Friday felt like the first day where training camp was hitting on all cylinders, as all 32 teams were in action in some form or fashion. There was plenty of contract news on the day as well, with two key quarterback protectors receiving significant extensions. Some players that were injured last season are already looking encouragingly back to form, but there was a season-ending injury that also unfortunately transpired in camp-opening conditioning work Friday.
With plenty to cover around the league, let's get right to business!
Around the AFC
Bengals: Tyler Eifert, who's played in only 11 of a possible 48 games in three of his past four seasons, is on the mend once again as Bengals camp opens. This time around, there seems to be some disparity between the tight end's assessment of his own readiness for the regular season following the October 2017 back surgery that cut last season short, and that of some team officials. While there had been some reports he'd suffered a setback in his recovery earlier in the offseason, Eifert beat back those rumors Thursday, saying that the deliberate approach he's taken is all part of a plan to not rush his return. Eifert is on the PUP list to begin camp, and time will ultimately tell whether his assertion that there's "no doubt" he'll be ready for Week 1 is accurate.
Bills: A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman have opened camp splitting first-team reps in what may be one of the more underwhelming quarterback battles in recent memory. Irrespective of who's under center Week 1, the outlook remains fairly bleak for the Bills offense, which has questions throughout the depth chart beyond LeSean McCoy and perhaps tight end Charles Clay. Even No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin isn't the surest of propositions given his injury history, and the depth behind him is questionable. McCarron does bring a slightly more successful NFL resume to the table than Peterman, as the former Bengal has completed 118 of 188 passes (62.8 percent) with a 9:8 TD:INT over 11 games the last three seasons.
Chargers: Speaking of talented but oft-injured players, cornerback Jason Verrett appears set to miss the entire 2018 season after tearing his Achilles during his camp-opening conditioning test Friday. Verrett is initially being placed on the PUP list, but that's a mere precursor to an eventual final landing spot of season-ending injured reserve. The 27-year-old will have missed 55 out of a possible 80 games to begin his career by the time the curtain closes on the 2018 campaign, and he'll head into 2019 having played just five games over the prior three seasons. Naturally, the Chargers pass defense will suffer a downgrade in his absence, although it's worth noting the team has no shortage of experience playing without him given his checkered medical past.
Chiefs: Sammy Watkins is reportedly making an excellent first impression at the opening of Chiefs camp, with this 60-yard reception of a pass from the arm of Patrick Mahomes on a post route particularly eliciting cheers during Thursday's session. Head coach Andy Reid has also praised Watkins' work ethic, which has been evidenced by his willingness to put in extra reps and work after practice with Mahomes. A healthy Watkins – which accurately describes him at present – projects to be a vital component of an offense that could be responsible for plenty of sleepless nights among defensive coordinators this coming season.
Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill has been practicing wearing a brace on his surgically repaired left knee after not wearing it during OTAs, but it's apparently done nothing to impede him. The veteran quarterback has drawn rave reviews from head coach Adam Gase, who's been especially pleased with Tannehill's command of his offensive system since the spring. It's technically Tannehill's third season working with Gase's scheme, although he naturally was limited to classroom work and clipboard duty throughout 2017 while recovering from the torn ACL he suffered in last year's camp. With receivers DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills also having another season in Gase's offense under their respective belts – and offseason additions Albert Wilson, Danny Amendola and second-round tight end Mike Gesicki in the fold as well – Tannehill will have some diverse weapons to work with in his comeback year...Speaking of the Fins' new pass catchers, Amendola has reportedly gotten more first-team reps than Wilson thus far, although that could naturally be subject to change.
Jaguars: Donte Moncrief joined the walking wounded Friday, as he left practice early with an ankle injury. He remains day-to-day for now, but it's not the best look for a player who missed 12 games over his last pair of campaigns in Indianapolis. The Jaguars also have some talented depth at receiver in Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole, so Moncrief doesn't yet have a lock on the No. 2 job opposite Marqise Lee.
Jets: The team's receiving corps has some uncertainty to it beyond presumed top two options Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse, but hope is building for the health of Quincy Enunwa, who missed all of last season with a neck injury. Enunwa had flashed plenty of promise in 2016 while racking up 58 receptions for 857 yards and four touchdowns, so the hope is that he'll secure one of the top three spots on the depth chart. He began training camp with no-contact work Friday, but he was at least able to participate to an extent. The same couldn't be said for offseason add Terrelle Pryor, who was working on the side with trainers while continuing the final steps of his recovery from November 2017 arthroscopic surgery on his ankle. Once thought to be on his way to entering the upper echelon of receivers in the AFC following a 77-reception, 1,007-yard, four-touchdown 2016 campaign in Cleveland, Pryor was a complete washout in DC in 2017 (20 receptions, 240 yards, one touchdown) before his injury.
Ravens: Kenneth Dixon waited a whole year to get back on the field after missing all of 2017 with a torn meniscus, and unfortunately, a hamstring injury already cost him one camp practice Friday. Dixon had apparently tweaked the hammy Thursday and exited that day's session early, and he remains day-to-day for now. The battle for the backup job behind Alex Collins between Dixon and Javorious Allen figures to be an intriguing one, but Dixon has to prove he can stay on the field first.
Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger apparently opened some eyes by showing up to camp with a notably slimmer physique, although he played coy when asked to give a specific number in terms of pounds shed. The mercurial veteran did concentrate on his diet during the offseason, working with a nutritionist to give his eating habits a bit of an overhaul. Not mobile in the traditional sense, Roethlisberger nevertheless displays Dan Marino-like shiftiness in the pocket, and if he hasn't lost any strength along with the weight, the lighter poundage could make him more effective in avoiding the pass rush and buying time to get the ball downfield to a talented and speedy starting wideout duo of Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Titans: The Titans took care of some contractual business Friday, signing offensive tackle Taylor Lewan and veteran tight end Delanie Walker to extensions. Lewan's was the headliner of the two, considering that at five years and $80 million (with $50 million guaranteed), it qualifies as the contract with highest annual value for an offensive lineman ever. The Titans naturally feel protecting Marcus Mariota's blind side was worth backing up the proverbial Brinks truck for the 2014 first-round pick.
By comparison, Walker's two-year extension – worth $17 million – was a drop in the bucket. Walker has been one of Mariota's favorite targets since the latter entered the league in 2015, and he's proven extremely durable to boot. The 33-year-old has played in 76 of a possible 80 regular-season games during the five years of his current Titans stint, racking up no fewer than 60 receptions and as many as 94 over that stretch.
Around the NFC
Buccanneers: The Bucs naturally are preparing for life without Jameis Winston for the first three games of the regular season, which means plenty of work with the ones for veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick during camp. The good news is that not only does Fitz bring 10 seasons of NFL experience to the table, but that he displayed some solid rapport with the team's pass catchers last season while filling in for Winston and seeing action in six games overall. Some of that chemistry was on display Friday, when he connected with DeSean Jackson on a 60-yard fade route during practice. Jackson logged 19 receptions and a pair of receiving scores last season off the arm of Fitzpatrick, so the two have a modest but tangible track record... One battle to watch in Tampa this summer is for the primary running back job, with incumbent Peyton Barber and second-round pick Ronald Jones III as the featured combatants. Although Barber received most of the first-team reps in Thursday's camp-opening session, Jones saw appreciably more work with the starters Friday than he had a day prior.
Cowboys: Receivers have been a focal point of camp thus far, and that even includes one no longer on the roster. As far as current Cowboys go, there's been positive news, as offseason addition Deonte Thompson has been participating in team drills after being sidelined in minicamp with an Achilles issue, while fellow newcomer Tavon Austin has been getting reps as a wideout as well. Terrance Williams was also spotted running full speed in Friday's session after offseason foot surgery, certainly an encouraging sign. However, former Cowboy Dez Bryant managed to cause a stir with a social media response to some perceived criticisms from Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones a day earlier in a radio interview, going on a Twitter barrage against the organization and also accusing former teammates Sean Lee and Travis Frederick of playing a role in getting him out of Dallas. Bryant could soon have an opportunity to channel his anger into some seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills, as the Browns are reportedly close to offering him a deal.
Falcons: Jake Matthews was the one who got the big check, but it's likely that Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman were all pretty happy with the stalwart tackle's five-year, $75 million extension Friday. Matthews has been an integral part of the success of the offense since entering the league as a first-round pick in 2014, and Atlanta will need him to provide his usual stellar body of work in order for its talented crop of skill players to generate their typical levels of fantasy production again in 2018.
Giants: Odell Beckham undeniably has the ability to cause a few headaches for team brass and the coaching staff when he sets his mind to it, but he's been eliciting nothing but smiles in recent weeks. First, the talented wideout opted to report to camp instead of holding out as had been rumored, and he's looked to be in top form while practicing full speed over the first two days. Beckham participated in 11-on-11 drills from the first practice of camp after being limited to individual drills in OTAs and minicamp during the offseason, with his intensity already catching Eli Manning's eye. Last October's ankle fracture appears to be firmly in the rearview mirror, and it's also worth noting new head coach Pat Shurmur has already had Beckham working out of both the slot and in bunch formations over the first two practices (Beckham primarily worked as the "X" receiver for most of the last two seasons).
Rams: As expected, perennial Pro Bowler Aaron Donald was placed on the Reserve/Did Not Report list Friday. The move was a mere formality, as Donald appears entrenched in his holdout position for the time being as he angles for a contract extension. The 27-year-old would appear to have a strong case, considering he's generated a whopping 39 sacks over his first four seasons from the interior of the defensive line.
Redskins: Jordan Reed has become notorious for spending more time off the field than on it over his star-crossed career, but the tight end is at least sounding the right notes regarding his health entering camp. The primary culprit in Reed's six-game 2017 season – his toes – both had some work done this offseason that might eliminate any further problems. Reed has the sesamoid bone in each toe removed and reports that he is consequently pain-free for the first time in at least a year. The 28-year-old is still projected to be brought along slowly in camp and preseason, but Week 1, at least for the time being, doesn't appear to be in question. Reed will need to get a meaningful amount of reps this summer to get acquianted with new quarterback Alex Smith, who certainly showed what he could do for an athletic tight end's fantasy production during his Kansas City days.
Seahawks: There's a battle for the starting running back job unfolding this summer in the Pacific Northwest, and incumbent Chris Carson is apparently being given first crack at running with the starters. Carson looked like he might be the answer to a Seahawks running game that was mostly missing in action in 2016 when he started off his rookie 2017 campaign strong over his first three-plus games. However, he hurt both his ankle and knee against the Colts in Week 4, ending his season. Seattle subsequently tabbed Rashaad Penny with the 27th overall pick in April's draft, and the San Diego State product brings no shortage of eye-popping numbers after having racked up a jaw-dropping 2,248 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns in his senior season with the Aztecs. The battle should be an intriguing one to monitor throughout the summer, with a fairly even timeshare in the backfield once the regular season starts a distinct possibility.