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.
- From one flock of birds to another – we shift from Falcons news to cover a breaking story coming out of Glendale, where the Cardinals acquired a veteran safety to fill in for the recently-departed Tyrann Mathieu. Amidst a stagnant safety free agent market, Arizona signed Tre Boston to a one-year, $1.5 million deal Wednesday evening. Boston is coming off his best professional season by far, as he posted career-highs in starts (15), interceptions (five), pass deflections (eight) and tackles (79) as a member of the Chargers last season. Arizona declined to re-sign Tyvon Branch this offseason, leaving Antoine Bethea as Boston's primarily competitor for playing time opposite Buddha Baker.
- Kam Chancellor's NFL career moved one step closer to a premature conclusion Thursday, as Seattle placed the 30-year-old on the PUP list because of a neck injury that cost the safety seven games last season. Chancellor is not expected to resume his career due to the severity of the injury. "To walk away from the game by choice is one thing," Chancellor said in early July, "to walk away from the game because of the risk of paralysis is another." With Richard Sherman now a member of the 49ers and Chancellor's retirement seemingly inevitable, the Legion of Boom era in Seattle is officially over.
- Elsewhere on the west coast, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has yet to speak with two-time All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack since taking over the job in January, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. Schefter expanded upon his report Thursday by stating that he believes Gruden has attempted to contact the defensive captain, but to no avail. Besides from Derek Carr, there are no two men within the organization who will have a greater impact on Oakland's potential success this year than Mack and Gruden. Though not a death sentence for the relationship between the two, their lack of communication to this point merits cause for concern.
- In other AFC news – there have been some positive developments for young signal callers of the South Division, as both Deshaun Watson and Andrew Luck were under center for their respective squads Thursday. Watson took first-team reps for the Texans at training camp as he continues to ramp his way up to be the hopeful Week 1 starter. With two serious knee injuries suffered in his past four seasons with Clemson and Houston, there is cautious optimism surrounding the electrifying second-year man. Watson may be a budding Michael Jordan of the NFL as his former coach Dabo Swinney so famously labelled him, or he could be one false step from a career-ending injury.
- Meanwhile, Luck (shoulder) has graduated from his Nerf-ball throwing regimen (I joke) and became a full participant in Colts practice for the first time in nearly 19 months. "I thought he looked strong," head coach Frank Reich said Thursday, "it was a good first day for him." After the debacle that was the handling of the Luck injury last season, Colts fans breathe a collective sigh of relief with their franchise player appearing to be on trajectory for Week 1.
- Cross-conference, NFL fans were provided with additional quarterback news Thursday as the Harvard man himself, Ryan Fitzpatrick has been confirmed as the Buccaneers opening day starter. With Jameis Winston serving a three-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy, the wily Fitzpatrick will be handed the keys as Tampa Bay faces off against three division winners to open the season – New Orleans, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Fantasy owners of Mike Evans should not be dissuaded from plugging the star receiver into their lineups, as Evans put up 13-plus fantasy points during three of the four games in which he played with Fitzpatrick.
Some notes on a pair of promising, young NFC backs who could push into low-end RB1 range this year –
- Minnesota's Dalvin Cook (knee) was expected to be a full participant at the Vikings' first practice of training camp Thursday, but was instead eased back into the fold and did not participate in all of the drills during the inaugural session. Thankfully he was not wielding a knee brace, which is an encouraging sign that the 5-foot-10 Cook will be prepared for full contact in the near future.
- In Washington, rookie Derrius Guice took the majority of the reps with the first-team unit Thursday. The bulky back (5-foot-11, 225 pounds) fell to the 59th pick in April's draft despite receiving mid-first round grades due to alleged "character concerns," the root of which have yet to be identified. With a mix of speed, power and durability (played in 35 of LSU's 37 games between 2015 and 2017), Guice is the odds-on favorite to be the early-downs bell cow over Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine. Chris Thompson will get a healthy dose of touches on passing downs, but Guice is a near lock to carry the rock 200 times this year.
Until we return to the blog-verse Friday with more updates from NFL training camp, you stay classy San Diego.