1 Player on Every NFL Team Who Needs to Impress in Training Camp
All 32 NFL teams have completed the first few phases of their offseason programs. As reports surface about player performances after organized team activities and minicamp, we can already see who's under pressure to impress during training camp.
For some veterans, it's simple: Show the coaching staff your best or be shown the door. A strong or weak performance in padded practices could also prompt a change in the pecking order.
Several scenarios landed players in this situation. Veterans with spotty contributions over the past few years are sitting on roster bubbles. Coaching staffs expect certain talents to take a major step in development. A few non-household names have a chance to secure a starting spot. There's one rookie, above all, who needs to show his potential right away.
After an approximate six-week intermission, which player from each team will be under the microscope when training camp starts next month?
Arizona Cardinals: WR Chad Williams
General manager Steve Keim selected rookie wide receiver Christian Kirk in the second round of 2018's NFL draft and signed sixth-year veteran WR Brice Butler to a two-year deal. Butler appeared on FS1's The Herd with Colin Cowherd and didn't mince words about the role he sought going forward: "I have to be a starter. If I'm not starting, I'm not going back [to Dallas]."
Between the early-round pick at the position and Butler's hunger for more looks in the passing game, second-year wideout Chad Williams must flash his best during training camp.
Williams started off on the wrong foot with former head coach Bruce Arians, who publicly called out the receiver's offseason conditioning last year then projected Thanksgiving as a time for the third-rounder to contribute beyond special teams duties.
As a new coaching staff directs this franchise, Williams will have a chance to show his potential to become an integral component in the passing attack. He worked out with former NFL wideout and two-time All-Pro Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson in the offseason and should face stiff competition for the No. 2 spot behind Larry Fitzgerald.
Atlanta Falcons: LB Duke Riley
Deion Jones and De'Vondre Campbell have their spots locked up at linebacker. The latter also provides versatility as a player who can line up on the strong and wide sides.
Riley hopes to secure a spot alongside Jones and Campbell. He's unproven going into his second year and struggled with tackling angles in moments against the run as a rookie.
Nonetheless, it's all part of the learning process for a young player. The LSU product has a chance to show his quickness at training camp and live up to expectations as a third-round pick from the previous year.
After starting five games, Riley underwent knee surgery in October. Upon his return, he only started one more game, the season finale against the Carolina Panthers. Linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich shared his honest assessment of the 23-year-old's rookie season, per Atlanta Constitution-Journal reporter D. Orlando Ledbetter:
"He's a guy that, the honest truth, he knows this and I know this, everyone in his circle knows this, he didn't fulfill his expectations as far as his play was concerned. We both took a very honest look at his game. Early in the offseason, very, very early in the offseason. We made some goals, and he's absolutely going for it."
Head coach Dan Quinn praised Riley for an impressive start to the offseason, and he must carry that momentum through the summer in preparation for the regular season.
Baltimore Ravens: WR Breshad Perriman
After landing on injured reserve his rookie year after a PCL injury that required surgery, Breshad Perriman accumulated just 43 catches for 576 yards and three touchdowns over the last two seasons. It's not an ideal track record for a 2015 first-round pick. The Baltimore Ravens didn't exercise his fifth-year option—no surprise there.
In free agency, the front office signed wideouts Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown to upgrade the passing attack, which doesn't leave Perriman much room for error on a slow start to his fourth season.
According to ESPN.com reporter Jamison Hensley via Twitter, the 24-year-old has experienced trouble reeling in passes through the first part of the offseason program. "Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman continues to have trouble with his hands. He has dropped a pass in each of the three offseason practices that's been open to the media."
Perriman must bounce back during training camp and parlay that momentum into the regular season to increase his market value for the 2019 offseason.
Buffalo Bills: WR Zay Jones
Last season, the Buffalo Bills didn't have a high-powered passing attack, to say the least, finishing 31st in yards and 27th in touchdowns. Wideout Zay Jones' struggles didn't help the situation, as he converted just 36.5 percent of his targets into receptions.
Before OTAs, Jones underwent offseason knee surgery, which shut him down for the early phases of the program. According to head coach Sean McDermott, via WKBW's Joe Buscaglia, there's no timetable for his return.
General manager Brandon Beane didn't lock Jones in as a starter, per NewYorkUpstate.com reporter Ryan Talbot. "He's not just going to necessarily go right to the top of the line," Beane said. "He'll have to earn his way. Part of that will just be just getting his feel. He's only played with Nathan Peterman. He has not got to play with Josh Allen or AJ yet. So that bond there will just have to form."
Buffalo didn't add any big-name receivers during free agency, and Kelvin Benjamin goes into a contract year. Nonetheless, Jones will need to turn heads in August in an effort to earn the No. 2 wideout spot for the upcoming season.
Carolina Panthers: OG Amini Silatolu
It's the circle of life at the left guard spot. The Panthers selected Amini Silatolu in the second round of the 2012 draft. He started 15 contests as a rookie but tore his right ACL in the following season after three appearances. As a rookie undrafted free agent, Andrew Norwell cracked the roster in 2014 with nine starts.
Silatolu started three games that Norwell missed during the 2015 campaign but finished the season on injured reserve with a torn left ACL. He spent the 2016 term with the Chicago Bears but failed to make the 53-man roster. Last offseason the interior lineman returned to the Panthers on a one-year deal, and the team re-signed him after losing Norwell to the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency.
It's a setup for a perfect comeback story, but Silatolu must stay healthy and beat multiple competitors for the left guard spot, per Bill Voth of the team's official website. He tweeted, "[Ron Rivera] says Amini Silatolu will 'be at top of the list' at LG when training camp starts. But … 'I'm looking forward to seeing who steps up.' Adds there [are] about five guys truly in the mix."
Realistically, 2017 second-rounder Taylor Moton, who offers versatility as a right tackle or interior lineman could make a legitimate push to win the position. However, Silatolu can keep the Western Michigan product in a backup role with a strong showing at training camp.
Chicago Bears: WR Kevin White
Sidelined his rookie season, wideout Kevin White has appeared in just five games over the last two seasons. A stress fracture in his shin, fractured fibula and fractured left shoulder blade kept him on the sideline in each respective campaign.
The Bears don't have a clear idea of White's ceiling due to the injury disruptions in his career. An impressive training camp won't shed a significant amount of light on his upside, but it's important for the 25-year-old to grasp head coach Matt Nagy's offense with Taylor Gabriel and rookie Anthony Miller vying for top spots at the position alongside Allen Robinson.
General manager Ryan Pace also made note of the coaching staff changes that may have affected White's development, per Dan Pompei of The Athletic:
"One thing that's hard for Kevin, besides the injury, is we've been through three receiver coaches. We've changed the offense. It's a transition for any player from college offense to NFL, but it especially applies to receivers because the route tree is so much more demanding, the terminology increases so much."
If White remains healthy, he could still contribute to the offense and salvage his free-agent market value.
Cincinnati Bengals: WR John Ross
We know. John Ross' 4.22-second 40-yard dash time makes him the fastest straight-line asset in the league, but does he possess the tools to develop into a starting-caliber wide receiver?
Ross appeared in three games during his rookie year and didn't record a single catch. He worked out with former Cincinnati Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh to help him mentally prepare for the upcoming season.
Houshmandzadeh discussed, via Geoff Hobson of the team's official website (h/t Cincy Jungle), how a lack of self-assurance could affect Ross' play. "I don't care you didn't play well last year. The ninth pick and you're not playing, you're going to lose confidence ... I'm trying to bring that back to him."
Ross flashed during OTAs, but he must carry that renewed confidence into training camp to put a disastrous rookie campaign behind him. As the No. 9 overall pick in the 2017 draft, the 40-yard-dash king will continue to feel the pressure in Cincinnati.
Cleveland Browns: WR Corey Coleman
Wideout Corey Coleman broke his right hand twice in consecutive seasons, which limited him to 19 games.
After the Cleveland Browns acquired Jarvis Landry in a trade and selected Antonio Callaway in the fourth round of April's draft, the third-year pass-catcher could become an expendable asset, per Cleveland.com reporter Mary Kay Cabot: "Coleman's first two seasons have been disrupted by broken hands, but he has to step it up this season. If someone makes the Browns a decent offer, I believe they'd trade him."
The Chronicle-Telegram's Scott Petrak also points out "doubts remain about Coleman's work ethic and football intelligence." Keep in mind the Browns still have Josh Gordon on the books for at least another season.
For Coleman, a strong summer could solidify his spot on the Browns roster or help the front office orchestrate a trade deal. Either way, he needs to shake off a rocky start to his professional career.
Dallas Cowboys: DL Jihad Ward
Defensive lineman Jihad Ward's tenure with the Oakland Raiders went sour pretty quickly. He entered the league as a 2016 second-round pick with upside and struggled in 13 starts as a rookie then appeared in just five games last season.
Ward moved across the defensive line but couldn't find much success stopping the run or reaching the quarterback in two seasons with the Silver and Black.
The Dallas Cowboys decided to send wideout Ryan Switzer to the Raiders for Ward in hopes of bolstering the front line. Defensive tackle David Irving's four-game suspension for violating the performance-enhancing drug policy provides the Illinois product with a fresh opportunity to establish himself as a key component in the trenches.
Furthermore, David Helman of the team's official website doesn't expect Dallas to re-sign Irving after his second PED suspension: "It is obvious why the Cowboys did not want to sign him long-term this offseason, and it seems highly unlikely they will commit to him in the future. My guess is the Cowboys try to get the best out of him for 12 games and then wish him well."
If Ward flashes through training camp, he could stand at the front of the line for a sizeable role and a promising future in Dallas.
Denver Broncos: RB Devontae Booker
The Denver Broncos released C.J. Anderson, which opened a spot for the featured role in the backfield. Initially, Devontae Booker seemed primed for a larger workload as the lead ball-carrier, but the front office selected Royce Freeman in the third round of April's draft and signed rookie undrafted free agent Phillip Lindsay.
There's nothing wrong with adding competition to push a veteran, but a portion of the fanbase already expects Freeman to win the starting job through training camp. But not so fast.
Booker can turn heads in six weeks to stave off the competition. Despite averaging fewer than four yards per carry in the past two seasons, the third-year ball-carrier has a head start on claiming the majority workload over the two rookies.
The 26-year-old doesn't show an explosive burst, but Freeman isn't exactly a burner himself, logging a 4.54 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine. Don't sleep on Booker coming on strong when the team reconvenes to finish the offseason program.
Detroit Lions: CB Teez Tabor
Detroit Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson has only missed one start in the past two seasons, but we could see changes with head coach Matt Patricia taking over the reins.
Teez Tabor took first-team reps during the Lions' mandatory minicamp. It's not to say the lineup sticks, but it's a move in the right direction for the Florida product.
Despite his lack of foot speed, Patricia's defensive scheme may suit Tabor's strengths as a big physical cornerback (6'0", 201 lbs) over Lawson (5'9", 192 lbs) on the perimeter.
Tabor had a nondescript rookie year, playing just 190 snaps and starting one game. He knows there's room for growth but kept a positive outlook, per Detroit Free Press reporter Orion Sang. "I felt like my rookie year, I got better every day," Tabor said. "And that was my goal, just because early on I wasn't really (doing) anything right. Couldn't get a ball down. [I] couldn't cover [anybody]. But just got better every day in my rookie year."
DeShawn Shead, who started 16 games with the Seattle Seahawks during the 2016 campaign, signed a one-year deal with the team and adds competition. Nonetheless, the coaching staff will likely have a keen eye on the 2017 second-rounder's development in August.
Green Bay Packers: CB Kevin King
There's buzz surrounding the Green Bay Packers' rookie cornerbacks, Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson, but defensive pass game coordinator Joe Whitt projected the "real Kevin King" would emerge this year.
The No. 33 overall pick from the 2017 draft battled a shoulder injury until he landed on injured reserve in early December. The ailment likely put a cap on King's ability to show his true potential.
He's been limited to individual drills through the early portion of the offseason program. Nonetheless, Whitt hopes to see the second-year cover man go full throttle for training camp, per ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky.
"Hopefully he'll be full-go in training camp," Whitt said. "He's been really attentive; he's worked his butt off in the workroom. The guys in the workroom are just raving about the way his work ethic hasn't necessarily changed, but from Year 1 to 2 you grow up, and he's matured that way."
King can't afford to fall behind in a position race. Alexander and Jackson could earn significant snaps as rookies. The Packers welcome back Tramon Williams on a two-year deal, and Quinten Rollins looks for a bounce-back season in a contract year. King can't afford to fall behind the competition.
Houston Texans: OT Julie'n Davenport
Rookie offensive tackle Martinas Rankin underwent foot surgery, and he's not expected to take the practice field during training camp, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. The third-rounder's absence puts a brighter spotlight on second-year pro Julie'n Davenport to shine as quarterback Deshaun Watson's blindside protector.
Fortunately, head coach Bill O'Brien had a positive assessment on Davenport through the early phases of the offseason, per Sports Radio 610: "He really did a good job in the time that he was away from here working out because when he came back here, you could tell he was in shape and ready to go. I think he's had a good spring. He just needs to try to keep getting better every day."
Initially, Rankin and Davenport headed toward a training camp battle to secure the left side; now it's likely the latter's position to lose even with the addition of Roderick Johnson, per ESPN's Field Yates. The 2017 fourth-rounder started four games during the previous term. He could quell the team's concerns about replacing Duane Brown with a solid finish to the offseason.
Indianapolis Colts: DE John Simon
John Simon, who had been lining up at linebacker, has experienced some proverbial bumps in the road while transitioning to defensive end, per Indianapolis Star reporter Stephen Holder. "Perhaps no player was more adversely affected by the defensive scheme change than Simon, leaving him in what feels like a precarious position."
Typically, there's an adjustment period needed to grasp new schemes. It's premature to completely write off the sixth-year veteran.
However, Kevin Bowen of ESPN 1070 The Fan suggests the 27-year-old sits on a delicate roster bubble going into training camp. "In the spring, Simon has hardly seen any starting reps. With a crowded defensive end group, Simon is competing more so for a roster spot, than a starting position, at this point in the offseason."
The Colts have several players set to secure roster spots across the defensive line, including Jabaal Sheard, Denico Autry, Kemoko Turay, Tarell Basham, Tyquan Lewis and Anthony Johnson. Despite Simon's early struggles, he can turn the page with better practices in August.
Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Donte Moncrief
For wideout Donte Moncrief, it's about showing off his potential in a pivotal year. He tallied 64 receptions for 733 yards and six touchdowns during the 2015 campaign but saw a production decline in each of the past two terms.
Now, on a one-year deal with the Jaguars, Moncrief has a prove-it year to leverage for a long-term deal on the 2019 free-agent market. The 24-year-old will face stiff competition for targets at a position with several budding talents.
Marqise Lee should lead the group after he re-signed with the team on a four-year pact. Jacksonville selected wideouts in back-to-back drafts—D.J. Chark in the second round this year and fourth-rounder Dede Westbrook last offseason. Keelan Cole looks to build off a surprisingly productive 2017 season in which he led the team with 748 yards.
With the exception of Chark, the pass-catchers mentioned above have already established a rapport with quarterback Blake Bortles. Moncrief has to make up some ground during the summer to see a decent amount of targets in the regular season.
Kansas City Chiefs: CB David Amerson
Cornerback David Amerson signed with his third team in six seasons. The 26-year-old has flashed with his previous two teams but failed to progress over sustained periods.
The Washington Redskins selected Amerson in the second round of the 2013 draft, and he put together a decent rookie campaign with eight starts before opposing quarterbacks torched him the following season.
Washington waived Amerson two weeks into his third campaign, and the Raiders claimed him. He went on to lead Oakland's defense in pass breakups with 26 in 2015.
Amerson's production trended downward in each of the following two terms in Oakland. He suffered multiple concussions during the past season, and a foot injury kept him on the sideline.
Now fully healthy, the sixth-year pro could help strengthen the Kansas City Chiefs secondary, which ranked in the bottom half in yards allowed over the last two campaigns. The Chiefs traded Marcus Peters to the Los Angeles Rams. Terrance Mitchell led the defense in pass breakups with 18 last season. He signed with the Browns in March.
Amerson's past history could influence the front office to immediately cut ties if he stumbles early. Kansas City selected cornerback Tremon Smith in the sixth round of April's draft. Another concussion or lingering injury also could potentially put Amerson's NFL career in jeopardy.
Los Angeles Chargers: OG Forrest Lamp
Los Angeles Chargers guard Forrest Lamp could miss training camp after undergoing an additional cleanup procedure on his knee after an ACL tear cost him the entire 2017 season.
General manager Tom Telesco shared an optimistic perspective on Lamp's recovery but didn't offer a timetable. Ricky Henne of the team's official website relayed the executive's words from a live chat. "Forrest is progressing, so that is good news. His frame of mind is very confident as well. I don't have any firm timelines on when he will start working full but everything is positive right now."
Lamp tore his ACL in the first week of last season's training camp. It's important the 2017 second-rounder takes some practice reps in preparation for the regular season. The Chargers selected Dan Feeney in the third round of the same draft. The team expected the interior linemen to add toughness and reshape the offensive line for years to come.
The Chargers signed center Mike Pouncey to strengthen the interior. Feeney should progress in his second year. Nonetheless, Lamp's interior presence and a good showing could show potential to balance an offense that ranked first in passing yards and 24th in yardage on the ground last season. After missing most of training camp last offseason, the front office would probably like to see some promise in a high draft pick.
Los Angeles Rams: LB Cory Littleton
Cory Littleton deserves a mention for a different reason than players looking to bounce back off lackluster seasons.
In fact, the Rams linebacker has flashed through OTAs and minicamp as a standout, per ESPN.com's Lindsey Thiry: "Coach Sean McVay said Littleton 'immediately stepped in' during the offseason program and that he has done a 'great job communicating' in a position that requires a leader."
Furthermore, Ventura County Star reporter Joe Curley notes the 24-year-old has been calling the defensive plays at practices. It's a golden opportunity at a wide-open spot next to Mark Barron on the second level of the defense.
Littleton saw an increased workload toward the end of the previous season. Assuming the third-year linebacker continues to string together good practices, he's likely to secure a sizeable role to start the 2018 campaign.
Miami Dolphins: LB Raekwon McMillan
There's so much talk about how the Miami Dolphins need to replace defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh's impact, but multiple players have an opportunity to fill that void, including Davon Godchaux, Jordan Phillips, Akeem Spence and Vincent Taylor.
The Dolphins need a middle linebacker to set the tone for the defense, and the responsibility falls squarely on Raekwon McMillan's shoulders coming off a torn ACL. He suffered the knee injury in the team's first 2017 preseason game.
Due to Suh's absence up front, it's important for the Dolphins to field an instinctive downhill defender who can limit long gains on the ground.
With McMillan on the sideline, Miami didn't have that proverbial "quarterback of the defense" on the second level. Even though he's yet to play a regular-season game, the Ohio State product needs to show he's on track to fill that void.
Minnesota Vikings: WR Laquon Treadwell
For a 2016 first-round pick, expectations go beyond an impressive offseason. Nonetheless, wideout Laquon Treadwell absolutely needs to establish his presence with quarterback Kirk Cousins.
The former Mississippi standout has yet to reach the end zone as a pro. He took the field for 500 snaps during the previous year and finished with just 200 receiving yards.
Cousins joins the Minnesota Vikings on a clean slate. Wideout Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs took significant strides during the previous term with Case Keenum under center. Both pass-catchers should continue to progress, but Treadwell has an opportunity to build a strong rapport with a new face.
The Vikings signed wideout Kendall Wright, who will likely push the third-year pass-catcher for snaps in three-wide receiver sets. If Treadwell jumps out as a reliable target in early August, he could see an expanded role in the offense.
New England Patriots: OT Trent Brown
The New England Patriots acquired offensive tackle Trent Brown in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers as a potential replacement for Nate Solder on the blind side. Through OTAs, he's manned the spot with rookie Isaiah Wynn at left guard.
ESPN.com's Mike Reiss captured a teaching moment between the Patriots offensive linemen and their position coach at mandatory minicamp. "Dante Scarnecchia furious in run-game work, pulling LT Trent Brown and LG Isaiah Wynn for [a] missed assignment. Let's them have it. Then has them sit."
Earlier in the offseason, Scarnecchia put Wynn in the conversation for starting left tackle, but Brown looks to have the initial nod to secure the position.
After starting 28 games with the 49ers and lining up primarily on the right side, Brown's training camp performances could either solidify his role or reopen the possibility of Wynn sliding to the perimeter.
New Orleans Saints: DE Marcus Davenport
Due to the New Orleans Saints' investment in defensive end Marcus Davenport, a first-round rookie makes the list. As we all know at this point, the front office dealt the Nos. 27 and 147 picks in April's draft plus a 2019 first-rounder for the University of Texas at San Antonio product.
The rookie pass-rusher received the first taste of the intensified buzz around him when he injured his thumb, per ESPN.com's Mike Triplett. "I guess a lot of people made it bigger than it is. … I had people texting me, 'Get well soon,' hoping for a speedy recovery. And I'm like, 'Nothing happened. But OK."
Despite the need for surgery, the team expects Davenport to heal in time for training camp, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Everything the 21-year-old does will factor into whether New Orleans made a mistake or not in the decision to trade up for him. There's no doubt the Saints would like to see Davenport flash the potential they saw on his collegiate tape to justify sending two first-rounders to the Packers.
New York Giants: RT Ereck Flowers
According to ESPN.com's Jordan Raanan, the New York Giants put offensive tackle Ereck Flowers on the trade block. Obviously, Big Blue didn't receive an offer that moved them to execute a deal. Now, the player and team must move forward in preparation for a season filled with changes.
For the most part, Flowers struggled on the left side. Head coach Pat Shurmur's staff plans to start him on the right. Thus far, he's shown positive signs, according to NJ.com reporter Matt Lombardo: "After returning to the offseason program for the final OTAs and practicing during mandatory minicamp, former left tackle Ereck Flowers -- at first unhappy with his forced position change -- is impressing teammates and coaches at right tackle."
Non-padded practices don't provide a clear indication of how Flowers will play during the regular season, but it's a step in the right direction. It's important that he continues to look impressive in his transition to change the unflattering narratives on his career. Secondly, the Giants don't have much depth at the position.
New York Jets: QB Teddy Bridgewater
Going into his age-39 campaign, quarterback Josh McCown knows his career is nearing its end. At some point, rookie passer Sam Darnold will lead the New York Jets offense. Signal-caller Teddy Bridgewater has more at stake.
The former Viking stood out during OTAs, per ESPN.com's Rich Cimini: "It's still early -- very early -- but one player, in particular, has generated a legitimate buzz at One Jets Drive -- quarterback Teddy Bridgewater."
It's possible Bridgewater doesn't play a single snap for the Jets during the regular season. So, it's crucial he shines whenever taking the field, even during summer practices.
The 25-year-old could garner enough interest to prompt a trade to a destination with a clear path to the starting spot. Gang Green would also have an opportunity to acquire a middle-round draft pick. It's a potential win-win situation for the team and player.
Oakland Raiders: WR Seth Roberts
The Raiders reshaped their wide receiver corps, signing Jordy Nelson, acquiring Martavis Bryant and Ryan Switzer in separate trades and selecting Marcell Ateman in the seventh round of this year's draft.
In addition to the acquisitions at wide receiver, Oakland also shopped wideout Seth Roberts during the draft, per The Athletic's Vic Tafur.
According to Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Michael Gehlken, there's fear within the organization the league may suspend Bryant under the substance abuse policy. Nonetheless, Tafur tweeted the 26-year-old pass-catcher hasn't missed or failed a drug test, and the league remains mum on the situation.
Bryant's absence would seemingly extend Roberts' stay in Oakland. However, if Switzer and Ateman find their way in head coach Jon Gruden's offense, the 27-year-old could still find himself on a roster bubble ready to burst.
Despite signing an extension last summer, Roberts may not suit up for the Silver and Black in the upcoming season, but he could land on a team with more interest in his skills than the Raiders after turning heads in August.
Philadelphia Eagles: RB Wendell Smallwood
Despite allowing LeGarrette Blount to walk during free agency, the Philadelphia Eagles have a deep running back stable. For predictions on the 53-man depth chart, write Jay Ajayi's name in pen. Corey Clement logged 444 yards from scrimmage and six scores during the 2017 season, and then he came up huge in Super Bowl 52 with four receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown. There's a spot for him on the roster.
The Eagles re-signed 35-year-old Darren Sproles, who's likely to contribute as a receiving threat out of the backfield and punt returner.
The remaining spots at running back seem fluid going into training camp. Wendell Smallwood's production dropped from his rookie to sophomore year. He also racked up healthy scratches toward the end of the previous campaign.
Smallwood will compete with Donnel Pumphrey, a 2017 fourth-rounder who sat out his rookie season due to a torn hamstring. Matt Jones brings veteran experience as a former starter for the Redskins in 2016.
Undrafted rookie Josh Adams hasn't practiced because of a foot injury, but he's another competitor in Smallwood's path to a roster spot. Nondescript training camp performances would certainly hurt the 2016 fifth-rounder's chance at securing a stable role in the backfield.
Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Artie Burns
Cornerback Artie Burns started all 16 games and logged 13 pass breakups along with one interception last campaign. Still, there's no room for complacency, especially with a versatile defensive back flashing in his absence.
Cornerback Cameron Sutton, a 2017 third-rounder, battled a hamstring injury and only suited up for five contests last season. He's lined up outside, inside, in dime packages and at safety during OTAs and minicamp, according to Lauren Kirschman of PennLive.com.
Sutton isn't an immediate threat to Burns, but the 23-year-old understands he must perform at his best in August.
"Everybody should be going into the offseason knowing in their mind that they got to get better," Burns said, per Ben Padanilam of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Because when camp comes, it's all guns firing. Everybody's got to fight for their roles, and everybody [should] want to go back home with the mindset of getting prepared."
Burns didn't take a major leap in his second season. He also missed the last two OTA practices, which allowed the coaching staff to take a longer look at Sutton with the starters.
Burns needs a solid training camp, or he'll begin to hear whispers about Sutton on the rise.
San Francisco 49ers: RG Joshua Garnett
2016 first-round pick Joshua Garnett struggled through 11 starts after taking over for Andrew Tiller at right guard during his rookie year. At times, he put the quarterback in precarious situations, allowing pressure up the middle, and he drew six infractions. Nonetheless, he was a first-year player learning the ropes. His struggles weren't a surprise.
Garnett underwent knee surgery, which led to a lost second season. According to Joe Fann of the team's official website, head coach Kyle Shanahan expressed his pleasure with the Stanford product's conditioning:
"I've been very proud of how he handled his year off. Some guys when they go through that, they can get down, especially with the surprise for him when it happened. He really took advantage of his year off. I think he's changed his body. I think he's lost weight and added some muscle. By doing that, you're faster, you're more athletic. I don't believe he's lost his power either because it's been the right type of weight."
Garnett will be looking to establish a spot on a revamped offensive line with newcomers Weston Richburg at center and 2018 first-rounder Mike McGlinchey at right tackle. The third-year guard must show he's able to keep the interior pressure at bay with Mike Person and possibly Jonathan Cooper challenging him at training camp for the starting spot at right guard.
Seattle Seahawks: OL Germain Ifedi
After offensive line coach Tom Cable's departure in January, the Seattle Seahawks hope to see significant improvements with the same players under Mike Solari.
Germain Ifedi has been the subject of criticism for his play on the right side at guard and tackle. He goes into the upcoming season as a projected starter on the perimeter, per Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.
"The team's plan is for Ifedi to stay at right tackle," Condotta wrote. "That doesn't mean he will be handed the job—the Seahawks are going to give George Fant a long look there too. But the Seahawks also seem to be indicating that the job is Ifedi's to lose."
A slow start for Ifedi will open the door for the 2016 undrafted pickup, who started 10 games on the blind side during his rookie year before missing last season with a torn ACL.
Ifedi will have a long leash with the starters, but it's critical that he impresses Solari before the team decides to shuffle the deck.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Donovan Smith
Left tackle Donovan Smith has struggled through three seasons, and still, offensive line coach George Warhop's support remains strong, per Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times.
"I don't think I'd take anybody in his draft class over him, nobody, in terms of a tackle," Warhop said last month. "Then you start evaluating him with other left tackles in the league. I have to really think about it, but I can count on one hand how many guys I would like to have to replace him."
Typically, a coach can extract some positives from subpar play, though Warhop acknowledged that Smith needs to show more consistency.
Head coach Dirk Koetter's praise for Cole Gardner, who filled in for Smith during portions of the offseason program, adds more pressure.
"That guy's one of the biggest surprises, probably, of our offseason," Koetter said, per Auman.
If Smith misses time in August, keep an eye on the left tackle spot. He needs a strong year from start to finish to keep his job and gain steam in a contract season.
Tennessee Titans: DE/LB Kevin Dodd
Kevin Dodd essentially put the spotlight on himself when he decided to train at home instead of building an early rapport with the Tennessee Titans' new coaching staff during voluntary OTAs.
The decision doesn't help a player who's struggled to make an impact in his first two seasons. He played 92 snaps during the 2017 campaign.
The 25-year-old joined the team for mandatory minicamp and practiced with the defensive line instead of the outside linebackers, per A to Z Sports Nashville. Keep in mind the Titans traded up for edge-rusher Harold Landry in the second round of this year's draft.
Whether it's with his hand in the dirt or standing up, Dodd must leave a positive impression on head coach Mike Vrabel's staff. Failure to do so would further bury the third-year pro on the depth chart.
Washington Redskins: CB Fabian Moreau
The Washington Redskins signed 10th-year veteran Orlando Scandrick during the offseason to compensate for the loss of Kendall Fuller (trade to the Chiefs) and Bashaud Breeland, who remains a free agent.
For the most part, Scandrick served as the Cowboys' primary slot defender over the last decade. Washington needs a solid cover man opposite Josh Norman on the back end.
Cornerback Fabian Moreau took the field for 59 snaps last season, but the Redskins need him to take a significant leap, which would allow Scandrick to play to his strength in the slot.
Defensive backs coach Torrian Gray highlighted the UCLA product's work ethic, per Washington Times reporter Matthew Paras. "At some point this year, he's going to have to contribute to us. Again, he's got a learning curve that's gotten better. He's been great in the meeting rooms, taking to stuff out here to the field."
Despite Gray's encouraging early outlook on Moreau, the 2017 third-rounder must translate what he's learned into playmaking ability during padded practices and stay healthy. In 2015, the UCLA product suffered a Lisfranc injury in his left foot three contests into the season. He later tore his pectoral at his pro day.
The injuries likely dealt a blow to his draft stock. Nonetheless, the coaching staff hopes to see starting-caliber potential in Moreau after he served as a core special teamer in the previous campaign.