Most people don’t think of football when they think of July, and that makes sense. However, in this last week of July, the NFL training camps are well underway and fans finally get first looks at their new teams. For some teams, this is great news, but for others, like the Cincinnati Bengals, training camp is just a time where you get to put legitimacy to the doubts you’ve held on to for the last year. Just when Bengals fans thought things couldn’t get any worse, star wide receiver A.J. Green was carted off with an ankle injury. After surgery he is expected to miss multiple games in the regular season.
Inevitable depression for Cincinnati fans aside, plenty of questionable teams are looking positive and showing potential for a bright season. The Detroit Lions have struggled to find their identity since the retirement of Calvin Johnson and have now put together what looks like a downright scary-looking defensive line. Most notably, the Lions picked up Mike Daniels, who played for Green Bay last year. Daniels will make 7.8 million dollars and credited Coach Matt Patricia’s “genius” as the main reason he signed with Detroit. A spotlight has also been put on Detroit running back Kerryon Johnson. The Lions released Theo Riddick in the last week and as a result, Johnson will be receiving more than his fair share of carries this year. He’s an explosive back whose versatility will potentially allow quarterback Matthew Stafford to shine in the passing game as well.
The New England Patriots have a new look with wide receiver Maurice Harris, who has been talked up as potentially the best receiver in their camp by the Patriots’ beat writers. It’s hard to tell off the bat if that means the receiving core for New England is weak or if he’s just that good, but with Brady at the helm, football fans will have plenty to worry about regardless. Speaking of Brady, the 41-year-old greatest quarterback of all time has reportedly bulked up over the offseason. In his first talk with reporters this year, he mentioned how he wanted to be able to absorb more hits and put a lot of work towards it.
Among other news, New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas struck gold as he pulled a 100 million dollar extension with the team. This makes him the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL and is the first time a non-quarterback offensive player received a contract worth nine digits.
Meanwhile, young quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray are aggressively making their places known. Murray, the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft, was praised by wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for his ability to lead an offense so soon after joining the team. Back in Cleveland, Mayfield is doing his best to lead the Browns’ offense to their first playoffs since 2002. He has not been shy about being at the helm, as he is shown aggressively shouting at his receivers. Mayfield chalked this up to wanting to communicate often and early, stating “That’s what the good teams do.”
The Seattle Seahawks themselves have plenty of buzz around them. Rookie receiver D.K. Metcalf has been regularly put in two-receiver sets with Tyler Lockett and will be an exciting piece to watch this year. Linebacker Bobby Wagner signed a three-year contract extension, ensuring his place in Seattle for the future. Still, not everything can go perfectly. Defensive lineman Jarran Reed was suspended for six games due to violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, leaving their defensive line in question.
Week One of the regular season begins on Sep. 5 to see just who managed to prepare the best this year.