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Training Camp Notes: Aug. 9

In Sunday's edition of Training Camp Notes, we have two major themes: potential draft bargains and Patriots news. Let's get right to it.

• We finally found out what the minor injury was that caused DJ Chark to miss Friday's practice. The 24-year-old suffered a hairline fracture of his finger but has already undergone surgery to repair it and is expected back in time for Week 1. He should have a lead role in a Jaguars' receiving corps alongside Marvin Jones and Laviska Shenault, who should all benefit from improved quarterback play with 2021's first overall pick Trevor Lawrence now under center. Nevertheless, the fourth-year wideout is going outside the top 30 at his position in drafts and could represent a steal this season for fantasy GMs.

Matthew Stafford won't play in preseason for the Rams as long as Sean McVay is the coach. There is no sense risking their star offseason acquisition's health in a meaningless game, especially after he bruised his thumb on a defender's helmet in practice earlier in the week. Like Chark, Stafford finds himself in a vastly improved situation in Los Angeles and also represents a likely draft bargain as the 10th quarterback off the board.

• If you're a "contract year" believer, then this nugget is for you. Either Amari Cooper or Michael Gallup will probably be on another team next year, as the Cowboys have come to the realization they can't afford to keep both. Therefore, each wideout certainly has a financial motivation to be on the field at the top of their game. Gallup's rookie deal will be up after this year, and the team has already said he won't get an extension until then, if at all. Cooper's $20 million salary in 2022 is not guaranteed. Cooper, going at 43rd overall in drafts, is coming off offseason ankle surgery but is looking strong in camp and has five 1,000-yard campaigns in six seasons with at least five touchdowns in each. Gallup, meanwhile, is an afterthought with an ADP of 115 but has averaged 975 yards and 5.5 scores the last two seasons.


• While on the subject of the Cowboys, Dak Prescott has begun doing some light throwing. The team has emphasized that it is treating its $160-million investment with an abundance of caution and has kept him out of practice since he suffered a shoulder strain July 28. The good news is he's still kept up with his footwork and conditioning drills, and his surgically repaired broken ankle hasn't been an issue at all. He's still expected to be out there in Week 1.

Hunter Henry had to have his shoulder checked out by the Patriots' head trainer in Sunday's practice. There has been no word as of yet as to the severity of the injury, so for now, consider him day-to-day. Any absence likely would be a boon to Jonnu Smith's value. Both tight ends are fliers in most drafts, going outside the top 135 as there is a wide range of outcomes for them. They could eat into each other's value as they compete for targets in a run-heavy New England offense, or they could see a lot of two-tight-end sets in an offense without any other star receivers, allowing them each to thrive. Of course, a lot of the value of any Patriots player will depend on who is under center, which we discuss in our next note.



Cam Newton and Mac Jones are locked in a quarterback battle. Even though coach Bill Belichick has said he views Newton as the starter, the passing offense has had its most consistent success with top 2021 draft pick Jones at the helm lately. The rookie has also seen double the reps that Newton has the last couple of practices. In those practices, the team has looked like it was running two separate attacks, with Newton a run threat using the read-option and Jones operating a more traditional New England offense. Jones could overtake Newton as the starter sooner rather than later, and I could also see a world where the Patriots use both quarterbacks, with Newton getting a lot of work in short-yardage and goal-line situations

• Jones' ascent to the starting gig could mean Patriots receivers get a boost. Jakobi Meyers has reportedly been the most dependable receiver in camp. The buzz on N'Keal Harry has been good, but he has a standing trade request and is likely to be dealt before the regular season begins. Those two are competing for roles and targets with free-agent additions Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. Agholor is going highest of the group but is just the 62nd wide receiver taken, so all are essentially free in drafts.

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