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The Stack is finally done with the training camp previews for all team's who opened up campe yesterday and can be found here.  Today, two more teams open up for camp, but there are a couple of other headlines as well so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Friday, July 26:

A-Rod Saga

Alex Rodriguez continues to have his name in the news and not just because he is likely to receive a severe punishment from MLB in the BioGenesis case.  No, he and the New York Yankees seem to be feuding a little bit because he wants to play and the Yankees seem to be trying to figure out ways of not letting him step foot on the field.  A-Rod says he is ready to play and sent his MRI to another doctor for a second opinion without telling the Yankees.  That doctor said that Rodriguez could play so naturally Rodrguez was a little ticked.  After calling the Yankees and speaking with them, Rodriguez then went on WFAN radio and said that the Yankees are his employer and he would "have to follow his bosses" with regards to their plans.  This whole thing is just one giant mess and cluster and both sides don't look good in it, particularly A-Rod, but then again, when doesn't he look bad when it comes to stuff like this?  Sources say that both sides don't trust each other.  Gee, you think?  The Yankees clearly are trying to prevent Rodriguez from stepping foot on the field in hopes that MLB suspends him.  At some point though, you can't have these "injuries" forever and he will need to at least show them whether or not he can play at this point.  Baseball will soon come down on him, but until they do, the Yankees are only things worse by doing this song and dance with Rodriguez.  Let him come up and struggle and then maybe he'll realize that he isn't ready and then baseball will suspend him.  At this point, the circus in New York should be leaving for Jets camp since they opened yesterday.  Apparently the Yankees want to keep it around just a little longer.

 

 Police say they have photos of Hernandez holding murder weapon

Things just continue to get worse for former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in his murder case involving Odin Lloyd.  In a few surveillance photos, Hernandez appears to be holding a gun police believe is the weapon he used to murder Lloyd.  While that gun has yet to be found, this is damaging for Hernandez.  Police have a lot of evidence against him, but the biggest piece they have yet to find and that is the gun.  But with more and more proof like these photos, pretty soon he and his defense team is going to realize (if they haven't already), that it is going to be extremely difficult to get out of this.  Plus with another double homicide from last year being linked to this case, it could go to the federal level.  The situation will continue to unfold and as it does, expect things to get worse and worse for Hernandez.

 

NFL notes

Matt Ryan has over 103 million reasons to be happy today.  The Atlanta Falcons quarterback signed a five-year extension that will be worth $103.75 million, $59 million guaranteed.  That puts him as one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the game.  The others ahead of him or right below him (Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco & Drew Brees) have all won Super Bowl titles.  That's what Ryan and the Falcons want and they're close.  Ryan is a major reason why the Falcons are even as close as they are to a Super Bowl so it makes sense that the team pay him as such.   But now he has to deliver. The Falcons have a window to win the Super Bowl. They can ill-afford not to take advantage of it.

The New England Patriots are trying to move on from Aaron Hernandez.  The captains addressed the situation yesterday.  They say they are moving on, but they did touch on what a tragic situation it is involving Hernandez.  Hernandez is gone and the Patriots need to focus on the players attending camp, but given what Hernandez meant, you know that these sorts of questions will linger.  No doubt there are legal ramifications involved so the Patriots can say only so much.  The Patriots did a good job and now can try to put their focus on football.  The media and everyone else will be keeping an eye on the Hernandez case though.

Finally, the Seattle Seahawks have a little reason to worry about Percy Harvin.  Harvin has a slight tear in the hip and surgery may be headed his way.  He's seeking a second opinion.  The team hopes he can play through it, but losing him for any length of time is a damaging blow to this team.  You're losing a huge weapon in Harvin and it will definitely be felt on offense.  We'll learn more about this soon.

 

New York Giants training camp preview

The New York Giants were inconsistent last year, rarely rising up to the occassion when they most needed to.  As they report to training camp today at the Timex Performance Center in East Rutherford, NJ, they have to realize that the NFC East is going to be a dog fight this year and that their play is going to have be great every week.  It all begins at training camp.  Here are a few of the storylines as they head to camp:

  • When will Hakeem Nicks get a contract extension?  Victor Cruz got his extension this offseason and can't think that Nicks is all that happy that his contract hasn't been extended yet.  Nicks missed some time from offseason workouts and you have to think that his contract played a part in that regardless if he says it or not.  The Giants should extend his contract sooner than later as this will just continue to fester around the team until something is done.  Nicks is a sound player though he has some troubles staying healthy.  Perhaps that is why the Giants are waiting on the extension.  Wait too long and Nicks will leave.
  • Can David Wilson take over the starting RB spot?  Ahmad Bradshaw left for Indianapolis and that leaves the starting running back spot available.  While Andre Brown should get a shot at it, Wilson is the favorite (in my opinion) to land the starting role.  He has a lot of good intangibles that a running back needs.  His fumbling issue landed him in Tom Coughlin's doghouse temporarily last year.  He made the most of a few chances, but he needs to take this training camp to assert himself as the overwhelming number one choice to be the starting running back.
  • Can the Giants defense hold up?  The defense has some talented pieces in place, but too often last year they came up short.  They must become more consistent.  If they do, the Giants will make things difficult on the other teams in their division, all who pose offensive problems for the Giants defense.  Health is always a factor for every team, but the Giants need all players on defense to step up.

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

  • The Giants better be ready for primetime, because they have a lot of them.  Five nationally televised games in all (Week 1 @ Dallas 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 6 @ Chicago 8:25 PM ET NFL Network (Thursday night), Week 7 VS Minnesota 8:40 PM ET ESPN, Week 11 VS Green Bay 8:30 PM ET NBC and Week 13 @ Washington 8:30 PM ET NBC).
  • Five of the Giants first eight games are on the road, but they follow that up with a three game homestand.
  • They play the Eagles twice in a span of four weeks (weeks 5 & 8) and don't play the Redskins until week 13 and then play them again to end the year.

The NFC East is going to be very compelling this year and the Giants will be right in it up until the last week of the year.  Should be fun.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers training camp preview

The Steelers oddly enough missed the playoffs last year, perhaps age catching up to them a little bit.  On the surface, it doesn't look like it will get any easier this year, but we shouldn't doubt an organization like the Steelers guided by the leadership of the Rooney family.  Time for a few storylines as the Steelers report to camp today at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA:

  • How will the Steelers replace Mike Wallace?  No doubt losing Wallace will hurt the Steelers offense.  Antonio Brown becomes the number one receiver now.  Emmanuel Sanders showed flashes last year, but that's about it.  Plaxico Burress will be a nice target in the red zone, but the Steelers need for other wide receivers to up their game in training camp and show that they will be able to contribute consistently
  • Will the aging defense slow down at all?  Last year they didn't.  They were the best defense in the league last year in yards allowed.  But their best players are getting up there in age.  James Harrison left for Cincinnati.  They have a few ten plus year veterans in the secondary.  Other young guys are on the defensive line and at linebacker.  Overall, they're still a little older on that side of the ball.  At some point the Steel Curtain will fall a little bit.  Perhaps this is the year.
  • Will the offensive line hold up?  Seems too often the Steelers get ravaged by injuries along the offensive line.  That plays a role in Big Ben scrambling as much as he does.  David DeCastro got hurt his rookie year.  Maurkice Pouncey has been hurt in the past.  If the Steelers offensive line can stay healthy, their offense will be just fine because Big Ben will stay upright and less scrambling, leading to a balanced offense.  The health of the offensive line is something to watch in training camp.

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

  • Once again, the Steelers are a big primetime attraction.  This year they have four nationally televised contests including both games against the Bengals (Week 2 @ Cincinnati 8:40 PM ET ESPN, Week 3 VS Chicago 8:30 PM ET NBC, Week 13 @ Baltimore 8:30 PM ET NBC (Thanksgiving Day night) and Week 15 VS Cincinnati 8:30 PM ET NBC).
  • Four of the final six games are within the division including two games against the rival Cleveland Browns.
  • Like the Giants, five of the first eight games for the Steelers are on the road followed by a three game homestand.

Going against the defending Super Bowl champions and a rising Bengals team is going to be tough for the Steelers, but if any team can jump them, it's the Steelers.  Going to be an interesting year in Pittsburgh.

 

Coming up in a special Saturday edition of "the stack": Final three training camp previews

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