With NFL training camps open, or about to open, across the country, a tidal wave of real football news is rolling into everyone's homepages, inboxes and RSS readers. For the first time in months, actual football stuff is happening.
With all 32 teams in, or about to be in, camp there are some interesting storylines developing for every team. Injury recoveries, depth chart battles and contract disputes are just some of the tasty news morsels finally being set on our plate.
Here's the latest buzz from every NFL team's training camp.
The Arizona Cardinals were surely hoping to avoid the recent spate of NFL legal trouble, but it wasn't to be. Per the Detroit News, defensive end Ronald Talley was sued for damages after allegedly attacking a fellow restaurant patron with an empty bottle.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez is already the prototypical tight end of at least one generation, and a surefire future Hall of Famer. Whether he finally reaches the mountaintop with Atlanta this season, Gonzalez admitted this season will surely be his last to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Baltimore Ravens left tackle Bryant McKinnie has struggled with motivation issues throughout his NFL career. When his weight ballooned out of control last season, the Minnesota Vikings finally cut him loose. The Ravens picked him up and got some decent production out of him.
But he's already having trouble controlling his impulses. Per Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, McKinnie was fined $30,000 by the Ravens for failing to report to training camp without any good excuse. Perhaps he's trying to sweat off a few pounds before getting on the scale?
If the Buffalo Bills are going to bounce back from last season's mid-year collapse, they'll need star wideout Stevie Johnson to be fully recovered from offseason groin surgery and at his best in Week 1.
According to Johnson, their wish has come true: Johnson has pronounced himself "full go," according to a transcript of an official camp media session.
Carolina Panthers wideout Steve Smith has never shied away from making a big statement, either on the field or off. Per Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, Smith says the Panthers aren't just trying to replicate last year's statistical output, they'd think "it'd be great to double the numbers."
If Smith and the Panthers score 50 points a game this season instead of last year's 25, "great" wouldn't even begin to describe it.
For the Chicago Bears and their Tampa 2-derived defense, it all starts on the defensive line. 31-year-old Israel Idonije followed up a career-best eight-sack 2010 season with a disappointing five-sack 2011. Per Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune, head coach Lovie Smith and the rest of the Bears' staff are putting pressure on Idonije to return to his prior form.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has taken stock of Twitter, and decided his young team is too young to use it. Per CBSSports.com, Lewis has banned the Bengals from using Twitter. "I think people have to have the maturity and the wherewithal to be able to handle it," Lewis said. "Thus far, what I have experienced since April, is we don't have the maturity to handle it."
The Cleveland Browns dropped an information at the start of their camp, and it has nothing to do with the usual training camp fodder. It's not an injury or a signing or a depth chart reshuffling: per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, owner Randy Lerner is close to selling the team.
The Cowboys thought they were getting a short- and long-term answer at guard when they signed Mackenzie Bernardeau to a four-year, $11 million contract this spring. But Bernardeau had to have offseason surgery, and it's been unknown if he'd be ready to go for this season.
But according to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News, Bernardeau says he's currently "day to day," which may mean starting camp on the PUP list but with a great chance to come off it soon. Good news for a Cowboys squad that wants to get back to contending ASAP.
While Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is answering questions about his surgically repaired neck's ability to take a hit, it's an open question as to who'd step in for the Broncos if Manning suddenly can't go.
The Detroit Lions had one of the best passing games in the NFL last year, but were desperately unbalanced. They'll need their first-round pick of two years ago, Jahvid Best, and their second-round pick from last season, Mikel Leshoure, to provide the ground attack they lacked last season.
The Lions got good news and bad news: Leshoure and his repaired Achilles were cleared to participate in practice, per John Kreger of CBSSports.com, but Best was placed on the PUP list with his (apparently) lingering concussion effects.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley has tremenous physical potential, but in camp he suffered yet another setback. It's allegedly a small one; per Tyler Dunne of the Milwaulkee Journal-Sentinel it's one of those possibly-mythical "very mild concussion[s]."
The Houston Texans finally broke through the .500 glass ceiling last season, starting the season an outstanding 10-3 before losing star quarterback Matt Schaub and backing into the playoffs.
Defensive end Antonio Smith, according to the AP, knows exactly where to set the bar: the Super Bowl:
“I think everybody would agree with me on the team that expectations for us can be no lower than getting to the Super Bowl,” defensive end Antonio Smith said. “Everybody should have that goal. If you don’t have that goal, then it’s like a defeatist type of mindset.”
As the Indianapolis Colts set up camp without Peyton Manning for the first time in 14 years, new head coach Chuck Pagano is setting up his own camp for the first time ever. It may be very different indeed, in terms of changing one of the most entrenched football cultures in the NFL.
"We want to be able to run the ball and stop the run. The only way I know to do that is you've got to have some contact."
This, from the Colts!
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey is planning on taking a massive $9,915 out of the pocket of any Jaguar who talks out of turn with regards to his injury status. Per Tania Ganguli of Jacksonville.com, Jaguars NFLPA rep Rashean Mathis has absolutely no problem with it—but the NFLPA itself may object.
Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star reported the best possible news for Chiefs fans: All three Chiefs who injured their ACLs last season are ready to go. Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki all practiced and reported no problems afterward.
The Miami Dolphins hoped the Ryan Tannehill Era would begin in April, when they drafted the quarterback in the first round. Instead, they've started camp without Tannehill in the fold. But per Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com, he's working out at the IMG Academy, just 219 miles away from Dolphins camp.
The Minnesota Vikings' superstar tailback, Adrian Peterson, expected to be fully recovered from last year's ACL tear at the start of this season. He stunned his teammates by winning the wind sprints in minicamp, as reported by Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com. But Pelissero now reports Peterson will still begin training camp on the dreaded PUP list.
After a summer where New England Patriot tight end Rob Gronkowski was all over the news, the young standout TE told reporters the "Summer of Gronk" is already over. Rob says his off-duty adventures are firmly in the past, and refuses to deviate from the 'just here to play football' script.
If there was any doubt that suspended New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton would try to have an influence on the team this year, it's been removed.
As NBCSports.com reports, the Saints practice bubble features a massive banner with the words "DO YOUR JOB" underneath Payton's ever-watching glare.
If New York Giants fans were looking for proof that Eli Manning's maturation into a franchise quarterback wasn't a one-season thing, his recent interview with the New York Post pretty much gave it to them.
Despite winning a second Lombardi Trophy, Manning chose to focus on the negative; the 9-win record, his interception percentage, etc. Last year's effort wasn't "good enough," says Manning, trophy or not. THAT, Giants fans, is why you should be excited about his, and the Giants', future.
The New York Jets haven't been shy about working new backup quarterback/H-back/kickoff upblocker/kick return man Tim Tebow onto the field however they can. But apparently, he's not the only player head coach Rex Ryan thinks is dangerous enough to play multi-platoon football. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, according to Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith, may well get some reps at wide receiver.
The Oakland Raiders don't start practice until July 30, but today they got one step closer to making sure the whole team reports in time. Albert Breer of NFL.com reports fourth-round draft pick Tony Bergstrom agreed to terms on a four-year deal, and will compete for the Raiders' left guard spot.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid is limited, like all NFL coaches, to one full padded practice a day during camp. Apparently, Reid's responding by making his players do two strenous padless practices, so much so that star receiver DeSean Jackson lost his lunch.
The Pittsburgh Steelers finally came to terms on a new deal for their talented young wideout. However, it's not holdout Mike Wallace who finally re-upped, but former 2010 sixth-round pick Antonio Brown, according to Pro Football Talk.
The San Diego Chargers needed to find a veteran backup quarterback when Charlie Whitehurst hurt his knee in camp. Instead of re-signing longtime Chargers reserve Billy Volek, though, Ricky Henne of CBSSports.com reports that San Diego has rolled the dice on strong-armed ex-Raiders quarterback Kyle Boller.
San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith had an outstanding rookie season. However, his rough-and-tumble rookie offseason was anything but, leading the young player to tell the San Francisco Press-Democrat that "letting everyone down" was the hardest part of his offseason.
The Seattle Seahawks have again given a tryout to free agent linebacker Brian Banks, but per the AP, have again chosen not to give him a roster spot. Banks, a former recruit of Pete Carroll's while at USC, was wrongfully convicted of rape before he could capitalize on his potential. Eventually, maybe, Carroll will give him his chance in the NFL ranks, too.
The St. Louis Rams were looking for an infusion of dynamic talent in this year's draft, and they got it in second-round cornerback Janoris Jenkins. However, Jenkins has famously struggled to keep his personal house in order; Jenkins and the Rams haggled over how much oversight the Rams could have of his finances.
But Jenkins signed and reported for rookie camp on time—more than can be said for fellow rookie corner Trumaine Johnson, per the AP, overslept his alarm.
On the heels of new cornerback Eric Wright's arrest, Buccaneers fans will again have their excitement bubble burst. Wide receiver Arrelious Benn will miss four weeks with a sprained MCL, per Pro Football Talk.
Talented Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt is getting further and further away from fulfilling his incredible potential. Per David Boclair of the Nashville City Press, Titans head coach Mike Munchak sounds resigned to not having Britt ready for the start of the season, either because of the effects of offseason knee surgeries, or an eventual league suspension due to his recent DUI arrest.
Despite spending a truckload on free agent wide receivers like Josh Morgan and Pierre Garcon, the Washington Redskins made yet another move to bolster their wideout corps. Dezmon Briscoe, who led the Buccaneers in touchdown catches last season, was put on waivers after failing Tampa Bay's conditioning test; per Adam Caplan of TheSidelineView.com, Washington claimed him.