Training camp updates from all 16 AFC teams
Seaside Joe 882
Training Camp Notes
Patriots: Positive early remarks on rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson, a favorite of mine.
Jets: Zach Wilson’s second practice generated some positive hype.
What went well: A whole lot. Let’s start with the 80-yard touchdown, on a throw that went about 40 yards in the air. You could argue that it would have been a “sack.” But Wilson stepped up in the pocket, under pressure, and launched a pass to Moore, who was wide open, perhaps due to blown coverage.
Bills: Former Packers receiver Jake Kumerow is surprisingly getting some praise in Buffalo. Could Josh Allen have four good receivers?
Cornerback Dane Jackson has taken reps against him and thinks his speed is one of his biggest weapons.
"He's like an all-around good receiver in every aspect--blocking, catching, running after the catch," Jackson explained. "He just sneaks up on you, really. You don't really see it off the rip, but when he's out there running it's crazy. He can run, he can catch and he can do it all. His size is deceiving.
"You don't think bigger guys are fast but he's really fast. He gets up on you quick when you're playing off and when you're pressing he can take that speed release and he's gone."
Dolphins: Receiver Robert Foster has been called “really, really impressive since the spring.” The starting offensive line: Austin Jackson at left tackle, Liam Eichenberg at left guard, Michael Deiter at center, Rob Hunt at right guard and Jesse Davis at right tackle.
Ravens: Something I’ve noticed over the years is that it tends to be wide receivers that become “camp stars” more than any other position. Maybe any other position combined. In this case, it’s second-year receiver James Proche, even though he was one of the last guys anyone expected to be standing out among Baltimore’s receivers unit. In my experience, some of these guys do impress, but few actually meet the hype. Many fail to have an impact at all. There’s about six guys who were expected to be ahead of Proche going into camp. I don’t know what that means yet.
Browns: Free agent linebacker Anthony Walker, Jr. has been called a “leader of the defense” already. He has spent the last three seasons as a starting linebacker with the Colts, perhaps overshadowed by Darius Leonard.
Bengals: Running back Trayveon Williams has looked good so far and you never know how soon a player could be starting in Cincinnati.
Steelers: RB Kalen Ballage, WR Rico Bussey, TE Pat Freiermuth, QB Dwayne Haskins, CB Tre Norwood have been listed as young standouts so far.
Colts: The big story is that Jacob Eason is preparing to be the Week 1 starter. Even if Carson Wentz does return, Eason is going to prepare that way and I think the second-year QB from Washington will be starting against Seattle. Second-year WR Michael Pittman has looked like a player making a leap, while other training camp standouts include rookie tight end Kylen Granson and third year linebacker Bobby Okereke.
Texans: There are not a lot of offensive line shoutouts in these reports, so I’ll give one here to Houston’s Rod Johnson. Texans beat writer John Harris gave an enthusiastic report on training camp (with less “I fucking hate this organization” than John McClain) and he pointed out Johnson, a fourth-year tackle out of Florida State who has made six starts in the last two seasons. I’m not sure he’s a starter there, making Harris’ report even more unique.
Titans: A player who has bounced around the league since 2017 without a real gig has been cornerback Breon Borders. He finally settled in to play in six games with the Titans last season, and he’s been called one of the stars at camp so far. It’s good to get a cornerback in this group. In other news, Janoris Jenkins has reportedly asked the team to start calling him “Jackrabbit Jenkins” on an official basis.
Chiefs: Right now, Kansas City’s inside linebackers are Nick Bolton and Willie Gay, their second round picks from the last two years. Anthony Hitchens and Ben Niemann are injured but those two young players have stood out so far.
Chargers: Rookie WR Josh Palmer is pushing for the number three job.
Raiders: Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden catch flack for all their draft picks, but first round tackle Alex Leatherwood really struck many people as “odd” this year. I think it’s just safer to not make any assumptions on draft day (or in training camp), and Leatherwood’s been getting praise from a lot of teammates. And one scout apparently compared his “mental makeup” to that of Russell Wilson. Former first rounders Damon Arnette and Clelin Ferrell, meanwhile, are not practicing with the starters. Another standout: Malcolm Koonce. I recall Mel Kiper asking Todd McShay about Koonce before the draft, with McShay saying “Your single most overrated player in this entire class.” Apparently everyone is so far happy with the 6’3 pass rusher.
Broncos: The team drafted center Lloyd Cushenberry in the third round last year and then he was called one of the worst starting offensive linemen in the NFL in 2020. Rookie seasons can’t be judged like other seasons though, and Cushenberry is apparently much improved in 2021. Meanwhile, Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t looked like a QB who will run away with the competition, defensive lineman McTelvin Agim has surprised, and top pick Patrick Surtain II plays like a veteran. At the end of the roster, receiver Trinity Benson is making a push for the final 53.