We've reached the point of the NFL preseason calendar in which the live action begins, as the New York Jets took on the Cleveland Browns in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, on Thursday night. No, Aaron Rodgers didn't make his game debut for the Jets, but they saw the return of 2020 first-round pick Mekhi Becton, an offensive tackle who hasn't suited up in 691 days.
Meanwhile, as you study the depth charts ahead of the Hall of Fame Game to figure out which players to keep an eye on, the other 30 NFL teams continued training camp practice. Thursday featured a Lions defender's prediction of a "special year," a visit to camp from a Patriots legend, an update on a position battle in Philadelphia with lots of fantasy football intrigue and much more.
Here's what you need to know from camps across the league.
Top NFL news of the day
Free agent defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is signing a one-year, $10.5 million contract with the Chicago Bears that includes $10 million in guaranteed money, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Bears will be Ngakoue's fifth team since the start of the 2020 season. The pass-rusher has posted at least eight sacks in every season of his seven-year NFL career and is coming off a 9.5-sack season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2022.
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones highlighted one of the top areas he's hoping to improve in his third NFL season: having more fun on the field. "That's one of the things this offseason that I put a lot of thought in to -- just enjoying the game," Jones said Thursday after the Patriots' eighth training camp practice.
The Tennessee Titans released offensive lineman Jamarco Jones on Thursday after his second scuffle this week. Thursday's altercation happened after his crackback block on linebacker Chance Campbell. Fellow linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair got in Jones' face and the two had to be separated. Titans coach Mike Vrabel said the block would have been a penalty in a game. "We don't want to practice like that," Vrabel said. "We talk all the time about being competitive and going to that line, and certainly not going to do anything that hurts the team. We don't want to see that."
A year after John Metchie III was diagnosed with leukemia, the Houston Texans wide receiver says he relied on his faith to get through the battle. Metchie, the Texans' 2022 second-round draft pick out of Alabama, missed his rookie year after the Texans placed him on the non-football illness list. At one point, Metchie thought he might not play football again.
Tua Tagovailoa's offseason muscle gain is evident, and now Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel is seeing the benefits on the practice field. The Dolphins' starting quarterback practiced jiu-jitsu in the offseason, part of a regimen to improve his durability after he missed the better part of six games, including the playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills with multiple concussions.
What our NFL Nation reporters saw and heard on Thursday
Philadelphia Eagles: The running back rotation is far from settled in Philadelphia, but D'Andre Swift has made the strongest impression in camp. Coach Nick Sirianni described him as a "playmaker," and Swift lived up to that billing Thursday. He ripped off a long run up the seam and followed that with a nice catch over the middle. Sirianni noted that the team will be able to line up Swift all over the field because of his receiver-like hands. It's looking like a running back by committee for the Eagles, though Swift is making a case for why he should receive top billing. -- Tim McManus
Cincinnati Bengals: Thursday was a massive day for Bengals wide receivers with plenty of good catches to go around. Ja'Marr Chase continued his excellent camp with a few quality snags. Tee Higgins effortlessly caught a pass that was behind him. Stanley Morgan and rookies Charlie Jones and Andrei Iosivas had some big catches. But the highlight might have been Trenton Irwin hauling in a twisting, one-handed catch for a touchdown at the end of the day in team drills. Higgins said that was the best grab in a day filled with them. -- Ben Baby
Arizona Cardinals: After the Cardinals' first-team offense struggled for the last few days, quarterback Colt McCoy got it going on Thursday. He was 5-for-9 in limited 11-on-11 action. There were still signs that the offense is a work in progress. At one point, McCoy had to pull the Cardinals off the line and rehuddle, but an incomplete pass to WR Rondale Moore followed. -- Josh Weinfuss
New England Patriots: Can the Patriots count on second-year cornerback Jack Jones? That's a question that already was in the headlines as Jones faces weapons charges, and his early departure from Thursday's full-pads practice have sparked additional questions. Jones was covering receiver Kendrick Bourne along the sideline and was animated after seemingly helping force an incompletion -- maybe too animated for the defensive coaching staff. Soon enough, Jones was walking to the exit, consoled by fellow defensive back Jabrill Peppers, who had his arm around him. Jones apparently needed to cool down, because he returned to the field two periods later, had a chat with director of player personnel Matt Groh as they kneeled side by side, and then watched the rest of the practice from the sideline. -- Mike Reiss
New York Giants: Rookie wide receiver Jalin Hyatt is making his presence felt. He hauled in two more long touchdown grabs Thursday in live drills. Seemingly every day lately there has been at least one bomb to the third-round pick, who is getting more and more first-team reps. That speed Hyatt brings is special. Cornerback Adoree' Jackson even compared Hyatt's stride to Usain Bolt. Hyatt chuckled but wouldn't cop to the rumors that he has run at a blazing 24 mph during training camp. He isn't shy about his goals this season though, beginning with Offensive Rookie of the Year. "I always set high goals for myself," he said. -- Jordan Raanan
Kansas City Chiefs: Noah Gray will never be the Chiefs' regular tight end until Travis Kelce retires, but the third-year player is getting a lot of work at camp -- and catching a large share of passes. That's a positive development for the Chiefs, who under Andy Reid have favored multiple tight end formations. Kansas City ranked fourth in the NFL last season in yards per play with three tight ends on the field. "The way we use tight ends in this offense, the more you have the better,'' backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert said. "You regulate defensive looks with [the number of] tight ends on the football field.'' The Chiefs' third tight end, Jody Fortson, has missed much of camp with a shoulder injury. -- Adam Teicher
Buffalo Bills: Bills quarterback Josh Allen took a hit from nickelback Taron Johnson on Monday. On Thursday, Allen shared the impact of the accidental hit, saying, "I got the wind knocked out of me pretty good there. Woke up the next day, or next two days really, and was like, 'Damn, I feel like I just played a game you know?' It's football, I mean we're out here. I like getting hit sometimes to makes me feel alive."
Allen didn't take any big hits Thursday, but he had several good moments, including on throws to wide receivers Gabe Davis and Stefon Diggs. The day featured a couple miscues as well with what would have likely been a fumble when a snap from center Mitch Morse went through his hands, and two interceptions caught by cornerbacks Dane Jackson and Kaiir Elam, although Elam should have arguably been called for holding by the referees at practice. -- Alaina Getzenberg
Washington Commanders: Washington's practices have been more physical and intense than in the past, though Thursday's was more about correcting mistakes made the past three days. Part of the reason for the higher intensity? New offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. His presence can be felt during every workout as he demands a strict adherence to details and lets players know -- loudly -- if they're wasting time. Tempo and urgency have been primary focuses of his during camp. The Commanders run a higher number of plays in practice and while the increased volume conditions them physically, it also does so mentally. Tight end Logan Thomas said late in practices they have to be sharper to get the details of a play right. Indeed, during a 2.5-hour practice Wednesday the offense committed five false starts. The coaches hope that over time the higher volume leads to stronger finishes in game. -- John Keim
Green Bay Packers: If Anders Carlson ends up being the Packers' kicker -- and at this point, that's a sizeable "if" -- he has two things to fix: He'll need to figure out how to make his first kick, and he has to stop missing wide right. Carlson went 2-for-3 each time in a pair of field goal periods Thursday. Both misses were on the first kick (from 41 and 47 yards) of the drill, but he bounced back to make the next two (43 and 45 in the first drill) followed by 49 and 54 in the second. It left Carlson with a 59.3% conversation rate on field goals in camp. Of his 11 misses, six have been on the first rep of the period. That won't fly in a one-and-done game situation. "I'm not saying it's a trend or anything," Carlson said. "But obviously yeah, in a game it's one shot, one kill, we were just talking about that. I've got to put a better emphasis on it."
The Packers drafted Carlson to replace the team's career scoring leader, Mason Crosby, who is a free agent. Carlson will kick inside Lambeau Field for the first time Saturday during the team's annual Family Night practice. -- Rob Demovsky
Denver Broncos: With Tim Patrick's season-ending Achilles injury last week, it is more important than ever for wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy to get acclimated as quickly as possible in new coach Sean Payton's offense. Payton has said both have made strides, but Sutton recently has shown the physicality the Broncos need. Payton has told Sutton he wants to see something on the order of "2019" Sutton -- when Sutton had 1,112 receiving yards and made the Pro Bowl.
Sutton made a one-handed grab against All-Pro Pat Surtain II in team drills earlier this week and has kept that momentum. "We watched a number on a few of these players ... and when you watched him in '19, it was real impressive,'' Payton said. "We talked to him about it, some of the things we saw him do, fortunately we've seen some of those things in this camp, so keep going." -- Jeff Legwold
Best NFL photos and videos
Ravens TE Mark Andrews, who is a Type 1 diabetic, autographs a sign of a fan who also has T1D pic.twitter.com/Jybvslshl1— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) August 3, 2023
DJ LAUNCHES it to Hyatt 🚀 pic.twitter.com/rDKJ6NqVyi— New York Giants (@Giants) August 3, 2023
#Lions star Aidan Hutchinson on excitement around 2023 season: "It's gonna be a special year, I think. I think the fans believe it, the players believe it. It's such a blessing to have such a supportive city. They can feel the hype and I feel like we're coming." pic.twitter.com/f299RJ5I73— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) August 3, 2023
Julian Edelman back at home. pic.twitter.com/U1zrQFXuSm— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 3, 2023
Best of the rest from across the league
Mike McCarthy has reminded Micah Parsons to not go near the QB in practice after 2 incidents with Dak Prescott, who is in a red jersey, in the padded practices. "Number of times yeah. It's all part of the practice ethic, discipline," the coach said. "He is the A No. 1 violator."— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) August 3, 2023
Joey Porter Jr. picks off Kenny Pickett to end the first 2-min drill of training camp. Nice anticipation and timing by the rookie to jump in front of Cody White for the interception. Believe that's only the second pick Pickett's thrown in camp.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 3, 2023
Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon said LB Zaven Collins could play 11 of 12 positions on defense.— Josh Weinfuss (@joshweinfuss) August 3, 2023
The one he couldn't? Slot corner pic.twitter.com/JRLp5DAFuo