NFL training camp is the season of good news.
With new signings, new rookies and some new coaches roaming the practice fields, the overwhelming feeling that surrounds every training camp is one of hope—everyone's undefeated, and everyone's got a shot.
With limited padded practices and limited contact rules for drills and scrimmages, every player on the huge 90-man camp roster has a chance to shine.
Yet some don't.
Few negative reports come out of training camp; when rumors of poor play make the rounds, there's often fire making that smoke. If someone's clearly not stepping up now, how can he escalate his game when the bullets are live?
With a handful of this season's first preseason games already in the books, it's time to rank the top 10 training camp disappointments so far.
Mark Sanchez's play in training camp hasn't been a disappointment. The disappointment is that Mark Sanchez is present at New York Jets camp.
Per Seth Walder of the New York Daily News, Sanchez claimed he'd "earned the right to start" the Jets' preseason opener at Detroit.
Walder, and many others, have instead observed that neither Sanchez nor rookie Geno Smith has played well enough to earn much of anything.
When the Jets drafted Smith, it looked like the end of the rocky "Sanchize" era in New York. Instead, it (and he) trudge on, marking time until Smith finally takes the baton from him and runs.
When the San Francisco 49ers flipped deposed quarterback Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs, they opened up a dangerous hole in the depth chart behind breakout starter Colin Kaepernick.
When the 49ers then traded for Colt McCoy, it seemed like they solidified the backup spot with a veteran who still had unrealized potential.
Instead of solidifying anything, though, McCoy has been struggling to stay ahead of fellow reserve Scott Tolzien. In the 49ers' first preseason game, McCoy went a regrettable 3-of-7 for 41 yards and an interception—then left the game with an injured shoulder.
If McCoy is due to miss significant time, he might not only lose his spot on the depth chart—he could lose his spot on the roster.
While fellow University of Tennessee wideout Cordarrelle Patterson garnered most of the pre-draft buzz in 2013, soon-to-be Tennessee Titans wideout Justin Hunter was quietly touted by some draft experts as a more pro-ready prospect.
In training camp, however, the reality hasn't matched the buzz.
According to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, Hunter has been poor, frequently dropping balls, including one pass that "bounced off his chest." Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com noted that Hunter seems to practice timidly, failing to attack balls and shying away from contact.
If Hunter can't get his head in the game and his hands on the ball, the likelihood he helps Jake Locker kick-start the Titans passing offense this season is low.
Second-year left tackle Jonathan Martin has enormous shoes to fill: those of Jake Long, the departed All-Pro who left for St. Louis.
Throughout his first camp as the starter on the left side, Martin's pass protection has been a big problem. According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, pass-rusher Olivier Vernon "has owned Martin since the opening of camp" and at a recent practice notched three sacks against Martin.
In the Hall of Fame Game, it was more of the same: Martin struggled to keep the Dallas Cowboys out of the Dolphins backfield.
After one of the splashiest free-agent spending sprees in the NFL this year, the Dolphins brass have to be concerned that the money they didn't spend (to keep Long) could cost them dearly.
Kevin Kolb was never going to be a world-beater in 2013, and his Buffalo Bills weren't going to contend for a title anyway.
When the Bills signed Kolb, he was both a hedge against the Bills being unable to land a talented quarterback in the draft and a veteran insurance policy in case they did. When the Bills drafted EJ Manuel, perhaps the least polished of the top quarterback prospects this season, it looked like the starting job was Kolb's to lose.
In camp, though, Kolb has struggled to play like the veteran he is. According to Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550, Kolb struggled with blitz recognition and pickup in the fourth day of camp—exactly the kind of thing a veteran should be able to do better than a rookie.
Even worse, Kolb injured himself running across the practice fields on Aug. 4, giving Manuel even more opportunity to establish himself as the starter.
Mason Crosby was a very good kicker.
Of this, there is no question; it's why the Green Bay Packers gave Crosby a five-year, $14.75 million contract at the close of the 2011 season. However, it's looking more like was is the operative word in that sentence.
Crosby had an awful 2012 season, going just 21-of-33 on field-goal attempts.
In 2013, he's no better. Crosby has had a horrible camp; he made just three of eight kicks at the Packers' open scrimmage, per NFL.com. Head coach Mike McCarthy said Crosby has "definitely got to do better than that," according to Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Not many teams have to suffer the ignominy of eating several years' worth of dead money on a kicker's contract, but the Packers may be forced to do just that.
Jon Baldwin has all the tools to be a star in Andy Reid's pass-happy offense. The 6'4", 230-pound wideout could be a physical mismatch for nearly any cornerback in the NFL.
Instead, the 2011 first-round pick is a perennial disappointment.
Early word on Baldwin seemed to be positive; Kansas City Chiefs GM John Dorsey called Baldwin's OTA performance "excellent" on 810 WHB, via Arrowhead Pride.
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported, though, that Baldwin "hasn't torn [camp] up by any stretch," and he will have to show very well in the preseason to shake the "bust" label many are applying to him.
It doesn't look likely, though; at a recent open practice many observers tweeted that Reid gave Baldwin a tongue-lashing about his poor effort and conditioning.
Lamar Miller was rocketing up fantasy draft boards and cheat sheets everywhere.
With Reggie Bush out of the Miami Dolphins running back picture, the speedy, shifty Miller had a clear look at the Dolphins' starting job. More than that, the talent he flashed in relief and platoon duty made him a candidate to be this year's breakout fantasy star.
Then, on his first carry of the preseason, Miller literally dropped the ball.
Though the botched handoff could be written off as a fluke, ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted that "some" in the Dolphin organization are uncertain about him.
Instead of easily gliding to the top of the Dolphins' depth chart, Miller—and his fantasy owners—may have to take this preseason seriously.
When the Minnesota Vikings drafted Christian Ponder, he wasn't the tallest, biggest, fastest or most promising quarterback prospect.
Ponder, though, had enough tools in his bag—and enough starting experience at Florida State—to have a reasonable shot at becoming a productive NFL starter.
Instead, Ponder was unimpressive in his first two seasons. Judging from camp reports like that from Bleacher Report's Featured Columnist Arif Hasan, Ponder and the rest of the Vikings quarterbacks look no more capable of moving the chains and eliminating turnovers than they did in 2012.
Mark Craig of the Star Tribune agreed, calling Ponder "consistently inconsistent" at throwing a football. In the Vikings' first padded practice, the no-touch pass rush overwhelmed Ponder, who "had difficulty throwing accurately or sometimes at all."
For a surprise 2012 playoff team looking to stay ahead in the most competitive division in football, Ponder simply must take his game to the next level. If he doesn't, the reaction from his teammates, coaches and fans will be more than just "disappointed."
Chance Warmack is absolutely, unequivocally, without a doubt the biggest training-camp disappointment.
No, literally: Warmack is bigger than everyone else on this list.
All jokes aside, drafting a guard with the No. 10 overall pick means he'd better be one heck of a guard—from day one, and for over a decade. Warmack has all the size and talent any team could ask for, but whether he can dominate in the NFL is an open question.
Before Warmack could answer that question, he held out.
After a five-day absence, Warmack finally caved on his demand for no offset language and got down to work. Warmack, being the last first-round pick to come to terms, might have wanted to make a good first on-field impression.
He didn't, showing poorly in the Titans' first preseason game. Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean reported Warmack was "embarrassed" at how he tried to get away with poor technique and just manhandle his Washington Redskin opponents.
If the Titans are going to pull it together this season, Warmack will have to take his preparation more seriously.