With 2022 NFL training camps getting ready to hit high gear, young starting quarterbacks around the league are getting valuable reps.
At the New England Patriots’ camp on Friday, onlookers anticipated that quarterback Mac Jones would raise his level of performance after the offense was almost shut out completely, scoring just one touchdown on 11 repetitions in a red zone drill at the end of Thursday’s practice.
Jones didn’t disappoint, showing that his connection with tight end Jonnu Smith is in a better place than it was for most of 2021. On one play, Jones lofted about a 20-yard pass to Smith in the back of the end zone, with safety Kyle Dugger in coverage, and Smith leaped high to snare the pass for a touchdown. Smith, who later caught another touchdown from Jones, then followed with an emphatic spike.
While he was mostly sharp, Jones did throw his first interception of camp — right into the chest of cornerback Jalen Mills.
In Philadelphia, quarterback Jalen Hurts and the offense had a rocky outing Friday following a strong showing in the opening practice. In Tennessee and Washington, it was young receivers who made their mark.
Meanwhile, Lamar Jackson remained sharp in Baltimore and a pair of Bears’ rookies nabbed interceptions against Justin Fields and the first team offense.
Here’s what you need to know from camps across the league:
What our NFL Nation reporters saw today
Baltimore Ravens: Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman heaped a lot of praise on how a bulked-up Lamar Jackson has thrown the ball. He remained sharp on Friday, completing 18 of 25 passes (72%), which included a couple of drops.
“He’s throwing it better than I’ve ever seen him throw it,” Roman said. “He’s really worked hard in the offseason and it’s showing. We’re all very excited about that.” — Jamison Hensley
Pittsburgh Steelers: Third-year receiver Chase Claypool didn’t finish practice Friday after suffering a shoulder injury during a live team period, but coach Mike Tomlin said he didn’t have a “high level of concern” about the injury. With both Claypool out and receiver Diontae Johnson in the midst of a hold-in, rookies Calvin Austin III and George Pickens made the most of their increased opportunities. Pickens had a handful of impressive catches Friday, including one up against the sideline that he caught near Ahkello Witherspoon, juking around the corner to find open field. Pickens, listed at 6-3, 200 pounds, looks smooth in his moves and figures to be a factor in the Steelers offense early. — Brooke Pryor
Chicago Bears: Red zone execution was the emphasis of Chicago’s third camp practice, and the Bears’ top two rookies came away with a pair of interceptions against Justin Fields and the first-team offense. Cornerback Kyler Gordon, who is cross-training at nickel and on the outside, nabbed a tipped pass that was intended for Darnell Mooney but thrown behind the wide receiver. Safety Jaquan Brisker said when Cole Kmet crossed his face, he took his eyes to his hips when the tight end was attempting to catch the ball and jumped his route for the pick.
It was a strong day for the defense, and it appears there might be some competition brewing between the Bears’ second-round draft picks.
“Once [Gordon] got the first one I was like, ‘I gotta get one now, I gotta get one,'” Brisker said. “So there’s definitely a competition between everybody in the room with the corners and safeties and linebackers. You know, I’m definitely trying to be the takeaway king.” — Courtney Cronin
New York Giants: Not a good day for Daniel Jones and the Giants offense. Jones and his receivers weren’t on the same page for a large chunk of Friday. Jones also threw an interception to cornerback Darnay Holmes that went for a touchdown. The offensive line, without center Jon Feliciano (heat-related injury), struggled and allowed consistent pressure. The Giants and Jones can only hope these are the growing pains of learning Brian Daboll’s new offense. — Jordan Raanan
Atlanta Falcons: Cordarrelle Patterson knows how to play to a crowd — especially when the crowd is a group of young fans. Twice during Friday’s practice in Flowery Branch, Georgia, the do-everything offensive player walked over to sign autographs, take pictures and briefly chat with fans. Patterson clearly enjoyed it and is continuing his role as the Falcons’ fan favorite. He did work on kick returns and got some carries out of the backfield.
On the field, the battle at left guard is going to be intriguing as Elijah Wilkinson got first-team reps for the second straight day over last year’s third-round pick Jalen Mayfield. It’s too early to read anything into that, but it’s notable that they’ve been rotating Drew Dalman and Matt Hennessy at center. — Michael Rothstein
Washington Commanders: Second-year receiver Dyami Brown needs to be a bigger threat for Washington in his second season. A third-round pick in 2021, he caught just eight passes. But his speed still excites Washington, and Friday, he made a terrific catch. On the play, quarterback Carson Wentz threw deep down the left side to Brown. Corner Kendall Fuller was in perfect position to intercept the ball with Brown pinned to his side. But as Fuller extended for the ball, Brown jumped and reached over the veteran and snagged the ball as they fell to the ground. — John Keim
Philadelphia Eagles: Quarterback Jalen Hurts and the offense struggled following a strong showing in the opening practice.
“It didn’t look good,” center Jason Kelce said.
Corner Avonte Maddox provided one of the defensive highlights, elevating to intercept a floating Hurts pass intended for tight end Dallas Goedert.
“It’s Day 2 of camp. We’ll get it right,” Goedert said. — Tim McManus
Tennessee Titans: Rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks turned in another outstanding day of work. He used his size to create separation and win reps in the one-on-one period. The momentum rolled over to group periods of practice when he caught a couple of passes from Ryan Tannehill in traffic across the middle. — Turron Davenport
Green Bay Packers: Given his injury history, it would’ve been easy to say “same old Sammy Watkins” when he began camp on the non-football injury (NFI) list. But the veteran receiver the Packers signed in the offseason was relieved after he was able to start practicing on Day 3 of camp. He said he felt what he called “a tweak” in one of his hamstrings following a pre-camp workout.
“The next day I went out and ran routes and ran around and felt great, and I think I was kind of in my own head [thinking], ‘Man, this happened again,'” Watkins said. “But it was really nothing.” His return to practice on Friday came on a day when the Packers conducted only a short, half-speed practice. Still, Watkins was able to catch a few passes from Aaron Rodgers as he eased his way back. — Rob Demovsky
Kansas City Chiefs: Newly signed defensive end Carlos Dunlap was not at practice. Dunlap told the Chiefs he needed a few days to get some things in order at home and won’t return to camp until the middle of next week. — Adam Teicher
New England Patriots: Rookie guard Cole Strange, the team’s first-round pick, ended practice with an exclamation point as coach Bill Belichick summoned him as part of a punt-catching competition. The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Strange hauled in one punt, and then when undrafted rookie defensive lineman DaMarcus Mitchell (Purdue) missed his attempt, Strange followed by catching another with a football already in his grasp. That set off a wild celebration by the offense, which didn’t necessarily win anything other than bragging rights. — Mike Reiss
New York Jets: Newly signed linebacker Kwon Alexander will be brought along slowly as he gets into football shape. The Jets’ plan is to have him work on his own for a couple of days before getting on the practice field next week for limited work. He was unsigned since the end of last season, so he had no offseason program. He will be used in the strongside and weakside linebacker spots, starting off as a backup.
“No expectations,” said coach Robert Saleh, who coached him in San Francisco. “[He] just has to do what he always does, which is to bring a lot of juice, a lot of energy.” — Rich Cimini
Carolina Panthers: The Panthers ranked in the bottom half of the NFL last season in scoring points before halftime, so at the end of practice, coach Matt Rhule gave quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield each a chance to see what they could do with 1:45 left on the clock. Darnold engineered a touchdown drive thanks to pass interference on a deep pass and a circus catch in the end zone by wide receiver Shi Smith after the ball was tipped by a defender.
Mayfield’s group produced a long field goal as time expired. Carolina also ranked in the bottom half of the league in red zone scoring in 2021. Darnold went 0-for-4 on his first series there Friday. Mayfield went 1-for-4. Darnold did complete his first deep pass of practice with a 40-plus yard strike to Terrace Marshall Jr. — David Newton
Buffalo Bills: Starting safety Micah Hyde was injured while trying to intercept a Josh Allen pass. Hyde dropped the ball as he came to the ground. After a couple of seconds, starting safety Jordan Poyer motioned to the team’s athletic trainers, who came over to attend to Hyde. Multiple Bills players took a knee while Hyde was looked at, and the music playing was turned off.
He limped off the field with their assistance and held the back of his leg at one point before sitting in the passenger seat of cart, which took him to the team’s locker room. Hyde is dealing with a hip/glute injury that is still being evaluated. He and Poyer make up arguably the best safety tandem in the NFL, so any time missed would be a big loss for this Bills defense. Jaquan Johnson and Damar Hamlin filled in for Hyde the rest of practice. — Alaina Getzenberg
Top NFL news of the day
Commanders’ Chase Young to miss at least season opener
Washington defensive end Chase Young will miss at least the season opener — and possibly more — because of a knee injury he suffered late last year. One team source had told ESPN this month that Young would return mid-September at the earliest.
Cardinals’ J.J. Watt not a fan of Guardian Cap
Arizona’s Watt is not a fan of wearing the Guardian Cap during training camp and wasn’t shy in sharing his thoughts on Friday.
“You feel like a bobblehead,” Watt deadpanned. “Like you’re gonna fall over. I’ll probably get fined for this. This is great. … There’s 15 grand gone.”
The Guardian Cap is required for all offensive linemen, defensive linemen, tight ends and linebackers during training camp practices until the second preseason game.
Bucs center Ryan Jensen could miss months with knee injury
49ers DT Arik Armstead out a ‘few weeks’ with knee sprain
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