While the humidity begins to heat up the practice field, as do the teams that play on them. Almost a week into training camp, a few players have begun to emerge as starlets and letdowns. Not to forget the injuries and practice fights that take the NFL by storm.
The offense has been slow and outmatched at times, while the defense excels. This is the consensus out of the Falcons’ training camp, although a few pieces of the offense have given them hope. Wideout Justin Hardy
I’ll tell you this much… After watching 3 days of training camp, Justin Hardy will be a HUGE part of what the Falcons’ offense does
— FalconsKelsey (@FalconsKelsey) July 30, 2016
is turning heads and even donned the new nickname “The Wolf”. But also trying to nab a spot on the depth chart is fellow receiver Aldrick Robinson, who was commended by Dan Quinn for visibly putting in the work every day. On the other side of the ball came praise for first round pick Keanu Neal, who has impressed since the Falcons suited up for pads. Apart from his animosity, the safety absolutely rocked Levine Toilolo on a play, and moments later did the same to Eric Weems. Putting on such hits in camp is dangerous, and it proved so when former Kentucky teammate Jacob Tamme gave a shove and some words to the rookie. All in all, Neal looks to be filling the Kam Chancellor role in the Falcons D, but he’ll have a lot more to prove come game time to live up to that.
It was mostly a resting weekend for the Panthers as they saw several players have the day off or practice in light work. Kelvin Benjamin saw some rest as did Charles Johnson and Kony Ealy, who is under concussion protocol for a helmet to helmet hit. Stephen Hill came back into the team but didn’t practice much, indicating he’s still healing from injury. The defense was superb in their coverage of Cam Newton when they picked him off twice, one from Shaw Thompson and the other from Kurt Coleman. Offensively, Braxton Deaver made a few nice catches that forwarded his argument in staying on the final roster, and the run game worked to full effect, nurturing the players for the ground and pound season ahead.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints camp the past few days can simply be summed up by one name. Michael Thomas. The rookie wide receiver has made highlights every day and is putting on the jets against the corners. It was mostly his explosiveness off the line and the ability to use his hands in the first five yards that made him shine. Check out a clip below:
https://twitter.com/Amos_MoraleIII/status/759762203012718592 As an easter egg gesture, Peyton Manning showed up to training camp today but unfortunately it wasn’t for playing but rather watching. The recently retired legend was coincidentally in town and was invited by coach Sean Payton to attend. It was pure nostalgia since the Saints became the team Manning grew up watching, thanks to his father Archie. But aside from seeing greatness, Brandin Cooks is chasing it. He’s dazzled on long ball throws from Drew Brees alongside Michael Thomas, foreshadowing a deadly duo this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If anything, the NFC South has disappointed defensively throughout the years. But now it’s looking almost the other direction, with most of its talent garnered towards defending the end zone. For Tampa Bay that power comes in the name of Noah Spence, who has been lighting up the practice field recently. According to reports he’s been putting the most pressure on second year QB Jameis Winston and forcing him to make ill timed throws. Although when Spence isn’t terrorizing the offense, wide receiver Adam Humphries is putting in his work. Coach Dirk Koetter announced he will be the number three receiver for Tampa to start the season. Also running with the first team as well is cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, making the young talent a hot commodity for the upcoming year.