Most teams wound down their second week of training camp on Thursday and headed into their first preseason games this weekend, including two on Thursday night and three on Friday.
The Bears and Dolphins held joint practices in Chicago in advance of their game on Saturday, and all eyes were on young quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa of Miami and Justin Fields of Chicago. Fields, a rookie, had some of his best moments thus far, and coach Matt Nagy announced that the Bears' first-round pick would see a lot of action on Saturday, possibly playing into the fourth quarter. Tagovailoa also looked sharp.
The Ravens' offense got some bad news, as first-round pick Rashod Bateman will have groin surgery that could jeopardize his availability for the season opener. Baltimore definitely won't have the rookie wide receiver on Saturday when it plays host to New Orleans, and it probably won't utilize quarterback Lamar Jackson either. He's only recently back from the COVID-19 list, and the Ravens are quite banged up on the offensive line.
Here's what you need to know from camps across the league:
What our NFL Nation reporters saw today
Coach John Harbaugh declined to say whether quarterback Lamar Jackson would play in Saturday's preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints. But the state of the offensive line could make Harbaugh's decision an easy one. Four projected starters didn't practice Thursday: left tackle Ronnie Stanley (coming back from season-ending ankle surgery), left guard Ben Cleveland (undisclosed), right guard Kevin Zeitler (foot surgery) and right tackle Alejandro Villanueva (who has had two days off in a row). Not surprisingly, Jackson faced a lot of pressure in full-team drills on Thursday, which marked his fifth practice back since returning from quarantine. -- Jamison Hensley
Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields had arguably the best stretch of his first NFL training camp when he hit on several big plays versus the Dolphins' defense during a deep red zone period to close out Thursday's joint practice. Over the span of six snaps, Fields passed for three touchdowns and gracefully scrambled outside the pocket for another score. Although quarterbacks are not allowed to be touched or hit at practice, Fields held the football and froze multiple defenders who were in coverage before the first-round pick turned upfield and crossed the goal line. In the same drill, veteran starter Andy Dalton completed nifty over-the-shoulder touchdown passes to Damiere Byrd and Jesse James. -- Jeff Dickerson
With Hall of Fame Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino in attendance, Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami offense faced another tough challenge from Chicago's defense but managed to find the end zone on multiple occasions in full-team red zone periods. Tagovailoa's best throw of the day came on a perfectly fired 20-yard strike to tight end Adam Shaheen, who split two defenders to haul in a touchdown. For a moment, Shaheen contemplated dunking the football over the crossbar, but he thought better of it. Shaheen, Chicago's second-round pick in 2017, is in the process of revitalizing his career in Miami after an underwhelming stint with the Bears. Shaheen also got into a brief tussle with Bears Pro Bowler Khalil Mack on Thursday before they had to be separated. -- Jeff Dickerson
The spotlight has been on second-year cornerback Damon Arnette, what with his standing as a surprising and somewhat disappointing first-round-pick starter last year and his mostly getting second-team reps in camp now. But the Raiders insist he is learning, especially with veteran Casey Hayward Jr., who called Arnette a sponge, as his mentor. Arnette also is warming to coach Jon Gruden. "I feel like we both got a couple of screws [loose]," Arnette said. "I might have a few more on the floor than he do, but we could relate. That's my guy. He's a great dude, great coach. He understands me. He's not the type to judge you. He's going to talk to you as human to human, young person to younger person. I really love Gruden. For real. And he knows how we rock." -- Paul Gutierrez
The Chiefs will start five offensive linemen who weren't with the team last year on Saturday night against the 49ers, and for quarterback Patrick Mahomes, there's a breaking-in period with each of them, much like there would be for Mahomes with a receiver. That's particularly true for left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who will many times match up against an opponent's top pass-rusher. The two spend time on the sideline between drills discussing where Brown takes his pass sets on each play. "He's played with great quarterbacks, with Lamar [Jackson] and Baker [Mayfield],'' Mahomes said. "We're all a little bit different, and he's trying to get a good feel. ... He'll try something one day and he'll ask me how I liked it. I'll tell him the truth, and he wants to hear that so he can know how I'm feeling throughout the whole game.'' -- Adam Teicher
What are the chances we see this during the season? At the end of a simulated two-minute drive after Jordan Love hit Malik Taylor for a 53-yard touchdown pass thanks to a busted coverage that pulled the offense to within 28-27 with 24 seconds left, coach Matt LaFleur called for a 2-point try. It failed when rookie Amari Rodgers couldn't hang on for what would've been a difficult catch. It was probably just a chance to practice 2-point plays, but for a coach who was ripped for playing it safe at the end of the NFC title game, maybe -- just maybe -- this was a result. -- Rob Demovsky
Second-year receiver Easop Winston Jr. made the catch of Saints camp so far Thursday when he sprinted deep down the field and dived to reel in a TD throw of nearly 60 yards from QB Jameis Winston in 11-on-11 drills. (No relation, even though Jameis likes to call Easop his "cousin.") Jameis has now completed deep TDs on back-to-back days, and his receivers know the opportunities are always there. Easop said when he saw Jameis step up in the pocket, he knew he had to find a second gear. -- Mike Triplett
The Giants held a walk-through Thursday for their preseason game Saturday night against the Jets -- a game in which starting quarterback Daniel Jones won't play. Coach Joe Judge made that announcement Thursday morning. The Giants are going to treat their preseason opener like teams used to do with the fourth preseason game. Jones will get his most action this summer in the third and final preseason contest. -- Jordan Raanan
The 49ers dialed things back a bit Thursday in advance of Saturday's preseason opener, but both quarterbacks -- Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance -- fared well in a two-minute, move-the-ball drill late in practice. With 1:20 left and a timeout, Garoppolo and Lance directed game-winning touchdown drives spanning 60 yards, as Garoppolo hit WR Brandon Aiyuk for a 2-yard score and Lance found TE Ross Dwelley for a 19-yard score. Situational football has been a big component of practice recently. Coach Kyle Shanahan will get his first look at both signal-callers in some new situations Saturday night when the preseason begins. Garoppolo will play the first series before Lance takes over with the backups and finishes the first half. -- Nick Wagoner
There's not a lot for the Panthers to get overly excited about after the first of two joint practices in Indianapolis against the Colts, in what was supposed to be a measuring stick to see where Carolina was against a playoff team. Coach Matt Rhule wasn't happy with his receivers in terms of precision on routes and dropped balls. Backup quarterback P.J. Walker kept talking about how Carolina has to "pick it up'' Friday. The defense didn't make a lot of big plays. But one person was excited. Second-year safety Jeremy Chinn grew up about 15 minutes from the Colts' practice facility and 20 minutes from the downtown stadium. "I'm definitely living my dream," he said. -- David Newton
A slew of injuries -- as well as Duane Brown's continued hold-in -- have the Seahawks in a tough spot at left tackle. With Brown, Cedric Ogbuehi, Jamarco Jones and Tommy Champion still sidelined, rookie sixth-round pick Stone Forsythe was still protecting Russell Wilson's blindside on Thursday. This obviously isn't as big of a deal is it would be a month from now, but it creates a dilemma heading into Saturday's preseason opener. The Seahawks are working in a new offense and have one fewer preseason game to iron it all out, so they'd ideally get Wilson some reps against the Raiders. But how much is it worth exposing him if they're down to their fourth, maybe fifth option at left tackle? -- Brady Henderson
Top NFL news of the day
Rashod Bateman to undergo groin surgery, may miss Baltimore Ravens' season opener on Monday Night Football
Ravens first-round pick Rashod Bateman will have surgery on his groin this week and could miss the start of the season. "He'll be back from that sometime in September," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after Thursday's practice. "I think that's pretty good news." Bateman's surgery probably jeopardizes his availability for the Ravens' season opener on Sept. 13, when they play at the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football.
Chicago Bears plan to give Justin Fields long look vs. Miami
Look for a heavy dose of Justin Fields on Saturday. Bears coach Matt Nagy confirmed Thursday that Fields, currently Chicago's second-string quarterback, will see plenty of action in the team's preseason debut against the Miami Dolphins. He might even play into the fourth quarter.
Trevor Lawrence, Gardner Minshew II still battling to be Jacksonville Jaguars' starting QB
One month shy of the season opener, Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer isn't publicly ready to commit to Trevor Lawrence as his starting quarterback. When asked whether there's still an open competition between Lawrence, this year's No. 1 pick, and Gardner Minshew to take the first snap against the Houston Texans on Sept. 12, the answer from the first-year head coach was "Yes." That came moments after Meyer said he and his staff would determine Thursday night which player would start Saturday's preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns at TIAA Bank Field.
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Haunting the nightmares of opposing offenses everywhere. pic.twitter.com/Sm744G2WJS— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) August 12, 2021
Year 10 and still that guy. 👻 pic.twitter.com/jy1tr1OmFl— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) August 12, 2021
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Always communicating. pic.twitter.com/fcnxExO1ID— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 12, 2021
NFL quotes of the day
"He's a warrior-competitor. He's a fighter. I told him that. I've just got great respect for Minshew. He brings it every day. Every day." Jaguars coach Urban Meyer on Gardner Minshew
"Be back soon! Future still bright." Ravens first-round pick Rashod Bateman on Twitter