Even though teams have yet to play a single game during the preseason, there has been no shortage of training camp storylines to keep NFL fans engaged.
Injuries and contract situations always seem to dominate this time of year and things have been no different in 2014. There is still time for teams to get issues sorted out before the start of the regular season, but there is always a great deal of uncertainty at this particular point.
With teams gearing up to kick off the preseason slate, here are the latest rumors and news pieces that football fans are keeping a close eye on currently.
In many ways, the Cleveland Browns' 2014 season hinges on the status of troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon. He is currently facing a year-long suspension after testing positive for marijuana, but Gordon claims that it was a result of secondhand smoke, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Schefter is also reporting that Gordon's "A" sample was barely under the threshold, while his "B" sample was under it. That could potentially lend some credence to Gordon's defense.
With that now out in the open, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio is hearing that there is now a "slight chance" that Gordon and the NFL could negotiate a deal that would prevent his suspension from lasting the entire season.
The appeals process started Friday but no resolution was reached, so the two sides will pick up where they left off on Monday, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:
The Josh Gordon appeals hearing ended at 7 pm tonight and was continued to Monday afternoon, source says #marathon— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 2, 2014
It is difficult to say what that means, but one might assume that Gordon is gaining some traction if conversations are ongoing. Gordon will almost certainly have a fairly long suspension no matter what, but getting him back at all would be a huge boost for the Browns.
At the same time, it can be argued that the NFL should stand firm and make sure that Gordon learns his lesson. NBC Sports Network's Ross Tucker is among those who believe that Gordon won't change his ways, as evidenced by this sarcasm-laced tweet:
Josh Gordon should be fine moving forward. The 7th failed drug test (3 in college) must be a huge wake-up call.— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) July 31, 2014
The Browns desperately need Gordon as he topped 1,600 yards last season and accounted for the majority of their offense despite missing two games. His presence would be huge for either Brian Hoyer or rookie Johnny Manziel at quarterback and he would open things up for the running game as well.
If Gordon can broker a deal and the Browns can hang in there until he gets back, then they have a chance to surprise some people this season.
The health of New York Giants running back David Wilson has been up in the air for much of the past year and there is more uncertainty surrounding him now than ever before. Wilson had apparently recovered from the neck injury that kept him out for most of the 2013 campaign, but he recently re-aggravated it.
After leaving practice early Wednesday, Wilson claimed on Twitter that he was fine:
Left practice early yesterday but everything turned out to be fine once the Dr. Looked @ me plus I… http://t.co/HjL5r5GrNr— David E. Wilson (@4stillRunning) July 30, 2014
There have been conflicting reports, though, and there is a great deal of concern regarding Wilson's future. Per Jordan Raanan and Conor Orr of NJ.com, one source said that Wilson "needs a miracle" in order to return to action.
That means not only is his Giants career in jeopardy, but his NFL career as a whole is in doubt as well. As hopeful as the G-Men were that Wilson would come back better than ever, they were most definitely prepared for this type of situation arising.
According to Orr, Giants owner John Mara admitted that the team loaded up on running backs this offseason just in case Wilson's issues persisted.
I think given what he went through, the surgery he went through, it would have been foolish not to be (prepared). We signed Rashad Jennings, we drafted Andre Williams, we signed Peyton Hillis again, so we do have some depth there. We have Michael Cox there, so someone is going to have to step up and do it now.
Wilson's struggles are unfortunate since he is an extremely explosive and dynamic back. He has the ability to be a game-changer for the Giants, but now he is fighting for his NFL life. Hopefully he receives some positive news regarding his health in the near future but early indications aren't favorable.
The backbone of the Cincinnati Bengals' defense over the past couple seasons has been linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Attitude and character concerns resulted in him going undrafted in 2012, but he has quickly developed into one of the league's best linebackers.
He racked up 171 tackles, three sacks and an interception last season en route to his first career Pro Bowl nod. Burfict is outperforming his $480,000 salary in a big way and he is scheduled to become a restricted free agent next offseason, according to Spotrac.com.
Because of that, it comes as no surprise that Burfict desires a new contract. Unfortunately, he and the Bengals apparently aren't on the same page as far as negotiations go, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan:
#Bengals starting WLB Vontaze Burfict and the team appear to have reached a contract impasse, according to a source.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) July 31, 2014
Which player's situation intrigues you most?
Burfict is in a tough spot because the Bengals probably aren't feeling a sense of urgency right now. The fact that Burfict is restricted means that the team will be in total control next offseason. At the same time, extending Burfict before then would be a good-faith gesture and proper reward for his outstanding play.
The NFL is a business, though, so don't necessarily expect the Bengals to hurry when it comes to a new contract. They do need to make sure that they lock Burfict up eventually, however, since he is the heart and soul of the defense.
Regardless of where he ends up in 2015, Burfict has all the makings of an elite linebacker for many years to come.
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