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Marquise Goodwin paused: out of the track a year ago, so there is no information to the USADA

The United States Anti-Doping Agency suspended Marquise Goodwin on Tuesday for one year for failing to provide his whereabouts for drug testing, but the San Francisco 49ers wide receiver said in a statement that he is no longer competing in track and field.

USADA said in a statement that Goodwin received three whereabouts failures in a 12-month period. USADA requests the information from a select group of athletes for out-of-competition drug testing.

USADA said Goodwin’s suspension began on April 1, the date of his third whereabouts failure.

Goodwin, however, said in a statement provided by the 49ers that he decided to stop competing in track and field so he could focus on his football career and therefore did not supply his whereabouts information to USADA.

“Never in my life have I failed a test,” he said. “I have never been opposed to testing and, in fact, have always been compliant with each and every protocol and policy associated with my competitive career in track and field. More than a year ago, I decided to cease competing in the sport in order to concentrate 100 percent on my NFL career. Therefore, I discontinued all practices associated with competing in track and field, including submitting my ‘Whereabouts’ information.

Marquise Goodwin says he has given up on competing in track and field so he can focus fully on his NFL career.

Marquise Goodwin says he has given up on competing in track and field so he can focus fully on his NFL career.

“It appears that because I did not inform USADA of my plans, my name was inadvertently included in their 2017 testing pool. I greatly appreciate the support of the San Francisco 49ers and the National Football League as I work to clarify this matter,” he said in the statement.

The 49ers confirmed that Goodwin had given up his track and field career in order to fully concentrate on football. The team also said that the NFL will not discipline Goodwin under its policy against performance-enhancing drugs.

“Marquise informed our organization quite some time ago that he has no intentions of competing in track and field and has been entirely focused on his football career for more than a year. We have been in touch with the League office regarding this matter, and understand that Marquise will not be subject to discipline under the NFL Policy on Performance-Enhancing Substances as a result of USADA’s decision,” the team said in a statement.

Goodwin, 26, failed to qualify to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics, when he finished seventh in the men’s long jump at the U.S. Olympic team trials in Eugene, Oregon, last July. He jumped 27 feet, ¾ inches, more than a foot short of Jeffrey Henderson’s winning jump of 28 2¼ inches.

Goodwin, who was with the Buffalo Bills when he competed in the trials, signed with the 49ers as a free agent, receiving a two-year, $6 million contract with $4.45 million guaranteed.

After the playoffs, Martavis Bryant returned to Steelers

LATROBE, Pa. — Martavis Bryant is not yet back to his old, explosive self after his first padded training camp practice in two years. But he vows to be very soon.

Bryant, who’s under conditional NFL reinstatement but was cleared for preseason work last week, said after Sunday’s session that he’s still getting his timing and football conditioning down. Bryant and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed on a few potential connections but got a big gain over the middle late in practice.

“I’m working on getting ready — I’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Bryant told reporters. “When the time comes, I’ll be ready to go … It’s been a long time. I’m just happy to be out here with my brothers.”

Both Bryant and the Steelers had expected the playmaker to start training camp with the rest of the team July 28, but the league hadn’t graduated the receiver to preseason work as part of his return from multiple drug violations and suspensions that cost him all of 2016.

Martavis Bryant, who's under conditional NFL reinstatement but was cleared for preseason work last week, said after Sunday's practice that he's still getting his timing and football conditioning down, but "when the time comes, I'll be ready to go."

Martavis Bryant, who’s under conditional NFL reinstatement but was cleared for preseason work last week, said after Sunday’s practice that he’s still getting his timing and football conditioning down, but “when the time comes, I’ll be ready to go.”

Bryant spent the first two weeks of camp attending meetings and catching passes on an auxiliary field during practices. Bryant said he has “no clue” what the holdup was, but but said he has done everything the league has asked of him.

Bryant, who has 15 touchdowns in 21 NFL games, received a warm reception from Steelers fans attending practice at St. Vincent College, but Bryant said if there’s any resentment from fans, he’s not sweating it.

“I’m out here to get better with my teammates and play football — outside of that, I’m not worried about it,” he said.

Bryant is confident the league will clear him for regular-season action, as he plans to “just handle my business, do what I’m supposed to do, maintain my sobriety.”

The Steelers’ quartet of Bryant, Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell (who’s under the franchise tag and hasn’t reported to camp) has spent a total of 21 minutes of game action together since 2015. Injuries and suspensions have affected the group.

Bryant, who said he recently had a “great conversation” with Roethlisberger to clear up any misunderstandings about his time away from the team, is expecting a big return for the big four.

“We’ve definitely got something special,” Bryant said. “The more work we put in, the better off we’ll be … When Le’Veon gets back, we’re going to put him to work as well.”

Martavis Bryant was cleared by the NFL to participate in the Steelers preseason game

LATROBE, Pa. — The NFL has cleared wide receiver Martavis Bryant to participate in preseason practices and games, according to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Bryant is still under conditional reinstatement and hasn’t been cleared for regular-season games, but Bryant has done what the league has asked of him since serving a yearlong suspension for multiple drug violations.

“[Bryant] will continue to be evaluated as to his readiness to participate in regular-season activities under the terms of his conditional reinstatement,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement.

Bryant participated in offseason work but was benched for training camp practices until now. Recently, he has been working out on an auxiliary field during those sessions.

Bryant is unlikely to play in Friday’s preseason opener against the New York Giants since he hasn’t logged a practice and the team travels on Thursday.

Bryant is an enormous talent, scoring 15 touchdowns in his first 21 NFL games. He has also missed 20 games for drug violations. Bryant said in the spring that he has been clean for a year and has redirected his life.

Welcome to Branden Albert is hypocritical about the Jaguar

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars are unlikely to allow recently retired offensive tackle Branden Albert to return to the team, which is the correct way to handle what has become a bizarre — and somewhat confusing — situation.

Albert doesn’t help the Jaguars much, if at all, on the field. During the only three training camp practices in which he participated, he looked nothing like a two-time Pro Bowl left tackle. He didn’t move well, had trouble in one-on-one pass-rush drills and seemed to be really bothered by the heat and humidity despite spending the past three seasons in Miami.

Cam Robinson, the Jaguars’ second-round pick (34th overall) appeared to be the better player and almost certainly would have won the starting job anyway. Albert would have been relegated to a backup swing tackle or maybe even moved inside to guard.

But the bigger reason for not allowing Albert to return goes to the culture and atmosphere that executive VP of football operations Tom Coughlin and head coach Doug Marrone are trying to establish. They are trying to inject more discipline and accountability into a franchise that has won only 17 games over the past five seasons. Allowing Albert to return wouldn’t fit that.
Albert skipped the Jaguars’ entire offseason conditioning program and organized team activities, which was his right under the collective bargaining agreement because they are voluntary workouts. As a nine-year veteran he certainly knows how to get his body in shape and prepare for a season, and he did participate in the mandatory three-day minicamp in mid-June and reported for training camp with the rest of the veterans.

Branden Albert's decision to retire should be the end of his association with the Jaguars.

Branden Albert’s decision to retire should be the end of his association with the Jaguars.

But after only three practices in four days Albert abruptly decided to retire. That was just before the hardest stretch of what Marrone promised to be the most physical training camp the franchise has seen since Coughlin’s first tenure here ended in 2002. The Jaguars went five consecutive days in full pads last week (six out of seven days because the first day in full pads came before the players’ first day off), which is rare in today’s NFL.

That was designed to hopefully begin to instill some of the toughness that Coughlin and Marrone said was missing from the team the past several seasons. It might not have been as grueling as Marrone would have liked because temperatures rarely topped 90 degrees — a rarity for August — but it was still a brutal week, and the team had its most physical practice of camp last Thursday.

Albert missed it all after walking into Marrone’s office last Monday morning to announce his retirement. He was gone from the facility before lunch, which meant he spent a total of seven days with his teammates: three days of minicamp and four days of camp, including an off day.

Letting Albert return now, when the grind of camp becomes more manageable now that preseason games are beginning, certainly wouldn’t fit the Jaguars’ mantra of accountability and discipline. Can’t imagine his teammates, who slogged through the past week while he was off, would be very welcoming, either.
Not to mention that it’s also bad optics for a franchise that, quite frankly, has been one of the league’s worst over the past decade. They’ve had a top-five draft pick for an NFL-record six consecutive years, they’ve lost 11 or more games in each of the past six seasons, and they haven’t had a winning record since 2007.

A player near the end of his career with declining skills and a recent battle with injuries at one of the most critical positions on offense retires for a week then re-joins a team that can’t get out of its own way? It’s the Jaguars? OK, that fits.

The Jaguars should tell Albert no thanks and move forward. They’ve already gotten back the seventh-round draft pick they sent to Miami for Albert in March. Don’t further compound the mistake of trading for him in the first place.

Derek Carr is looking forward to Marshawn Lynch running through his face,

NAPA, Calif. — What does Derek Carr think will happen after he hands off the football to Marshawn Lynch in a regular-season game?

“He’s going to run through some people’s faces,” the Oakland Raiders quarterback said of his new running back. “I think that’s what he’s going to do. He’s going to protect the quarterback … he’s good at that. Very physical. That part of the game is fun to him.

“I tend to like to slide or go over people, and he likes to go through them.”

Yes, that’s part of the reason the Raiders acquired Lynch in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks after he came out of his one-year retirement: to be a punishing runner in a high-octane offense.
So it matters little that through four training camp practices DeAndre Washington has been the one taking most of the snaps with the first team. The job description is all Lynch.

The addition of Marshawn Lynch has elevated already high expectations for the Raiders, coming off a playoff season.

The addition of Marshawn Lynch has elevated already high expectations for the Raiders, coming off a playoff season.

“Just to play in Oakland,” Lynch said in June, “is like a dream come true, or something like that.”

The addition of Lynch has elevated the already high expectations for Oakland, which is coming off a 12-4 season and its first playoff appearance since the 2002 season.

The anticipation is palpable at camp, though Carr is trying to quell it in Napa.
“You always want people saying good things around this time,” Carr said. “But also we know that that’s only because of what happened last year; that’s not even this team. We know what we need to do better.

“We didn’t even beat Kansas City … last year. So I don’t know why everyone is so excited.”

Indeed, while Carr’s first career NFL victory came against the Chiefs, in 2014 after an 0-10 start to the season, he is a combined 1-5 against them.

“We have a lot more work to do to be a better football team,” Carr said. “I understand the excitement of the people that we have, but I don’t understand the excitement of how we finished so far. We need to do a better job there. I think that that’s what keeps our team focused.

“One day when we reach our goal, we’ll look at it and say, ‘Well, that was cool, now we know how to do it’ kind of a thing. Always looking forward to that.”

Almost as much as anticipating Lynch running through someone’s face.

Rookie Josh Jones hit, intercept him into the team defense plan

GREEN BAY, Wis. — When rookie Josh Jones kept making play after play in the offseason practices, there was the typical guarded reaction around the Green Bay Packers.

“We like to reserve judgment when it’s just helmets and shorts,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said at the time. “But I think he looks the part.”

Two days into full-pads practices, Jones continues to make plays.
On Monday, he not only came up with his first training camp interception, but he also had a pass breakup and at least one quarterback pressure that would have been a sack had he been allowed to deliver a hit.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy on versatile defender Josh Jones: "He plays with a tenacity, he's always around the football."

Packers coach Mike McCarthy on versatile defender Josh Jones: “He plays with a tenacity, he’s always around the football.”

“I’m excited to see what he does in preseason,” veteran cornerback Davon House said.

If Jones continues on his current path, he’ll likely pass that test as well. The second-round pick from N.C. State is on course for a significant role on defense, whether it’s at safety or inside linebacker — or some combination of both.
Jones and another hard-hitting young player, Kentrell Brice, appear to be in a battle for playing time in a package called “Nitro” in which defensive coordinator Dom Capers uses a safety — usually Jones or Morgan Burnett — at inside linebacker and then plays five defensive backs.

“He’s for sure a thumper,” House said of Jones. “He made a pick today, so he can cover, too.”

Jones’ interception came on a perfectly timed break on a pass Brett Hundley threw to the flat for running back Devante Mays. Jones said he read the play the entire way.

“I expected him to throw that,” Jones said. “And I was going to be there.”

Jones’ hard-hitting mentality almost caused a fight in the first padded practice, when he hit rookie receiver Malachi Dupre and then got an earful from veteran tight end Richard Rodgers. Packers defensive tackle Mike Daniels said it has already become clear that Jones is “here for business” — an attitude that he says the Packers need more of on defense.

“He’s exactly who we thought he was,” Daniels said of Jones. “He comes in with the right attitude, comes on the field with bad intentions. He has the right type of attitude that you want on defense. It’s nice to have him here. He’s already setting himself up to be a great leader here, just by the way he goes about his business.”

Said Packers coach Mike McCarthy: “He plays with a tenacity, he’s always around the football. He’s very instinctive, has that excellent range, so he’s off to a good start.”

As for Jones’ next step — that preseason opener on Aug. 10 against the Eagles — there’s little reason to think he won’t keep doing what he has done.

“I don’t look backwards, I don’t look forwards,” Jones said. “Today is the day. What I did today is in the past. Now I’m looking on what can I improve? I’m not worried about Aug. 10. I’m not worried about what happened yesterday. It’s just, I’m focused on what I did today.”

Answer each NFL team to enter the camp’s biggest problem

How will playing on a one-year deal affect Washington QB Kirk Cousins? Should the Colts count on Andrew Luck to start Week 1? What is Le’Veon Bell’s plan for the Steelers’ preseason?

As training camps around the league swing into full gear, NFL Nation reporters answer the biggest questions for each team heading into camp.

AFC East | AFC North| AFC South | AFC West
NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Does Tyrod Taylor have the supporting cast to provide the best evaluation of his performance?

Taylor is under the microscope after he agreed to a reduced contract this offseason that could allow the Bills to release him after the 2017 season and save $14 million of his $18.1 million cap number. Yet the Bills’ situation at receiver remains one of the murkiest in the NFL and it could affect how much Taylor is able to improve. Top wideout Sammy Watkins must stay healthy after missing chunks of his past two training camps with injuries, while newcomers Zay Jones and Andre Holmes each have something to prove in order to win the No. 2 job. There is also the possibility of an outside veteran such as Anquan Boldin entering the mix. — Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins

Will the Dolphins work out a contract extension with Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry?

To Landry’s credit, he has done all he can to not allow his contract status to become a distraction. He has said and done all the right things, including showing up for voluntary workouts in the spring. Landry is entering the final year of his rookie deal and will get paid either way. It’s just a matter of whether Miami handles it now or after the season. — James Walker

New England Patriots

Will Mike Gillislee seize the top running back job previously held by LeGarrette Blount?

Signed as a restricted free agent from Buffalo, where he was behind LeSean McCoy on the depth chart, Gillislee’s deal will pay him an average of about $3 million per season. That’s more money than the Patriots were offering Blount, who scored 18 rushing touchdowns in 2016. So they obviously see something in Gillislee that they think represents an upgrade, and training camp is the first time we’ll get to see the running game in full-pads practices.

New York Jets
Does Christian Hackenberg have a chance to win the quarterback job?

Yes, but it probably won’t happen until the season is underway. He has yet to take a regular-season snap, and he still hasn’t faced a starting defense in a game situation, counting the 2016 preseason. Chances are, the grizzled Josh McCown will land the job, but he’s considered a bridge QB. When Hackenberg is deemed ready, the job will be his. — Rich Cimini

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

Will the Ravens add an offensive lineman?

Yes, but likely only one. The Ravens lost two three-year starters (right tackle Ricky Wagner and center Jeremy Zuttah) and are currently replacing them with backups who couldn’t beat out Wagner or Zuttah last season. Baltimore would be inclined to sign a center and right tackle, but the team doesn’t have enough salary-cap room to do so. If Nick Mangold would lower his asking price, the Ravens would probably sign the free-agent center to take over for either John Urschel or Ryan Jensen. Baltimore also could look to upgrade over James Hurst at right tackle. — Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals

Will the Bengals’ offensive line come together?

The Bengals are breaking in starters at three new positions after losing Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler this offseason. Longtime tackle Andre Smith has re-signed with the Bengals to play guard for the first time, and the Bengals’ 2015 top draft picks, Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, will have to prove their worth at tackle. The Bengals have a lot of work to do after allowing 41 sacks last season. — Katherine Terrell

Cleveland Browns

Who emerges as the starting quarterback?

The only thing anyone can say for sure is it will be one of three. Cody Kessler has a year’s experience. Brock Osweiler opened some eyes in offseason work. And DeShone Kizer is the rookie learning his way. The Browns’ ultimate dream would be if Kizer seized the job with his camp and preseason performances. That would allow them to let him play immediately and grow from there. But the team was clear when minicamp ended in June that he’s not ready to start, so the position remains muddled. — Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers

What is Le’Veon Bell’s plan for training camp?

The Steelers’ star running back has yet to sign his franchise tender and recently told ESPN that he hadn’t decided when he would report to camp. Players understand the business aspect after Bell failed to reach a long-term deal with the team, but they’d like to see him at camp because of his importance to the team. Bell has recovered from offseason groin surgery but is training in South Florida and believes he doesn’t need many practices to be ready for the season. — Jeremy Fowler

AFC South

Houston Texans

Who will open the season as the Texans’ starting quarterback?

Coach Bill O’Brien says Tom Savage is the No. 1 guy right now, but given the two first-round picks Houston gave up to draft Deshaun Watson, he should get a legitimate look during training camp. Savage is entering his fourth season in the Texans’ system, but because of injuries, he has played in only five NFL games and has not thrown a touchdown pass. Regardless of who starts at quarterback in Week 1, O’Brien has shown he’s not shy about switching it up during the season. — Sarah Barshop

Indianapolis Colts

Will Andrew Luck be the Colts’ starting quarterback in Week 1?

The Colts hope that’s the case, but they’re not 100 percent sure yet. Luck was placed on the active physically unable to perform list with the anticipation that he’ll be ready for the start of the regular season. The Colts can’t say with certainty that Luck will be the starter against the Los Angeles Rams because he missed the entire offseason while rehabbing from January shoulder surgery. Luck finally resumed throwing the week of July 17. The next step for him is to return to the practice field. — Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars

Can Blake Bortles make the necessary strides to elevate his game?

Bortles leads the NFL in turnovers (63) and is second in interceptions (51) over the past three years, and the Jaguars have made it very clear to him that he must significantly decrease those numbers. While more attention is paid to his mechanics, it’s his decision-making that has to improve. He has to get rid of the ball quicker, not predetermine where he’s going with the ball, and become better at reading defenses. — Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans

Will Marcus Mariota adjust his playing style to stay healthy?

Headed into training camp, Mariota said he’s “ready to go with everything” seven months after suffering a broken right leg, his second consecutive season-ending injury. The Titans have high expectations in 2017, and all of them rely on Mariota, who plans to be a lighter, faster quarterback at 218 pounds this season, remaining healthy and more consistent. The Titans will need a lot out of their franchise quarterback, but the plan may need to shift to fewer designed runs and more sliding after scrambling to keep Mariota healthy for 16-plus games. — Cameron Wolfe

AFC West

Denver Broncos

How long will coach Vance Joseph wait to pick a starter at quarterback?

Joseph has said that what Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch did during the offseason program was geared toward learning Mike McCoy’s offense and didn’t count on the proverbial scorecard to win the job. However, at training camp, every throw, every decision, every word the two say in the huddle matters. Many of the Broncos’ players have said the sooner the team picks a starter, the better, but Joseph has said he’s in no hurry. Joseph has said he will “take however long it takes to pick the right guy” and that he’ll make a decision when he sees “separation.” Joseph has even said he would take the decision right up to the regular season, but a set of joint practices with the San Francisco 49ers to go along with the Aug. 19 preseason game against the 49ers will have a lot to do with his decision. — Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs

How much will QB Patrick Mahomes II play as a rookie?

The Chiefs are determined not to ruin Mahomes, and the quickest way to do that is to play him before he’s ready. Judging from the way Mahomes played during offseason practice, he won’t be ready for some time — perhaps next season. He’s beginning training camp as the No. 3 quarterback, and while he could rise on the depth chart at some point this year, he’ll have to earn the promotion. In the Chiefs’ perfect world, Mahomes won’t play at all in 2017. That means starter Alex Smith stays healthy and is playing well. — Adam Teicher

Los Angeles Chargers

How much, if any, will rookie receiver Mike Williams play in 2017?

The Clemson product was diagnosed with a lower-back disk herniation that kept him out of offseason work. Williams likely will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list, but he has responded positively after a second epidural shot. The Chargers hope he can make it onto the field at some point during training camp so they can get him ready for the regular season. — Eric D. Williams

Oakland Raiders

Who is the middle linebacker?

The Raiders play in the Black Hole at the Oakland Coliseum, but they also might have a black hole in the middle of their defense … at least when it comes to experience at the position. The guy who started 11 games there last season, Perry Riley Jr., remains unsigned. The guy who started the season at middle linebacker last season, Ben Heeney, is on the non-football injury list. And the guy who manned it in offseason workouts, Tyrell Adams, did not play a single snap on defense last season after being signed to the practice squad in early October before being promoted to the active squad in late November. The gig, it seems, is Adams’ to lose. — Paul Gutierrez

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

How well will the Cowboys rush the passer?

They don’t have a DeMarcus Ware type who will command attention from an offense on each snap, so they will rely on a quantity-over-quality approach. The Cowboys don’t have a player with a double-digit-sack season in his career. They believe they will have four or five players, such as DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Maliek Collins, Benson Mayowa and Taco Charlton, who can get five to eight sacks on the season. — Todd Archer

New York Giants

Did the Giants do enough to fix the offense?

They added wide receiver Brandon Marshall, tight end Evan Engram and blocking tight end Rhett Ellison this offseason, but they barely addressed the offensive line. It’s possible the Giants begin the season with the same five starters on the line, with Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart as the tackles. They should be improved but will still have some limitations with a below-average running game and line. — Jordan Raanan

Philadelphia Eagles

Will Carson Wentz take a giant leap forward in Year 2?

Coach Doug Pederson described Wentz as “refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to go” this week as the Eagles kicked off training camp. Wentz added that he is in “a way better place” mentally than this time a year ago when he was dealing with the major transition from North Dakota State to the pros. Now armed with Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith at receiver and with a year in this system under his belt, the expectation is that Wentz will take his game to another level in 2017. — Tim McManus

Washington Redskins

Will Kirk Cousins’ contract situation become a distraction?

Not to him. Cousins has been prepared all offseason for playing on the one-year franchise-tag deal — and was probably more annoyed last offseason when no long-term deal was reached. Playing in a similar spot last season let him know he can handle it. A bigger problem will be adjusting to life without productive receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Cousins needs Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson to be productive. — John Keim

NFC North

Chicago Bears

Does Mitchell Trubisky have a legitimate chance to start games as a rookie?

The Bears already promised the starting quarterback job to Mike Glennon, and they also signed veteran backup Mark Sanchez for good measure, but Trubisky was drafted No. 2 overall. If Trubisky doesn’t play in 2017, he would be Chicago’s second top-10 pick (Kevin White is the other) in the past three years to sit out his rookie season. The only other intrigue surrounding the Bears is John Fox’s job status (9-23 in Chicago), but Trubisky is a far more compelling figure as it relates to Chicago’s future. — Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions

Who is going to block Matthew Stafford’s blind side?

This shouldn’t have needed to be a question for the Lions, but then Taylor Decker had shoulder surgery and was deemed out indefinitely. He was placed on the PUP list Tuesday, and now, it’s an open competition. Two of the candidates — Cyrus Kouandjio (NFI list) and Corey Robinson (PUP) — also will start training camp sitting out. That leaves the Lions with two real potential options for now: Cornelius Lucas and Greg Robinson. Lucas re-signed with the Lions as a restricted free agent this offseason, and the Lions traded for Robinson during minicamp last month. But Detroit has to figure out some sort of solution here or this could be a rough start to the 2017 season. — Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers

Will Ty Montgomery be the Packers’ workhorse back?

When Eddie Lacy signed with the Seahawks and general manager Ted Thompson didn’t sign a veteran, it ensured that Montgomery would get the first crack at the starting job. And although coach Mike McCarthy proclaimed the former receiver as his starter even after the team drafted three running backs, he didn’t make any promises about Montgomery’s workload. It’s a safe bet Montgomery will get more than the 77 carries he got last season, but it might be a stretch to expect him to match Lacy’s 200-plus carry pace from his first two seasons. — Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings

How much better will the running game be?

The Vikings signed Latavius Murray, drafted Dalvin Cook and gave a combined $36.8 million to Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, two tackles who will likely bring more to the team as run-blockers than they will as pass protectors. It’s all to fix a ground game that was the league’s worst last season thanks in part to an inability to open holes at the line of scrimmage. As the Vikings seek to make things easier for Sam Bradford, improving their running game will be a major priority. — Ben Goessling

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

Who will start at right guard following the retirement of Chris Chester?

Entering camp, both Wes Schweitzer and Ben Garland are the prime candidates to fill Chester’s place. Falcons coach Dan Quinn said nothing will be decided until the team puts the pads on and until both Schweitzer and Garland get to play in preseason games. Schweitzer was inactive for every game last season as a rookie, while Garland’s primary contribution in 2016 was as a defensive lineman. — Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers

Can Cam Newton return to his 2015 MVP form, or at least get close to it?

The Panthers QB statistically had his worst season in 2016, and then he had surgery in March to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder. Camp is the first real test for that. The Panthers have surrounded Newton with more weapons, such as first-round draft pick Christian McCaffrey, so he can depend on other playmakers instead of carrying the load himself — particularly in the running game. How Newton plays will determine how far this team goes. — David Newton

New Orleans Saints

Who will replace Terron Armstead at left tackle?

Armstead will miss at least half the season after injuring his shoulder in minicamp — a big blow since he has emerged as one of the league’s top young tackles. The Saints would love for first-round draft choice Ryan Ramczyk to win the job in training camp. But the 32nd overall pick is an unknown since he played at Wisconsin for just one year and was still recovering from hip surgery in organized team activities and minicamp. He’ll compete with veterans Khalif Barnes and Bryce Harris. Andrus Peat, a 2015 first-round pick, is also an option, but coach Sean Payton said the Saints would prefer to keep Peat at left guard unless their hand is forced. — Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

How much better will Jameis Winston and the Bucs’ offense be with new weapons DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard?

The Bucs were 20th in the league last season in red zone scoring (TDs only), and it was a major point of emphasis this offseason. If they want to take things to the next level and possibly knock off the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers this season, or even the Atlanta Falcons in their own division, the offense needs to score more than 20-22 points per game, and that’s a realistic possibility with a smart veteran in Jackson and a gifted rookie in Howard. — Jenna Laine

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

Will the rest during OTAs, minicamp and training camp help quarterback Carson Palmer?

The early returns are, yes, it’s helping, but the true answer won’t be seen until midway through the season, when Palmer’s arm has gone through the ringer of practice, game, rest … and repeat eight more times. Should his arm be rested and healthier this season, it could be the launching point for the Cardinals to bounce back from a 7-8-1 season and return to the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. But if his arm doesn’t respond to the rest over the course of a season, then Palmer’s time in the NFL may be slowly coming to an end. — Josh Weinfuss

Los Angeles Rams

How much better is Jared Goff?

Nothing matters more to this franchise than that. The Rams moved up 14 spots to draft Goff No. 1 overall last year, but he never challenged for the starting quarterback job during training camp and never won a game during the regular season. His numbers through seven starts — 54.6 percent completion rate, 5.3 yards per attempt, 5 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and a 22.2 Total QBR — were dreadful. But a new coaching staff, led by the offense-minded Sean McVay, and a full year of NFL experience will surely help. What appears to be an improved offensive line also will help. How much better will Goff be in Year 2? The Rams are hoping it’s a lot better. — Alden Gonzalez

San Francisco 49ers

Will Reuben Foster be healthy and productive enough to win a starting job?

The Niners have insisted all along that Foster’s surgically repaired shoulder would be ready to go by the start of training camp, and there have been no indications otherwise since the offseason program ended. Even assuming Foster is healthy, he figures to be in a tight battle with veteran Malcolm Smith for the starting weakside linebacker job. Smith has the experience and knowledge of coordinator Robert Saleh’s defense to be the guy early on, but it still feels like just a matter of time before Foster steps into the starting lineup. — Nick Wagoner

Seattle Seahawks

Did Seattle do enough to address the offensive line?

Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider are tired of talking about it, but the offensive line remains the biggest question mark on the team. A healthy Earl Thomas will help the defense bounce back. And a healthy Russell Wilson will give the offense a lift. But if the Seahawks can’t protect him, they’ll be in trouble. Seattle signed Luke Joeckel to play left guard or left tackle, and the team drafted Ethan Pocic out of LSU in the second round. But much of the progress with this group will be determined by how much guys such as George Fant, Mark Glowinski and Germain Ifedi can improve in their young careers. — Sheil Kapadia

Robert Griffin III will provide the backup QB for the mobility of the charger

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said training camp will be all about competition, even at the quarterback position.

Well, it appears that Lynn stayed true to his word. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that former Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is scheduled for a workout with the Chargers on Tuesday.

The starting quarterback for the Chargers for the past decade, franchise quarterback Philip Rivers, is signed through the 2019 season and not going anywhere. However, the Chargers could be looking for a more mobile signal caller to back up Rivers, who is not known for his ability to escape outside the pocket.

University of Oregon product Kellen Clemens has served as Rivers’ backup for the last two seasons. The Chargers also have two developmental prospects on the roster in Mike Bercovici and Eli Jenkins.

But at 27 years old, Griffin could give the Chargers someone to provide a different look for opposing defenses on the oft chance Rivers gets injured.

The Chargers got an up-close look at Griffin last season, as the Baylor product helped lead the Browns to the team’s only win of the season, a 20-17 victory over the Chargers in Cleveland.

Griffin also would be a good fit for Lynn’s run-oriented offense. With the fleet-footed Tyrod Taylor leading Lynn’s offense in 2016, the Buffalo Bills had the No. 1-ranked running team, averaging 164.4 rushing yards per contest.

The last time the Chargers carried three quarterbacks on the active roster was 2013, and could do so again this year if Griffin is added to the mix for training camp, which starts Sunday.

In 2017 the New York Giants training camp was backed up by QB

The New York Giants open training camp July 27 at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, N.J. Here’s a closer look at the Giants camp:

Top storylines

How the new-look offense takes shape: The Giants added wide receiver Brandon Marshall in free agency and tight end Evan Engram in the draft. Paul Perkins is now the starter at running back. We’ll see if it makes a significant difference for an offense that averaged a paltry 19.4 points per game last season.

Brandon Marshall (15) will get plenty of opportunities opposite Odell Beckham Jr.

Brandon Marshall (15) will get plenty of opportunities opposite Odell Beckham Jr.

Is the offensive line good enough? There is a good chance the Giants go with the same line that started most of last season. That leaves massive doubts about their tackles. Left tackle Ereck Flowers dropped weight this offseason, but will it translate to a better, more effective player? Also, how will free-agent signing D.J. Fluker fit into the mix? Will he fit into the mix? We’ll find out quickly this summer.

Defense’s next step: The Giants allowed the second-fewest points (17.8 ppg) last season, and there’s potential for their defense to be even better in its second season together. The goal will be to keep this group healthy and find ways to integrate young players such as middle linebacker B.J. Goodson, safety Darian Thompson and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. Let’s see if they dominate this summer.

QB depth chart: Eyes will be on the Giants’ quarterback position this year more than most, and it has little to do with Eli Manning. He remains the unequivocal starter. But behind him there is intrigue with third-round pick Davis Webb and former New York Jets starter Geno Smith now in the mix. Smith and veteran Josh Johnson are expected to compete for the backup job, and Webb probably will serve as the third-stringer this season as he makes the massive jump to a pro-style offense. All their performances this summer will be scrutinized.

Bubble watch: Smith might be a former second-round pick and starter, but he’s far from guaranteed a spot on the roster. He’s coming off a major knee injury and is learning a new offense. If he doesn’t perform well this summer, the Giants won’t hesitate to end the experiment. Smith’s contract included only $325K in guaranteed money for a reason. He’s playing for a roster spot at training camp.

Rookies could start: Engram and Tomlinson are expected to contribute immediately. The Giants’ top two picks still need to prove capable of starting this summer. The Giants have players at tight end (Rhett Ellison, Will Tye and Matt LaCosse) and defensive tackle (Corbin Bryant, Jay Bromley and Robert Thomas) who will seriously compete for the jobs.

Top competition: Darian Thompson vs. Andrew Adams at free safety. Safeties coach David Merritt said this spring Adams earned the opportunity to be in the mix with the way he played last season as an undrafted rookie. He’ll have his work cut out for him, though. Thompson returns healthy, and the Giants are especially high on their 2016 third-round pick as a center fielder to play opposite Landon Collins. Thompson enters camp as the favorite, as long as his body cooperates.

The new middle linebacker: Goodson is slated to take over in the middle of the Giants’ defense after a strong spring in which he proved capable of being the team’s play-caller. It’s the second-year linebacker’s job to lose. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will be watching closely to see if Goodson can help take his defense to the next level as an upgrade over last season’s starter, Kelvin Sheppard.

For daily updates at camp, check out the New York Giants clubhouse page.

Each NFL attack and defensive ghosts of power

Every cloud has a silver lining, and every NFL team does some things well. Even the worst team has certain plays and tendencies in which the players are productive.

We’ve gone through Football Outsiders’ extensive statistical databases to point out specific strengths of each team in 2016: one for offense, one for defense. Some of these splits are significant for illuminating the strengths and weaknesses of each team’s personnel. Other splits tend to oscillate wildly from year to year, and a great performance in 2016 may not indicate that a team will be equally strong in the same ways in 2017. Either way, the numbers provide an interesting window into what each team did right last season.

Football Outsiders’ advanced metrics are explained here. The most important is Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, which measures success on each play compared to the league average, adjusted for situation and opponent. Because DVOA is measured on a per-play basis, it can easily be separated to measure specific splits; you’ll see a lot of those ratings below.

Charting stats such as frequency of blitzes, pass pressure and play-action come from ESPN Stats & Information research. Other charting metrics, including player personnel and broken tackles, come from Sports Information Solutions. You’ll be able to find many more of these stats in our Football Outsiders Almanac 2017, which will be released online on July 24.

AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West
NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West


Buffalo Bills

Offense: Running from two-back sets

The Bills were much better when they had a fullback or tight end in the backfield: 5.7 yards per carry and 24.4 percent DVOA from multi-back sets, compared to 4.6 yards and 7.4 percent DVOA from single-back sets. Fifty-seven percent of the Bills’ runs come out of multi-back sets last year, the highest rate in the league. Buffalo and New England were the only teams over 50 percent. Just five years ago, more than half the teams in the league were over 50 percent.

Defense: Play when trailing

One reason the Bills really weren’t blown out until the last week of the season: The defense never let opponents run away with a game. Although the Bills had one of the league’s worst defenses overall (27th in DVOA), they ranked third in defense when they were losing by more than a touchdown.

Miami Dolphins

Offense: Empty sets

The Dolphins were fabulous from empty-backfield sets: 8.9 yards per play and a league-leading 95.0 percent DVOA.

Defense: First-down pass defense

Overall, the Dolphins had an average pass defense, 16th-ranked DVOA in the NFL. But on first down, the Dolphins ranked third in pass-defense DVOA; only Denver and Pittsburgh were better.