NFL Nation: Toney Clemons

They are two veterans at two positions of need.

One seemed like almost a sure thing to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers just a couple of weeks ago. The other became a surprising target of a team that has a starting running back, but needs depth at the position.

Here is my take on Jerricho Cotchery and Maurice Jones-Drew:

Cotchery
Cotchery: I still like the chances of the veteran wide receiver returning to the Steelers even though he visited the Panthers this week. If the money offered by the teams is anywhere close, it wouldn’t make much sense for Cotchery to sign with the Panthers.

He wouldn’t get a chance to work with a new quarterback until training camp because of the ankle surgery that will sideline Carolina's Cam Newton for the next four months. Cotchery would also be joining a group of wide receivers that has been stripped of almost all of its parts. Toney Clemons, a former seventh-round pick by the Steelers, has the most catches of any wide receiver on Carolina’s roster, and he has a grand total of three receptions.

Cotchery is more of a complementary receiver at this stage of his career, and he excelled as a No. 3 wideout last season when he caught a career-high 10 touchdown passes. Why not reprise that role given his comfort with it, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense?

The wild-card here is money -- and whether the Panthers are so desperate for wide receivers they are willing to overpay for a player who has logged 10 NFL seasons and turns 32 in June.

The Steelers want to bring back Cotchery, but it has to be at the right price.

Jones-Drew
Jones-Drew: The Steelers created a buzz by hosting a player who has rushed for more than 8,000 yards for an extended visit. If Jones-Drew is looking for significant money or a starting job following eight seasons with the Jaguars, he won’t find it in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers are committed to Le'Veon Bell, and they don’t have enough salary-cap room to offer anywhere close to the $4.95 million Jones-Drew made in his final season in Jacksonville.

Also, they simply have too many other holes to fill to spend a sizable chunk of money on a player who won’t start for them.

One thing, however, intrigues me about the possibility of adding Jones-Drew to the Steelers’ offense. He and Bell and have good hands, and the latter is adept at running actual pass patterns and not just catching dump-off or screen passes.

Given their skill sets, the Steelers could try to create mismatches by designing packages in which both are on the field at the same time. Such creativity could help offset the inexperience the Steelers have at wide receiver, especially if Cotchery signs with the elsewhere.

Jones-Drew’s presence would also allow the Steelers to limit the amount of pounding Bell absorbs as their No. 1 back and provide injury insurance.

While the Steelers aren’t in a position to offer Jones-Drew the kind of money he will likely command elsewhere, the market isn’t a good one for running backs, and there are ways for them to create more cap room.

It’s probably a long shot that Jones-Drew is wearing black and gold in the fall, but there is a scenario in which the Steelers could make it work.
Click here for a full list of Jacksonville Jaguars roster moves.

Most significant move: The Jaguars’ No. 3 quarterback has yet to practice with the team.

Matt Scott and Mike Kafka were among the 21 players the Jaguars cut on Friday, meaning the team will begin preparations for the Sept. 8 season opener against Kansas City with Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne and Ricky Stanzi as the quarterbacks. Neither Kafka nor Scott played well in the preseason: Kafka completed 13 of 29 passes with one touchdown and one interception while Scott completed 18 of 40 passes with one interception. Scott also had a fumble returned for a touchdown.

The Jaguars signed Stanzi on Tuesday after he was released by the Chiefs and cleared waivers. The former fifth-round draft pick in 2011 spent the past two seasons on the Chiefs’ active roster. He never appeared in a regular-season game, but Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said he got a good report on Stanzi from Jaguars scout Kyle O’Brien, who spent the 2012 season with the Chiefs.

"We liked what we saw on film of him, I can tell you that," Bradley said. "We really did. We liked him. We were evaluating him out in warm-ups [on Thursday night], you know, when he was throwing the ball. So we did like him, and one of our scouts was with Kansas City and was intrigued by him and I think it passed on to us."

It’s still unclear whether Gabbert (hairline fracture in his right thumb) will be able to start the season opener. If he can’t, Henne would get the start and Stanzi would be No. 2. If Gabbert can play, Stanzi would likely be inactive.

One extra spot: The Jaguars will receive a roster exemption on Saturday for receiver Justin Blackmon, who will serve a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. That allows the Jaguars to keep a 54-man roster, but it also means that the Jaguars have only five receivers on the roster right now: Blackmon, Cecil Shorts, Mike Brown, Ace Sanders and Jordan Shipley. That’s an area that the Jaguars likely will address this weekend from the waiver wire.

Onward and upward: CB Marcus Trufant is an 11-year veteran who played well in the preseason, but he doesn’t fit into the Jaguars’ youth movement in the secondary. Plus, the signing earlier this week of Will Blackmon made him expendable because of Blackmon’s age (28, four years younger than Trufant) and special-teams ability. Still, Trufant is an experienced, heady player who could find himself on a roster. The Jaguars liked defensive end Pannel Egboh but his production didn’t match his measurables (6-foot-6, 277 pounds). It wouldn’t be surprising if he ended up on another roster within the next few days. The Jaguars' roster may be one of the thinnest in the league, so it’s unlikely that there will be much interest in most of the players cut.

What's next: The Jaguars certainly aren’t anywhere close to being done with cutting and adding players. Bradley and GM Dave Caldwell have both said they plan on continuously scouring the waiver wire in an effort to improve the bottom part of the roster, so expect more moves over the weekend. Most of the impending signings will likely center around their ability to help on special teams. The units have struggled during camp and in the preseason, which is why linebackers Brandon Marshall, Michael Zimmer and Julian Stanford were released. The Jaguars added linebacker Andy Studebaker in mid-August and linebacker Kyle Knox and cornerback Blackmon, both of whom were released by Seattle, earlier this week. Blackmon was signed on Wednesday and played well in the Jaguars’ 20-16 victory over Atlanta on Thursday night, returning a punt for 21 yards.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars wrap up the preseason in Atlanta against the Falcons tonight (7:30 p.m. ET). Here are three things to watch:

The quarterbacks: With starter Blaine Gabbert out with a hairline fracture of his right thumb, Chad Henne gets the start. But he and the rest of the team’s starters will play only 10-15 snaps. That leaves Mike Kafka and Matt Scott to play the majority of the game.

The two are battling for the No. 3 quarterback spot. Neither has been particularly impressive in the preseason. Kafka has completed 7 of 14 passes for 27 yards and one interception while Scott has completed 12 of 28 passes for 103 yards. They’ve played in every game.

The team claimed former Kansas City QB Ricky Stanzi off waivers on Tuesday, but that move appears to be more about picking his brain about the Chiefs (whom the Jaguars play in the regular-season opener) than anything else.

So it’s Scott versus Kafka for the third quarterback spot. It’s a critical competition, at least for the early part of the season. There’s some doubt that Gabbert will be ready to go in Week 1, in which case Henne would start and the Kafka/Scott winner would be the No. 2.

Jonathan Cyprien: Coach Gus Bradley has said several times this week that he wants Cyprien to get more reps against the Falcons. The second-round draft pick missed the first two weeks of training camp because of a hamstring injury.

The 6-foot, 217-pound safety is a better option in the secondary than Chris Prosinski, who was picked on by Miami in the preseason opener, including a play in which he got turned around on a touchdown pass. Cyprien seemed to be unsure of himself at times in last Saturday’s game against the Eagles and the extra playing time will certainly help.

Cyprien will be one of two rookie starters in the secondary (cornerback Dwayne Gratz is the other). They’re going to make mistakes but the best way to limit those is to get as much time on the field as possible.

The battle at WR: Justin Blackmon, Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders and Mike Brown are set, which leaves five players competing for two spots. The top two candidates are Jordan Shipley and Tobais Palmer, with Jeremy Ebert, Toney Clemons and Charly Martin likely on the outside.

The 5-11, 178-pound Palmer is intriguing because of his speed, but he has fumbled two punts in the preseason and that may be something he can’t overcome. Shipley leads the bubble group of receivers with four catches for 48 yards. He also has value on special teams as a punt and kickoff returner, which may be enough to win him one of the final two spots.
With right guard David DeCastro out indefinitely, there will be minimal impact felt from the Steelers' 2012 draft class this season. DeCastro, the team's first-round pick, was the only guaranteed starter from Pittsburgh's most recent draft.

Offensive tackle Mike Adams, the second-round pick, is in the running for the starting left tackle job. But it wasn't an encouraging sign when the Steelers started Max Starks at left tackle Saturday night.

The player from this draft class who has the best chance of changing games is running back Chris Rainey, a fifth-round pick. He's displayed electric speed this preseason, scoring on a 41-yard run and a 57-yard catch.

Inside linebacker Sean Spence (third round) will be a key contributor on special teams and could see time on the starting defense if there is an injury to Lawrence Timmons or Larry Foote. Nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu (fourth round) has struggled at times and likely will be among the team's inactives every week. Pittsburgh's four seventh-round picks (wide receiver Toney Clemons, tight end David Paulson, cornerback Terrence Frederick and guard Kelvin Beachum) are long shots to make the team.

This isn't to say there won't be a rookie starting for the Steelers this year. Will Johnson, who was out of football last year, is expected to be the Steelers' starting fullback, and Drew Butler, an undrafted rookie, has punted well enough to earn a spot. But the Steelers have to determine whether they'll go with Butler or Jeremy Kapinos, who still hasn't punted this preseason because of issues with his back.

The Steelers had only one rookie starter from the 2011 draft class (right tackle Marcus Gilbert) and one in 2010 (center Maurkice Pouncey).
The draft is over. Book it and now grade it. On a side note, I had Rokevious Watkins as my mock draft Mr. Irrelevant, but hey what do I know. (This is only a joke, I swear). Here's a recap of the final two rounds of the draft:

BENGALS: It was a quiet end to the draft for the Bengals, who had one pick in the final two rounds. Cincinnati used it on Ohio State RB Dan "Boom" Herron (sixth round), a physical back who lacks breakaway speed. You would expect a back to be physical with the nickname "Boom."

BROWNS: ILB Emmanuel Acho (sixth round) was Texas' leading tackler last season, but he has average range. ... Boise State DT Billy Winn (sixth round) is a flashy but inconsistent interior player. ... Arizona CB Trevin Wade (seventh round) is a finesse cover man who has good ball skills. ... Alabama FB-TE Brad Smelley (seventh round) is a hybrid player on offense but he will need to contribute on special teams to stick around.

RAVENS: WR Tommy Streeter (sixth round) is a tall (6 feet 5), raw prospect out of Miami who caught 46 passes last year after making a total of six the previous two seasons. ... Georgia DT DeAngelo Tyson (seventh round) isn't a flashy player and he projects to be a backup nose tackle.

STEELERS: WR Toney Clemons (seventh round) from Colorado is a vertical threat who needs to get stronger. ... Oregon TE David Paulson (seventh round) is an overachiever who has steady hands yet lacks speed to get separation. ... Texas A&M CB Terrence Frederick (seventh round) has good instincts and works best in zone coverage. ... SMU G Kelvin Beachum (seventh round) is an aggressive blocker but he has limitations as a pass protector.

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