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Training Camp Notes: Mason's Serious, And Don't Call Him Gurley

- Though 2015 first-round pick Todd Gurley has passed his conditioning test and will begin training camp on the Rams' active roster, 2014 third-round pick Tre Mason is expected to open the season as the starter. This shouldn't be all that surprising. Yes, the linebacker-thumping Gurley is exactly the kind of every-down force that teams and fantasy owners drool over, but he's still just eight months removed from tearing his ACL. Mason performed well enough last year for some to question the Rams for drafting Gurley with the No. 10 pick and he may be a shrewd late-round pickup to start the season. Sure, the Rams will undoubtedly try to phase Gurley in as the season progresses, but he's unlikely to take on a bell-cow role until later on. Mason has shown that he can put up solid numbers even in a supporting role. Last season, Mason tallied up 913 total yards and five total touchdowns despite only having three games in which he had 20 or more touches.

- The training wheels are coming off for Tyler Eifert, the Bengals' third-year TE. After missing virtually all of 2014 with a dislocated elbow, Eifert enters training camp healthy and with the No. 1 job his for the taking now that former teammate Jermaine Gresham resides in Arizona. Eifert is a more dangerous vertical threat than Gresham and has position flexibility. Expect him to stay busy. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson likes getting TEs the ball, as demonstrated by Gresham's 62 receptions last season and Zach Miller's 60 receptions in 2010 while Jackson was directing Oakland's offense.

- Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin is supposedly ready to go for camp and, according to head coach Ron Rivera, appears to be in good shape. That's a relief after reports from earlier this offseason suggested that the jumbo-sized receiver may have gotten a little too thick in the midsection. Benjamin, who was thought to be a raw prospect coming out of the 2014 draft, surprised many with his 73-reception rookie campaign, during which he tallied 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns. There are more than 100 million reasons to expect Benjamin to improve on those numbers in 2015. The Panthers just made Cam Newton a very rich man and, after watching the franchise QB play with a fractured rib last season, expect Rivera and offensive coordinator Mike Shula to try to keep Newton in the pocket more. Benjamin and 2015 second-round pick Devin Funchess could become a poor man's version of Tampa Bay's duo of statuesque deep threats.

- Reports out of San Diego are that rookie RB Melvin Gordon is picking up right where he left off in college, impressing the Chargers' coaching staff in the process. The Chargers' rushing attack was difficult to watch at times last season, and so this news only supports early indications that Gordon will beat out last year's returning backs on his way to the top job. While this is great for Chargers fans and fantasy owners to hear, it'll be QB Philip Rivers dancing in the street in his bolo tie come September. With limited support in the running game, Rivers saw his completion percentage drop by 3 percent from 2013 to 2014 and his 32:11 TD: Int rate turned into 31 touchdowns with 18 interceptions. It'd be fair to expect Rivers' performance to rebound along with the Chargers' ground game.

- Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer says that he is impressed with the progress WR Cordarrelle Patterson has shown. That's great in theory, but easing his way out of the dog house doesn't necessarily mean more playing time for Patterson. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner has been effusive in his praise of fellow WR Charles Johnson, and the team didn't trade for Mike Wallace because they were longing to spend the money. Jarius Wright seems to have the inside track on the slot job, meaning that Patterson is starting the season as no better than Minnesota's fourth receiving option. Patterson was taken in the first round for a reason, so he certainly has the talent to garner more playing time, but for now assume that second-team reps speak louder than kind words.

- So much for shoring up the TE room. Both 2014 second-round pick Troy Niklas and recently signed free agent Jermaine Gresham are injured for the Cardinals. Gresham is still recovering from back surgery and is likely to miss the first two or three weeks of camp. Niklas is battling back from a sore hamstring that stemmed from an ankle injury that ended his rookie season. Journeyman Daniel Fells is left with the first-team reps. The last time head coach Bruce Arians had two quality TEs on his squad, he helped turn the Colts around. There's enough talent to give Cardinals fans hope that the team can improve upon its TE play from last season, but they'll have to wait for it.

- James Jones is off the free-agent market, as he is reportedly ready to sign a contract with the Giants on Friday. Jones is nothing if not consistent, and anybody capable of picking up 666 yards and six touchdowns in that thing the Raiders called an offense last season deserves a job in the NFL.  Jones will certainly play behind Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham, but may give Rueben Randle a run at the No. 3 position. If nothing else, he provides a solid veteran presence for Big Blue as Cruz and Beckham ease back from injuries.