One of the first signs of the fall coming up is beginning to take place across the country today, and many are rejoicing in the news:
NFL Training Camp
For every team suiting up this week, there are 10 times the issues going on in each camp. From position battles to injury rehab and rookie signing dramas, the NFL season is shaping up. This year there are several established former franchise cornerstones moving on to new residences, both on the field and on the sidelines. It’s time to take a look at some of the many daytime dramas that are shaping up around the 32 training camps that are getting underway.
The Double Ocho Show: The reality circus meets the gridiron when two of the NFL’s biggest personalities and talents, as the Cincinnati Bengals add the colorful Terrell Owens to their already flamboyant wide receiver threat Chad OchoCinco (a name which says enough by itself). This is undoubtedly one of the most talented pairings in the league, but will it become one of the most controversial as well? Both are known for being spontaneous to the point of detriment to their team chemistry over the course of their careers. Will they be able to co-exist and share the wealth, or could this be a match made in a chaotic hell-to-be? One thing for sure is that quarterback Carson Palmer is in the most interesting spot in the league.
The Young and the Jetless: The Chiefs made a surprising move by adding veteran back Thomas Jones to their backfield, coupling him with the emergent Jamaal Charles. It will be interesting to see how they utilize both in their scheme. Charles had the best finish to the 09 season of any back not named Chris Johnson, with his week 17 259 yard performance as its capstone. Jones, who finished with over 1,400 yards himself with the Jets, had a resurgent season. Will his presence be used to pace Charles’ durability, or will they be equally featured?
The Hangover: The Raiders parted ways with the greatest bust in the history of top picks, JaMarcus Russell in May. It only required a fourth round pick in the 2012 draft to add Jason Campbell to the fold from the Redskins, who found his way out of rocky situation in Washington. Will his steadier hand be able to bring the best out of the young Raider receiving corps; especially much criticized Darrius Heyward-Bey? We shall see.
Sign and Deliver: When the Rams opted against everybody’s top talent Ndamukong Suh for Sam Bradford with their top pick in the draft, it was clear it was a move to provide a face and player to turn the corner of the NFL’s worst franchise. With the his name on a six-year, $78 million contract, “Savior Sam’s” assent to the mantle of savior is underway. With only journeyman A.J. Feeley on the roster behind him, it is likely that he will be called on from day one to step in and lead the Rams back to prominence. How will Bradford, and his faulty shoulder that hasn’t been tested since a season ending injury last October, and when he will be utilized will be decided in August.
The Tebow Spotlight: Ever since he was taken by the Broncos in the first round (and of course well before it), Tebow’s role has been subject of speculation. With him in camp now with incumbent Kyle Orton and newly acquired Brady Quinn, his impact on the Broncos offense, the way he is utilized and transition into the pro game will be closely watched.
Texas Two-Step: The Cowboys made a big splash by moving into position to select Dez Bryant, whose fall in the draft has been much debated. By landing in Dallas, he joined one of sport’s greatest annual drama sources. Bryant immediately threw a match to the first of many fires by refusing to participate in annual team hazing and not carrying veteran Roy Williams’ pads during practice. This could be the beginning of many battles between the two as Bryant’s potential will be placed head up against Williams, an under-performing, yet talented receiver. An ankle injury recently occurred by Dez could add even more suspense to the showdown.
DC Drama and Dreams: It seems that since Mike Shanahan first put on his first piece of Redskins gear, he and Albert Haynesworth have been at odds. First Haynesworth requests a trade, and then does not report to workouts, opting to work out on his own. After agreeing to report to camp, he failed two Shanahan mandated fitness tests. Where this ends up between the new coach and the $100 million tackle is anybody’s guess. However, for all the uncertainties on that end of the team, there finally are none at quarterback. Donovan McNabb was acquired from division rival Philadelphia and is expected to pilot the Redskins back to consistency, which has eluded them for most of owner Daniel Snyder’s reign.
New Birds in Flight: With McNabb’s departure as cornerstone of the Eagles, along with Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook, who was released, the Eagles are turning the page on an era. The keys to the offense have been passed to Kevin Kolb, who commands one of the fastest offenses in the league with blazing wide outs DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy and Mike Bell. The criticisms of McNabb came down annually and rumored he would be moved out. Now that he is will Philadelphia be ready for the reality of it? The tools are there, how will they be used?
Martz in the Windy: Since he piloted Dick Vermeil’s St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl and subsequently took the reins himself, Mike Martz has been one of the most in demand offensive minds in football. Now he is coupled with Jay Cutler and a needy Bears team. Cutler struggled in his first year in the Windy, throwing 26 interceptions to shallow receiving selection and a sub par offensive line. There hasn’t been much change to any of these units, but will Martz be able to bring his scheme out and pull something out of the Chicago offense?
Brett Watch 2k10: It’s time for the annual Brett Favre return rumors. Is this even a question anymore? After two-a-days and at least three pre season games are over, he’s in there. Right on his own schedule. Sage Rosenfels and Tavaris Jackson will keep the pocket warm for him.