Training camp primer: Burning questions as NFL 2008 kicks off
Let's be honest; the NFL offseason borders on interminable. It's nearly six months long, and you can make it seven for those luckless teams that missed the playoffs. All that down time allows for a near-endless cycle of debate about the issues, questions and challenges facing each and every one of the 32 franchises that make up
But eventually the footballs do start flying again, and when the full contingent of Washington Redskins report to training camp Saturday and begin practicing Sunday, the NFL will officially be back as part of our daily landscape from now until early February. To preview what's ahead in the coming six, sweat-filled weeks, I ask nine burning questions that might not have occurred to you:
No, no, no.
Well, most of the time, anyway. Unless you get the "itch'' to play again.
No, Miami's next starting quarterback will be the winner of the
Here's a hint: Early in camp, the Colts' PUP squad (those on the physically unable to perform list) might be the strongest team in the NFL, at least on paper. There's quarterback
If you thought the Colts were reluctant to play their starters much in the preseason in years past, you ain't seen nothing yet. And you certainly won't this year, when Indy happens to have an NFL-high five of those meaningless exhibition games to slog through. Get ready for a
Hey, a party's a party, but Arizona's third-year quarterback faces a pretty sobering reality in the desert: Either he steps it up this year or Cardinals coach
Leinart broke his collarbone five games into last season and spent the rest of the year on the shelf. That makes this year's training camp doubly important for him. He's got to shake the rust off and reassert his clear-cut stature as the Cardinals' franchise quarterback. Generally speaking, year three for a young NFL starting quarterback means it's time to take the training wheels off.
Within the collective heart of the three-man Baltimore linebacking corps beats just one mantra this year: Show me the money.
The linebackers' dash for the cash should make things interesting for Baltimore's veteran-laden defense this season. The Ravens, one would think, will benefit from the chase. At least before Lewis, Scott or Suggs do.
Six weeks of good behavior is all that stands between
I don't know exactly what there is to do at night in Oxnard, Calif., where the Cowboys will return to train this year, but I'm guessing there won't be a lot of personal time built into Jones' schedule outside of bathroom breaks. After his experience of the past year and a half, when his NFL career was very much in limbo, six more weeks of waiting should be a snap.
If memory serves, it's been 30 years since an NFL head coach was whacked during the preseason. What, you forgot the Rams lowered the boom on Hall of Famer
Kiffin's job status was on life support at times during the early offseason, but even Raiders owner
Make no mistake, Davis and Kiffin can barely stand each other. But it is losses that will prompt the owner to push the eject button. The Raiders in the season's first four weeks face all three of their AFC West opponents, along with a Week 3 trip to Buffalo. If Oakland goes 0-4 or 1-3 in that span, and looks anemic on offense doing it, Big Al could tell Lane to hit the road.
Just like last year, Strahan won't be in Albany when the Giants convene next week, but that doesn't mean he won't be making news again. He's a bona fide TV commentator now, and that means he's getting paid for his opinions. Don't you just know he's going to have a few about the men in Blue? I figure mid-August is right around when he'll start flexing his verbal muscles, causing some sort of distraction for his old coach,
At the very least, you know Strahan is going to have to out-Tiki
There is that little Favre matter to untangle, but that'll get settled once
Fewer kickers and punters and snappers (Oh my!) is one of the consequences of teams no longer having the NFL Europa roster exemptions at their disposal. But when some key starters begin going down to season-ending injuries because they had to play more in preseason games, that's when the, uh, spit, will hit the fan. Count on it.
I'd say for the first time in quite a while the pressure's on the Patriots offensive line, who are now known as the Turnstile Five after the Giants defensive front repeatedly blew past them in last February's shocking Super Bowl upset. New England's offensive line got exposed in that game, and the result was quarterback
Brady makes the Patriots line look better than it really is at times because he gets rid of the ball so quickly and smoothly, anticipating pressure by calmly moving around in the pocket. Not that New England runs any slouches out there, but left tackle