Finally, it’s here — the arrival of NFL training camps. By July 29th, each team will have both rookies and veterans reporting.
Of course, some teams will have notable absences or limited participants. Last month, Matt Schauf laid out who to watch ahead of this critical period. Now, with teams hitting practice fields, it’s time for a refresh on some of those names and others.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
Returning from: Right shoulder surgery in March
Newton was ready for the start of training camp, but the team is expected to play things slowly with their franchise player.
"I thought Cam looked very good,'' HC Ron Rivera said. "He looked a little rusty early on. His timing was off a little bit. But as he practiced more you could see he started to get comfortable back there."
"We do have him on a pitch count, obviously. He was a couple of throws under it, but he looked good.''
Rivera also revealed that Newton weighs 246 pounds, roughly his rookie weight and down from the ~260 pounds he’s maxed out at. The 28-year-old passer is expected to execute shorter throws this fall in an effort to reduce the number of hits taken.
That’s certainly the message Carolina sent this offseason, adding both Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel.
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
Returning from: Right shoulder surgery in January
Luck resumed throwing in mid-July, but the team exercised caution by placing him on the PUP list ahead of training camp.
“Andrew’s got to work on getting his throwing motion back, all his strength back,” GM Chris Ballard said. “Andrew has not had any setbacks at all in his rehab process or with his surgery. He is in good shape; he’s in good standing. Long term, his shoulder, the prognosis is very good and that’s very positive."
Expect Luck to see limited action in camp and during the preseason. We’re not yet concerned about him missing regular season time.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens
Rehabbing: Back injury in mid-July.
Flacco hurt his back/disc while lifting weights and is expected to miss at least 1 week of camp. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport says the QB could miss as many as 6 weeks.
Any absence is critical for Flacco, who’ll need time to gel with new WR Jeremy Maclin. Baltimore’s also poised to break in new starters at TE and RT.
Kenneth Dixon, RB, Ravens
Rehabbing: Torn Meniscus (date unknown)
On July 26, HC John Harbaugh confirmed that Dixon will miss the entire season with a meniscus tear. That’s the latest of several knee injuries for the 2nd-year man, who has an MCL tear and 2 MCL sprains in his past.
With Dixon sidelined, the Ravens are expected to roll with a backfield combo of Terrance West (running downs) and Danny Woodhead (passing downs).
Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
Returning from: Foot surgery in March
HC Dan Quinn revealed that Jones will be limited at the start of training camp. Just don’t take that as a negative development.
"He's healed up very, very well," GM Thomas Dimitroff said. "We are ready for him to jump into camp. I'm don't know the exact rep count, but as you know Julio will do what he feels he can do. He’s so competitive when he gets back on the field. We'll continue to monitor him.”
Jones has a history of foot injuries but is on track to enter September at 100%.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills
Returning from: Foot surgery in January
So far, the news on Watkins has been positive.
Limited to 8 games last year, the Clemson product enjoyed a smooth recovery from January surgery. He was healthy enough to participate in June practices and should be close to a full-go early in camp.
It certainly looks like Watkins regained his dynamic movement. The question, of course, is whether he can consistently remain active on game days. He currently profiles as the WR most likely to get hurt in 2017.
Mike Williams, WR, Chargers
Rehabbing: Disc herniation in May
Williams went down in rookie minicamp and hasn’t practiced since. Recent reports indicated that the rookie might need season-ending back surgery.
“I’m good. Everything’s good,” Williams insisted to reporters. “The back situation, that was some false information being released. I don’t know who released it, but everything is good.”
The team’s hoping that a 2nd epidural will get him back to normal. Given all of the time he’s missed, though, don’t expect much of an early-season impact from the 7th overall pick.
John Ross, WR, Bengals
Rehabbing: Shoulder surgery in March
Ross hasn’t practiced at all this offseason. And, well, that’ll continue for a while longer…
Geoff Hobson of the Bengals’ official site wrote on July 25 that Ross isn’t expected to practice for a “couple of weeks.” Such a development would further hold back this snake-bitten talent.
Going back to his time at Washington, Ross’ résumé includes a torn right MCL and meniscus and a torn left ACL. Explosive yet undersized, Ross carries significant injury risk into the foreseeable future.
Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins
Rehabbing: Sprained toe (date unknown)
Injuries are nothing new for Reed. He’s missed at least 2 games in each of his 4 seasons and has at least 6 recorded concussions behind him.
This ailment, though, doesn’t look so serious. While Reed starts camp on the PUP list, the move is “precautionary,” per the Washington Post. Ian Rapoport tweeted: “Jordan Reed's stay on the PUP list is expected to be a short one.”
Good news for sure. But Reed still enters the fall as the biggest injury risk at his position.