The Stack has a special post on this Saturday as we continue to preview NFL teams heading into training camp. With the Olympics now officiallly underway after last night's opening ceremony, we also have some thoughts on that too so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Saturday, July 28:
Indianapolis Colts begin new era at the start of training camp
It's the dawn of a new era, a new horizon of Indianapolis Colts football. Last year, with Peyton Manning out after neck surgery, the Colts went through a disasterous 2-14 season which brought about the number one pick and with it they took Andrew Luck. He is the new face of Colts football. How will he do this year? How will the Colts fare?
Camp battle to watch: On a bad team, you're going to have lots of position battles for starting spots so from wide receiver to cornerback to linebacker even, the Colts will have plenty of spots and battles.
Storyline #1: Luck era begins. How will Andrew Luck fit into the Peyton's shoes? Obviously, this is a new era and Colts fans should not expect Luck to be like Manning or have immediate success. But considering that Luck was the highest rated player coming out of college since I don't know Peyton Manning, there is some pressure on him to make the Colts a winner again and fast.
Can't miss fantasy player: Really, there are none but if you have to go with one, go with running back Donald Brown. The Colts will have to rely on their running game and with Brown being the starter, he's going to get a majority of the carries.
Stay away from: Reggie Wayne. As good as the long-time Colts wide receiver is, defenses will hound in on him knowing that Luck will look to get the ball to the best offensive player on the field.
St. Louis Rams begin Jeff Fisher era
The Rams have endured a bad stretch recently...a really bad stretch. As in 15-65 over the last five seasons. So it is with great excitement that they have head coach Jeff Fisher joining their team after a year away from the game. He's instilled renewed optimism in the franchise and the team. What will that mean for this year?
Camp battle to watch: Just like the Colts, the Rams are a bad team with a lot of different battles that will yield various starting positions. Cornerback depth is an issue and some help is needed to solidify some spots on the offensive line and linebacker. It is going to be an interesting camp to see who takes a stranglehold of these positions.
Storyline #1: Jeff Fisher's immediate impact. Fisher had a long tenure with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans so he knows a thing or two about making a franchise successful. The Rams need that. But will Fisher be able to turn the Rams around right away and make them a competitive team that will make a run at the NFC West this year? I doubt it.
Storlyine #2: Sam Bradford. Bradford a good rookie season, but struggled mightily last year. Injuries were a huge contributing factor. The new coaching staff is behind Bradford 100 percent, but he must take that next step forward and stay healthy and make plays for the Rams to win some more games and let him keep his starting job.
Can't miss fantasy player: Steven Jackson. The running back does it all. He is the Rams offense. Take him in the third round of your draft if he is still around. He'll get you a bunch of points.
Stay away from: Sam Bradford. Until he stays healthy and until the entire offense develops some more chemistry, Bradford isn't going to put up sensational numbers. Draft him as a backup only if you dare.
Tennessee Titans open training camp
The Titans open up training camp seemingly the team destined to finish runner up to the Texans in the AFC South. At least, that is the pick from many football people. The Titans will have something to say about that, especially if running back Chris Johnson returns back to his old self after a terrible year last year. What will happen as Titans camp opens?
Camp battle to watch: Quarterback. Matt Hasselbeck vs. Jake Locker. Hasselbeck is a seasoned veteran and some believe that Locker still has some more learning to do before becoming a decent quarterback. Yet others believe that Locker has made enough progress to warrant being the starter. It is a battle that will likely go throughout camp. It is extremely close.
Storyline #1: Quarterback battle. Mentioned it above, but who is going to be the Titans quarterback? To this point, I don't think anyone has any real idea.
Storyline #2: Is Chris Johnson going to return to his former self? No question, last year was a disappointment for Johnson and the Titans need him to come back strong, especially if Locker wins the starting job and wide receiver Kenny Britt is suspended after his DUI arrest earlier this offseason. Johnson says he will be back 100 percent, so was last season a fluke after he got paid big or is there something more that Jonhson isn't saying? I don't think we'll see the old, old Johnson, but we won't see last year's Johnson either.
Can't miss fantasy player: Chris Johnson. Was going to go tight end Jared Cook who should have a monster year again, but Johnson is out to prove the doubters wrong. You'll want him if he's still around in the third round.
Stay away from: Kenny Britt. He suffered an ACL injury last year and with a suspension possible, he is not worth taking until the middle to later part of the draft as no better than a three receiver.
Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders previews on Sunday.
Opening Ceremony underway in London
The thirtieth Olympiad (XXX) got underway with the opening ceremonies Friday night in London, the third time the city has hosted the Olympics. No other city in the world can claim such a feat. Compared to Beijing four years ago, they were not good. Then again, who can compete with Beijing in '08. We will never ever see such a dazzling display like that again. Some highlights and lowlights from Friday's showcase included:
- Showing the countries history was alright, the real grass was kind of neat.
- The welding of the one ring that eventually joined together with four other rings that came from across the stadium to form the Olympic logo was very cool.
- The bedtime skit...definite bust.
- Except for the giant 100 foot Lord Voldermart. That was cool.
- Another disaster, the techno generation skit. What was that?
- The parade of nations was awesome again as it usually is. And the pace was near record time compared to normal. That's so much better.
- The brass pedals were confusing, perhaps because I missed what Bob Costas said about them at the beginning of the parade. Didn't make sense until the torch lighting.
- Nice concept of having the next generation run with the torch and pass it on to one another in the stadium.
- What was up with all of the talk about David Beckham with the Olympic torch? He didn't do diddly apart from driving with it in a speeboat. Big deal.
- I agree with ESPN's Michael Wilbon in his column. No Elton John? Really?!!
- The queen looked less than thrilled to be at the opening ceremonies. She sounded so unergetic when she said let the games begin. I know she's old, but really? Come on!
- Paul McCartney was awful. Sounded bad, didn't look great. Perhaps the acoustics were bad. I'm being generous here. Your thoughts?
Over the next sixteen days, the NBC family of channels will have wall-to-wall coverage of the Olympics. CNBC, MSNBC, NBC Sport Network and NBC all have coverage today and tomorrow. Check your local listings and http://www.nbcolympics.com/ for all information on events, TV coverage and more. It's your one-stop shop for everything Olympics. We'll be talking more about it in the days to come. You can be sure of that.
Coming up Sunday: More training camp preview and Olympic highlights