It’s hard to believe next Sunday we will finally have a football game as the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers kick off the preseason at the Hall of Fame game. Like most of you, if I had any downtime this weekend I found myself flipping on NFL Network’s live training camp coverage. Unfortunately, this viewing choice yielded very little in the terms of substance but heck, there was football in some form on my television so that was enough for me.
Before long, I found myself wandering off and doing other things around the house, leaving the volume up enough just in case there was a break in the droning sound of the panel of voices to alert me to some breaking news or a full on training camp melee. Unfortunately, or fortunately I suppose, all we were treated to was a quick Dez Bryant melodrama that was more ho-hum than holy cow. I guess it truly is back to business so it’s time for me to do the same. This week’s “Outkicking the Coverage” is going to give you a quick weekend recap of the biggest on and off the field stories in the NFL.
Off the Field – The Bills suspended offensive line coach Aaron Kromer for his involvement in an ugly incident involving beach chairs, fishing and Florida that occurred just before training camp kicked off. While Kromer was able to avoid any legal charges in the matter, coach Rex Ryan and the Bills elected to set the tone for his tenure and drop the hammer on the former Chicago Bears offensive coordinator.
On the Field – The quarterback competition has been extremely lackluster and former first-round pick E.J. Manuel is failing to make any kind of positive impression in the early going. Tyrod Taylor is holding his own with the second team and Matt Cassel has yet to face plant, giving him the edge on the starting gig.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Off the Field – Oh, not much has been going on off the field in New England. Just your typical leaked emails berating the league for failing to address their own leaks in DramaGate and a bunch of other boring legal stuff.
On the Field – Nobody wants to head down the rabbit hole that is drafting a New England running back, but so far LeGarrette Blount missed the first day of camp after failing his conditioning test, while on the other side James White is getting first crack at the third down role. Needless to say, we have a long way to go in figuring this out, if we ever do.
NEW YORK JETS
Off the Field – Third-year stud Sheldon Richardson found himself in quite a predicament when he evaded police at an extremely high rate of speed, was found with a firearm under his seat while the car reeked of marijuana with a minor in his Bentley. Somehow he was able to avoid any felony charges and will continue to work with the second team while he awaits to serve his four-game suspension for failing a drug test. Not a good spot to put yourself in when your potential replacement was just drafted sixth overall.
On the Field – While Geno Smith laughs at being ranked 32nd in an ESPN list of best quarterbacks, he lost a potential weapon early on as second-round wide receiver Devin Smith will miss the next 4-6 weeks with three broken ribs and a punctured lung after lunging for a ball in practice.
Off the Field – After being the talk of free agency when they landed Ndamukong Suh, the Dolphins’ biggest snafu this offseason has been a clerical error in Josh Freeman’s contract resulting in the Dolphins releasing and resigning the quarterback most likely not to make the roster.
On the Field – There was some hope in the media that the Dolphins’ first-round wide receiver DeVante Parker would be able to participate in camp but he is still very questionable to be ready Week 1.
Off the Field – Defensive End Derek Wolfe was suspended the first four games for performance enhancing drugs.
On the Field – General manager John Elway wants Peyton Manning to have a new friend. That friend will be C.J. Anderson and the run game. Elway didn’t have to look far to see what a dominant run game can mean to an aging all-everything quarterback looking to make one last hurrah.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Off the Field – We received awesome news this week as Eric Berry was found to be cancer-free after his 2014 season ended prematurely. Getting him back on the field is an extremely good bonus.
On the Field – The Chiefs started off camp with great news for their secondary, then bad news for their defensive line as Dontari Poe is out indefinitely following back surgery. The Chiefs picked up the fifth-year option on the still very young and improving nose tackle and are left looking at over the hill veterans to fill the void.
Off the Field – It’s been relatively quiet in Oakland as coach Jack Del Rio looks to turn around this wayward ship.
On the Field – While Latavius Murray is garnering all of the early camp praise, the Raiders’ shot in the dark on Trent Richardson seems to be going the way we’d all expect it would. Richardson is now no better than 50–50 to make the roster and I think everyone would be surprised at this point if we see anything positive on the field from Richardson.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Off the Field – Antonio Gates shocked the world, or at least the fantasy football world, by getting suspended four games for performance enhancing drugs. In his place, the Chargers will look toward finally getting post–hype candidate Ladarius Green involved.
On the Field – While Melvin Gordon predictably struggles with pass protection, as most rookie running backs are prone to be, Danny Woodhead is quietly reemerging as a points per reception option in the Chargers offense.
Off the Field – Besides some passive aggressive shots at the New England Patriots’ ineligible man strategy when coach John Harbaugh claimed that the Ravens were working on all kinds of formations, legal and illegal, because they couldn’t take for granted that the officials on the field would know the difference, it’s been rather quiet in Baltimore.
On the Field – Rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman has opened camp with the starters where Ravens fans and beat writers will lose their minds every time he drops a pass.
Off the Field – Head Coach Marvin Lewis has publicly stated that he will walk away from the team once he is able to hand owner Mike Brown a Super Bowl trophy, so in other words, Lewis will be coaching the Bengals until he dies.
On the Field – Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is threatening to open Pandora’s box and unleash the beast that is the “red rifle.” Andy Dalton will look to silence his doubters as he looks to rebound from a so-so 2014 campaign but all anyone wants in Cincinnati is a playoff win.
Off the Field – On the same day Tom Brady was handed his DeflateGate news, Le’Veon Bell was handed some big news as well getting a game shaved off his previous three-game suspension. With only two games to be missed, Bell’s average draft position has been on the move back to the top of the draft board.
On the Field – Everyone has been counting on a breakout season for second-year wide receiver Martavis Bryant but an elbow surgery will sideline him at least for another week. With Bryant on the shelf, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers are turning their attention to Markus Wheaton, who Roethlisberger predicted will be Pittsburgh’s breakout player in 2015. Things are a bit muddy at the moment opposite Antonio Brown.
Off the Field – Owner Jimmy Haslam has publicly thrown support behind Johnny Manziel once again but this time it appears that he realizes Manziel has a long way to go before he can become the face of the franchise.
On the Field – The Browns have picked up right where they left off in the backfield with Terrance West, Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell all rotating up and down the depth chart. To make things even more fun, the Browns have begun giving Terrelle Pryor first team reps at wide receiver.
Off the Field – The Texans are prepping for their time in the limelight with HBO’s Hard Knocks crew in tow. NFL Network is doing the best they can to showcase Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, putting him on a microphone for a taste of what’s to come. Feel the excitement.
On the Field – The quarterback battle between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett might be over before the first episode of Hard Knocks at this rate as Hoyer is out to a very comfortable lead although there’s a decent chance both quarterbacks will start at ometime this season.
Off the Field – Andrew Luck is a Sunday Ticket pitch man this year. He has a long way to catch the Manning brothers in this department.
On the Field – Although the drafting of speedster Phillip Dorsett was a surprise, most pundits have looked to T.Y. Hilton’s expiring contract as a reason for the selection. However, news is breaking as camp opens that the Colts and Hilton are in negotiation for a long-term deal. A happy Hilton should make fantasy owners happy as well.
Off the Field – No one has heard a peep from Justin Blackmon and no one expects to.
On the Field – Don’t look now but the Jaguars have gotten themselves a nice young team developing down in Jacksonville. Allen Robinson has reportedly been on a tear in camp and T.J. Yeldon continues to impress while being counted on to be a three-down running back.
TENNESSEE TITANS –
Off the Field – The Titans avoided disaster by finally getting Marcus Mariota under contract. Speak of disasters, Justin Hunter did himself no favors as the wide receiver position in Tennessee got very crowded very fast. Luckily for Hunter, the Titans appear to be looking past his off the field transgression.
On the Field – Click here.