One of the best and most comprehensive features we do every year are our Footballguys Training Camp Updates. Every week in August, our Bob Henry and his team of Footballguys Staffers cover every player that matters from every NFL team. It's incredible and frankly, probably worth the price of the Footballguys Insider PRO subscription just by itself. Each edition is almost 40 pages long.
While I encourage you to read every word of every week, I also understand Life Happens. And one of the more valuable services Footballguys can add is saving you time. For this article, I had the idea of taking the comprehensive Training Camp Update and distilling it down into 80 proof shots of the "Need To Know" material. Some teams will have more news than others. Because that's how it works in real life. Much of it will be from the Camp Updates, some of it will be my takes but all of it will hopefully be useful to you. And make sure to jump on our Insider PRO subscription to continue seeing this type of stuff all year long. And if this feature is helpful to you, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.
Let's get to it.
QB Carson Palmer signed a one year extension and says this team will be even better than last year's club "I thought last year's team was really, really good until we started working in OTAs. And then we got to training camp and you see how much better this team is than last year, and we still have room to grow."
The Cardinals can't talk up RB David Johnson enough. Cardinals coach Stump Mitchell was the latest to chime in, "I don't think there's a back in Cardinals history that can do the things David Johnson can do." Despite the hype surrounding David Johnson, Chris Johnson doesn't look set to go anywhere anytime soon. During the first week of camp Chris said he felt faster than he did 12 months ago. 12 months ago he was coming back from being shot during the offseason. Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said, "I think David is a little more comfortable than Chris in the passing game...but running the ball, they are both even."
WR John Brown suffered a concussion on the first Sunday of camp. He sat for the rest of the week but that may be the Cardinals being cautious because they can be given we are still five weeks from the start of the regular season. WR Larry Fitzgerald signed a one year contract extension. We are a little worried about Fitzgerald losing some targets to RB David Johnson. With some WRs out,Michael Floyd was featured prominently throughout the week. Floyd had an impressive week of practice reeling in a number of big plays.
QB Matt Ryan is happy to have new Pro Bowler Alex Mack as the team's center: 'It's not a small thing. It's a huge thing. When you have a veteran guy up in front of you and they understand what is going on and they are comfortable doing it, it's huge. For my first five years having a guy like Todd McClure, when I could just go out there and be on autopilot and he would get us right - that really helps. I think Alex is that kind of guy. He's done a great job.'
New WR Mohamed Sanu is drawing lots of praise and looks to be the logical #2 WR. "We've all been impressed with the way he works and the way that he performs in practice," Matt Ryan said. "I think as he gets more comfortable, he's going to continue to showcase what a great player he is."Julio Jones echoed the excitement for Sanu: "But Sanu, he's a great addition to the team, and we'll see that when the season comes around. He looks great out here with his route-running ability, running little routes, short routes inside, choice routes and those things."
So far so good for QB Joe Flacco returning from a torn ACL in Week 11. The team is being careful with him but everything seems positive "He made some great throws today, [and the] one to [tight end Dennis] Pitta across the middle was just a great throw," safety Eric Weddle said. "Only great quarterbacks can make that throw. He looked good; he seemed confident. You couldn't tell he had surgery in the offseason. It's definitely a positive sign."
RB Terance West is generating lots of positive buzz and will challenge for a starting role. Per NFL.com, the Baltimore Sun lauded the slimmed-down West as the team's "most explosive offensive player." ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley followed suit on Thursday, noting that West has been the offense's "No. 1 playmaker." But veteran Justin Forsett looks to have turned back the clock according to coach John Harbaugh "Justin is quietly having an excellent camp. "He looks to me like he did two years ago," coach Harbaugh said Monday, per the team's official website. "I see the same running back we had two years ago, in terms of his speed, his explosiveness, his vision. He really looks good. I know there's a lot of talk about the other guys, but he's playing really well."
New TE Ben Watson is impressing folks. Especially Sports Illustrated's Peter King who after seeing him in one practice said "Watched him (Watson) in one practice. So who knows what it all means. But watching that one practice, last Monday night in the Ravens stadium, made me think I'd draft Watson as a tight end if I were trying to win a fantasy league. I mean, not as the best tight end, but as a top-five tight end. Healthy, he'll catch 70 balls." To be fair, King rated him as the #16 TE in the rankings section of the article. Bottom line, there seems to be a lot of optimism around Watson.
QB Tyrod Taylor is the clear No. 1 QB and continues to be the darling of owners (like me) who plan to wait for a value QB in drafts. Taylor did raise some eyebrows flipping into the endzone. Per NFL.com: Coach Rex Ryan was nonplussed to see starting passer Tyrod Taylor sacrifice his body on Monday for a practice-session touchdown. Scurrying on a quarterback draw inside the 10-yard line, Taylor "hurdled" two defenders and flipped in midair for the score, per ESPN's Mike Rodak."Are you kidding me?" Ryan later told reporters, according to Rodak. "Please don't do that. ... He's got to take care of himself."
As Ryan worries about injury, RB LeSean McCoy isn't expected to see a lot of work as they know what they have in himKarlos Williams showed up overweight earlier this offseason, and will also miss the first four games while serving a suspension. That created an opening for the team to sign Reggie Bush to an incentive-laden contract but most don't expect a big role for Reggie Bush.
WR Sammy Watkins broke his foot in April but returned to practice and sounds optimistic: "I'm not so much worried about my foot, it's really technique and getting back in the groove of things," he said. "You see the other guys out there doing everything perfect and I'm trying to get to that point. Everything is mental just with my route running, my stance and starts and really breaking everything down and being low and being explosive."
QB Cam Newton continues to be really good.
RB Jonathan Stewart sounded good talking about recovery from his foot injury"When you're working you have to find different ways to work without putting your body through a lot of stress. But I feel pretty good. This is my ninth year. I feel like it's my fifth year," said Stewart."
WR Devin Funchess is playing well to open training camp. According to the Charlotte Observer's Johnathan Jones, "Funchess is enjoying an outstanding training camp in his second season. His momentum from the end of last season — when he had 31 catches for 473 yards and five touchdowns — has carried into this summer." Funchess is pleased with his start to camp. "I'm more comfortable. I just want to do more. I want to be a bigger part and help the other guys - make sure we're all making plays and make sure we get the W at the end of the day." Kelvin Benjamin is listed as the #2 WR and everyone seems to assume he'll excel there but Funchess seems like a guy to watch closely.
QB Jay Cutler lost offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Dowell Loggains was promoted. It's important to note Loggains was Cutler's QB coach last year in which Cutler posted one of his best seasons. Loggains is optimistic about the offense "I'm looking forward to coaching him every day and continuing the process we've made and build off that where we ended last year," Loggains said. "But we definitely could be better"Obviously some dynamics change. Now there is a different quarterbacks coach but Jay and I will be in constant communication just like last year where I was in charge of running every meeting. I will be involved in the quarterbacks meetings and be around still."
WR Alshon Jeffery's been slow to start camp with hamstring issues and that's always nervewracking. Second year player Kevin White missed his rookie season but he is drawing some praise. Adam Hoge reported, "Kevin White continues to look really good". White will likely see a good bit of time in the first preseason game. If anyone needs rust shaken off, it's White Eddie Royal has been going through the league's concussion protocol the past week, so hasn't had much of a chance to work with Cutler
QB Andy Dalton took two big hits losingMarvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu to free agency. To add to the difficulty, TE Tyler Eifert is likely to be unavailable for the start of the regular season. On the upside, Dalton has looked strong in camp.
WR A.J Green looks to be relied upon even more heavily. He's looking up to the challenge as no one's been able to cover Green in camp. Healthy and in sync with Andy Dalton, Green has been abusing every Cincinnati defensive back. In two series in last weekend's team scrimmage, Green had four catches for 70 yards in two series and could have had more had he not dropped a well-thrown ball on a long sideline route.
There are already indications TE Tyler Eifert will miss multiple regular season games. Tyler Kroft was expected to fill Eifert's role as a pass-catching option, but sprained a knee last week and is expected to be out for 4-6 weeks. Any hiccups in Kroft's rehab would keep him out of the season opener, too. C.J. Uzomah is the next tight end up and has been very good so far.
The Robert Griffin III era is on in Cleveland as he was named the starter By all accounts, Griffin has been getting better with each day of camp. His connections of 35, 53, and 41 yards with Corey Coleman in Friday night's intrasquad scrimmage generated plenty of buzz and Griffin kept it going on Saturday, finishing 12-of-19 with a pair of touchdowns during the Browns' annual scrimmage at Ohio Stadium. Browns head coach Hue Jackson sounds confident in Griffin's ability to revive his career. "The biggest area he has grown is just his confidence in playing the position,'' said Jackson. "You have to know how to play quarterback in the National Football League, and with (associate head coach – offense) Pep (Hamilton) and myself, we pride ourselves on getting guys ready to play. He has accepted every challenge we've given him.''
Rookie WR Corey Coleman put on a show in Friday night's scrimmage, beat writer Tony Grossi called Coleman "the real deal", while Hamilton also had high praise for the rookie. "He can score the ball," Hamilton said. "That's what we're going to need him to do. We need a big-play threat or two or three on the perimeter, and we feel like he's the guy who can do those things." Unfortunately, Coleman was forced to watch Saturday's scrimmage from the sideline with a hamstring injury, though it appears minor. "He'll be fine," coach Hue Jackson said. "He just had a little hamstring issue, and I didn't want to push it too far. We're too close to getting ready for the season."
Terrelle Pryor dominated the Orange and Brown Scrimmage, catching five passes including touchdowns of five and 75 yards. "Before I was like a bear, but now, it's a gazelle," Pryor said after the game. Griffin had high praise for Pryor's progress as a receiver. "He's a big guy, physical, he's got an elite trait that you can't coach and that's size," Griffin said. "So he's been able to utilize that while he's been in camp this spring and we love the progress that he's made." Grossi even went as far as to guess Pryor is the favorite to open the season as the number two receiver, though Josh Gordon's Week 5 return from suspension is bound to shake up the depth chart. Gordon hasn't seen the practice field yet due to a quad injury, but Jackson has been impressed with his dedication. "He wants to play, he's been outstanding," Jackson said. "He's been great in the building, been great outside the building. I think he has a burning desire to be a part of this football team."
There was some doubt about TE Gary Barnidge's availability for the start of camp, but he was active in Saturday's scrimmage and had a nice sideline catch from Griffin.
Backup QB Kellen Moore broke his ankle and will be sidelined for several months; he's likely done for the season. The Cowboys looked hard at signing Nick Foles but he took an offer from the Chiefs instead. So it's all on Tony Romo. Perfect.
All eyes have understandably been on RB Ezekiel Elliott, but unfortunately a hamstring injury has sidelined him. While not considered serious, it's a setback considering Elliott's presumed role as the centerpiece of the offense. Prior to injuring his hamstring, Elliott hadn't done all that much in early practices to stand out one way or another. Tony Romo has been doing what he can to help Elliot. "Believe me, I'm in his ear enough," Romo said Thursday, via ESPN. "I think at this point he tries to stay away a little bit. It's good for him to hear about a lot of the little intricate stuff that is going to come up at some point. You don't want to overload him too much right away. At the same time, he's got to hear it and go through it. He'll make mistakes, but every rookie does. The good ones learn from it, come back and don't make it again."
TE Jason Witten had a solid but relatively quiet first week which is not unexpected for a veteran.
QB Mark Sanchez has been named the starter for the first preseason game but coach Gary Kubiak says the issue is far from settled. Earlier this week he said, "I don't think anybody has taken off and done anything, I think they've all done what they did in the offseason. They all continue to do it. We'll just going here. We'll start playing some people and playing some games. We're going to find out."
The Broncos matched the offer sheet from Miami to RB C.J. Anderson this offseason, and Anderson responded to the team's vote of confidence with a little commitment of his own. He arrived in camp about 10 pounds lighter than last year, and that's added a little extra burst for the fourth year pro. "I just worked on conditioning. I did a lot of stadium steps, a lot of hill sprints. I did a whole lot. I have had success before in college putting myself in position to be ready to carry the load," he said. Anderson has been serving as a mentor for promising rookie Devontae Booker as well. The team sees big things in the future for the fourth round draft pick, and he could even carve out a bit of a role this season. "He's under my wing, and I can help him out so he can help our football team," Anderson says.
Dave Birkett of The Detroit Free Press has reported that QB Matthew Stafford has been more vocal as a leader in this training camp.
The Lions will likely use a committee RB approach. Ameer Abdullah underwent off-season shoulder surgery and he'll be eased in. Theo Riddick is absolutely locked into a pass catching role out of the backfield. The Lions are looking for a power back to compliment Abdullah and Riddick, and the competition for that job is between second-year pro Zach Zenner and recently acquired free-agent Stevan Ridley. The battle for the "power back" job will likely continue through camp into late August.
Detroit and Matthew Stafford are dealing with "Life After Calvin Johnson". Detroit signed free-agent receiver Marvin Jones in the offseason and have recently brought in veteran Anquan Boldin. At this point, it looks like Golden Tate and Marvin Jones will be 1A and 1B in this offense. Boldin is a veteran, long in the tooth, but he brings a winning mentality and incredible physicality to the position Tim Twentyman of www.detroitlions.com reports that Jones has emerged as the Lions deep threat on the outside and that he's looked the part in camp. Twentyman further noted that Jones commands the entire route tree and will be a big part of the offense.
RB Eddie Lacy showed up to camp around the 240 pound mark which was some twenty pounds lighter than last year.
WR Jordy Nelson continues to move towards returning but there's a fair bit of concern that we're not hearing overly postive things. Let's watch closely how he's eased back in. Offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said that "it's just a matter of time" until Nelson is back to his normal self
TE Jared Cook made an impressive debut this week. Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Jounal Sentinel wrote: "Ray Nitschke Field was abuzz Tuesday night over the performance of Jared Cook. The veteran tight end made his debut in pads with several eye-opening receptions, demonstrating for the first time in a Packers uniform why GM Ted Thompson signed him."
QB Brock Osweiler started off shaky in camp and quickly settled down as he builds chemistry with the receivers. Just as expected.
RB Lamar Miller's been looking strong and appears set for a heavy workload.
Following a short holdout, WR DeAndre Hopkins returned to the field and has been making plays on a regular basis in camp. Even against tight coverage by the Texans top corners, Hopkins always seems to find a way to come down with the ball when it's thrown in his directionLong-time beat writer John McClain has called WR Jaelen Strong the "most improved player" on the team. Strong is poised to open the season as the #2 receiver across from Hopkins
QB AndrewLuck sounds optimistic. "I think physically and mentally I feel like I have gotten better as a quarterback, better as a thrower and better at understanding this offense. … I think the more we've practiced, the more we've gotten our reps in I think the faster we have gotten as an offense. The faster we're playing and that certainly lends itself to confidence, yeah."
Head Coach Chuck Pagano said of WR T.Y. Hilton's place on the team, "Naturally, guys grow into that role and he embraced that role as far as a leader, mentoring the young guys. But really, it was by his actions and being here and being present, working his tail off and playing at a really high speed and high level." T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief will be the starters in two-wide sets with last year's first-round pick Phillip Dorsett seeing time when plays call for three wideouts, which should become more common this year.
TE Coby Fleener is gone to New Orleans leaving Dwayne Allen to handle the bulk of the work. Allen sounds ready for the responsibility:"I just want to be healthy and available so I can help my team. … I did a lot of talking before. I felt the talking came from not having the opportunities, so I needed to talk. But this year, regardless of opportunities, I want to be the teammate and the player that people speak for and I don't have to speak for myself."
QB Blake Bortles has looked sharp in training camp despite the interceptions as the defense has also been shining in camp so far. Head coach Gus Bradley had some kind words for Bortles, "I've been very, very pleased with him. Very excited about him. It comes back to his command of the offense, seeing him going up to receivers, tight ends and talk to them. He has a stronger command. He's playing with good poise. I think that if there's a mistake made he reacts quicker to it, recovers quicker from it."
Bortles also had this comment which speaks both to the running backs and also to whether Bortles will see the kind of passing volume he saw in 2015"I think we're going to be as good as our running game is," Bortles told reporters on Monday. "I think last year we were forced to throw the ball maybe a little bit more, maybe a little bit more than we had planned either because we weren't running the ball well or we were behind the chains or down in the game." Chris Ivory has started strong in the first days of camp and his lower-the-shoulder style will help the running game as T.J. Yeldon will be able to see a slight decrease in volume this season. Coach Bradley said that Chris Ivory was signed in part to help keep T.J. Yeldon healthy. "It's a long season and to have two or three backs that you can count on, that'd be an asset for our team."
RBJamaal Charles was placed on the active/PUP list as camp opened. He continues to recover from the ACL injury that brought an abrupt end to his 2015 season, and the Chiefs are being understandably cautious with him. It's a pretty safe bet that we won't see too much of Charles in the preseason, but he appears to be coming along well in his recovery and should be a full go for Week 1.
WR Jeremy Maclin's the clear WR1 on the team but Kansas City seems intent on getting him help. It remains to be seen who that is though. Maclin had praise for Rod Steater. "I think Rod's done a phenomenal job. We've asked him to play outside, we've moved him to the slot and I think he's a very intelligent guy," Maclin said. Second-year pro Chris Conley appears in line for more playing time too, and early reports on 2016 draft pick Demarcus Robinson have been glowing. Tyreek Hill, another 2016 draft choice, has been one of the early stars of camp. "The biggest part of coming into this offense as a wide receiver is the mentality of being able to handle the volume of the reps that we have, the formations, the personnel, how things adjust. He's done it so far," Nagy said. Add it all up, and it sounds like the days of Maclin being the only wide receiver threat may be numbered.
TE Travis Kelce looks to have picked up where he left off and is shining in camp.
RBTodd Gurley has looked incredible in the first week, repeatedly breaking off big runs whenever given the opportunity.
WR MikeQuick has played well and will make a push to see time across from Kenny Britt in the Rams base offense but is facing stiff competition from rookie Mike ThomasOn the inside, Tavon Austin had an injury scare early in the first week of camp but returned to the field.
Rookie TE TylerHigbee has been a stand out through the first week. His athleticism is apparent and Higbee has shown an immediate ability to work underneath routes.
Head Coach Adam Gase has said he "feels great with where" QB Ryan Tannehill is right now. Offensive Coordinator Clive Christensen has been effusive in his praise of Tannehill's work ethic: "He works unbelievably hard. I think he works as hard as anybody I've been around. I think I've been around elite workers at the quarterback position. Those guys are elite. Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck are elite workers, and this guy works his tail off."
Arian Foster spent the first few days of camp on PUP, but immediately made his presence known in his first practice, making plays like this spectacular one-handed catch. He showed up in outstanding physical shape and "annihilated" the conditioning test. Gase has praised Foster's early work in the passing game, saying he looks "smooth and effortless." Beat-writer Armando Salguero has described Foster as "head and shoulders the best RB on Dolphins" based upon his work so far in training camp. Perhaps most important for fantasy owners is the recent declaration from OC Clive Christensen: "We really need someone to emerge as the guy. ... We don't want to substitute. ... We really need one guy to be a three-down back, stay in there for that drive." While Miami may rotate backs between drives, the desire is for one guy to be able to handle both early-down and third-down work, giving Foster an edge due to his versatility. "Any time we run a lot of plays that he's run in the past, his ability to feel holes in the run game and when he gets the ball in the passing game, how smooth he is, how effortlessly he catches the ball, it's an impressive thing for me to see," Gase said of Foster. "I've been around one other guy in Matt Forte, as far as a guy who can do that much." Jay Ajayi suffered a bone bruise to his knee that caused swelling and missed multiple practices early in camp. He returned to practice August 5 and reports had him moving well and looking to be fully recovered, though Gase indicated that Ajayi wasn't quite 100% yet but wanted to get back as soon as possible. While Foster has received the first snaps in team drills, Ajayi is also rotating in with the ones
WRJarvis Landry has had a strong camp. Gase is clearly impressed with his young receiver, noting that Landry "is rare because he can play both outside and on the inside. I haven't been around a guy that has as much grit as him."
QB Teddy Bridgewater had his strongest practice of the week on Saturday as he showed confidence in his ability to get the ball downfield. He also showed a remarkably improved zip on his intermediate passes and touch on his deep balls. Not only has Bridgewater improved his deep accuracy this offseason, he has improved his overall arm strength. He connected with Stefon Diggs on multiple bombs down the field and one to Adam Thielen as well. He moved the ball down the field with ease getting the ball into tight windows and being on target.
RB Adrian Peterson looked strong in limited workJerick McKinnon sat out most of the week after tweaking his lower back on Monday but returned to the field for individual drills on Friday. "It felt good. I got moving around a little bit - that's what it was really about," McKinnon said after practice. "I'm just taking it a day at a time and not rushing back. Like I said, it's nice to be back out there with the teammates, moving around a little bit in individuals."
Rookie WR LaquonTreadwell is continuing to do and say all the right things during training camp working hard and staying late. He isslowly gaining chemistry with Teddy Bridgewater and with the added practice time it is showing in the team drills. Coach Zimmer had nothing but praise for Treadwell, "I think Treadwell has come to camp in much better shape. He's an extremely hard worker. He continues to get better, and he want to be really good. Good so far."
Jimmy Garappolo will be the starter for the first four games. Brady takes over in Week 5. Next Question.
RB LeGarrette Blount was expected to open camp on the PUP list but instead was a full go from the start. Blount had dealt with a hip injury throughout the offseason that limited what he could do. Blount could have a key role in a Tom Brady-less Patriots offense so his health will be imperative to monitor moving forward. Dion Lewis was less fortunate. Lewis isn't expected to miss time in the regular season but he opened training camp on the PUP list. Lewis practiced without a brace before the beginning of camp so the Patriots are likely just taking every precaution while they canESPN's Mike Reiss told ESPN's Mike Clay that Lewis' snaps will likely dip by 20 percent or so this year.
WR Julian Edelman gave everyone a scare this week pulling up in a drill and throwing his helmet down in disgust as he was treated by trainers. Most thougth he'd reinjured his foot. Turns out that it was just some scar tissue breaking up and Edelman looks to be back on track. Stay tuned.
ESPN's Mike Reiss confirmed what most of us expected during the first week of training camp: The Patriots' base offense will feature two tight ends. Reiss also said that he expects Martellus Bennett to be heavily involved on goal-line plays. Rob Gronkowski and Bennett have dominated in the red zone during drills so far, racking up touchdowns with relative ease
QBDrew Brees had a tough outing on Saturday, throwing four interceptions during the session: 'It was a rough day. Probably one of the rougher days I've had in a long time, maybe ever — in a training camp practice especially," he added. "So, those are frustrating, but I'm glad I'm getting them all out of the way right now." Don't worry.
WRs Willie Snead, Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas have been the star receivers of the first week of training camp, with Thomas in particular drawing praise. Jeff Duncan of Nola.com wrote, "It's obviously impossible to make a full evaluation after one practice but Michael Thomas looks like a bona fide playmaker. The rookie from Ohio State already has earned the complete trust of every quarterback on the roster and has become a go-to receiver in key situations. That's heady stuff and a positive sign for a rookie two weeks into his first NFL training camp."
TECoby Fleener is catching touchdowns from Drew Brees on a regular basis and is the clear-cut starter at the position. Brees commented on Fleener: "I think he's (Fleener) feeling very good right now so I'm excited to see what we are able to put together over the next few weeks as we get a lot of time and a lot of reps together but listen his role, as a tight end in this offense, you get a lot of opportunities, you get a lot of favorable match ups, and you can be a guy that catches a lot of balls and I certainly see him in that role."
QB Eli Manning's drawing praise early in campNew quarterback coach Frank Cignetti is thrilled with what he's seen of the 2-time Super Bowl champion: "Eli has been outstanding. In the classroom, what a pro. Great preparation," Cignetti said. "You can see on the practice field that he has been a great decision maker. I am so impressed with his fundamentals. I am very impressed with Eli so far in training camp."
To hear running back coach Craig Johnson tell it, gone are the days of a 4-man RB committee "What I've learned is that if you can have a couple of guys playing a lot, then a spare guy, that's the best way to go," he said. "We're going to see if we can find the rhythm with a pair and maybe a third guy and, obviously, if it was like we finished the year, like Rashad finished, that would take care of a lot of problems." You'll note the key there is Johnson citing Rashad Jennings as the guy who will get first shot at the feature back role. Shane Vereen's role is to be determined, particularly with the Giants impressive depth at the receiver position – but if the first week of camp is any indication, Vereen is going to be the Giants #2 to start the season and will be more than just a 3rd down receiving back. Where does that leave rookie Paul Perkins? For now, he's a depth player with a promising long-term future.
People are quickly learning about rookie WR Sterling Shepard – who has been as good as advertised in early practices.
TEWill Tye outplayed Larry Donnell last season after Donnell went down with injury, but the first week of camp has reminded everyone not to count Donnell out. He's been the best tight end on the roster and looks explosive. If Donnell can sustain this level once preseason games get underway, the Giants could be looking at a true committee this season.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick signed his one year contract and quickly reunited wtih the teamReceiver Eric Decker said, "He's definitely throwing it like he was last year. I'm just impressed. It doesn't feel like we've missed any time from him being gone this offseason, which is nice. I'm excited about what this training camp is going to do for us."
RB Matt Forte is hurt (hamstring) and will miss the preseason opener. The Jets are just being careful with his injury, and there is no indication that this is a long-term problem. In fact, there's a strong argument that being careful now will avoid it turning into a long-term problem. Bilal Powell has been getting the majority of Forte's reps and has looked sharp
WRsBrandon Marshall and Eric Decker spent the week getting back on the same page with Ryan Fitzpatrick, and were noticeably happy to have Fitzpatrick back in the fold. Both receivers played well this week; neither looked rusty.
QB Derek Carr's primary focus has been working on building chemistry with his targets, especially second-year pros Clive Walford and Amari Cooper. To that end, Carr has been rooming with Cooper during camp and the two have spent plenty of time talking about routes and adjustments to coverage. "It's good to come back and just talk ball with him," Carr said. "He tells me his goals, I share my stuff with him and we're able to … I know how he thinks. I know how he likes to go about his business. I know what he likes to do off the field Amari and I should have the best relationship ever."
RB Latavius Murray has looked solid and is first in line for carries. He has made some nice catches in camp, but has more competition for third-down snaps than he did last season and may lose some passing game work. DeAndre Washington has received plenty of reps with the first team and should establish himself as the complement to Murray if he can carry over his strong offseason play into the preseason. He has been able to rip off big runs throughout camp
WR Amari Cooper has been catching everything, which is a great sign as he struggled with his concentration down the stretch of his rookie season. He has had a number of "spectacular" catches in camp and looks poised to build upon his promising debut. Michael Crabtree has been catching everything in camp and like Cooper has made some impressive catches (like this one-handed grab)
QB Sam Bradford is the starter. He's received the lion's share of reps with the ones and has been, by far, the most accurate passer. Carson Wentz has looked exactly as one would expect – moments of brilliance and moments of maddening frustration
The Eagles welcomed back RB Ryan Mathews late in the week after missing the first few days of camp while recovering from an offseason ankle injury. He looked explosive and in shape in his return, which was important considering how thin the position has been in early practices. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich was encouraged: "I know it was a toned down practice and no pads, but we're still playing fast. He's an explosive, physical runner. We've got a good array of backs. We want to mix him in. Ryan will be prominent in the mix. You want to get a guy like that, with the track record like that and the way he's run the ball the last couple years, we want to get him the ball as much as we can."
The tight end position is of paramount importance in the new offense. Head coach Pederson wants to keep four tight ends on the game-day roster – which highlights his belief in the position. Three of those positions will be held down by Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and Trey Burton. The Eagles are giving Chris Pantale every chance to be the 4th tight end, but he must show more consistency as a receiver to win the role. Fantasy owners may be discounting Zach Ertz too much based on what we saw from him under Chip Kelly. Pederson and Reich are favoring him all over the field, and have featured him in red zone drills in the early days of camp.
RB Le'Veon Bell may or may not miss the first four games of the season. What doesn't seem to be in question is that he's feeling great "I feel like I am ready," Bell said, via TribLive.com. "I feel like I can go out there and get tackled or whatever it may be. As long as my knee doesn't swell and I don't have any setbacks, I plan to do more. My right leg feels crazy strong."He added: "I feel that I got all my speed back, and I am confident cutting. (Friday) was crazy because it was really the first day I wasn't even thinking about running. When I was running the football, I wasn't thinking anything about my knee. That's the point I want to get to."
Second-year WR Sammie Coates will look to fill the vertical playmaking void left by the suspended Martavis Bryant. Coates has been receiving compliments from just about everyone thus far – from coaches to national media. Long-time, highly-esteemed beat writer Ed Bouchette thinks Coates can surpass Markus Wheaton and start on the outside
TE Ladarius Green still hasn't practiced as he returns from an ankle injury. Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote, "expectations are sinking so low that when Ben Roethlisberger talked about the tight end situation Tuesday, he did not mention Green. Asked how Green was coming along, Roethlisberger answered with a two-shoulder shrug."
All signs point to RB Melvin Gordon having zero limitations as a result of offseason microfracture surgery. He's slated to handle early down running back duties in 2016, with Danny Woodhead on tap to resume his role as one of the league's more productive pass catching running backs. Woodhead suffered an ankle sprain during minicamp, but he's back to 100% as training camp gets underway. The Chargers have actually given Gordon some reps at returning kicks in the early part of camp. "I think that's something we're going to discuss over time. I'm not going to say definitely no or definitely yes yet. We'll see." said head coach Mike McCoy.
Keenan Allen gave fans a scare after having his foot stepped on in camp. But he's back and is "fine" per coach Mike McCoy. Travis Benjamin is working as the #2 opposite Allen and that's looking solid. In bad news, the team lost WR Stevie Johnson for the season with a knee injury.
TE Antonio Gates continues to defy time and has looked great in camp.
The official word from the 49ers is that Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick are "co-starters". But 49ers Insider Tim Kawakami wrote this week: "Blaine Gabbert is an enormous favorite to be the 49ers' Week 1 starter. It's what Jed & Trent want."
RB Carlos Hyde appears to be the clear number one RB. Which may be good for Hyde owners, but troubling for 49er fans with little depth behind Hyde
The Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrows notes that Torrey Smith is lining up on the right side, Quinton Patton on the left and Bruce Ellington at the slot position. But this WR position group is wide open. Torrey Smith is clearly the top receiver on the team but after that, things get murky fast.
Coach Pete Carroll confirmed that RB Thomas Rawls had surgery in the offseason. Rawls has been on the PUP list since training camp began but on Sunday he was given a clean bill of health. ESPN's Sheil Kapadia expects him to be the primary ball carrier when the regular season begins. Rawls' primary backup, C.J. Prosise, has yet to make an impact because of his own health issues. Prosise had durability questions coming out of college as a converted receiver but this hamstring issue appears to be minor and isn't an unusual ailment for rookies to suffer at this time of the year. With Rawls and Prosise sidelined, the "Christine Michael Show" has been up and running again. Michael has taken most of the carries ahead of Alex Collins and Zac Brooks
TE Jimmy Graham returned to the practice field Wednesday. Per ESPN, "Graham ran routes and caught passes from the quarterbacks during the first part of Wednesday's practice. Nothing he did required moving at full speed, and Graham stayed on the sideline once the offense and defense started going against each otherCoach Pete Carroll has said that Graham is on track to play in Week 1, barring a setback.Asked if that's his expectation, Graham said, "I can't really answer that. I'm not allowed to answer that."
Observers of camp have reported that WR Mike Evans and QB Jameis Winston are improving their chemistry during the first week of training camp. Koetter named Adam Humphries as the third wide receiver early in camp. "Adam Humphries is going to be our No. 3 wide receiver," Koetter said. "You talk about the definition of consistent players, there's Adam Humphries' picture right there. Consistently strong player. Adam is going to be our slot receiver."
Cameron Brate is the lead tight end in Tampa. He's been praised for his red-zone abilities and improved run blocking. Koetter shared his views, "Right now Cam is playing better than Austin (Sefarian-Jenkins). End of story, as far as I'm concerned." According to the Tampa Bay Time's Auman, Seferian-Jenkins had a nice touchdown catch from backup quarterback Mike Glennon in two-minute work on Saturday and he and Brate both had a good day during 11-on-11 work. In spite of what beat writers may be saying, Koetter put Seferian-Jenkins on notice: "Austin's trying to get better every day. Austin's working at it and that's all he can do right now. He's just got to work. That's all anybody that's fighting for a job can do. The guys that are playing the best are going to play. Catching up for some guys is knowing what they're doing. Catching up for other guys is you've got to play better, and he falls into that category."
RB DeMarco Murray is the Titans' lead back at this point. He opened his week with a fumble but bounced back from it, earning praise from Mularkey and team writer Jim Wyatt. Wyatt reported that Murray was regularly breaking off big gains while his leadership has also been emphasized at different points during the week. Derrick Henry has opened camp with some struggles but seems to be finding his way. Henry fumbled at least one handoff from Marcus Mariota and has been beaten too many times in pass protection drills. He was singled out by his position coach because of his poor technique on cut blocks. None of this should be surprising or overly concerning. It's what rookie backs typically struggle with during their first training camps. Early reports on Henry running the ball have mostly been positive.
This was supposed to be WR Dorial Green-Beckham's week. Instead, the second year receiver has shown few signs of development to this point in camp while rookie, Tajae Sharpe, and Andre Johnson, a late veteran addition, have outperformed him with Sharpe shockingly ascending to a starting role.
QB Kirk Cousins hasn't been consistently sharp in the early part of camp, but he did string a number of strong practices together to end the week. "When he can scan the field and get to his first, second, third and sometimes fourth option, he's pretty darn good," Gruden said. "Fortunately our line gave him some time to scan the field and get the throws in there. But he is more comfortable."
The coaches clearly are banking on RB Matt Jones as the feature back. Jones has been the unquestioned number one. Aside from sitting out for two days (once with "tired legs" and the other with mild knee soreness), Jones has gotten most of the reps with the starters and looked adequate. Coaches are praising Jones' maturation – for example, denoting his positive attitude in the classroom and film study – areas that Jones admits were not his favorite as a rookie. The team desperately needs Jones to stay healthy and improve markedly because depth is a question mark.
Veteran WRs DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are having a good start to camp. Jackson, in particular, has looked like the best player on offense – which is saying something considering the presence of Jordan Reed.
For Washington, the TE position is really about keeping Jordan Reed healthy for the regular season so that he can build of last year's emergence. Reed has been – along with DeSean Jackson—the most explosive player on offense early in camp.
And that's that for this week. Let me know if you found this type of thing useful by shooting an email to email@example.com. And keep up with me on Twitter by clicking the follow button below.