Are We Sure The Chiefs Are Playing To Win The Games?
While it's hard to compete with the drama of a Rex Grossman vs Kyle Orton duel, seven more training camps get underway, all with their own unique storylines.
Here's what I'm watching...
San Francisco 49ers Alex Smith, we're still waiting? Shaun Hill showed some promise in a few reserve appearances, but San Francisco needs Smith to turn into at least a third round talent. Baby steps. 1st overall pick production is probably out of the question. To his credit, the offensive line hasn't exactly been superb and his best receiving option has been an oft injured tight end in Vernon Davis. Mike Martz comes to town as the OC, which is either a blessing or a curse. Martz brought with him Isaac Bruce and signed Bryant Johnson from Arizona who I've always felt was underutilized. No excuses this season for Alex. While that will grab most of the attention, I'm looking forward to seeing the continued to development of what could become one of the best defenses in the league. Patrick Willis is a beast, Manny Lawson is healthy, and Kentwan Balmer should add some presence on the line. Rookie to watch: Josh Morgan, WR
Kansas City Chiefs What to watch? Well that's easy... QB Brodie Croyle's wife, Kelly.
Oh, on the field you say? Yikes. The Chiefs are going to struggle mightily to score on offense, so we might as well focus on the other side. If it's possible to call a top five overall pick a steal, then Glenn Dorsey qualifies. I long argued he was the best overall prospect and Herman Edwards will need him to play as such. Let's see how quickly he takes over the line of scrimmage in the NFL, even as a rookie. Rookie to watch: Jamaal Charles, RB (will be needed with Larry Johnson gets injured)
Indianapolis Colts There will be mass overreaction to Peyton Manning's injury which was suspiciously hidden all offseason, but I suspect it was handled that way because it's truly not that big of a deal. Either way, it's Jim Sorgi and Josh Betts time! It's true, the Colts have two other signal callers on the roster just so that the sideline is filled out. However, I'll be focusing my attention on Dwight Freeney. We were told his Lisfranc injury could affect his long term production. Does he still have his devastating speed off the line? The Colts season will bank on it. Rookie to watch: Jacob Tamme, WR/TE who will produce immediately
Philadelphia Eagles New year, same story: How healthy is Donovan McNabb? NFC East will be an incredibly competitive division race, and as always, his consistency tell the Eagles story. But that's boring, we focus on McNabb always. I want to know if DeSean Jackson, return man extraordinaire, can have a Devin Hester like impact? Other rookie to watch: Quintin Demps, S
Giants Still motivated? It's going to be extremely difficult to top last season's accomplishments, upsetting the 18-0 New England Patriots with one of the most memorable plays in NFL history. No Michael Strahan leadership in the locker room, so will this now become Eli's team? I'll be looking to see what strides he's made in terms of being more vocal and becoming the new face of the franchise. Rookie to watch: Mario Manningham, WR.
Oakland Raiders Darren McFadden, Darren McFadden, Darren McFadden. Will Al Davis remain alive? That's about it, right?
Seattle Seahawks Honestly, I'm just looking forward to Owen Schmitt. Need a reminder?
And no, he won't be used as a punter.
With a strong to quite strong defense, bolstered by Lawrence Jackson, and a guaranteed at least seven wins at home, if not eight, the focus is all on the restructured running game. Julius Jones will get the bulk of carries and TJ Duckett will handle the short situations. Sounds good to me. If they're effective, go ahead and pencil the Seahawks in for another division title and a home field wild card game.
Minnesota Vikings I so desperately want to jump on the Vikes bandwagon, but when has the trendy preseason pick every delivered? Obviously all eyes are on Adrian Peterson. If he's healthy for all 16 games, the single season rushing record is in jeopardy. Tarvaris Jackson needs to eliminate interceptions, so that will be watched closely, as will John David Booty who I suspect will put a great deal of pressure on the starting position. While the offense should improve, it's mandatory that the defensive secondary show some sort of defensive capabilities. If Antoine Winfield can lock down one side of the field and rookie Tyrell Johnson can become a reliable safety, the Vikings will have little trouble tearing up the NFC North. Other rookie to watch: Speedy Jaymar Johnson, WR
That's what I'm watching... what interests you about these training camps?