More NFL training camps open and The Stack is here with more previews. We've done 14 so far, time to do some more. Isn't this a great time of year? Let's get right to them in "the stack" for today, Thursday, July 25:
Arizona Cardinals training camp preview
The Cardinals started off 4-0 last year, and then proceeded to go 1-11. Ouch! Quarterback play was awful and it ended up costing Ken Whisenhunt his job. Now new head coach Bruce Arians much try to steer the Cardinals back into contention. Can he do it? Here are some storylines as the Cardinals open up training camp today at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ:
- Is Carson Palmer the answer at QB? Last year, the Cardinals suffered through some abysmal quarterback play. See ya Kevin Kolb. Hello Carson Palmer. He hasn't been exactly great the past couple of years in Oakland, but he is a huge improvement over what the Cardinals had last year. And he is a welcome site for wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald who called last year the most frustrating year of his career. If Palmer can provide stable quarterback play, the Cardinals can be somewhat competitive in the NFC West.
- Has the offensive line stableized? The Cardinals offensive line was terrible last year which played a role in the bad quarterback play. The Cardinals tried to answer that problem by drafting guard Jonathan Cooper with their first round pick. But he can't do it alone. They need strong play from veterans like offenssive tackle Levi Brown and need other guys to steop up and take on responsibility. That chemistry needs to start in training camp. If they don't, Palmer will suffer the same fate as the Cardinals quarterbacks last year.
- Can the defense keep up their level of play? The Cardinals secondary was superb last year and their defense overall played great. Problem was, they were just tired because the offense could never stay on the field. If the offense plays better (and it is expected to be better) the defense should be able to play just as well as last year and that could mean good things for the Cardinals and their shot at a playoff spot.
The Cardinals full schedule can be found here. Here are a couple of interesting facts on their schedule:
- The NFL does not deem the Cardinals as primetime ready. Their only primetime game is the Thursday night NFL Network game VS Seattle 8:25 PM ET.
- The Cardinals play the entire NFC South before their bye week which occurs in week 9.
- The Cardinals play the entire AFC South after their bye week including three in a row after their bye week.
Not much is expected of the Cardinals this year from, well, pretty much everyone. Solid play at quarterback will certainly help boost those expectations, but in one of, if not thee toughest division in football, the Cardinals could be staring last place right in the face in the desert.
Carolina Panthers training camp preview
The last two years the Carolina Panthers have played really well the second half of the season. Problem though is that they have been terrible the first half of each of those seasons. This may be head coach Ron Rivera's last hurrah unless the Panthers have a good year. And no, there is no Super Bowl guarantee from center Ryan Kalil. Don't want a debacle like last year. As they head to training camp today at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC, here are a few storylines to pay attention to:
- Is Cam Netwon ready to ascend? Newton has a ton of talent, one of the most electric quarterbacks in the game. He hasn't always been the most mature and hasn't always been the best leader. Newton has to rise up and lead this team. His decision making also must improve. Too many turnovers. If the Panthers get that from Newton, they may be a surprise in the NFC.
- Could a bad year cost Rivera his job? It seems as though Rivera's job status has been a topic for a year or so now as he just can't quite get the Panthers to the promised land. Another bad year, or another bad start and Rivera won't be around to see the Panthers turn this thing around. There is a a lot of pressure on Rivera. He won't show it, he won't say it, but deep down, he knows the Panthers must have a good year for him to stick around another year.
- Is the Panthers defense elite? Some members on that unit certainly seem to think that they have the potential to be one of the best defenses, if not thee best defense in the league. They have a good linebacker in Jon Beason and a star in second year linebacker Luke Kuechly. They have talent along the defensive line, but their secondary could keep them from being elite. Considering they have to go against the Saints and Falcons twice, that will be a big challenge. If the Panthers defense can crack the top ten, something they think they can achieve, the Panthers will be right in it.
The Panthers full schedule can be found here. Here are a couple of interesting facts about their schedule:
- Two national televised games for the Panthers this year (Week 8 @ Tampa Bay 8:25 PM ET NFL Network (Thursday night) and Week 11 VS New England 8:40 PM ET ESPN).
- The Panthers don't face the New Orleans Saints until week 14 and then meet them again two weeks later in week 16.
- Four of the final five games are divisional games.
The Panthers face a daunting task going against the Saints and Falcons to try and win the NFC South. They appear to have a lot of talent. It's just putting it all together. That's what training camp is for. The Panthers will be an interesting team to watch this year.
Chicago Bears training camp preview
Times are different in Chicago this year. No Lovie Smith. No Brian Urlacher. Bears fans aren't use to that. The Bears have a lot of talent and with new head coach Mark Trestman, they have a couple of weeks to figure it all out as the Bears report to training camp today at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL. Here are a few storylines:
- Who will become the defensive leader? You always knew who the leader on the Chicago Bears defense was. It was Urlacher. Now that he retired because the Bears didn't want him and neither did anyone else, who will take the torch? Linebacker Lance Briggs and defensive end Julius Peppers would be the best bets and my money is on Briggs. Briggs is one of the better linebackers in the league and has been a mainstay of the Bears for a long time. While the Bears lost a cornerstone on defense, they should be ok because players like Briggs will make sure that they stay focused.
- Is the Bears offensive line stable? The offensive line has definitely not been a strength of the Bears in recent years. They need training camp to build stability along the offensive line and chemistry. They jettisoned Gabe Carimi out of town. Drafting Kyle Long out of Oregon in the first round was a surprise to many, but it shows the Bears are serious about putting together a good line. They'll figure that out in training camp.
- Will the Bears find a complement receiver for Brandon Marshall? Marshall has done it all for the Bears since he arrived. He's been the biggest weapon the Bears have in the passing game. They need to have a couple of others step up now. They have high hopes for second year WR Alshon Jeffrey. He should be able to grab one starting spot. The Bears need to find another player or two that will be a weapon for Jay Cutler.
The Bears full schedule can be found here. Here are a few interesting notes on their schedule:
- The Bears are made for primetime. They have four nationally televised games (Week 3 @ Pittsburgh 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 6 VS NY Giants 8:25 PM ET NFL Network (Thursday night), Week 9 @ Green Bay 8:40 PM ET ESPN and Week 14 VS Dallas 8:40 PM ET ESPN).
- All of the Bears road games coming in pairs of two. Four back-to-back road games.
- The Bears don't play more than three games in a row all year on the same channel (FOX).
A new regime has taken over Chicago. Bears fans want results fast, as in the playoffs. It's a tough division, the NFC North. Chicago will definitely be up for the challenge.
Detroit Lions training camp preview
The Lions had high hopes after their playoff appearance two years ago. Things did not go according to plan last year though. The Lions suffered going 4-12 though Megatron made history. This year could be just as tough too. The Lions hope to change the tone as training camp convenes today at their training facility in Allen Park, MI. Here are some storylines headed into camp:
- Can Calvin Johnson top what he did last year? His 1964 receiving yards is an NFL record. However, Megatron found the end zone just five times last year. That must change if the Lions want to have a successful year. So far no one has proven that they can stop Megatron. Expect another big year from him.
- Will the Lions establish a running game? Matthew Stafford threw it a lot last year in part because the Lions were always trailing, but also because of a lack of efficient running game. The Lions brought in Reggie Bush hoping he can help solve those issues. They'll use Bush in all sorts of different ways, but the Lions really hope he can help bring some balance to their offense. That will be interesting to watch as camp progresses.
- Is the defensive line ready to become elite? Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and even rookie Ezekial Ansah can put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They haven't always been the most consistent though. This is the unit though that must set the tone for a Lions defense that had plenty of holes in it last year. If they become a force, they could be one of the most feared defensive lines in the game and that will really help the Lions achieve more than four wins they had a year ago.
The Lions full schedule can be found here. Here are a few interesting notes on their schedule:
- The Lions only have two nationally televised games this year, their annual Thanksgiving Day game VS Green Bay at 12:30 PM ET in week 13 and week 15 VS Baltimore 8:40 PM ET ESPN.
- The Lions once again have a road heavy schedule to begin the year. Four of their first six games are on the road. Could spell doom for them before the season is halfway done.
- The Lions begin and end their year playing against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Lions are in one of, if not thee toughest division in football. If they don't improve across the board, another last place finish awaits them in the NFC North.
Green Bay Packers training camp preview
The defending NFC North champions were last seen getting run off the field by Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers. The Packers were embarrassed but they return this year as likely favorites to repeat as NFC North champs. Having said that, there are still questions regarding the team. Time to take a look at a few of the storylines entering Packers training camp which starts today at St. Norbert College in Green Bay, WI:
- Have the Packers found a run game? The Packers have struggled to run the ball the last few years. They knew they had to address that and they did so in the draft, taking both Eddie Lacy from Alabama and Jonathan Franklin from UCLA. Arguments can be made who the better running back is, but the Packers hope that they now will achieve some balance to their offense with the addition of these two running backs. Lacy is more of a power guy while Franklin has more explosiveness. Both can provide a change of pace and just what the Packers need to make them more dangerous on an already dangerous offense.
- Will losing wide receivers slow down Aaron Rodgers? The Packers lost Donald Driver to retirement and Greg Jennings to the Vikings. They really didn't add anyone in free agency, but they are bringing in six rookie free agents to camp. Yes they have James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley as the main weapons, but when you lose a couple of mainstays, that is going to hurt production unless someone rises up to the challenge. Still, Rodgers' production may fall slightly, but with a couple of new running backs, perhaps that will help Rodgers game even more.
- Can the young defense recover from last year? The Packers defense was left fighting amongst themselves in wake of their playoff loss to San Francisco. How will they recover? They have a young defense, especially in the secondary but also at linebacker and the defensive line too. They played pretty good last year, but need to take that next step this year. Training camp will help them regain confidence and chemistry. If Packers fans don't see progress, it could mean another early exit in the playoffs.
The Packers full schedule can be found here. Here are a few interesting facts on their schedule:
- As usual, the Packers have a lot of primetime games this year, five nationally televised game in all (Week 8 @ Minnesota 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 9 VS Chicago 8:40 PM ET ESPN, Week 11 @ NY Giants 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 13 @ Detroit 12:30 PM ET (Thanksgiving Day) and Week 14 VS Atlanta 8:30 PM ET NBC).
- The Packers season begins where their season ended last year, at San Francisco week 1.
- The Packers play just seven games with a noon CT or 1 PM ET kickoff.
The Packers are one of the most well run franchises in the league. They have another great shot to win the division and make it back to the playoffs. Don't doubt the Pack. Going to be another great year to see this Packers team go.
Houston Texans training camp preview
The Houston Texans have won consecutive AFC South titles, but they want more. They've lost in the divisional playoff round in each of the last two years. With Indianapolis looking like they have something going and will be around for a while, the Texans window could be closing a little bit. That means they must take advantage of the talent they have now. Can they advance further this year? Here are a couple of storylines as the Texans open up training camp today at their practice facility in Houston, TX:
- Is this Matt Schaub's last chance? Schaub has played very well for the Texans, but last year his play down the stretch was not what it needed to be for the Texans to go deep in the playoffs. If he doesn't play better, the Texans may opt to find someone else. Schaub must come into training camp with an attitude that I am going to dominate this year. He can't be satisfied with the success of the last two years. He must improve decision making as well. The Texans and their fans expect that. The quarterback play will help propel the Texans past the divisional round.
- Will Brian Cushing come back just as strong? Cushing tore his ACL last year against the Jets in what was a dirty play to many. That hurt the Texans defense a bit. He is one of the better linebackers in the league. The Texans need him to come back strong and help lead the defense again in Wade Phillips' system. J.J. Watt can't do it alone. It will be interesting to see how Cushing looks in training camp. You can bet people will have their eyes on Cushing and his knee in camp.
- When will Ed Reed play? Reed left the Super Bowl champion Ravens for the Texans, but hasn't seen the field since undergoing hip surgery and while he hopes to be back for week 1, there remains some doubt as to whether or not he'll be ready. When healthy, Reed is the best safety in the NFL. Perhaps he's fallen a peg or two due to age, but the Texans will be great in the secondary with him. He just needs to be healthy and perhaps the Texans wouldn't have signed him or been as aggressive in getting him had they known about this hip issue. He needs to show everyone that his hip is good and he has no issues or limit in his play.
The Texans full schedule can be found here. Here are a few interesting notes about their schedule:
- The NFL likes the Texans in primetime. The team has four night games this year (Week 1 @ San Diego 10:15 PM ET ESPN, Week 5 @ San Francisco 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 9 VS Indianapolis 8:30 PM ET NBC and Week 14 @ Jacksonville 8:25 PM ET NFL Network (Thursday night)).
- The Texans get a rematch with the New England Patriots who bounced them out of the playoffs last year week 13.
- The Texans don't play the Jaguars until week 12, but then play them twice in three weeks.
The Texans remain an elite NFL franchicse thanks to the last couple of years, but they need to prove a little bit more. I expect another good year from the Texans, another playoff birth, and possibly going further into the playoffs. This is definitely a legit Super Bowl contender.
Kansas City Chiefs training camp preview
Six pro bowlers equaled a 2-14 record for the Chiefs last year. But there is reason for optimism in KC. Andy Reid is the new head coach. He has a track record for success. Those six pro bowlers mentioned above. What hurts is that they are in the same division as the Denver Broncos. Here are a few storylines as the Chiefs open up camp today at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, MO:
- New coach, new results? Andy Reid was the man who ran the show in Philadelphia for a long time and he had a lot of success. He knows what he is doing. And he has inherited a roster with plenty of talented players. Reid understands the game and just having him on the sidelines will improve the Chiefs. Going to fun to see him and how he runs Chiefs training camp.
- Is Alex Smith the answer at QB? He might be, for a year. The Chiefs ranked dead last in the NFL in passing last year and establishing a solid passing attack and rapport with the wide receivers and tight ends is a must for Reid. He's found a very often times under-appreciated quarterback in Alex Smith, who had it not been for a concussion may been the one everyone was talking about as the 49ers made their Super Bowl run last year. Reid had great passing attacks in Philly. He'll need to roll up his sleeves and help the Chiefs.
- How will a new offense help Jamaal Charles? Charles was one of the best backs in the league last year, but at times the Chiefs forgot to use him. Not sure now that can happen, but now with Reid, Charles finds himself in an insanely good position. Not only is he a homerun threat to take it the distance every time he touches the ball, but Reid's incorporation of the scree game will make Charles even more lethal. This could be his best year yet. It will be fun to see how the Chiefs start using Charles in camp.
The Chiefs full schedule can be found here. Here are a few intersting notes on their schedule:
- One lone primetime game this year for the Chiefs, the one that every team gets. Thursday night, Week 3 @ Philadelphia 8:25 PM ET NFL Network.
- That game also happens to be when Reid returns to Philly for the first time since he was fired. Wonder if there will be more cheers or boos when he steps onto the field.
- Five of the Chiefs' final seven games are within the division.
Don't be shocked if the Chiefs become a playoff team this year. Division is almost entirely out of the question, but a wild card spot isn't. Things will be much better in KC this year. Fans should be very excited.
Minnesota Vikings training camp preview
Last year the Vikings stunned the NFL going from 3-13 to 10-6 and making the playoffs. Adrian Peterson amazed coming nine yards short of the all-time single season rushing record in route to his MVP season. All of that coming off of a torn ACL. This year the skeptics remain. It's the Vikings last year in the Metrodome. Everyone should be stoked for that. Here are a few storylines as the Vikings open up training camp today in Minnesota State University in Mankato, MN:
- Is this Ponder's last year to prove himself? Quarterback Christian Ponder is entering his third year in the NFL and so far the results have been mixed. Last year he played really well at times like in week 17 against Green Bay. Other games, he was awful throwing for less or just barely over 100 yards. The Vikings have upgraded the wide receiver position despite losing Percy Harvin so there should be no more excuses now. Ponder must establish himself as the quarterback of the future for the Vikings. If not, his future will be with someone else.
- Who will the new leader in the secondary be? Antoine Winfield left Minnesota for Seattle leaving the Vikings without their biggest leader on defense and the best player in their secondary. Second year safety Harrison Smith has the makings of a pretty special player, but he may be a year or two away from assuming the leadership position. Is it Chris Cook, who was suspended a couple years ago for a crime involving assaulting his girlfriend? Cook has a lot to prove this year on the field to see if he warrants a contract extension. The Vikings secondary doesn't have a lot of depth or veteran leadership. Something to definitely keep an eye on as camp begins.
- Can Adrian Peterson top what he did last year? He says he can, but if he does, the Vikings will only show that they don't have a long term solution at quarterback and no balance on offense. If the passing game develops, Peterson will see fewer guys in the box which could mean longer runs, but it is highly doubtful that we'll see him climb to within nine yards of the single season rushing record. Then again, doubt is what fuels AP. Maybe we should believe he can reach his goal of 2,500 yards. He's healthy for camp this time around.
The Vikings full schedule can be found here. Here are a few interesting notes on their schedule:
- Three primetime games highlight the Vikings schedule, an increase of two over last year (Week 7 @ NY Giants 8:40 PM ET ESPN, Week 8 VS Green Bay 8:30 PM ET NBC and Week 10 8:25 PM ET NFL Network (Thursdasy night)).
- The Vikings play in a couple of reunion games this year. Greg Jennings will play his former team, the Green Bay Packers twice in weeks 8 and 12 and the Vikings will play former teammates Percy Harvin and Antoine Winfield week 11 when the Vikings go to Seattle.
- A "home" game in London against the Steelers week 4. The Vikings final game in the Metrodome is week 17 against Detroit.
The Vikings have a lot of taleneted young players on their roster, but they'll go only as far as their quarterback takes them. If Ponder improves a lot, watch out for the Vikings.
New England Patriots training camp preview
It has been anything but a quiet offseason in New England. What with Wes Welker leaving and of course the Aaron Hernandez situation, things in New England aren't as quiet and calm as they usually are. That puts an awfully uncomfortable spotlight on the Patriots as they start camp today at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. Here are a few storylines as the Patriots head to camp:
- Aaron Hernandez cloud. Head coach Bill Belichick spoke to reporters Wednesday about Hernandez. The Patriots captains spoke about him today. Nobody went into too many specifics on Hernandez or even addressed him by name much, but if they think that this will be it, they're wrong. As the case continues to unfold and more news comes out, of course the media is going to ask the Patriots what they think. And if the Patriots struggle on offense, the media is going to ask how much they miss Hernandez's play. The team won't say much and we shouldn't expect them to. That doesn't mean the questions won't stop coming.
- How will Tom Brady bail the Patriots out? Think of the weapons the Patriots lost this offseason. Wes Welker? In Denver. Hernandez? We know. Brandon Lloyd? Still looking for work. They got Danny Amendola from the Rams and they still have The Gronk, but who knows if he'll stay healthy. Thank goodness the Patriots found a running game last year, but they need training camp to build chemistry and find new weapons for Brady. The Patriots will need Brady to play like he did when they won the Super Bowls and didn't have stars on offense. They definintely training camp for that.
- Is the AFC East up for grabs? Perhaps for the first time in a long time, the Patriots seem vunerable. With Miami's splash in free agency and the talent they brought in, the gap seems like it is closing. Philadelphia brought in a bunch of big free agents a couple of years ago and it didn't pan out and it might not for Miami, but with what has happened to New England, this might just be the year that the Patriots dynasty starts to end. Until they go down, the Patriots remain top dogs, but that might not last long and that is something they have to worry about.
The Patriots full schedule can be found here. Here are some interesting notes on their schedule:
- Once again, the Patriots are made for primetime with five nationally televised contests (Week 2 VS NY Jets 8:25 PM ET NFL Network (Thursday night), Week 4 @ Atlanta 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 11 @ Carolina 8:40 PM ET ESPN, Week 12 VS Denver 8:30 PM ET NBC and Week 16 @ New England 8:30 PM ET NBC).
- The Patriots begin and end their season against the Buffalo Bills.
- The Patriots play both teams they played in the playoffs last year (@ Houston Week 13 and Week 16 @ Baltimore). They'll also reunite with Welker week 12 when Welker returns to New England as a Bronco.
The Patriots normally are one of the most intriguing teams in the NFL. This year, they will be intriguing for another reason. We should never doubt a Belichick coached team, but this year he'll have to really use his magic. It's going to be an interesting year up in New England.
New Orleans Saints training camp preview
There's definitely a different vibe as the Saints enter camp this year. Last year, they were dealing with the suspension of head coach Sean Payton for his role or knowledge of Gregg Williams' scandal. The Saints suffered for it too, going 7-9. This year will be different though. Time to take a look at a few of the storylines as the Saints open up camp at their practice facility in Metairie, LA:
- Sean Payton is back. Back from a year long suspension, Payton has the team's spirits high. It's amazing the difference a coach can make, but Payton's absense was evident last year. With him back this year, it puts less pressure on Drew Brees as Brees had to act like the coach on the field last year. Payton's genius comes out on offense, but his presence surely will help the defense too. Completely different feel to the team as the open camp.
- Will that historically bad defense get better? The Saints defense was a downright disgrace last year. Historically bad, as in one of the worst defenses all-time bad. So yes they will be better. Having Payton back will help, but turning things over to Rob Ryan will be the biggest reason of all. Ryan is a good defensive coordinator. He'll make sure the defense brings it every week. A defense that can get even 30 percent better than last year's unit will mean big things for the Saints.
- Will the Saints find a starting running back? Last year, the Saints appeared to kind of go to a running back by committee approach. They need to find someone in training camp that can carry the load. Mark Ingram, if he's healthy is probably that guy, but the Saints also Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles. Still the Saints need to find a suitable starter. Someone will emerge in camp.
The Saints full schedule can be found here. Here are a few interesting notes on their schedule:
- The Saints once again are in the primetime spotlight this year with four contests (Week 4 VS Miami 8:40 PM ET ESPN, Week 10 VS Dallas 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 12 @ Atlanta 8:25 PM ET NFL Network (Thursday night) and Week 13 @ Seattle 8:40 PM ET ESPN).
- The Saints have five games against playoff teams from last year including three in a row weeks 11-13 (VS SF, @ ATL, @ SEA).
- The Saints don't play the Carolina Panthers until week 14 and play them twice in three weeks.
The Saints look like they're going to be an NFC powerhouse this year despite a difficult schedule. Party in bayou! Watch out for New Orleans this year.
New York Jets training camp preview
The Jets have become a bit of a joke the past year. Their play has suffered and Rex Ryan is growing more and more quiet. The tabloids can't like that. Last year was not a good year for the Jets. This year doesn't look like it's going to be much better. Here are a few storylines as the Jets open up camp at SUNY Cortland in Cortland, NY:
- Who will win the starting QB battle? The Jets put Mark Sanchez on notice when they drafted Geno Smith in the second round. Sanchez is most known for his butt fumble last year. He needs to win that battle or he is as good as gone in New York. The circus never seems to leave the Jets. If Sanchez loses his job, it'll stay. With every interception he throws, it will get worse. It could be uncomfortable in NY this year.
- Is Dee Milliner the next Darrelle Revis? The Jets traded away Revis and needed to find his replacement. They think they found that in the draft when they drafted Milliner in the first round. But they've put Milliner into a difficult situation. He forever will be in Revis' shadow. The only way he will get out of the shadow is if he plays better than Revis and that seems very, very unlikely. How will he handle the situation, the spotlight? It's going to come quickly in training camp.
- Is this Rex Ryan's last year? The Jets brough in a new GM, but kept their head coach. Normally new GMs like to bring in their own guy. The Jets almost seem to be hoping that Ryan has a bad year so they can get rid of him. If the Jets are decent this year, then the Jets would look bad if they get rid of him. The Jets are in a no win situation. Ryan must win though to keep his job. If he's not feeling the pressure as camp begins, then he is completely unaware of everything going around him, like how bad his team is.
The Jets full schedule can be found here. Here are a few interesting notes on their schedule:
- Only two nationally televised games this year for the Jets, less than usual (Week 2 @ New England 8:25 PM ET NFL Network (Thursday night) and Week 5 @ Atlanta 8:40 PM ET ESPN).
- The Jets will see Revis right away this year as their first game is at home against Tampa Bay.
- They don't play the Dolphins until week 13, but play them again in week 17.
It could be a long year in New York. The media will be all over this team if they become a joke. Chances are it could get pretty ugly.
Oakland Raiders training camp preview
The Black Hole has a black eye with the bad football the Raiders have played their the last decade. It's probably not going to get much better this year. While there is reason to optimistic about the the future, the fact of the matter is that this Raiders team just isn't that good though they say they will be better than people predict. Here are a few storylines as the Raiders open training camp at Napa Valley Marriott in Napa Valley, CA:
- Will Darren McFadden stay healthy? McFadden has a ton of talent, but cannot stay healthy. Whether it is a foot injury or whatever, McFadden can't seem to stay on the field. That's a problem for the Raiders as he is one of their best offensive players. The Raiders need him to have a good, healthy training camp or they may be forced to look at other options.
- Will Matt Flynn be passed over again? During mini camp, there were some people who thought that rookie Tyler Wilson could pass Flynn on the depth chart and be the starter. Maybe Terrelle Pryor will be the starter. Flynn is the starter from now, but he was the starter when training camp started last year in Seattle and ended up being passed over. He hopes that won't happen again.
- Who is this defense? Apart from members on the secondary, does anyone recognize any names along the linebacker or defensive line? The secondary will be good, but they help from the front seven. Unfortunately for the Raiders, it may take a while for the front seven to develop an identity which is why training camp is so important.
The Raiders full schedule can be found here. Here are a few interesting notes on their schedule:
- Only two nationally televised games for the Raiders this year (Week 3 @ Denver 8:40 PM ET ESPN and Week 13 @ Dallas 4:30 PM ET CBS (Thanksgiving Day)).
- New head coach Mike McCoy will face his former team the Denver Broncos twice this year, in week 3 and week 17.
- The Raiders end the year with three straight divisional games.
Don't mean to be down on the Raiders, but this could be a long year for them and their fans again. The team is getting better. It's just going to take time.
Philadelphia Eagles training camp preview
The Eagles have a lot of new energy as they begin camp today at the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia. New coach, new uptempo offense, new era in Eagles football. Andy Reid gave them a lot of years, but it just wasn't enough. The Eagles are a very intriguing team this year. Here are a few storylines in training camp to look for:
- Who will be the starting quarterback? Head coach Chip Kelly has yet to name a starter and he doesn't seem like he has a set deadline, at least prior to the start of the regular season. Michael Vick is the starter for now and he most likely will win the job. He should be the starting quarterback. He's the veteran and he is fast enough to run Kelly's offense. He's the perfect fit. Are turnovers a problem? Yes, but he can work at protecting the bal. Nick Foles and Matt Barkley? Too young and they haven't achieved anything yet. If the Eagles struggle early on, then put the young guys in, but Vick should be the starter and ultimately, I think he will win the job.
- Will Kelly's style of offense transfer over to the NFL? Kelly had a ton of success at Oregon running his spread offense. A version of the spread offense has made its way to the NFL, but it's nothing like what Kelly will bring. He wants spead and the Eagles have a lot of speed in guys like LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. They will have great years in Kelly's system, but there is still a question about whether Kelly's system will be consistent in the NFL. Bears watching in training camp.
- How will the defense look? The team struggled to stop opposing teams from running the ball against them. A lot has changed on that side of the ball and the defense must find chemistry and an identity. If they can, the Eagles will be big players in the NFC East.
The Eagles full schedule can be found here. Here are a few interesting notes on their schedule:
- Two nationally televised games for the Eagles this year (Week 1 @ Washington 7:10 PM ET ESPN and Week 3 VS Kansas City 8:25 PM ET NFL Network (Thursday night)).
- The Eagles will welcome their former head coach back week 3 when Andy Reid and the Chiefs visit.
- The Eagles have a three game road trip weeks 4-6 (DEN, NYG, TB) and a three game homestand weeks 11-14 (WAS, BYE, ARZ, DET)
With the Eagles new style of play, they are going to be a really fun team to watch this year. It's just whether or not they will be a factor in the NFC East and can make the playoffs.
Coming up later tomorros: More training camp preview plus other top stories in sports.