36 Questions Training Camps Absolutely Must Answer
While the bulk of the offseason work has been completed, there's still a lot I work to be done in training camp.
From quarterback controversies to kicker duels, each team has burning questions that need to be solved before Labor Day.
Here are some of the top questions that will need answers before opening day.
Who Will Be the Starting Quarterback in Seattle?
Pete Carroll loves competition, which is evidenced by his handling of the quarterback depth chart.
Last year's starter, Tarvaris Jackson, was inconsistent but flashed potential. After signing prized free-agent Matt Flynn, Jackson's days as the starter in Seattle was presumed to be numbered.
Seattle then drafted Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson, who is a talented player whose ceiling is hampered by his lack of height. Wilson was believed to be nothing more than a developmental player, but apparently, Carroll likes him enough to compete for the starting job.
Flynn is still the favorite, but with Pete Carroll making the decisions, anything is possible and all options are open.
What WIll Tim Tebow's Role Be with the Jets?
Now that he's in New York, all eyes will be on Tim Tebow and how he's fitting into his new team.
The Jets claim that Tebow was brought in to back up Mark Sanchez and play in the wildcat package, but what exactly Tebow will be doing remains a mystery.
The Jets are leaving no stone unturned, as they have reportedly decided to use Tebow as a personal protector on the punt team, which will give them a constant threat of a fake attempt.
What we do know is that you're not going to have to spend a lot of time digging around the Internet for Tebow news.
Is Andrew Luck Everything He's Supposed to Be?
Obviously, Luck's game-day performance will determine what his legacy in the NFL will be, but within the first few weeks of training camp, coaches can still get an idea of what they can expect from Luck this season.
Unlike Robert Griffin III, Luck will have attended just one minicamp session by the time training camp begins because of Stanford's scheduling. This will probably have a minimal effect on his play this season, but coaches still have not seen a lot of him in a Colts' practice uniform.
Will Peter Konz Win the Starting Right Guard Job?
The former second-round selection played center for the Wisconsin Badgers, making him a logical successor to Todd McClure.
However, for now, Konz's best chance of seeing the field right away is to beat out a slew of veterans for right guard duties.
Konz will certainly have a lot on his plate, being cross-trained at two positions while adjusting to life in the NFL.
When Will Matt Forte Get Signed?
At some point, the Bears need to get this guy in uniform.
As we saw with Chris Johnson, players who hold out, particularly running backs, are susceptible to subpar seasons without a month's-worth of camp. The longer the Bears refuse to give Forte what he wants, the more likely he is to have a substandard 2012 season.
Forte seems pretty determined to get the deal he deserves, so unless the Bears blink, it could be a while before we see Forte back on a football field.
Will We See a Jump in Production in 2011 Rookies?
Because last year's lockout prevented rookies from getting the same kind of help during the offseason as their predecessors, they were at a significant disadvantage in terms of their development, particularly in the cerebral aspects of the game.
This only makes Cam Newton's rookie campaign even more impressive.
Now, with a full-blown offseason under their belt, it will be interesting to see how much they can improve over the course of training camp.
Is Ryan Williams Healthy?
Last offseason, the Cardinals were impressed enough with Williams to send Tim Hightower to the Redskins.
However, Williams' rookie season was over before it even started. Ryan ruptured his patella tendon, For running backs, this injury could be devastating, mostly because it can make cutting and planting more difficult in the future.
He's already making cuts on the knee and is ready to get back to action, but I'm sure the Cardinals want to see it before they believe it.
Is Nate Solder Ready to Start at Left Tackle?
Now that Matt Light has officially retired, the Patriots will need to turn to last year's first-round pick Nate Solder to fill his shoes.
Based on what they saw last year from Solder, the Patriots have every reason to be confident that Solder can get the job done.
Still, the coaches will want to see how he is handling the role of being a full-time starter during camp.
How Quickly Can the Broncos Adapt to Peyton Manning?
It's obvious that the Broncos got a major upgrade at the quarterback position with the acquisition of Peyton Mannning, it remains to be seen just how quickly John Fox's team can adapt to playing Manning's style of football.
The offense the Colts ran with Manning was largely based on precise timing and rhythm, both of which take a considerable amount of time to develop. Outside of Jacob Tamme, no one presently on the Broncos has ever worked with Peyton.
It will be interesting to see how sharp the Broncos look in their third preseason game.
Can Chad Henne Push for the Starting Job in Jacksonville?
At a first glance, it appears that Blaine Gabbert will get a chance to build on his unimpressive rookie season, but don't be surprised if the Jaguars start to look at both quarterbacks in camp and decide to go in another direction.
Henne certainly has his faults, but he has won a few games and is at least not afraid of getting hit in the pocket. If Henne outshines Gabbert in camp, it will be a demoralizing move to start the lesser quarterback just because of his draft status.
Henne will have to be head-and-shoulders above Gabbert to warrant consideration, but Henne chose to go to Jacksonville for a reason—he knew it would be his best chance to win a starting job.
Will Peyton Manning Be Healthy?
Obviously, the Broncos would not have signed Manning if they did not believe that he could play this season.
Still, Manning's neck injury is unique, and there's not an earlier example of the injury that we can refer to.
Can he still throw as far as he used to? Can he sustain contact? All of these questions will be answered by the end of training camp.
Who Will Back Up RGIII?
Despite efforts by certain media outlets that there could be a quarterback controversy in Washington, RGIII is the unquestioned starter, as Mike Shanahan has already announced.
However, it's still unclear as to who his backup will be.
With John Beck out of the picture, Rex Grossman and Kirk Cousins will battle it out for the backup job. While Cousins will probably be the long-term backup (unless he gets traded), the coaches probably feel more confident that someone with more experience go into the game in case RGIII gets hurt.
Who Will Start at Right Tackle for the Jets?
While the embattled Wayne Hunter is slated to resume his duties on the right side of the Jets' offensive line (to the displeasure of Jets fans everywhere), he will face his share of competition for the job in camp.
Vladimir Ducasse, a second-round pick in 2010 who has been disappointing thus far, will get an opportunity to compete with Hunter for the starting job.
Neither option is ideal, but perhaps, some competition will bring out the best in both players.
Will the Bills Be as Improved on Defense as They Are on Paper?
After adding a glut of defensive talent in free agency and through the draft, the Bills still need to convert the work of the front office into on-field production.
Sometimes, it may take some time for so many new players to come onto a team and be productive right away. Last year's Eagles are a perfect example of a team that needed some time to gel.
If the Bills can make it work early in camp, they have every reason to believe that they can contend for the AFC East crown.
Will Rob Ryan Simplify His Playbook?
Last week, Rob Ryan admitted that he tried to install to much of his playbook in a short amount of time. As a result, the Cowboys defense struggled at times and blew far too many coverages.
Ryan says that he will go back to his fundamentals, but with so many new toys to play with in the secondary, will Ryan be able to contain himself and keep things simple for the Cowboys?
Is It Time for Jake Locker to Start?
As Matt Hasselbeck starts to show his age, Jake Locker will have every chance to compete for the starting job in training camp.
Locker has a great arm, but he struggles to make throws from the pocket. With a full offseason under his belt, he has a chance to be one of the rookies from 2011 to make a massive jump in his game, which could propel him to be the starter for the Titans in 2012.
What Will Become of Osi Umenyiora?
The Giants and Osi have been at odds for quite some time now. Osi wants more money and a starting job, while the Giants want to satisfy their obsession with collecting as many pass-rushing ends as possible.
Osi will consider a holdout, which is understandable for someone in his position. He would be a starter on about 29 other teams who would be willing to give Osi what he wants.
In any case, I don't expect this dispute to end any time soon.
How Will the Buccaneers Respond to a Culture Change?
Under Raheem Morris, the young Bucs were perhaps the most undisciplined team in football.
Under new coach Greg Schiano, expect a massive culture change in Tampa. The team will revert to a defense-and-running-first approach and emphasize toughness, evidenced by their two first-round picks—Mark Barron and Doug Martin.
This new approach will rub some players the wrong way, but it's in the best interest of the Buccaneers organization to change their image.
How Will the Panthers Use Mike Tolbert?
Going into the offseason, the Panthers had plenty of holes and little cap room to spend.
So, what do they spend a bulk of their money on? Another running back, of course!
With three viable starting runners in their backfield, it remains to be seen how they will use Mike Tolbert. They intend to list him as a fullback and will give him some carries in a LaRon McClain-type of role, but with two other stud runners in the backfield, carries will be tough to come by.
Is Randy Moss Back to Being Randy Moss?
When the 49ers inked Randy Moss, it was a low-risk move. If Moss can be anything of the deep threat that he once was, it would be a bargain. If not, they can just cut him and play their younger receivers.
The key to finding this answer is to look for Moss' ability to reach his top-end speed. If he can still do that, the Niners may have had the best free-agent signing of the year.
Who Will Start at Left Guard for the Ravens?
After failing to retain Ben Grubbs in free agency, the Ravens have a massive hole at left guard.
Jah Reid is slated to start in his place, but he will not be handed the job by any means. The Ravens used a fourth-round selection on Delaware product Gino Gradkowski, who will certainly have a chance to compete for the starting job.
What Will Casey Hampton's Role Be in 2012?
As Casey Hampton enters the twilight of his long and successful career, the Steelers need to devise a plan to ease his eventual replacement into action.
The Steelers traded up for Alameda Ta'amu in the draft, so he will likely be given a part-time role in the Steelers defense, as long as he proves his worth in the preseason.
Hampton's playing time will depend on how much Ta'amu can impress coaches in training camp.
Who Will Be the Giants' Right Tackle?
With Kareem McKenzie gone, the Giants need to find someone to fill the void at right tackle.
The Giants spent a pair of late picks on Brandon Mosley from Auburn and Matt McCants from Alabama-Birmingham, but protecting their star quarterback with two late-round rookies is far from ideal.
They did, however, make an under-the-radar signing with the addition of Sean Locklear, who spent the last seven seasons with Seattle.
It may not be the most appealing training camp battle of 2012, but deciding who will start on the right side of the Giants' line could determine whether or not the Giants have a chance of repeating their championship run.
Will Brandon Weeden Be the Opening Day Starter?
Colt McCoy's days as the Browns starting quarterback are certainly numbered, but that does not mean that Brandon Weeden will be handed the starting job right away.
Weeden is the favorite to win the job, but he will still have to prove it in camp and during the preseason games that he can start immediately in the NFL.
What Will Riley Reiff's Role Be?
Riley Reiff was selected to be an eventual replacement for Jeff Backus on the left side, but he is apparently playing well enough in minicamp for coaches to think that he can win the starting job on either side of the line right away.
If he can keep up his performance into training camp, he will have a good chance to make an immediate impact at either spot on the Lions' offensive line.
How "Quickly" Will Brian Quick Insert Himself into the Starting Lineup?
The Rams went against the grain with their second-round pick, taking Brian Quick of Appalachian State.
Quick is a very raw prospect, coming from a small school with little experience at the position. However, he seems to be as more "smooth and more polished than expected," according to Nick Wagoner of the St. Louis Rams' team website.
The Rams need a lot of help at receiver, so the faster Quick can pick up an NFL offense and make an impact, the better it will be for Sam Bradford's development.
How Will the Eagles Use Their Linebackers?
Linebacker was one of the biggest issues for the Eagles last season, as they tried to insert young and inexperienced players into a demanding position, resulting in one of the softest run defenses in football last year.
To their credit, the Eagles have taken several steps to upgrade this position. They traded for DeMeco Ryans and drafted Mychal Kendricks, who is impressing in minicamp.
Previous starters, such as Brian Rolle and Jamar Chaney, will battle it out in camp for playing time while the coaches determine how they want to use Kendricks and Ryans.
What Kind of Impact Will Drew Brees' Absence Have?
For some inexplicable reason, the Saints choose not to pay Brees the kind of money he deserves.
Brees, infuriated with the franchise tag, appears to be ready for a holdout until he gets the kind of money he deserves.
Without their leader on offense (or defense), it will certainly be interesting to see how the Saints respond, especially with two other scandals hovering over this franchise like a storm cloud.
Can Brandon Jacobs Make the 49ers?
After spending a second-round pick on LaMichael James, the 49ers' backfield is better described as a Chinese street market.
Jacobs, who does not contribute on special teams, is going to have to really impress the coaches to convince them to carry four running backs.
Will Israel Idonije Lose His Starting Job?
As soon as the Bears used their first-round pick on Shea McClellin, Idonije's role in the starting lineup was immediately put in jeopardy.
Israel will certainly be given an opportunity to keep his spot opposite Julius Peppers, but the Bears didn't use a first-round pick on a player to sit on the bench.
Even if Idonije loses his starting job, he will still see a lot of time, including at the defensive tackle position.
Can Hayden Smith Make the Transition from Rugby to the NFL?
Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum is known for leaving no stone unturned, including stones halfway across the globe.
In April, Tannenbaum signed Smith with the possibility of him making the team as a tight end without even knowing the rules of American football.
It will be an uphill battle, but Smith is a world-class athlete that will be given every opportunity to make the team. He will have to get used to the nuances of the game, but with some time, Smith could do the unthinkable and go from Australian Rugby star to NFL tight end within a matter of months.
What Will the Bengals' Cornerback Depth Chat Look Like?
Not only did the Bengals spend a first-round pick on a corner in Dre Kirkpatrick, but they also signed a glut of older veterans to compete for a spot on the team.
The Bengals have then option of throwing the rookie into the fire or trusting a veteran like Nate Clements to start opposite Leon Hall.
Will David Wilson Struggle to Pick Up Blitzes?
David Wilson, the Giant's first-round pick, is an extremely talented runner, but he tends to struggle in the cerebral aspects of the game, particularly when it comes to recognizing blitzes and picking them up in time.
Tom Coughlin is not going to let a rookie running back make the mental mistake that gets his starting quarterback knocked out of the game.
If Wilson wants to make an impact early, he must master the art of pass protection.
Can Bobby Massie Start at Right Tackle for the Cardinals?
With Levi Brown holding down the left side job the line, there will be open competition for the starting job on the right side of the Cardinals' line.
Rookie Bobbie Massie is the favorite to win the job. He is the ideal "plug and play" tackle but questions about a his character caused him to slip in the draft.
What Will Felix Jones' Role Be Going Forward?
After DeMarco Murray's stellar rookie season, the coaching staff in Dallas is going to have a tough time keeping him on the bench.
As a starter, Jones has flashed potential, but his inability to stay healthy makes him unable to handle a full workload.
As the preseason wears on, we will have a better understanding as to what exactly the Cowboys have in mind for Jones going forward.
Can Chris Johnson Get Back to His Old Self?
Johnson's holdout lat summer clearly had a negative impact on his performance, as he looked a step slow and hesitant to take on contact.
With a full offseason under his belt, Johnson should revert to his 2009 form...unless he was just playing for the big second contract and is uninterested in becoming a dominant runner once again.