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The Stack is here on this Wednesday and training camps are in full swing.  Twelve teams open up camp.  I've documented six of them so far.  Now let's take a look at the other eight teams who are opening up camp today in "the stack" for today, Wednesday, July 24:

Denver Broncos training camp preview

One of the Super Bowl favorites opens up camp today. Peyton Manning shocked a lot of people last year with how well he played coming off of multiple neck surgeries.  Now the Broncos enter 2013 as one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl or at the very least appear in it.  That's a lot of pressure on them.  Let's take a look at some training camp storylines as the Broncos open up training camp today in Englewood, CO:

  • Von Miller's suspension.  News of Miller's suspension Monday is certainly a distraction for the Broncos.  Who will they find as a suitable backup?  Miller says he is innocent.  Yeah right.  He's going to be suspended for at least a couple of games.  Adding to more uncertainty, Denver released linebacker Joe Mays Tuesday saving themselves $3.5 million and the Broncos' starting linebacker lineup is looking very interesting.
  • Have the Broncos gotten over the Ravens loss?  Every time you see a replay of the "Rocky Mountain Rainbow" as ESPN's Chris Berman dubbed it, you become more amazed.  How did safety Rahim Moore let Jacoby Jones get behind him?  Manning didn't play all that great either, but the loss to Baltimore in double overtime certainly stings.  They should be over it, but until they play games for real or even until they win a playoff game, last year's playoff loss will still linger. 
  • Who will emerge as the starting running back? Knowshon Moreno had an injury plagued year and the Broncos got rid of Willis McGahee. Will Moreno be the starting running back or will someone else step up and be ready to carry the load?  Ronnie Hillman played some last year and the Broncos drafted Montee Ball out of Wisconsin. Will he take over right away?  Who wants it?  That's going to be a very interesting battle to watch.

The Broncos full schedule can be found here.  Here are a few interesting notes on their schedule:

  • The Broncos are made for national television.  They have five primetime games this year (Week 1 VS Baltimore 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 3 VS Oakland 8:40 PM ET ESPN, Week 7 @ Indianapolis 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 12 @ New England 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 15 VS San Diego 8:25 PM ET NFL Network (Thursday night)).
  • A couple of big reunion games highlight the Broncos' schedule.  Peyton Manning returns to Indy in week 7 and new wide receiver Wes Welker returns to New England week 12.
  • Where as the Broncos ended with two home games last year, this year they will end with two road games (@ Houston, @ Oakland).

This is a big year for the Broncos.  Lots of expectations.  Super Bowl or bust?  They certainly think so.

 

San Diego Chargers training camp preview

We stay in the AFC West with a look at the Chargers.  They have a new coach this year in Mike McCoy who came over from Denver.  The Chargers were a very under-acheiving team last year and in other years under Norv Turner.  They start fresh this year.  Will it yield to new results when training camp starts today at Chargers Park in San Diego:

  • Who will emerge from the pack at WR? There are a number of good wide receivers on this roster; Vincent Brown, Malcolm Floyd, Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal, etc.  They don't scream star or big time number one wide receiver though.  A trio needs to stand out and show the new coaching staff that their ready for the responsibility.  If not, it wouldn't be surprising to see a few of these guys get cut.
  • Can Ryan Mathews stay healthy?  The Chargers had big expectations for Mathews when they drafted him out of Fresno State a few years back, but between fumbling issues and injuries, he hasn't made the impact the Chargers have been hoping for.  This may be his last chance to prove that he is the right man for the starting running back spot.  He needs to stay healthy and work hard.
  • Is Philip Rivers still elite?  No question the past couple of years haven't been great for Rivers.  He's thrown way too many interceptions and hasn't been clutch when the Chargers need him to be. This could be the fresh start he needs, but it also may be the last chance for him to rpove that he is one of the best quarterbacks still in the NFL.

The Chargers full schedule can be found here.  Here are a few interesting facts on their schedule:

  • Three nationally televised games for the Chargers this year (Week 1 VS Houston 10:15 PM ET ESPN, Week 6 VS Indianapolis 8:40 PM ET ESPN and Week 15 @ Denver 8:25 PM ET NFL Network (Thursday night)).
  • Former Broncos offensive coordinator and current Chargers head coach Mike McCoy squares off against his former team twice once in week 10 and the other in week 15.
  • The Chargers schedule is difficult.  Road heavy to start, but if they can stay afloat, four of their final five games are at home.  That could prove to be big for them.

Going to be an interesting year for the Chargers.  Plus with the stadium issues they have, folks in San Diego may be a little worried for multiple reasons.  Could be a long year in San Diego.

 

St. Louis Rams training camp preview

The St. Louis Rams find themselves in a difficult spot.  They're definitely a better team under head coach Jeff Fisher, but they find themselves in a division with the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, two of the top five teams in the league.  They have a good defense.  Can the offense pick it up?  Here are a few storylines as the Rams open up training camp today at their practice facility in Earth City, MO:

  • Will Sam Bradford take the next step? Bradford has struggled with injuries and lack of weapons his few years in the league.  But the Rams have added weapons on offense this offseason through free agency and the draft and they need Bradford to pick up his game to be competitive in the NFC West.  I think he can.
  • How will the Rams use Tavon Austin?  He was one of the top offensive rookies in the draft.  The Rams traded up to get him and they will use Austin in a variety of ways you would think.  Slot, backfield, returning kicks and punts.  He's a weapon and the more the Rams use him, the more succesful their season will be.
  • Stadium cloud hangs over the Rams.  While the Rams are focused on football, plenty of eyes remain fixated on the St. Louis Visitor's and Convention Bureau and what they will do to try and talk with team about building a new stadium for the team.  The Rams can leave when their lease is up in 2014.  Will the Rams head back to L.A.?  Will the team suggest their own plan and present it to the city?  Until a resolution comes to head, the stadium situation will linger over this team.

The Rams full schedule can be found here.  Here are a few interesting facts on the Rams schedule:

  • The Rams have two nationally televised games this year (Week 4 VS San Francisco 8:25 PM ET NFL Network (Thursday night) and Week 8 VS Seattle 8:40 PM ET ESPN).
  • Jeff Fisher squares off with his old team, the Tennessee Titans week 9 at home.
  • The Rams play the entire AFC South before their bye week in week 11.

The Rams have a dogfight ahead of them.  They could be a surprise, but beating Seattle and San Francisco will tell us a lot more about them.

 

San Francisco 49ers training camp preview

The 49ers were so close to a sixth Super Bowl championship last year.  Perhaps a non pass interference call away.  That loss will linger with them for quite some time unless they make it back to the big game and they certainly have the talent and the roster to do that.  Here are some storylines as the 49ers open up training camp today at their headquarters in Santa Clara, CA:

  • Can Colin Kaepernick have a repeat of last year? Midway through the year, Kaepernick was on the bench until Alex Smith suffered a concussion against the Rams and Kaepernick came in.  From that moment on he was the starter.  His playoff performance against the Green Bay Packers in which he rushed for a playoff record 181 yards as a quarterback still is one of the best ever.  Teams will keen in though on the option style offense that the 49ers employed last year.  Kaepernick is going to have to make those adjustments.  Plus with his new found stardom, he's got to remain focused on the game.  Big year ahead for Kaepernick.    
  • When will we see Marcus Lattimore?  The rookie running back suffered a gruesome knee injury at South Carolina last year.  He has worked his butt off to get into a position where he would be drafted and make it to an NFL camp.  He's still got a way to go, but with as much talent and heart as this guy has, he instantly becomes a fan favorite and someone NFL fans outside of San Francisco can cheer for.  Hope we see him sooner than later.
  • Will the defense return to form? They suffered in the Super Bowl and were never the defense of the previous year.  Age has something to do with that, but the 49ers need to be better than last year if they want to win the Super Bowl.  Seattle is tough.  St. Louis has an improving offense.  The NFC South, who the 49ers play this year, has some potent offenses.  That defense needs to come back to form.

The 49ers full schedule can be found here.  Here are a few interesting facts about their schedule:

  • The 49ers become must see TV this year.  They have five primetime/nationall televised games in all (Week 2 @ Seattle 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 4 @ St. Louis 8:25 PM ET NFL Network (Thursday night), Week 5 VS Houston 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 12 @ Washington 8:40 PM ET ESPN and Week 16 VS Atlanta 8:40 PM ET ESPN).
  • The 49ers play the entire AFC South before their week 9 bye and play the entire NFC South after the bye week.
  • The 49ers ended the season last year at home against Arizona.  This year they end on the road at Arizona.

Big things are expected from the 49ers last year.  Sometimes, losing the Super Bowl is a curse for the team the next year.  The 49ers want to make sure that that doesn't happen.

 

Seattle Seahawks training camp preview

If the San Francisco 49ers are worried at all about winning the NFC West, it's because of Seattle and what they're doing.  The Seahawks have a terrific young nucleus of talent and they keep making moves.  They traded for wide receiver Percy Harvin.  They got defensive end Cliff Avril and cornerback Antoine Winfield.  After being so close to beating the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs, the Seahawks are hungry and want more.  Here are some storylines as they head into training camp today at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, WA:

  • Will Russell Wilson take a step back?  While his division counterpart Kaepernick played only half of the season, Wilson played the entire year and while he really blossemed towards the last half of the year, he played good throughout the entire year.  He had the respect of the locker room.  He threw for 26 touchdowns and ran for almost 500 yards.  Will he top that this season?  Possibly.  Adding Harvin is huge, but the style of offense that the Seahawks runs means that they can take advantage of Wilson's skill set.  He was amazing as a rookie and you can't expect him to be that good every year, but Wilson looks like he'll be able to build on the success of last year and have another successful year.
  • What do the Seahawks have planned for Harvin?  They made a big splash trading for the at times eccentric wide receiver from the Vikings, but Harvin seems happy to be with his new team and he is one of the most versatile weapons in the NFL.  You can line him up all over the field.  He can return kicks.  Yes sometimes he isn't all there mentally and his attitude can blow up with a snap of the finger, but so far Harvin has been a great teammate and the Seahawks most likely will show in training camp what sort of plan they have for him.
  • Do the Seahawks have the best secondary in the league?  If not, they are certainly in the top three. Cornerback Richard Sherman says he's the best corner in the league.  Their safeties are great.  And they added Antoine Winfield.  That's going to be tough for anyone to throw against.  But sometimes the hype leads to failed expectations.  How they conduct themselves in training camp and build chemistry with all of the other additions on defense will be a telling sign of the season to come.  They have some lofty expectations they helped place on themselves.  They need to have a good camp and set the tone for the season.

The Seahawks full schedule can be found here.  Here are a few interesting facts on their schedule:

  • Sometimes teams in the northwest are ignored.  Not Seattle, at least this year.  Four nationally televised games this year (Week 2 VS San Francisco 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 7 @ Arizona 8:25 PM ET NFL Network (Thursday night), Week 8 @ St. Louis 8:40 PM ET ESPN and Week 13 VS New Orleans 8:40 PM ET ESPN).
  • Like the Bengals, the Seahawks have the latest bye possible in the NFL this year with their bye falling on week 12.  Could be an advantage for them if they're having a good year.  If not, it won't.
  • The Seahawks play the entire AFC South in four consecutive weeks, weeks 3-6.

No division race is being talked about as much as the Seahawks and 49ers battle for the NFC West.  It makes for an absolutely fascinating year for both teams.  They're Super Bowl contenders.  Going to be fun to watch the Seahawks this year.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp preview

Year one under the Greg Schiano era wasn't the best, but the Bucs did make strides.  They're in a tough division though.  Will year two be any better?  Here are some storylines as the Bucs open up training camp today at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa:

  • What should we expect from Darrelle Revis?  The Bucs traded for Revis in the offseason.  Revis tore his ACL in week 3 last year against Miami.  He hasn't played in a game since.  He is one of the top two cornerbacks in the league.  The Bucs need him to be able to help shut down the passing attacks from the likes of Atlanta and New Orleans in their division.  How will he look in training camp?  All Bucs fans will have their eyes looking at him...as will Jets fans.
  • Will Jeff Demps play for the Bucs?  The team traded for Demps, sending LaGarrette Blunt to New England for Demps.  Demps is going to miss part of training camp while running in the world championships as he is a track star having ran at Florida.  Could this mean bigger and better things for Demps on the track and will that mean that his football aspirations are put on the backburner?  If he joins Tampa Bay, they have a speedster that they will look to get the ball to.  We haven't seen Demps play in the NFL yet, but you can only imagine what he can do with his speed.  It would be a blow to the Bucs if something happens to him on the track.
  • Is this a make or break year for Josh Freeman?  The Bucs haven't exactly backed their starting quarterback and said that they want to re-sign him.  He needs to wow them this season and that may mean getting the Bucs above .500 and maybe even a playoff spot.  He threw for over 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns last year, but turnovers plagued him, 17 interceptions and 10 fumbles.  The team needs to see him wow them in training camp and set out to prove that he deserves a new contract.  If the Bucs struggle this year, Freeman may be looking for work next year with a new team.
The Bucs full schedule can be found here.  Here are a few interesting facts on their schedule.
  •  Two primetime games for Tampa Bay this year an increase over the one they had last year (Week 8 VS Carolina 8:25 PM ET NFL Network (Thursday night) and Week 10 VS Miami 8:40 PM ET ESPN).
  • Revis faces his former team, the New York Jets, right away to open the season week 1 in New York.
  • Ending with two road games isn't great, but the Bucs won't face any inclement weather as both games are in domed stadiums (Week 16 @ St. Louis and Week 17 @ New Orleans).  Could be big if the Bucs are in contention for a playoff spot.

It's going to be tough to break through the NFC South with the Falcons and Saints looming large.  The Bucs have their work cut out for them.  They're ready to do it.

 

Tennessee Titans training camp preview

Like the Bucs, the Titans have a tough time trying to break through their division with the Texans reigning supreme the past couple of years and the Colts looking like they will be a mainstay for years to come under Andrew Luck.  There are some good pieces in place, but still questions abound on this team.  Let's take a look at some storylines as the team opens up training camp today at Baptist Sports Park in Nashville, TN:

  • Will Jake Locker take that next step?  The Titans camp seems to be very happy with Locker and think he can take that next step this year.  Still though, doubts remain on just how good Locker will be.  Is his delivery faster?  What about his decision making?  This isn't a make or break year yet for Locker, but the team needs him to step up right away as training camp begins and you better believe there will be eyes on him from both fans and the media.
  • Will we see the 2K CJ or the other CJ?  Chris Johnson was decent last year after a subpar year before that, but he hasn't looked like the Chris Johnson that ran for 2,000 yards three years ago.  He continues to say that he is one of the best running back in the NFL, but he isn't consistent.  Johnson needs to have a dynamite year and he needs to have that attitude right away at the beginning of camp.  If Johnson has a great year, the Titans could surprise.
  • Can the defense improve?  They have to.  It's that simple.  They ranked in the bottom fourth of the league in passing and rushing yards allowed.  They don't really have a big name on defense either, but they must develop a rapport in training camp and show that they will be able to stop teams like Houston and Indianapolis in their division.  Easier said than done, but until the defense improves, the Titans won't be going too far.

The Titans full schedule can be found here.  Here are a few interesting facts on their schedule:

  • The Titans don't have any nationally televised games outside of the Thursday night NFL Network game that almost every team receives unless they play on Thanksgiving.  That game is week 11 VS Indianapolis 8:25 PM ET NFL Network.
  • The Titans play twice against both the Colts and Jaguars after their bye week in week 8.  In fact, they play the Colts twice in three weeks (weeks 11 and 13). 
  • The Titans have a three game homestand (SD, NYJ, KC) and a three game road trip (OAK, IND, DEN) one of only a few teams in the league that has that.

 
Washington Redskins training camp preview

No doubt that the Redskins are back in the minds of mainstream USA.  Most of it can be attributed to RGIII, but also thanks to a playoff birth, folks are going crazy for and about the Redskins.  Is a repeat in store?  Was last year's NFC East title just the first of many?  A lot hinges on the health of RGIII who suffered a torn ACL in the playoff game against Seattle.  Let's take a look at some training camp storylines as the Redskins kick off their training camp today at Bon Secours Training Center in Richmond, VA:

  • RGIII's health.  It's that simple.  How is Robert Griffin III's knee?  A torn ACL takes time to heal and not everyone is Adrian Peterson.  RGIII sounds like he will be good to go for the regular season opener.  The Redskins will definitely be cautious in getting RGIII back under center.  While there is some reason for him to play in the preseason, it doesn't sound like the Redskins will do that.  Don't want to risk injury.  It will take a little while to get his psyche back though and it would be absolutely stunning if he has as good a year as AP did last year coming off his torn ACL.  RGIII's health will determine the Redskins season. 
  • Will the secondary improve?  The Redskins were second to last last year in passing yards allowed last year.  That's not good and they need to improve...and quickly.  DeAngelo Hall is really the only cornerback that people have heard of.  They need training caimp to improve and build chemistry or it is going to be another long year that could mean missing the playoffs.
  • Redskins name.  While not on the field, the Redskins name is continuing to create controversy as more and more schools, lawmakers and ordinary people come out against the name.  Owner Daniel Snyder has been steadfast that as long as he is owner, the name will not change.  The more this is talked about though, it just becomes more of a distraction for the players as they will have to answer questions from the media about it.  Not a huge distraction, but a distraction nonetheless.  We should be talking about football.  Instead, it will be about the name.  And it is not going to quiet down anytime soon.  

The Redskins full schedule can be found here.  Here are a few interesting facts on their schedule:

  • The NFL is banking on the Redskins being good this year.  Five nationally televised games this year for the team (Week 1 VS Philadelphia 7:10 PM ET ESPN (Monday night), Week 6 @ Dallas 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 10 @ Minnesota 8:25 PM ET NFL Network (Thursday night), Week 12 VS San Francisco 8:40 PM ET ESPN and Week 13 VS NY Giants 8:30 PM ET NBC).
  • The Redskins have a three game home stand in weeks 12-14 (SF, NYG and KC).
  • The Redskins don't face the NY Giants until week 13 and then play them again the final week of the season.
A lot of hype surrounds the Redskins.  Will they be able to live up to it?  It depends in large part on the health of RGIII.  It's going to be a fascinating year in our nation's capital and it will have nothing to do with politics.

 

Coming up tomorrow: More NFL training camp previews

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