With training camps kicking off across the league, the NFL is back to dominating sports headlines across the country. Training camp may seem fairly uneventful on the surface, but that certainly hasn't been the case thus far.
Every team in the league has intriguing positional battles, while information regarding injuries and contract holdouts has come to the forefront as well.
Preseason games don't start for a couple weeks, but football fans are buzzing regardless.
Here is further analysis of the biggest news tidbits and rumors to emanate from NFL training camps to this point.
Offensive line depth was a huge issue for the Miami Dolphins last season, and it figured to be a concern once again in 2014 despite the signing of Branden Albert and drafting of Ja'Wuan James.
Those fears were realized in June when ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey underwent hip surgery.
The injury was expected to keep Pouncey out of action into September, but there is now a belief that it could be even more significant. According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, a source has told him that Pouncey may very well miss the entire first half of the regular season:
A source familiar with the center's surgery and recovery says it's more likely he will miss four months (from the time of surgery June 23). That would carry the rehab process through September and into late October.
"Eight weeks is probably what we're looking at," the source said.
That would be an absolutely huge loss for several reasons.
First and foremost, the Dolphins don't have much at the position behind Pouncey. Sam Brenner is penciled in as the backup center, but he has just four career starts to his credit.
The center plays a huge role in both the passing and running games. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill needs to have a certain synergy and comfort level with his center. That is clearly present with Pouncey, but it may not be as intense with a player like Brenner.
Miami already faces an uphill climb in the AFC East with the New England Patriots still reigning supreme.
If the Dolphins don't have Pouncey at their disposal for half of the season, then it will be very difficult to keep pace.
The saga of Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson has been among the most intriguing storylines of the offseason. The Houston Chronicle's Brian T. Smith notes the seven-time Pro Bowler has expressed his displeasure with the direction of the franchise and left many wondering where he stands.
Since the Texans have no real incentive to trade Johnson, his only options are to play or sit the season out.
Seeing as the latter would cost him a great deal of money, the smart move would be for Johnson to report. Although that hasn't happened yet, ESPN.com's Tania Ganguli indicates Johnson was present at team facilities Monday:
Good sign for the #Texans: receiver Andre Johnson was at NRG Stadium yesterday, sources said.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) July 22, 2014
While that would seem to indicate that tensions between the two sides are starting to ease, Smith reported that agent Kennard McGuire remained coy regarding his client's potential talks with the Texans:
I am not refuting, confirming or denying any reports or stories. Per the (NFL) collective bargaining agreement, there's a period in which veteran players are not allowed to participate or be in their team's facilities and that period is as such.
While I am personally in contact with the Texans organization, those conversations will remain between myself, the organization and Andre Johnson.
It is possible that the Texans will have some issues this season, but they aren't necessarily far off from being competitive.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is a question mark at quarterback, but he has proven to be a capable NFL starter in the past. The Kansas City Chiefs went from worst team in the league to a playoff team last year. Houston could possibly do the same in the fairly soft AFC South, but it needs Johnson.
Johnson isn't the only elite pass-catcher who has given fans a scare this offseason. San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis skipped OTAs and seemed poised to potentially hold out well into training camp, the preseason and perhaps even the regular season due to a contract dispute.
Luckily for Niners players, coaches and fans, though, NFL on ESPN notes Davis decided to report to training camp Wednesday:
The two-time Pro Bowler is easily one of league's best tight ends and is coming off a season in which he put up 850 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.
The Niners have a lot of threats in the passing game, including Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Stevie Johnson, but Davis is the true X-factor.
He may be a tight end, but he is supremely athletic and creates major matchup problems down the field. Davis makes quarterback Colin Kaepernick's life much easier, which is why it isn't surprising that Kap told ESPN.com's Bill Williamson he is thrilled to have Davis back:
Vernon's a Pro Bowl tight end. He's one of the best in the league. There's not going to be too much of a falloff for him. I don't think anyone is concerned about that. We're just happy he's here. Vernon is not the type of person that's going to walk out on his team like that. He's a good guy. He's done a lot for this organization, and he's made a lot of great plays for us.
Now that Davis has committed himself to the 49ers once again, San Francisco has to be considered one of the NFL's top Super Bowl contenders. Overtaking the Seattle Seahawks won't be easy, but the Niners may be the team that is best equipped to do so.
The 49ers have so many offensive weapons this year that it may even be tough for the Seahawks' elite secondary to stop them.
Davis is a huge part of that and will be one of the driving forces behind the Niners' success in 2014.
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