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A day to forget: 14 things we learned Thursday in camp

This should have been a day of optimism in the NFL. Eleven teams practiced for the first time as training camp truly cranked up. Actual football, with pads and tackling, has started.

But the biggest headlines were stories that the league would rather forget about.

Ray Rice was was suspended by the NFL for two games in connection with his February arrest for an ugly domestic dispute. Suspended Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon was arrested for driving under the influence. And the day's capper came live on NFL Network when we learned Marshawn Lynch will hold out of training camp, from his ex-teammate Michael Robinson.

Lynch's situation is not one-tenth as serious as Rice or Blackmon, but it is a story we'll wind up writing about plenty throughout camp. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports that the Seahawks have no intention of upgrading Lynch's contract, so there isn't an easy solution in sight.

It was a fitting end to a depressing day of news. There will be plenty of summer afternoons to revel in the return of football and the winners and losers of "two-a-days." But Thursday was largely about the uglier side of the sport.

Here's what else we learned Thursday:

2. Perhaps Lynch's holdout was partly inspired by Jamaal Charles' recent contract upgrade. The difference is that Charles was vastly underpaid, while Lynch is already paid like a top-five running back. It wouldn't be a surprise if Lynch's holdout lasted deep into camp.

3. Kudos to Robinson for breaking some news on live television, capping a jam-packed day on Inside Training Camp Live. He received a phone call from Lynch, who informed Robinson that he will hold out of camp.

4. Rice will miss two division games to start the season against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Bernard Pierce figures to carry the load while Rice is out, and it wouldn't be a surprise if Pierce winds up leading the team in rushing even when Rice returns to the field.

5. Blackmon's story is sad, with substance abuse issues dating back to college. He could be the rare NFL player that winds up being suspended for more than one season. He's currently on an indefinite suspension from the league. Jaguars owner Shad Khan said that the organization will not release Blackmon.

6. In happier news, it was fun to hear that new Baltimore Ravens wideout Steve Smith put on a show on the first day of training camp. He made a few plays on vertical passes, which is a great sign for the 35-year-old.

7. Smith's old team in Carolina has familiar bad news. Running back Jonathan Stewart has a balky hamstring that could keep him out of practice for a week or two. Cam Newton, on the other hand, was a full go to start training camp.

8. This shouldn't be a surprise, but the New York Giants put Rashad Jennings No. 1 on their first unofficial depth chart. It's interesting that David Wilson, finally cleared after neck problems, was immediately No. 2 at the position. NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah noted that rookie Andre Williams dropped a few passes at practice Thursday.

9. Robert Griffin III was not sharp at his first practice, according to coach Jay Gruden. One thing RGIII needs to work on: Adjust to DeSean Jackson's speed. Gruden noted that Griffin underthrew DeSean Jackson a few times.

The new season has only brought out more eccentricities in Griffin. He has taken to doing push ups after bad passes. He's also wearing one black shoe and black sock with a matching white sock and white shoe.

"I call it the ying and the yang, white and black working together. We're all brothers. We're doing it together," Griffin said.

10. Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer admitted that Matt Cassel is No. 1 on the quarterback depth chart to start camp. No surprise there.

11. Tennessee Titans general manager Ruston Webster said he expects to get an extension worked out with defensive tackle Jurrell Casey.

12. Oakland Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden is coming off surgery for a stress fracture on his foot and could miss a big portion of training camp. It's hugely disappointing for the injury-prone second-year player. The Raiders took a chance on Hayden last year, and it hasn't paid off.

13. Marcell Dareus passed his conditioning test. So at least we won't be subjected to an embarrassing Albert Haynesworth situation that drags on for weeks.

14. Roddy White's contract extension, announced early in the morning, already feels like old news. It's great to see one of our favorite receivers taken care of. He's made a Reggie Wayne-like career transition in his thirties.

Bonus: And Finally ... Jim Harbaugh


Let's leave it to Harbaugh to pick us up on a down day. He said that the 49ers are the "least unhappy" team in the league. A reporter asked him if the absence of holdout guard Alex Boone took away from the job of the first day of camp. This was his response:

"It's such a positive happening, that first day. Imagine you're kind of in the comfort of the offseason, like being in the comfort of the womb. You got plenty to eat in there, it's warm, very cozy.

"And then you're born, into somewhat of the unknown. A lot of people looking at you, lot of faces looking at you, lot of excitement. It's light, it's bright, it's noisy, it's the crazy world of football. Again, it's a real happening. Wish everyone could experience it."

The warm, cozy offseason is over. 2014 training camp came out kicking and screaming Thursday.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" offers up team-by-team training camp previews of the NFC East and NFC West.

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