NFL Training Camp Stories Worthy of Our Attention
Journalists can do a really spot-on radio impersonation—a rival to Frank Caliendo's "Madden" in the world of impersonations. Taking a story, interesting at first, and shoving it into the public's face from every angle imaginable.
The radio, though, remains the best and most experienced at this.
Remember when Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" was catchy?
A song to nod your head and tap your feet to. Seems like a long time ago, doesn't it? Before every radio station—including my reggae station on Pandora—started playing it and its various remixes. It is now a song that we used to sort of like—pre-radio torture.
Beware, NFL journalists. This is happening to far too many offseason/training camp stories. No, we don't care about every completion that Peyton Manning throws in Denver or every breath that Tim Tebow takes in New York.
The extensive coverage of Manning and Tebow—among the others that seemingly decorate every front page and TV screen—has cast a rather large shadow over other stories worthy of attention.
So let's shine a flashlight on some of these for further examination.
Kevin Kolb vs. John Skelton in Arizona
It's no Ali vs. Frazier in Manila or Steve Young vs. Joe Montana in San Francisco, but it is equally important to the team's success as the latter.
The Cardinals are a team on the rise, and consistent quarterback play is the missing piece to the playoff puzzle. Yet the quarterback competitions in Miami, Seattle and, of course, New York get the bulk of media coverage.
Darren McFadden Healthy Again
When healthy, McFadden is arguably the best back in the league. Well, he's healthy now, running hard, cutting sharp and ready to continue where he left off in 2011. McFadden was leading the NFL in rushing—600 yards through six games—before suffering a season-ending Lisfranc injury to his right foot.
If—and this is a big if, considering his thicker-than-a-textbook injury history—he can stay on the field, the Raiders will be in contention.
Life After Peyton: The Andrew Luck Era Begins
He's that five-star restaurant on Yelp that actually lives up to its rating. Or that 10-thumbs-up movie—apparently freaks of nature are critiquing movies these days—that surpasses the loftiest of expectations.
Luck is the new quarterback in town—the highest-rated quarterback to enter the league since, well, the guy he is replacing (Manning, not Curtis Painter).
After 14 seasons with Manning under center, the Colts have handed the reins over to Andrew Luck, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, and it's up to him and a mixture of other rookies and a few veterans to return the team to respectability.
Time for Robert Turbin, Already
The NFL is becoming more and more about quality depth. When a player goes down—or, in this case, makes a costly mistake off the field—another has to step in and not miss a beat. Turbin is ready to do just that, pending the league's handling of Marshawn Lynch.
And fans likely won't notice a difference. Turbin runs with the same ferocity as Lynch, and he has the same burst to bounce it outside for big gains.
Blaine Gabbert Improving?
No need to talk defense; they proved themselves last season. The offense, however, did not. Especially Gabbert. If anything, his performance—2,214 yards, 12 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and five fumbles—left many doubting his NFL-readiness.
So, all eyes are on Gabbert and the offense during camp. Thus far, a week into camp, the second-year quarterback has drawn mixed reviews from those in attendance.
Things Jim Harbaugh Says
A sitcom just waiting to be written—by none other than Harbaugh himself. Just point a camera or microphone in his direction...instant gold.
His latest nugget: a grade-school "I told you so" to the "so-called experts" who already dubbed A.J. Jenkins, the team's first-round pick in April, a bust. Sticking out his tongue, making a fart noise and then yelling, "Na na na na na!" would have surely added to the effect, but he chose not to.
Add that to the growing list of "Things Jim Harbaugh Says" wide receiver section in between "Crabtree has the best hands I've ever seen on a wide receiver" and "We've got five guys who are No. 1 receivers."
Stay tuned for the next episode.
Robert Griffin On the Run
The real-world equivalent to the Redskins' shaky O-line is buying a really expensive, high-quality diamond and then just leaving it out in the open, unprotected. Sooner or later, somebody is going to take a swipe at it.
Washington gave up a lot to draft RG3 and surround him with weapons, but they have done little to bolster a weak offensive line. To make matters worse, the injury bug has bitten in camp and sidelined multiple starters.
Pleasant Surprises at the Receiver Position in Buffalo
Maybe the Bills aren't so thin at the receiver position after all. Entering camp, one of the biggest questions was—and still is, of course—who would emerge as that No. 2 receiver opposite Steve Johnson.
According to reports from camp, T.J. Graham and Marcus Easley have both separated from the pack and have flashed big-play ability. Both possess the top-end speed to stretch the field vertically and take advantage of single coverage as defenses focus on Johnson.
If I missed any—and I'm sure I did—feel free to add them in the comments below. There are far too many stories being overlooked right now.
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