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, NovaCare Complex, PhiladelphiaLAST YEAR: Won
first Super Bowl title and franchise's first NFL championship since 1960,
defeating Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Patriots. Overcame losing several key
players to injury, including QB Carson Wentz, LT Jason Peters, LB Jordan Hicks
and others. Backup QB Nick Foles led way after Wentz tore ACL in Week 14,
earning Super Bowl MVP honors. Coach Doug Pederson's offense was balanced yet
aggressive. Players bought into team-first attitudes. Defense thrived under
coordinator Jim Schwartz. DT Fletcher Cox anchored deep line that included Super
Bowl hero Brandon Graham. Special teams were solid despite losing PR Darren
Sproles. Rookie K Jake Elliott showed strong leg.IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: DE Michael
Bennett, DT Haloti Ngata, WR Mike Wallace, LB Corey Nelson, TE Richard Rodgers,
rookie TE Dallas Goedert.IMPORTANT LOSSES: Offensive coordinator Frank Reich, QB
coach John DeFilippo, TE Trey Burton, RB LeGarrette Blount, DE Vinny Curry, CB
Patrick Robinson, LB Mychal Kendricks, WR Torrey Smith, DT Beau Allen, TE Brent
Celek, P Donnie Jones.CAMP NEEDS: Wentz will be closely monitored but there's no
urgency to rush him with Foles still on team. His rehab will be biggest story
this summer. Other key players returning from injury include Peters, Hicks,
Sproles, special teams ace Chris Maragos and DT Tim Jernigan. Defense needs LB
to emerge as replacement for Kendricks and CB to replace Robinson at nickel
spot. Both QBs need to build chemistry with new Nos. 2-3 TEs.EXPECTATIONS:
Trying to become first Super Bowl champs to repeat since 2003-04 Patriots, and
anything less will be considered disappointment. Wentz, Peters and other star
players who missed playoffs last year are determined to win it all and won't let
teammates get complacent. Overall, team improved on paper but it'll be difficult
to match unique bond last year's group had.DALLAS COWBOYS (9-7)OPEN CAMP: July
26, Oxnard, CaliforniaLAST YEAR: Cowboys missed playoffs year after dynamic
rookie tandem of QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott fueled Dallas to
NFC-best 13 wins. Elliott's six-game suspension during season over domestic
violence allegations was big reason. Prescott's performance dipped after winning
NFL Offensive Rookie of Year in 2016. Offensive line was less consistent than
usual. Defense was solid but not spectacular.IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: LB Leighton
Vander Esch, WR Allen Hurns, G Connor Williams, WR Tavon Austin Buccaneers
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, WR Michael Gallup, TE Dalton Schultz, T Cameron
Fleming, secondary coach/passing game coordinator Kris Richard.IMPORTANT LOSSES:
TE Jason Witten, WR Dez Bryant, LB Anthony Hitchens, CB Orlando Scandrick.CAMP
NEEDS: Cowboys need to sort out jumbled picture at receiver and tight end after
dumping Bryant in cost-cutting move and somewhat surprising retirement of
Witten, who went into broadcasting. WR Terrance Williams broke foot and was
arrested during tumultuous offseason when Cowboys needed to know if he could
take Bryant's place atop receiving depth chart. Barring unexpected resurgence
from six-year veteran, replacing Bryant will fall to Hurns and collection of
rookies, other young players. Geoff Swaim likely to get first crack at replacing
Witten, but Dallas likes Blake Jarwin. LB Jaylon Smith needs to show
explosiveness in second season since recovery from major knee injury in college.
Sean Lee needs to stay healthy. Without those developments, heavy responsibility
could fall on Vander Esch as rookie.EXPECTATIONS: Coach Jason Garrett has two
playoff appearances and one postseason win in seven full seasons. Elliott saga
and untimely injuries, particularly to offensive line, gave him pass last
season. Hard to imagine owner Jerry Jones sticking with him if Cowboys miss
playoffs again, particularly after offseason overhaul of coaching staff. Healthy
and eligible Elliott figures to be factor in NFL rushing race after leading
league as rookie two years ago. Elliott still led league in yards rushing per
game during suspension-marred season. Prescott wasn't as good at protecting ball
year after rookie record for passer rating. Cowboys want him to feed off
Elliott-powered running game. Dallas believes young talent in secondary can help
defense make difference. Cowboys could use repeat from DeMarcus Lawrence, who
finished second in NFL with 14陆 sacks last season and will play on franchise
tag. Lawrence needs help, and prime candidate would be Taco Charlton, last
year's first-round pick.WASHINGTON REDSKINS (7-9)OPEN CAMP: July 26, Richmond,
VirginiaLAST YEAR: Injuries, ineffective running game and porous run defense
derailed playoff hopes. Nine starters were on injured reserve by end of season,
including left tackle Trent Williams, tight end Jordan Reed, and linebacker
Mason Foster. Quarterback Kirk Cousins surpassed 4,000 yards for third straight
year, threw for 27 touchdowns and ran for four, but had three interceptions in
season finale that turned out to be final game with team. Blowing 31-16 lead at
New Orleans in November ended realistic postseason hopes before Thanksgiving.
Receiver Josh Doctson showed hope for future with 35 catches for 502 yards and
team-high six TDs. First-round pick Jonathan Allen flashed elite ability on
defensive line before foot injury halted season five games in. Defense allowed
348 yards and 24 points per game. Offense couldn't keep up while down several
key weapons.IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: QB Alex Smith, WR Paul Richardson, LB Pernell
McPhee, CB Orlando Scandrick, rookie RB Derrius Guice, rookie DL Daron
Payne.IMPORTANT LOSSES: Cousins, WR Terrelle Pryor, WR Ryan Grant Cheap
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, TE Niles Paul, C Spencer Long, LB Will
Compton, CB Kendall Fuller, CB Bashaud Breeland.CAMP NEEDS: Sort out crowded
field of running backs that includes Guice, previous starter Robert Kelley,
Chris Thompson, and 2017 fourth-round pick Samaje Perine. Guice has talent and
pedigree to emerge as feature back. Smith must get on same page with coach Jay
Gruden and develop chemistry with Reed, Doctson, Jamison Crowder and rest of
targets after years of them working with Cousins. Williams will get opportunity
to show he's healthy after surgery to repair torn tendon in right knee. On
defense, Scandrick will compete with Fabian Moreau and Quinton Dunbar for
starting spot along with Josh Norman. Three days of joint workouts with Jets
after two camps without outside competition should help Redskins prepare better
than years past.EXPECTATIONS: Winning season is realistic if Smith is as good as
or better than Cousins and running game gets on track. Defense should be better
with Alabama products Allen and Payne and return of Brown. Best case is
competition for playoff spot behind NFC East favorite Philadelphia, while worst
case is significant step back that endangers Gruden's long-term job security.NEW
YORK GIANTS (3-13)OPEN CAMP: July 25, Quest Diagnostics Training Center, East
Rutherford, New Jersey.LAST YEAR: 2017 was fiasco one year after making
playoffs. Opened season with five straight losses. Injuries to WR Odell Beckham
Jr. and others, poor play, suspensions and disharmony lowlighted season. It was
so bad second-year coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese were fired
in early December after QB Eli Manning was benched. Team could not win close
ones it won previous season in ending four-year playoff drought.IMPORTANT
ADDITIONS : GM Dave Gettleman, coach Pat Shurmur, defensive coordinator James
Bettcher (and 3-4 defense), No. 2 overall draft pick RB Saquon Barkley, OT Nate
Solder, LB Alex Ogletree, LB Kareem Martin, G Will Hernandez, and P Riley
Dixon.IMPORTANT LOSSES: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, WR Brandon Marshall, LB Jonathan
Casillas, LB Devon Kennard, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, G Justin Pugh, C
Weston Richburg, RB Shane Vereen, P Brad Wing.CAMP NEEDS: After winning three
games, much needs to be fixed. All eyes will be on Barkley Peyton
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, who can be game breaker, and Beckham, who is coming
off broken ankle. Giants believe 37-year-old Manning still has gas in tank and
can run Shurmur's offense, which was very successful in Minnesota. Will
additions of Solder and Hernandez and switch of Ereck Flowers to RT fix bad
O-line? Defense has talent with DE Olivier Vernon, S Landon Collins, DT Damon
"Snacks" Harrison, LBs Martin and Ogletree, and CB Janoris Jenkins. Will 3-4
bring out the best?EXPECTATIONS: Teams generally improve with new coaching
staff. That said, Giants have long way to go. Much depends on how quickly they
pick up new systems. Staying healthy and happy this year will help. If Barkley
lives up to expectations, Beckham bounces back, and defense clicks, Giants can
make playoffs. It's long shot, but don't forget this franchise won 11 games in
2016.Dirk Koetter comments on the fight at Monday’s practice The Tampa Bay
Buccaneers will be traveling to Nashville, Tennessee tomorrow as they prepare
for their second preseason game. Before the game on Saturday, the Buccaneers and
Titans will have two joint practices on Wednesday and Thursday. Joint practices
can be really beneficial to teams in many different ways. Not only does it get
the guys more fired up and create competition, but it also allows you to see how
you stack up against another team and not just yourself. It allows the players
on both sides to also see some different looks on a daily basis, which will help
in many of the young players development. Dirk Koetter called Monday’s practice
one of the best practices of training camp thus far. Although it was a high
energy practice, a fight did break out at the end, but Koetter wasn’t overly
concerned. “Yeah, we had a fight. Big deal. I mean, it’s football. That was one
of our best practices of the year right there. It just didn’t end on a positive
note from the fight standpoint, but you’re dreaming if you think that stuff’s
not going to happen in football,” Koetter said. “I don’t think twice about that.
It’s over and what happened, happened. It’s going to happen again sometime.
That’s just the way it is.”Dirk Koetter might not have to wait long for another
training camp scuffle. Usually when two teams get together for joint practices,
a fight is bound to break out. We saw it yesterday with the Jets and Redskins
and we may very well see it again this week with the Bucs and Titans. With that
being said, both coaches have created guidelines for this weeks practices in
hopes of preventing any major scuffles. “Yeah, we have a whole list of them.
[Tennessee] Coach [Mike] Vrabel and I have talked about them just like
[Jacksonville Coach Doug] Marrone and I did last year. You know when you’ve got
180 guys on two fields, their tempers are going to flair,” Koetter said. “These
guys are competing against each other. They’re competing for jobs.” Koetter was
asked if he has any message to the players after today’s fight and his answer
was short and to the point. “Yes. Don’t fight.”Of course, there is always a risk
of injury when a big scuffle breaks out and I think that’s what is most
concerning to coaches around the league. You would hate to see a player tear an
ACL or fracture a hand because of a fight. As long as scuffles remain minor, I
wouldn’t mind seeing one or two up in Tennessee this week.
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