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NFL minicamps begin: What to watch

NFL teams only are allowed one mandatory three-day minicamp practice per offseason. For five teams, that minicamp starts Tuesday.

The Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints are under the spotlight this week as the first teams to hold their mandatory sessions. 

This isn't the end of the offseason program for each team, but it is the centerpiece of all the work that happens before training camp. Players still will be without pads; though, teams can stay on the field longer. Here's what we're looking for from each team this week.

Green Bay Packers

1. It will be interesting to see how coach Mike McCarthy deploys Sam Shields after the cornerback recently re-joined the team. The Packers have rolled with Casey Hayward as a starter opposite Tramon Williams during organized team activitiews, and that arrangement could stick.

2. The running back rotation is going to be a focus for this team in minicamp and training camp.

3. Kicker battle! Giorgio Tavecchio will challenge struggling incumbent Mason Crosby.

New Orleans Saints

1. The base 3-4 starting defensive end spot remains wide open opposite Cameron Jordan. Akiem Hicks and Kenyon Coleman are among the players battling for snaps.

2. Lance Moore once emerged as an OTA/minicamp favorite of Drew Brees. There is room for another unknown wide receiver to step up this year because the Saints are thinner than usual at the position. Joe Morgan's recent arrest highlights the issue.

3. The backup quarterback spot remains open. Veterans Luke McCown and Seneca Wallace are probably battling for it, with undrafted rookie Ryan Griffin from Tulane more likely to land on the practice squad.

Philadelphia Eagles

1. The OTAs are all about teaching. It will be interesting to see if Chip Kelly uses minicamp to really test-drive everything his players have learned so far.

2. Michael Vick and Nick Foles should continue to split snaps evenly as the first-team quarterback. We'll watch to see if Matt Barkley gets in the mix anymore.

3. Wide receiver Riley Cooper admits he has "no idea" where he stands at wide receiver. After presumed starters DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, it's a wide-open race for snaps for Jason Avant, Ifeanyi Momah, Greg Salas and Damaris Johnson.

Cleveland Browns

1. Brandon Weeden received almost all the first-team snaps in OTAs. If that's true again in minicamp, it shows the starting job is in no ways up for grabs.

2. It would be great to see Trent Richardson back on the field, but he might be out until August, according to one report. Richardson's injury situation has helped Montario Hardesty get noticed.

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"It's been good that those guys have had a chance to be able to work with the first group," Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said after last week's OTAs. "Montario (Hardesty) really is a different style than Trent. He's a good companion-type guy to him. He's a slasher and has really good vision."

3. Rookie Leon McFadden is lining up as a backup for now, but the Browns are counting on him to have a big role.

Kansas City Chiefs

1. Cornerback is crowded. Dunta Robinson opened OTAs as a starter at cornerback with Sean Smith playing the nickel. It's a position to watch.

2. It's hard to get a feel on defensive linemen in OTAs, but the Chiefs have talked up the entire D-line and the Powe/Poe brothers (Jerrell and Dontari) a ton this offseason.

3. Look for the competition to see which Chiefs teammate compliments Alex Smith the most this week.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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