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Eight things we're looking forward to in training camp

Full disclosure: I had a hard time mustering up excitement for Gregg Rosenthal's list of seven questions left hanging in the balance before training camp. As important as those matters might be on the NFL landscape, the needle doesn't move for holdouts, suspensions and arbitration hearings.

Let's turn our attention instead to the on-field action. Here are eight things I am looking forward to monitoring once training camp kicks off in late July:

1. Faster offenses in New Orleans and San Diego


Overly reliant on a gimpy Jimmy Graham due to an aging wide receiving corps, the Saints went through a rough stretch, failing to top 17 points in five of six games from late November to late December. With tackle-breaking power back Khiry Robinson, explosive rookie Brandin Cooks along with deep threats Kenny Stills and Nick Toon taking on bigger roles, this year's offense could be as balanced and as lethal as any in Drew Brees' career.

If Cooks has us excited in the Big Easy, Ladarius Green is his match in San Diego. Green's rare tight-end speed is an ideal fit for Frank Reich's fast-break offense, which borrows from Peyton Manning's no-huddle attack in Indianapolis. Throw in a healthy Malcom Floyd and Ryan Mathews' emergence as a true bell cow, and the Bolts' offense should be one of the NFL's most entertaining.

2. Faster defenses in Green Bay and Pittsburgh


The Packers are more athletic and versatile up front with Julius Peppers in the "elephant" role, Datone Jones and Mike Daniels are on the verge of breakouts and Clay Matthews is among several key players returning to pre-injury form. The beleaguered secondary is exceptionally deep with Micah Hyde adding playmaking ability, Casey Hayward impressing again and rookie Ha Ha Clinton-Dix vying for playing time.

Disparaged by Warren Sapp as old and slow since 2011, the Steelers defense is now as fast as any Ben Roethlisberger has seen in his decade with the club. First-round draft pick Ryan Shazier spearheads one of the speediest linebacker corps in the NFL, allowing Dick LeBeau to return to his Blitzburgh roots with pass rushers coming from all directions.

3. Johnny Manziel vs. Brian Hoyer


In the face of local and national speculation to the contrary, the Around The League Podcast has maintained that Manziel will be under center in Week 1. How a journeyman quarterback coming off ACL surgery -- with four career starts under his belt -- emerged as the consensus favorite in Cleveland this offseason ranks up there with the D.B. Cooper legend among American mysteries of the past half-decade.

4. Derek Carr vs. Matt Schaub


Did the Raiders fork over $8 million in guarantees to watch a broken quarterback model a visor and clipboard this season? It's starting to look that way.

5. Is Josh McCown for real?


The 2013 game tape certainly argues in his favor, as do the early signs out of Tampa. Comparisons to Drew Brees notwithstanding, McCown has to prove last year's success wasn't a byproduct of Marc Trestman's system and the league's best wide receiver duo.

6. Has Robert Griffin III regained OROY form?


If he's going to nail down the Comeback Player of the Year award -- as is his destiny -- RGIII needs those 4.38 jets, along with a more advanced understanding of what it takes to succeed as a pocket passer. So far, so good.

7. Will Marcus Lattimore contribute in San Francisco?


His future looked bleak when the 49ers used a second-round draft pick on Ohio State star Carlos Hyde. Lattimore then surprised onlookers by looking bigger, more agile and more explosive in offseason practices. Inspired by RGIII's comeback from a pair of ACL surgeries, Lattimore now has his sights set on Frank Gore's job. Good luck, Marcus. You're going to need it.

8. Rookie hype check


In addition to Cooks and Shazier, several other rookies have drawn abnormal levels of praise this offseason. Among those are Chiefs pass rusher Dee Ford, Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews, Cardinals wide receiver John Brown, Steelers jitterbug Dri Archer and Jets safety Calvin Pryor. We will find out if the hype is justified once the hitting starts.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" ranks the league's top tight ends and debates Andrew Luck vs. Cam Newton.

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