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This week's mandatory minicamps: 30 takeaways

  • By Around The League staff NFL.com
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Under the terms of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, mandatory minicamps are the only required offseason participation for all players.

Twenty-four NFL teams will hold their mandatory workouts next week.

Since seven clubs are wrapping up the mandatory portion of their offseason, we are listing what we learned from each squad below:

Cleveland Browns


1. Coach Mike Pettine told reporters Thursday that veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer is "securely" in place as Cleveland's starter. Rookie lightning rod Johnny Manziel is going to see his share of first-team snaps come late July, though, and still has a shot to win the job, with Pettine saying: "I don't think it's insurmountable."

2. By all accounts, Manziel has encountered growing pains under center. While struggling with his reads and progressions, Manziel's decision-making and release need work, per NFL Media's Aditi Kinkhabwala. The more experienced Hoyer has displayed a faster release and looked "far superior" making his second and third reads. That said, June 12 depth charts aren't keeping us up at night.

3. With Ben Tate "a little nicked up" during this week's minicamp, rookie Terrance West saw plenty of reps with the first team, per The Plain Dealer. It's clear the Browns plan to unleash multiple backs in play-caller Kyle Shanahan's attack, but Tate isn't cowed by the competition, telling Mary Kay Cabot: "Nobody in that room scares me."

4. We still await the fate of Josh Gordon. While Pettine labeled chatter about the wide receiver's practice habits "overblown," there's no overstating the void created if the NFL ships Gordon into hyperspace for 16 games. "We haven't been given a date," Pettine said. "But I think in fairness to us, the league would let us know (before camp)."

5. Keep an eye on "Making the Leap" candidate Jabaal Sheard. The scheme-versatile pass rusher is set to play the Mario Williams role in Pettine's defense. For all the buzz around Manziel and the offense, this D has the depth and talent to keep the Browns playing meaningful games beyond Week 5 -- and that's something new.

-- Marc Sessler

Arizona Cardinals


1. The Cardinals have grown faster on offense: After signing Ted Ginn, the team used its third-round pick on Pittsburg State wideout John Brown. Both run sub-4.34 40s with Brown already drawing "favorable" comparisons out of the slot to Colts burner T.Y. Hilton. "Pure speed, and it's something this offense must have to be successful," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "They give us a dramatic change from what we had last year."

2. With Tyrann Mathieu six months removed from major knee surgery, Arizona isn't about to rush its defensive playmaker into action. "I had Oct. 1, or after the (bye week) as the target date for me personally," coach Bruce Arians told reporters Thursday, per the team's official site. "If (he does) something better than that, God bless 'em."

3. Patrick Peterson wants a new contract, but won't go the Marshawn Lynch route to get one. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that talks are active and some progress has been made on a new contract for the All-Pro shutdown cornerback, who stuck to his promise to attend this week's minicamp.

4. Palmer on lead right tackle candidate Bobby Massie: "When you don't notice a guy that's a good thing. That's what I have noticed about Bobby is that I haven't noticed him. That's exactly what you want from your tackles."

-- Marc Sessler

New Orleans Saints


1. Rob Ryan is taking another swing at the forecasting business. Last year he predicted that Junior Galette would blow up into a prime-time player. Boom! Galette bursts out in 2013. This year Ryan's touting defensive end Akiem Hicks to burst onto the scene.

"A blind man could've seen Junior ascend, and you guys can definitely see the same thing with Hicks," Ryan said this week.

2. Nearly every report out of Saints camp has given positive reviews to running back Travaris Cadet. The shifty, 6-foot-1 scatback has been discussed as a potential Darren Sproles replacement. Even Sean Payton spoke highly of the back's improvements. Still, it's June and no one is wearing pads. We still believe Cadet will have a tough time getting ahead of Pierre Thomas, Khiry Robinson and Mark Ingram.

3. The Saints recently signed veteran center Jonathan Goodwin, but the Saints clearly want second-year undrafted free agent Tim Lelito to win the job. Lelito has worked exclusively with the first-team in minicamp. Goodwin is likely just an in-season insurance policy at this point.

-- Kevin Patra

Detroit Lions


1. Golden Tate was one of the best punt returners in the league with the Seahawks, but don't expect him to handle those duties in Detroit. Tate strongly hinted this week that Jeremy Ross -- who performed well on returns after being acquired by the Lions in midseason last year -- will continue in that role in 2014. Tate is game for special teams work if it's asked of him, but the same cannot be said for running back Reggie Bush. "As of right now, no," Bush said, via mlive.com. "And hopefully, no. I'd like to think I graduated from returning kicks and punts."

2. Lions coach Jim Caldwell is encouraging quarterback Matthew Stafford to have more pre-snap autonomy this season. The coaching staff is also working with Stafford to improve his footwork and throwing mechanics, issues that have troubled the QB in the past. Caldwell has added a "ladder cam" at practice, which exclusively films what Stafford sees during drills.

3. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah (shoulder), running back Joique Bell (knee) and Tate (shoulder) sat out all three minicamp practices, according to the Lions' team site. They are all expected to be ready for the start of training camp. The training camp availability of cornerback Chris Houston -- who sat out minicamp following toe surgery last month -- is less certain.

4. ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein wrote Tuesday that Calvin Johnson "looked like his normal self for the first time all spring." Johnson caught everything thrown his way and "crushed" every DB that stood in his way. There is no more unstoppable force in the NFL right now than a healthy Megatron.

-- Dan Hanzus

Tampa Bay Buccaneers


1. There was a time when Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers were both looked at as potential future stars in Tampa. Clayborn is still getting talked up as a "breakout" candidate, but Bowers has underwhelmed with another offseason in which he's out of shape. Clayborn will primarily play at left end this year, but he'll sometimes trade spots with free agent pickup Michael Johnson.

2. Bucs coach Lovie Smith said that the team still has "big plans" for tight end Tim Wright despite the offseason additions of Brandon Myers and rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The team's transactions speak louder than any OTA hype, but Smith's words indicate that Wright could still have a role in the offense. He is a very talented pass catcher who could play plenty if Seferian-Jenkins isn't ready to contribute early in his career.

3. "Every team says they have a leader, but not every team has a leader like Josh (McCown)," Smith told NFL Network's Jeff Darlington.

The Buccaneers are all-in with McCown. Between Smith and Chris Wesseling, I'm starting to buy in on McCown.

-- Gregg Rosenthal

Denver Broncos


1. General manager John Elway has instigated contract talks with offensive nucleus players Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. Elway's goal is to have both players signed -- before training camp -- to contracts that will keep them in Denver "for a long time."

2. Julius Thomas insisted to NFL Media's Michelle Beisner that Peyton Manning's age does not create pressure to win a Super Bowl this season. According to Demaryius Thomas, Manning's arm strength is significantly better than it was coming off multiple neck surgeries two years ago.

3. Revitalized pass rusher DeMarcus Ware's goal for 2014: As many sacks for him and Von Miller as any NFL team's entire defense. To that end, Miller is modeling his comeback from knee surgery after Adrian Peterson's amazing 2012 season.

4. The Broncos' front seven on defense is much deeper this year than last. One intriguing pass rusher is 2013 fifth-round pick Quanterus Smith, who spent his rookie season on injured reserve after beating Alabama stars D.J. Fluker and Cyrus Kouandjio for a combined three sacks when Western Kentucky squared off against Alabama. Now 18 months removed from ACL surgery, Smith is seeing extra reps at outside linebacker while Miller sits out 11-on-11 drills.

5. With Knowshon Moreno out of the picture, coach John Fox now considers Montee Ball the veteran of his backfield. Although Ronnie Hillman has impressed, The Denver Post believes C.J. Anderson is a serious threat for the No. 2 spot.

6. Right tackle will be a position battle to watch entering training camp. With Orlando Franklin kicking inside to guard, veteran Winston Justice -- a 43-game starter with the Eagles and Colts -- is pushing Chris Clark for the starting job.

-- Chris Wesseling

Cincinnati Bengals


1. Jermaine Gresham reportedly underwent hernia surgery, which explains his absence from offseason practices. Fellow tight end Tyler Eifert has downplayed a shoulder ailment that kept him out of this week's minicamp. Per the team's official website, both players are expected to be ready for training camp.

2. Coach Marvin Lewis described cornerback Leon Hall's recovery from a second Achilles tendon surgery as "amazing." Although Lewis expects Hall to be cleared for training camp, the Bengals are targeting the season opener for All Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins' return from ACL surgery.

3. New coordinator Hue Jackson's new up-tempo attack isn't going over well with the defensive players. "They hate me right now," Jackson quipped. One interesting feature of Jackson's offense: He's toying with a package that has Giovani Bernard and rookie Jeremy Hill on the field at the same time. BenJarvus Green-Ellis continues to take on the look of the odd man out.

4. Fifth-round rookie AJ McCarron is throwing again after sitting out OTAs with "arm tightness." He's the clear No. 3 quarterback, behind Andy Dalton and Jason Campbell.

5. Although the Bengals and Dalton have expressed confidence that a new contract will get worked out, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports nothing is imminent. Jackson has raved about Dalton's all-around improvement this offseason.

-- Chris Wesseling

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