While July’s a great month for baseball fans, it’s torture for NFL fans. Each day feels like a year as we wait for the first sign of life for the upcoming season – training camps. Forget minicamps and OTAs, with their no pad workouts and light drills. Training camps are the first true signs of action for the NFL and the first chance we have to spy on promising rookies, expensive free agents and the rest of our favorite players.
And it really like someone turned up the plot heat this summer, because more teams are dealing with roster shake-ups and subsequent drama, meaning that for once our August can be almost as exciting as September, without having to white knuckle our way through preseason games, praying that our star players don’t get hurt. Here’s a rundown of some of the more exciting plotlines for the 2010 NFL training camps:
- New York Jets – July 27; Cortland, NY – Quarterback Mark Sanchez is recovering from knee surgery, but has declared this team a Super Bowl candidate. The Jets brought in Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes and former NFL MVP LaDanian Tomlinson to bolster the offense, while Antonio Cromartie and Jason Taylor have been added on defense for depth. This squad will be featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks, so there should be plenty of entertainment provided.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – July 31; Latrobe, PA – The Steelers failed to make the playoffs last season after winning the Super Bowl the year prior. They’ve lost Santonio Holmes, but have gained a lot of young talent through the draft. But all focus is on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, his off-field dilemmas, and the team’s ability to overcome and return to the postseason.
- Miami Dolphins – August 1;Davie, FL – For years critics have said that the failing Dolphins have lacked two things – a franchise QB and a big-time wide receiver. Now they believe that Chad Henne is their long-term passer and former Denver Bronco Brandon Marshall is the deep threat they’ve so desperately needed. But can he behave and can this young team compete with the Jets and New England Patriots?
- Oakland Raiders – July 29; Napa Valley, CA – Jamarcus Russell’s hefty contract and physique are gone, and Jason Campbell will attempt to do in Oakland what he couldn’t do with the Washington Redskins – win over the fans. One problem with that… Oakland has the toughest fans in professional sports.
- Seattle Seahawks – July 30; Renton, WA – Pete Carroll left the sweet life at the University of Southern California to try his hand at the NFL for a third time. Now he wants to prove that his prolific Trojan offenses can translate well in Seattle. He just has to rebuild a franchise that has failed to break through in a weak NFL division.
- Denver Broncos – July 30; Englewood, CO – Second year coach Josh McDaniels sent QB Jay Cutler packing before last season and now he’s delivered Brandon Marshall to Miami. The Broncos have a lot of questions to answer, but the query at the top of every list is: Will Tim Tebow be Denver’s QB of the future?
- New Orleans – July 30; Metairie, LA – Here’s a fun fact: the Saints won the Super Bowl last year. You wouldn’t know it, though, since all the talk around New Orleans is over Reggie Bush’s breakup with Kim Kardashian and his financial matters with the IRS. Can the former Heisman Trophy winner overcome and lead the Saints to a repeat?
- Washington Redskins – July 29; Ashburn, VA
- Philadelphia Eagles – July 26; Bethlehem, PA – Perhaps the most intriguing storyline of the offseason and the upcoming NFL season involves QB Donovan McNabb and his new home with his old team’s bitter divisional rival. Can McNabb lead the Redskins to glory unlike his tenure with the Eagles? New coach Mike Shanahan sure thinks so.
For a complete list of NFL training camp dates and times and team merchandise, visit www.NFL.com.