Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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One thing to watch for as Packers host 2024 mandatory minicamp: The development of the ‘non-No. 1’ wideouts

Most NFL teams are back on the field this week for the continuation and completion of spring workouts. Some have already wrapped up mandatory minicamp and are sending off players for the summer with a final round of organized team activities (OTAs). Twenty-two different clubs, however, are only now kicking off their mandatory sessions, which run through this week.

Here’s one key storyline to watch for each of this week’s teams at minicamp:

Arizona Cardinals

The revamped wide receiver corps. Greg Dortch remains a surefire holdover, but how is Kyler Murray’s chemistry with Marvin Harrison Jr. coming along? Arizona’s putting a lot on the shoulders of that duo as its roster remains in rebuild mode.

Atlanta Falcons

The competition for WR3 duties. Drake London and newcomer Darnell Mooney are locked in alongside tight end Kyle Pitts as Kirk Cousins‘ top targets. But Rondale Moore, KhaDarel Hodge and even Ray-Ray McCloud III are in the mix for a secondary role.

Baltimore Ravens

The reshuffled offensive line. Reigning MVP Lamar Jackson will have three new starting blockers in the trenches after an exodus of interior men. Rookie Roger Rosengarten is perhaps the top name to watch, with a chance to make a big impact early at tackle.

Buffalo Bills

Rasul Douglas‘ contract situation. The former Green Bay Packers cornerback is entering a contract year after a ball-hawking half-season with Buffalo in 2023. After skipping voluntary workouts, Douglas could be due for a rich extension as a face of the secondary.

Carolina Panthers

Bryce Young’s development. It’s hard to fully separate the quarterback’s growth (or lack thereof) from the remade receiving corps, now featuring Diontae Johnson and rookie Xavier Legette. But nothing’s more important than Young taking strides under new coach Dave Canales.

Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Burrow’s availability. The star quarterback was a surprise absentee during OTAs, resting while returning from the wrist injury that sidelined him for much of 2023. Coach Zac Taylor downplayed the issue, but Burrow’s rehab is paramount to this team’s success.

Cleveland Browns

The split of quarterback reps. Deshaun Watson is obviously “the guy,” if primarily due to financial reasons. But the polarizing signal-caller hasn’t been on a daily throwing schedule this offseason while returning from injury. Jameis Winston is next in line as the veteran No. 2.

Denver Broncos

Sean Payton’s three-man quarterback race. Rookie Bo Nix has been showered with praise since his arrival, but reports indicate ex-New York Jets castoff Zach Wilson is also in the mix for the starting job. And then there’s Jarrett Stidham, too. Maybe a front-runner emerges soon.

Green Bay Packers

The development of the ‘non-No. 1’ wide receivers. Jordan Love made headlines by declaring Green Bay’s lack of a “true No. 1” actually benefits the offense. Let’s see how the crop of Christian Watson, Jayden Reed, Romeo Doubs and Dontayvion Wicks actually shakes out on the depth chart.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence’s revised receiving corps. Calvin Ridley was essentially swapped out for Gabe Davis and rookie Brian Thomas Jr. this offseason. A year after Lawrence struggled to stay on the same page as Ridley, improved connection with the pass catchers could be key.

Kansas City Chiefs

The entire offensive pecking order. We know Travis Kelce is locked in as Patrick Mahomes‘ most trusted outlet. Isiah Pacheco is secure in the backfield. But there are a lot of names to sort through out wide, from Marquise Brown to Rashee Rice to Kadarius Toney.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Antonio Pierce effect. Yes, they’ve got a quarterback competition going, but the reality is, the Raiders are in a weird middle ground between rebuilding and competing. The bigger-picture focus should be on how Pierce’s messaging and strategy reshapes this team.

Los Angeles Chargers

Jim Harbaugh’s old-school philosophy. The new coach rebuilt Justin Herbert’s supporting cast and prioritized the trenches this offseason. Battles are underway up front and out wide. Let’s see how the changes continue to impact internal expectations.

Los Angeles Rams

The new-look secondary. Sean McVay’s offense is always must-see, but cornerback and safety got a bigger facelift this offseason, with Darious Williams returning, Tre’Davious White coming aboard and Kamren Curl headlining the new safety pairing.

New England Patriots

Drake Maye’s progress. The first-round rookie seems to be firmly behind veteran Jacoby Brissett in the early stages of the team’s quarterback competition, opening OTAs as the No. 3. But if his physical gifts are even clearer as training camp approaches, a top job could still be his.

New Orleans Saints

The backup quarterback battle. Derek Carr fought through multiple injuries in 2023, so the No. 2 spot is vital here, and both Jake Haener and rookie Spencer Rattler are inexperienced in the competition for that job. The former appeared to have the steadier start to the offseason.

New York Giants

Daniel Jones‘ health. The veteran quarterback has been working to return from a torn ACL all offseason. He’s also got a troubling history of neck issues. But he’ll need to stay on the field and look sharp to hold off further speculation of a potential Drew Lock takeover in the Big Apple.

New York Jets

Haason Reddick’s contract situation. Besides the obvious points of interest — Aaron Rodgers, the new offensive line, etc. — it’ll be a potentially big blow to Robert Saleh’s pass-rushing group if newcomer Haason Reddick, an OTA absentee, extends his holdout or shows up disgruntled.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Russell Wilson-Justin Fields competition. Fields has been adamant he’s in the mix for the QB1 job, but Wilson is the savvier, more experienced option for a team seemingly wanting to contend now. How will the first-team reps be divvied up in Steel City now?

Seattle Seahawks

The deeper receiving corps. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are still high-level weapons, but second-year pass catcher Jaxon Smith-Njigba is coming off a hot start to the spring. And now free-agent speedster Robbie Chosen (formerly Robbie Anderson) is in town for a tryout.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Baker Mayfield’s comfort with Liam Coen. The quarterback has a history with the new offensive coordinator from their days with the Rams. Mayfield’s supporting cast stayed mostly intact this offseason, so his growth in the new system is the top offensive storyline.

Washington Commanders

The fight to protect Jayden Daniels. The slender rookie quarterback is the X-factor for Washington this year, but so, too, is the left tackle spot, where Cornelius Lucas and rookie Brandon Coleman are among those competing for the top job of blind-side blocker.

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