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Watch how the Steelers scored two TDs in 13 seconds – Pittsburgh Steelers Blog


PITTSBURGH — Now that’s how you start a game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense needed one play to get into the end zone Thursday night, thanks to Ben Roethlisberger’s deep connection with JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 75-yard touchdown on the Carolina Panthers with 10:18 left in the first half.

Thirteen seconds later, the Steelers hit pay dirt again when Vince Williams caught a wobbly pass from Cam Newton, who was under pressure from T.J. Watt, and returned the interception 17 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead.

The Steelers’ defense gave up a nine-play touchdown drive to open the game, but the offense responded when Smith-Schuster slipped past corner James Bradberry, and Roethlisberger found him in stride down the sideline. Bradberry bit on a short route, and Smith-Schuster did the rest.

This is the third time since 2001 that 21 points were scored in the first five minutes of a game. The other such games were Browns-Bengals in 2004 and Rams-Jaguars in 2005.

Big-play Smith-Schuster now has four receptions of at least 67 yards since he was drafted in 2017, and he entered the game as the team’s leader in receiving yards, with 672.

Smith-Schuster reached 20.07 mph on his touchdown, his second-fastest TD this season, and sixth-fastest on the team, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

After the play, Le’Veon Bell, who was watching at home, tweeted, β€œJuJu is so special man.”

The Steelers countered with an eight-play, 61-yard scoring drive capped by a 2-yard James Conner rushing touchdown to take a 21-7 lead.





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Watch: DeAndre Hopkins makes incredible one-handed catch over Jalen Ramsey – Houston Texans Blog


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The matchup between receiver DeAndre Hopkins and cornerback Jalen Ramsey has been one to watch since the corner came into the league in 2016.

But for at least one play during Sunday’s game between the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars, Hopkins came out on top with a spectacular catch.

On the Texans’ second drive, quarterback Deshaun Watson found Hopkins down the left sideline with Ramsey covering him. Hopkins beat Ramsey and reached out his left hand to make a one-handed catch for 31 yards.

The catch came on third-and-5 and got the Texans to the Jacksonville 37. Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked a 48-yard field goal to put Houston up 6-0 after that drive.





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Watch: Philip Rivers throws a 75-yard strike – Los Angeles Chargers Blog


Tyrell Williams strikes again.

On the Los Angeles Chargers‘ first offensive play, Williams ran past Tennessee Titans cornerback Logan Ryan, who was looking in the backfield.

Philip Rivers hit Williams in stride for a 75-yard touchdown and a 7-3 lead at Wembley Stadium in London.

It’s the third touchdown in two games for the Western Oregon product, who recorded touchdown catches of 45 and 29 yards in a 38-14 win over the Cleveland Browns last week.

It also marked the Bolts’ first touchdown on their first offensive play in a game since Curtis Conway’s 67-yard score on a reverse on Nov. 18, 2001, at Oakland.





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Watch: Broncos start quickly with 2 picks, a trick and a treat – Denver Broncos Blog


GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Denver Broncos got the start they wanted and desperately needed Thursday night.

After a week of turmoil when Broncos coach Vance Joseph said “the city is on fire” because of the four-game losing streak and linebacker Von Miller went as far as to guarantee a win over the Cardinals, the Broncos waited all of 55 seconds to score the game’s first touchdown.

Broncos linebacker Todd Davis returned a Josh Rosen interception 20 yards for a score — the pass had been tipped by Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe — on the Cardinals’ second play from scrimmage.

Cardinals running back David Johnson had run for no gain on first down. The Cardinals then had to call a timeout when they couldn’t get lined up, at least in some part because of a crowd that was about half-filled with Broncos fans at kickoff.

Davis had the interception on second down. It was the Broncos’ first defensive touchdown of the season.

On the Broncos’ next possession Emmanuel Sanders found Courtland Sutton for a 28-yard touchdown.

Quarterback Case Keenum flipped the ball to Sanders, Sanders ran right and threw to a wide-open Sutton, who made a diving catch for the touchdown.

According to NFL Next Gen Stats data, Sanders was running 15.83 mph when he threw the pass. That’s the fastest speed by a passer on a touchdown pass this season. The previous fastest was Sanders’ teammate Keenum, who was at 15.52 mph when he threw a TD to Demaryius Thomas in Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Sanders is the first non-QB to throw a TD for the Broncos since receiver Arthur Marshall in 1993.

The Broncos added a second pick-six before the first quarter ended when Chris Harris Jr. returned a Rosen throw 53 yards for a score.

It’s the first time the Broncos have scored 21 points in the first quarter since Week 10 of 2010. The Broncos have 13 pick-sixes in the past five seasons, most in the NFL.

Rosen becomes the first rookie QB to throw a pair of pick-sixes in a single game since Blake Bortles in 2014.

Sanders then caught a 64-yard bomb from Keenum to put the Broncos up 28-3 at 20 seconds into the second quarter.

Sanders became the first Broncos player with a passing touchdown and a receiving touchdown in the same game since John Elway in 1986.





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Watch: JuJu Smith-Schuster scores, celebrates by cradling football – Pittsburgh Steelers Blog


PITTSBURGH — It was a big day for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who scored an 18-yard touchdown and welcomed his first football into the world.

With 37 seconds left in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons, Smith-Schuster went high in the back of the end zone to corral a pass from Ben Roethlisberger, keeping two feet in bounds. Upon landing, Smith-Schuster laid down on the Heinz Field turf while pretending to give birth. Running back James Conner delivered “The Duke” and gave it to Smith-Schuster, who cradled the pigskin with care.

Smith-Schuster became known for his celebrations as a rookie, and on a Week 2 score he simulated The Rasengan spinning ball throw from Dragon Ball Z.





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Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown on modest start: ‘Watch the tape’


PITTSBURGH — Antonio Brown had a go-to answer when asked about his modest start to the season and his plans to break out.

“Watch the tape,” he said.

Brown referred to the tape eight times Friday in a one-minute span during his media interview at his locker.

Brown is coming off a turbulent Week 3 that included missing a work day due to a personal matter, tweeting “Trade me let’s find out” to a critic who said he’s not the same receiver without Ben Roethlisberger and a sideline confrontation with coordinator Randy Fichtner.

Brown bounced back with a touchdown in a 30-27 win at Tampa Bay.

But JuJu Smith-Schuster leads the team in receptions (27) and receiving yards (356), with Brown ranking second with 24 catches for 210 yards.

Brown, who ranks third in the NFL with 42 targets, looked to big-picture goals and stressed he can’t control when the ball comes his way.

“My statistics are already there. I’ve already done everything from a statistical point,” Brown said. “Obviously, it’s out of my control. I can’t throw it to myself. But what’s important is we continue to win. I’m getting a lot of respect out there. Guys are doubling me, tripling me. But what’s new? We’ve got to continue to win. Winning is most important. Obviously I think I’m the top-rated receiver from 2010 (among) who’s in the league. It’s all about winning at this point.”

Multiple times, Brown referenced not having control over whether the ball is thrown his way.

From 2013-17, Brown set an NFL record with five straight seasons with at least 100 catches. Last year, Brown was on an MVP-caliber pace with 1,533 yards and nine touchdowns before suffering a Week 15 injury.

Roethlisberger still targets Brown early and often but admits he’s not forcing the ball to his top receiver as much these days, acknowledging the supporting cast is getting open and defenses are still double-teaming Brown.

Smith-Schuster said he expects more attention from defenses, which will bring more balance to the attack.

“I think that’s on the come, very soon,” Smith-Schuster said. “I think I’m going to get a double-team. More and more as time comes on, they’re going to slow me down … Right now, AB is taking the double-teams, I’m able to get my plays in. When the time comes, if I get double-teamed, someone has to make those plays.”

Asked if he considers himself a No. 1-caliber receiver, Smith-Schuster deferred to Brown while breeding confidence.

“Man, to be behind Antonio, I feel like I do everything possible just to keep up with that,” Smith-Schuster said. “So, yeah.”

Brown is confident the big plays with Roethlisberger will come over a 16-game season. His media session was tamer than a week ago, when Brown responded to the criticism with defiance. Asked about the change in tone, Brown said he wasn’t upset last week and is blessed to play football, while teasing something bigger.

“It’s all about winning a championship, getting in the Hall of Fame,” Brown said. “It’s bigger than me. Bigger than stats. I’m trying to do something special. As long as we continue to win, the number will add up themselves. I’m still doing my job, regardless of if the ball is coming. I’m still running full speed, being a professional. Just gotta continue to do what’s right.”



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Watch: Jared Goff hits Cooper Kupp for a streaking 70-yard TD – NFL Nation


Jared Goff completed the third-longest pass of his career on a 70-yard strike to Cooper Kupp for a touchdown. Kupp left linebacker Anthony Barr in the dust as he caught the pass in stride for a second-quarter score.





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NFL Power Rankings – Faces in new places to watch for all 32 teams 2018 Week 2


The New Orleans Saints were No. 3 in our preseason edition of the NFL Power Rankings, but fell all the way to No. 9 after giving up 48 points to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their season opener. So where do other teams stand after all of the Week 1 action, and how did the faces in new places fare?

The ESPN power panel — a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities — evaluated how all 32 teams stack up.

2018 record: 1-0
Preseason ranking: 1

Michael Bennett wasn’t a force in the box score in his debut (two tackles, zero sacks), but his versatility will help a deep Eagles defensive line throughout the season. He played 40 total snaps on Thursday, 19 at right end, 16 at left end, one at right defensive tackle and four at left defensive tackle. The Falcons gained 3.6 yards per play when he was on the field, and 6.3 yards per play when he was off the field. — Doug Clawson

2018 record: 1-0
Preseason ranking: 2

While playmaker Cordarrelle Patterson had just four touches in his Patriots debut, that was as many has he had in his final three games with the Raiders last season combined. Patterson also will be returning kickoffs for New England, where he hopes to add to his five career return touchdowns. — Joey Koontz

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Jeff Saturday praises Kirk Cousins’ attitude and authenticity in his first game with the Vikings, a 24-16 win over the 49ers.

2018 record: 1-0
Preseason ranking: 4

The Vikings gave Kirk Cousins the keys to the franchise (and $84 million guaranteed) in the offseason and saw some initial return on investment in a win against the 49ers. Cousins passed for two TDs and got a healthy Dalvin Cook heavily involved in the passing game with a career-high seven targets. — Vincent Johnson

2018 record: 1-0
Preseason ranking: 6

The Rams acquired Marcus Peters in the offseason to help overhaul a secondary that held the Raiders’ wide receivers without a catch in the second half of Monday night’s win. Peters had a pick-six, and he leads the NFL with 12 interceptions since 2016. — ESPN Stats & Info

2018 record: 1-0
Preseason ranking: 7

WR Donte Moncrief caught just one of his five targets for 14 yards in his Jaguars debut, the lowest reception percentage of his career (minimum, five targets). While Moncrief missed time due to injuries in each of the previous two seasons, he has been limited to one catch or fewer in five of his past six games played. — Koontz

2018 record: 1-0
Preseason ranking: 11

Sammy Watkins recorded three catches for 21 yards in his Chiefs debut and largely played in the shadow of Tyreek Hill, who had an all-time great game. Watkins’ second catch was a 16-yard reception in the third quarter, instrumental in setting up the Chiefs’ touchdown two plays later. — Johnson

2018 record: 1-0
Preseason ranking: 8

New Green Bay tight end Jimmy Graham had a quiet night in his first game as a Packer, posting two receptions for eight yards on four targets. Dating back to last season, Graham has three catches or fewer in seven straight games, the longest streak of his career. — Johnson

2018 record: 0-0-1
Preseason ranking: 5

Jon Bostic recorded 2Β½ tackles for loss, including a sack, in his debut with the Steelers. Last season, he had one sack in 14 starts with the Colts. As a team, the Steelers recorded seven sacks and the last time they did that and didn’t win the game was in 2000, also on the road against the Browns. — Johnson

2018 record: 0-1
Preseason ranking: 3

Mike Gillislee is playing for his fourth team in six years, and the Saints hope he can complement Alvin Kamara during Mark Ingram’s four-game suspension. Early returns are not good, as Gillislee lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown in the surprising loss to the Buccaneers. — Koontz

2018 record: 0-1
Preseason ranking: 9

Falcons first-round pick WR Calvin Ridley went catchless in his debut, getting only two targets on 37 routes run. Only Mohamed Sanu (40) and Julio Jones (43) had more routes run on Thursday. — Clawson

2018 record: 1-0
Preseason ranking: 12

C.J. Anderson went north and south in his debut, spelling Christian McCaffrey with seven rushes for 35 yards (5.0 yards per rush), with all going between the tackles, and six of the seven rushes up the middle (between the guards). Last year’s power back, Jonathan Stewart, went for 5.0 yards per rush in two of his 15 games. — Clawson

2018 record: 1-0
Preseason ranking: 21

Baltimore made it an offseason priority to get Joe Flacco additional weapons in the passing game. Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead IV and John Brown all signed with the Ravens and, on Sunday, all three caught a touchdown pass in their first game with the team. They’re the first trio to each have a receiving touchdown in their first game with a team since three players did it with the Patriots in 2002, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. — Johnson

2018 record: 0-1
Preseason ranking: 10

Chargers first-round pick Derwin James recorded a sack and pass breakup against the Chiefs in his first career game. He was one of five rookies to record at least one sack in Week 1. Los Angeles is putting trust in its new DB early: No Charger played more defensive snaps than James. — Johnson

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Ryan Clark and Jeff Saturday discuss the impact Adrian Peterson made in the Redskins’ Week 1 win over the Cardinals.

2018 record: 1-0
Preseason ranking: 19

Alex Smith brushed off any concerns about the supporting cast around him after going from Kansas City to Washington. He completed 13 of 15 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns targeting his running backs and tight ends against the Cardinals. That’s his most yards targeting RBs and TEs since Week 16 in 2016. — Clawson

2018 record: 0-1
Preseason ranking: 15

The Texans signed DB Tyrann Mathieu to a one-year deal back in March, and he was a lone bright spot for the Houston defense in their loss to the Patriots. Mathieu became the first Texans player with an interception and a fumble recovery in the same game since Tim Dobbins in 2012. — Koontz

2018 record: 1-0
Preseason ranking: 22

Case Keenum provided a mixed bag in his first game with the Broncos, throwing three touchdowns and three interceptions, but the fourth quarter showed why John Elway wanted him as Denver’s QB. In that frame, Keenum went 7-of-7, including the go-ahead touchdown pass, all while posting a better fourth-quarter QBR than Aaron Rodgers in the Packers’ epic rally. — Johnson

2018 record: 0-1
Preseason ranking: 17

The Seahawks’ first-round pick, RB Rashaad Penny, had a quiet debut splitting snaps with Chris Carson (24 each). Penny led the Seahawks with four receptions, but had just seven carries for eight yards. He was contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage on four of those seven rushes. — Clawson

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Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon discuss which quarterback had the most impressive start to the season on their new team.

2018 record: 0-1
Preseason ranking: 16

Richard Sherman played all 71 snaps in his first game back from a torn Achilles, including 64 as the CB on the left side (offense’s right) of the 49ers’ defense. Kirk Cousins didn’t have much success passing to that side, going 6-of-15 for 84 yards on throws past the line of scrimmage. — Clawson

2018 record: 1-0
Preseason ranking: 25

While Ryan Fitzpatrick did start three games for the Buccaneers last season, he looked like a different quarterback as he threw for a career-high 417 yards in the win in New Orleans. Fitzpatrick also threw four touchdown passes, nearly matching Jameis Winston‘s total in six career games against the Saints (five). — Koontz

2018 record: 0-1
Preseason ranking: 13

New Cowboys pass-catchers Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns combined for four catches and 47 yards on eight targets in their Dallas debuts, below Dez Bryant’s season average for receiving yards per game in 2017 (52.4). Neither made the most of their catchers either, totaling a combined four yards after the fact. — Clawson

2018 record: 0-1
Preseason ranking: 26

Not even two weeks removed from signing a record-breaking deal with the Bears, Khalil Mack orchestrated a debut for the ages against the Packers. He posted a sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery, interception and defensive touchdown, becoming the first player to do all of that since he himself did it in 2016 against the Panthers. What’s more remarkable, Mack reached those thresholds in the first half alone and is the only player to put together a half of that kind since sacks became official in 1982. — Johnson

2018 record: 0-1
Preseason ranking: 14

Few expected to see Blaine Gabbert take significant snaps for the Titans this season, especially in Week 1, but that was the case after Marcus Mariota left the game with an elbow injury. Gabbert completed just half of his passes and extended his streak to 110 attempts without a touchdown pass, dating to Week 13 of last season. — Koontz

2018 record: 1-0
Preseason ranking: 27

In the first two minutes of the game against the Colts, new Bengals LB Preston Brown had his first interception since 2015 in his debut with Cincinnati. It was also the first time in his career he recorded a pick in the red zone. — Johnson

2018 record: 1-0
Preseason ranking: 32

Frank Gore averaged 6.8 yards per rush in his Dolphins debut, doubling Kenyan Drake‘s average (3.4). Gore needs 15 yards in Week 2 against the Jets to pass Curtis Martin (14,101) for fourth place on the all-time rushing list. — Koontz

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Jeff Saturday breaks down how despite losing to the Jaguars, Saquon Barkley will be a difference-maker for the Giants.

2018 record: 0-1
Preseason ranking: 23

Saquon Barkley showed flashes of why the Giants made him the No. 2 overall pick in his debut, running for a 68-yard touchdown and totaling 106 rushing yards, the first Giants rookie to reach 100 in a season opener, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. He could have had more if not for a Jaguars defense that hit him at or behind the line of scrimmage on seven of 18 rushes. — Clawson

26. New York Jets

2018 record: 1-0
Preseason ranking: 30

Sam Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick in April’s draft, had a debut to remember. He is the first QB to win by 31 points in his first career start since Tom Brady in Week 3 of 2001 against the Peyton Manning-led Colts. — ESPN Stats & Info

2018 record: 0-1
Preseason ranking: 20

The Lions gave up 48 points to the Jets. Matt Patricia was the Patriots defensive coordinator from 2012-17. The most points they gave up in a game was in the 2017 season opener against the Chiefs when they lost 42-27 — ESPN Stats & Info

2018 record: 0-1
Preseason ranking: 18

Penalties were a thorn in Jon Gruden’s side Monday night. The Raiders’ 155 accepted penalty yards were more than they ever had in a game under Gruden from 1998-2001, and they’re the second-most (accepted) penalty yards ever in a game by a Jon Gruden team (168 yards by Buccaneers on Sept. 14, 2003). — ESPN Stats & Info

2018 record: 0-1
Preseason ranking: 29

The Colts signed TE Eric Ebron after the Lions released him back in March, and the newcomer scored the first touchdown of the season for Indianapolis. There could be more to come for Ebron, as Andrew Luck targeted his tight ends 16 times on Sunday. — Koontz

2018 record: 0-0-1
Preseason ranking: 31

Tyrod Taylor‘s debut with the Browns was shaky at best as he completed only 37.5 percent of his passes, the lowest completion percentage in a start in his career. Fourth overall pick Denzel Ward impressed on the other side of the ball in his debut, picking off Ben Roethlisberger twice. He became the first top-10 pick in the common draft era with multiple interceptions in his NFL debut, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. — Johnson

2018 record: 0-1
Preseason ranking: 24

Sam Bradford couldn’t find a groove in his Cardinals debut, going 7-of-16 passing through three quarters as the Cardinals dug themselves a 21-0 hole. Overall, 18.2 percent of his passes for the game were off-target incompletions, his third-highest rate among 18 games played since 2016. — Clawson

2018 record: 0-1
Preseason ranking: 28

Buffalo fans rejoiced to see rookie QB Josh Allen replace Nathan Peterman in the third quarter on Sunday. While Allen had a Total QBR of just 39 in his debut, at least it was better than the 0.9 that Peterman posted. — Koontz



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Welcome back to the absolutely complete and engrossing Uni Watch NFL preview


For everyone who has ever referred to the NFL as the “No Fun League,” 2018 promises to deliver, well, a bit more fun, at least in terms of uniforms.

Here’s the deal: The NFL has had a longstanding rule that limited teams to wearing a single non-primary uniform — either an alternate (like the Cardinals’ black uni) or a throwback (like the Bears’ Monsters of the Midway set) — up to two times per season. In 2015, the league effectively allowed some teams to have a second alternate uniform by launching the Color Rush program, which was basically a gimmick to help goose the ratings of “Thursday Night Football,” although teams that weren’t scheduled for TNF games didn’t get to wear those uniforms (which in most cases was probably for the best).

But this year, the league is making some changes, as follows:

β€’ Color Rush uniforms are still permitted for Thursday games but are no longer required for Thursday games.

β€’ Color Rush uniforms are no longer restricted to Thursdays. Teams can now treat them like alternate designs that are eligible to be worn for any game (or, if they prefer, not at all). A few teams had already started doing this last season, but now the league is explicitly allowing it.

β€’ Instead of having one non-primary uni that can be worn a maximum of two times, teams can now have up to two non-primary designs (one of which can be Color Rush) that can be worn a combined total of three times. The Chargers, for example, will wear their powder blue alternates for two games this season, and will also wear their solid-blue Color Rush uniform for one game. All three of those games will be on Sundays. That would not have been possible under the old rules.

Are you following all of that?

You can decide for yourself whether allowing your favorite team more flexibility regarding alternate uniforms is a good thing or a bad thing. Either way, it shows the league is loosening up a bit (although the unpopular one-shell rule, which minimizes the use of alternate helmets and makes it impossible for some teams to wear their throwbacks, is still on the books).

OK, enough preliminaries. With the Eagles and Falcons set to kick off the regular season Thursday night, here’s our annual team-by-team rundown of what you can expect to see on the field this season.

AFC East

β€’ The Bills will retire Thurman Thomas’ No. 34 on Oct. 29, during halftime of their Monday night game against the Patriots.


β€’ The Dolphins have made a few small changes that have a big visual impact. First, they’ve eliminated the blue trim from their uniforms. And second, they’ve switched to a more electric shade of orange. The collective effect of these two changes is that the orange trim has a lot more pop, which in turn creates a better sense of contrast with the team’s signature shade of aqua (additional info and photos here):

The Dolphins are also among the handful of teams that have released their 2018 jersey schedule (although only for home games in Miami’s case). Every team should do this. Why do so few of them take the trouble to follow through on it?

As you can see, the jersey schedule calls for the team’s popular aqua throwbacks to be worn for back-to-back games late in the season. Enjoy those while you can — word through the grapevine is that the team might be switching to white throwbacks in 2019.


β€’ Nothing new this season for the Jets, but Gang Green is slated to get new uniforms in 2019. (And yes, we’ll have a Jets-centric Uni Watch design contest shortly — stay tuned for that.)


β€’ Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been wearing the same old, outdated helmet model for what seems like eons. This season, though, he has switched to the Riddell SpeedFlex — a helmet that’s worn by dozens of other players but that somehow looks so weird on Brady (additional info here and here):


AFC North

β€’ The Bengals, who need a full uniform overhaul in the worst way, have instead made some small tweaks to their field design, which is sort of like fiddling while Rome burns.

Meanwhile, here is Cincy’s jersey schedule for 2018.


β€’ New Browns coach Hue Jackson has taken an interesting approach this summer: He announced that players would have to “earn their stripes,” literally, by making the final 53-man roster before they’d be allowed to wear the center striping on their helmets. Or to put it another way, the Browns’ helmets were stripe-free during the preseason, but the striping will return now that the regular season is about to start.

If you think the Browns’ uniforms have bigger problems than the inclusion or exclusion of helmet stripes, you’ll be happy to learn that the team probably will get a uniform overhaul in 2020.

Meanwhile: The Browns’ solid-brown Color Rush uniforms, which have officially been part of their wardrobe since 2016 but have never been worn on the field, will reportedly be worn more than once this season. Dates and opponents have not yet been announced, but one of the games will almost certainly be the Sept. 20 Thursday night matchup with the Jets.

Finally, let’s hear it for the Browns’ 2018 season-ticket design, which looks really, really sharp:


β€’ The Ravens have added a new video board to their stadium:


β€’ If you’ve been wondering what had happened to the Steelersfront uni numbers, don’t worry. They never bother with the front numbers during the preseason, but you can be sure the numerals will reappear for the season opener in Cleveland on Sunday.

Also: The Steelers have retired their bumblebee throwbacks and replaced them with a set of 1970s throwbacks, which look a lot like the team’s current uniforms but with block numbers. They’ll wear this look for their Oct. 28 game against the Browns.


AFC South

β€’ The Colts are marking their 35th season in Indianapolis with a jersey patch:


β€’ The good news for the Jaguars is that their two-tone helmet — the worst helmet design in NFL history — is gone, replaced by a standard black shell that’s a huge improvement.

The bad news is that the new helmet is part of a new uniform set that isn’t as good as it could have been. The biggest problem is that they’ve eliminated all the gold accents, which leaves the new set looking too plain and no-frills (there’s a full Uni Watch assessment here):

Also: In an odd uni-numerical quirk, at one point during training camp the Jags had 10 different wide receivers wearing Nos. 10-19. Not all of them made the final roster cut, of course, but it still seems worth mentioning.

Also-also: The Jags’ stadium has a new corporate advertised name.


β€’ No team-wide changes for the Texans, but there are two players with uni adjustments worth discussing. First, the NFL decided last season that active players who were past winners of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award would wear a Payton jersey patch. Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt won the award last year, so the patch has now been added to his jersey:

Also, Texans wide receiver Sammie Coates Jr. has become the latest NFL player to add a generational suffix to his nameplate. He had previously just worn “Coates,” but now he’s wearing “Coates Jr.”

Meanwhile: As usual, the Texans will wear solid white for their home opener, which is on Sept. 23 against the Giants. In addition, they’ll wear their red alternates on Oct. 14 against the Bills and their solid navy Color Rush design on Oct. 25 against the Dolphins (a Thursday night game) and again on Dec. 9 against the Colts. Further info on all of that is available here.


β€’ The Titans have undergone a serious makeover featuring a navy helmet, among other new design details (a full Uni Watch assessment is available here):

In addition, 2018 marks the 20th season since the franchise changed its name from Oilers to Titans, and the team is marking the occasion with a helmet decal:


AFC West

β€’ The Broncos‘ solid orange Color Rush uniforms, which have been fairly popular with fans, will reportedly be worn on Nov. 25 against the Steelers, and their navy alternate jerseys will appear twice this season as well (additional info here):

Also: In the wake of the bankruptcy of Sports Authority, which had held the naming rights to the Broncos’ stadium, the stadium is now known as Broncos Stadium at Mile High. New signs have been erected, although some of the old Sports Authority signage is still visible from aerial views.


β€’ The Chargers have released their jersey schedule (additional info here):


β€’ There was some buzz during the offseason when Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif completed medical school and wanted to add “M.D.” to his nameplate. Unfortunately, the NFL put the kibosh on that idea.


β€’ As usual, no changes for the Raiders, although it’s worth noting that linebacker Tahir Whitehead has been wearing an unusual looking face mask:


NFC East

β€’ The Cowboys‘ blue jerseys, once viewed as a jinx or a curse, will be worn three times this season — and in one instance will be paired with white pants:


β€’ As has been standard for most recent Super Bowl winners, the Eagles will wear a championship jersey patch for their season opener, which will be on Sept. 6 against the Falcons (additional info here):

Two other small Eagles items: First, several players have changed their uni numbers. And second, defensive lineman Aziz Shittu has added “Jr.” to his nameplate:


β€’ The Giants have announced their full uniform schedule for the season — jerseys, pants, socks, the works.


Washington: No announced changes or news.


NFC North

β€’ In recent years, the Bears have been wearing their Monsters of the Midway throwbacks twice per season. But this year they’re going back to the orange throwbacks they wore from 2005 through 2011. The orange design will be worn on Oct. 14 for a road game against the Dolphins and for a Nov. 18 home game against the Vikings:

In the past, NFL teams could wear only one throwback or alternate per season, so adding the orange throwbacks would necessitate mothballing the Monsters of the Midway throwbacks. But thanks to the NFL’s new rules, the Bears will be wearing both throwbacks this season. Here’s their jersey schedule for this season:


β€’ Lions head coach Matt Patricia has suggested that the team probably will wear throwbacks at least once in 2018. It’s not yet clear when that might happen, although the annual Thanksgiving game — this year that’s on Nov. 22, against the Bears — is a strong candidate.


β€’ The Packers are celebrating their 100th season with a commemorative logo, which is appearing as a jersey patch and also on the turf and Lambeau Field:

The Packers have also created a video showing the progression of the team’s uniforms over the past century:

Also, it’s worth noting that tickets for Green Bay’s Sept. 30 game against the Bills include the notation Third Jersey Game. It’s not yet clear whether that means the Pack will be wearing a throwback, or an as-yet-unreleased alternate, or what. Stay tuned.

Finally: For many years now, Packers quarterbacks have been in the habit of wearing old-school two-point chin straps. But several of the Pack’s young QBs appear to be bucking that trend.


β€’ The Vikings have added a “TS” memorial decal for former offensive line coach Tony Sparano, who died in July:

Also worth noting: The Vikes’ longtime seamstress, Penny Bryce, who’d been sewing names and numbers onto Minnesota uniforms for nearly half a century, has retired. Here’s hoping she enjoys her golden years.


NFC South

β€’ Buccaneers: No announced changes or news.


β€’ Falcons: No announced changes or news.


β€’ The Panthers are always good about releasing their jersey schedule before the regular season, and this year is no exception (additional info here):

It’s also worth noting that the Panthers paired their blue alternate jersey with black pants — a uni combo that had never been used before in team history — for one of their preseason games. Reaction was mostly positive, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see this look resurface during the regular season (here’s some additional info and a photo gallery):

And in another preseason game, the Panthers tried another previously unseen uni combo: white jerseys with black pants. Interestingly, that look had shown up on a Starting Lineup action figure 20 years ago but had never made it onto the field until now:

Meanwhile: For years the Panthers have used the NFL shield as their midfield logo, but this year they’re reportedly changing it to the team’s primary logo. They stuck with the NFL mark during the preseason, but the switcheroo will supposedly be happening in time for the team’s home opener Sunday.


β€’ Unusual move by the Saints, who are wearing a memorial jersey patch and a helmet decal for owner Tom Benson, who died in March:

In addition, Saints quarterback Drew Brees is going with a new helmet and face mask combo this season. Here’s a clip of him talking about it:

Also: The Saints will wear white for their Nov. 18 home game against the Eagles, who’ll wear green on the road. The unusual pairing is due to Saints coach Sean Payton losing a golf bet to Eagles coach Doug Pederson in March.


NFC West

Cardinals: No announced changes or news.


β€’ The 49ers have added a new white throwback option. It’s based on the uniform they wore in 1994, which was itself a throwback, so there’s a certain meta aspect here. The throwbacks, which were brought back in part at the urging of head coach Kyle Shanahan, will be worn for a Sunday night game against the Rams on Oct. 21 (additional photos and info here).

In addition, the Niners have added a memorial decal for former wide receiver Dwight Clark, whose game-winning grab in the 1982 NFC Championship Game will forever be known as “The Catch”:

Finally, the best Niners news of all: The black uniforms have been retired. And not a moment too soon.


β€’ Last year the Rams had the most messed-up uniform program in the league. They had removed the gold elements from their helmets and pants but had left the gold accents on their jerseys, which made everything feel mismatched and out of balance. Fans definitely noticed:

They’ve solved that problem this year, or at least mitigated it, by scrapping their navy jersey and replacing it with their royal blue throwback uniform. So this season they’ll wear their white jerseys (which still have gold trim, but not as much as the now-mothballed navy jerseys) for nine games, the royal throwbacks for five games, and their solid-yellow Color Rush design for two games. You can find the breakdown (additional info here):

Expect the Rams to stick with this same program next year, and then they’ll have new uniforms to coincide with the opening of their new stadium in 2020.


Seahawks: No announced changes or news.


Additional Notes

β€’ Although there has been no official announcement so far, you can expect the league to continue its Crucial Catch anti-cancer program in October. The initiative, which for many years was directed at breast cancer awareness, was expanded last season to include a wide range of cancers, with pink accessories replaced by rainbow-colored accessories.


β€’ Again, there has been no official announcement so far, but expect to see the league’s other well-established monthlong uniform promotion — camouflage trim to salute the military in November — rolled out once again.


β€’ Another uni-related promotion that probably will return for another go-round: the My Cause, My Cleats program, which allows players to wear custom-designed footwear to promote charitable causes for one week in December.


Did we miss anything? If so, you know what to do. Thanks.

Paul Lukas will have his NHL, NBA, and college hoops previews later this fall. If you like this column, you’ll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for his mailing list so you’ll always know when a new column has been posted. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, check out his Uni Watch merchandise, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.





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2018 NFL training camp preseason position battles to watch


The Jets and Bills are having full-blown quarterback competitions that include top-10 picks. The Cowboys are trying to find a replacement for Dez Bryant, while the Seahawks are trying out potential Earl Thomas fill-ins.

NFL Nation reporters pick the most important training camp position battle for every team.


AFC EAST

Quarterback

The main source of intrigue around the Bills is when No. 7 overall pick Josh Allen will crack the starting lineup. He is part of a three-way competition in training camp with AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman in which McCarron and Peterman have split first- and second-team reps and Allen has occasionally seen time with the top unit. The preseason will determine whether Allen is ready to make the jump from Wyoming to starting Week 1 as a rookie, or if coach Sean McDermott will lean on a safer bet in McCarron or possibly Peterman. — Mike Rodak

Wide receiver

There is little debate that Jarvis Landry was Ryan Tannehill‘s favorite target in past seasons, but how does the position shake out with Landry gone to Cleveland? Former first-round pick DeVante Parker struggled early in training camp, according to The Miami Herald, and coach Adam Gase said the team was searching for a role for free-agent addition Albert Wilson. Add in fellow free-agent pickup Danny Amendola, as well as Kenny Stills, and there is little clarity about who will be the top receivers in Miami. — Mike Rodak

Left tackle

Who will protect Tom Brady‘s blindside? Fourth-year veteran Trent Brown — who is hard to miss at 6-foot-9, 380 pounds — has been lining up with the first unit through the first stretch of training camp. Rookie first-round pick Isaiah Wynn has been the top backup. From 2001 to ’17, the Patriots had rare stability at the position between Matt Light and Nate Solder. Now they’re in transition. — Mike Reiss

Quarterback

When will No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold get the starting nod? He will get a chance in the preseason to prove his worthiness. Let’s be clear: The Jets don’t see this as a redshirt year for Darnold. When he’s deemed ready, he will play. Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater also are competing. Bridgewater could steal it. If he doesn’t, and if Darnold isn’t ready, McCown will be the Week 1 starter. — Rich Cimini


AFC NORTH

Weakside linebacker

Patrick Onwuasor is looking to hold off rookie fourth-round pick Kenny Young and remain the starter for the second straight season. Onwuasor is extremely physical, and the Ravens love how he attacks the ball. But his high-effort play can lead to mistakes. Young has impressed with his athleticism. He’s looking to become just the second rookie to start on the Ravens’ defense over the past decade (C.J. Mosley in 2014). Jamison Hensley

Right tackle and right guard

The Bengals made it clear they’re impressed with their wide receivers group after releasing veteran Brandon LaFell on Thursday, but that won’t matter much if quarterback Andy Dalton can’t stay upright. The main competition is on the right side of the offensive line, with both tackle and guard open. Someone is going to have to step up there after the Bengals struggled at both tackle positions last season. There’s no clear winner here yet, with practice consisting mostly of a rotation at both spots, with Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher likely the front-runners for one of the tackle positions. Alex Redmond, Christian Westerman and Trey Hopkins are the candidates at right guard. — Katherine Terrell

Left tackle

Does Joel Bitonio keep the job as Joe Thomas‘ successor at left tackle? Bitonio has been the most logical choice to replace Thomas since the day Thomas retired, but the Browns put the move off until early in training camp, when it was evident they needed to at least try Bitonio outside. Shon Coleman did not come through, so the team moved Bitonio from left guard to the spot he last played in college in 2013. Bitonio has athletic ability, but the 6-4, 305-pound lineman is not built like a typical left tackle. — Pat McManamon

Inside linebacker

The battle for Ryan Shazier‘s spot in the middle is taking shape. Tyler Matakevich had the edge in the spring, but free-agent signing Jon Bostic is getting more first-team reps in camp. Bostic has starting experience and is finally healthy. It appears the job is his to lose, but Matakevich is a favorite of Steelers scouts and coaches for his on-field awareness and toughness. He shouldn’t be discounted. — Jeremy Fowler


AFC SOUTH

Left tackle

It’s no secret that a key to the Texans’ season is keeping Deshaun Watson healthy, and to do so, the second-year quarterback needs to be protected. JuliΓ©n Davenport, a fourth-round pick in 2017, will get a strong chance to win the left tackle job, but he will have to beat out free-agent addition Seantrel Henderson and rookie third-round pick Martinas Rankin. — Sarah Barshop

Running back

You can already eliminate veteran Robert Turbin from the equation because he is suspended the first four games for using performance-enhancing drugs. That leaves Marlon Mack, Christine Michael and rookies Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines as the primary candidates. Mack, who rushed for 358 yards as a rookie last season, likely has the inside track to start. It should be noted, though, that it wouldn’t be surprising if the Colts use a running-back-by-committee approach because the primary back each week could end up being predicated on the opponent and exploiting its weakness. “It will be opponent-specific,” coach Frank Reich said. “Certain guys have a little better feel on gap schemes. Other runners, as you know, have a better feel for zone scheme runs, and you just kind of gear guys toward what they’re best at.” — Mike Wells

Strongside linebacker

This is the only open position for the Jaguars, but it might not be much of a competition if what has happened early in camp is any indication. Rookie Leon Jacobs, one of the Jaguars’ two seventh-round draft picks, has lined up as the starter since practice began. Coach Doug Marrone said they like Jacobs’ coverage ability and length, and the team seems much more comfortable with him at the spot than second-year players Blair Brown and Donald Payne. The Jaguars are in sub packages more than half the time, and the strongside linebacker won’t be on the field on third down, but it’s still a vital part of the defense. They are likely going to entrust the spot Myles Jack manned last season to a rookie. — Mike DiRocco

Inside linebacker

Rookie Rashaan Evans was on track to be the starter until landing on the non-football illness list for dehydration issues. He and free agent Will Compton shared reps during OTAs and minicamp, and Compton has established himself as a defensive leader in Evans’ absence. It will be an intense competition once the first-round pick returns to camp. — Turron Davenport


AFC WEST

No. 3 cornerback

For the past four years, the third CB spot — a position that is “basically a starter,” according to defensive coordinator Joe Woods — has been Bradley Roby‘s job. Since Aqib Talib was traded to the Rams, though, Roby has worked as one of the two corners in the base defense, opposite Chris Harris Jr. The Broncos signed Tramaine Brock — who played for coach Vance Joseph when Joseph was a position coach with the 49ers — in free agency, but Brock suffered a hamstring injury early in training camp and has not been on the field. Rookie Isaac Yiadom has shown some potential, and Brendan Langley, a second-year cornerback, has also been given a chance to show what he can do in Brock’s absence. It is one of the team’s biggest unanswered questions as the preseason games approach. — Jeff Legwold

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Matthew Berry keeps first-year starter Patrick Mahomes ranked as the 15th best fantasy QB even after eight interceptions in the span of seven practices.

Left guard

Kansas City’s only available starting position has been a battle between Cam Erving and Parker Ehinger. Erving is a former first-round draft pick of the Browns and might be just starting to realize his potential. Ehinger was a starter as a rookie in 2016 before a knee injury knocked him from the lineup. The Chiefs will likely continue to provide each player a long look and might not make a final decision until shortly before the regular season begins. — Adam Teicher

Kicker

The Chargers had five different players attempt field goals last season, including punter Drew Kaser, finishing a league-worst 67 percent on field goal attempts. Inconsistency at kicker is one of the reasons the Chargers barely missed the playoffs. They signed Caleb Sturgis to a two-year, $4.45 million deal in free agency, including $1 million in guaranteed money. But so far, he has missed five field goals during training camp, while former Bucs second-round pick Roberto Aguayo, whom the team signed to a reserve/future deal in January, has been more consistent, with just two misses so far during camp. — Eric D. Williams

Backup quarterback

Not sexy, right? But chew on this: Jon Gruden might keep only two quarterbacks on the roster, $125 million man Derek Carr and, yes, his backup. And while EJ Manuel has seemingly outplayed Connor Cook through the first week of camp, Cook, who has actually started a playoff game, is getting every opportunity to seize the gig … even if Manuel has more of a pocket presence and the ability to take off and run for a first down. But what if Gruden cuts both and does something crazy and breaks the Internet by signing Johnny Manziel or Colin Kaepernick? — Paul Gutierrez


NFC EAST

No. 1 receiver

Since Jerry Jones purchased the team in 1989, he has had a legitimate No. 1 wideout, but this year, the Cowboys will go with a committee approach as they look to replace Dez Bryant. So far in training camp, the Cowboys have rotated Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Cole Beasley, Deonte Thompson and Michael Gallup with the first team. Terrance Williams will be added to the mix as he recovers from offseason foot surgery. Hurns has the only 1,000-yard season among the group, but Beasley could see his role change from strictly slot receiver to playing all over the field, which would increase his work. Gallup has flashed his ability early, but it might be asking too much for a third-rounder to become the top wideout so quickly. — Todd Archer

Free safety

The battle is a free-for-all. The Giants have four options. It’s a massive mix that includes Darian Thompson, Curtis Riley, Andrew Adams and Michael Thomas. All are getting time with the first-team defense. All except Riley (perhaps the slimmest of favorites) have starting experience. May the best safety win. — Jordan Raanan

Slot corner

Patrick Robinson was one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the league in 2017 and was a vital part of the team’s Super Bowl run (see his momentum-turning pick-six against the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game), but he left for the Saints in free agency. Sidney Jones and De’Vante Bausby have been splitting first-team reps this summer. The Eagles have an extra corner on the field about 70 percent of the time, so they’ve got to get this right. — Tim McManus

Cornerback

Who will start opposite Josh Norman? Orlando Scandrick has spent the spring and summer as the No. 2 corner, but he also plays inside vs. three-receiver sets. Quinton Dunbar has been the third corner this summer and has looked good. If the Redskins are concerned about Scandrick’s durability, they could start Dunbar and play Scandrick in nickel packages (which they use around 80 percent of the time). — John Keim


NFC NORTH

Left guard

The Sam Acho-versus-Aaron Lynch battle at outside linebacker would have been entertaining to track, but with Lynch sidelined with a hamstring issue, there hasn’t been much to monitor. The best competition is actually for the starting guard opposite Kyle Long: veteran depth player Eric Kush or 2018 second-round pick James Daniels. Kush, who has familiarity with Matt Nagy’s offense from his time with the Chiefs, has the edge for now — especially with a shoulder injury flaring up for Daniels last week. But don’t be surprised if the rookie gains ground and becomes the Week 1 starter. — Emily Kaplan

Defensive back (other than Glover Quin and Darius Slay)

It’s perhaps the deepest spot on Detroit’s roster, with incumbent starters Nevin Lawson (corner), Quandre Diggs (slot corner/safety) and Tavon Wilson (safety) all returning. But none of those players have sure-fire starting roles, although Diggs is likely to start somewhere between the slot and safety. Lawson will get pushed by second-year pro Teez Tabor and newly signed Deshawn Shead, who has taken most of the first-team reps at corner ahead of Tabor and Lawson. In the slot, the Lions are going to hope Jamal Agnew can develop into a starter, which could push Diggs to safety and keep Lawson outside. Then there’s safety, where Wilson, Diggs and Miles Killebrew are all competing. — Michael Rothstein

No. 3 receiver

It’s Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and then who? Right now, it’s Geronimo Allison, who was on the receiving end of Aaron Rodgers‘ no-look touchdown pass that has been the play of camp so far. Then there are the three draft picks — J’Mon Moore (fourth round), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (fifth) and Equanimeous St. Brown (sixth) — all of whom have been wildly inconsistent. The surprise name in the group is Jake Kumerow, a former Division III standout at Wisconsin-Whitewater and Bengals practice squad member who has gotten as much work (if not more) with Rodgers as any of the young receivers. — Rob Demovsky

Right side of the offensive line

Mike Remmers is the key cog in all of this, and if he stays at right guard, as coach Mike Zimmer recently hinted, it creates competition at right tackle. Rashod Hill is the front-runner for the job, but how the line performs in camp with the combination of Riley Reiff, Nick Easton, Pat Elflein, Remmers and Hill will determine whether changes will need to be made. Given the rash of injuries that forced Minnesota to shuffle the O-line in each of the past two seasons, getting this starting five right is important and will likely have a direct correlation on the success of the offense. For a fourth straight season, the Vikings will have a different combination of starting offensive linemen to open the season. — Courtney Cronin


NFC SOUTH

Right guard

The Falcons seem willing to make it a true competition despite signing veteran Brandon Fusco in free agency. Wes Schweitzer, who started 16 games last season, could get a shot if he shows improvement from last year’s shaky performance. Ben Garland might get a look, too, although Garland seems better suited for a backup utility role at guard and center. And with left guard Andy Levitre‘s injury history, it’s wise to have other guys prepared just in case. — Vaughn McClure

Cornerback

It appeared the left guard spot to replace All-Pro Andrew Norwell might have been key a few months ago, but the corner spot opposite James Bradberry looms even bigger for a team looking to solidify the secondary. Rookie second-round pick Donte Jackson appears to have the upper hand over Kevon Seymour, now that Ross Cockrell is out for the season with a broken fibia and tibula. Both have their pluses. Jackson brings an attitude and speed that is much needed. Seymour is stronger at the point of attack. In this case, Jackson’s swagger, something this unit hasn’t had since Josh Norman played in Carolina, might put him over the top. — David Newton

Linebacker

The Saints have completely revamped this position over the past two years, spending big money on Demario Davis in free agency this offseason after adding veterans A.J. Klein and Manti Te’o and rookie Alex Anzalone last year. But now they need to figure out where everyone fits — especially since they typically use only two linebackers in nickel packages, which is about 75 percent of the snaps. Davis and Anzalone should have the edge for those two roles because of their pass-coverage abilities. But the Saints have been mixing and matching various lineups throughout camp. — Mike Triplett

Cornerback

The Bucs are looking for the starter opposite veteran Brent Grimes. Vernon Hargreaves struggled in 2017, and the team feels he might be best suited to play at nickelback. He’s still in contention to start outside, however, with competition from rookies Carlton Davis, M.J. Stewart and Ryan Smith. Like Hargreaves, Stewart is also lining up inside, and he has made two big plays in camp — an interception of Jameis Winston, and a forced fumble from Ronald Jones. — Jenna Laine


NFC WEST

Center

The Cardinals drafted their center of the future in the third round in Mason Cole, but he won’t have the job handed to him. Not if A.Q. Shipley has any say in it. The scrappy veteran is headed into the second year of a two-year deal — the first multiyear contract of his career — and is the incumbent starter. The starting job is Shipley’s to lose, but he’ll have Cole on his heels all camp. (Note: Coach Steve Wilks announced on Monday afternoon that Shipley suffered a torn ACL.) — Josh Weinfuss

Outside linebacker

Most of the Rams’ starting lineup is set, but outside linebacker is a position for which questions remain after Robert Quinn was traded to the Dolphins and Connor Barwin departed as a free agent. Samson Ebukam will start as a second-year pro, but his counterpart has yet to be determined. Matt Longacre proved to be a capable playmaker as a backup last season, collecting 5.5 sacks. But Longacre, who underwent season-ending back surgery last December, must hold off rookies John Franklin-Myers and Justin Lawler, who has been slowed because of a leg issue, and sixth-year pro Ryan Davis, a free agent who was relatively anonymous with the Rams until coach Sean McVay highlighted him as a player “who has really shown up” during camp practices. — Lindsey Thiry

Right guard

The Niners have some sorting out to do on the interior of their offensive line. With the other four spots apparently settled, that leaves a battle between free-agent addition Jonathan Cooper and former first-round pick Joshua Garnett, who’s returning from injury. Cooper brings experience and athleticism while Garnett has worked hard to reshape his body and become a better fit in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Like Garnett, Cooper is also coming back from a knee ailment. To this point, that battle hasn’t fully materialized, as Cooper is still working his way back from the knee issue, and Garnett has missed a practice because of his own injury. Veteran Mike Person has gotten plenty of work at this spot, and his versatility gives him a chance to nail down a roster spot, if not the starting job. Erik Magnuson could also be a factor. — Nick Wagoner

Safety

Who will start alongside Bradley McDougald if Earl Thomas‘ holdout lingers? While the competition at running back between Chris Carson and rookie first-round pick Rashaad Penny gets the most attention, both figure to be involved in the offense regardless of which one enters the season first on the depth chart. The most important position battle is at safety, where the Seahawks have to replace at least one long-time starter in Kam Chancellor and possibly another should Thomas’ holdout last into the season, a legitimate possibility. Which spot McDougald starts at will depend on who wins the other job. Free safety Tedric Thompson has been an early standout in training camp. He’s competing with fellow 2017 draft pick Delano Hill and former Ram Maurice Alexander, whose starting experience and knowledge of the division should only help his case. — Brady Henderson



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