One week. One week to the day until the 2018 NFL regular season kicks off, oh what a time to be alive. For many teams, the starters will be out of the lineup entirely during the fourth and final week of the preseason slate. Meanwhile nearly 40 undrafted rookies, practice squad guys and veterans on every roster find their NFL dreams hanging in the balance. On this Thursday edition of Rotowire Training Camp Notes: Mychal Kendricks is let go by Cleveland, Rob Gronkowski and Robert Woods have restructured contracts, and one of the game’s all-time sack leaders retires. Let’s get it rockin’ and rollin’ ladies and gentlemen.
Two weeks of preseason play remain, with exactly 14 days until the dawn of the 2018 NFL regular season featuring a Thursday night tilt between the most-recent NFC Champions in Philadelphia and Atlanta. While it’s challenging to refrain from shifting focus to the approaching start of the regular season, this stage of the league calendar is intriguing in it’s own right, with trades, injuries and position battles galore. On this edition of Rotowire Training Camp Notes: we discuss a long-time Green Bay receiver who is staying at home after reports swirled this week indicating that he could be on the training block, and a superstar Cowboys’ offensive lineman who is suffering from an extremely rare health condition that could cost him the season, if not his entire career.
As we roll into the second week of preseason action, plenty has developed since our last Thursday update: Per esteemed colleague Juan Carlos Blanco’s column we were informed that Derrius Guice will miss all of 2018 with a torn ACL, Roquan Smith finally consented to become the final first-round rookie to sign with his team, and Browns coordinators Todd Haley and Gregg Williams had an explosive confrontation on the second episode of Hard Knocks. As for today, however, let’s run through the major headlines from training camp around the league, and then discuss some of the highlights from the first set of Week 2 preseason matchups:
Today brings us our first full slate of preseason action with 12 highly-anticipated matchups, including 10 cross-conference showdowns and two tilts between playoff teams from last season (Saints v. Jaguars and Eagles v. Steelers). We get our first glimpse at the No. 1 and No. 2 overall draft picks from the 2018 NFL Draft as the Browns visit the Meadowlands to take on the G-Men, and Andrew Luck sees his first live game action in 19 months. Perhaps most notably, we get to watch the notorious chain-snatcher himself, Aqib Talib face off with Michael Crabtree as the Rams and Ravens battle in Baltimore.
We’ve waited six months for this. It may be exhibition football, but its football, and NFL fans across the nation are locked in for tonight’s Hall of Fame Game between the Bears and the Ravens, the first live game action in 179 days. Here’s how much we love football as a society — last year’s preseason opener pulled in 7.8 million total viewers. Compare that to baseball, where excluding the World Series, the 2017 MLB postseason averaged 4.8 million viewers per game (which was the most since 2011).
With 28 of the NFL’s 32 franchises having begun training camp at this point, the Twitter feed is a-buzzing with stories pertaining to position battles, contractual holdouts and injury updates. Let’s get the NFL update train rolling in Hotlanta —
- In a surprising development, Falcons receiver Julio Jones changed course on his anticipated holdout from training camp, electing to report to Flowery Branch with the rest of the roster on Thursday afternoon. Jones displayed dissatisfaction with his contract earlier this offseason by sitting out for the team’s OTAs and mandatory minicamp, and as recently as Tuesday it appeared inevitable that the five-time Pro Bowler would be a no-show for the start of training camp. After lengthy negotiations, the front office approved adjustment to Jones’ contract, allowing a few million dollars from the back end of his deal to be pulled into 2018, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.