QB battles, veteran holdouts lead intrigue at training camps


More than ever, intrigue at training camps is going to be off the charts. Veterans getting cut, rookies getting signed, free agents being wooed -- all will be unfolding at the same time players are throwing on the pads for the first time. It will be chaotic. It will be frenetic. It will be awesome.

Camp dates for all 32 teams
Now that the lockout is over and football is back, teams aren't going to waste any time preparing for the 2011 season with camps opening around the league this week. More ...

Let's take a look at five training camps where the action will be fast and furious:

Cincinnati Bengals

Carson Palmer's threat to retire if he's not traded -- no one thinks he's bluffing and owner Mike Brown continues to say he won't trade the QB -- has put rookie quarterback Andy Dalton on the spot. However, there are several other elements that could make this dubious franchise uphold its reputation. Chad Ochocinco's future is unknown. While the thought is that Ochocinco will be released, that's hardly a slam dunk. If Ochocinco is back, how will he respond to rookie A.J. Green or Jerome Simpson taking some of his shine? Ochocinco was OK in the past when he had to share the ball with T.J Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry but that's when a veteran, Palmer, was delivering the ball.

There's also the issue of what Cincy will do at running back after free-agent Cedric Benson's recent arrest. Do they re-sign him or dabble in free agency? The Bengals figure to re-sign CB Johnathan Joseph and the defense could be very good, which could help as the offense transitions under new coordinator Jay Gruden.

Denver Broncos

We could know pretty quickly what the Broncos intentions are at quarterback, although I'm already on the record as saying it's Tim Tebow's job to lose. Kyle Orton could be targeted in a trade; if he is, a deal will be made quickly. If not, Tebow figures to be the guy to get the early reps to see if he can hold off Orton. Denver also will be in the free-agent market, which should raise the determination and effort of Knowshon Moreno. If the Broncos are able to nab Carolina free agent DeAngelo Williams, it could be a serious battle at tailback.

Seeing what Denver does on defense in its switch to a 4-3 from a 3-4 also should be interesting. The selection of outside linebacker Von Miller second overall was questioned because outside 'backers typically aren't the featured players in a 4-3. However, the Broncos figure to do a lot of scheming with Miller, pairing him on the same side as sack specialist Elvis Dumervil. The development of Miller working behind a standout like Dumervil has the potential of something special. A lot of holes on that defense remain, though.

Washington Redskins

This is where the action will be. Quarterback Donovan McNabb won't be around for long. All indications are that Mike Shanahan is committed to John Beck, but we'll see for how long if free agent Rex Grossman is re-signed. Then there's the Albert Haynesworth situation. Washington will try and trade him but his monstrous salary is prohibitive. Shanahan isn't just going to cut Haynesworth, so there's potential for their rift to disrupt training camp for a second straight season. It also will be interesting to see if the 'Skins land wide receiver Santonio Holmes in free agency, as they are expected to be agrressive. Holmes would be a huge upgrade.

Defensively, the transition to the 3-4 front remains a work in progress and it's still a question whether first-round draft pick Ryan Kerrigan can convert from a workhorse defensive end to outside linebacker. It worked with Brian Orakpo but we'll see if the 'Skins can do it again with Kerrigan.

Arizona Cardinals

The quarterback position will be the talk of camp, especially if the Cardinals trade for Kevin Kolb as expected. The competition at running back, though, could emerge as the best story. Two years after selecting Beanie Wells in 2009, Arizona again took a running back high in the draft, selecting Virginia Tech standout Ryan Williams in April's second round. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has wanted to develop a strong running game for years and Wells hasn't provided the punch. Williams could emerge as the starter -- Wells has started two games in two seasons -- and add a needed element to assist a new quarterback. The Cardinals have to get better play out of their offensive line to help the cause as well.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers won 10 games last season because they were hungry, and they have the look of a team ready to take the next step. They have to retain that edge, though. Tailback LeGarrette Blount is a monster, if he stays dialed in. Same with wide receiver Mike Williams, who felt slighted after being drafted in the fourth round and played to prove people wrong as a rookie. The Buccaneers also figure to re-sign a lot of players like Davin Joseph, Jeremy Trueblood and Barrett Ruud, who have always been good but were playing for long-term deals they'll probably receive.

There's also the issue of cornerback Aqib Talib, who is facing felony gun charges but isn't expected to deal with the judicial element of things until after the season. He could be facing league discipline and the specter of it all won't be going away. That said, if Talib is on the field, he could have a great season, knowing that his future is uncertain.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.



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