1 Aug, 2017
It’s an exciting time for players, coaches and fans alike because real football is back now that rookies and veterans across the league have reported for training camp. I’ll be attending Cowboys and Patriots training camps this week with some of my NFL Network colleagues.
Training camp always brings its fair share of headlines, namely with the contract disputes and holdouts. Aaron Donald and Le’Veon Bell highlight the list of dominant players seeking a long-term deal with their respective teams. Bell will play under the $12.1 million tag this season after he and the Steelers failed to come to terms on a long-term deal at the July 17 deadline for players on franchise tags.
Rams veterans report to camp Friday, July 28, and it would not come as a surprise to me if Aaron Donald wasn’t there. The Rams exercised their fifth-year option on the three-time pro bowler, ensuring that Donald will be under contract at least through the 2018 season. Donald is set to continue his All-Pro play at a discounted rate of $3.2 million this season and $6.8 million next season. You hate to see these disputes from both sides, but at the end of the day, the NFL is a business.
I’m also looking forward to seeing what’s in store for Colin Kaepernick as some quarterback hungry teams head into training camp. Kaepernick opted out of his deal in March, and since then it has been a waiting game to see if there’s a potential role for the quarterback who tossed 16 touchdowns to just four interceptions as the starter for the San Francisco 49ers last season.
Here are some of my bold predictions heading into training camp:
1) The Philadelphia Eagles are a playoff caliber team ready to compete for the division crown. You heard Head Coach Doug Pederson go on record by suggesting that this Philadelphia Eagles team has “as much talent on this team” as there was on his 1996 Packers team that he won a Super Bowl with as Brett Favre’s backup.
Now, do I agree with him? Probably not. But this is a team that has added some key pieces to the puzzle, and I believe they have the players to compete with every team in the NFC East this season. They have a legitimate chance at reversing their fortunes from last year’s 7-9 season based on the key moves they made this offseason.
I like how they added toughness to the run game with LeGarrette Blount and brought in some talented receivers for Carson Wentz in Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith. In my opinion, they drafted the best pass rusher and edge rusher in Derek Barnett, who could be a darkhorse Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate. This team has quietly taken a large step to close the gap.
2) Dalvin Cook will rush for more yards than Adrian Peterson.
It’s going to be strange seeing Adrian Peterson running the ball in something other than a purple uniform next season. The Minnesota Vikings all but decided to move on from the 32-year-old running back after ten seasons when they signed former Raider LaTavius Murray in the offseason, who notched his first career trip to the Pro Bowl last year. He’ll get his name called a lot in Minnesota, but I expect the majority of the touches in the running game and the passing game to go to Dalvin Cook, who Minnesota selected 41st overall in the draft this year.
Cook is an all-around back that runs the football hard and fights for yards after contact. He has a great chance to have a breakout rookie campaign in year one of the post-Adrian Peterson era in Minnesota. And with Adrian Peterson sharing a backfield with Mark Ingram in New Orleans, I expect Dalvin Cook to rush for more yards than the future Hall-of-Famer.
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