NFL Training Camp Storylines: Part Three

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: July 31, 2007

NFL Training PHILADELPHIA — Training camps from Wisconsin to Lehigh have opened and the 2007 NFL season is upon us and so are the storylines. Here is the third in a five-part series of the top 15 storylines that I will be following during the early weeks of training camp:

Rookie Holdouts: The annual “last rookie into camp” watch starts once again as teams report to training camp. Most rookies cannot afford to miss large amounts of time in camp, because the learning curve is very steep going from college to the pros. Slotting definitely is a big factor as no player wants to sign before a player in front of him, but contracts usually come in around 10% higher than the previous year’s similar draft spot. We have seen in past rookies like Akili Smith never recover from lost time in training camp. Last year, Eagles DT Broderick Bunkley never seemed to get out of the team’s doghouse for missing the first two weeks of training camp. With the Browns’ signing of third overall pick Joe Thomas OT from Wisconsin to 6-year deal on July 26, maybe more draft picks will sign and be in camp on time.

As of press time, Oakland QB JaMarcus Russell (1st overall), Detroit WR Calvin Johnson (2nd), Arizona OT Levi Brown (5th), Jets’ DB Darrell Revis (14th), Cleveland QB Brady Quinn (22nd), and Carolina LB Jon Beason (25th) remain unsigned. Quinn and his agent Tom Condon seem to be the most logical choice among media and fans as a possible lengthy contract holdout victim. Quinn is rumored to be asking for a contract and signing bonus similar to higher drafted quarterbacks (Ben Roethlisberger 2004 deal, 11th pick deal seems their starting point: six-year contract worth $22.26 million in salaries and bonuses, with an additional $17.73 million in incentives) and not what his No. 22 pick slotting usually pays.

Should the Patriots Already be Hoisting the Lombardi Trophy?: Throughout the entire off-season, I have had on prevailing thought, the Patriots returning from the sour taste of losing to their archrival the Colts and watching them win the Super Bowl, are loading up. In what maybe New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick’s last season ( two years and $8 million remaining), Owner Robert Kraft and Personnel Head Scott Pioli have gathered an influx of scary talent (WR Randy Moss, WR Donte Stallworth, WR/KR Wes Welker, DB Tory James, TE Kyle Brady and others) to an already talented Patriots roster.

With Tom Brady throwing to additions Moss, Welker, Stallworth, and Kelly Washington instead of underachievers Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell the Patriots offense will be explosive. The only two apprehensions I have is whether the core of the Patriots defense (LB Bruschi, LB Vrabel, S Harrison, LB Seau, LB Chad Brown) are too old to last through the grind of an NFL season including the playoffs and if malcontents Moss and troubled draftee S Brandon Merriweather can fit in and behave in the locker room.

When will “Pacman” Jones resurface?: The NFL’s poster player for continued misconduct has been suspended for the entire 2007 season. “Hang ’em High” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell already denied Titans cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones’ request to join his teammates in training camp and you can almost book it that the reduction language (10 games for good behavior) was just a misnomer and Pacman will not be seen until 2008. He’s been arrested a total of six times since being drafted including recently being charged with two counts of felony coercion stemming from a Las Vegas strip club fight on NBA All-Star weekend, which left a man paralyzed.

The Las Vegas case is one of three still pending on Jones, including charges in Georgia and Tennessee. Titans coach Jeff Fisher said, “We’ve moved on. We’re looking forward to filling the holes. We feel like we’ve done so with the roster. Now we need to do so with production on the field.” Look for the Titans to leave Jones on their roster and try to recoup the 2007 portion of Pacman’s signing bonus (approximately $1.9 million) in signing bonus.

TOMMORROW: Surprise teams, Brett Favre’s “retirement”, and Where In The World Is Daunte Culpepper.