Extra Points: Back to work, a training camp primer

Preparation for the 2013 NFL season begins in earnest later this week when both the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins report to training camp on July 20.

A week later, every NFL team will have started cobbling together their on- field foundations for "Kickoff 2013."

The tradition of off-site/on-campus bonding that was a hallmark of training camp over the years is now all but dead with 19 of the NFL's 32 clubs (59 percent), choosing to "stay home." Rewind back to 2000 and only five of 31 teams felt that route was the prudent choice.

One of clubs making the switch this time around is the Philadelphia Eagles, who will not conduct training camp at Lehigh University for the first time in 17 seasons. Instead, new head coach Chip Kelly decided to practice at the team's training facility, the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia, as well as Lincoln Financial Field, which is a hop, skip and a jump away.

"I just think we have everything here so the fact that we would pack everything up and move, that didn't make sense to me," Kelly said when discussing the change. "All our video stuff is here. Our training facility in terms of how we want to lift is here. Why would you move everything to go somewhere else?"

The New York Giants have bought into that thinking as well and are also looking forward to some home cooking as they return to the Timex Performance Center in East Rutherford, N.J. The Giants last held training camp there in 2011, a season which resulted in the franchise's eighth NFL championship. Last year, "Big Blue" trained at the University at Albany, which has hosted the team for 16 of the past 17 years.

While the statistics say staying close put is the league-wide trend, there are still plenty of examples of the old school philosophy hanging around.

The Pittsburgh Steelers still believe in the camaraderie and lack of distraction a college campus can provide, opting to remain at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. for the 48th straight year.

"I love this process, I love going to camp, I love team-building, readying ourselves to pursue our goals," said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. "I am extremely excited."

The NFL training camp longevity king, however, should come as no surprise. It's the Green Bay Packers, who will return for their 56th consecutive summer at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis.

Like the Steelers, the Packers' NFC North division rival, the Minnesota Vikings, have called Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn. formerly Mankato State) home for 48 years.

Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins have reversed course and will conduct their training camp away from Redskins Park for the first time since 2003, choosing instead to amass at the Bon Secours Training Center in Richmond, Va.

"I think us going to Richmond will be great for the team," said Redskins star quarterback Robert Griffin III. "I think it is good for team bonding because we'll be out in a new city. It kind of forces guys to have to hang out with each other. It will truly feel like a training camp. It will be the first experience for me because I've always been around wherever we work out, especially in college, so it'll be fun."

It certainly should.

Here is The Sports Network's 2013 NFL training camp capsules:


REPORT DATES: July 23 (rookies), July 25 (veterans)

SITE: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Arizona's first training camp under new head coach Bruce Arians figures to finally bring some clarity back to the quarterback position in the desert. The ping-ponging between signal-callers Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley was a major reason why Ken Whisenhunt lost his job. Veteran Carson Palmer was acquired from Oakland in the offseason and while the former Southern Cal star may be on the downside on his career, he figures to be quite the upgrade over the terrible triumvirate of a year ago and the best QB in Arizona since Kurt Warner. Rashard Mendenhall arrives from Pittsburgh hoping to resuscitate what has been a moribund running game and the Cards hope 2012 first-round pick Michael Floyd can speed up his development and provide a solid complement to Larry Fitzgerald outside the numbers. Rebuilding one of the NFL's worst offensive lines is also of paramount importance with seventh overall pick Jonathan Cooper figuring to step right in at left guard and fellow rookie Earl Watford also looking to make some noise. Defensively, a talented group will have to prepare for the impending suspension of stud inside linebacker Daryl Washington.


REPORT DATE: July 24th

SITE: Atlanta Falcons Training Facility, Flowery Branch, GA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: One of the NFL's most dynamic offenses is not only back in tact in Dixie, it has actually been upgraded. Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan and the best receiving duo in the game, Roddy White and Julio Jones, were always a given but by convincing future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez to put off retirement for another year, and replacing the descending Michael Turner with ex-Rams running back Steven Jackson, Atlanta now looks poised for another big season in 2013. Offensive tackle could be an issue, however, because Sam Baker has a history of back problems on the left side and veteran Tyson Clabo, a solid, if unspectacular player, was released. Meanwhile, Lamar Holmes, a third-round pick in 2012, is no sure thing. Defensively, things are much murkier. The aging but always productive John Abraham is gone, replaced by former New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora, a talented but far less consistent player. In the draft, the Falcons tried to rebuild the cornerback position after releasing Dunta Robinson and losing Brent Grimes in free agency to Miami. Atlanta nabbed Desmond Trufant in the first round and supplemented that by selecting Robert Alford in the second.


REPORT DATES: July 21st (rookies), July 24th (veterans)

SITE: Under Armour Performance Center, Owings Mills, MD

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Much has been made about what the Baltimore Ravens have lost since winning Super Bowl XLVII. Superstar linebacker Ray Lewis and veteran Pro Bowl center Matt Birk retired after the title game, while wide receiver Anquan Boldin was traded to San Francisco. Safety Bernard Pollard was cut and signed with Tennessee, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe went to Miami as a free agent, linebacker Paul Kruger signed with Cleveland, cornerback Cary Williams went up I-95 to Philadelphia and veteran safety Ed Reed took his act to Houston. General manager Ozzie Newsome has done a decent job of replenishing things especially of defense, however, bringing in ex-Broncos pass rusher Elvis Dumervil as well as veterans Marcus Spears and Chris Canty. He also got younger at safety by brining in former Oakland No. 1 pick Michael Huff and drafting Florida's Matt Elam in the first round. Kansas State rookie Arthur Brown will have the unenviable task of trying to replace Lewis and or Ellerbe in the middle.


REPORT DATES: July 22 (rookies), July 27 (veterans)

SITE: St. John Fisher College, Pittsford, NY

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: With Ryan Fitzpatrick now in Tennessee, new Bills coach Doug Marrone's first order of business is finding a long term answer at quarterback because newcomer Kevin Kolb isn't the answer. In the end, all the Ryan Nassib talk prior to the draft was just that but Marrone had a signal- caller in mind -- Florida State's E.J. Manuel, a very raw prospect, who will be asked to hit the ground running after being selected No. 16 overall. Buffalo was able to prop up the weapons around the QB position by drafting receivers Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin in an effort to find a complement to Stevie Johnson. Woods, a USC product, was probably the best route-runner available and a player who has been in a pro-style offense for years. On the other side of the ball, Mario Williams needs to step it up and become a dominant player again while rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso, a pretty instinctive guy, will be asked to step in immediately.


REPORT DATES: July 21st (rookies), July 25th (veterans)

SITE: Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Carolina is probably a little better off than most think after an uneven 2012 season. Obviously getting more consistency from ultra- talented quarterback Cam Newton would go a long way in curing many of the Panthers' woes so maximizing his efficiency has to be paramount. One way Carolina could have helped Newton was clearing up the question marks on the offensive line but that really wasn't addressed. Newton could also use more weapons outside. Veteran Steve Smith is still plenty productive but on the downside and Brandon LaFell is entering a contract year. Domenik Hixon and Ted Ginn aren't the answers, however. New Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman instead decided to create a defensive identity inside in the draft by selecting back-to-back defensive tackles in the first and second rounds. Star Lotulelei is a run-stuffer in the mold of Haloti Ngata, while Kawann Short is an athletic wonder, whose motor gets questioned on occasion.



SITE: Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais, IL

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Forget out of the box, the Chicago Bears went north of the border in an effort to get the most out of their enigmatic but extremely talented quarterback Jay Cutler. Bears G.M. Phil Emery is just the latest NFL general manager to subscribe to the theory that most of the innovation in football, especially offensive football, is taking place outside the league in places like college, the Arena Football League and Canada, where Marc Trestman, who replaces Lovie Smith as head coach of the Bears, was a two-time Grey Cup winner as the pilot of the Montreal Alouettes. It will be Trestman's job to get the most out of Cutler, who some have already labeled a coach- killer, pointing to his troubles in Denver with Josh McDaniels and Smith's departure from the Second City as evidence. Curing Chicago's offensive line woes will go a long way in helping Cutler and the team brought in high-priced free agent Jermon Bushrod to secure the all-important left tackle position, as well as Matt Slauson and first-round pick Kyle Long to bolster the guard spots. Defensively, all eyes will be on veteran D.J. Williams and rookie Jon Bostic, who will compete for the right to be compared with future Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher, who retired in the offseason after contract talks with the Bears went nowhere.



SITE: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The Bengals return to HBO's acclaimed Hard Knocks this summer so they will be under the microscope. Cincinnati remains a talented bunch aiming to take the next step and garner some postseason success. Finding a consistent complement to Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green as well as a more explosive outside running threat could help quarterback Andy Dalton, who has some limitations due to his pedestrian arm strength. Mike Brown got the best tight end in the draft in Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert as well as a back who may give the running game that needed juice in Giovani Bernard. The defense welcomes former Defensive Player of the Year and ex-Steeler James Harrison, who figures to man the strong side linebacker spot, along with Reggie Nelson, who will be asked to solidify one of the safety spots.


REPORT DATES: July 19 (rookies), July 24 (veterans)

SITE: Cleveland Browns Training Facility, Berea, OH

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The ongoing FBI investigation into the business owned by Browns team owner Jimmy Haslam, figures to be an ongoing distraction. On the field, the Browns have rebooted yet again with a new management crew of team president Joe Banner, general manager Mike Lombardi and head coach Rob Chudzinski. Rumors say the new regime wasn't all that enamored with second- year quarterback Brandon Weeden, one of the team's first-round picks from a year ago, but have begun to turn around on that process because the only other options are journeyman Jason Campbell and the well-traveled Brian Hoyer. Norv Turner was hired to take over Cleveland's offense and figures to build around running back Trent Richardson. Defensively Ray Horton was brought in and will move to a 3-4 look with ex-Baltimore linebacker Paul Kruger and No. 6 overall pick Barkevious Mingo, brought in to be the edge rushers. Also, look for a breakout year from talented nose tackle Phil Taylor.


REPORT DATE: July 20th

SITE: City of Oxnard Fields, Oxnard, CA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Quarterback Tony Romo missed the team's offseason training activities as he recovered from back surgery to remove a cyst in April. The procedure wasn't considered serious but anytime you undergo back surgery there will be question marks, especially after Romo signed a monster six-year contract extension in late March, a deal reported to be worth $108 million with $55 million guaranteed. If everything goes to plan, the Cowboys figure to be set at most of the skill positions with Romo throwing to Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Miles Austin. The offensive line and running game leave a lot to be desired, however. Dallas made changes to four of its five offensive line positions a year ago and most of them didn't work, meaning more changes are on the horizon. Tyron Smith, a first-round pick in 2011, is the left tackle and everything else is up for debate although first-round pick Travis Frederick is expected to take over the pivot. Over on defense, the 'Boys fired coordinator Rob Ryan and replaced him with the 72-year-old Monte Kiffin, who worships at the altar of the antiquated Tampa-2 defensive philosophy. That means the Cowboys will switch to a 4-3 "under" scheme that requires a Brian Urlacher- type middle linebacker and smart, zone- savvy defensive backs. There is plenty of talent on that side of the ball but whether they will fit in with Kiffin's philosophy is something that needs to be watched.



SITE: Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre, Englewood, CO

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The Broncos figure to coast to another division crown in the weak AFC West as long as Peyton Manning is healthy and on the field. Postseason success is another matter and will depend on whether Denver finds a consistent running threat and improves the defense on the back end. Willis McGahee's release could turn the backfield into a committee-type setup with Ronnie Hillman, rookie Montee Ball and veteran Knowshon Moreno all in the picture. Talented but underachieving cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was brought in to help the secondary along with veteran Quentin Jammer, who is expected to move to safety. Manning's tremendous receiving corps of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker was only bolstered by the addition of slot star Wes Welker from New England.


REPORT DATES: July 22nd (rookies), July 25th (veterans)

SITE: Detroit Lions Training Facility, Allen Park, MI

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: This is a make or break year for Lions coach Jim Schwartz. A dismal 4-12 season had Detroit in all too familiar territory this spring, mulling a top 10 pick in the NFL Draft. The Lions thought they put that kind of thing behind them after a 2011 playoff appearance but things went off the rails pretty quickly last year and it's imperative Schwartz turns things around quickly. Cleaning up the mental mistakes and all the pre-snap penalties would go a long way in curing the woes of Detroit's talented offense, led by quarterback Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, and All-World receiver Calvin Johnson, the second selection in the '07 draft. Add in defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the second pick in the 2010 draft, and this year's No. 5 selection, DE Ezekiel Ansah, from the other side of the ball and you see Detroit has far too much experience picking in the top 10 along with way too much talent to be doing so again.


REPORT DATE: July 25th

SITE: St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson doesn't believe in free agency and builds through the draft. That philosophy generally works for Thompson but this version of the Packers is showing more than a few holes, ones that are often masked by the best player in football, quarterback Aaron Rodgers. A pedestrian offensive line has been revamped with Bryan Bulaga shifting out to the all-important left tackle position and Evan Dietrich-Smith taking over full-time at center while Green Bay, which seemingly hasn't had a legitimate running back since John Brockington called Lambeau Field home, finally addressed the position by bringing in both Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. On defense, first-round pick Datone Jones will be asked to help fortify a shaky front seven while All-Pro rush linebacker Clay Matthews needs to stay healthy in order to bolster a mediocre group around him.


REPORT DATES: July 21st (rookies), July 25th (veterans)

SITE: Methodist Training Center, Houston, TX

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The window hasn't shut in Houston but the Texans certainly have to tweak things if they hope to match last season's 12-4 record. The Houston defense should be fine since it possesses the best defender in all of football, J.J. Watt, and will be getting back its captain, stud linebacker Brian Cushing, who missed the last 11 games in 2012 with a knee injury. That said, Houston struggled down the stretch last season and showed a disturbing inability to handle quick rhythm, spread offenses, meaning more speed and athleticism is needed in the back seven. Veteran Ed Reed certainly provides leadership and playmaking ability, but not that. Rookie safety D.J. Swearinger could, though. Offensively the team hopes it finally has a complement to Andre Johnson at wide receiver in rookie DeAndre Hopkins.


REPORT DATES: July 23rd (rookies), July 27th (veterans)

SITE: Anderson University, Anderson, IN

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The Colts hope to build on a promising first season with Andrew Luck at the controls. To move forward even further Indianapolis needs to protect Luck more consistently and develop a threat in the running game. Indy did pry right tackle Gosder Cherilus away from Detroit in free agency and drafted High Thornton, an overachieving, grinder who figures to help at guard. Meanwhile, the Colts signed ex-Giant Ahmad Bradshaw to carry the load in the backfield. Improving the pass rush is mission No. 1 on defense and rookie Bjoern Werner, who was once thought of as a top-10 guy until questions about his closing speed sent him tumbling, is the kind of high-energy product who could replace Dwight Freeney and help the aging Robert Mathis on the edge.


REPORT DATE: July 25th

SITE: Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields, Jacksonville, FL

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: A new brain trust has taken over in Jacksonville led by general manager David Caldwell and new head coach Gus Bradley. A lot of the talk around the Jags has centered on disappointing quarterback Blaine Gabbert and whether Caldwell is ready to cut bait on the former Mizzou star just three years into his NFL career. The other options, though, are veteran journeyman Chad Henne and the nondescript Mike Kafka, who was cut in New England to make room for Tim Tebow. The 6-4, 233-pound Gabbert remains the only option with a plus-ceiling as a player and is straight out of central casting when it comes to quarterbacks, but is running out of chances.


REPORT DATE: July 22 (rookies), July 25 (veterans)

SITE: Missouri Western State University, St. Joseph, MO

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Does Andy Reid still have it? His dying days in Philadelphia were ugly but Reid still has the reputation of a franchise- builder and takes over a team in Kansas City far more talented than its 2-14 2012 record would indicate. Reid has handed the keys to the Chiefs' offense over to former 49ers signal caller Alex Smith and chose the ceiling over the floor by taking offensive tackle Eric Fisher and not the presumptive favorite to go No. 1 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel. Fisher's advantage in athleticism was enough to convince Reid and his hand-picked general manager, John Dorsey, that the former CMU star was the best option. Fisher will start his career at right tackle while Branden Albert handles the left side for at least one more season. On defense, Kansas City really upgraded the secondary by bringing in veteran cornerbacks Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson.


REPORT DATE: July 20th

SITE: Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University, Davie, FL

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The perception in South Florida is that the Dolphins have gone all-in in an attempt to make things tough on the New England Patriots in the AFC East. The Dolphins certainly made the biggest splash early on in free agency, signing two of the best players available in speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace and Super Bowl winning linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. They continued the spending spree from there, bringing in wide receiver Brandon Gibson and tight end Dustin Keller of the offensive side of the ball, along with linebacker Phillip Wheeler and cornerback Brent Grimes to help the defense. Here's the bad news, though. Miami had to release linebackers Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby and lost a solid tight end in Anthony Fasano. The Fish also have to replace their starting left tackle, Jake Long, as well as their best cover corner, Sean Smith, and a very versatile running back in Reggie Bush. All that said, if second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill improves like most expect, the Dolphins should take a significant step forward.


REPORT DATE: July 25th

SITE: Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: It's all about Christian Ponder in Minnesota this season. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has built a championship level club around his third-year signal caller, a player who really hasn't been able to hold his own water to this point. Ponder's accuracy as a pro has been very spotty and his decision-making egregious at times. He also seems to lose confidence very quickly when things go wrong. Ponder recognizes what he needs to improve and has diagnosed most of his problems well but often regresses to what's natural to him, and his default settings are just not conducive to solid quarterback play at the NFL level. Beyond Ponder the Vikings are loaded with the best running back in the sport (Adrian Peterson), a terrific offensive line, an emerging tight end in Kyle Rudolph as well as a much-improved receiving corps thanks to the additions of veteran Greg Jennings and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson. On defense, Minnesota has a deep line, solidified its linebacking group with the addition of Desmond Bishop and alleviated the loss of Antoine Winfield by drafting Xavier Rhodes.


REPORT DATES: July 21st (rookies), July 25th (veterans)

SITE: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The engine of the high-powered Patriots offense, the magnificent tight end combination of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, is no more while veteran slot receiver Wes Welker is gone. Gronkowski is hurt and has undergone multiple surgeries on his forearm and back while Hernandez is in jail, disgraced and awaiting a murder trial. Welker, meanwhile, chose Denver as his new home. Both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are great at what they do but can any team replace the production the Pats have lost? Gronk is expected back at some point but a wide receiver group which will feature the oft- injured Danny Amendola and nondescript veterans like Michael Jenkins and Donald Jones leaves a lot to be desired. As for replacing Hernandez, Daniel Fells probably has the clubhouse lead entering camp.


REPORT DATES: July 18th (rookies), July 25th (veterans)

SITE: Saints Training Facility, Metairie, LA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: With Bountygate safely in the rear-view mirror and Sean Payton back, expect the New Orleans offense to be back to its high-powered self with a few tweaks. The Saints really needed to improve the edges entrusted to protect Drew Brees, however. Right tackle Zach Strief wasn't all that impressive in 2012 and needs to improve while Jermon Bushrod left in free agency to Chicago, leaving left tackle to Charles Brown or perhaps talented but raw rookie Terron Armstead. Payton has said that the team's left tackle spot keeps him up at night. New Orleans also failed to add reliable depth at receiver behind Marques Colston and Lance Moore. The Saints defense was a mess in '12, finishing at the bottom of the league in a number of defensive categories so Payton fired coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and hired Rob Ryan to make the switch to 3-4 scheme, meaning the team must find fits for that philosophy whether it means a true nose tackle, a five-technique end or edge pass rushers. The transition wasn't made any easier when promising free agent linebacker Victor Butler tore his ACL during organized team activities.


REPORT DATE: July 26th

SITE: Timex Performance Center, East Rutherford, NJ

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: What a difference a year makes. The Giants finished the 2011 season 9-7, got hot at the right time and won the Super Bowl. In 2012 that same 9-7 mark wasn't even good enough to get them to the postseason dance and a lot of people now look at New York as a descending club. The offense certainly needs some tweaks and the signing of former Oakland tight end Brandon Myers could really help Eli Manning. The offensive line, however, remains pedestrian even after reaching for Syracuse guard/tackle Justin Pugh with the 19th overall pick in the draft. On defense, the line is a concern. New York struggled mightily against the run and saw its once vaunted pass rush evaporate into a non-entity a year ago. When the Giants were winning Super Bowls, it was usually because of Manning along with the pass rush. Osi Umenyiora is now in Atlanta, Justin Tuck has seen his better days and Jason Pierre-Paul was closer to ordinary than J.J. Watt a season ago.


REPORT DATES: July 22nd (rookies), July 25th (veterans)

SITE: SUNY Cortland, Cortland, NY

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Those back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship Game in Mark Sanchez's first two NFL seasons are now just distant memories for the New York Jets, a team which will enter the 2013 season as one of the least talented in football. The embattled Sanchez will likely get one final chance to prove he can be the answer at quarterback for the Jets but with former West Virginia QB Geno Smith now on hand, his leash figures to be short. Other areas to look at include cornerback where rookie Dee Milliner will be asked to fill some very big shoes (Darrelle Revis), right tackle, a position where Austin Howard allowed 13 1/2 sacks last season, and outside linebacker where the pedestrian Antwan Barnes and second-year man Quinton Coples are currently penciled in.


REPORT DATE: July 25th

SITE: Napa Valley Marriott, Napa, CA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: It seems like the Oakland Raiders start a "new era" every year or two and 2013 will be no exception as former Green Bay and Seattle backup quarterback Matt Flynn should finally get his chance as a starting signal-caller. Reggie McKenzie came over from Green Bay before last season and is still trying to wash the Davis craziness out of the Raiders but hasn't done a good job to this point. Oakland really needed help on the defensive line after the departures of tackles Richard Seymour, Desmond Bryant and Tommy Kelly, as well as end Matt Shaughnessy. Underwhelming types like nose tackle Pat Sims and under tackle Vance Walker were brought in as McKenzie focused on reaching for Houston corner D.J. Hayden in the draft. The Raiders loved Hayden so much they almost wasted the No. 3 overall pick to get him before wisely trading down and getting him at 12. They could have dropped another 10 spots at least. It's almost like Davis is still haunting the organization.


REPORT DATES: July 22nd (rookies), July 25th (veterans)

SITE: NovaCare Complex, Philadelphia, PA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The regime change in South Philly made the spring OTAs and minicamp a little more meaningful this time around as reporters assembled to catch a glimpse of Chip Kelly in hopes of seeing what college football's mad scientist was going to unleash on the NFL. After attending a number of those scaled-down offseason sessions, about the only thing known about Kelly is that he has an eclectic playlist on his iPod and likes things up-tempo at all times. Kelly would obviously like to have Robert Griffin III or Colin Kaepernick piloting his offense. Or perhaps Cam Newton or Russell Wilson, but none of those tailor-made fits is an option for Philadelphia. Chip's choices are Michael Vick, the 33-year-old turnover machine who still has the athleticism to whet Kelly's appetite but not the decision-making skills, along with two pure pocket passers, second-year man Nick Foles and rookie Matt Barkley, a pair of players who could develop into sharp decision makers who get rid of the football with alacrity but offer no threat in the read-option Kelly is enamored with. For now, Vick remains the slight favorite to enter the season as the team's starter but Foles or even Barkley could easily wrest away Vick's tenuous hold on the job.


REPORT DATE: July 26th

SITE: Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, PA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: There is plenty of work to be done in Pittsburgh as age has slowly crept up on the Steelers. In fact, this could be the most important training camp for the Steelers in years as they have to move forward at multiple positions. Pittsburgh has moved on from former Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison, veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton and really can't count on oft-injured safety Troy Polamalu. Meanwhile, two of the team's younger playmakers, wide receiver Mike Wallace and cornerback Keenan Lewis jetted in free agency to Miami and New Orleans, respectively. Former Georgia star Jarvis Jones said he would never get past the Steelers in the draft and sure enough he didn't. It's almost like the whole league conspires to give Pittsburgh impact 3-4 players. Poor 40 times sent Jones crashing out of the top 10, but the Steelers may have gotten a Terrell Suggs-like steal in the first round. Pittsburgh also may have found their successor to the declining Polamalu in fourth-round choice Shamarko Thomas, an undersized, high-energy thumper on the back end. Offensively, second-rounder Le'Veon Bell is supposed to install some of that Jerome Bettis-like toughness back into the Steel City's running game but he is a big back who doesn't run like one most of the time and hasn't shown the nastiness as runner the Steelers expect from their backs.



SITE: Chargers Park, San Diego, CA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: New Chargers coach Mike McCoy arrives in America's most Beautiful City as the architect of the reclamation product called Philip Rivers. Rivers is obviously talented but fell on hard times during the final season of the Norv Turner era, quite possibly due to his porous offensive line. Losing the team's best lineman, guard Louis Vasquez, to AFC West-rival Denver didn't help and mission No. 1 in San Diego will be rebuilding things up front. D.J. Fluker was the best O-Line prospect left on the board when San Diego picked at No. 11 overall in the 2013 draft and general manger Tom Telesco bit. Fluker will join veteran tackles Max Starks and King Dunlap as well as guard Chad Rinehart as new options on the line. Defensively, the spotlight figures to follow former Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te'o, a great college player who fell in the draft because of his strange "catfishing" scandal.


REPORT DATES: July 21st (rookies), July 24th (veterans)

SITE: Rams Park Training Center, Earth City, MO

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The Rams needed to add more playmakers for quarterback Sam Bradford, but they also needed to sure up the offensive line in front of him and were able to accomplish both goals, at least on paper. St. Louis made some strides in protecting Bradford in 2012, allowing 20 fewer sacks in 2012 than they did in '11 but there is still plenty of room for improvement, particularly on the left side. The club made a significant commitment to ex- Dolphins tackle Jake Long, signing the former No. 1 overall pick to a four- year, $36 million dollar deal, in hopes of fixing that problem. Rookie Barrett Jones also has a real chance to help inside early. The Rams also got Bradford a new toy by inking former Tennessee tight end Jared Cook to a five-year contract worth a million less than what Long got and then supplemented that with perhaps the most explosive player in the 2013 draft, West Virginia slot star Tavon Austin. Defensively, the Rams really needed help in the back seven and were able to snare troubled but talented Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree late in the first round of the draft as well as a potential starting safety in T.J. McDonald.


REPORT DATES: July 19 (rookies), July 24 (veterans)

SITE: Marie P. DeBartolo Sports Centre, Santa Clara, CA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The NFC champions will be aiming to get the most out of what may be the most gifted roster in football from top to bottom. Finding a replacement for the injured Michael Crabtree (torn Achilles), perhaps the Niners' best receiver since Terrell Owens, is paramount. Anquan Boldin goes from Super Bowl antagonist with Baltimore to Colin Kaepernick's top outside threat right now but Boldin is more of a move the chains-type possession guy at this stage. A.J. Jenkins, the team's first-round pick out of Illinois in 2012, has worked hard to add strength in the offseason and needs to step up. On defense, all eyes will be on the secondary where 2013 first-round pick Eric Reid will be asked to replace Pro-Bowler Dashon Goldson, who left for Tampa Bay in free agency. Veteran corner Nnamdi Asomugha also hopes for a resurgence as he returns to Cali in an effort to garner some depth outside the numbers.


REPORT DATE: July 24th

SITE: Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Renton, WA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: If there truly is an arms race going on between San Francisco and Seattle in the NFC West, it's currently at the height of Cold War levels because both the 49ers and Seahawks have amassed enough power to obliterate just about everyone else. After trading for star slot receiver Percy Harvin, signing a pair of pass rushers in Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, and inking perhaps the game's best nickel corner in Antoine Winfield, the Seahawks appear to be entering camp with few weaknesses.


REPORT DATES: July 17 (rookies), July 24 (veterans)

SITE: One Buccaneer Place, Tampa, FL

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Even before Ronde Barber called it a career, cornerback was an obvious need in Tampa. General manager Mark Domenik pulled the trigger on the Darrelle Revis trade before the draft, giving up his first-round selection to the New York Jets for the best corner in football when healthy. The Bucs then supplemented that in the second round by getting a very lengthy corner in Mississippi State's Jonthan Banks, a player who would have had a first-round grade if he had a little more speed. On offense all eyes will be on quarterback Josh Freeman, who will be given one final chance to prove he is the answer moving forward. Head coach Greg Schiano hedged his bets on Freeman by drafting a solid developmental signal caller in North Carolina State's Mike Glennon, a strong-armed accurate passer in the mold of Joe Flacco.


REPORT DATE: July 24th

SITE: Baptist Sports Park, Nashville, TN

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Talk about turning a weakness into a strength. The interior of the Titans' offensive line was a mess last season so Tennessee signed Andy Levitre away from Buffalo and drafted Chance Warmack, perhaps the best pure football player in the 2013 draft. The Titans also solved some other glaring holes in free agency by inking strong safety Bernard Pollard from the Super Bowl champion Ravens, and getting running back Chris Johnson and young quarterback Jake Locker backups by convincing Shonn Greene and Ryan Fitzpatrick to leave the AFC East behind. Whether that's enough to push for a playoff spot will rest on the development of Locker, who has been a disappointment thus far.


REPORT DATE: July 24th

SITE: Bon Secours Training Center, Richmond, VA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The health of Robert Griffin III is the main storyline inside the Beltway these days with the current scuttlebutt saying that the second-year star should be at 70 or 80 percent by the start of training camp and 90 percent by the beginning of the regular season. Defensively, Washington is thrilled to have sackmaster Brian Orakpo back from injury and hopes rookies Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo can make things interesting at safety.