In the 2022 NFL season, slot receivers were targeted on 39.6% of all quarterback attempts (7,192 of 18,146), so it’s safe to say that slot receiver performance is a huge part of just about every professional passing game. Moreover, with the advent of the 3×1 receiver set in the modern NFL, teams are using more inside and outside slot receivers to expand their route concepts.

As is the cade with slot defenders, slot receivers are no longer the “lesser guys” incapable of playing outside due to whatever size or speed deficits they may carry. Last season, there were seven players with at least 70 slot targets, nine with at least 50 slot receptions, 14 with at least 500 slot receiving yards, and 16 with at least four slot touchdowns. You can put together a decent season for any receiver overall just based on what you do inside. And you can be a force multiplier for your offense based on your inside presence.



GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals said on Monday that they’ve activated rookie linebacker BJ Ojulari from the physically unable to perform list.

Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon said Ojulari had been dealing with a knee injury that happened during the offseason, causing him to miss the first two weeks of camp. The 6-foot-2, 248-pounder was the 41st overall pick out of LSU.

Gannon said there was “no timetable” for when Ojulari might be ready to play in a game.

“I’m just excited to get him out there and moving around with his buddies,” Gannon said.

The 21-year-old Ojulari is expected to be a vital piece of the defense, joining holdovers such as Zaven Collins, Isaiah Simmons and Budda Baker. Ojulari’s brother Azeez plays for the New York Giants.


LAS VEGAS (AP) — Former Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Damon Arnette emerged from a Nevada courtroom Monday saying he hopes to play this season in the NFL, maybe with the Dallas Cowboys, after he resolved a felony 2022 gun case by pleading guilty to two misdemeanors.

“If I’m blessed enough to get another chance in the NFL, then I’m going to kill that,” Arnette told reporters after Clark County District Court Judge Ronald Israel sternly instructed him that as a result of his plea, he can’t have guns and can’t be around anyone who has a gun.

“I’ve learned a lot. I’m remorseful about everything,” the 26-year-old Arnette, who lives in Boynton Beach, Florida, told reporters. “I appreciate and respect another opportunity. I’m a better man than I was.”

The former first-round draft pick by the Raiders in 2020 said he had an airline flight booked to Dallas to talk with that team about a contract. The Kansas City Chiefs released him last year from a reserve contract he had signed just days before his arrest in Las Vegas.


OXNARD, Calif. (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys released kicker Tristan Vizcaino on Monday, leaving 28-year-old rookie Brandon Aubrey as the only kicker with two more weeks of training camp in California.

Vizcaino was part of what amounted to an emergency competition at kicker last January after Brett Maher missed four consecutive PATs in a 31-14 wild-card victory at Tampa Bay.

The Cowboys signed Vizcaino to the practice squad but decided not to replace Maher, who had another PAT blocked after the only touchdown Dallas scored in a 19-12 divisional-round loss at San Francisco.

Maher signed about this time last year after a competition in training camp between two unproven kickers flopped. Maher was solid all season until his playoff meltdown.

Dallas chose the same approach this year, and Vizcaino was spotty throughout camp. Aubrey has been shaky at times as well, but slightly more accurate than Vizcaino, a fourth-year player.

While the Cowboys could be on their way to signing a veteran as they did with Maher last year, Aubrey appears set to get all the work leading to the preseason opener Saturday at home against Jacksonville.

Aubrey spent two seasons with Birmingham in the USFL after playing soccer at Notre Dame and getting drafted into MLS in 2017. The Cowboys signed him a month ago.


ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs coach Andy Reid had very little to say about missing All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones on Monday.

What he did say carried some weight.

Jones, who is entering the final year of his four-year, $80 million contract, skipped the entirety of the Chiefs’ offseason program and has so far held out all of training camp while trying to secure a new long-term deal. And with their first preseason game now less than a week away, Reid indicated that even superstars such as Jones are missing something by missing camp.

“I don’t know when he’ll be here,” Reid said after Monday’s padded practice on the campus of Missouri Western State University, “but I will tell you that any work he can get is important. It’s a fast game.”

Jones could conceivably hold out the entire preseason, or even the regular season, though it’s unclear what he would gain by that decision. He was evidently fine with relatively modest fines for missing the Chiefs’ mandatory minicamp, and appears to be willing to part with $50,000 daily fines for each day he misses in training camp.

But under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the fines increase substantially to an entire game check — about $1.1 million in Jones’ case — for each preseason and regular-season game that he is absent.

The Chiefs are likewise in a bind without Jones on the field.

He was easily their most disruptive pass rusher last season, piling up 15 1/2 sacks and then dominating throughout their playoff run to the Lombardi Trophy.

And that was with Frank Clark, who was released to free up some salary cap space, and fellow pass rusher Carlos Dunlop sharing the field and taking some of the attention away from him.

The Chiefs signed Charles Omenihu to help replace the veteran duo, but he was recently suspended for the first six games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy; he was arrested in January, when Omenihu was a member of the 49ers, and accused by a woman claiming to be his girlfriend of domestic violence.

Reid said the Chiefs were expecting a suspension and “we’ll work through it.” But that means relying more heavily on second-year pro George Karlaftis, who had six sacks as a rookie, and first-round draft pick Felix Anudike-Uzomah to rush the passer.

“They’ve handled it well,” said Reid, who had not yet decided how much starters and backups will play on Sunday in New Orleans. “We’ll see how it works out during the preseason and who steps up. We know we have bodies, though.”

The Chiefs did get some positive news along the defensive line Monday when Turk Wharton, who had been rehabbing after surgery to repair a torn ACL, worked into some of the padded team periods for the first time in camp.

“I’m just preparing to get back fully healthy,” Wharton said, “and continue to take my strides so I can play.”

NOTES: DE Mike Danna (calf) returned to practice after missing three sessions. … Omenihu continued to practice Monday, and he is eligible to play during the preseason, but his suspension will begin with Week 1 of the regular season. … CB L’Jarius Sneed missed his fifth practice with knee inflammation. “It swells,” Reid said. “We’re trying to keep the swelling down.”


BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland’s rebuilt defensive line depth suddenly has some weak spots.

Second-year ends Alex Wright and Isaiah Thomas are both sidelined with knee injuries and could miss significant time — and possibly the start of the regular season.

Before Monday’s practice, which was held outdoors despite a steady rain, coach Kevin Stefanski revealed that Wright and Thomas are hurt while providing few other details or a timetable for recovery.

Stefanski did say the injuries could stretch into the regular season, which begins Sept. 10 against Cincinnati.

During practice, No. 2 running back Jerome Ford suffered a hamstring injury and backup guard Drew Forbes was carted off with a back injury. The extent of their injuries is not yet known. The Browns are off Tuesday and will play their home exhibition opener Friday against the Washington Commanders.

Stefanski said one of the ends was injured in Thursday night’s Hall of Fame game against the New York Jets and the other was hurt during practice Saturday.

Wright and Thomas are listed as Cleveland’s respective Nos. 4 and 5 ends behind All-Pro Myles Garrett, Za’Darius Smith and Ogbo Okoronkwo.

The Browns revamped their defensive front this offseason — Smith came via trade and Okoronkwo as a free agent — after the unit underperformed in 2022.

Wright and Thomas both missed Sunday’s workout along with defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, who got poked in the eye.

Thomas, a seventh-round pick in 2022, was on the field for 25 plays against the Jets. Wright played 15 snaps.

Cleveland selected Wright, who played at UAB, in the third round in 2022. Thomas, a standout at Oklahoma, was picked in the seventh round that year.

The Browns signed end Charles Wiley to help offset the injuries. He played at Texas-San Antonio and spent time with the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants last season.

NOTES: LB Sione Takitaki took part in team drills for the first time since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last season. Takitaki intercepted rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the end zone.


IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — Veteran safety John Johnson is returning to the Los Angeles Rams after two seasons in Cleveland.

Johnson has agreed to terms and will officially rejoin the Rams’ roster after he passes a physical Monday. He was at training camp Sunday at UC Irvine as an observer.

Johnson should provide much-needed experience and playmaking ability to the Rams’ defense, which is projected to be one of the NFL’s least-experienced groups around Aaron Donald. Los Angeles has parted ways with six of its top seven tacklers from last season in various cost-cutting moves, including the free-agent departures of starting safeties Taylor Rapp and Nick Scott.

Johnson was a third-round draft pick by the Rams in 2017, and he earned a starting job as a rookie. He was a key component of the Rams’ defense during their first Super Bowl season under coach Sean McVay in the 2018-19 season, and he was Los Angeles’ leading tackler in 2020 after missing much of 2019 because of an injury.

Johnson left the Rams in March 2021 for a three-year, $33.75 million free-agent deal with the Browns. After excelling as a strong safety who frequently played near the box in Los Angeles, he was often asked to move away from his strengths in Cleveland, playing as a free safety with more responsibility in pass coverage.

Johnson, who was released by the Browns in March, was popular with fans and in the locker room during his tenure with the Rams.

The Rams opened training camp last month with an incredibly inexperienced secondary at the back of a youthful defense. Their nominal starting strong safety is Jordan Fuller, whose three NFL seasons were the most in the entire Los Angeles secondary before the club signed veteran cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon in late June. Witherspoon also was the only defensive back more than 25 years old.

Russ Yeast and Quentin Lake, a pair of late-round 2022 draft picks, lead the raw group of contenders for the other starting safety job.

Fuller started alongside Johnson as a rookie in 2020 before taking over Johnson’s role and subsequently leading the Rams in tackles in 2021. But Fuller and fellow starting safety Rapp both got injured during the Rams’ subsequent postseason run to their Super Bowl championship, forcing Los Angeles to bring Eric Weddle out of retirement as a replacement alongside Scott.

Los Angeles largely gutted its roster in the offseason and chose to head into 2023 with remarkably few proven veterans after making almost no significant free-agent signings. The late arrivals of Witherspoon and Johnson indicate the Rams have admitted their youngsters need help, at least on defense.

The Rams also could have concerns about the durability of Fuller, who appeared in only three games last season because of a hamstring injury while they went 5-12 in the worst season by a defending Super Bowl champion in NFL history.

The Rams open their preseason schedule Saturday night against the Los Angeles Chargers.


The No. 2 pick in this year’s NFL draft is getting first dibs on winning the starting quarterback job in Houston.

Texans coach DeMeco Ryans said Monday that C.J. Stroud will get the start in Thursday night’s preseason opener against the host New England Patriots.

Stroud is locked in a battle with incumbent starter Davis Mills for the No. 1 job. The game will also mark Ryans’ first game as head coach of the Texans.

Ryans told NFL Network that Stroud would start but he didn’t say how many series the rookie will play before giving way to Mills.

Stroud, 21, finished third in the 2022 Heisman Trophy voting after passing for 3,688 yards with 41 touchdowns and six interceptions in 13 games for Ohio State.

He has embraced the training camp challenge with Mills, one of the more intriguing position battles in the league. Veteran Case Keenum is also on the team.

“I don’t want anything given to me. I want to earn everything,” Stroud told reporters last week. “Davis is a great quarterback, and so is Case. And honestly, we’re not focused on that. We’re just focused on getting better and better and better because at the end of the day, if you focus on trying to do something extra or do this here and there, that’s when you start confusing yourself and doing what’s out of the playbook and making mistakes.”

Mills, 24, went 3-10-1 as the starter in 2022, throwing for 3,118 yards with 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He’s 5-19-1 as the starter since being drafted in the third round in 2021.


GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Rashan Gary took a step forward in his return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament by getting activated from the physically unable to perform list.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur said before Monday’s practice that Gary is getting activated. LaFleur noted that Gary will be doing mostly individual work Monday and won’t be participating in any team drills.

Gary, 25, had six sacks and seven tackles for loss in nine games last season before tearing the ACL in his right knee Nov. 6 during a 15-9 loss at Detroit. He had at least one sack in each of the Packers’ first four games.

Although the 2019 first-round pick from Michigan missed nearly half the season in 2022, his six sacks still ranked second on the team, behind Preston Smith’s 8½.


(AP) — Houston Texans offensive tackle Tytus Howard is expected to miss significant time after sustaining a hand injury in camp.

“Tytus (Howard), he’s still dealing with that (hand injury) and will probably be out for a while,” coach DeMeco Ryans said Monday. “We’ll re-address that later.”

When pressed on exactly how long Howard is expected to be out, Ryans said: “I’ll let you guys know later.”

The injury comes after Howard agreed to a three-year, $56 million extension just before the start of camp.

A first-round pick in 2019, Howard has started 54 games in four seasons with the Texans.

His injury comes after center Scott Quessenberry was placed on injured reserve Friday after tearing knee ligaments in camp Thursday.

Quessenberry started 16 games for the Texans last season after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Chargers.


The Detroit Lions are signing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater after hosting the 30-year-old on a visit in late July, sources told NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport.

Bridgewater will reunite with Lions head coach Dan Campbell. The pair spent the 2018-19 season together on the New Orleans Saints.

The 2014 first-round pick provides additional experience under center behind starter Jared Goff. Detroit also has Nate Sudfeld and rookie Adrian Martinez on its quarterback depth chart.

Bridgewater backed up Tua Tagovailoa as a member of the Miami Dolphins last season. The Louisville product passed for 683 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions in five games. He earned two starts and finished the year with a 62% completion rate.

The Lions will be Bridgewater’s sixth NFL club. He also had stints with the Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, and Denver Broncos.

The veteran sports 33-32 record as a starter to go along with 15,120 yards, 75 touchdowns, and a 90.5 career passer rating.


With the Hall of Fame Game in the books, we’ll recap and analyze the biggest storylines ahead of the first full week of preseason action.

The Jonathan Taylor saga continues

The standoff between the Indianapolis Colts and star running back Jonathan Taylor has intensified.

First, Taylor reportedly requested a trade last weekend over not receiving an extension following a private meeting with Colts owner Jim Irsay. Then, Irsay vehemently shut down any possibility of the star halfback being dealt.

It seemed inevitable that Taylor would earn a lucrative new deal after leading the league and setting a franchise single-season record with 1,811 rushing yards during the 2021 campaign. Even despite his career-low 861 yards in 2022, the Wisconsin product has rushed for 3,841 yards and 33 touchdowns while averaging 5.1 yards per carry through three seasons.

Yet, with the 24-year-old tailback entering the final year of his rookie contract that’ll see him earn $4.3 million, per Over the Cap, the Colts don’t have immediate plans to sign him to a contract extension.

Now, Taylor is on the physically unable to play list to begin training camp. Head coach Shane Steichen didn’t specify the injury that’s preventing the starting tailback from participating in practice. However, there were reports that the rusher suffered a back injury while away from the team this offseason.

As a result, Indianapolis was apparently considering moving Taylor to the non-football injury list, although he quickly refuted the reports. The Colts wouldn’t have to pay Taylor’s salary for the 2023 season if they placed him on the NFI list, and they could potentially prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Although the Colts have indicated that they won’t entertain offers for Taylor, there are teams willing to give the star the kind of contract he desires, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Indianapolis also signed Kenyan Drake on Friday amid the uncertainty, and after Zack Moss underwent arm surgery.

Taylor’s impasse with the Colts is emblematic of the devaluation of running backs across the league. Similar to most clubs, Indy seemingly doesn’t feel compelled to pay its star rusher.

Jets’ hype flight reaches new elevation

The New York Jets have been enjoying the spotlight since the start of training camp. Off the field, quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw shots at Denver coach Sean Payton for calling Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s 2022 Broncos tenure one of “the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL.” Hackett said Payton broke the coaches’ code. Seems like there’ll be plenty of inspiration when the two sides meet in Week 5.

On the field, the Jets hosted four-time Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook, but a deal has yet to be reached. However, the rusher said the odds are pretty high that he’ll sign a deal with New York. The addition of a tailback that’s rushed for 1,000-plus yards in each of the past four seasons would further elevate the expectations around Florham Park.

Plus, second-year starter Breece Hall is continuing to ramp up his workload after his rookie campaign ended due to a torn ACL. A combination of Cook and Hall, who averaged 5.8 yards per rush and scored four touchdowns in seven games in 2022, would create one of the league’s most formidable backfields. If the Jets don’t add Cook, Michael Carter, Israel Abanikanda, and Zonovan “Bam” Knight are each jockeying for the RB2 spot.

And if that wasn’t enough Jets content for you, you’ll be pleased to know that the season premiere of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” is set to take place Aug. 8.

Pro Football Hall of Fame Game

For the first time in what felt like ages, we finally got to see actual football during an exhibition contest between the Jets and Cleveland Browns. Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, and most of the notable starters for each team didn’t suit up, but seeing live action was a welcome sight.

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson showed off his arm by completing three of his five passes for 65 yards, including a 57-yard completion to Malik Taylor. Rookie signal-caller Dorian Thompson-Robinson provided a spark to the Browns, as Cleveland pulled off a 21-16 comeback win amid a fourth-quarter delay due to a light malfunction.

Updates on notable holdouts, standoffs

Here’s the latest intel on some of the most notable holdouts, hold-ins, and contract dispute across the league.

Nick Bosa: San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch is preaching patience as the team works toward an extension with its star pass-rusher. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year is poised to reset the market at his position. Bosa has tallied 34 sacks over the past two seasons, including a league-leading 18.5 in 2022. It appears to be a matter of time, but this will continue to be a storyline until a deal is announced. While Bosa is incurring a $50,000 fine for each day he misses, they are rescindable since he’s still under his rookie deal, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Josh Jacobs: The stalemate between the 2022 leading rusher and the Las Vegas Raiders continues. Jacobs still hasn’t signed his franchise-tag tender or reported to camp. Head coach Josh McDaniels remains optimistic he’ll rejoin the club, while Ameer Abdullah, Brandon Bolden, Zamir White, and Austin Walter have been taking reps at the position in Jacobs’ absence.

Zack Martin: There doesn’t seem to be any sense of urgency from the Dallas Cowboys to get a deal done for All-Pro offensive lineman Zack Martin. While the guard has held out for a raise (he’s set to earn $13.5 million this season), Dallas has struck a deal with Trevon Diggs and is eyeing extensions for CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons. With Martin’s demand currently not high on the Cowboys’ priority list, it’s unclear when his holdout will be resolved.

Chris Jones: In an offseason where several defensive tackles secured extensions, Chris Jones continues to wait for his turn. The four-time Pro Bowler is reportedly seeking an annual average salary of $30 million on his next contract.

While Aaron Donald’s $31.6-million annual salary remains an outlier, Jones has the best shot of approaching his position-leading mark. The two-time Super Bowl winner earned first-team All-Pro honors after tying a career high with 15.5 sacks while adding 17 tackles for loss and 29 quarterback hits.

Kamara handed 3-game suspension

With the hammer hovering over New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara for over a season, it finally came down this past week. Following Kamara’s meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the league suspended the rusher for the first three games of this season. The ban was a result of Kamara pleading no-contest to a February 2022 criminal case in which he was accused, alongside three other defendants, of beating a man unconscious.

Although Kamara will miss the team’s season opener against the Tennessee Titans, along with matchups against the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers, New Orleans took a proactive approach to addressing the situation. Jamal Williams isn’t a fan of beignets, but he’ll surely salivate at an early-season feature role after leading the league with 17 rushing touchdowns. Rookie Kendre Miller should also earn some snaps after missing most of the club’s offseason activities.

Lackluster QB battles take shape

The 2023 quarterback battles have lacked the accustomed sizzle and flair entering training camp. While a few starting jobs remain up for grabs, a large majority have felt more like a formality. For example, the Carolina Panthers quickly tabbed Bryce Young as their starter just a day into camp. Here, we’ll focus on a couple of other rookies and a pair of veterans aiming to win their respective competitions.

Buccaneers: It initially seemed that Baker Mayfield would just assume the starting quarterback role following Tom Brady’s second retirement in as many seasons. Yet Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales said Kyle Trask has really settled in this past week. Both players are splitting first-team reps and will each get a chance to start a preseason contest. Whoever gets the start for the team’s final preseason clash against the Baltimore Ravens will likely be under center for Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings.

Texans: When Houston used the second overall selection on C.J. Stroud, it appeared it’d only be a matter of time before he’d assume the starting role. However, the Ohio State product finds himself in a close race with incumbent Davis Mills. While Stroud doesn’t want the job handed to him, he’ll have to separate himself from the two-year veteran who has 26 starts under his belt.

Colts:After missing a day of action following a minor nose procedure and looking shaky with the first team, Anthony Richardson has reportedly strung together consecutive practices with the first-team offense that suggest his development is coming along just fine. However, Gardner Minshew remains in the mix to get starting reps.

Injuries beginning to mount

The inconvenient truth about training camp is that no team is spared from its share of injuries. No one wants to see the cart come out or a player miss out on a season before it even begins. This week, there were several scares, as well as a few ailments that’ll impact some teams.

The Los Angeles Rams are breathing a sigh of relief after star wideout Cooper Kupp left practice Monday’s practice with a hamstring injury. Although the ailment was initially expected to keep the former All-Pro receiver sidelined for at least a few weeks, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur described Kupp as day-to-day. Kupp missed most of the second half of the 2022 season due to a high ankle sprain.

The Denver Broncos appear to have been plagued by the injury bug early in camp. Receiver Tim Patrick saw his campaign come to an end in training camp for the second time in as many seasons after tearing his Achilles. Denver’s wideout depth chart took another hit when K.J. Hamler announced he was diagnosed with a mild heart condition called pericarditis. The Penn State product was waived, but the Broncos plan to bring him back in the near future as he’s only expected to be sidelined for weeks after dealing with chest pains.

Additionally, linebacker Jonas Griffith reportedly tore his ACL, while cornerback Riley Moss will be sidelined for at least a month after undergoing core muscle surgery.

Trayveon Williams, who’s projected to be among the contenders to back up Joe Mixon in Cincinnati this season, had to be carted off the field after going down Tuesday. Fortunately, he’s only sustained a mild ankle sprain that should keep him on the shelf for a couple of weeks. The fifth-year player is competing with rookie Chase Brown and Chris Evans to replace former teammate Samaje Perine.

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Jeff Okudah was carted off the field after sustaining an ankle injury during a one-on-one drill in practice Friday, although the severity and nature of his injury weren’t disclosed. Although the former Detroit Lion suited up for 15 games last season, the 2020 first-round pick was seeking a fresh start after his first two seasons in the league were derailed by multiple ailments.

In a story that illustrates that NFL stars are just like us, Calvin Ridley was hobbled in practice Tuesday due to a sore foot as a result of some ill-fitting cleats. Talk about a bad shoe day. Ridley returned to practice the next day but was plagued by a few drops.

Highlight-reel moments from practice

George Pickens is quickly making a name for himself by making highlight-reel grabs look routine. The Pittsburgh Steelers receiver was back at it again in practice this week, making a remarkable snag during a one-on-one drill against Joey Porter Jr. Ever the gentleman, Pickens handed the rookie a souvenir shortly afterward. Porter didn’t seem to be too impressed with Pickens’ gesture.

Kansas City Chiefs wideout Justyn Ross has been turning heads since camp opened up. After going undrafted in 2022 and missing the team’s Super Bowl run last year following foot surgery, Ross is stepping up in camp with Kadarius Toney on the mend and Rashee Rice still learning the ropes. The 23-year-old put his superb route-running on display with a smooth shake of a defender, calmly wiping his gloves on a towel before hauling in the reception. It looks like Patrick Mahomes will have himself another impressive target this season.

Jason Brownlee might not be a household name at the moment, but that could soon change. The undrafted wideout made a sensational one-handed catch similar to Odell Beckham Jr.’s. The Southern Miss product appears to be in a good spot to make the final roster.



Two-time defending national champion Georgia will open the 2023 season ranked No. 1 in the coaches poll.

Georgia received 61 of 66 first-place votes in the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll released Monday.

Coach Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs open the season against Tennessee-Martin on Sept. 2 in Athens, Ga.

No. 2 Michigan has its highest preseason ranking since the poll was introduced in 1991.

No. 3 Alabama received four first-place ballots and No. 4 Ohio State picked up the other one.

LSU checks in at No. 5, giving the SEC three of the top-five slots.

Southern California, Penn State, Florida State, Clemson and Tennessee round out the top 10.

The rest of the poll published Monday:

11. Washington

12. Texas

13. Notre Dame

14. Utah

15. Oregon

16. TCU

17. Kansas State

18. Oregon State

19. Oklahoma

20. North Carolina

21. Wisconsin

22. Ole Miss

23. Tulane

24. Texas Tech

25. Texas A&M


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Wake Forest receiver Donavon Greene has a knee injury that could keep him out for the season.

The school announced Monday that Greene would miss three to five months after suffering the injury on the first day of preseason camp. Greene was expected to take a leading role among the receivers working with new starting quarterback Mitch Griffis.

“Donavon Greene is a great player and an even better person,” coach Dave Clawson said in a statement. “He will play a key role off the field this season as he works towards a speedy and safe recovery in the coming months.”

Greene was second on the team last year with 642 yards receiving on 37 catches, including six touchdowns. Wake Forest had lost leading receiver A.T. Perry to the NFL. But Greene’s return, along with Jahmal Banks and Taylor Morin, offered plenty of depth.

Greene missed the 2021 season with a knee injury. Wake Forest opens the season against Elon on Aug. 31.


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah is back together with BYU, and the Utes think they are poised for a successful transition to the Big 12 Conference.

Utah will compete in the Big 12 in all sports starting in 2024 after accepting an invitation to join the league on Friday. Arizona and Arizona State also accepted Big 12 invitations on the same day. The three schools followed Colorado, which announced a return to the league it helped found in 1996 in late July. The Buffaloes originally left the Big 12 for the Pac-12 in 2010, joining that league with the Utes in 2011.

Their move came after Oregon and Washington bolted for the Big Ten earlier in the day.

This isn’t Utah’s first move into a power conference. But unlike when it left the Mountain West Conference to join the Pac-12, the Utes expect to be competitive from day one in the Big 12.

“We want to get in there and win and win right away,” Utah athletic director Mark Harlan said Monday. “We have no reason to believe that we can’t.”

Failure to land a suitable media rights deal led to Utah and other Pac-12 schools looking for new homes. Commissioner George Kliavkoff presented a deal with Apple that had revenue projections based heavily on reaching subscription benchmarks, and it included an opt-out clause after only two or three years.

Utah felt the streaming-only media deal with the potential for lower revenue than what other power conferences offered was too risky.

“We were plugging numbers and looking at everything like everyone else was,” Harlan said. “You got to have a collective group to move forward at the end of the day. It ended where it was.”

Utah will receive a full share of the $31.7 million each Big 12 school expects to earn from the league’s media deal starting in 2025. The Utes also enter a league that’s arguably the toughest men’s basketball conference from top to bottom, and one that is positioning itself to be the No. 3 FBS conference behind the Big Ten and the SEC.

“I wouldn’t bet against the Big 12,” Utah President Taylor Randall said. “That’s what makes us so excited to be there.”

Joining the Big 12 also puts Utah and BYU in the same conference for the first time since 2010 when both schools played in the Mountain West. It means The Holy War — one of the nation’s most intense college football rivalries — will highlight annual Big 12 conference schedules.

The schools last met in 2021 when BYU won 26-17 to snap a nine-game losing streak in a series that started in 1896.

“For me, it’s always been fun,” Randall said. “We’re looking forward to that. We’ve appreciated the way we’ve worked together (with BYU) over the years when we’ve not been in the same conference. We’re certainly looking forward to the years where we will be.”

Beyond BYU, Utah also has familiarity and rivalries with Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, and TCU to build on in the Big 12.

Switching conferences in 2024 will create a short-term dilemma for nonconference scheduling in football. Future scheduled games with BYU, Baylor, and Houston will be folded into league play. As a result, Utah needs to fill two out of three nonconference slots in 2024, 2025, 2026, and 2027.


The four remaining Pac-12 schools still aboard for next season — California, Stanford, Oregon State and Washington State — have options if they are looking for another conference.

The Atlantic Coast Conference is exploring the possibility of adding the West Coast schools, with an emphasis on California and Stanford in the San Francisco Bay Area, a person with knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press on Monday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the ACC was not making its internal discussion public and the conversations were still in early stages.

The American Athletic Conference also has interest in expanding West and adding all four Pac-12 teams, a person with direct knowledge of that league’s internal discussion told AP on condition of anonymity. The AAC has schools as far West as the Dallas area.

The Pac-12 lost five members last week after a potential media rights contract with Apple left the schools seeking a better deal. Arizona, Arizona State and Utah announced they would join Colorado in the Big 12 next year while Oregon and Washington decided to follow USC and UCLA to the Big Ten, also next summer.

The four remaining Pac-12 schools still aboard for next season — California, Stanford, Oregon State and Washington State — have options if they are looking for another conference.

The Atlantic Coast Conference is exploring the possibility of adding the West Coast schools, with an emphasis on California and Stanford in the San Francisco Bay Area, a person with knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press on Monday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the ACC was not making its internal discussion public and the conversations were still in early stages.

The American Athletic Conference also has interest in expanding West and adding all four Pac-12 teams, a person with direct knowledge of that league’s internal discussion told AP on condition of anonymity. The AAC has schools as far West as the Dallas area.

The Pac-12 lost five members last week after a potential media rights contract with Apple left the schools seeking a better deal. Arizona, Arizona State and Utah announced they would join Colorado in the Big 12 next year while Oregon and Washington decided to follow USC and UCLA to the Big Ten, also next summer.


2022 Record: 15-0 overall, 8-0 in SEC

Head Coach: Kirby Smart, 8th year: 81-15

It’s time to settle in because this Georgia thing isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

Maybe because it seems so new, and that’s why there hasn’t been a national outpouring of emotion one way or another when it comes to the first outright no-split back-to-back national championship run since 2011 and 2012 Alabama and before that 1994 and 1995 Nebraska.

Maybe it’s because there’s nothing villainous about Georgia football yet – there’s no hate-watching or Evil Empire factor like there is with Duke basketball, or the New England Patriots, or Alabama football, or Bama Rush.

Maybe it’s because the household name skill guys aren’t there.

Did Georgia even have a running back or wide receivers last season? Certainly the NFL talent level has been jaw-dropping, but when it comes to the marketable star power to make Joe and Jane Casual Fan tune in … Stetson Bennett? (Trust me, I tried to make the “he deserves to be a Heisman finalist” case and couldn’t get any non-voter to buy.)

Maybe it’s because America was out doing something delightful on New Year’s Eve – seriously, CFP, I love you, but accept the L already on the idea to play the semis on December 31st – and wasn’t fully engaged with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl when the Ohio State game-winning 50-yard field goal attempt hooked into the lumber yard to give Georgia the national title, because …

Maybe it’s because, you know, TCU. Yeah, Michigan vs Georgia in Los Angeles would’ve been massive, even if that turned out to be 65-7, too.

Maybe it’s because Georgia winning two national titles hasn’t been the unabashed party like 2019 LSU. Maybe it’s because it wasn’t crazy dramatic – in two totally different ways – like Clemson’s “we beat Alabama!” excitement in 2016 and 2018.

Maybe it’s because the Georgia faithful aren’t there yet like Alabama fans are with just two speeds, win and throw the national title on the pile, or don’t win it all and the world is a dark place of sad with no meaning.

Whatever the reason, the high-end success has been way overdue and well earned. Georgia was knocking on the door of the elite back room of the club for years, and it’s the program’s time. I wrote at least three different Bulldog season previews over the last 20 years saying something to the effect of “eventually, it’ll be Georgia’s turn.”

(Honestly, doing what I do, if I had to pick one reason it’s the big game/skill guy star power thing. Think of it this way – you know exactly what I’m talking about when I run down the line. 2020 Mac-to-Devonta, 2019 Burrow, 2018 Trevor, 2017 Tua-to-Devonta, 2016 Deshaun, 2015 Derrick beat Deshaun, 2014 Zeke beat Mariota, 2013 Jameis, 2012 Bama beat Notre Dame, 2011 Bama LSU Part 2, 2010 Cam, 2009 Bama beat Texas, 2008 Tebow beat Bradford, or …)

Whatever. Georgia has put it all together and deserves this 29-1 run over the last two seasons to be on par with anything anyone has pulled off. Try this …

22 out of Georgia’s 30 games over the last two years were against teams that went bowling. 16 of the 27 games 2011 and 2022 Alabama played were against teams that went bowling, and two of them were losses. (Admittedly unfair since there weren’t as many bowls, but …) 12 out of the 25 games 1994 and 1995 Nebraska played were against teams that went to a bowl game.

Oklahoma won outright national titles in 1955 and 1956, and out of the 21 games it played it faced a grand total of four teams that finished with a winning record – the 1955 team beat one team that finished with more than four wins in a ten game season.

And America wants to gripe about the 2023 Georgia schedule.

This is the best team in college football again – last year’s team was actually sort of young. It has a pipeline of four and five-stars who keep rising up, it has another amazing rotation of running backs, another amazing group of defensive linemen, another amazing offensive line, another amazing corner tandem …

That doesn’t mean Georgia is a lock to win another national title. It does mean it’ll be deep in the discussion again, and especially in an expanded College Football Playoff after the 2024 season, and in 2025, and …

The defense has been the star of the two national championship runs, but the offense was even more of a machine. The D was ninth in the nation in total defense. The O was fifth, averaging over 500 yards per game with a terrific balance, peak efficiency, and finished No. 1 in the nation in red zone efficiency. All of that, and it did the near-impossible by being explosive while still being able to control the clock.

Former offensive coordinator Todd Monken is now with the Baltimore Ravens, and back in the fun is Mike Bobo, the Georgia offensive coordinator in the late 2000s to mid-2010s. Nothing stops, the O might be even better at the skill spots, and …

It all starts with a killer of an offensive line. The Bulldog front five paved the way for 205 rushing yards per game, was fourth in the nation in sacks allowed, and second in tackles for loss allowed. It might have been the most underappreciated position group in the country last season, and it gets a slew of key guys back starting with C Sedrick Van Plan and the guard tandem of Xavier Truss and Tate Ratledge.

They’re all great, but there’s a shot OT Amarius Mims is the first of the bunch drafted next next year and it’s possible the most talented blocker of all is 6-4, 330-pound redshirt freshman Earnest Greene, who’s expected to take over for 14th overall pick Broderick Jones at left tackle.

Leading rusher Kenny McIntosh is done, but Georgia went with a deep enough rotation to be just fine with the ground game. Daijun Edwards was second on the team with 769 yards, Kendall Milton is a 220-pound breakaway threat who averaged seven yards per pop with eight scores, and Brandon Robinson is another 220-pounder who added 330 yards and the fourth back in the mix. They’ll all produce big behind the great line, but …

McIntosh was also a terrific receiver catching 43 passes last season. Fortunately the receiving corps is stronger. The top target is Brock Bowers – a do-it-all tight end with top ten overall talent and receiving skills – leading the way with 63 grabs for 942 yards and seven touchdowns.

Top wide receiver Ladd McConkey returns after making 58 grabs, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint is a dangerous deep threat who’ll get the call on the X now, and coming in from Missouri is the team’s top receivers, Dominic Lovett after catching 56 passes for 846 yards and three scores – he hit Georgia for six catches for 84 yards last season. Also coming over is Mississippi State transfer Rara Thomas after making 62 grabs with 12 scores over the last two seasons. But …

Who’s going to throw them the ball? Stetson Bennett was even better than you think, throwing for over 4,000 yards last year with 27 touchdown passes, just seven picks, and running for ten scores. That, and he pulled the Missouri game out of the fire and came up massive late to pull off the thriller over Ohio State. He was the walk-on-made-good story. The current Georgia quarterbacks are all big-time recruits with all the tools and talent needed to rip it up.

5-star sophomore Brock Vandagriff is a good all-around quarterback who could be the most effective runner of the bunch. 4-star redshirt freshman Gunner Stockton can also move, but he’s likely the third guy in the mix. 5-star Dylan Raiola is the most talented option, but he’s not arriving until 2024, so the odds-on favorite is 6-4, 215-pound junior Carson Beck. Let’s just call him a 4.5-star prospect who has the most experience in the system and should be the best passing option – for now. This will all be locked down in fall camp.

Alabama and Ohio State have this problem all the time, and now Georgia is experiencing the job of having a ton of NFL talent to replace. 19 Bulldog defensive players were drafted over the last three years with five selected last season – and there’s a lot more where that came from. The coordinator combination of Will Muschamp and Glenn Schumann is fantastic, and they have a whole lot to work with starting with …

The secondary lost likely NFL starters CB Kelee Ringo (Eagles) and S Christopher Smith (Raiders) and somehow might be even better. The safety combination of Malaki Starks, Javon Bullard, and Tykee Smith is next level – Starks was third on the team with 68 stops, Bullard is a possible first rounder who can get into the backfield. Kamari Lassiter is the new top corner, getting Smoke Bouie from Texas A&M helps, and sophomore Daylen Everette is likely taking over for Ringo.

Linebackers Smael Mondon and Jamon Dumas-Johnson are destructive forces. They finished 1-2 in tackles, respectively, combining for 146 stops and 17 tackles for loss. Nolan Smith might have been the 30th pick overall to the Eagles, and Robert Beal is off to the 49ers, but Chaz Chambliss has been around long enough to be a factor at one of the outside spots.

Jordan Davis, then Jalen Carter, and now Warren Brinson? Brinson isn’t at the level of the first two, but he’s yet another huge active defensive tackle who’ll keep the production going next to 320-pound Nazir Stackhouse and 295-pound Zion Logue on the nose. That bunch will eat up everything, top pass rusher Mykel Williams – just 4.5 sacks, but he has a burst – will do more at one end spot, and the pressure in the backfield will come from everywhere.