackson, while mic’ed up for the show, was shown standing and putting his arm around Callaway in the fourth quarter and telling him that he believes in him.

Time will tell, if Callaway will continue to do the right things and stay out of trouble

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Early read on potential fantasy football breakout starts with Florida ties

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

It’s never too soon to start looking at those fantasy football lists and analysis for the upcoming season. What, with training camps getting underway in three weeks and all, you can’t get enough of the info and debate.

With that in mind, the NFL Network’s fantasy guru, Michael Fabiano, has an interesting list out of potential impact players ready to “breakout” for 2018. And, when we saw numerous players on his list that play for either the Bucs, Dolphins or Jaguars and/or have a tie to Florida somehow, we were more interested.

Right after talking up Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley to lead off his list, the fact that Fabiano went to Vikings RB Dalvin Cook next was eye opening. Cook, the former Noles star, got off to an explosive start at the beginning of 2017, only to blowout his ACL in the Vikings fourth game of the year.

He’s expected to be back fully healthy for preseason and now has new free agent signee QB Kirk Cousins at the controls of the offense. That will only help open the running lanes for Cook to make the plays that everyone envisioned.

Another running back ranking that jumped out was Fabiano going with Dolphins tailback Kenyan Drake, as the fourth choice for players to step up in 2018. We have written extensively that Drake will have a great opportunity to be the feature back, especially in the redzone and “goal to go” situations.

Fabiano’s reasoning:

Drake saw a mere 57 touches in his first 11 games of last season, but he put up huge totals when thrust into a bigger role in his final five. While the Dolphins did add Frank Gore and Kalen Ballage to the backfield, Drake looks to be Miami’s new top runner. He’s a good bet to see 250-plus touches in 2018, making him a potential high-end No. 2 back.

Fabiano mixed in receivers like Stefon Diggs of the Vikings and quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson of the Texans on his list, and then, when he got to #16, it was a Bucs rookie that has him intrigued:

Ronald Jones II, RB,Tampa Bay Buccaneers: An electric playmaker who has drawn comparisons to Jamaal Charles, Jones should be considered the favorite to start in a Bucs backfield that let Doug Martin walk in the offseason. I see him as a top-50 overall selection in drafts.

Jones will split time with Peyton Barber, and for the Bucs first three games with QB Jameis Winston suspended, their running game will take on more significance

Finally, Dolphins WR DeVante Parker was two slots later on the watch list at #18. With, Miami choosing to trade Jarvis Landry to the Browns, but adding Danny Amendola from New England and Albert Wilson from the Chiefs, Parker will be challenged to get a lot of opportunities.

Again, it’s early. Way early for all of this, especially as teams have yet to report.

Still, it’s fantasy football. And everyone is looking for info and an edge on their opponents.

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Who remains in free agency?

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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

With the calendar flipping to July on Sunday, we check back in on the potential free agents that are still available for the Bucs, the Dolphins, and the Jaguars (and everyone else) with training camps beginning in about three-four weeks.

Here’s what’s still there.

Quarterback:

If the Bucs specifically, due to the Jameis Winston suspension, are interested in a third QB to go along with veterans Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Griffin, there are choices. First, we wrote that maybe Griffin might develop into a better option for starter on opening day. And to do that, he would have to play significantly in the preseason. Still, former Dolphins QB Matt Moore is available.

Moore filled in for the injured Ryan Tannehill at the end of 2016 and won three games. He also played in the Wildcard loss to the Steelers. Last year, he replaced Jay Cutler starting two games as well. He’s definitely an option, but Tampa Bay will likely stick with the two Ryans.

Receiver:

The premier one that remains is Cowboys star Dez Bryant. There is some speculation Bryant might suddenly re-sign a discounted deal with Dallas. If he doesn’t then, might the Jaguars be looking for another veteran weapon to go along with their young core of Marqise Lee, DeDe Westbrook and newly acquired Donte Moncreif? Would Bryant, who’s 30 but has also been in the Pro Bowl three times, want too much money that Jacksonville doesn’t have?

Probably.

Still, it’s intriguing for Jags fans to wonder.

Saftety:

Still hanging out there is veteran Kenny Vaccaro late of the Saints. Vaccaro played in 12 games a year ago with 60 tackles and three INTS. He’s 27 and has already visited with the Dolphins after the draft, and has yet to sign anywhere. Miami could use a veteran safety, but Vaccaro may be holding out for a team to lose a star at his position due to injury and then try to cash in.

Linebacker:

The Bucs have a serious ankle injury to second year LB Kendell Beckwith that will have him still sidelined into the start of camp and maybe beyond. The Jags and the Dolphins also could use a veteran presence. That’s with Jacksonville seeing Paul Posluzsny retiring and Miami electing to release veteran Lawrence Timmons after one season. Former 49ers Pro Bowl inside LB Navarro Bowman is an option. He’s 30 and played last year with the Raiders. He would be a solid and inexpensive option for any of the three to go to, if they want.

Finally, Running backs:

Both the Bucs and the Dolphins could still use a veteran in their backfield. And former Cards RB Adrian Peterson (above) and former Titan ball carrier DeMarco Murray are both unsigned as of Sunday. Both are over the age of 30, and Murray was under consideration by Miami before they signed veteran Colt free agent Frank Gore. So, the Dolphins are not a likely destination for him.

Meanwhile, Peterson who’s a Hall of Fame candidate, could be a short term option in Tampa Bay. This, as they are prepared to go into the season with third year largely unproven RB Peyton Barber, and rookie speedster Ronald Jones, whom they got in the second round of the draft.

Teams will tell you that they have their rosters set, but if their position group struggles and as mentioned earlier, injuries happen (and they will) then these names above will be contacted.

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