NFL Training Camps 2014: Assessing Top Developing Storylines Around the League

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIAugust 2, 2014

Cincinnati Bengals rookie running back Giovani Bernard carries the ball during an NFL football team practice Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (AP Photo/Michael E. Keating)
MICHAEL E. KEATING/Associated Press

Each of the NFL's 32 franchises are currently conducting jampacked training camps full of vested veterans, promising rookies and many more players hoping to acquire a coveted spot on the final 53-man roster.

With so much going on at this time of year, plenty of storylines—many of which will have an enormous impact on their respective teams—begin to develop around the league.

After all, it's at this time when many important questions are addressed. Who is making a push to become the team's No. 2 wide receiver? Which running back will get the bulk of the workload to start the season? Who is winning the quarterback battle?

During training camp, most of these questions will be answered. Let's take a look at some recent developments to keep a keen eye on in August.


Jets' Wide Receiver Battle

Jun 11, 2013; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill (84) runs with the ball during the New York Jets minicamp session at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.  Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Over the offseason, the New York Jets made a bold move, acquiring free-agent wide receiver Eric Decker on a five-year, $36.25 million contract. With the former Bronco set to take over top-receiver responsibilities, the job for his complement is still up in the air.

After two disappointing years in the league, former second-round selection Stephen Hill finally looks ready to step into the role. The 6'4", 215-pound receiver is having a stellar camp, and he spoke about his intentions with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News:

Said Hill, "Every day I feel like it’s my last day. So that's how I play. Nothing is guaranteed in this league. So you have to come out here every day and—balls to the wall, basically."

Here's a look at one of Hill's recent big plays at camp, via the Jets' official Twitter account:

Is he finally in line to shed a potential bust label? We may have to wait to see some in-game action to answer that question; however, early reports are encouraging.


Bengals' Crowded Backfield

Uncredited/Associated Press

The Cincinnati Bengals quickly find themselves with a very crowded backfield after selecting LSU product Jeremy Hill in the second round of this year's draft.

Veteran BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been the team's workhorse for the last two seasons; however, the emergence of Giovani Bernard in 2013, along with Green-Ellis' struggles, quickly had fans clamoring for a change.

After all, here's a look back at what Bernard did last season with the ball in his hands:

Although Bernard averaged 4.1 yards per carry, compared to Green-Ellis' 3.4, the veteran still received 220 carries to the rookie's 170. Now, with Hill in the picture, this backfield situation has become even murkier.

Well, Bengals running backs coach Kyle Caskey shed some light on the situation during a press conference, via Coley Harvey of

I don't know if it's the workload that's going to get more, it's more the type of plays that we're going to run with him in the game. We're going to expand his portfolio of plays and find different ways to get the ball in his hands in space. You get the ball in Gio's hands in space, he's dangerous.

You don't necessarily have to hand it off and say, 'Hey, Gio got 260 touches last year out of the backfield.' Maybe he gets 260 to 300 touches but he gets them some other way. Maybe he gets 200 out of the backfield but he catches 100 passes or however it is. We'll find a way to get the ball to him.

It appears as though Bernard could possibly be in line for a larger role this year—including getting some goal-line work due to a declining Green-Ellis and Hill's recent ball-security issues at practice.


Rams' Wide Receiver Shuffle

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

We all know the threat that Tavon Austin poses on the field. He's easily the most talented wide receiver on the St. Louis Rams roster; however, most of his work comes predominantly from the slot, leaving the outside positions open for training camp battles.

Newcomer Kenny Britt and Brian have been impressive so far at camp, and according to Nick Mensio of Rotoworld, they've been getting most of the first-team reps while Chris Givens is working with the twos:

Well, according to recent comments from Rams camp, there's another wide receiver who's been turning heads lately.

Head coach Jeff Fisher had some very high praise regarding Stedman Bailey during a press conference, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk:

Sted made a lot of plays today. He's there. He knows how to get open, and knows how to make the plays. Yes, we'll miss him, but he's going to push right through camp and we'll get through his ordeal and we'll get him right back in the lineup.

He's going to get plenty of work and so are the other guys. We've got four preseason games and there’s plenty of snaps, plenty of practice snaps to have him ready.

Fisher is referring to Bailey's impending four-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. However, the coach does note he's looking to get his receiver right back into the lineup upon his return.

Could Bailey earn a starting role on the outside once his suspension is over? We'll have to monitor his progress through the rest of training camp and the preseason, but if he continues to impress, he may become a threat to break out this year.