The Blitz is here to get you ready for the start of the football season. There are plenty of interesting headlines to pay attention to, but TaQuan “Sweet” Jones and I could only focus on so much. With that being said, here are the most pressure-packed questions worth answering now:
1. What are some under-the-radar storylines people should be wary of heading into training camp?
Felton: People should keep their eyes on a few things such as big name trades or players getting signed. Also, any players that are going to take a stand against the league and choose to protest like Colin Kaepernick did. The new NFL policy forces players to stand during the national anthem or else they will see serious consequences. It will be interesting to see what happens there.
Jones: This offseason featured an interesting cycle of head coaches. From Jon Gruden’s return to Josh McDaniels reneging on a job acceptance in Indianapolis to a slew of other new coaches around the league. With the new rules from the CBA that cut back on how much time players can spend with coaches, seeing the implementation of schemes will either offer excitement or despair for fan bases.
2. Should Terrell Owens be in attendance for his Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony in Canton?
Felton: Yes, out of all the players that have played in the NFL, and there have been thousands, there are only 318 players in the Hall Of Fame. This is a very prestigious honor T.O. could miss out on given the hard work he put into this game as well as his physical well-being. This is a huge accomplishment and he would be out of his mind not to be there for his enshrinement.
Jones: No. A part of me wants to add a profanity in front of the no. Let’s be clear, T.O. was a handful. Everyone knows this. However, he was never a threat to society and he sacrificed his body for the game, playing with a broken leg in his one Super Bowl appearance and arguably being the best player in that game. They held him out the Hall for petty reasons, he shouldn’t have to kiss up just because they finally came to their senses.
3. Who might be on the chopping block this summer?
Felton: The player who job could be at risk is New York Jets wide receiver Devin Smith. He has not been the player that the Jets hoped that he would be. Smith, a 2015 second-rounder, suffered his second ACL tear last offseason. Quincy Enunwa, a 2014 sixth-round pick, and Robby Anderson, an undrafted free agent two years ago, have exceeded expectations. In 2017, the Jets acquired Jermaine Kearse who had career highs in receptions and receiving yards. The team also expects Terrelle Pryor Sr. to take the practice field during training camp after he underwent a minor foot procedure. It just does not seem as if the Jets will still need Smith.
Jones: Donald Penn of the Oakland Raiders. The 35-year-old is coming off an injury and the team seemed to have drafted his eventual successor. If Kolton Miller is a close facsimile of Penn, expect a pay cut or a roster cut.
4. Will Dez Bryant get signed? If so, where might he get signed to?
Felton: Bryant will be signed to a team by the end of training camp and that team will be the New England Patriots. Tom Brady is used to taking struggling big name receivers and taking them places they have never been like the Super Bowl. The other top receivers to make a trip with Brady to the big game includes Brandin Cooks and Randy Moss.
Jones: I believe so and I believe it will be the Houston Texans. He’ll need to swallow his pride and take a “prove it” deal. He’ll work well with another young quarterback in Deshaun Watson who can make plays on the fly and down the field, which is where Bryant excels the most.
5. Which offensive rookie do you look forward to seeing?
Felton: The offensive rookie I am looking forward to see this season is Saquon Barkley. Even though he was the number 1 pick he is going to a team that should be much improved in the New York Giants. The G-Men are in one of the hardest divisions in the NFL, the NFC East. They desperately need a rushing attack too. Barkley just has to be patient on his attempts and let the speed of the game catch up to him.
Jones: Nick Chubb with the Cleveland Browns. I was a fan of Chubb at the University of Georgia and his running style. He gets north and south in a hurry and is not afraid to get physical. Cleveland has assembled a really good offensive front and should have a better offense with the likes of Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, and David Njoku on the perimeter. The quarterback situation between Tyrod Taylor and the first overall pick Baker Mayfield will need to sort itself out. Chubb should be able to emerge as the lead back there and shine.
6. Which defensive rookie do you look forward to seeing?
Felton: The defensive rookie I am looking forward to seeing this season is Roquan Smith. He has a good chance at starting in the Chicago Bears 3-4 scheme at inside linebacker next to Danny Trevathan. Smith is going into a team where the defense could use some help and he was one of the best defensive players in college that could quickly transfer to the NFL. Vic Fangio will put him in a good position to succeed in his defense.
Jones: Mo Hurst Jr. of the Raiders. It was a home run pick by them as he fell right into their hands. He was arguably one of the better defenders in the draft, but a heart issue dropped him to the fifth round. Some teams took him off the board completely. He should prove to be a stud and the steal of the draft. He was a gem to watch at Michigan.