While the folks over at NFL Network will have us believe that there truly is “no offseason” in the National Football League, some say that those dog days of summer before preseason begins are the “dead time” on the NFL calendar.
True, there are a few weeks after minicamp, or mandatory OTAs as we’ve begun calling them recently, where nothing is happening, and the country briefly turns its attention to those other sports. Baseball is finally in full swing. This summer specifically, LeBron needs a new home and there’s even been some soccer to follow. NFL stars go on vacation and the ESPYs. Players schedule their weddings for these weeks on purpose.
But while some fans yearn for a breezy September afternoon of regular season football, I look forward to training camp – particularly for the New York Jets, of course.
The Jets’ 2014 training camp starts July 24 on the campus of the State University of New York College at Cortland. The league’s 32 teams return to a daily practice routine in July to gear up for the start of the new season. And, as we got to see first-hand from the infamous 2012 training camp of Sanchez v. Tebow, it’s open season for new media speculation and frenzy.
Last month, NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus broke down ten minicamp storylines that are a little too familiar by now, and most of them translate to the July camps too: This player is better now than before his big injury last year. We’re very impressed by that veteran addition. Holy smokes, our offense is fast now!
Hanzus’s tropes don’t apply to the anything-but-generic Jets. Here’s a breakneck overview of what to watch for in Cortland:
A good, old-fashioned quarterback battle: What’s a Jet camp without one these days? I’ve chronicled just how hard it is to chronicle whether or not there truly is a quarterback competition between Geno Smith and Michael Vick this summer. Training camp will answer that question once and for all – just see which QB is getting more first team snaps – but probably spark a new debate, too: “Who should start week one?” Sound familiar?
Will Stephen Hill make the team?: He was a second-round draft pick two years ago, but now the embattled wideout has plenty more positional competition. The Jets added Eric Decker and Jacoby Ford in free agency and Jalen Saunders, Shaq Evans and Quincy Enunwa in May’s draft. Outside of a two-touchdown game in his first career game, Hill has been a major disappointment, only catching 45 of 106 balls thrown his way. Whether he makes the final 53-man roster will depend on how well the rookies perform in training camp.
The secondary is our primary problem: Two years removed from having one of the most vaunted cornerback tandems in NFL history, Dee Milliner and Darrin Walls currently hold the starting cornerback positions formerly held by Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Will one of the rookies or free agent signings step up and make important contributions? How will first-rounder Calvin Pryor do at safety?
Stay tuned throughout the great football month of July for more in-depth previews and analysis of the New York Jets’ training camp adventures.