NFL training camps are finally upon us. Some teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders had veterans report last week, but most veterans across the league will report to training camp tomorrow.
Due to the changes in the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, we no longer have to think about and wait to see who may be holding out. Instead, we get to see more players at camp, all competing to earn or maintain roles with their teams.
Just because there are no more holdouts doesn’t mean there is a lack of important storylines heading into camp. Plenty of rookies and veterans are fighting for spots. There are also rookies and veterans battling against each other for reps and positions on the depth chart. It is this type of work that makes teams better come September.
With the regular season right around the corner, there are several key talking points and storylines surrounding teams. As we head into the first full week of training camp for most teams, here are some stories and points to follow.
Who will be the Starting Right Tackle for the Dolphins?
Austin Jackson was the feel-good story of the 2020 NFL draft and was drafted by the Miami Dolphins at 18th overall in round one. He was selected with franchise quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and cornerback Noah Igbinoghene as the start of a new era in South Beach.
In reality, though, Jackson has gone through some growing pains. The previous coaching regime couldn’t get him to reach his potential. That doesn’t mean Mike McDaniel and his staff have given up on him.
McDaniel will bring his efficient outside-zone run scheme and west-coast passing system to Miami. McDaniel’s scheme, which relies on having an athletic offensive lineman, could allow Jackson to reach his full potential this season. However, if he doesn’t pan out, general manager Chris Grier did draft Liam Eichenberg in round three of the 2022 NFL draft.
Grier and the Dolphins are aware that Tagovailoa is the future of the franchise at this point. In order for him to take the next step, he needs consistent offensive line play. The competition for the tackle jobs should bring out the best in the group they have currently.
Throwing Eichenberg into the competition with Jackson, Larnel Coleman, and Robert Jones makes for a compelling battle between young players. In terms of NFL training camps and the battles they bring, this should be at the top of the watch list.
Expect the Slow and Steady Approach with Kenny Pickett
During the Pittsburgh Steelers’ OTA workouts this summer, Kenny Pickett was not getting much in the form of meaningful reps. Free agent signee Mitchell Trubisky has been getting the bulk of the first team reps, and Mason Rudolph has been getting a lot of the backup work.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a franchise that looks for the perfect mix of new and old when it comes to developing young talent. Upper management has always been more than patient and the coaching staff isn’t on the hot seat. So why not take the slow approach with a rookie quarterback rather than throwing him to the wolves of the AFC North? The Steelers have faith in him, just don’t read into him coming out of training camp as the third quarterback on the depth chart.
Skyy High Expectations for Chiefs Rookie Heading into Camp
The Chiefs traded star receiver Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins this offseason, and in their efforts to replace him they signed both Marques Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster and followed that up by drafting Skyy Moore in round two of the 2022 NFL draft.
While both Valdes-Scantling and Smith-Schuster are proven NFL veterans, a lot of the excitement around Moore is what is being talked about. The excitement started around the Chiefs’ rookie minicamp where Pete Sweeney of Arrowhead Pride shared Andy Reid’s thoughts on the rookie.
Andy Reid liked what he saw in Moore Saturday: "He looked smooth out here… strong. His leg looked like it held up pretty good. He's got those big legs — different than a lot of receivers. He's got like running back legs. But he was smooth. Good hands… catches it easy."
— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) July 23, 2022
If he can get a connection built with Patrick Mahomes starting this week, he could serve as a versatile weapon early on in his career. While it may be hard to replace Hill, it may not prove to be impossible if they hit on Moore.
Antonio Gibson Hoping to Add Explosiveness
Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera hasn’t minced words about how he sees his crowded running back room. He stated earlier this offseason he wants to use the “plethora” of running backs the team has. Antonio Gibson doesn’t seem too keen on sharing the rock this upcoming year.
Gibson seems to have taken the idea of a running back committee as a challenge as he told Pete Hailey of NBC Washington. He told the media, according to Hailey, he dropped his body fat percentage from 18 to 12. He did so in hopes to gain his “quick twitch” ability back while also making him more durable. It will be interesting to see what Gibson does with the training camp and preseason reps he gets in the coming weeks.
Running Backs Bouncing Back From Injury
Two teams with running backs looking to have big impacts this upcoming season are the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins. James Robinson and Raheem Mostert both were ruled healthy today and won’t be on the PUP list to start camp.
Ari Meirov of PFF took to Twitter to break the news on Robinson, who is coming off an Achilles tear in week 16. He will be looking to spark the Jaguars’ offense the way he did his rookie season, this time with former first-round pick Travis Etienne. Both of them working together out of the backfield should be a welcome sight to Trevor Lawrence as they should provide some relief to him during his sophomore campaign.
As for the Dolphins, it was discussed above about their position battle at right tackle, but they also have to figure out their running back rotation during training camp. Raheem Mostert, coming off a knee injury that sidelined him for nearly the entire year, also used Twitter to announce his clean bill of health.
GM everyone! Wanted to give you all an update…
Yah Boy is CLEARED!!! It’s go time!!
— Raheem Mostert (@RMos_8Ball) July 25, 2022
The Dolphins could use the explosiveness that Mostert used to make a name for himself. He could be a great compliment and change of pace to both Chase Edmonds and Myles Gaskin. McDaniel and Mostert come to Miami from San Francisco where they had a great relationship established. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Mostert receive a lot of carries early in camp and the preseason if he’s fully healthy.