Remember as a kid growing up how the time in between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed like it would take FOREVER to pass? That’s how many football fans feel after the Super Bowl, and now there is finally light at the end of the tunnel as most NFL teams open up Training camps this weekend. Fans are ready to follow their teams each and every move as their respective teams prepare for a run towards the Vince Lombardi trophy.
With the opening of camps, there are numerous storylines that will take center stage over the next five weeks before the beginning of the Regular season, such as contract issues / disputes, injuries, and how Free Agents will fare with their new teams.
Today we will look at the AFC and some of the intriguing storylines that will capture our attention.
With two of the game’s best quarterbacks in the final year of their contracts, both players are in for a HUGE payday. There have been rumblings that both are unhappy with their current contracts, although neither has publicly indicated it. Back in February, Colt’s owner Jim Irsay said “We know Peyton’s going to be the highest-paid player in the league. It’s something that’ll get done. We’ll be talking in the off-season.” Unfortunately for Colt’s fans, nothing has been set in stone although conversations have been said to be “on-going.”
Tom Brady’s situation seems to be very different. The New England Patriots and owner Robert Kraft have been notoriously “cheap” when it comes to contracts. They have lost numerous players over the years with the idea that any player lost can be replaced. That has worked as New England won three (3) Super Bowls in a four (4) year span and lost one to the NY Giants after going undefeated in the Regular season. However, Tom Brady isn’t just any player that can be easily replaced and Robert Kraft is going to have his hands full (and wallet lighter) in re-signing Brady.
The T.O. and OchoCinco Show in Cincy
Give it up to Mike Brown and the Bengals. They may have made one of the biggest splashes in the NFL offseason by bringing Terrell Owens into the “Jungle.” to put him opposite Chad OchoCinco (or ToCho as RL dubbed them…first by the way). With this signing, Carson Palmer instantly becomes a sleeper pick in any of your Fantasy Football leagues. With the sigining of T.O., maybe the Bengals medical staff has questions about Antonio Bryant’s knee injury. Can you imagine the touchdown celebrations that are going to happen when they get in the endzone? I think I just heard Goddell laugh about all the fines the NFL is going to collect this season with those two.
Chris Johnson and his pursuit of back to back 2000 yard rushing seasons
Chris Johnson had a monstrous 2009-10 season, rushing for 2,006 yards and becoming only the 6th player in NFL history to rush for over 2000 yards in a season. Johnson wants to break Erik Dickerson’s single season rushing record of 2,105 yards. Hopefully Johnson can stay healthy and work on getting the long term contract that he sought in the offseason after threatening to sit out training camp and possibly longer.
NY “New Faces” Jets
Coming off an exciting season in which the Jets were one solid half of football away from playing in the Super Bowl, there was a lot of turnover among the team this offseason. There were some big names that came to the Jets in the offseason with a lot to try to prove to their previous employers. One of the more interesting training camp battles is going to be at the Running back position. It’s Shonn Greene’s job, but does LaDanian Tomlinson have enough in the tank to be the backup or will Joe McKnight send LT off into the sunset? What receiver is going to show up and show that they can step up and give Mark Sanchez some help in the passing game while Santonio Holmes is out serving a four game suspension? Will the defense be as stout as it was a year ago? Can Antonio Cromartie handle having his own island opposite Darrelle Revis? Will Revis sit out camp if no long term contract is reached? How will Jason Taylor fit into the hungry defense? It’s going to be fun to see how Rex Ryan handles all of the new personalities…and to add to that, being in front of the camera for HBO’s “Hard Knocks” and you have a potential powder keg on your hands.
We have looked at some of the teams that had success last season, but what teams are poised to make people turn their heads? Two teams that I think will surprise a lot of teams are the Chiefs and the Raiders. Coach Todd Haley now has a year under his belt and is looking to make great improvements with the Chiefs. How will the Chiefs offense fare with the newly signed Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles in the backfield? Can Dwayne Bowe stay out of the doghouse (and keep his mouth closed)? Can Matt Cassel handle the offense or will Brodie Croyle come off the bench and take over?
The Raiders have had an interesting offseason. They finally came to the realization that the JaMarcus Russell experiment was a total bust and they went out and traded for Jason Campbell. Can Campbell adjust to his 7th offensive coordinator in 7 (seven) years in the league? How will the young wide receivers handle more focus on the passing game with a proven gun slinger? Can the defense keep the Raiders in games this season?
Tomorrow we will take a look at some of the more intriguing NFC story lines.
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