NFL Training Camps 2016: Updates, Rumors & Analysis for August 1
The first full week of training camps kicked off Monday for all 32 NFL teams. Big plays were made, noteworthy words were spoken, injuries were suffered, roster moves occurred. As the sun sets on the first day of August, here's your breakdown of the top stories from camps across the country, with a focus on big developments in Rochester, New York; Santa Clara, California; Houston; Oxnard, California; San Diego; Latrobe, Pennsylvania; and South Florida.
Reggie Bush Might Get Most of His Work as a Return Man for Bills?
With promising second-year running back Karlos Williams facing a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season, it wasn't surprising to see the Buffalo Bills wrap up veteran back Reggie Bush on Monday.
The Bills signed the 10-year vet to a one-year deal, per ESPN.com's Mike Rodak.
The Bills and Bush had been flirting for several weeks, and the move makes a ton of sense. That said, there's a good chance the 31-year-old only contributes sparingly on offense. Even when you take away Williams, Buffalo has a crowded backfield with veterans LeSean McCoy and Mike Gillislee teaming up with Bush and rookie fifth-round pick Jonathan Williams.
Bush suffered a torn MCL midway through the 2015 season, leaving his career in peril. It's tough for a 30-something-year-old back to come back from an injury like that, but Bush's versatility is a major asset. There might not be a lot of room for him as a prototypical runner within a backfield that led the league in rushing last season, especially if the 28-year-old McCoy can stay healthy and Williams can come back strong after his suspension. But Bush can be a solid receiving threat and return man.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor could use Bush, who has 470 career receptions, as a safety valve in the passing game. Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News reported Monday that Buffalo general manager Doug Whaley expects Bush to work mainly as a returner.
That could be interesting, because Bush has returned just eight punts and zero kickoffs since leaving the New Orleans Saints in 2011.
Gabbert Starts, Kaepernick Excels, Foles Not Coming to the Rescue
Blaine Gabbert had a great opportunity on Monday to grab hold of an early lead in his quarterback battle with Colin Kaepernick. That's because after splitting first-team reps with Kaepernick on Sunday, Gabbert took the vast majority of the starter snaps at Monday's practice, per Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
But according to Cohn, Gabbert failed to take advantage of the opportunity.
"Gabbert threw one pick and completed just 14 of 23 passes during team drills," wrote Cohn. "On third down, he completed only one pass and threw short of the first-down marker three times even though it was a 7-on-7 drill and there was no pass rush. At least he practices the way he plays."
Meanwhile, Cohn notes that Kaepernick threw zero picks and was 16 of 20, although that was primarily with the second unit.
So no, this quarterback battle can't be settled two days into camp. But it's encouraging that Kaepernick looked good after suggesting on Sunday—per ESPN.com's Nick Wagoner—that he's become comfortable with Chip Kelly's offense, especially because, as CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco notes, Kelly stated on Monday that the team won't be pursuing his former disciple, Nick Foles.
DeAndre Hopkins: 'I Was Doing What I Felt Like Was Best for Me and My Family'
After holding out for about 24 hours this weekend, "disgruntled" Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins returned to the team on Monday before (sort of) clearing things up.
"I wasn't trying to send a message or anything like that," Hopkins said after Monday morning's practice, per ESPN.com's Ben Dubose. "I was doing what I felt like was best for me and my family."
The Pro Bowl receiver missed what would have been his first official camp practice with new quarterback Brock Osweiler on Sunday, apparently in an attempt to relay his frustration over a rookie contract that will pay him just $1 million in base salary in 2016.
Per Dubose, the team, which picked up his fifth-year option and will owe him $7.9 million in 2017, insists it won't negotiate with Hopkins this season. That has to be tough for the 24-year-old, because he's coming off a 111-catch, 1,521-yard, 11-touchdown campaign.
The good news for Texans fans—and Hopkins fantasy owners—is that the holdout didn't last long, and Osweiler and Hopkins have already hooked up for a practice touchdown.
The Cowboys Insist Tony Romo Isn't Overweight
The camera adds 10 pounds, right? Well, according to the Dallas Cowboys, it may have given quarterback Tony Romo a few extra in one particular case on Saturday.
"He's in great shape," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Monday, according to ESPN.com's Todd Archer. "He's in some of the best shape he's been in, so I don't know. You know everybody can take a picture of you that makes it look different than it is. But Tony's in great shape."
Above is a shot of Romo from last month, and he's looking fairly svelte, so it does indeed look as though this was simply about a bad angle.
My guess is whoever took that shot isn't an Instagram husband, trained in the art of snapping from flattering angles.
Darius Philon Continues to Impress in Place of Joey Bosa for the Chargers
With rookie first-round pick Joey Bosa still holding out, 2015 sixth-rounder Darius Philon has been making the most of his opportunity with the first unit in San Diego Chargers training camp.
The defensive end played 150 snaps as a rookie, putting together a minus-4.2 Pro Football Focus grade. He had just five tackles in eight appearances, missing half the season due to a significant hip injury. And yet he's earned himself some hype in place of Bosa.
"He had a nice offseason for us," said Chargers head coach Mike McCoy, according to ESPN.com's Eric D. Williams, "and I’m very pleased with where he’s at today.”
Where the hell is Bosa? It's odd, because we don't see many rookie holdouts these days. But Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reports that Bosa's camp is battling the team over offset language and the timing of his bonus in his rookie contract.
According to Florio, Bosa and the Chargers haven't spoken since Thursday.
Missing the start of camp won't likely cost Bosa too dearly, but it's far from ideal for the No. 3 overall pick, especially since his replacement is starting to get some love.
The Cowboys Are Down Another Defensive Lineman
Greg Hardy is gone, DeMarcus Lawrence will be suspended for the first four weeks of the season, Randy Gregory is also facing a long suspension, Jeremy Mincey remains unsigned, and now the Dallas Cowboys could be down yet another defensive lineman.
That's because presumed starting defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford missed his second straight practice Monday due to a back issue that head coach Jason Garrett said requires an MRI.
"We have a good plan for him," Garrett said, according to Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News. "We'll take the situation day-by-day."
Crawford had a career-high five sacks last season, which is the highest total among Cowboys players who are eligible to be active to start the season.
Not a good sign for a team that had just 33 sacks in 2015.
Senquez Golson Can't Catch a Break, Suffers Foot Injury
Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 second-round cornerback Senquez Golson missed his entire rookie season after undergoing shoulder surgery in August.
This August is less than a day old, but it's already treating Golson poorly.
The Mississippi product was carted off the field on Monday in Latrobe after suffering a mid-foot injury, according to ESPN Pittsburgh's David Todd, who noted that Golson slammed his helmet to the ground after suffering the injury.
Per ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler, head coach Mike Tomlin could only note that the 23-year-old is being evaluated, so we won't draw any conclusions. That said, this has to be discouraging for Golson, who was expected to challenge for a starting job in the slot.
That might still happen, but he suffered at least a mild setback on Monday.
Jay Ajayi Sidelined by a Knee Injury
Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi spent Monday's training camp practice on a stationary bike as he deals with a knee injury, according to an on-air report from NFL Network's Jeff Darlington.
No word yet on how serious the injury is, but Darlington reported that the team doesn't appear to be overly concerned.
The second-year back averaged 3.8 yards per carry as a rookie fifth-round pick out of Boise State, but he has a chance to play a huge role in 2016. Lamar Miller, who started every game in both 2014 and 2015 for the Dolphins, left in free agency, leaving Ajayi as a prime candidate to start. Third-year back Damien Williams remains on the PUP list and veteran Arian Foster is being eased in.
This, naturally, requires your fantasy football attention.
Stevie Johnson's Knee Injury Will Require Surgery
We won't be seeing Stevie Johnson for at least several weeks, maybe longer.
San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy confirmed after practice on Monday that the veteran wide receiver suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee and will need surgery, per ESPN.com's Eric D. Williams.
Johnson will, however, get a second opinion first, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, who reports we'll soon find out whether the 30-year-old will be out "weeks or months."
"He'll have a medical procedure done in the next couple days," McCoy said, per Williams. "And then we'll have a better idea on how long he will be out, once that procedure takes place. But I can't give you any dates. We'll give you some rough estimates after he gets it cleaned up."
Injuries continue to plague Johnson, who hasn't played 16 games since he was in Buffalo in 2012. He put together three straight 1,000-yard seasons with the Bills between 2010 and 2012, but he hasn't been the same since.
Still, he was supposed to get substantial playing time as San Diego's primary slot receiver this year. This injury could mean Keenan Allen has his role tweaked or more snaps for Dontrelle Inman (started seven games last season) and/or Javontee Herndon (started two).