Quarterbacks dominated the storylines Tuesday as the NFL’s 2020 training camp rolls forward.
The New England Patriots aren’t actively promoting it, but after every player was granted access to the facility over the weekend following COVID-19 testing, there was a traditional photo shoot. That provided the first look at quarterback Cam Newton, as part of his media-guide headshot, in a Patriots uniform.
In Washington, coach Ron Rivera is pleasantly surprised with quarterback Alex Smith‘s progress; Jacksonville QB Gardner Minshew was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list, and to the surprise of nobody — especially his teammates — Tom Brady had a crisp throwing session for Tampa Bay.
Here’s what you need to know from camps across the league:
Top news of the day
Ron Rivera pleased with Alex Smith’s progress
The Washington Football Team coach Likes what he has seen from quarterback Alex Smith and can envision him becoming part of the competition at the position. But Rivera also made it clear that he has been pleased with second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins‘ development this offseason.
The precision and accuracy that became trademarks of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady’s game don’t appear to have left him as he settles into his new home. Brady joined teammates for his first practice of training camp that was open to the media Tuesday and their second overall. Brady didn’t look like a quarterback with no offseason who was just starting to get acquainted with new teammates. The timing already looked strong, with the chemistry not far behind — some of that is because of the offseason workouts he organized with teammates at nearby Berkeley Preparatory School.
Speaking for the first time since before he suffered the season-ending elbow injury in Week 2, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he dealt with the elbow pain “for years,” but the feeling that radiated through his elbow after he threw a long pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster was different. A couple weeks later, Roethlisberger had season-ending surgery to reattach three torn flexor tendons in his right elbow.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) August 4, 2020
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 4, 2020
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) August 4, 2020
Getting closer…🛫 pic.twitter.com/oem6bp24pQ
— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 4, 2020
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) August 4, 2020
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) August 4, 2020
🎶 In the pocket like Burrow 🎶 pic.twitter.com/fAyPDpivPX
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) August 4, 2020
Cam Newton’s first official photo in his Patriots jersey. pic.twitter.com/tn5SVJIl1M
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 4, 2020
Best buds. 🤘 pic.twitter.com/4WSGf5KJVP
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) August 4, 2020
Quotes of the day
“They looked good. They looked real good. And as he was throwing the ball, I hear a couple of the guys whispering, like, ‘Dang, how many years do you think he’ll keep playing?’ That’s how good he looked, seriously. Me and [Rob Gronkowski] talked about it, like, his will to win, his will to go out there and still keep doing it – once you see a guy like that kinda display that attitude, you want to be part of it. It’s like, ‘Man, how much longer can I do it?'”
Bucs RB LeSean McCoy on QB Tom Brady’s slant passes
“[The virus] took one look at me and ran the other way.”
Gardner Minshew, Jaguars quarterback
What our NFL Nation reporters saw today
Buffalo Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds discussed a “practice” Buffalo’s defensive players put together in Virginia this offseason, which allowed the core of the team’s defenders to begin building chemistry with some of the newer additions. Edmunds said they all wanted to get together, and the official plans came to be via a group chat. He called it a “get better” period, similar to what the team’s offensive players did in Florida back in June. And don’t worry, Bills fans, Edmunds said the players practiced safe social distancing throughout the workout. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Amari Cooper said he, and Dak Prescott, along with other receivers, tight ends and running backs, have worked out consistently together in the offseason, including some at a football field the quarterback built in his back yard.
“We’ve all been getting together pretty consistently for months now,” Cooper said. “Working on route running, working on the offense and everything like that. We’ve been getting a lot of work in, getting that timing right as if we were in minicamp or OTAs.” — Todd Archer
Kimberley Martin and Jeff Saturday both love Cam Jordan’s comments that the Buccaneers will be “fighting for second place” behind the Saints.
Saints linebacker Demario Davis, who made his debut on the NFL Network’s Top 100 list at No. 67 after being named first-team All-Pro for the first time last year: “I’m big on always counting my blessings. … To be on the list is certainly a blessing, so I’m not gonna take that for granted. The way I view myself, though, I’m my toughest critic and I’m also my biggest cheerleader. In my mind, there’s always more to accomplish and always a feeling of not being seen accurately. So I feel like I should be higher on the list, and I use it as motivation.” — Mike Triplett
The Giants veterans finally got on the field after testing and physicals for most of the past week. It’s still just conditioning at this point though. It will be another two weeks until they get to put on the pads and the real player evaluation will begin. — Jordan Raanan
We got our first glimpse of Darius Slay in an Eagles uniform Tuesday. Sporting the No. 24 in honor of Kobe Bryant, he showed off his swagger by flexing for the camera. For the first time since taking over as defensive coordinator in 2016, Jim Schwartz has a No. 1 corner who can travel with the opponent’s top receiver.
“I had Steph Gilmore early in his career in Buffalo and Steph matched everybody last year with the Patriots, an All-Pro player,” Schwartz said. “Slay is a guy who is sort of at the same point, has done a lot of that in the past and it won’t be anything new for him. Really excited to have him and I think it’s going to add a different dimension to our secondary.” — Tim McManus
The Patriots went through a second day of strength and conditioning work on Tuesday, while also being allowed one hour for a walk-through session. Off the field, the team confirmed that former director of pro scouting Dave Ziegler has been elevated to assistant director of player personnel. That’s a significant change coming after director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort departed for a new job with the Titans in the offseason. — Mike Reiss
The Chiefs are expecting a four-game suspension for starting cornerback Bashaud Breeland for a violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy. In light of that, the other starter, Charvarius Ward, said it’s important he picks up his game from an already solid 2019 season. Ward said one area he will concentrate on is turnovers. He had two interceptions and one forced fumble last season. “Instead of batting the ball down this year, I’m going for it with two hands,” Ward said. — Adam Teicher
Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo spoke to the media for the first time since a couple days after Super Bowl LIV on Tuesday. Garoppolo was his usual, upbeat self and spoke at length about the importance of adapting to all of the new protocols and safety measures in place. One thing Garoppolo believes should help him in 2020? Not having to recover from a torn ACL. he said his knee is “night and day” from where it was last year at this time.
After an offseason in which he acknowledged he heard the rumors of his being replaced by Tom Brady (he says he “wasn’t too worried”), Garoppolo is aiming for a breakthrough 2020. Coach Kyle Shanahan believes that having a full season under his belt as a starter should help Garoppolo take another step forward. If that happens, Garoppolo should cement his status as the Niners’ franchise quarterback. — Nick Wagoner
A major key to the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger‘s success this season is the development of the young wide receiver corps. The Steelers have a new coach (Ike Hilliard) tasked with guiding the group, and he has a track record of getting the most out of his rookies. Last year, he worked with Washington receiver Terry McLaurin and helped him to a 919-yard, 7-touchdown rookie campaign. Now, he’ll try to replicate McLaurin’s success in Steelers’ second-round pick Chase Claypool.
“The world expected [Terry McLaurin] to be a special teams player and he ended up being our number one [wide receiver] last year,” Hilliard said. “We expect the same or more from Chase or any other young man that wants to step up and make plays.” — Brooke Pryor
Stephen A. Smith expresses his disgust with Odell Beckham Jr. saying the NFL season shouldn’t happen when OBJ could opt out of the season.
One training camp battle to watch this summer: left tackle. Geron Christian, entering his third season, will have a good shot to win the starting job because he’s been in the league and while he’s been underwhelming, they do think he can at least be an effective pass protector. Rookie Saahdiq Charles, a fourth-round pick, will compete, too, but he missed six games last season and in a crazy offseason it’ll be harder for him to win the job.
They also might work him some at guard. Washington also has to solidify left guard between Wes Schweitzer and Wes Martin. Coach Ron Rivera feels good about the other three spots along the line with center Chase Roullier, guard Brandon Scherff and right tackle Morgan Moses. Rivera said he thinks that group is “very strong.” — John Keim
The Packers shouldn’t have to worry about their star receiver’s ability to social distance. Davante Adams has been doing it throughout the pandemic.
“To be real with you, I have no problem with being a hermit, man,” Adams said Tuesday. “I don’t do much. I’m a simple man. I work out. I live and breathe wide-out play and I love my family.” Adams had a daughter last year and said while they were in California this offseason, he left his house “maybe 10 times … for something unrelated to getting food.”
“Not to flex on anybody, but there’s not much I needed to leave the house for,” Adams said, noting that he has a chipping area where he works on his golf game, a basketball court, a home gym and, of course, an Xbox. He doesn’t think that will change now that he’s back in Green Bay. “It’s an absolutely beautiful city, but there’s not a whole lot out there that’s gonna drive me outside to put my family at risk at this point,” Adams said. “So hermit it is.” — Rob Demovsky
Wide receiver Calvin Ridley said after practice that he wants to show the world he’s a 1,000-yard receiver. Ridley believes he’s ready to be among the “elite” receivers, and he continues to follow the lead of arguably the league’s top pass-catcher — teammate Julio Jones. The last time the Falcons had two, 1,000-yard receivers was Jones and Roddy White in 2012. In happened in the NFC South last season with Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Watching the way Ridley absorbs instruction during workouts and continues to learn and bond with Jones, one can tell he’s destined for a big season, provided he stays healthy. — Vaughn McClure
The Seahawks’ return to the practice field this week — albeit just for conditioning work — meant the return of a familiar sight: Russell Wilson connecting with his No. 1 wide receiver, Tyler Lockett. Less familiar were the masks covering the faces of Wilson, Lockett, Greg Olsen and all of his fellow tight ends standing in the background of the video the Seahawks posted to their Twitter page. “Really pleased with the start,” coach Pete Carroll said about no Seahawks testing positive for COVID-19 so far. He praised the team’s leadership for sending the right message to others. — Brady Henderson
Slot receiver Randall Cobb, who signed with the Texans in March, said he’s only had “five to seven opportunities” to catch balls from quarterback Deshaun Watson. He estimated that had there been an offseason program, there would have been “about 25 to 30 opportunities to communicate, to go through routes and timing. He would be able to get a sense of the way my body moves, understanding of how I come out of routes and I would be able to get an understanding of his release, his ball placement and all those things,” Cobb said. “… We’re trying to do the best we can given the landscape, but it definitely isn’t something that’s easy.” — Sarah Barshop
Panthers coach Matt Rhule challenged wide DJ Moore before camp to take his game to the next level, saying the third-year receiver has to “go be that dominant, physical go-to receiver … that you’re going to go to and take that matchup of the [opponent’s] best corner and dominate it.”
Moore seems up to the task. He’s playing with a chip after being snubbed from the Pro Bowl last season in much the same way running back Christian McCaffrey was snubbed in his second season before making it in 2019. “Of course there’s going to be a big chip when you don’t make something you think you should make, so it makes you go harder for next year,” said Moore, who ranked ninth in receiving yards last season with 1,175 on 87 catches. “[Coach is] just challenging me to be the best player I can be on the field. Accept that challenge and run with it.” — David Newton