Don’t worry, football is getting closer.
Some teams have started training camp, and each team will have their full squads into camp by the end of the week … aside from the few teams that have players holding out.
The road to Super Bowl LIV starts as teams put on the pads and practice through the summer heat. Here are the 10 biggest storylines around the league as camps get going:
Cowboys contract drama
Some teams have one star who wants to get paid. The Cowboys’ three biggest names on offense all want new deals. The extension for quarterback Dak Prescott has been discussed all offseason in Dallas, but it hasn’t happened yet. That has slowed down talks with Ezekiel Elliott, who isn’t happy and might hold out during camp. Amari Cooper is being patient, knowing other extensions for star receivers around the league could drive up his price. It remains to be seen how the contract drama affects camp, but it will be a hot topic. Owner Jerry Jones better remember to bring his checkbook to camp in Oxnard, Calif.
Will Melvin Gordon report?
Gordon, the Los Angeles Chargers’ Pro Bowl running back, wants a new deal or he has threatened to hold out. Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reported the team is digging in and an extension isn’t coming soon. Someone will have to blink, or Gordon could be holding out a while. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson are next up. The Chargers are a Super Bowl contender but would look better with Gordon on the field (and fantasy football drafters would like to know if he’s going to play, as well).
Tom Brady keeps fighting Father Time
On Aug. 3, Tom Brady turns 42. Here are the quarterbacks who have started more than one game in a season at age 42 or beyond: Vinny Testaverde. Yep, that’s it. Testaverde started six games after his 42nd birthday, all for the 2007 Panthers. He had a 65.8 passer rating. Brady’s numbers declined a bit last season, he doesn’t have Rob Gronkowski around anymore, and he’s attempting to do something that has never been done before. It’s hard to bet against Brady after another Super Bowl title, but every throw he makes in camp will be under extra scrutiny due to his age.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is looking for another Super Bowl ring. (AP)
The Kliff Kingsbury-Kyler Murray “Air Raid” offense
The Cardinals aren’t expected to be very good, but they might be the most fascinating team heading into this season. Who knows what their offense, headed up by top overall pick Murray, will look like? Expect a lot of spread formations, no-huddle and shotgun looks from Kingsbury’s offense, because that’s what he ran at Texas Tech. Installing the offense will be crucial in camp, and it will be interesting to see how many details are reported about what the offense looks like in practice. We can be sure that whatever Cardinals offense we see in preseason won’t be what we see when the games count.
Are Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers getting along?
After the offseason story about the strained relationship between Rodgers and former Packers coach Mike McCarthy, the relationship between Rodgers and new coach LaFleur is worth watching. Rodgers is driven and could be in for a huge season as he tries to prove he wasn’t at fault for any Packers shortcomings in the McCarthy era. First, he needs to buy into LaFleur’s program and new offense.
Odell Beckham starts fresh with the Browns
The biggest name to change teams this offseason was probably Beckham. The Browns have big hopes this season, after so many years of disappointment. Beckham could be a key to a big season. Controversy always followed Beckham in New York, and a revealing GQ interview created some headlines the Browns probably didn’t love seeing. We’ll see if we get a healthy, happy camp from Beckham in his new home.
Is there any way Daniel Jones unseats Eli Manning?
Earlier this offseason, Giants coach Pat Shurmur didn’t shoot down the idea of a quarterback competition between Manning and Jones, the sixth pick of the draft. While subsequent reports said Manning will start, what happens if Manning struggles in camp and preseason? Jones is very likely to play at some point this season; practically every quarterback picked in the first round dating back to 2006 has started at least one game as a rookie. Manning is an overwhelming favorite to get the opening-day nod. But how Jones does in camp could determine how quickly he gets his shot in the regular season.
Will Antonio Brown mesh with his new Raiders teammates?
Brown clearly wore out his welcome in Pittsburgh, which is why the Steelers traded him at a cheap price. Brown is a great player, a future Hall of Famer, but how he gets along with the Raiders is a major factor. There were plenty of stories of Brown’s so-called diva behavior in Pittsburgh and how the team allowed it. Brown has become the type of player who can create a controversy at any point. The Raiders knew they were also getting that part of the package when they traded for Brown.
Dwayne Haskins vs. Case Keenum in Washington
Kyler Murray will start Week 1 for Arizona. Daniel Jones is very unlikely to start the season opener for the Giants. The third first-round quarterback this season, Haskins, seems like he might have a 50-50 chance to start Washington’s first regular-season game. Washington appears to have an open competition between Keenum, Haskins and perhaps Colt McCoy, who is recovering from a broken leg. If Haskins has a big training camp, there’s no reason to delay giving him the job.
Is Todd Gurley healthy?
Dating back to late last season, Todd Gurley’s knee has been a big story and it seemed none of the news was positive. Steve Wyche of NFL Network finally had a glimmer of hope. Wyche said sources with the Rams and close to Gurley “do not see a dip in his production.” Wyche said rookie Darrell Henderson could spell Gurley more, but that wouldn’t necessarily equate to a change in his production. We’ll see. Given Gurley’s weird usage in the playoffs last season and the ambiguity about his knee injury, his health will be a constant topic throughout Rams camp.
Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley’s knee will be a big topic during training camp. (AP)
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