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Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
Not every NFL question will be answered when the league’s 32 teams partake in organized team activities over the course of the next few weeks. But after months of speculation based on free-agent additions, subtractions and draft developments, it’ll be nice to see almost everyone on the practice field actually playing football.
In the process, we’ll likely learn a thing or two about each squad.
With that in mind, here’s the biggest OTA-related question pertaining to each organization as we embark on the next phase of another busy NFL offseason.
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Matt York/Associated Press
The Arizona Cardinals already got a brief glimpse of the No. 1 overall pick in red when he took the field for the team’s rookie minicamp earlier this month, but now Murray will practice with veterans such as Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson for the very first time.
Arizona is obviously praying the Heisman Trophy winner shines immediately in practice so there’s no doubt as to whether he’ll start Week 1.
Earlier this month, Cards general manager Steve Keim stated on the Rich Eisen Show that Murray will be the starter from the get-go, but he has just one year of starting experience under his belt coming out of Oklahoma. And in an appearance on the Jim Rome Show, new Arizona head coach Kliff Kinsgbury wasn’t willing to make any declarations.
So while Patrick Peterson’s OTA status is up in the air and the star cornerback faces a six-game suspension that will be a hot topic, Murray’s first impression trumps all other storylines this month in Glendale.
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John Bazemore/Associated Press
The Atlanta Falcons have revamped their interior offensive line, but it’s always difficult to get a feel for a center, guard or tackle’s progress in non-contact spring practices. So while that’ll be a focus when the preseason rolls around, the key right now is to see how healthy the maligned, injury-riddled Falcons defense looks with training camp just two months out.
That unit was hit hard by the injury bug in 2018, and veteran safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen are still recovering from the season-ending injuries they suffered back in September.
Kelsey Conway of the team’s official website reported earlier this month that both Neal and Allen aim to be fully cleared by training camp, but we’ll surely get updates on both key defensive players as Atlanta hits the practice field each of the next three weeks.
It’ll also be interesting to see how star linebacker Deion Jones looks after a foot injury cost him the majority of his 2018 campaign.
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Patrick Semansky/Associated Press
The mobile 2018 first-round pick helped get the Baltimore Ravens to the playoffs as a rookie, but he struggled—as expected—as a passer and will need to become more consistent in order to emerge as a steady franchise quarterback.
How much has Jackson grown in his first full offseason? Has it helped that new offensive coordinator Greg Roman appears committed to further building the offense around him? As Roman said in February, per The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec:
“We’re really looking at this as a completely new beginning as if we were a new staff. I think we have run an offense here that has been kind of morphed over the years, and we really want to start fresh, start new, and [with] everything from our language, our formations, how we do everything, rebuild the thing from the ground up. That’s one angle.
“The other angle is really, how do we want to move forward with Lamar Jackson? He’s a unique player with a unique skill set, so let’s build an offense that really accommodates that, as opposed to try to fit him into something that other people had once done.”
Zrebiec also reported on Twitter last month that “Jackson said he emphasized trying to keep a wide base and improve his accuracy this offseason.”
When the Ravens kick off their first batch of OTAs on Monday and Tuesday, we’ll get a feel for how much progress he made and how comfortable he looks in Roman’s revamped offense.
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Adrian Kraus/Associated Press
Five quarterbacks were selected in the first round of last year’s draft, and Jackson and Allen were probably the rawest of those five. The former faces pressure to demonstrate his progress in a whole new offense, while the latter will look to make a statement now that he’s surrounded by a revamped cast of characters when his Buffalo Bills kick off OTAs on Monday and Tuesday.
Allen occasionally flashed his upside as a rookie, particularly with his legs, but his completion percentage of 52.8 was the worst among qualified passers by a large margin. That’s especially significant because his accuracy was a concern coming into the NFL.
But the Bills are giving him as much support as possible. After a splashy offseason from the front office, Allen now has two intriguing security blankets in slot receiver Cole Beasley and tight end Tyler Kroft, a deep threat in outside receiver John Brown and a retooled offensive line featuring highly touted newbies Mitch Morse and Cody Ford.
Allen’s chemistry with those new weapons will be worth watching, as will any mechanical adjustments stemming from his first full offseason as a pro.
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When the Carolina Panthers launch their first series of OTAs on Tuesday, most eyes will be on quarterback Cam Newton. But will the 30-year-old three-time Pro Bowler be able to show us anything?
Newton is less than four months removed from arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. That just happens to be the shoulder he uses to throw footballs, and his arm lacked its usual strength last season before the procedure.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported in January that the 2015 MVP hoped to be cleared for OTAs. But while he recently told ESPN’s David Newton he’s “feeling great now,” Newton still hadn’t received clearance on the brink of Carolina’s OTA slate.
If Newton doesn’t get that green light this week, the attention during OTA sessions will likely shift to riveting third-round rookie Will Grier, who will be making his full-roster practice debut.
No way that could lead to controversy, right?
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David Banks/Associated Press
The Chicago Bears shook up their running back depth chart this offseason by trading away Jordan Howard, signing Mike Davis and drafting David Montgomery to work with the always dangerous Tarik Cohen.
Now we’ll finally have a chance to see all three backs on the practice field together when Chicago starts OTAs on Tuesday. And while quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is excited about the team’s new “three-headed monster,” there’ll undoubtedly be a competitive aspect to OTAs and training camp for all three players.
After all, there are only so many carries and reps to go around.
Cohen is a Pro Bowler coming off a 1,169-scrimmage-yard sophomore season, but he’s a pass-catching specialist who has received double-digit carries just four times in two pro campaigns.
Meanwhile, Davis is also a strong receiver out of the backfield, and he’s coming off somewhat of a breakout season (4.6 yards per carry and 728 scrimmage yards in a backup role with the Seattle Seahawks). But that could have been an anomaly because he didn’t accomplish much in his previous three seasons.
And nobody knows what to expect from Montgomery, who is coming off two big seasons at Iowa State and appears ready to make an immediate impact but is still merely a third-round rook.
Who’ll gain the initial edge? We might find out within days, not weeks or months.
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For the first time since George W. Bush was in his first term as POTUS, the Cincinnati Bengals have a new head coach. And although he’s never even been a full-time NFL coordinator, 36-year-old Zac Taylor will try to jumpstart an offense that has underachieved in three consecutive losing seasons.
But the personnel hasn’t changed much in Taylor’s early days.
The Bengals could have moved on from quarterback Andy Dalton free of charge, and trade rumors swirled regarding 2017 top-10 pick John Ross, but both Dalton and Ross are back, along with emerging running back Joe Mixon and veteran star receiver A.J. Green.
We might not see much of Green this spring as he recovers from a knee injury. But Dalton (thumb) was cleared for offseason activities last month, and Ross and Mixon are healthy.
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Taylor’s offense and its Sean McVay-related roots. And while we got glimpses of some of those key players running for him at the team’s voluntary minicamp in April, May’s OTAs should provide more answers in regard to progress from the team’s offensive core.
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Ron Schwane/Associated Press
You never know what to expect from Odell Beckham Jr. when workouts are voluntary.
The Cleveland Browns’ newly acquired superstar wide receiver did not attend the voluntary minicamp in April, was present when they launched their OTAs last week but then disappeared again the following day.
Beckham has been inconsistent with OTA attendance in the past, so there’s no telling what his plans might be going forward in Cleveland. And ditto for Johnson, who missed practice time after reportedly requesting a trade in April but was in attendance last week.
And yes, this is an admittedly bland “big question” regarding Browns OTAs, which shows just how far this organization has come. The roster is strong and deep, and not many red flags need to be tackled this spring.
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Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
The Dallas Cowboys spent a first-round pick on Charlton two years ago, but the former Michigan pass-rusher has just four sacks in 27 career games.
With top Cowboys edge-defender DeMarcus Lawrence recovering from shoulder surgery and Randy Gregory dealing with another substance abuse suspension, Dallas could really use a promising offseason from Charlton.
Problem is, the 24-year-old also underwent shoulder surgery early this offseason. Then on Tuesday, he tweeted a photo of himself with a leg brace and a caption alluding to “another minor setback” (it was later reported by Calvin Watkins of The Athletic to be an ankle scope).
It’s safe to say his status for OTAs is very much up in the air, and that the media covering the Cowboys’ first batch of OTAs Tuesday through Thursday will have plenty of questions about Charlton’s health.
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David Zalubowski/Associated Press
Is it only a matter of time before Lock gets a shot to quarterback the Denver Broncos?
It’s clear they plan on giving veteran trade acquisition Joe Flacco the reins. In fact, new Denver head coach Vic Fangio has already stated the 34-year-old will take all first-team reps at Broncos OTAs, which kick off Monday. And Lock certainly faces a challenging adjustment to the pro game.
Still, Broncos general manager John Elway appears to be low on patience when it comes to the quarterback position. So if Lock shines this month and Flacco is anything but perfect, you can expect buzz to grow for the rookie second-round pick out of Missouri.
Throw in that Flacco seems less than thrilled about the prospect of mentoring Lock, and this is primed to become dramatic.
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Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
We’re getting initial glimpses this spring of a new Detroit Lions offense under the tutelage of incoming coordinator Darrell Bevell. And while only limited aspects of that system will be revealed during Detroit’s looming OTAs, there’ll still be plenty of potential installations to watch.
A lot of eyes will, of course, be on veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford and a pass-catching corps that includes rookie top-10 pick T.J. Hockenson at tight end, but Johnson might actually be the straw that stirs Bevell’s run-oriented offensive drink in 2019.
The 2018 second-round selection out of Auburn was one of just three qualified backs to average at least 5.4 yards per carry during a rookie campaign that might have been Pro Bowl-worthy if he hadn’t suffered a season-ending knee injury in November.
But according to ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein, Johnson said earlier this month that he’s fully healthy and “ready to go.” And you know he’s excited to work under Bevell, who loves to ride his backs.
“We all know what he likes to do,” Johnson said about his new offensive coordinator earlier this offseason, per Lindsay Miller of the team’s official website. “We know what he brings to the table. Obviously, that’s the good news for me.”
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Mike Roemer/Associated Press
Obviously we’re all curious to see how the Green Bay Packers offense will look under the tutelage of new head coach Matt LaFleur, but the team likely won’t give away too much during OTAs. That’ll be more of an August/September revelation.
And while it’ll also be interesting to see if the rumors are true about young safety Josh Jones moving to linebacker, that’s less critical than Gary’s status.
After all, the Packers spent the 12th overall pick on the tantalizing edge-defender out of Michigan, so a team in win-now mode has to hope for immediate contributions from him, at least in a situational role.
But it’s fair to be concerned about Gary’s right shoulder, which was in a brace during the team’s early-May rookie minicamp, just weeks after a predraft report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport suggested said shoulder had been “flagged.”
Rapoport tweeted that “most believe [Gary] can play this season, then possibly have surgery afterward,” but the Packers and their fans would feel a lot more comfortable if he were able to shed that brace and produce on the practice field this month.
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Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
Because it’ll be too early to get a feel for potential improvements to Deshaun Watson’s pass protection group, the largest looming question as the Houston Texans prepare to take the practice field for OTAs pertains to a star player who might not be present.
Clowney was slapped with the franchise tag in March, and Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported in April that the three-time Pro Bowl edge-defender planned to sit out the offseason program and OTAs, adding that there was “no deal in sight at this time, or expected anytime soon.”
Deadlines drive deals, and the Texans have until July 15 to sign Clowney to a multi-year contract. As a result of that timeline, there’s no big rush to get this done. But the rub is Clowney isn’t likely to show up until the start of training camp, if not later.
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Darron Cummings/Associated Press
As a sixth-round rookie wide receiver last offseason, Deon Cain made a hell of an impression on anyone in attendance at spring/summer Indianapolis Colts practices. But then he tore his ACL in August, and the Colts missed him throughout what was a tough season for their receiver corps.
Cain might be back for training camp in July, but he’s still recovering this spring. And that timeline could put early pressure on Indy’s two newest receivers, Campbell and Funchess.
The former is a second-round rookie from Ohio State who made consistent progress over his four years in the Big Ten and has the speed to make an immediate impact in the slot, while the latter is just a year removed from an 840-yard, eight-touchdown season in Carolina.
Both have high ceilings, and they’ll be fighting for reps behind T.Y. Hilton from the jump. Let the jockeying for position begin.
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John Raoux/Associated Press
The good news is the Jacksonville Jaguars finally have a big-game quarterback in free-agent acquisition Nick Foles. The bad news is Foles will likely be surrounded by a shorthanded group of weapons when the Jags open up their OTAs on Tuesday.
That’s because wide receiver Marqise Lee (knee) and offensive linemen Andrew Norwell (ankle), Brandon Linder (knee) and Cam Robinson (you guessed it, knee!) are all recovering from injuries that prematurely ended their 2018 campaigns, and all could be sidelined for OTA season.
Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, reigning top tackler Telvin Smith Sr. recently announced he was taking a year off for personal reasons, and star cornerback Jalen Ramsey already drew ire from executive vice president Tom Coughlin when he skipped voluntary team workouts in April.
If Ramsey stays away, the talk at Jaguars practice might be more about who isn’t there than who is there, even with Foles making his OTA debut on the banks of the St. Johns River.
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Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
It’s entirely possible Tyreek Hill will never play in the NFL again.
At the very least, don’t expect to see much, if any, of the superstar Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver in 2019. He’s facing potential legal and league-imposed consequences stemming from serious off-field developments related to alleged domestic violence against his three-year-old son, which is probably a big reason why the Chiefs used their first draft pick in April on a player who closely resembles Hill on the field.
And the hype train for Mecole Hardman has folks clinging to the caboose.
“Every day he got a little better,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said of Hardman at the conclusion of the team’s rookie minicamp, per Brooke Pryor of the Kansas City Star. “These are all new. These routes are new to him. He did a nice job in the red zone, which normally is the toughest place to work, but he did extremely well there. He had a good finish.”
The Georgia product needs to develop a lot more, but he ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash and is extremely versatile. If he can put on a show at Chiefs OTAs, that hype train might become unstoppable.
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Darron Cummings/Associated Press
Yeah, this isn’t a thrilling narrative, but boring is good in May. The Los Angeles Chargers fancy themselves Super Bowl contenders, and it’s probably a positive sign that the only potential drama this month in Charger-land surrounds the backup quarterback situation.
Philip Rivers is the man, but he’ll turn 38 this season, and a nice battle could arise between several younger quarterbacks competing for the right to be viewed as the heir to the throne.
There’s the veteran Taylor, who signed a two-year, $11 million deal to rejoin Anthony Lynn (the Chargers head coach was Taylor’s offensive coordinator in Buffalo). There’s Bills 2016 fourth-round pick Cardale Jones, who also has a history with Lynn but hasn’t thrown a pass since signing with the Bolts in 2017. And then there’s Stick, who was a fifth-round pick in April after a three-year starting career in relief of Carson Wentz at North Dakota State.
Stick has drawn comparisons to Wentz and, in some ways, was just as successful with the Bison. He won an FCS-record 49 games while losing just three in three championship seasons as a college starter. He’ll need time, but the 29-year-old Taylor is running out of upside.
A strong first impression from Stick could make things interesting below Rivers on that quarterback depth chart.
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Rarely do you see bad vibes surrounding a player coming off an Offensive Player of the Year season in which his team reached the Super Bowl, but that’s the case with Gurley because of the way his 2018 campaign concluded.
A balky, potentially arthritic left knee derailed the final portion of Gurley’s career year, causing the Los Angeles Rams to use a Day 2 draft pick on Memphis back Darrell Henderson.
Gurley wasn’t exactly an open book when asked about that knee during voluntary workouts in April.
“All I can focus on is just how I’m doing right now,” he told the media at the time, per Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times. “I’m feeling pretty good.”
When the Rams open up OTAs this week, we’ll get a fresh look at Gurley and a better look at the explosive Henderson, who the Rams believe possesses Alvin Kamara-like elements.
Which Gurley will show up? The one who looked unstoppable in September and October or the one who was noticeably hindered in December and January? And if it’s the latter, could Henderson make this interesting?
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Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
Yes, that’s the question we’re going with. Simply Josh Rosen. Is he the guy? Will he establish himself as the Miami Dolphins’ starting quarterback even though veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick received the first crack at first-team reps when the Phins got an early start on OTAs last week?
New Dolphins head coach Brian Flores has made it clear there’s an open competition for Miami’s starting quarterback job, and that it won’t likely be settled before training camp. But after an ugly rookie season in Arizona and a tumultuous early offseason, Rosen could use a strong showing during the final phase of Dolphins OTAs.
Per Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post, Rosen admitted last week that his head was “swimming” early on, but he added that he felt he would “get better a little bit each day.”
The progress he makes in the days to come could determine whether Rosen will enter June’s mandatory minicamp as the presumed starter.
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Jim Mone/Associated Press
Because 2018 first-round pick Mike Hughes is still recovering from a torn ACL, the Minnesota Vikings will have trouble gleaning from OTAs whether starting cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes are expendable via trade.
Instead, Minnesota could be looking for some stellar practices from rookie second-round pick Irv Smith Jr. in order to feel more comfortable with the idea of trading veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Just after the Vikings drafted Smith, ESPN’s Courtney Cronin reported they had been fielding trade calls on Rudolph. Soon after that, Rapoport reported contract extension talks between the team and Rudolph had broken off, and the 29-year-old two-time Pro Bowler came off somewhat resigned when he met with the media at voluntary workouts last week.
Still, Smith will need to show he can start immediately for a competitive team, which isn’t an easy task at the tight end position.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer predicted earlier this month that Smith’s “transition will probably be a little bit quicker” than usual for a tight end, but we won’t see the Alabama product matching up against veteran teammates until the Vikings launch OTAs on Tuesday.
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Steven Senne/Associated Press
Will we see Tom Brady? And when we do, will he look older?
Probably not. By all indications, Brady is a kale-powered robot. But the reality is we just don’t know because Brady has been absent from New England Patriots’ voluntary offseason activities for the second consecutive year.
Per Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels isn’t concerned that the soon-to-be 42-year-old hasn’t shown up. It probably helps that after he did the same thing last year—citing family reasons—the Patriots put together a Super Bowl campaign.
But now Rob Gronkowski is gone, and Brady will be working with a new starting tight end, as well as a rookie left tackle following Trent Brown’s departure. It’s fair to wonder if OTAs would help him become acclimated to a supporting cast that has again undergone major changes. But Brady knows his body, and the risks might outweigh the benefits associated with showing up in May.
McDaniels told Guregian he has “no idea” when Brady will appear, but watch for No. 12 to stay away until the team’s June mandatory minicamp, just as he did last year.
In the meantime, potential Brady successor Jarrett Stidham will be worth monitoring in his first batch of OTAs.
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Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
The New Orleans Saints lost starting defensive end Alex Okafor in free agency, leaving a potential hole opposite star pass-rusher Cameron Jordan. There’s little doubt the team expects 2018 first-round pick Marcus Davenport to fill that hole, and the UTSA product can begin his quest for a breakout sophomore season when the Saints launch their first batch of OTAs this week.
That’s assuming Davenport is healthy.
The 22-year-old missed three games and was limited in others due to a toe injury last year, and he suggested on Twitter after early-offseason surgery that he played through an injury that should have ended his 2018 season prematurely.
There’s been no indication as to whether Davenport will be ready to go this week, but onlookers will expect significant improvements if he’s on the practice field. He managed just 4.5 sacks and was on the field for only 40.4 percent of the Saints’ defensive snaps as a raw rookie, but he’s lost that excuse in Year 2.
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Julio Cortez/Associated Press
The New York Giants have this weird idea that quarterback Eli Manning is still good, which is why there’s a chance we won’t see Jones on the field anytime soon.
“Maybe we’re going to be the Green Bay model where [Aaron] Rodgers sat for three years,” Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said soon after the team used the No. 6 overall pick on the Duke product, per Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz of USA Today. “Who knows? It’s one of those deals where it doesn’t make a difference what position it is. You can never have too many good players at one position.”
But Gettleman might eventually have to come to grips with the fact that the quarterback he had a hand in acquiring all the way back in the 2004 draft is running on fumes. And in a place like New York, all it’ll take is one bad Eli performance and some promising Jones practices to create enough pressure for the Giants to consider a change.
On Monday and Tuesday, Jones will practice for the first time with his veteran teammates. He already made a strong impression at rookie minicamp, and this situation could become sticky before June arrives if he can keep rolling at OTAs.
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Seth Wenig/Associated Press
It looks like we already have an answer regarding New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell’s status for anything taking place this offseason that is voluntary. The focus when the Jets open OTAs this week should instead be on second-year quarterback Sam Darnold.
Last year’s No. 3 overall pick lacked consistency early in his rookie season but completed 64 percent of his passes while throwing six touchdown passes to just one interception for a 99.1 passer rating during the final four weeks of the year.
Still just shy of his 22nd birthday, Darnold looked primed to break out in his sophomore season even before Gang Green hired offensive-minded, passing-game-oriented head coach Adam Gase. And as he recently told 98.7 ESPN, per Pro Football Talk and Newsday, he’s ready for what’s next:
“We have the potential to make a huge step. We have a ton of really good pieces. We had a lot of the same guys who made a really big impact for us last year. We’re ready to do bigger and better things this year. I’m just really, really pumped and really excited for what’s to come. The offense is fun and unique. We’re going to do a lot of cool stuff and a lot of stuff that Jets fans haven’t seen in a while. I’m really pumped about that. I know we’re going to score points.”
Now we’re about to get our first look at Darnold running a revamped offense under Gase’s tutelage. It’ll be interesting to see how far he’s come.
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Rumors hinted that the Oakland Raiders might move on from Carr this offseason, but they instead kept their franchise quarterback and surrounded him with several shiny new objects.
Now, for the first time, we’ll have a chance to see Carr go through seven-on-seven, nine-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills with incoming starting receivers Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, as well as first-round rookie running back Josh Jacobs and Super Bowl champion left tackle Trent Brown.
Carr hasn’t been himself the last couple of years, but injuries and the transition to Jon Gruden’s offense aren’t bad excuses. Still, the 28-year-old quietly posted the highest completion percentage (68.9) and yards-per-attempt average (7.3) of his career in 2018, and he threw just two interceptions in the final 11 games of the regular season (both in the final week during a blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs).
He’s good, he appears to be regaining steam and he’s now healthy. He’s also more accustomed to that Gruden offense and has more support than ever. Let’s see if that comes through on the practice field at Raiders OTAs.
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Matt Slocum/Associated Press
For the second consecutive offseason, Wentz is recovering from a major injury.
The Philadelphia Eagles’ franchise quarterback has missed back-to-back playoff runs, first as a result of a torn ACL and then after a stress fracture in his back led to an early shutdown in 2018. But backup/savior Nick Foles is now a member of the Jaguars, and the Eagles desperately need Wentz to get and remain healthy in 2019.
When asked at the team’s voluntary workout in April about his recovery, the 26-year-old said, per Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, that “it’s still getting there.” He also said suiting up for OTAs was “the goal.”
But at Philly’s rookie minicamp earlier this month, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was coy on the subject of his quarterback’s health.
“I’m not going to get too specific or detail a lot of the things, but he’s been working,” Pederson told the media, per NFL.com’s Herbie Teope. “I’ve been encouraged by his progress and where he’s at and just looking forward to the next few weeks with him.”
Pederson added the organization would address Wentz’s recovery “when we get to OTAs.”
And here we are.
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Keith Srakocic/Associated Press
With Antonio Brown gone, emerging receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is expected to be the No. 1 guy for the first time in his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Meanwhile, sophomore second-round pick James Washington is supposed to take on a much bigger role outside, fourth-year slot specialist Eli Rogers should have a shot at bouncing back from an injury-derailed campaign, and free-agent acquisition Donte Moncrief presumably hopes to take off after he flashed at times but lacked consistency for much of his first five seasons in Indianapolis and Jacksonville.
Pittsburgh also used a Day 2 pick in April on wideout Diontae Johnson, who is a year removed from a 1,278-yard, 13-touchdown campaign at Toledo.
Oddly, Johnson was hardly a factor during the team’s rookie minicamp earlier this month, but more opportunities should come as the Steelers hit the practice field consistently between Tuesday and the end of their mandatory minicamp on June 13.
Regardless, it looks like there could be an open competition for reps this summer in Pittsburgh, and the five highest-profile receivers on the roster will all try to make statements in May and June.
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Jeff Chiu/Associated Press
The San Francisco 49ers’ hopes of experiencing a breakout 2018 season turned to ashes when Garoppolo suffered a torn ACL in September. In order for the team to finally turn the corner in 2019, the highly paid but inexperienced quarterback will have to bounce back.
But 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan stated in late March, per Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area, that the 27-year-old should be cleared for training camp. Jimmy G himself said last month that he plans to take part in seven-on-seven drills at OTAs.
“It’s encouraging,” he said. “Every day gets easier and easier. Able to make this throw better than I was a week ago. It’s small victories like that. Throughout the whole process, it’s all about small victories because you’re not going to jump out and be able to throw it 60, 70 yards again. Small victories.”
Niners fans are praying for another small victory as the team prepares to take the practice field with or without Garoppolo on Monday.
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Elaine Thompson/Associated Press
Receivers have plenty of opportunities to stand out during offseason practices, which is why the competition to replace retired Seattle Seahawks starter Doug Baldwin will begin right away at Seahawks OTAs.
Second-round rookie D.K. Metcalf is already getting the lion’s share of the attention at that position, which is no surprise considering the predraft hype he generated with his viral muscles and eye-popping performance at the NFL Scouting Combine.
But Seattle also has 2017 seventh-rounder David Moore and veteran Jaron Brown, both of whom are coming off five-touchdown seasons. The former might have room to grow at the age of 24, while the latter caught an impressive 73.7 percent of the passes thrown his way in 2018.
Metcalf might need to develop his route tree, which probably means Moore and Brown will be given early priority alongside the remarkable Tyler Lockett in practice. But it’ll be fun to see those guys jockeying for position in May, June, July and August.
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Chris O’Meara/Associated Press
While Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans await word on the status of absent longtime defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, they can at least distract themselves with glimpses of Bruce Arians’ new offense.
The two-time Coach of the Year is known as a quarterback whisperer based on his work with Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer, and now he’s getting his hands on Bucs signal-caller Jameis Winston ahead of a critical season for the 2015 first overall pick.
In February, Arians said he felt “so much” of Winston’s turnover problems were “mechanical,” according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. And early in Tampa’s first batch of OTAs last week, the 25-year-old looked pretty sharp aside from an interception to rookie first-round pick Devin White.
While it’s still early in the third phase of the offseason program, we should get a better feel for how the apparently bulked-up quarterback looks under Arians when the Bucs return to the practice field on Tuesday.
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Mark Humphrey/Associated Press
If the young Tennessee Titans are going to take another step forward in 2019, they’ll need quarterback Marcus Mariota to stay healthy and put together a strong fifth season in the league. But the Titans offense isn’t expected to be wildly different despite the loss of former offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, and Mariota’s May and June performances might not be as critical as Winston’s.
When the Titans take the practice field for their first OTA practice on Monday, the focus should instead be on five young first- and second-round picks who haven’t yet fully emerged. Tennessee is still expected to rely on them heavily going forward.
Will this be the year 2017 first-rounders Corey Davis and Adoree’ Jackson become impact players? Neither looks like a bust, but they’ve yet to consistently shine at receiver and cornerback, respectively.
Meanwhile, Pro football Focus called 2018 first-round linebacker Rashaan Evans a “second-half star” in 2018, and Titans head coach Mike Vrabel expects the 23-year-old Alabama product to “take some jumps” in his sophomore campaign. The expectations are lower for last year’s second-rounder, Harold Landry, but the Boston College product had sacks in back-to-back games to conclude his rookie season, and the staff would probably like to see him push veteran Cameron Wake this spring and summer.
And while this year’s top pick, Jeffery Simmons, might essentially redshirt as he recovers from a torn ACL, second-round receiver A.J. Brown looks like a plug-and-play slot guy upon whom Mariota would like to rely immediately.
The chances of all five emerging together in 2019 are slim, but Titans fans should hope at least a few of those youngsters make an impression at OTAs.
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The Washington Redskins roster features five quarterbacks, three of whom are established NFL players and one of whom has an incredibly high ceiling as a 2019 first-round selection out of Ohio State. That could make for a hell of a camp battle, even if veteran Alex Smith might not be available all year and the fifth signal-caller is Josh Woodrum, who last played for the Salt Lake Stallions in the Alliance of American Football.
One thing’s for sure: Washington doesn’t look as though it’ll simply hand the starting job to Haskins, who started just one season in college. But because Smith isn’t around and Colt McCoy isn’t expected to be fully healthy until training camp, the rookie will have a chance to gain an edge when the Redskins launch OTAs this week.
And for what it’s worth, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden praised the 22-year-old at the team’s rookie minicamp, per NFL.com’s Grant Gordon:
“We’re at the very bare minimum right now, but very impressed by his skillset for sure. Can really spin it. He’s just a big, solid, fundamentally sound guy. He’s just a big presence in there and the ball just jumps off his hand. He also has the ability to speed it up and he has great touch, as well, for some of the short balls.
“He’s displayed that he can make, in this short period of time, all the throws. … He’s kind of displayed a little bit everything these two days.”
Still, Haskins will be battling veteran trade acquisition Case Keenum this week. And if Keenum can recapture some of his magic from the 2017 Vikings, this’ll be a grind from the get-go.