Every NFL Team's Biggest Minicamp Winner and Loser
Minicamps are aptly named.
The three-day assemblies have value for NFL teams, to be sure. It's the first mandatory gathering of the summer for all 32 squads. An opportunity to get rookies some reps and take a look at the new faces who joined the team in the offseason.
But they also are what they are: a few days of limited contact without pads. You won't see any tectonic developments or practice field dust-ups.
Well, maybe a couple of the latter. But we'll get to that.
There wasn't any earth-shaking news from the minicamps that wrapped up Thursday around the league. But that's not to say there's nothing to be gleaned from players who shined, struggled or just sat out.
That's what we're here to do, with a look at the biggest minicamp winners and losers from all 32 teams in 2018.
Winner: Quarterback Sam Bradford
Most of the conversation at the quarterback position this offseason in Arizona has centered on rookie Josh Rosen, but veteran Sam Bradford made his first appearance as a Cardinal on the practice field at minicamp.
According to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN, head coach Steve Wilks said Bradford's minicamp reps were as much about building confidence as they were about arm strength.
"Let him leave here feeling good about himself and, most importantly, the system and coming back for training camp ready to go," Wilks said.
Just getting him out there is a big step in the right direction.
Loser: Running Back David Johnson
Generally speaking, it's not a huge deal when a player skips minicamp as leverage for a new contract. It's only a few days of workouts, and it's hardly a rarity in today's NFL. The list of players doing so this year is littered with household names.
But most of the players sitting out minicamp aren't coming off nearly an entire season lost to injury and attempting to learn a new offensive scheme.
David Johnson is—and that makes his absence this week…curious.
Winner: Linebacker Duke Riley
The Falcons were forced to play Vic Beasley at strong-side linebacker at times last year, in part because of a lack of viable options at the position. But per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, second-year pro Duke Riley continued to stake a strong claim to that job in minicamp.
"The one guy who's had a hell of a offseason is Duke Riley," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "He's gone for it well before back when the offseason program started just to get to this spot."
With Riley on the strong side, Beasley will be free to do what he does best: rush the passer.
Loser: Wide Receiver Julio Jones
As Ledbetter reported, a number of Falcons players downplayed the "distraction" caused by Julio Jones sitting out minicamp as he angles for a revision to his contract, which still has three years left on it.
"The biggest disruption is the questions that you guys ask," center Alex Mack said. "Everything else is business as usual."
Right now, this is a minor issue. But the questions are going to continue. And if they keep being asked into July and August, a minor issue will become a major problem.
Winner: Quarterback Lamar Jackson
The Lamar Jackson love affair is kicking into hyperdrive.
Almost from the moment the Ravens selected the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, Baltimore was hailed for moving back into Round 1 to snag Jackson.
As Jamison Hensley reported for ESPN, now it's Jackson's turn to have praise heaped on him by teammates after dropping jaws in minicamp.
"Once he gets out of the pocket, it’s like watching a young Michael Vick," linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "It’s amazing to watch. When you’re defending him, you just have to act like you’re tagging off—you don’t want to be on the highlight reel."
Loser: Quarterback Joe Flacco
Of course, there's a flip side to all that hubbub about the Ravens' newest signal-caller: the possibility of a quarterback controversy.
For now, at least, there's isn't one. Per Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun, Flacco took the lion's share of the first-team reps on the first day of minicamp, and while there were a couple of interceptions, his accuracy was generally solid.
But every time Jackson does something amazing, a nagging thought is going to pop into the heads of all in attendance.
"Maybe we should play this guy more."
Winner: Quarterback Nathan Peterman
And, yes, that Nathan Peterman. He of the five interceptions in a single half against the Los Angeles Chargers last year.
As Joe Buscaglia of WKBW in Buffalo reported, the second-year pro was the best quarterback on the field at minicamp, displaying both a strong, accurate arm and knowledge of the offense.
The competition to start at quarterback for the Bills in 2018 may be a three-way affair after all.
Loser: Quarterback AJ McCarron
Then again, it may be two—just not the two most expected.
As Buscaglia reported, veteran AJ McCarron, who was ostensibly signed as a "bridge" to Josh Allen, was routinely outplayed by Peterman in minicamp.
Whether it was passes being batted down at the line or missed throws, McCarron struggled more often than not.
Not the start he was hoping for in New York.
Winner: Wide Receiver D.J. Moore
To be fair, Carolina's first-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft didn't have a phenomenal minicamp, according to Bill Voth of the team's website. But while Moore may not have been great, he was apparently pretty danged good.
"DJ Moore hasn’t necessarily wowed," Voth said, "but he's sure looked solid. The first-round pick has shown strong hands, seemingly snagging everything that’s come his way since rookie minicamp, including a number of catches in traffic."
Great news for a Panthers team that undoubtedly has big plans for Moore in 2018.
Loser: Running Back Curtis Samuel
This one may admittedly be much ado about nothing. Samuel sitting out the team's second practice session after participating in the first may simply be a matter of the Panthers playing it safe with Samuel's surgically repaired ankle.
But with improvements to the receiving corps and Christian McCaffrey solidly entrenched as the passing-down back (and then some) in Carolina, Samuel will be hard-pressed to carve out an offensive role for himself with his helmet in his hands on the sideline.
Winner: Linebacker Roquan Smith
The Bears drafted Smith eighth overall in 2018 with the hopes he would anchor the inside for years to come. It's still early, but per Matt Eurich of 247Sports, head coach Matt Nagy's been impressed with the youngster so far.
"The game is starting to slow down a little bit for him," Nagy said. "Once you're into this thing, on the defense side, you can start letting your instincts show and you don't think so much about what your responsibility is. You can see that is showing up on tape."
Loser: Linebacker Aaron Lynch
Over his first two NFL seasons, Lynch piled up 12.5 sacks, but over the last two years, he's missed 18 games and managed just 2.5 sacks. A Bears team hard-up for pass-rush help opposite Leonard Floyd brought in Lynch in free agency in the hopes he could recapture past glories.
Instead, so far it's been the same old song.
Per Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times, Lynch was sidelined during minicamp by a hamstring pull—this after he missed part of OTAs with an ankle injury.
Hard to get a career back on track from the trainer's table.
Winner: Tight End C.J. Uzomah
The tight end position for the Cincinnati Bengals has been something of a carousel of late due to injuries. With both Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft sitting out minicamp, fourth-year pro C.J. Uzomah had a chance to run with the ones and show what he could do.
Uzomah made the most of it, impressing tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes, according to Jim Owczarski and Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
"He understands where he has to be when the quarterback is ready to deliver the ball," Hayes said. "That’s where he really has made leaps in his improvement and in his game to become a better target down the field."
Loser: Tight End Tyler Eifert
Eifert being sidelined by yet another injury is a sign that's as bad as it is familiar. But things got that much worse when head coach Marvin Lewis was asked why Eifert was out.
"Well, I don't know actually," Lewis said, per Owczarski and Dehner. "He was here all morning and all of a sudden he wasn't. So I'm sure he's being dealt with in some kind of medical fashion. That's the only reason why a guy wouldn't be here."
Oh yeah. That inspires confidence in Eifert's ability to stay healthy in 2018.
Winner: Wide Receiver Josh Gordon
It would probably be wise if Josh Gordon gave the proclamations about the Browns having the best wideout corps in football a rest.
But as Zac Jackson reported for The Athletic, Gordon was doing some big talking with his play on the field at minicamp.
He showed off the combination of physicality and speed that once made him one of the NFL's most dangerous pass-catchers on numerous occasions.
If Gordon's "back," that proclamation may not be too far off after all.
Loser: Offensive Tackle Donald Stephenson
After Joe Thomas retired, the Browns signed Stephenson as depth at the tackle position and a possible candidate to push Shon Coleman or rookie Austin Corbett for a starting job.
But the 29-year-old was a no-show at minicamp, drawing a fine of almost $85,000 in the process.
As if that wasn't bad enough, per ESPN's Pat McManamon, Stephenson has also been suspended two games by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
Talk about a bumpy beginning.
Winner: Offensive Guard Zack Martin
It's a good time to be Zack Martin. Or his agent. Or his accountant.
After skipping OTAs in the hopes of landing a new contract, Martin has done just that. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport (via Herbie Teope of NFL.com), Martin signed a six-year, $84 million extension with $40 million in guarantees that makes the four-time Pro Bowler the highest-paid guard in NFL history.
Sounds like a good reason to show up for minicamp.
Loser: Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch
This has been a theme with the Cowboys in recent years—highly drafted defensive players missing time in camp with injuries.
This year, it's first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch, who rolled his ankle at OTAs.
It's not an apocalyptic development by any stretch, but with rookies, every rep matters. Especially when that rookie is expected to play a substantial role in 2018.
Winner: The Front Seven
Over the past several seasons, the Denver Broncos have been best known for a formidable defense. But as Andrew Mason reported for the team's website, the Broncos fell to 17th in the NFL in sack rate in 2017—and missed the playoffs.
That front seven (bolstered by No. 5 overall pick Bradley Chubb) has been a force in both OTAs and minicamp, impressing new Denver quarterback Case Keenum.
"The defense mixed it up a little bit and brought some good pressures, so we have a lot of good tape to watch from today," Keenum said.
Loser: The Offensive Line
We aren't at full-contact practices yet, but if the front seven is all up in Keenum's business, that means the O-line isn't taking care of theirs.
The Broncos were short-handed up front in minicamp, with starting left guard Ronald Leary and starting right tackle Jared Veldheer both limited to individual work as they rehab injuries.
If Keenum's going to earn his fat paycheck, the Broncos need to get the O-line back to full strength and tightened up ASAP.
Winner: Cornerback Teez Tabor
After an uneventful rookie season, young cornerback Teez Tabor has apparently made an impression on the new coaching staff in Motown.
After running with the first team during part of OTAs, the 2017 second-rounder continued to do so in minicamp, according to Tim Twentyman of the team's website—an indicator Tabor has a legitimate shot at starting opposite Darius Slay in Week 1.
"I'm just trying to build confidence every day," Tabor said. "Like I said, getting better with every rep. You build that confidence with every rep, with every meeting, with every individual (period)."
Loser: Safety Miles Killebrew
Things haven't gone as well for Miles Killebrew.
There's been speculation this offseason that the safety could be on the roster bubble this summer after spending most of the second half of the 2017 season on the side of a milk carton.
If minicamp was any indication, Killebrew hasn't done much this summer to solidify a spot. After struggling in OTAs, he saw the field mostly in three-safety looks, with converted cornerback Quandre Diggs running as the starting strong safety while Tavon Wilson is nursing an injury.
Green Bay Packers
Winner: Rookie Cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson
The Green Bay Packers made a significant investment in their secondary early in the 2018 NFL draft, and while minicamp can only tell us so much, that investment appears to already be paying dividends.
As Peter Bukowski reported for Acme Packing Company, both first-round pick Jaire Alexander and second-rounder Josh Jackson have impressed in minicamp, whether it's being in the correct position or using their athleticism to make plays.
It was Alexander who snared the first interception of minicamp—and picking off Aaron Rodgers isn't especially easy to do.
Loser: Wide Receiver Geronimo Allison
With Jordy Nelson gone, the Packers have a hole at the wide receiver position—a hole third-year wideout Geronimo Allison was expected to be the front-runner to fill.
That may still be the case, but Allison wasn't able to use minicamp as an opportunity to increase the distance between himself and the team's other young receivers. Per Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal, Allison was a spectator for minicamp due to an ankle injury.
Winner: Quarterback Deshaun Watson
Like it was going to be anyone else.
As Deepi Sidhu reported for the team's website, Houston's second-year quarterback was on the practice field for the opening day of minicamp. And while Watson only participated in individual and seven-on-seven drills, there was a development that fans of the team were no doubt positively giddy to see.
Watson wasn't wearing a brace on his surgically repaired knee.
OK, giddy, and maybe a little afraid.
Loser: Offensive Tackle Martinas Rankin
The Texans allowed the second-most sacks in the NFL last year, and the team attempted to address its issues up front with the selection of Mississippi State tackle Martinas Rankin.
Rankin's transition to the NFL has hit a snag though. Per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Rankin had surgery this week to repair a broken foot suffered in rookie minicamp.
Rankin is expected to miss the remainder of the offseason (a huge blow for a rookie adjusting to the pros), but the hope is the 6'4", 308-pounder will be ready for Week 1.
Winner: Quarterback Andrew Luck
Praise all that's good and just. Andrew Luck threw a football.
As ESPN's Mike Wells reported, Colts minicamp opened with the most welcome of sights: Luck throwing passes for the first time since October 2017.
The 28-year-old still has a ways to go in his rehab, but he told Wells he's going to be ready for Week 1.
"No knock on wood," Luck said. "I'll be playing. I believe it in my bones."
Loser: Inside Linebacker Anthony Walker
If there's one thing every team in the NFL wants to avoid in minicamp, it's a potentially major injury to a starter.
There's no guarantee that Anthony Walker was going to win the job at middle linebacker, but the second-year pro had been receiving the majority of reps with the first team.
That plan is now very much up in the air, as Walker was carted off the practice field Wednesday after "crumpling" to the ground, per George Bremer of CNHI Sports Indiana.
Winner: Wide Receiver DJ Chark
The Jacksonville receiving corps isn't exactly loaded with talent. But there are a lot of players with potential, setting the stage for quite the competition for snaps at the position in training camp.
According to Mike Kaye of First Coast News, rookie second-rounder DJ Chark got a head start on staking his claim in minicamp. The 6'3", 199-pound LSU product made the play of the day on the second day of minicamp, and his length and speed have been on display throughout offseason workouts.
Loser: Defensive End Dante Fowler
It's been a rough offseason for Fowler. First the third overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft watched the Jaguars decline his fifth-year option because he's been relegated to reserve status by the ascension of Yannick Ngakoue.
Now Fowler's been held out of offseason workouts up to and including minicamp due to an "undisclosed injury," according to John Reid of the Florida Times-Union.
Jags executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin said when the team declined Fowler's option that the team wants him to earn a long-term extension in 2018.
He's not going to do that from the sideline.
Kansas City Chiefs
Winner: Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins
It's become something of an annual rite for some pundits to predict this is the year wide receiver Sammy Watkins finally breaks out and realizes his potential.
It's also become a dangerous one. But here we go again, this time via BJ Kissel of the Chiefs' official website.
"It’s been a consistent sight throughout offseason workouts," Kissel said, "but the connection between second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes and free agent receiver Sammy Watkins is real."
Loser: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes
Put the tomatoes down.
This isn't to say Patrick Mahomes is going to flop as the Chiefs' starting quarterback in 2018. A few days on the practice field isn't exactly a large sample size. And Mahomes had his moments while he was out there.
Welcome to the spotlight, young man.
Los Angeles Chargers
Winner: Wide Receiver Mike Williams
Mike Williams' rookie season was an injury-marred mess that concluded with the seventh overall pick in the 2017 draft catching just 11 passes for fewer than 100 yards.
But per Ricky Henne of the team's website, Williams is healthy again and turned heads in minicamp—including the head of offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.
"Really where we're getting some good work is seeing Mike and figuring out (how we'll use him)," Whisenhunt told reporters. "We're even playing him at some different spots. Just kind of getting used to seeing what he can do."
With Hunter Henry out with a torn ACL, the Chargers need Williams to step up in 2018.
Loser: Guard Forrest Lamp
That Lamp missed minicamp while recovering from a minor knee scope performed a couple of months ago isn't at all surprising.
It is, however, depressing.
After all, Lamp's entire rookie season was wiped out by a torn ACL. Not only does Lamp need to work back into football shape, but his transition to the NFL has essentially been on hold for a year now.
That pause button was pressed again in minicamp.
Los Angeles Rams
Winner: Wide Receiver Brandin Cooks
The Rams were one of the NFL's most aggressive teams in adding veteran talent over the offseason, and wide receiver Brandin Cooks has wasted no time making a positive impression on his new team.
Per Lindsey Thiry of ESPN, Rams head coach Sean McVay spent most of minicamp raving about Cooks' speed.
"How fast was Brandin Cooks? ... How about how fast Cooks looked on that strike? ... How about how fast Cooks is? Is that awesome?"
Apparently, Brandin Cooks is fast or something.
Loser: The Rest of the NFC West
The Rams look good—really good.
Like serious Super Bowl contenders good.
This is a team that's as loaded on offense as any in the NFL. The defensive front (once Aaron Donald returns—and he will) is similarly stacked. L.A. has Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib at cornerback.
There just isn't a glaring weakness on this club.
There's a reason McVay took it easy on the players in minicamp—including canceling the third day of practices.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it—or needlessly risk an injury.
Winner: Defensive End Robert Quinn
The 28-year-old Quinn was the jewel of Miami's offseason acquisitions, brought in to add juice to a Dolphins pass rush that was getting a little long in the tooth.
Early returns have been promising
In a minicamp where the defense had its way with the offense much of the time, Quinn stood out to quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
"It's incredible how he bends his body to turn the corner," Tannehill told Andy Cohen of the team's website. "His hips are so low to the ground, he's very impressive."
Loser: Offensive Tackles
It's not any kind of surprise to see the defense out-perform the offense this early in camp. But per Chris Perkins and Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, there's still some reason for concern where Ju'Wuan James and Laremy Tunsil are concerned.
It's the flip side of Quinn looking so good. He and the other Dolphins' ends have gotten consistent pressure in part because James and Tunsil got beaten with regularity on the edge.
Not the best news for a quarterback coming off two ACL tears.
Winner: Safety Terence Newman
Yes, you read that right.
Per Andrew Krammer of the Twin Cites Star-Tribune, Terence Newman, who holds the title of the NFL's oldest defensive back at 39 years young, saw time at safety opposite Harrison Smith at Vikings minicamp.
This may just be camp tinkering, but kicking to safety could both offer Newman a better chance to get on the field and give the Vikings depth at safety behind Smith and Andrew Sendejo, who have each missed time over the last couple of seasons.
Loser: Defensive Lineman Jalyn Holmes
When you're a Day 3 pick trying to crack the rotation on one of the NFL's deepest and most talented defensive lines, any sort of injury can be a disaster.
Unfortunately, that's just what happened to Jalyn Holmes. As Krammer reported, the rookie fourth-round pick missed minicamp while recovering from a broken hand suffered a couple of weeks ago.
The hope is that Holmes will be ready for training camp, but missed practice reps are a blow for any rookie.
New England Patriots
Winner: Linebacker Dont'a Hightower
The Patriots are as good as any team in the NFL at overcoming injuries, but there's no denying that the loss of linebacker Dont'a Hightower to a torn pectoral muscle last year was a major blow.
Given the timing of Hightower's injury, there was some question as to his ability to participate in offseason activities. But per ESPN's Mike Reiss, Hightower was on the field for minicamp and leading the defense of new defensive play-caller Brian Flores.
It was a welcome return, indeed.
Loser: Wide Receiver Julian Edelman
Some returns didn't go as well, though.
New England's final day of minicamp on June 7 brought with it a bombshell. As first reported by Field Yates and Adam Schefter of ESPN, wide receiver Julian Edelman is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's PED policy.
According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Edelman maintains he's not sure what substance caused the positive test. Neither is the NFL—the league actually has scientists trying to figure that out.
Edelman's appealing, but the veteran wideout will most likely sit for the first month of the year.
New Orleans Saints
Winner: Tailback Alvin Kamara
With running back Mark Ingram set to miss the first four games of the 2018 season thanks to a PED suspension, there's pressure on Alvin Kamara to be even more than the offensive weapon who took home OROY honors in 2017.
Per Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Kamara dazzled on the first day of minicamp, snaring a pass in tight coverage that left "Marshon Lattimore and Marcus Williams looking at each other wondering what happened."
You got Kamara'd is what happened.
Loser: Quarterback JT Barrett
This one's hardly a surprise. Sure, JT Barrett was a wildly successful quarterback at Ohio State. But Barrett did more damage with his legs than his arm.
Simply put, there's a reason Barrett wasn't drafted.
Barrett has struggled mightily throwing the ball throughout offseason workouts, and minicamp was no different. He may have broken many of Drew Brees' Big Ten records in college, but Berrett's not going to sniff any of Brees' numbers in the pros.
Or Bobby Hebert's, for that matter.
New York Giants
Winner: Wide Receiver Cody Latimer
Remember Cody Latimer?
Yeah, neither do most people.
The Broncos' second-round pick of 2014 was a bust in Denver, but in the early-going at least Latimer's taking advantage of his second chance in New York, emerging as a red-zone favorite of Eli Manning's, according to Dan Salomone of the team's website.
If Latimer can keep this rolling into training camp, he could challenge to start outside opposite Odell Beckham.
Loser: Center Brett Jones
Minicamp is way too early to make definitive statements about positional battles and personnel groupings, but there was one item of note regarding the offensive line.
Per Patricia Traina of Forbes, the first-team Giants O-line consisted mostly of Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Jon Halapio, Patrick Omameh and Ereck Flowers.
That Halapio got the first-team reps ahead of fourth-year pro Brett Jones, who made 13 starts last year, is something of an upset. Whether this is just lineup tinkering or a sign of a bigger change won't be known until training camp in July.
New York Jets
Winner: Quarterback Sam Darnold
Before the hype hits hyperspeed, it's worth noting that, according to Andy Vasquez of NorthJersey.com, there were times on the practice field where Sam Darnold looked very much like what he is—a rookie quarterback getting in some of the first live action of his NFL career.
But Vasquez also said that on the second day of minicamp, Darnold was easily the best quarterback on the field, outperforming veterans Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater.
If that momentum carries over into July, the Darnold era in New York may begin earlier than we thought.
Loser: Wide Receiver Terrelle Pryor
This is something of a make-or-break year for Pryor after an absolutely miserable season in Washington last year.
It's hard to make an impression on your new team while watching practice, though.
Per Vasquez's colleague, Darryl Slater, Pryor has at least ditched the walking boot on his surgically repaired ankle, but the 28-year-old didn't participate in minicamp and is only a 50-50 bet to be ready for the outset of training camp next month.
Winner: Defensive End Arden Key
Arden Key was one of the most polarizing prospects of the 2018 NFL draft—a Round 1 talent who fell to the third due to numerous off-field concerns.
It's too early to pass any lasting judgments, but on Day 1 of minicamp at least, it looked like the Raiders got a steal.
Per Matt Schneiderman of the Bay Area News Group, Key blew past fellow rookie Kolton Miller, forcing quarterback Derek Carr to throw it away.
Perhaps he's the Key to finding a pass-rusher to complement Khalil Mack.
See what I did there?
Loser: Defensive End Fadol Brown
Most of the offseason had gone well for second-year end Fadol Brown, one of a number of young edge-rushers trying to carve out a role in Paul Guenther's defense.
Unfortunately, in minicamp, Brown tried to carve out part of a teammate's head, getting into a practice field dust-up with O-lineman Brandon Parker that earned him an early trip to the showers, according to Jeff Smith of 247 Sports.
It's not wise to make Chucky (head coach Jon Gruden) angry.
Winner: Wide Receiver Alshon Jeffery
Sometimes, it's the little things that matter in minicamp.
Veteran wide receiver Alshon Jeffery isn't ready for a full return to the practice field yet, but just the sight of Jeffery and Carson Wentz sharing a catch had to be a relief for Eagles coaches.
According to Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia, it certainly made the Philadelphia quarterback smile.
"It's good," Wentz said. "Obviously, we'd love to be out there competing and all these things. I know it's tough for him to watch from the sidelines too, just like it is for any competitor."
Loser: Cornerback Sidney Jones
Jones was one of Philly's standout players in OTAs, per Albert Breer of the MMQB, but Jones' ascension to a larger role on defense hit a snag in minicamp.
According to Ellot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com, Jones was held out of minicamp practices with what was called "lower body soreness," although Jones was quick to insist it's unrelated to his Achilles tear of a year ago.
"Precaution," Jones said. "(The team) doesn't want me practicing right now. Just minor soreness."
Winner: Quarterback Mason Rudolph
There's little doubt who the Steelers' starting quarterback is.
But with Ben Roethlisberger missing time in each of the last three years, there's some pressure on rookie Mason Rudolph to potentially be ready to play in the not-too-distant future.
Per Lauren Kirschman of Penn Live, new offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner likes what he saw from Rudolph in minicamp.
"He throws, obviously, a nice ball," Fichtner said. "He's physically all there. Obviously, mentally and learning is an acquired taste and that comes through reps."
Loser: Wide Receiver Juju Smith-Schuster
Smith-Schuster was something of a surprise star as a rookie last year, and much is expected from the slot speedster in 2018. But Smith-Schuster's progress this summer has been slowed by a knee injury that limited him to individual drills at minicamp.
Smith-Schuster told Kirschman that the injury has nagged him for some time, but he should be fine for training camp.
"It just kind of adds up and lets me know to get it checked out," he said of the injury, "so I got it checked out."
Nagging injuries in June are bad juju.
San Francisco 49ers
Winner: Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo
Based just on the practice results themselves, it might be fair to call Garoppolo the biggest loser of minicamp for the San Francisco 49ers. As Jenny Vrentas reported for the MMQB, the Niners were sloppy offensively in their two days of minicamp practices.
It's what he did afterward that really matters, though.
Per Vrentas, Garoppolo stayed after school both days. On the first, it was to work with the entire offense on snap-count issues. On the second, he worked with young receivers on improving their timing in passing drills.
Garoppolo is leading the team.
Loser: The 49ers Offense
That extra work will come in handy.
To be blunt, the 49ers looked terrible offensively for most of minicamp. There were false start penalties galore that led to the snap-count session. Missed throws by all of San Francisco's quarterbacks. And more than a few "sacks" and near-interceptions.
The whole point of these practices is an early effort to start working out the kinks. But if minicamp was any indication, the Niners will be kinky well into July.
That didn't come out right.
Winner: Safety Bradley McDougald
The Seahawks have long been known for their formidable duo of safeties, but Kam Chancellor is still hurt, and Earl Thomas is holding out. That doesn't mean a veteran safety wasn't turning heads at minicamp.
According to John Boyle of the team's website, head coach Pete Carroll made a point of praising both the level of play and leadership skills of sixth-year veteran Bradley McDougald.
"Bradley has really taken the lead, and just as he did last year when he played, he just picked right up and came in," Carroll said. "He has started a lot of football games in the league, he’s got a lot of background and it shows."
Loser: Seattle's Passing Game
If Russell Wilson wanted to use minicamp as an opportunity to tighten up the passing game ahead of training camp, then he left the three-day workout disappointed.
Granted, Wilson did at least get some reps with the team's young pass-catchers. But whether it was Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett or free-agent signee Brandon Marshall, the biggest names among Seattle's receiving corps either didn't work out at all or were limited.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winner: Tight End OJ Howard
It's a pretty safe bet that when a player gets tabbed a "human highlight reel" in minicamp, said player has a decent shot at making the "winners" list.
That's what Carmen Vitali of the team's website had to say about the second-year tight end, who drew rave reviews from head coach Dirk Koetter after multiple athletic snags.
"I mean, O.J.'s incredible athleticism just jumps out at you," Koetter said. "I think with him knowing more what to expect with the 16-game schedule and six weeks of training camp, I think it's just easy to see-anyone who watched those plays could see why the guy was a first-round draft pick."
Loser: Kicker Chandler Catanzaro
Tampa's kicking woes over the past two years have been well-documented, and the Buccaneers inked Catanzaro in the offseason in the hopes he'd provide a steady veteran presence at the position.
Per Joe Bucs Fan, Catanzaro was relatively solid in minicamp, but he could face an unexpected challenge from rookie Trevor Moore, who didn't miss a kick on the first day of minicamp and showed impressive leg strength.
Winner: Outside Linebacker Harold Landry
Landry's received quite a bit of buzz this summer, and per Jim Wyatt of the team's website, minicamp was no different, with Landry's speed off the edge showing on a number of plays.
Veteran edge-rusher Derrick Morgan told Wyatt he's been impressed by the youngster.
"He has a lot of natural ability," Morgan said. "And just like anybody that comes in, you just have to help them evolve their game and polish it up a bit to be ready to go."
Loser: Offensive Tackle Taylor Lewan
The Titans defense won at the point of attack with regularity in minicamp, due in no small part to the absence of the team's best lineman because of a contract kerfuffle.
It's understandable that Lewan wants the security of a long-term deal. And it's more likely than not that, deal or no deal, Lewan will report for training camp once the fines really start piling up.
But this isn't the sort of thing the Titans need hanging over their heads—and it's not like the $9.3 million Lewan will get in his option year in 2018 is chicken feed.
Winner: Offensive Tackle Geron Christian
If third-round rookie Geron Christian is the team's starting left tackle in Week 1, the Redskins have problems.
However, with Trent Williams and Ty Nsekhe rehabbing injuries, Christian got quite a few first-team reps in minicamp, and per Stephen Czarda of the team's website, head coach Jay Gruden said the youngster made the most of them.
"To me," Gruden said, "it's so much better to get an opportunity and go out on the field and actually practice than stand there with a helmet in your hand and watch, so you can make the mistakes, you can correct yourself."
Loser: Wide Receiver Josh Doctson
This one can likely be filed under "it's still early," but if Josh Doctson is going to make the third-year jump the Redskins are hoping for in 2018, then there's work to be done in training camp.
Doctson's timing with new quarterback Alex Smith was off on a number of throws on both days of workouts, with Czarda positing that Smith needs to adjust to Doctson's lankiness.
Maybe the 6'4" wideout and Smith should grab some dinner. See a movie. Shoot some hoops.