The month of August may not factor into the regular-season NFL standings, but don't say it doesn't count. At least, don't say it to any rookies around the league.
For NFL first-timers, the dog days of summer are a trial by fire. Everything's at stake. They either use these training camp practices or preseason games to secure spots on rosters or starting spots on the depth chart.
Furthermore, the NFL is a league of first impressions. Get hurt in your first training camp and you're designated as injury-prone, which can be a tough tag to shed. For many rookies, this is not only their best chance to impress their coaches: It might be the only one.
According to the New England Patriots roster, 17 rookies are battling for spots on the squad. With two preseason games and several weeks of training camp in the books, we have a sense for which ones are seizing the opportunity and which ones are lagging behind.