NFL Training Camp 2014: Top Storylines to Watch Early on

Ashkan KargaranContributor IIIJuly 23, 2014

Jun 17, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams defensive end Michael Sam (96) runs through drills during minicamp at Rams Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

With the majority of teams in training camp, the 2014 NFL season has unofficially begun. Among the top storylines to watch early on are holdouts, a return from injury and a controversial situation in St. Louis.


Will Michael Sam make the Rams roster?

Amid recent controversial statements made by NBC analyst Tony Dungy in regards to his position on whether or not he would draft Michael Sam, there is still a positional battle to be had for the rookie from Missouri.

The openly gay pass-rusher has been supported by Rams management and his head coach, Jeff Fisher. As Fisher told ESPN's Mike and Mike, the term "distraction" must be defined:

Let's define distraction. There were a couple extra cameras during the early OTAs, there may have been an extra camera yesterday as the rookies reported and went on the field for the first time, but no, it's not.

Besides the media frenzy, Sam must also battle the depth he will be facing at his position. The Rams have one of the league's best defensive lines. As Fisher noted, "Michael Sam is one of 14 defensive linemen we have on the roster. It's going to be very, very competitive at this position, as everybody knows."

Sam will most likely be competing for a special teams role as a rookie. According to the Associated Press (via, he told reporters that he has lost about 13 pounds since OTAs and is listed at 257 pounds. 

"It's just where I want to be speed-wise, so I can run fast and make plays. I want to be as fast as I can."


How will Rob Gronkowski look after ACL surgery?

The Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady were relieved to hear that their Pro Bowl tight end was cleared to play and not start the season on the physically unable to perform list. Head coach Bill Belichick understands Gronkowski's work ethic.

"Rob has always worked hard," Belichick said, via Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today. "He worked hard as a rookie, so he has always worked hard when he's here. I can't speak for the rest of the time, but from what we've seen he has been consistent."

The happiest Patriot, though, must be Brady: 

Tom Brady’s day just got a whole lot better »

— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) July 23, 2014

Of the four players listed, only Gronkowski is still on New England's roster.

This doesn't guarantee that Gronkowski will be ready to play in the season opener, but it is still great news for the team.


Jamaal Charles holding out for more money

After an incredible 2013 season that saw him tally 1,980 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns, Jamaal Charles is looking to get paid, according to Brad Fanning of KCTV5:

Breaking #Chiefs news. KCTV5's Brad Fanning reports Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is not reporting to training camp.. holding out for $

— Brad Stephens (@BradKCTV5) July 22, 2014

Charles will be making a base salary of $2.65 million next season. In comparison, Adrian Peterson will be making just under $12 million.

ESPN's Adam Teicher has reported that both sides have discussed a new contract and that the Chiefs believe their star running back will report to camp on Wednesday.

Update: NFL Networks' Ian Rapoport announced that Charles and the Chiefs have reached a deal. 


Andre Johnson might show up to training camp

With veterans due to report to camp by Friday, there is news that Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson might be one of them.

Rapoport reported that that Johnson wanted to be traded to a contender, it seemed the Texans and their star receiver would have an ugly holdout during camp. Yet, ESPN's Tania Ganguli reported that Johnson was seen at the facility on Monday "to learn the team's new offense."

Texans fans should be thrilled if Johnson does not hold out. Ganguli goes on to say that the receiver and first-year head coach Bill O'Brien have remained in contact despite Johnson's absence.

While his appearance on Monday could mean Johnson will report to camp on time, others are not so optimistic.

Rapoport told The Triple Threat, "From my understanding, it doesn't really mean that much...It will have no bearing on whether he's at camp," said Rapoport. "As far as I can tell, his mind has not changed from where he was about a month ago."