NFL Training Camps 2014: Updates, Rumors and Analysis for August 13
They say all good things must come to an end, and such is the case with training camps across the NFL.
Although, the players might disagree as to just how great all those drills are.
With the second week of preseason games just around the corner, many teams have already put a bow on training camp for 2014. Others still are going through a final few days of joint practices with another team before calling it quits themselves.
That means it's time for us to call it a wrap on our daily updates from training camp as well, but not before one last trip around the NFL.
Jeremy Maclin Having His Way with Darrelle Revis in Practices
The Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots are two of those teams wrapping up camp with joint practices, kicking off three days of dual sessions on Tuesday.
According to Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer, one of the biggest storylines from those practices has been a wide receiver the Eagles are counting on having his way with the Patriots' biggest free-agent acquisition of the offseason:
(Jeremy) Maclin and (Darrelle) Revis were matched up for most of the afternoon. I think I counted three flags thrown on Revis for holding. I wasn’t sure while watching from the stands, but when I asked Maclin after practice who those penalties were on, he said, 'The defense.' Nice. Maclin beat Revis deep for a touchdown on one play, but Revis gave little effort once Maclin got behind him. Foles threw a jump ball to Maclin in the corner of the end zone, but Revis had tight coverage and Maclin, although he got his hands on the ball, couldn’t make a tough catch.
It appears Maclin's dominance carried right over into Wednesday, when McLane tweeted, "Jeremy Maclin continues to toast Darrelle Revis in 1 on 1s. Looked right at us after beating him as if to say, 'You reporters catch that?'"
Granted, a couple practices is hardly enough to inspire concern about Revis. However, with Maclin making his return to action after missing the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL, these reports would seem a good sign that Maclin's speed and quickness are at or near pre-injury form.
Rams WR Tavon Auston 'Quiet' in Camp
In 2013, the St. Louis Rams made Tavon Austin the eighth overall pick in the NFL draft, hopeful that the West Virginia star would become the No. 1 receiver quarterback Sam Bradford has lacked throughout his NFL career.
Things didn't go as planned during a whisper-quiet rookie season for Austin, and in the opinion of one former Rams great, not much as changed in year two.
While making an appearance on the The Edmonds and McKernan Show on CBS Sports Radio (h/t insideSTL.com) on Tuesday, former Rams wideout Torry Holt expressed some frustration with Austin's development:
Tavon Austin has been very quiet this camp, and I thought he was quiet the other night. And for a guy who was picked 8th overall, it’s bothering me he’s been so quiet up to this point. What it looks like, what is sound like, he’ll make his biggest impact on special teams. I know fans don’t necessarily wanna hear that, I really don't wanna hear that, particularly with a guy being picked 8th overall at the receiver position.
Yes, Austin is a dangerous return man, but general manager Les Snead didn't spend a top-10 pick on a punt returner. He used it on the player who was supposed to stop the trend of Bradford being forced to operate the St. Louis passing game with substandard receivers.
It doesn't look like that will be the case in 2014.
Trio of Texans Stars Returns to the Practice Field
Injuries were a large part of the Houston Texans' plunge into a 2-14 abyss last year, and with stars like running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson already battling minor injuries it's no surprise that new head coach Bill O' Brien has been playing it safe with the veterans.
As Josh Katzowitz of CBS Sports reports, the Texans got a triple dose of good news on Wednesday as they began some joint practices with the Atlanta Falcons.
Not only did Johnson and Foster, who both have been nursing sore hamstrings, make their returns to the practice field, but they were joined by inside linebacker Brian Cushing, who was activated from the physically unable to perform list.
Cushing, who missed nine games last year with a broken leg and torn LCL, told Tania Ganguli of ESPN that it's great to be back on the field, even if he realizes he needs to take things slow:
I'm a competitive guy. I want to come out here, I want to prove I can help the team and do a real good job. That's important to me, that's something I focus on a lot.
I think when you don't feel right, you don't want to push. Especially when you've gone through it before. You know what it feels like when it's not right. ... You know when you're ready and when you're not.
Cushing participated only in the Texans-only portion of practice, and O' Brien indicated the sixth-year pro likely won't play in this week's preseason game, but Cushing, Foster and Johnson all appear on track to be "all systems go" for the season opener.
Browns QB Brian Hoyer on the Block?
With the Cleveland Browns' signing of veteran quarterback Rex Grossman on Tuesday, it didn't take long for many pundits to start connecting the dots.
Whether there were any dots to connect is irrelevant.
The Grossman signing started rumors flying that quarterback Brian Hoyer might be on the trading block, and given his connection to head coach Bill O' Brien and Houston's need for a quarterback, the Texans quickly emerged as a hypothetical destination.
Well, John McLain of The Houston Chronicle, one of the league's most plugged in beat writers, tweeted Wednesday that it's time for everyone to tap the brakes.
"For anyone who might be interested," McClain wrote, "Texans won't be trading for Brian Hoyer. I've seen that one making the rounds."
Cleveland head coach Mike Pettine also threw cold water on the trade speculation while speaking with reporters, according to Mary Kay Cabot of The Northeast Ohio Media Group:
''"Stories' is a good word to apply to that,'' said Pettine, sounding slightly annoyed at the question. "We're not going to comment on every story that's out there. We made a move to strengthen our quarterback room, and you just get these stories coming out. I don't want to be in the habit of commenting on all of them. I really addressed that situation yesterday.''
On Tuesday, he was asked if Grossman's signing makes Hoyer expendable and he said, ''absolutely not.''
So there you go.
Cardinals OG Jonathan Cooper's Struggles Continue
After fielding the worst offensive line in the NFL in 2012, the Cardinals spent their first-round pick on North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper in the hopes the big man would solidify the interior of that front.
That ascension was put on hold last year, with Cooper missing his entire rookie season thanks to a broken leg.
Well, Cooper's healthy now, but as of yet the Cardinals are still waiting for the dominant blocker in Chapel Hill to show up in the desert.
In fact, Dan Pompei of Sports on Earth tweeted Wednesday that there's a very real chance Cooper won't even start for the Redbirds in 2014.
"Jonathan Cooper has a ways to go," Pompei wrote. "Won't be surprised if he is beaten out by Earl Watford."
Granted, one scribe's opinion from watching a few days of practice isn't definitive, but it wasn't that long ago that head coach Bruce Arians was expressing disappointment about Cooper's progress to Ava Wallace of azcentral.com:
I'm a little disappointed in where Coop's at right now, I had hoped he would come a little faster, to get back into the speed of the game. Obviously going against (defensive end Calais Campbell) everyday is different, but he needs to pick it up.
At the time, Arians attributed Cooper's slow start in camp to rust.
Rust that Cooper apparently still hasn't shaken off.
Crickets on Josh Gordon
Fans of the Cleveland Browns were treated to something of a cruel tease last week, that being the sight of wide receiver Josh Gordon on the playing field.
It's being made worse by the interminable wait to hear whether the third-year pro will be suspended for at least the entire 2014 season for repeated violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Well, you can hurry up and keep waiting.
As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports, not only has no ruling been issued, but there's been no real indication when one might be handed down:
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the news is there is no news. No update, no development, no ruling.
The good news is that Gordon remains available to play until Henderson implements the suspension. The bad news is that, if Henderson eventually upholds the one-year suspension, Gordon will be gone for a full year. Not 16 games; a full year. If a decision comes today, Gordon becomes instantly banished until August 13, 2015 at the earliest.
The Browns should be upset. If the suspension, levied before the draft, had been resolved expeditiously, Gordon would have been back for most of the 2015 offseason program. Now, he’ll miss the full 2015 offseason, much of training camp, and at least one preseason game before he can even re-enter the building.
Henderson is required to issue a ruling within a “reasonable time” after the conclusion of the hearing. The term “reasonable time” doesn’t have a specific number attached to it; so far, the clock is at nine days and counting. In this specific case, it would have been far more reasonable and fair to resolve the case months ago.
Of course, the delay could be seen as a sign that the NFL was considering lighter punishments (or even no punishment at all).
That is, if the NFL was ever consistent when it comes to player discipline.
Chargers ILB Manti Te'o to See Expanded Role in 2014
San Diego Chargers linebacker Manti Te'o probably wishes he could get a mulligan on 2013.
The calendar year started with the Lennay Kekua scandal and an embarrassing performance in the BCS National Championship Game. It ended with an up-and-down rookie season as a Chargers second-round pick.
However, Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego reports that things are looking up for Te'o entering his second season. Gehlken writes that Te'o looks more comfortable and confident, and Te'o said he's ready to take on additional defensive responsibilities in 2014:
The player that you see out there now, he's different than the one last year. I'm not saying that he's better. I'm just saying he's different; he knows things. I know things out there; I see things out there; I'm familiar with things. It's not necessarily recognizing what plays the offense is doing. It's all about me recognizing what I got to do, when I can go, where I got to go, and getting there quickly. With that, I'm able to be fast.
It's welcome news for a Chargers team that's going to need better defensive play if it's going to repeat last year's surprising playoff run.
DET DT Nick Fairley's Weight Still an Issue
When the Detroit Lions declined the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Nick Fairley, it appeared to send a clear message to the big man. When he reported for minicamp, he was as trimmed down as he's ever been in the NFL.
Fairley's size has been a constant sore spot with the team -- so much so, Detroit opted not to pick up his option for 2015 with the hope that would motivate Fairley to show up in shape.
The move seemed to work initially, with Fairley dropping almost 30 pounds by the start of minicamp. But then he left for the six-week summer break, and put 10 pounds right back on.
Now it appears Fairley, who has not spoken to reporters this week, has continued to pack on the pounds.
Thirty-one-year-old veteran C.J. Mosley has been running with the starters ahead of Fairley, a situation that Meinke tweeted continued into Wednesday.
"Nick Fairley is with the second team for a third straight day," Meinke said. "Fair to wonder whether he comes off the bench vs. Raiders."
Fair to wonder indeed, including about Fairley's future in the Motor City.