The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Pick Six: Peyton, RG3, Luck have new receiving threats
Just what Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III need: more dynamic receivers.
Six NFL teams have made significant alterations in their passing games. Denver, Indianapolis, Washington and Baltimore did so with proven wideouts. Tampa Bay and Houston chose new quarterbacks to combine with an established target.
A Pick Six of new passing combinations:
Denver: Eric Decker left Manning for Geno Smith and the Jets. In his place is Emmanuel Sanders, who has more speed than Decker and also can return kicks. He's not as big a target as Decker, but Sanders is more dangerous, especially with Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas on hand.
"I wanted to go to a team that would sling the ball around the field," Sanders said.
He sure found one.
Indianapolis: Just about any free-agent receiver would be enticed by joining Luck, perhaps the best pure passer among the young NFL quarterbacks. Hakeem Nicks got the opportunity, though it meant leaving two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning.
Nicks had a strong start to his career with the Giants, then was plagued by injuries and indifferent play the last two seasons.
Now, he says he's healthy and should be able to team with T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne to spread the field for Luck.
Washington: Most eyes in the nation's capital will be on RG3's mobility after a lost season. Many ears will be on his conversations with new coach Jay Gruden after the discord between Griffin and Mike Shanahan.
Griffin certainly has a stronger chance of recapturing his 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year form now that DeSean Jackson is on his side. Jackson's game-breaking skills, along with his desire to show the Eagles they erred in getting rid of him, should enhance a potentially powerful offence.
"We're going to be tough, because whatever (an opponent) decides to stop, we've got other options," Jackson said.
Watch for him to be a main option.
Baltimore: When Anquan Boldin left the Ravens after their 2012 championship season, so did much of the edge in Baltimore's passing game.
That feistiness and physicality is back with Steve Smith joining Joe Flacco.
This is a juicy pairing because Flacco desperately needed a wideout who could intimidate, and Smith needed a seasoned quarterback with a formidable arm and the freedom to use it.
"I like the way he throws," Smith said. "He makes it easy to catch the ball."
Watch for Smith to do so about 80 times this season.
Tampa Bay: Somehow, despite the turmoil in Tampa last season, Vincent Jackson caught 78 passes for 1,224 yards and seven TDs. Now, he has a somewhat-accomplished veteran throwing to him in Josh McCown.
All McCown did last year in Chicago was take over for injured Jay Cutler and look like a top-level passer. He's intelligent, experienced, and the best thing Jackson has had on the other end of passes since he left Philip Rivers and the Chargers.
"I think a lot of it just has to do with his savviness on the field," VJax said of McCown. "He's a very smart guy. He understands space and location and separation on routes and the way the dimensions of a defence work."
Houston: Andre Johnson has been one of the NFL's top receivers for a decade, having the most success with Matt Schaub. But Schaub now is in Oakland, and journeyman QB Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the call.
Fitzpatrick has plenty of starting experience, and he's never had a pass-catch partner as skilled as Johnson. But he's also maddeningly inconsistent, and Houston has no proven wideout to complement Johnson.
"Anytime you have somebody like that on your team it's a great thing," Fitzpatrick says of Johnson, "and he'll be a great player like he always has (been) and a great leader for us this year."
But maybe not nearly as productive.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
(1 of 29 articles for today)6:38 PM 0
Photo Store Gallery
- NFL lauds MetLife Stadium's security system and programs as trendsetting
- The Detroit Lions have been loving life in England before game against Atlanta at Wembley
- NFL Personality of the Week: 49ers Harbaugh does things his way, unfazed by outside scrutiny
- "Ben Stiller, Dodgeball. Can't you see it?"
- Manning throws 3 TD passes to Sanders, Broncos beat Chargers 35-21
- Seattle's Byron Maxwell, Max Unger, Bryan Walters all out Sunday vs. Carolina
- In first season with new team, linebacker D'Qwell Jackson key to Colts improving defence
- Philip Rivers, Chargers fall even farther behind Broncos in AFC West with 35-21 loss
- Lead union investigator says NFL, Baltimore Ravens not forthcoming in probe of Rice case
- San Diego Chargers say S Jahleel Addae diagnosed with concussion
- Cowboys release Michael Sam, latest setback as NFL's first openly gay player seeks roster spot
- In case you missed it in NFL's Week 7: Manning hardly the only 1 setting records; bold Fisher
- Is there hope for NFL's bottom feeders: Bucs, Raiders, Jags, Jets, Redskins?
- Vikings try to recover, still stinging from late defensive lapse in last-second loss
- Tony Gonzalez says he has no regrets about walking away from NFL career
- Doctors give Indiana's Spriggs 'clean bill of health,' release him from hospital
- Surviving years in NFL as backup QB requires mix of strong arm, football IQ, poise, right team
- No stopping Peyton Manning and Broncos' passing game in romp over 49ers
- Percy Harvin says he's not 'perfect,' while GM John Idzik says trade could be 'coup' for Jets
- Titans trade linebacker Akeem Ayers to Patriots, Whisenhunt calls move fresh start for Ayers
- Minneapolis police used stun gun to arrest Vikings DT Johnson after he wouldn't leave club
- Prosecutors want Adrian Peterson's bond revoked after accusing him of smoking marijuana
- Peyton Manning joins Brett Favre in elite club with his 500th touchdown pass
- Indictment formally charges Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer with assaulting wife
- Oakland Raiders make Tony Sparano interim coach after firing Dennis Allen
- Nick Foles throws 2 TD passes, Eagles beat Giants 27-0 for their first shutout in 18 years
- In case you missed it in NFL's Week 4: Payton's fake punt, other questionable coaching calls
- Big D: Lions dominate Bridgewater, Vikings 17-3 with 3 interceptions and 8 sacks
- 'We're in a good place': NFL is OK with flags flying far more frequently, especially on passes
- In case you missed it in NFL's Week 6: Dallas Cowboys aka America's Team at 5-1; Rodgers' fake
Ads by Google