The Biggest Red Flags After NFL Team Minicamps
While NFL training camps shine like an oasis in the summer desert for NFL fans, there are numerous franchises that are dealing with cactus-like issues moving forward.
Red flags are running rampant through the league this offseason, and volatile situations are erupting throughout numerous organizations.
High profile holdouts, arrests, trade demands, injuries and position battles are all causes for concern as teams put minicamps in their rear-view mirrors.
Can the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens withstand holdouts from their star running backs?
Can the Detroit Lions stop getting arrested?
And will Percy Harvin ever tell the world what has him so unhappy with the Minnesota Vikings organization?
These are just a few of the major red flags that must be addressed as training camp nears.
10. DeMarcus Ware's Neck Issues Continue to Bother Him
DeMarcus Ware has never missed a game in his NFL career, but it is still a cause for concern that he continues to have lingering issues with his neck.
Back in 2009, he was carted off the field in a game against the San Diego Chargers and has had chronic neck problems since.
Ware was held out of some OTAs this offseason because the neck was bothering him, and the pain has caused him to miss time during games in his career.
This is obviously not as much of an immediate issue as other stories on this list, but the Dallas Cowboys have to be concerned about the injury and its lingering effects.
Every "stinger" Ware suffers could be more serious than the last, and losing Ware for any amount of time would be crippling to the Cowboys pass rush.
9. Santonio Holmes Is at It Again
When will Santonio Holmes quiet down and stop making headlines?
The New York Jets wideout is making waves again this offseason as he reportedly quit during the team's final OTA and argued with new receivers coach Sanjay Lal.
The red flags started flying with Holmes last season after he criticized the Jets offense in the media and skipped a late-season meeting called by Mark Sanchez.
The Jets have little depth behind Holmes at wide receiver and desperately need him to be on his best behavior as the 2012 season approaches.
He has been called a "cancer" by at least one unnamed teammate.
So far this summer, he is doing little to dispel that notion.
8. Percy Harvin Is Unhappy...About Something
Percy Harvin has made it clear that he is upset with the Minnesota Vikings organization...he just isn't saying why.
The Vikings claim they are not alarmed with Harvin's sentiment, but it is hard to not throw up a red flag when the main piece of the team's receiving unit is unhappy.
This is a knee-jerk situation with random developments coming at the whim of Harvin.
One day he appears jovial and content, while the next day he wants out of Minnesota.
The Vikings organization has to tread carefully with him at this point, and what hurts the team's footing even more is the lack of depth alongside Harvin.
Players like Michael Jenkins, Greg Childs, Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright are the Vikings' remaining wideouts.
7. Drew Brees Still Unsigned
At some point, Drew Brees will put on his New Orleans Saints jersey in 2012.
This is the time when the Saints most need their leader to guide the ship, and yet he is away from the team and the field because of contract negotiations.
With no deal either in place or imminent, where does this leave the Saints offense heading into training camp?
New Orleans is still dealing with all the issues and commotion that erupted due to the "bountygate" scandal and can ill-afford to be without one of the best QBs in the league for any period of time.
This is at least a situation that both sides want resolved as quickly as possible.
Yet even with both sides wanting to come to terms, the calendar has turned to July with no sun on the horizon.
6. Justin Blackmon DUI
The Jacksonville Jaguars have to be concerned with Justin Blackmon and how he is carrying himself since entering the NFL.
The Jags' first-round pick was arrested for an aggravated DUI earlier in the offseason (his second DUI since 2010), and clearly there is a problem here.
At the rookie symposium, Blackmon assured the media that he has seen the err of his ways—the fact remains, though, that there is still cause for concern.
Jacksonville has enough problems going on with running back Maurice Jones-Drew's contract situation (more on that later) and the implementation of a new head coach.
The last thing the organization needs are off-field problems with their top draft choice.
If Blackmon has really corrected his problems, that is great—but blowing a .24 alcohol level showcases a serious issue.
One that may not be easily fixed.
5. No QB Has Emerged in Seattle
The three-way QB carousel is in full swing for the Seattle Seahawks, and no one has emerged as the clear starter heading into training camp.
While this clearly indicates a healthy competition between incumbent Tarvaris Jackson, newcomer Matt Flynn and rookie Russell Wilson, it also raises concerns.
Why have Flynn and Jackson not pulled away from a mid-round rookie draft pick?
Why did Seattle give Flynn so much money in the offseason only to throw him into a battle for the position?
This could, of course, all just be a shell game from head coach Pete Carroll, who is notoriously "hush-hush" about his decision-making anyway.
But the question marks will remain until someone cements himself as the Seahawks starter.
4. MJD Is Ready to Hold out in Jacksonville
The Jacksonville Jaguars offense would be devastated if Maurice Jones-Drew ever held out or missed a series of games.
That nightmare is quickly approaching reality.
Jones-Drew has skipped minicamps this offseason and vowed to hold out if his contract is not re-negotiated.
With quarterback Blaine Gabbert struggling to develop within the offense last season and no viable backup behind Jones-Drew, the Jaguars' hands really are tied in this situation.
Can they afford not to give in to his contract demands?
After all, Jones-Drew averages around 100 yards on the ground per game and is the main (and often only) piece in the Jags' offensive puzzle.
Losing MJD would cripple the Jags' already anemic offensive production and hamper the growth of Gabbert.
This is a situation Jacksonville has to avoid at all costs.
3. Aldon Smith Stabbing
The off-field issues surrounding Aldon Smith are becoming too large to ignore for the San Francisco 49ers.
He is still only 22 years old, but continuously finding himself in the wrong places and doing the wrong things is no way to showcase maturity.
Smith's first strike this offseason was for a DUI in January. Not exactly an uncommon occurrence in today's sporting world, but a serious and egregious offense nonetheless.
His second incident involved being stabbed at a party on June 29.
While he was clearly the victim in this case, the fact remains that he was at this party by his own free will and was in an altercation.
These are the kinds of situations that must be avoided at all costs.
The good news is that Smith has no serious injuries, and hopefully he is able to make more responsible decisions moving forward.
2. Ravens Have Little Insurance for a Ray Rice Holdout
Try to name the Baltimore Ravens' collection of running backs behind Ray Rice. It's not so easy, right?
The Ravens have Anthony Allen, Damien Berry, Bernard Pierce and Bobby Rainey all jockeying for position behind Rice on the depth chart.
Not exactly a formidable stable of backs, which makes it a serious red flag when Rice starts looking for $10 million a season.
A lengthy holdout could be drawing near, and Baltimore is not in a position to go on without their star offensive weapon on the field.
This is a team already without the defending NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Terrell Suggs, for at least most of the season.
Losing their best player on both sides of the ball is not a great way to make a run at the Super Bowl.
1. Detroit Lions' Repeated Run-Ins with the Law
If any team has dealt with a plethora of red flags this offseason, it has been the Detroit Lions.
After a stellar 2011 that saw the Lions reach the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, the team has seen several players have issues with authorities and numerous arrests this summer.
Defensive tackle Nick Fairley, cornerback Aaron Berry, offensive lineman Johnny Culbreath and running back Mikel LeShoure have all gone wayward of the law this offseason and all are casting a poor light on Detroit's franchise.
Thankfully for Detroit, these are issues that likely won't hamper the team on the field, but still the team has to wonder when these players will shape up and become the model citizens they need to be.
DUIs and possession of marijuana are not the ways to endear yourself to your teammates or the organization.
These distractions are only taking the focus away from building a Super Bowl contender.
The Lions have a lot invested in these guys, especially LeShoure and Fairley, and are counting on them to contribute mightily in the 2012 season.
Right now, the team has to be wondering if it can count on them moving forward.
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