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'Inside Training Camp Live' whispers

  • By NFL.com
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Football is back! We've got you covered from July 24 through August 5 with NFL Network's "Inside Training Camp Live" providing 12 hours of live coverage each day beginning at 10 a.m. ET. Every day we'll feature highlights from the show and our reporters in the field. Here's today's batch:

» After NFL Media's Willie McGinest praised Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney on Tuesday for demolishing a couple of tight ends who tried to block him in practice, this year's No. 1 NFL draft pick told McGinest that was no accident: "You just don't want to lose no 1-on-1 battle with no tight end at any time in this league," Clowney said. "So every time you go against the tight ends you gotta give everything you got."

Clowney also expanded on the differences he's noticed between the NFL pace and the college game.

"Yeah I was coming off the end in college. Now you going against guys that's faster, linemen move just as fast as you, stronger, and I'm dropping in coverage more than I ever did," he said. "I'm learning a lot since I got on this level. Learning how to use my hands a lot better, everything ..."

» Cam Newton has never looked sharper as he recovers from last season's ankle surgery -- at least that's the word NFL Media's Steve Wyche is getting from coach Ron Rivera and others at Carolina Panthers camp. The quarterback's passing accuracy and command of the huddle were both praised.

Newton's offensive line is another matter, however. Wyche reported that the team's D-line -- admittedly one of the NFL's best -- has been "absolutely dominant" against the offensive line so far.

Wyche also reported that first-round draft pick Kelvin Benjamin was off to the side with the injured players after suffering a bone bruise directly on the kneecap during Sunday's practice. The team wants to be cautious with that injury and is expected to keep Benjamin out of action for 3-5 days.

Apart from Benjamin's bruised kneecap, coach Ron Rivera told Wyche that the rookie wideout was really fitting in with what the Panthers are doing and should be part of the team's starting group of three wide receivers with veterans Jason Avant and Jerricho Cotchery.

» Tempers flared early Tuesday at Cleveland Browns practice, with a brief skirmish breaking out in helmets and pads. First one of the day.

» After watching another day in the oft-covered Cleveland Browns quarterback battle, NFL Media's Charley Casserly was not particularly impressed with either Johnny Manziel or Brian Hoyer.

» NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport provided some background on the New Orleans Saints' prized free-agent acquisition, safety Jairus Byrd, who saw his first action Tuesday as he returns from the PUP list.

Rapoport said Byrd had spinal surgery this spring. According to a source close to the situation, the procedure (performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Robert Watkins) was a precaution intended to create more space in Byrd's spinal cord, and to alleviate some bruising that he's had for some time. The Saints consider Byrd ahead of schedule in his rehab. He'll take his time getting back as he does more football activity, but the team like where he is.

» NFL Media's Jeff Darlington checked in from Atlanta Falcons camp, where coach Mike Smith is promoting a mantra of "physical, gritty, rugged" football. In other words, better line play on both sides of the ball, something the team addressed with its top two draft picks in 2014, offensive tackle Jake Matthews and defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman.

This was followed later by the most surprising nugget of the day: The Falcons practice field sits downwind from a Wrigley chewing gum plant. "This must be what heaven smells like," said Darlington, a man of decidedly simple pleasures.

» It looks like Carson Palmer might have another weapon to add to Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, per Rapoport:

» The San Francisco 49ers' most urgent problem this week is the running back position after the loss of backups Kendall Hunter (out for the season) and LaMichael James (out for about a month). NFL Media's Omar Ruiz reported that the Niners signed former Arizona Cardinals running back Alfonso Smith on Tuesday. But the player with the best shot at backing up Frank Gore for the time being might be Carlos Hyde. According to Ruiz, Niners offensive coordinator Greg Roman said the rookie from Ohio State is working on improving his pass protection -- a common theme among younger backs today.

Ruiz also stated that Colin Kaepernick is excited about his receiving corps, but is especially pleased with the 100 percent healthy Michael Crabtree. Ruiz notes that Crabtree looks more explosive at camp.

On the defensive side, nobody is stepping up to fill the void of injured linebacker NaVorro Bowman. Michael Wilhoite is penciled in as the starter, but the position is up for grabs.

» NFL Media's Kimberly Jones offered the latest on the frustrating status of Giants rookie Odell Beckham:

» Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of the bad news for Coughlin and the beleaguered Giants:

» Rapoport was on hand for Detroit Lions practice, where he offered up this dog-bites-man nugget: "Two things stand out ... Matt Stafford throws it well, Reggie Bush catches it well."

» NFL Media's Albert Breer reports that the Tennessee Titans feel good about Jake Locker's progress as a quarterback, but the team is concerned about his ability to stay healthy.

The latest Around The League Podcast visits with former Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum and discusses the best of the early training-camp surprises.

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