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Ten hyper-familiar storylines of minicamp season

Early last week, Giants quarterback Eli Manning told a gathering of reporters at OTAs that, now seven weeks out from ankle surgery, he was healthy enough to play if the season were to begin the next day.

Some 1,500 miles away, Tony Romo was unknowingly paraphrasing the words of his NFC East contemporary. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback, several months removed from back surgery, explained to NFL Media's Desmond Purnell that he'd reached a point in his recovery where he could "go out and play right now if (he) had to."

Both veterans had leaned upon one of the most sturdy answers of this, the most relentlessly optimistic portion of the NFL calendar. "Don't worry about me, fellas: I COULD PLAY IF THE SEASON WERE STARTING. Now please point your iPhones at the guy limping away from the cold tub."

In TV, a trope is a plot trick, narrative structure or character that's instantly familiar. You've seen it before because it's been done, many times, with only the slightest of tweaks to the origin source.

The NFL has its own tropes this time of year -- I Could Play If The Season Were Starting being just one of them. The spring is full of hyper-familiar storylines you've seen in the past and you'll see in the future.

Here are nine more:


Around The League predicts the Week 1 starting lineups for all 32 teams, analyzing the potential impact of each rookie class.

AFC East
» Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
» Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
» Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
» Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
» Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
» Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
» Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
» Cardinals | 49ers | Rams | Seahawks

THE OFFENSE HAS NEVER BEEN FASTER


True story: Every team believes a new offensive coordinator is the savior. With one iPad full of brilliance, he will heal all that previously ailed his disciples. If only football were that simple.

Recent example: Dolphins' Finnegan: I've never seen anything this fast

PLAYER X: I'VE NEVER PLAYED WITH SOMEONE QUITE LIKE PLAYER Y


This usually is a quote coming from a veteran on the team who's been impressed -- blown away, even -- by a recent acquisition. The lovefest is in full bloom.

Recent example: Julius Peppers: I've never played with outside threat like Clay Matthews

INJURY-PRONE PLAYER X BULKED UP IN OFFSEASON


If a team has an important player coming off a season in which he missed extended time, you can count on hearing about the new workout regime that will keep him from becoming known as the NFL's version of Mr. Glass.

Aaron Rodgers provided a nice variation to this trope when he picked up yoga, rather than dumbbells, during the offseason.

Recent example: Trestman: Cutler bulking up to stay healthy for Bears in 2014

PLAYER X: I HAVEN'T BEEN THIS HEALTHY IN YEARS!


An off-shoot of the bulk up narrative, here the player with durability issues declares that his body has, at long last, been given the proper amount of rest time to fully rejuvenate itself. This story usually ends with Player X limping to the sideline after taking a helmet to the thigh on the first day of full-contact drills.

Recent example: Jonathan Stewart healthiest he's been since 2011

PLAYER X IS BETTER NOW THAN BEFORE SERIOUS INJURY

Fact: Adrian Peterson returned from major reconstructive knee surgery as a superior football player. Another fact: There is only one Adrian Peterson. Everybody wants to come back exactly as they were, but reality isn't always so kind.

Recent example: Nick Foles: Maclin looks better now than before injury

STAR PLAYER: WINNING IS AWESOME AND THAT'S ALL I'M REALLY ABOUT, GUYS


Watch "The Top 100 Players of 2014" every week at 9 p.m. ET on NFL Network as we count down to the top player in the NFL. "The Top 100 Players of 2014 Reactions" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET.


A popular storyline that comes out of the media's first availability with a team's signature star, usually the quarterback. Said player just wants to end this springtime media engagement as soon as possible.

Recent example: Tom Brady: Wins, losses are all that matters

COACH X: WE'RE EXTREMELY IMPRESSED BY CAMP BODY Y/FADED VET Z


Remember what I said about this being the most relentlessly optimistic time of year? This goes double for coaches, who believe everyone in their building can be turned into Walter Payton or Dick Butkus.

Recent examples:

» Rams 'very impressed' with Britt

» Seahawks' Terrelle Pryor has breakthrough in Seattle

PLAYER X UNSURE IF HE WILL ATTEND MINICAMP


If you're an established player unhappy with your current contract, the default move is to tell the press -- or have your agent leak to the press -- that you just might sit out mandatory minicamp if you don't get a new deal soon.

Of course, the inherent flaw in this move is the fact that mandatory minicamp is, you know, mandatory and that sitting out these workouts costs you money ... which is what this was all about in the first place. I don't get it.

Recent examples:

» Alex Boone won't attend 49ers camp sans new deal

» Could Marshawn Lynch retire from Seahawks?

» Bill O'Brien unsure if Andre Johnson will attend minicamp

MIDDLING TEAM X WILL SHOCK THE WORLD

Making the Leap in 2014
Around The League profiles 25 players (like Minnesota Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes) primed to enjoy breakout seasons. READ


A personal favorite. An over-excited veteran -- his nostrils flush with pheromones of Optimism Season -- declares his team of misfits is about to put the NFL on notice.

This trope was perfected by Panthers offensive lineman Ryan Kalil, who in the summer of 2012 took out a full-page ad in The Charlotte Observer promising a Panthers Super Bowl win.

Carolina started the ensuing season by losing eight of their first 10 games.

Recent example: Brandon Spikes: Buffalo Bills gonna shock the world

In the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the heroes talk "Hard Knocks" before delving into a new batch of rookie whispers.

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