NFL Training camps are in full swing and there has been no shortage of breaking news headlines. Some players made the news for good reasons and others were not so fortunate.
On the downside, injuries have also crept their way into our developing stories. There are a handful of starting quarterbacks that are not at 100 percent health. Some rookie first-round picks are also no sure bets to open the season.
A possible pending suspension also looms over the head of last year’s No. 1 running back. Meanwhile, one of the league’s most boisterous players wants to be the highest-paid in the NFL. And speaking of paychecks, we have a few unhappy campers holding out on their teams.
This leads us to discuss the hottest rumors and developments taking place in NFL training camps.
Dallas Cowboys top drama meter
The Cowboys have been in the news for mostly all the wrong reasons. While officially out of hot water legally, running back Ezekiel Elliott awaits a potential short-term suspension. Then there was the Lucky Whitehead fiasco. Whitehead was released after he was slapped with an arrest warrant. The charges were dropped, as it was a case of mistaken identity. Whitehead has since been claimed by the New York Jets. The Cowboys keeping a lower profile from here on out can only be a good thing.
Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick appear and disappear
Both name brand quarterbacks made news then had the rug pulled out from under them. The Los Angeles Chargers worked out RGIII and the Baltimore Ravens “discussed” Kap. In the end, the Chargers traded with the Buffalo Bills for Cardale Jones. The Ravens, who could be without Joe Flacco for up to six weeks, signed CFL and Arena League quarterback David Olson. Kap and RGIII remain unemployed.
Le’Veon Bell holds out on his team
Bell has no plans of returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers anytime soon, despite his teammates’ pleas. Bell wants to be paid like a top-tier running back and No. 2 wide receiver. Therefore he turned down the slightly more than $12 million per year the Steelers offered him. Eventually, he will sign his franchise tender and make an appearance. In the meantime, head coach Mike Tomlin says there will be “consequences” for the running back. Whatever that means remains to be seen.
Andrew Luck is no sure bet to play during preseason
The Indianapolis Colts could play the entire preseason without Luck. Luck has yet to fully mend from shoulder surgery he underwent in January. Is it time for the Colts to panic? Luck launched his career with three consecutive stellar seasons, leading the team to the playoffs each year. But, the last two injury-plagued years are what have primarily stood out. The Colts need him back at 100 percent. If not, they can kiss another playoff run goodbye.
Oakland Raiders to pump the brakes on Marshawn Lynch
The Raiders went through a lot of hoops to sign Lynch after he returned from retirement following one year away from the NFL. Lynch is drawing rave reviews, but the team reportedly wants to limit his workload. Those thinking Lynch will be a fantasy football RB1 might want to reconsider. The team is looking more at something in the neighborhood of the 195 carries (or less) that Latavius Murray had last season. The Raiders don’t care about fantasy football. They only want to ensure that the 30-year-old Beastmode remains healthy for a playoff run.
Raiders’ Donald Penn an unhappy camper
Keeping with the Raiders, left tackle Donald Penn will not attend training camp. He’s unhappy with his current contract that grossly underpays him compared to his production. Getting Penn back into the mix and on an offensive line that only allowed 16 sacks to quarterback Derek Carr is vital to the Raiders’ success in 2017.
Chicago Bears muddy quarterback situation
Mike Glennon enters training camp as the intended starter. But, Glennon says he lives everyday having to deal with being compared to rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky. If Glennon stumbles up, it is Mark Sanchez who is his designated backup. Trubisky falls to third in the mix. This is at least the story for now. We could easily envision any of these three under center this year should the Bears struggle to put up wins.
Rookie first-round receivers ailing
Los Angeles Chargers rookie first-round pick Mike Williams’ playing status for the season is in question. He is currently rehabbing a back injury that was rumored might require season-ending surgery. Another receiver not at 100 percent is Cincinnati Bengals first-rounder John Ross. Ross is reportedly healing from a shoulder injury. The hope should be that both make a healthy return to their teams that could go either boom or bust in 2017.
Cleveland Browns continue to craft the perfect quarterback
As always, projecting a starting quarterback for the Browns is an sad annual event. Cody Kessler is the front runner to start. But, rookie DeShone Kizer is a legitimate threat to eventually steal the job. Then, there is Brock Osweiler to add to the mix. What we do know is it would be a rare life event if the Browns started and stuck with only one quarterback in 2017.
New York Giants Odell Beckham Jr. stakes claim to his worth
OBJ has never been shy. This was painfully obvious when he said he wants to be the highest-paid player in the NFL. We aren’t talking highest-paid receiver, but highest-paid player. Beckham is ultra-talented, but his words are ridiculous. OBJ is entering the four year of his rookie contract that pays him an average of $2.6 million per year. Unarguably, he is due for a large raise, and a large reality check.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins a lame duck
There is no shortage of drama in Washington. Cousins will play out 2017 under his franchise tender for a second consecutive year. Failed contract negotiations might just send Cousins packing to the San Francisco 49ers next year to join his former coordinator, Kyle Shanahan. Should this occur, it will be a huge win for the 49ers and a gut-punch to Washington. Until then, Cousins has to focus on the 2017 season.
Panthers making strides to rebound
Quarterback Cam Newton showed up a leaner man in training camp. As did wideout Kelvin Benjamin. Meanwhile, the Panthers wasted no time involving rookie running back Christian McCaffrey in the passing game in practices. Linebacker Luke Kuechly also returned to the mix after missing six games in 2016. So far, things are shaping up nicely in the Panthers’ camp.
Jacksonville Jaguars to hide Blake Bortles and run
The Jaguars didn’t draft rookie running back Leonard Fournette fourth overall to sit around. Fournette will be the featured player on offense this year, according to the team’s website. More handoffs to Fournette will hopefully cut down on Bortles’ errors. Look for Fournette to score more than the eight rushing touchdowns the Jags combined for in 2016.
Boom or bust year for Sammy Watkins
Knock on wood that Watkins will avoid opening the season on the PUP list. He’s reportedly healthy for now. After missing eight games in 2016, the Bills made the not-so-surprising decision to pass on Watkins’ fifth-year option. They also drafted rookie wideout Zay Jones, who could steal the spotlight.
Aaron Donald officially holds out
The Los Angeles Rams have yet to take care of a new deal for their top defensive player. As such, defensive tackle Donald is going through with his plan to hold out of training camp. The Rams’ talk of making Donald the highest-paid NFL defender seem to have flown out the window. Now that war has been declared it will be interesting to see which side caves first.