NFL Training Camp: 20 Questions Still To Be Answered
The first preseason games are officially behind us, and now teams and fans are in full gear as everyone ratchets up for Week One of the regular season.
However, there are still a number of pertinent questions to be answered for we can get there.
Quarterback battles, contract disputes, and new faces in new places make up just some of the questions that still need answers.
We take a look some of the most pressing matters around the NFL with these 20 questions still left to be answered during training camp.
20. Can Jason Campbell Lead a Resurgence?
The Raiders have five quarterbacks on the roster in camp, but it is Campbell who is the leader in the clubhouse.
Campbell is being looked upon as the guy who can turn around the Raiders' wayward seasons under JaMarcus Russel and the litany of other quarterbacks before him.
The Raiders have enough talent on the roster that many analysts believe they can make a surprise jump in 2010. Will Jason Campbell lead the way?
19. Can The 49ers Seize The Initiative?
The departure of Kurt Warner from Arizona has left a power vacuum at the top of the NFC West.
The Cardinals are breaking in a new quarterback. The Seahawks are under a new a regime, and the Rams are, well, the Rams.
The door is now open for the 49ers to assert themselves as the divisional favorite after a couple of years as the sports media's sexy pick.
Can Alex Smith's hopeful development lead the 49ers back to the top of the division?
18. Can Matt Ryan Bounce Back?
Ryan went 9-5 as a starter in 2009 despite nagging injuries. However, even in those 14 games, Ryan suffered what can be considered a sophomore slump due to an increase in interceptions and a drop in his rating.
The Falcons, who went 9-7 in 2009, want to get back into the playoffs but that means going through New Orleans to do so.
Can Ryan overcome somewhat of a disappointing season and be the constant big-play threat he was during his 2008 rookie season?
17. What Will Sam Bradford Offer?
Bradford had a shaky NFL debut, going 6-for-13 for 57 yards in the Rams' preseason opener. He now has three more weeks to learn on the job before he is thrown to the lions in Week One.
The Rams have won six games over the last three seasons and need their new franchise quarterback to learn quickly if they have any shot of being anything more than a doormat in 2010.
The Rams will give Bradford every opportunity to pick up the game as quickly as possible. Will that be enough to avoid an ugly start to the season?
16. How Hot Is Jack Del Rio's Seat?
The Jaguars have gone 12-20 over the last two seasons since Jack Del Rio led his club to the playoffs in 2007.
Now, his seat is at least warm if not hot, and there are questions as to just how long he can last in Jacksonville if the Jaguars get off to a poor start.
The Jaguars have question marks at wide receiver and the play of quarterback David Garrard hasn't exactly been inspiring.
Del Rio knows this is the most important preseason of his career. Will he and his players respond?
15. What Will The Giants Running Game Provide?
The Giants' great seasons in 2007 and 2008 were predicated by a punishing, consistent running attack. That attack nearly evaporated in 2009 due to injuries and the often ineffective play of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.
Both had offseason surgeries to correct their problems and now both plus either D.J. Ware or Andre Brown are expected to shoulder the load for a running game that needs to get back to its previous form. But will it?
Jacobs' size isn't bound for longevity while Bradshaw's smaller stature isn't built to be a workhorse. Will the Giants regain the right combination and bring balance to the offense that led them to so much success in 2007 and 2008?
14. Will Receivers Develop Around Donovan McNabb?
Donovan McNabb has a lot of wide receivers to work with, but so far none has stood out as the definitive No. 1 option for the new Redskins quarterback.
Santana Moss returns as the home run hitter but there are still questions regarding Malcolm Kelly and whether or not Devin Thomas can emerge as a No. 1 threat.
Joey Galloway was signed as a veteran option but expectations are low for him. Can McNabb's presence expedite the development at receiver?
13. Who Is QBing In Buffalo?
Trent Edwards entered camp as the No. 1 guy in Buffalo, but that does not exactly create a lot of confidence. Edwards has been spotty during his tenure as Buffalo's main option but the alternatives aren't much better.
Journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick and the inexperienced Brian Brohm will push Edwards, but it is like Edwards retains his job.
Nevertheless, can Edwards show enough to keep his competition at bay or will Buffalo head into the final week of camp still unsure about who is taking snaps as the No. 1 guy?
12. Can The Jets Back Up The Talk?
We've heard a lot of chirping coming out of Jets camp so far this summer, but with all the big mouths in the Jets locker room, the HBO Hard Knocks special and all the favoritism thrown the Jets way, can the team back it up?
Yes, it was only preseason but the Jets 31-16 loss to the Giants in the opening of New Meadowlands Stadium (by the way when is the "New" going to be dropped?) was still a pride-swallowing night for the league's most brash team.
The last thing many say this team's lacks is confidence. They better show it on the field.
11. Who Will Win the Panthers QB Battle?
Matt Moore entered training camp as the incumbent, but the Panthers sent Moore a message by drafting Jimmy Clausen in the second round of the 2010 draft.
Neither really stood out during the Panthers' preseason opener, meaning Moore should not, by any means, feel this job is his.
It may be Moore's to lose, but Moore is definitely in the middle of a quarterback battle that could land Clausen as the number one guy come Week One.
Will Moore hold off the rookie? I believe it would still be something of a surprise to see Clausen take the first snap of the regular season. We will have our answer over the next few weeks.
10. Can Jay Cutler and Co. Pick Up Mike Martz`s System?
Mike Martz has gushed over the talent he sees in quarterback Jay Cutler. Will Cutler prove him right?
The Bears quarterback must rebound from a 2009 season when he took the collar for a number of losses, not to mention throwing 26 interceptions.
Martz was brought in as offensive coordinator to add creatively to the Bears offense which coaches hope will at least catch up to the Green Bay Packers.
The Bears don't have the raw weapons Martz enjoyed in St. Louis. Can Cutler develop quickly enough to make that less of an issue?
9. What Of The Chargers Hold-Outs?
Wide receiver Vincent Jackson and left tackle Marcus McNeill have so far shown no movement to ending their current holdouts.
The Chargers, tired of the playing the waiting game, have reportedly threatened to slap both with three-game suspensions upon their return because of the holdouts.
Jackson, who is already suspended three games by the league, and McNeill could both sign sooner if pushed hard enough by the threat of suspension.
But if their holdouts carry over into the regular season, how will the Chargers respond without their biggest weapon on offense and the man paid to protect Philip Rivers' blindside?
8. Can Ryan Mathews Carry The Load?
Speaking of the Chargers, they are working to break in 12th overall pick Ryan Mathews as the successor to LaDainian Tomlinson.
The Chargers desperately need to improve upon the 3.3 yards per carry they averaged last season and bring balance to an offense that became too pass-happy last season.
No one can reasonably expect Mathews to step in and produce like Tomlinson had his peak, but Mathews will be relied on not only to push 1,000 yards on the ground but provide versatility out of the backfield.
7. Will Big Ben Get Enough Reps?
Ben Roethlisberger was held out of the team's first preseason game, but has been officially tabbed as the starter for the Steelers next preseason game this weekend against Giants.
Roethlisberger is suspended for the first six games of the season which means he needs to get ready now in order to come back in mid-October. Now Steelers coaches must decide how many reps is enough.
They can't give Roethlisberger so few that he remains rusty and they are unlikely to leave him out on the field long enough behind a second or third-team offensive line to risk injury.
The Steelers need to find the right balance of reps for their franchise quarterback over the next three weeks of camp.
6. Can Matt Leinart Command The Cardinals Offense?
Arizona quarterback Matt Leinart has big shoes to fill. Leinart takes over for Kurt Warner and is being looked upon to assert himself in the Cardinals offense as a former first-round pick should.
The Cardinals offense will look and run differently with Leinart, who lacks Warner's quick release, and without Anquan Boldin.
The Cardinals enter 2010 fresh off the first back-to-back postseason appearances in franchise history. Can Leinart keep the momentum, or will Arizona suffer a dramatic regression?
5. What Role Will Michael Vick Play?
The Philadelphia Eagles are now Kevin Kolb's team, but that doesn't mean head coach Andy Reid doesn't have a plan for backup Michael Vick.
What that plan is exactly remains a significant question. Reid has intimated that he intends to use Vick more than the five to seven plays he ran with Vick last season.
But what role will Vick fill? Will Reid allow Vick to see at least a fair amount of time as a passer, or will Vick simply remain a wildcat quarterback who will pass the pall in short, safe patterns while remaining a running threat?
4. What About The Broncos Quarterback Situation?
Kyle Orton is the No. 1 man in Denver, but how will Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels utilize his new favorite toy in Tim Tebow?
Tebow, who may quickly assert himself as the backup following a very rocky showing by Brady Quinn in the team's first preseason game, could be looked as a passer or as a running threat especially in the red zone.
The Broncos didn't draft Tebow simply to have him wear a headset all season. The Broncos fans want to see Tebow, and McDaniels wants to use him. How that combination manifests itself on the field will be an interesting storyline.
3. Will Tom Brady Get His Extension?
The biggest question in Patriots camp is when, because it couldn't be "if", the Patriots and Tom Brady will work out an extension.
The Patriots are notoriously stingy when it comes to securing veterans for the long haul, but Brady is obviously a special case. The franchise's most decorated player will be playing for a comparatively meager $3 million this season with no security blanket for the future.
Will the Patriots balk because of impending labor turmoil? Just how serious of hardball is Brady and his camp will to play? Someone is going to have to budge in this staredown.
2. What Will Brett Favre Provide?
Boy, I know you were all losing sleep over it, but Brett Favre is officially back in Vikings camp and ESPN reporters couldn't trip over themselves fast enough to cover the story.
but what will Favre, who now enters his 20th season in the league, give the Vikings? Is it too much to expect him to replicate what was one of the best seasons of his career in 2009? And what about the ankle he hemmed and hawed about throughout much of the offseason? Will that hold up?
The Vikings are increasing the guaranteed money in Favre's contract to get him back in uniform. Will the future Hall of Famer again be able to back up all the hysteria?
1. Will Darrelle Revis Sign?
If you saw the last week's season premiere of HBO's Hard Knocks you saw a Jets front office that was not confident it could give Revis, the team's best player, the contract he desires.
The Jets and Revis are still apparently quite a ways apart on an agreement and now there are legitimate beliefs Revis will not be in camp by the time the season starts.
The Jets' league-best defense simply will not be the same without Revis and that means the Jets as a team cannot be as good as advertised without him.
Will the Jets go beyond their public statements and give Revis the contract he wants, or will Revis submit and sign a contract for less money than he desires?