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Training Camp Notes - Reporting For Duty

Among the NFL's franchises, the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers were the first to report to their respective summer bases of operation Saturday. With their initial practices slated to take place Sunday, both teams enter with question marks dotting the roster. The Vikings are merely awaiting word on the health of certain members of the defense – linebacker Anthony Barr,  defensive end Brian Robison, and cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Robinson – but the Steelers have yet to learn the status of a primary playmaker in Le'Veon Bell. The running back appealed his three-game suspension stemming from a violation of the league's substance abuse policy, and despite a three-month wait, commissioner Roger Goodell has failed to schedule a meeting to determine whether the ban will stand. If Goodell opts to uphold the suspension, Bell will yield running-back duties to DeAngelo Williams for the first three games of the season.

No other organization has a report date before Wednesday, July 29, but the NFL isn't without a shortage of news on the eve of training camp:

  • While the situations surrounding Bell and Tom Brady remain without resolution, the league handed down punishments to two IDPs in the AFC West. Fans of the Chiefs woke up Friday to top cornerback Sean Smith receiving a three-game ban for pleading guilty to a DUI in June. The six-year pro has racked up one or two interceptions in each of the past five seasons, during which he's notched at least 50 tackles on four occasions. On a lesser note, another defender within the division learned of the consequences surrounding the NFL's Performance Enhancing Drug policy. Entering his fourth campaign, Derek Wolfe is slated to miss the first four contests due to a violation of said policy, thus leaving the Broncos without a 43-game starter along their defensive front to start the season.
  • The Saints handed Junior Galette a four-year, $41.5 million extension last September, but the union between the two has been rife with headaches in the interim. Although he contributed double-digit sacks for a second consecutive season, he was also a source of chemistry issues on the defense, including a pregame fight with a teammate in 2014. After an offseason in which revelations of two domestic-violence related accusations came to light, the team has opted to jettison the pass rusher from their ranks entirely. He's so far avoided charges in both instances, but the league is exploring video of a 2013 incident in which he's seen striking a woman with a belt in the midst of a fight on a Florida beach. If another squad takes a chance on the beleaguered linebacker, his playing status will be in tenuous waters with a suspension likely to accompany the transaction.
  • After a tour of tight-end needy cities, Jermaine Gresham made a decision regarding his place of employ for the upcoming season: the Arizona Cardinals. His destination remained unknown until Friday due to surgery in March to repair a herniated disc in his back, but the signing indicates that a physical was passed. He'll immediately jump to the top of an inexperienced TE corps that includes Darren Fells and 2014 second-round pick Troy Niklas, among others. In addition to the ready opportunity, Gresham teams up with the quarterback from his rookie campaign in 2010, Carson Palmer, who helped the receiver accumulate 52 catches (on 83 targets) for 471 yards and four touchdowns. Because he's one of three tight ends to record 40-plus receptions, 400 or more receiving yards, and at least four touchdowns in each of the last five seasons – also, Antonio Gates and Greg Olsen – Gresham is a prime low-risk, high-reward option for a team previously devoid of a legitimate threat at the position.