NFL Training Camps 2014: Updates, Rumors and Analysis for July 25
The Detroit Lions are apparently a bunch of slackers.
On Friday, seven more NFL teams from Cleveland to Phoenix saw their veterans report for training camp. There is now only one team in the league whose veterans have yet to report.
That's in Motown, where the Lions are waiting for Calvin Johnson "to get back from Cybertron" before getting underway.
While we wait for that to transform into a joke that's actually funny, here's a look at the latest injury news and rumblings from camps around the NFL on July 25.
Vick Ballard Injured
The Indianapolis Colts won the AFC South in 2013, but they struggled to run the ball with any consistency, largely due to injuries.
In that regard, training camp hasn't gotten off to the best start.
Third-year running back Vick Ballard, who tore his ACL in the season opener a season ago, was carted off the practice field after suffering an apparent ankle injury on Friday, according to Stephen Holder of The Indianapolis Star:
As @mchappell51 tweeted, RB Vick Ballard is down w left ankle sprain. Can't overreact but wasn't putting weight on it.
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) July 25, 2014
The 24-year-old, who posted nearly 1,000 total yards as a rookie two years ago, was counted on as a change-of-pace option behind Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw in 2014. Given that Ballard just missed an entire season, watching him go down was cause for more than a little concern.
That concern proved to be more than justified, according to The Star's Mike Chappell:
— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) July 25, 2014
Andrew Luck might want to loosen up that throwing shoulder.
Holdout Watch: Marshawn Lynch Edition
When the Seattle Seahawks reported to training camp on Friday, it was without one of their leaders on offense, as news broke that running back Marshawn Lynch was holding out in hopes of getting a new contract.
The news struck many as a surprise but apparently not the Seahawks. That's the latest from ESPN's Chris Mortensen, who stated on NFL Insiders (via Rotoworld) that "The Seahawks are not surprised this is an issue."
Mortensen also indicated that the Seahawks remain disinclined to offering Lynch, who is set to make $5 million in base salary in 2014, a new deal. "He'll be there at some point, I think," Mortensen said.
Meanwhile, if Lynch's holdout does drag on, the player who would likely receive the lion's share of the work in the backfield in Lynch's absence continues to draw praise.
Second-year pro Christine Michael, who has been the subject of rave reviews from the Seahawks' staff dating all the way back to the combine in February, was again the subject of conversation when general manager John Schneider spoke with 710 ESPN Seattle's Brock and Sock (via Tony Drovetto of the team's official website).
According to Drovetto, Schneider said Michael "took a noticeable step forward this offseason with his work ethic, focus, and maturity."
If this contract impasse continues into the preseason, we may find out just how good Michael really is soon enough.
Andre Johnson Reports
While Lynch's holdout surprised many people, the holdout that seemed most likely didn't come to pass.
After skipping all of the Houston Texans' OTAs and minicamps and making it no secret he was unhappy, it was a 50-50 bet at best that veteran wide receiver Andre Johnson would be among the players to show for camp in Houston on Friday.
Well, Friday rolled around, and Johnson showed up:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 25, 2014
As Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle reports, Johnson has mended fences with the organization, and now he intends "to retire a Texan:"
"I love playing the game of football," Johnson said Friday at NRG Stadium. "I don’t plan on walking away from this."
Given that the 33-year-old caught 109 passes for over 1,400 yards last year, despite terrible quarterback play in Houston, the applause for Johnson's arrival is understandable.
JohnnyWatch 2014: Sound the Alarms!
It wouldn't be a day of training camp updates without something about Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, right?
There's been a great deal made of Manziel's offseason antics and repeated trips to Las Vegas, and as Mary Kay Cabot of The Northeast Ohio Media Group reports, unease is growing within Browns' headquarters where "Johnny Football" is concerned.
The Browns have been 'alarmed' by some of Johnny Manziel's antics since the draft -- especially a photo of him rolling up a $20 bill in the bathroom of a bar -- and some in the organization feel he's lost ground in the quarterback competition heading into camp, sources have told Northeast Ohio Media Group.
After the suspicious photo of Manziel tightly rolling up the bill surfaced on July 7, Browns coach Mike Pettine called Manziel from his vacation in Hawaii and addressed it, he told NEOMG on Monday. The conversation was 'positive' but he also planned to talk to Manziel face-to-face when he arrived for the rookie portion of camp on Wednesday.
Manziel regressed in practice after the first week of organized team activities, and some in the organization attributed it to too much jet-setting and not enough dedication to the playbook.
It also apparently hasn't escaped Manziel's teammates in the Cleveland locker room:
Browns player: "we're all expecting Hoyer to start" week 1. Feeling in locker room is Pettine will announce WELL BEFORE 3rd preseason game
— bob holtzman (@BobHoltzmanESPN) July 25, 2014
Manziel may well turn things around, but if the youngster has any momentum right now, it's headed in the wrong direction.
Carl Nicks and Buccaneers Part Ways
In 2011, Carl Nicks was the second-ranked guard in the entire National Football League, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). The 29-year-old parlayed that success into a five-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that averaged nearly $10 million a season and contained $25 million in guaranteed money.
Now, after two disastrous seasons in Tampa, Nicks and the Buccaneers have parted ways:
Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks' time with the Bucs is over. He and the team have agreed on an amicable settlement.
— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) July 25, 2014
A toe injury and subsequent staph infection limited Nicks to only nine games in two seasons with the Buccaneers, and according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk "Nicks’ comments create the impression that he will not be continuing his NFL career."
Updates from Cardinals Camp
Most days in life, you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and...nevermind.
Anyway, we'll close Friday's trip around the league with some good news and some bad news from Glendale, Arizona, and the Cardinals' camp.
First, here's the bad news.
2013 third-round pick Tyrann Mathieu was a revelation last year before tearing his ACL. There were hopes that Mathieu would be ready for Week 1, but the Honey Badger himself told Mike Jurecki of XTRA 910 Radio that's looking less and less likely.
Tyrann Mathieu mentioned 6-8 weeks from returning. #CardsCamp
— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) July 25, 2014
However, while Mathieu's Week 1 availability is very much in doubt, hype continues to build around another second-year pro's chances for a breakout 2014:
Arians: Ellington ready to be bell cow in offense. Big thing for Ellington is development as pass catcher. #CardsCamp
— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) July 25, 2014
Arians' comments continued an offseason of positive news surrounding Ellington, who became the first rookie running back since Ickey Woods in 1988 to lead the NFL in yards per carry last year.
In fact, it wasn't even the only positive news on Friday:
— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) July 25, 2014
Fantasy football enthusiasts take note.