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From QB battles to rookie progress, here's everything we're watching at minicamps

Written by 
Published in Breaking News
Monday, 10 June 2024 09:53

The second week of 2024 NFL minicamps kicks off Monday, with 22 teams gathering for workouts after 10 held theirs last week.

It's a chance to see who shows up after skipping voluntary workouts, how rookies perform against veterans and how offensive and defensive systems look under new coordinators.

Here is one key thing our NFL Nation reporters will be watching from each team that hits the field this week:

Jump to:
ATL | ARI | BAL | BUF | CAR
CIN | CLE | DEN | GB | JAX
KC | LAC | LAR | LV | NE | NO
NYG | NYJ | PIT | SEA | TB | WAS

Arizona Cardinals

How is rookie WR Marvin Harrison Jr. developing? The Cardinals have kept the competitive parts of OTAs closed to the media, so there hasn't been a chance to see what Harrison can do on the field. With the expectations around Harrison growing -- seemingly by the week -- his relationship with quarterback Kyler Murray will be one of the most important aspects to watch. Murray hasn't been shy about his expectations for Harrison, saying the rookie can be what "takes us to another level." -- Josh Weinfuss

Atlanta Falcons

How is QB Kirk Cousins meshing with his skill players? Free agent signee Cousins is coming off a torn right Achilles that ended his 2023 season, but he has been able to do everything during the Falcons' no-contact offseason program. That might change during training camp when contact is allowed. For now, the 35-year-old Cousins is trying to build chemistry with Atlanta's young stars: running back Bijan Robinson, wide receiver Drake London and tight end Kyle Pitts. All are 23 or younger. During a recent OTA practice, Cousins hit four different targets -- Pitts, London and wide receivers Darnell Mooney and Ray-Ray McCloud -- for touchdowns in 7-on-7 drills. -- Marc Raimondi


Baltimore Ravens

What will the first-team offensive line look like? This is the major question mark for Baltimore, which is replacing three starters in guards Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson and right tackle Morgan Moses. All of those spots are up for grabs. The Ravens have been rotating players along the line throughout the spring practices to find the right combination. The battles at left guard (Josh Jones vs. Andrew Vorhees), right guard (Ben Cleveland vs. Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu) and right tackle (Roger Rosengarten vs. Daniel Faalele) will be the most interesting to watch. The only two linemen guaranteed starting jobs are Pro Bowl center Tyler Linderbaum and left tackle Ronnie Stanley. -- Jamison Hensley


Buffalo Bills

How is quarterback Josh Allen connecting with the receivers? This will be a question through the start of the season as this new version of the Buffalo offense continues to take shape. In the past two OTAs open to the media, the defense had the upper hand in team drills with interceptions and tipped passes, while there have been some standout catches. But really, it's all too early to tell without pads on. There's a tough battle to make the roster at wide receiver, however, and continuing to build the connection with Allen will be key as the team heads toward camp; that extends to the other position groups as well. -- Alaina Getzenberg


Carolina Panthers

Has QB Bryce Young improved? OK, it's not that simple. Keep an eye on the offensive line that didn't have guard Robert Hunt during voluntary workouts. Will the rebuilt inside protection make Young more effective and allow him to have more time to find new receivers Diontae Johnson and rookie Xavier Legette? These offseason moves were all about making Young better, and this will be the first time they have all been together on the field. -- David Newton


Cincinnati Bengals

Is Joe Burrow on track? Burrow will be closely monitored after Cincinnati decided to give him rest days as he recovers from surgery on his right wrist. While that isn't alarming, it is notable given Burrow's workload in previous years. Burrow knows the need to balance preparations for the upcoming season with a healthy and sustainable workload that his body can manage successfully. How that process goes between now and the end of July will be crucial to Cincinnati's success. -- Ben Baby


Cleveland Browns

How is Deshaun Watson progressing? The Browns' starting quarterback has been throwing every other day as he remains limited in voluntary workouts due to his rehab plan after a season-ending shoulder injury in November. Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Watson's level of participation at minicamp will be decided by his medical team. Teammates and coaches have praised Watson's work, even as he's had to mainly take mental reps on rest days. With Watson's full complement of pass-catchers expected to be in attendance, it will help an offense incorporating a new scheme if he can increase his activity. -- Daniel Oyefusi


Denver Broncos

It's the quarterbacks, as it will be each day until coach Sean Payton names a starter. Payton has said it's a three-way competition for the job with rookie Bo Nix, Jarrett Stidham and Zach Wilson. Payton has promised all three will get as many snaps as possible until a decision is made. Many around the team believe Nix will ultimately emerge as the starter because Payton has pushed so many chips to the middle of the table by making him the 12th pick of the draft, and he'll be eager to start the developmental clock as quickly as possible. But until Payton makes it official, everything will be about the quarterbacks. -- Jeff Legwold


Green Bay Packers

Second-round picks Javon Bullard and Edgerrin Cooper. No starting jobs are going to be won or lost in June, but the Packers' two highest-drafted defensive players this year could make a major impact in new coordinator Jeff Hafley's scheme. Both showed flashes during OTAs, but neither one has quite locked up a starting job yet. Cooper has a good shot to start at one of the three inside linebacker positions in the 4-3 base defense, while Bullard is squarely in the mix at the safety spot next to free agent addition Xavier McKinney. -- Rob Demovsky


Jacksonville Jaguars

How are the rookies developing? Coach Doug Pederson is excusing most of the veterans from minicamp, so the focus will mainly be on the rookies, especially wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr., the team's first-round pick. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence was full of praise for Thomas last week, saying Thomas has adjusted to the offense much quicker than anticipated. "He's really smart," Lawrence said. "I think that's the one thing I'm most impressed with: He's picking up the offense super fast. He's a quiet guy, so we're still getting him to ask questions and stuff, but he doesn't ask any questions. He always knows what to do." -- Michael DiRocco


Kansas City Chiefs

Will the Chiefs get improved play from their wide receivers? The Chiefs need Marquise Brown and Xavier Worthy up to speed as soon as possible, given the potential that they could begin the season without last year's top wide receiver, Rashee Rice. It's unclear whether Worthy, the Chiefs' first-round draft pick, will be able to participate because of a sore hamstring that limited his practice time during OTAs. The Chiefs are also hopeful of bounce-back seasons from Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore, and minicamp will provide a glimpse into whether they can contribute more than last season. -- Adam Teicher


Las Vegas Raiders

The quarterback battle between second-year returner Aidan O'Connell and vagabond veteran Gardner Minshew. Right now, it is more mutual admiration than intense competition, but the Raiders did sign Minshew, on his third team in three years, to a two-year, $25 million free agent contract with $15 million guaranteed. O'Connell already earned the respect of the locker room with a strong conclusion to his rookie season (eight touchdown passes and zero interceptions in Las Vegas' 3-1 finish). The Raiders' lone loss in that stretch? To Minshew and the Colts. "He's a team guy; I'm a team guy," Minshew said. "We both want to win. We both want to get better." -- Paul Gutierrez


Los Angeles Chargers

The wide receivers. After the departures of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams in the offseason, the Chargers' receiving corps became the most glaring uncertainty. It will be Justin Herbert's first season without what was one of the league's best receiving pairings. The Chargers drafted three receivers, including Georgia's Ladd McConkey in the second round, and signed receiver DJ Chark Jr. How they battle for reps with returnees Joshua Palmer and Quentin Johnston (last year's first-round pick), will be a significant storyline. -- Kris Rhim


Los Angeles Rams

Matthew Stafford's contract status. Last week, Rams coach Sean McVay said he didn't have an update on whether there had been progress on a new contract or extension for the quarterback, saying, "We're just keeping everything internal." McVay did say he expects Stafford, who has participated in the Rams' voluntary work this spring, to be at minicamp. Two years ago, the Rams reworked defensive tackle Aaron Donald's contract right before minicamp, but typically they get contract extensions done during training camp or right before the start of the season. -- Sarah Barshop


New England Patriots

Matthew Judon's presence and level of participation. The veteran outside linebacker hasn't been a regular at voluntary practices, which head coach Jerod Mayo noted has been his standard approach over the years, and he's coming off a torn right biceps injury that limited him to four games last season. He's also in the last year of his contract and is scheduled to earn $7.5 million, which is below the market for a player of his caliber when healthy. Mandatory camp will provide an initial snapshot of his current status -- health-wise and with his mindset regarding his contract. -- Mike Reiss


New Orleans Saints

The cornerbacks. Marshon Lattimore hasn't been around since November after getting injured in a Week 10 game, and it has been a long offseason of trade rumors and speculation about his future. Saints coach Dennis Allen said he expects to see Lattimore in minicamp. Lattimore's return, along with the potential participation of second-round pick Kool-Aid McKinstry, who has not practiced while rehabbing an injury, makes the cornerback group the most intriguing position to watch. -- Katherine Terrell


New York Giants

Will Daniel Jones participate in live drills? The Giants' starting quarterback has been on the field for OTAs, but has been limited, and coach Brian Daboll hinted recently he could get into 11-on-11 drills by minicamp. That would be a positive sign, considering Jones is less than seven months removed from an ACL injury that has an 8- to 10-month recovery timetable. Jones' rehab has been "right on schedule," according to Daboll. If the Giants decide to keep him out of live drills at minicamp and play it safe until training camp, it's another opportunity for Drew Lock to try to impress as QB1. -- Jordan Raanan


New York Jets

Will Pro Bowl pass-rusher Haason Reddick show up? The Jets' biggest addition skipped the voluntary portion of the offseason program, presumably because he's angling for a contract extension. He forfeited a $250,000 workout bonus by staying away; if he blows off the two-day minicamp, which is mandatory, he'd incur more than $50,000 in fines. His absence would escalate the situation to a higher level of concern. It certainly wouldn't be a good optic for the Jets, who traded a 2026 conditional third-round pick for Reddick. He's due to make $14.25 million in base pay in the final year of his three-year, $45 million contract, but the salary isn't guaranteed. That could be one of the sticking points. -- Rich Cimini


Pittsburgh Steelers

Will Justin Fields get any first-team reps? As Mike Tomlin has often said, Russell Wilson is in "pole position" in the competition between the two newly acquired quarterbacks. The true competition will undoubtedly ramp up later this summer in training camp, but mandatory minicamp is the next significant opportunity to evaluate the two signal-callers in offensive coordinator Arthur Smith's system. While the Steelers traded for Fields with the intention of the 2021 first-round pick learning from Wilson, Fields expressed a desire to compete with the former Broncos quarterback and said last month he's not planning on sitting on the bench all season. -- Brooke Pryor

Seattle Seahawks

How Geno Smith and Sam Howell are faring in Seattle's new offense. There is no contract drama hanging over the Seahawks' offseason, nor is there a quarterback competition, but there is plenty of intrigue. Smith and Howell are learning new coordinator Ryan Grubb's scheme, which he estimated in early June to be almost 50% installed. The three OTAs that were open to reporters were heavy on 11-on-11 work, which made it clear that Smith, who has already been declared the starter and took all the No. 1 reps, is well ahead of Howell. Mandatory minicamp will offer a better look at each quarterback's progress since receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett should both be there after being in and out during OTAs. -- Brady Henderson

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Left tackle Tristan Wirfs' participation. A source close to the situation told ESPN the three-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro will attend. But in what capacity? Wirfs is set to play under the fifth-year option if both sides can't reach a deal on an extension. Because the two sides are negotiating, Wirfs has not been participating in OTAs. He has been at the facility in the weight room but hasn't been out on the field. Quarterback Baker Mayfield joked, "Tristan's still around. We're not holding out on the friendship even though he's holding on us." -- Jenna Laine


Washington Commanders

How is Jayden Daniels developing? So much hinges on Daniels' development, and at OTAs he displayed a lot of what the Commanders loved about him before the draft: accuracy, touch and work ethic. He has also shown poise and patience. But as Washington progresses with its installation of the offense -- and the defense starts to test him more -- how does he respond? Will he exit the spring looking on pace to start the season opener? Some of the questions about him will revolve around whether the Commanders have given him the necessary help to succeed. They need him to be part of the solution as a rookie, not the entire one. -- John Keim

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