Training camp opened for the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens last week. The remaining 30 teams will get going Thursday and Friday. Here's a sneak peek at the top storylines and more for all 32 teams.
Are the Bills good enough to make the playoffs again after ending their 17-year postseason drought? The Bills have changed offensive coordinators, traded their starting quarterback, lost two starting offensive linemen to retirement and allowed two defensive starters to leave in free agency. Are the playoffs realistic or are the Bills in the process of a quiet rebuild? Read more from Mike Rodak.
Will the Dolphins’ attempt at a culture change work? Salary-cap factors led to some high-profile departures this offseason. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry was traded to the Cleveland Browns, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and center Mike Pouncey were released. Miami’s hope seems to be addition by subtraction, setting the stage for new voices to take over in the locker room. Read more from Mike Rodak.
Coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski are back together again after an offseason in which Brady and Gronkowski skipped voluntary workouts. Gronkowski had said immediately after the Super Bowl that he was weighing his future. Going back to last season, some had questioned how much longer the pillars in the organization would be together, but here they are again. It's almost as if nothing has changed. Read more from Mike Reiss.
Sam Darnold's development will be the story in the quarterback-obsessed New York market -- and with good reason. Darnold, drafted third overall, has all the tools to be a terrific player. The coaches are particularly excited about his ability to improvise. Let's not forget that Darnold, a mere pup at 21, had only three full seasons of quarterback experience in high school and college. There will be growing pains, but the Jets -- after two straight 5-11 seasons -- can't afford too many. This regime needs to win games. Read more from Rich Cimini.
All eyes will be on Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson. Flacco is entering a critical season because the Ravens can trade or release him after the season, depending on how he performs. Flacco was impressive in spring workouts, aggressively pushing the ball downfield and showing more mobility by moving outside the pocket. Jackson, whom Baltimore drafted after trading up to the No. 32 overall pick, has impressed teammates and coaches with his speed and his dedication to learning the system. Read more from Jamison Hensley.
The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season, and coach Marvin Lewis is 0-7 in the postseason, with their last appearance coming in 2015. It’s an important year for the team and front office to prove they made the right decision by re-signing Lewis in January. It’s a tricky time for the franchise, and getting the fans back on board, and into seats, means winning early and often. That all starts with the offense, which was ranked last in the league last year. They’ll need big seasons from quarterback Andy Dalton, wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end Tyler Eifert to turn things around. Read more from Katherine Terrell.
The Browns did a lot of work to change the culture from a winless season in 2017, bringing in 17 new players via trade or free agency, hiring a new coordinator and taking a Lake Erie dive to "cleanse" the stench of winning one of 32 games since coach Hue Jackson was hired. Among the changes are a new quarterback, running back, receiver and two new cornerbacks. Rather than drag on a quarterback competition in training camp, Jackson named Tyrod Taylor the starter in the offseason. Read more from Pat McManamon.
Life without star back Le'Veon Bell has become an expectation after two years of rocky franchise-tag negotiations. Players have wised up to NFL business and know Bell might not be around for a while. The Steelers must adjust. Bell, who missed camp last year, averaged 3.46 yards per carry in his first three games upon return. The Steelers need contingency plans to avoid another slow start. Read more from Jeremy Fowler.
Can Deshaun Watson replicate his rookie season? All eyes will be on the second-year quarterback, who is returning from a torn right ACL and is coming off seven games (six starts) over which he threw for 1,699 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Coach Bill O'Brien said he's tweaking his offense to play to Watson's strengths, which means this attack could be even more fun to watch in 2018. Read more from Sarah Barshop.
Barring a setback, Andrew Luck will participate in his first training camp in two years after missing the 2017 season while recovering from right shoulder surgery. Luck threw a football for the first time since October 2017 on the first two days of the team's minicamp last month. Some training camp days will be lighter than others for Luck as the Colts want to simulate the regular season as much as possible. Luck says he will "absolutely" play in the team's Week 1 game against Cincinnati. Read more from Mike Wells.
Myles Jack moves to middle linebacker full-time, and the hope is the transition goes smoothly. The team tried to move him there last season, but he struggled. Jack spent time during organized team activities and minicamp working on coverages and drops while he rehabbed a hand injury. Weakside linebacker Telvin Smith is one of the defense's best playmakers, but there's a void at strongside. The depth is a huge question mark. The Jaguars need a couple of reliable players to emerge as solid special-teams players who can start in a pinch because of injuries. Read more from Mike DiRocco.
Marcus Mariota's continued footwork development and progress within coordinator Matt LaFleur's modernized scheme is key. Mariota spent much of the six-week break trying to get the playbook down. We'll see if the offense moves faster and becomes more productive in training camp than it was in the spring. Mariota is entering a huge Year 4, and he'll have to play much better than he did in 2017. Read more from Cameron Wolfe.
The Broncos' ability to rebound from last season's 5-11 finish will hinge on two questions: Is quarterback Case Keenum the solution, and has the team done enough on defense to take full advantage of Von Miller in his prime? Keenum was the centerpiece of the Broncos' work in free agency, and the team's decision-makers believe his career-best season with the Vikings last year (3,547 passing yards and 22 touchdowns) will not be an anomaly. On defense, first-round pick Bradley Chubb has the potential to be the kind of pass-rusher who can absorb some of the almost constant attention offenses direct at Miller. Read more from Jeff Legwold.
The Chiefs are making their first change at quarterback since 2013, when they traded for Alex Smith. His replacement, Patrick Mahomes, isn't just any QB, but he is the first drafted by the Chiefs in the first round since 1983. The Chiefs aren't viewing this as a developmental season for Mahomes, who played in just one game last year as a rookie. They're expecting him to play well and expect the offense, which includes top veteran skill players in tight end Travis Kelce and wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins, to score a lot of points. Read more from Adam Teicher.
The Chargers have not addressed how the team will replace No. 1 tight end Hunter Henry, who suffered a torn ACL in his right knee on the first day of organized team activities in May and is out for the year. The Chargers have to figure out how to fill the void. Signed away from the Denver Broncos in free agency, Virgil Green likely will move into the No. 1 tight end role, as the Chargers have a group of unproven players behind him. One player to keep an eye on is receiver Mike Williams, who can be used as a big target for Philip Rivers in the middle of the field. Williams looked more explosive during offseason work after an injury-ridden rookie season. Read more from Eric D. Williams.
After sitting in ESPN's Monday Night Football booth the past nine seasons, Jon Gruden will be in the spotlight with his coaching return to the Raiders. "We have a lot to prove yet," Gruden said in minicamp. On a micro view, Gruden's return to Oakland also teems with thoughts of unfinished business after the late Al Davis traded him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002. Gruden beat Davis' Raiders in the Super Bowl a year later. Read more from Paul Gutierrez.
The Cowboys lost Jason Witten to retirement and released Dez Bryant, but they believe they can make the playoffs for the third time in five years. When the expectations have been low in recent years, like in 2014 after three straight 8-8 finishes and 2016 after a 4-12 finish, the Cowboys have found success. Coach Jason Garrett is signed through 2019, but if he does not get the Cowboys back to the playoffs, his eighth full season could be his last. Read more from Todd Archer.
How the Giants and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. handle the summer will be interesting. They're dealing with a delicate situation, barring an contract agreement before the start of camp. Beckham wants a new deal and is not expected to put himself at risk in live drills or preseason games until it's done. He probably will show up to camp but not put himself at risk. The Giants don't want to alienate their top playmaker. If they botch this, it could derail their season. Read more from Jordan Raanan.
Carson Wentz's progress in his recovery from a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee was obvious during spring workouts. He showed decent mobility and was able to take part in a good portion of practice, including 7-on-7s by the time the Eagles reached minicamp. "The biggest thing right now is just keep pushing along until I'm cleared [for contact]," Wentz said. "As you see out here, I'm doing quite a bit. Obviously the biggest, last hurdle is going to be the contact part." That could come at some point this summer for Wentz, who continues to target a Week 1 return. Read more from Tim McManus.
The Redskins missed the playoffs the past two seasons, and this coaching staff can’t afford another miss. Jay Gruden, whose contract runs through 2020, already has survived longer than any other coach under owner Dan Snyder. To help take the so-called next step, the Redskins traded for quarterback Alex Smith and focused on improving their run game. Smith’s progress will be monitored closely considering they opted for him over keeping Kirk Cousins. Read more from John Keim.
The offense. Chicago’s offense looked dreadful under former coach John Fox, whom the team fired after a 14-34 three-year stretch. The Bears hired 40-year-old Matt Nagy to improve the club’s sagging morale and to install the offensive system that veteran coach Andy Reid used in Kansas City. Chicago’s fortunes in 2018 hinge on Nagy and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s ability to get the offense up to speed. Read more from Jeff Dickerson.
It’s a new regime in Detroit, but will the Matt Patricia-Bob Quinn combination fare any better than the others that haven't been able to lead the Lions to the league championship game in 60 years? Quinn and Patricia have brought with them many aspects from their old place of employment, New England, and while this storyline will play out over multiple years, it is the No. 1 concern of the Lions. Read more from Michael Rothstein.
The Packers' revamped defense under coordinator Mike Pettine will be under the microscope. The early returns in OTAs were strong; during one of the public practices, it picked off Aaron Rodgers twice. Granted, those were not padded practices. Certainly there will be days when Rodgers and the offense pick apart the defense, but once the pads go on, the real evaluation begins. It will be worth watching where the pass rush comes from considering that beyond Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, there are no proven outside rushers. Read more from Rob Demovsky.
By the time training camp rolls around, Kirk Cousins will have had about three and a half months to learn the Vikings' playbook. His summer plans included going over the concepts that he didn't grasp during the initial install and discussing with his coaches how he wants certain plays designed. Cousins' feel for the offense and how the quarterback executes the scheme is not only the storyline of training camp but of the entire 2018 season. However, not everything rests on the shoulders of the Vikings' $84 million investment. Read more from Courtney Cronin.
Wide receiver Julio Jones didn't attend offseason workouts or mandatory minicamp because of a contract dispute. Jones has three years and almost $35 million left on the five-year, $71.25 million contract extension he signed in August 2015, an extension that included $47 million guaranteed. The Falcons typically wouldn't reward a player with a new contract until he's entering the final year of his deal, but Jones is a unique talent. Satisfying him with a raise that would put him at the top of his position makes plenty of sense. It would keep Jones happy and keep the group together for a possible championship run. Read more from Vaughn McClure.
Can implementation of Norv Turner's offense help take quarterback Cam Newton's game to another level? Surrounding Newton with more weapons is a part of it. Newton is showing early signs of adapting to this scheme, which features more high-percentage passes. But until Newton faces a full pass rush in pads, as he will in camp, it's still a guessing game as to how the 2015 MVP will perform. Read more from David Newton.
Will Marcus Davenport and Cameron Meredith emerge as instant-impact players? The Saints head into the season with serious Super Bowl buzz after being one play away from reaching the 2017 NFC Championship Game. Davenport is a tantalizing rookie pass-rusher who is trying to make the leap from small-school Texas-San Antonio to the NFL. And Meredith was on the verge of becoming a breakout receiver for the Chicago Bears last summer before he suffered a major knee injury. Read more from Mike Triplett.
Starting quarterback Jameis Winston will miss the first three games of the regular season because of suspension. Aside from missing the first half of a game against Clemson in 2014, this is the first time Winston has received significant punishment for his off-the-field behavior. While Winston will still be able to participate in training camp and preseason games, how will the ban affect him, and how will it affect the perception of the Bucs franchise QB within the organization, among teammates and in the community? Read more from Jenna Laine.
Sam Bradford's health and how it will affect his availability will be the top storyline of Cardinals camp this year. His reps were limited in organized team activities but were increased during minicamp. Coach Steve Wilks has said multiple times this offseason that Bradford is the starter, but first-round pick Josh Rosen is being groomed to handle first-team snaps if needed. Bradford's injury history is well documented and one ailment could sideline him and thrust Rosen into the starting job. Read more from Josh Weinfuss.
Super Bowl or bust. After a surprise turnaround in 2017 that included a playoff appearance for the first time since 2004, the Rams went all-in, bolstering their roster with the acquisitions of All-Pro cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib and receiver Brandin Cooks as well as All-Pro defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh. The time is now for the Rams to make a Super Bowl run with a loaded roster unlikely to stay intact with big pay days awaiting Todd Gurley II and Jared Goff. Read more from Lindsey Thiry.
If all goes as expected, the three words Jimmy Garoppolo hates most -- small sample size -- will no longer be tied to the Niners' franchise quarterback. Garoppolo, entering his fifth season, is finally going to be the undisputed starter and get a chance to prove he can succeed over the course of a full season. The expectations surrounding the Niners, who went 6-10 a year ago, are huge. Most of that optimism is tied directly to Garoppolo. Read more from Nick Wagoner.
When and how will the Earl Thomas situation be resolved? The All-Pro free safety has said he will not show up until his contract is taken care of, but there's been no indication the Seahawks are interested in extending Thomas with a year remaining on his current deal. Leverage tends to favor the teams in these situations, especially now that they can impose exorbitant fines for training camp holdouts. As for the possibility of a trade, the best chance of one seemingly passed with the draft, but perhaps another team's offer and/or Seattle's asking price will change. Read more from Brady Henderson.