The 2018 NFL season will be here soon and thank goodness for that.
The first pre-season game between the Chicago Bears and the Baltimore Ravens is scheduled for Thursday, August 2nd right before the Hall of Fame Weekend. Then seven days later the four-week pre-season schedule begins, which will take us right up to the first game of the season on Thursday, September 6th between the Atlanta Falcons and the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles.
Football is coming and the quietest part of the NFL season will be ending soon.
With NFL Organized Team Activities (OTAs) having finished in mid-June and training camps not starting until July 18th at the earliest, we thought a brief update on all thirty-two teams might help football fans get through this dreadful downtime a little easier.
This is the NFC.
The Philadelphia Eagles
Good News: it looks like quarterback Carson Wentz is recovering as planned from his torn ACL. Wentz participated in the OTAs, throwing the ball with high velocity in individual and 7-on-7 drills, looking natural dropping back and moving around. Wentz expects to start in Week 1.
After spending last year on the practice squad, cornerback De'Vante Bausby impressed at the OTAs. He covered the slot receiver primarily and showed why defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz considers him a dark horse candidate for the wide-open nickel cornerback job, his main competition being Jalen Mills, Avonte Maddox and Sidney Jones.
Second round draft pick tight end Dallas Goedert showed soft hands at the OTAs and proved he could catch the ball as advertised. Goedert had two straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons at South Dakota State (72 catches and 7 TDs his senior season) and if effective at the NFL level, could allow for more options in using star tight end Zack Ertz.
Bad News: Even though linebacker Nigel Bradham has been cleared from an aggravated battery charge after the prosecution was deferred last June, he will still have to serve a one game suspension and miss Week 1 against the Falcons. He’ll still be able to attend training camp and participate in preseason games, but won’t be on the active roster until Week 2.
Cornerback Sidney Jones was sidelined through the OTAs due to a setback regarding his ruptured Achilles injury but hopes he’ll be well enough to participate in training camp.
Eagles training camp takes place at the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia, PA, with both rookies and veterans starting on July 25th.
The Dallas Cowboys
Good News: After sitting out the OTAs with a ‘peaceful protest’, 27-year-old right guard Zack Martin finally got his contract extended. The Dallas Cowboys gave him a six-year extension for $40 million guaranteed and $93 million total, rewarding the lineman who’s been a Pro Bowler and named to the All-Pro first or second team every one of his NFL seasons and essentially making Martin a “Cowboy For Life”.
Third round draft pick wide receiver Michael Gallup shone in the OTAs as he became a favorite target of quarterback Dak Prescott. Gallup will compete with a crowded receiver room that includes free agents Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson plus the returning Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley.
With 11 x Pro Bowl tight end Jason Whitten retiring, Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz and Rico Gathers will compete for the open spot. Jarwin reportedly outplayed Swaim at the OTAs from an athletic standpoint, but Swaim’s experience and versatility give him the initial edge as the Week 1 starter.
Bad News: It was announced on June 15, 2018 that hard-sacking defensive tackle David Irving would be suspended for the first four games of the regular season due to violating the league's performance enhancing drug policy, just as he was for the 2017 season. In the eight games Irving did play last year, he had 7 sacks (2nd on the team), 12 tackles, 19 quarterback pressures, 12 tackles (3 for loss), 6 passes defended and 1 forced fumble.
After sitting out the last two seasons for failing drug tests, defensive end Randy Gregory met with Commissioner Roger Goodell in early June. Gregory has reportedly passed a drug test for six months in a row and will serve a four game suspension in 2018.
Cowboys training camp takes place at the Marriott Residence Inn in Oxnard, CA, with both rookies and veterans starting on July 25th.
The Washington Redskins
Good News: The Redskins signed wide receiver Paul Richardson, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks, and his deep-ball work in OTAs reminded some of former Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson. The 26-year-old Richardson is coming off a season in which he posted a career-high six touchdowns and looks to join Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder as one of new quarterback Alex Smith’s main targets.
During rookie minicamp, OTAs and the mandatory minicamp, second round pick Derrius Guice showed speed, elusiveness and good instincts. Guice will work with running back Chris Thompson to improve a Redskins running game that only averaged 90.5 yards per game, 28th in the NFL.
The Redskins lined up first round draft pick Da’ron Payne at nose tackle in OTAs and are convinced that if right end Jonathan Allen can stay healthy, Washington’s 32nd ranked rushing defense will greatly improve in 2018.
Bad News: Tight end Jordan Reed was limited in OTAs so once again backup Vernon Davis was standing by. Head coach Jay Gruden says Reed is on track to be ready for training camp. In 2017, Reed only played six games due to a toe injury and had his worst NFL season ever. Quarterback Smith likes going to his tight ends, so both Reed and Davis could have a big 2018 if they can stay healthy.
Offensive guard Arie Kouandjio, who started six games last season, underwent quad surgery for a partial tear in May. It was announced that he will miss the entire 2018 season as a result.
Redskins training camp takes place at the Bon Secours Training Center in Richmond, VA, with both rookies and veterans starting on July 25th.
The New York Giants
Good News: Giants’ first round draft pick running back Saquon Barkley showed why he’s considered a dual threat by connecting early and often with quarterback Eli Manning at the Giants’ OTAs. Barkley also showed his dedication by staying after to work on pre- and post-snap movements with quarterback Kyle Lauletta, another rookie draft pick. The Giants are looking for Barkley to give defenses something to focus on besides wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and the free agent tight end from the Broncos, Virgil Green.
Back-up quarterback Davis Webb showed off his big arm on the first day of the OTA workouts. He threw the ball over 50-yards to connect with Roger Lewis in the end zone for a touchdown and also showed improved footwork and accuracy, the results of his offseason workouts with a personal trainer and All Rookie tight end Evan Engram.
New head coach Pat Shurmur had great things to say about free agent left tackle Nate Solder and the effect his leadership had on the success of the team’s OTAs. He’s seen as a steady force that will protect quarterback Eli Manning’s blind side.
Bad News: The Giants still haven’t extended the rookie contract of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., nor have they agreed (yet) to make him the highest paid receiver in the NFL. Beckham missed most of last season with a broken ankle but is said to be healthy and ready to return. Unlike last season, he participated in the OTAs, but wasn’t involved in any real-game action.
New Giants defensive lineman Josh Mauro was suspended for four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy. Mauro and the Giants, who knew about his upcoming ban before they signed him, agreed to a one-year deal with a $790K base salary.
Giants training camp takes place at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, N.J., with rookies starting on July 22nd and veterans on July 25th.
The Minnesota Vikings
Good News: New Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has told the media that quarterback Kirk Cousins has shown great leadership and energy at the Vikings OTAs. DeFilippo says he’s surprised at just how fast the ball comes off of Cousins’ hands to his targets, such as tight end Kyle Rudolph, who Cousins’ says is “like throwing into a mattress.”
Healing running back Dalvin Cook took part in team drills on a limited basis at the OTAs and is said to be on schedule to return to the 2018 lineup. As a rookie, Cook tore his ACL in Week 4 last season and underwent successful repair surgery. In four games, he ran for 354 yards and 2 TDs while catching for 90 yards, so a healthy Cook will play a big part in Cousins’ offense.
3 x Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr had been hoping for a contract extension before the start of the OTAs, but when that didn’t happen he sat out the first week to “protect myself and get an injury insurance policy and that took like a week to get situated.” After that, a video released by the Vikings on Twitter showed Barr at the OTAs hitting the blocking sled and Barr says that the team and his agent are, “having conversations.” Very good news for the league’s #1 defense.
Bad News: Linebacker Kentrell Brothers will be suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy. He’ll still be able to practice with the team and play in the preseason, but will have to sit out Weeks 1-4.
Undrafted free agent (and rookie) defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa tore his ACL during the OTAs, effectively ending his 2018 season before it even began. It reportedly happened on kickoff coverage and was a non-contact injury. Mata’afa was a Consensus All-American and the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, but wasn’t drafted because of questions about his size and his positional fit. The Vikings can hold on to him for a year.
Vikings training camp takes place at the TCO Performance Center in Eagan MN, with rookies starting on July 24th and veterans on July 27th.
The Detroit Lions
Good News: New head coach Matt Patricia says he and the other coaches and players spent the OTAs successfully developing a team culture, something he calls, ‘The We’.
The competition to be the backup for quarterback Matthew Stafford is on between free agent Matt Cassel and third-year-man Jake Rudock. Cassel, a 13-year veteran, has more experience, plus knows Patricia from his playing days with the New England Patriots, but Rudock is younger and more athletic, plus he’s been studying offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter’s playbook since 2016. It’s reported that Rudock currently has the lead.
Wide receivers Marvin Jones and Golden Tate will start, but there’s been some competition at the OTAs to be their backup. Kenny Golladay caused a camp-buzz for the second year in a row by dominating in the red zone. In eleven games last season, Golladay had 28 catches for 477 yards and 3 TDs. Also turning OTA heads was undrafted rookie receiver Teo Redding, who made impressive catch after catch.
Rookie left guard Frank Ragnow, who was drafted in the first round, played both center and guard at Arkansas. Report after report from OTAs and mini-camp have Ragnow taking every starting rep at that position and appearing to be rock solid.
Bad News: Seventh-round draft pick Nick Bawden, a fullback from San Diego State, suffered a season-ending torn ACL during a special teams drill at the OTAs. The Lions like his skills as a lead blocker and special teams player and Bawden was thought to have a good shot at earning playing time.
Cornerback Jamal Agnew was covering a kickoff in OTAs and stayed down on the field afterwards for some time. Agnew, who led the league in punt returns last season (447 total yards with a 15.4 yard avg.) was reportedly dealing with knee stiffness, but he was able to walk off the field under his own power.
Lions training camp takes place at the Detroit Lions Training Facility in Allen Park, MI, with rookies starting on July 19th and veterans on July 26th.
The Green Bay Packers
Good News: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers participated in the OTAs and looked healthy. He praised the speed of the three rookie receivers (J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown) as well as the progress of backup center Dillon Day and the playmaking ability of cornerback Demetri Goodson.
Rodgers also complimented free agent tight end Jimmy Graham, who he calls “pretty damn talented.” He noted Graham catches everything with his hands and is skillful at reading coverages very quickly, something the Packers haven’t had in a while.
With wide receiver Jordy Nelson gone, Davante Adams says he’s prepared to step into that leadership role by mentoring the young receivers in the locker room. Adams is known for his versatility, and at the OTAs Rodgers suggested that he might see more playing time in the slot position. Adams had 74 catches for 885 yards and 10 TDs in only 14 games last season.
Top cornerback draft picks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson showed how athletic and instinctive they are at the OTAs, getting their hands on the football and contributing early. Alexander is expected to start, but Jackson showed he’s ready to play, too.
Bad News: Running back Aaron Jones has been suspended for the first two games of the 2018 after violating the league’s substance abuse policy. This likely stems from the multiple charges Jones picked up after a traffic stop in October last year when he told officers that he had smoked marijuana. Jones rushed for 488 yards and 4 TDs while averaging 5.5 yards per carry in only 12 games last season.
Rodgers still doesn’t have a contract extension. Supposedly, it’s in the works and should happen to kick off training camp, but a firm deal has yet to be made. Chances are it’s because after the contract Kirk Cousins got (3-years, fully guaranteed, $84 million), Rodgers will expect the same and then some, something Packers CEO Mark Murphy hopes can be done “soon.”
Packers training camp takes place at St. Norbert College in Green Bay, WI, with both rookies and veterans starting on July 25th.
The Chicago Bears
Good News: Second year quarterback Mitch Trubisky handled an immense amount of learning at the Bears’ OTAs, a good sign that he can properly digest new head coach Matt Nagy’s offense before training camp begins. The way Trubisky has repeatedly stepped into the role of team leader by playing hard and keeping everyone together shows he’s bought into Nagy’s call for Bears players to be ‘obsessed’ with the game of football.
Linebacker Roquan Smith, the Bears first round draft pick, got plenty of reps with the first unit during the Bears’ OTAs. For a rookie to elevate himself to first team reps so quickly says Smith’s learning curve is moving rapidly, a good sign for an already great Bears defense that ranked 10th in the league last season.
Second year running back Tarik Cohen impressed coach Nagy at the OTAs, who pointed out that Cohen is a precise route runner and a consistent ball catcher who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. Cohen’s soft hands should balance nicely with Jordan Howard’s powerful running to help improve an offense ranked a miserable 30th last season.
Bad News: Tight end Zach Miller has been placed on the reserve / Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list after dislocating his left knee against the New Orleans Saints in Week 8 last season and undergoing urgent vascular surgery. Despite knowing he wouldn’t play in 2018, the Bears signed him to a one-year deal to give him financial security, an incredibly classy move.
Starting linebacker Leonard Floyd could only participate in the OTAs on a limited basis due to being in the process of rehabbing his knee injury. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio says that the injury has delayed Floyd’s development but hopes that he will be ready to take full reps by the time training camp begins.
Bears training camp takes place at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL, with rookies starting on July 16th and veterans on July 19th.
The New Orleans Saints
Good News: 11-time Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees is set to break the all-time passing yards early this season. He’s got less than 1,500 yards to throw until he surpasses Brett Favre (71,838) and Peyton Manning (71,940). Having averaged 261.8 yards thrown per game last season, barring injury Brees should lead that impossible category no later than Week 6.
A highlight occurred early in OTAs between two players who are arguably in the top five of their positions. Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas and All Rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore matched up and at the end of the friendly competition, Thomas caught a contested pass up the left sideline on a curl route. The two will continue their ongoing battle throughout training camp, but it’s a sure sign of good things to come.
Dynamic Rookie-of-the-Year Alvin Kamara is ready to build on his 2017 season when he rushed for 728 yards and 8 TDs along with catching for 826 yards and 5 TDs. He told the media during OTAs that there a lot of things he still has to get better at, above-the-net techniques and mechanics like finding better ways to get open and spinning more quickly after making a catch.
Bad News: Mark Ingram has been suspended by the NFL for four games because he violated the league’s performance enhancing drug policy. He’ll still take part in all Saints’ offseason work, training camp and preseason games. Last season Ingram worked well with explosive rookie Kamara and ran 230 times for 1,124 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns, all career highs.
Struggling wide receiver Josh Huff will be suspended for two games to start the season for violating the NFL’s policies on substances for abuse and personal conduct. And that’s assuming he makes the roster at all. It all stems from a 2016 arrest where Huff was allegedly found carrying a handgun and a small amount of marijuana.
Saints training camp takes place at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility in Metairie, LA, with rookies starting on July 18th and veterans on July 25th.
The Carolina Panthers
Good News: As usual, quarterback Cam Newton brought great energy to the Panthers’ OTAs, and despite their early start (8:00 am EST) he was reportedly hopping all over the place and getting his team pumped up. After throwing his career second lowest number of yards (3,302) and career second highest number of interceptions (16) in 2017, Newton needs to put up better numbers in 2018. Especially if he expects to lead the Panthers further into the playoffs than last season, when they lost the Wildcard game to the Saints, 31-26.
Defensive end Julius Peppers and linebacker Luke Kuechly are both recovering from shoulder surgeries and did not participate in team drills during the Panthers OTAs. Both are expected to participate in team activities during training camp. They’re key parts of a Carolina defense that ranked 7th in the league last season.
Free agent cornerback Lorenzo Doss caught some attention at the Panthers’ OTAs. He snagged an interception in three straight practices, a quality much admired by a Panthers team that had 16 total picks last season, good enough for 6th best in the league.
Bad News: Backup running back Fozzy Whittaker has been placed on the injured reserve list and will miss the entire 2018 season after suffering a torn ACL during a non-contact drill at the OTAs. Whittaker finished the 2017 season with only seven carries for 18 yards along with 5 catches for 47 yards and a touchdown.
For the first time ever, Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis has been suspended by the NFL for four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Davis claims he’s taken the same supplements (never steroids) for years and has never had any issues after testing. He calls it “by far one of the saddest days of my NFL career.”
Panthers training camp takes place at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC, with both rookies and veterans starting on July 25th.
The Atlanta Falcons
Good News: Quarterback Matt Ryan had nothing but good things to say about first round draft pick wide receiver Calvin Ridley’s OTA performance. Ryan was quoted as saying, “In and out of breaks [Ridley]’s as good as anybody that I’ve been around. He’s got very good hands, he’s smart. You can tell he’s been well-coached.” Ryan’s offense was 8th in the NFL last season, passing for 249.4 yards per game.
In addition to catching passes as a receiver, Ridley can also return kicks. Ridley was part of the competition at OTAs to replace Andre Roberts, now with the New York Jets, as kick returner. Though he lacks experience, Ridley showed promise at the spot as well as drawing praise from cornerback Desmond Trufant for his other on field work.
Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, now in his fourth NFL season, talked to the media about stepping up his leadership role on the team. Jarrett not only led the defensive line through OTA drills, but also mentored younger players like rookie defensive tackle Deadrin Senat, who was picked in the third round. Atlanta’s 2017 defense, coordinated by Marquand Manuel, ranked 9th in the league.
Bad News: 5 x Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones sat out this year’s OTAs because he wants an updated contract. Jones’ deal has three years remaining and general manager Thomas Dimitroff has stated that the Falcons organization doesn’t address any new player contracts until the final year, regardless of talent. Last season Jones had 88 catches for 1,444 yards and 3 TDs and was one of Ryan’s main targets, so he’s counting on Dimitroff to make an exception.
Starting left guard Andy Levitre, who missed the final three games of 2017 with a triceps injury, and defensive end Takkarist McKinley, who’s had shoulder surgery, sat out of the Falcons’ OTAs. Levitre did rehab work on a side field while McKinley did individual work off to the side with d-line coach Travis Jones. Both players are expected to take part in training camp.
The Falcons training camp takes place at the Atlanta Falcons Training Facility in Flowery Branch, GA, with rookies starting on July 23rd and veterans on July 26th.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Good News: The Buccaneers drafted eight players in the 2018 offseason, and they have looked good at the OTAs. First round pick Vita Vea impressed head coach Dirk Koetter , who told the media that the 350-pound defensive tackle has an excellent motor and “is a very strong human being...I’ve seen him lift 300-pound men off the ground with one arm.” Vea is expected to help improve a Bucs defense that last season was ranked last in yards allowed (6,049) and sacks (22).
Another highly praised rookie is second-round pick Carlton Davis. Coach Koetter says Davis, the first-team All-SEC selection last season at Auburn, is off to one of the fastest starts of all the rookies. At the OTAs Davis got a lot of reps against good receivers and has proven to play the ball even better than expected.
Though there were concerns that he missed OTAs, free agent defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul did show up to minicamp, telling the media that he’d been at home studying the playbook and lifting weights. Even coach Koetter showed little concern for Pierre-Paul’s ability to get up to speed, saying he’s been brought in to rush the passer and that he probably hasn’t forgotten how. Pierre-Paul had 8.5 sacks with the Giants in 2017.
Bad News: Quarterback Jameis Winston has been suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season as a result of an investigation that took part in early June. It’s alleged that Winston groped an Uber driver, and though he denies any wrongdoing, he issued a heartfelt apology to the victim, his teammates, the organization, the fans, and claimed he is removing alcohol from his life as a result of this incident. Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick will fill in during Winston’s absence.
Second-year linebacker Kendell Beckwith was involved in a car accident in April 2018, and suffered a fractured ankle that required surgery. It’s currently unknown whether the broken ankle is on the same leg that had a torn ACL back in November of 2016. Beckwith is listed as questionable for Week 1.
The Buccaneers training camp takes place at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, FL, with rookies starting on July 23rd and veterans on July 25th.
The Los Angeles Rams
Good News: Third year quarterback Jared Goff took command of his team throughout the OTAs, throwing accurate passes and making a point to discuss plays with receivers and lineman afterwards. Goff has told the media that the growth of his working relationship with head coach Sean McVay has added to his sense of comfort in that leadership role. The main area of the young quarterback’s game he hopes to improve on in 2018 is his passing efficiency (62.1 in 2017).
All Pro running back Todd Gurley talked to the media about how excited he is to have Pro-Bowl type guys joining his team. Players he mentioned were cornerbacks Aqib Talib (been to a Super Bowl) and Marcus Peters (8 picks last season), also defensive end Ndamukong Suh (47 combined tackles, 4.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 2 pass disruptions last season) and receiver Brandin Cooks (been to a Super Bowl).
Speaking of which…
Free agent wide receiver Cooks, formerly of the New England Patriots, has been impressing coaches and players alike. Goff hit Cooks with a number of deep passes during Phase III of the OTAs, and the 24-year-old proved to be the speedy, dynamic playmaker that general manager Les Snead thought was worth trading a first-round pick for.
Bad News: OTAs were costly for the Rams, as defensive end Morgan Fox tore his ACL at the end of May. Fox, who had 2.5 sacks and 19 total tackles last season, will not play in 2018. Ends Ethan Westbrooks and rookie John Franklin-Myers will have to step up in his place.
Offensive guard Jamon Brown has been suspended without pay for the first two games of the 2018 season (vs. Raiders and Cardinals) for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Backup guard Austin Blythe could start in his absence. Brown does remain eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games.
Rams training camp takes place at University of California in Irvine, CA, with rookies starting on July 23rd and veterans on July 25th.
The Seattle Seahawks
Good News: The Seahawks spent a lot of their offseason fixing their run game, and head coach Pete Carroll told the media during OTAs that he’s excited about the results. From Rashaad Penny being drafted in the first round to promising backs Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise being healthy, Carroll pointed out that this group is extremely versatile in the running, receiving and kicking game and will give a long needed balance to the passing game.
Coach Carroll also said that quarterback Russell Wilson and wide receiver Doug Baldwin had excellent OTAs, even saying, “They have really been the best they’ve ever been, looked the tightest they’ve ever been.” Carroll gave some of the credit for that to new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who he says is now in total command of the Seahawks’ offense.
Wide receivers Doug Baldwin and signed free agent Brandon Marshall impressed Carroll, as did Tyler Lockett, who reportedly had several catches, including a deep sideline catch and a touchdown reception just a few plays apart on a scoring drive led by Wilson. Lockett’s play in 2017 was hampered because he’d just rehabbed the leg he’d broken during the 2016 season.
Bad News: Kicker Sebastian Janikowski did not participate in OTAs due to a hip injury. It’s reported that he will most likely participate in training camp, where he will battle Jason Myers to secure a roster spot. If healthy, Janikowski is favored, but the fact that he didn’t play in 2017 because of a back injury is cause for concern.
Signed free agent offensive guard D.J. Fluker did not participate in any drills during OTAs because of a knee injury. It’s apparently not too serious, but Carroll told the media that he didn’t want to push Fluker, who’s expected to fully participate at training camp.
Seahawks training camp takes place at Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, WA, with both rookies and veterans starting on July 25th.
The Arizona Cardinals
Good News: Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen showed why he was the 10th overall pick in the draft and deemed the most NFL-ready of the rookie quarterbacks by impressing coaches and teammates at OTAs with accuracy, remarkable arm strength, surprising mobility and football intelligence. New head coach Steve Wilks admitted Rosen made quite an impression on him, calling him, “extremely smart.”
Signed free agent quarterback Sam Bradford showed an equally accurate and strong arm at OTAs, and, barring injury, still looks to be the starter in Week 1. Bradford appeared in only two games for the Vikings last season because of a knee injury, something that’s plagued him throughout his career. The scariest part - Cardinals allowed 52 sacks last season, tied for third-worst in the NFL.
It looks like there are plenty of Cardinals wide receivers who are competing for the no.2 receiver role behind Larry Fitzgerald: returning veterans Chad Williams and J.J. Nelson, recently signed veterans Brice Butler and Greg Little, and even second-round draft pick Christian Kirk. The spot battle will carry over into training camp, with Nelson and Kirk leading the pack.
Bad News: Running back David Johnson missed some practice time at OTAs due to an undisclosed injury. Coach Wilks refused to give out any further details to the media, but the injury has been reported as minor and Johnson still plans to participate in training camp.
Cardinals general manager Steve Keim was cited for driving under the influence on the fourth of July. He immediately issued a statement taking full responsibility for the incident and promised to take steps to never put himself or the Cardinals in a similar position again.
Cardinals training camp takes place at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, with rookies starting on July 22nd and veterans on July 27th.
The San Francisco 49ers.
Good News: Semi-new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo appears to be grasping head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense, including the important “whys” of it, something Garoppolo wasn’t able to do after joining the team in October last season. Though he won the five games he started for the 49ers by quickly digesting the playbook, learning the strategies and verbiage specific to Shanahan’s offense allows him to put the team in the right play no matter how tough the spot.
Cornerback Richard Sherman spoke to the media during minicamp about finally having a full offseason to completely recover from his torn Achilles and said he feels “light years” better. Sherman participated in individual drills and on the field with his position counterparts and says he’s on track to be ready to go for training camp.
Undrafted rookie wide receiver Kendrick Bourne got a lot of first team reps at the OTAs due to the fact that Trent Taylor has been out nursing a sore back. Bourne has become a favorite target of Garoppolo, who calls him “deceptively fast but, at the same time, he has some wiggle to him. It’s a nice combination.”
Bad News: Middle linebacker Reuben Foster has been suspended for the first two games of the 2018 season (vs. Vikings and Lions) as a result of violating the NFL’s conduct and substance-abuse policy. Foster will also receive fines for violations stemming from weapons and drug charges, though he will not serve any jail time. In a public statement, he committed to learning from this.
Coach Shanahan has confirmed that left guard Jonathan Cooper will not be practicing until training camp. Cooper is continuing to rehab back from the surgery he had on his MCL in January.
49ers training camp takes place at SAP Performance Facility in Santa Clara, CA, with both rookies and veterans starting on July 25th.