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:
» Following Teddy Bridgewater's lackluster Pro Day performance, NFL Media's Charley Casserly forecasted that the signal-caller would drop out of the first round of the 2014 draft. Fortunately for Bridgewater, that didn't happen; now, he's involved in what Casserly calls the "most honest" QB competition of the offseason. Casserly was impressed with Bridgewater's progress at training camp -- so much so that he believes Bridgewater's chance to start under center is a matter of when, not if.
"I think at some point they're gonna put him in the lineup," Casserly said, "whether it's early or late might depend on how well the rest of the team is playing. Don't throw him to the wolves too early."
» Tony Romo returned to the field Wednesday for the Dallas Cowboy's sixth day of training camp. If Desmond Purnell isn't prone to hyperbole, then the reaction surrounding Romo's walk-out was nothing short of tumultuous. "The sky is not falling, Tony Romo is actually on the field," said NFL Media's Desmond Purnell, who's on the scene at camp in Oxnard, California. "When Tony walked out here to the field the fans erupted," Purnell continued. "It sounded as if Michael Jordan just hit the game-winning shot (in) Game 6 against the Utah Jazz. It was that loud here." Holy cow.
» The Dallas Cowboys signed left tackle Tyron Smith to an eight-year, $98 million extension that locks him up with the team for the next decade. NFL Media's Purnell had a chance to chat with head coach Jason Garrett. One nugget Purnell offered: Smith, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, was Garrett's first pick with the Cowboys. According to Purnell, Garrett called Smith a "cornerstone" of an offensive unit that the team hopes will be its strength.
» Teammate Dez Bryant offered felicitation to Smith, but NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport thinks that the news isn't good for Bryant's contract hopes. Per Rapoport, "just talking to people close to this ... it does not seem like the Cowboys and Dez Bryant have really made any progress on a long-term deal." Rapoport's take? Dallas doesn't mind having "a very hungry, very motivated Dez Bryant out on the field" who will put up numbers that would then command "top-five money" during negotiations after this season.
Bryant is off to a good start as far as putting up numbers goes, as Romo connected with the wideout for a touchdown at practice Wednesday:
Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) July 31, 2014
» In other extension news: Patrick Peterson on Tuesday evening signed a five-year extension with the Arizona Cardinals that made him the highest-paid cornerback in the league. NFL Media's Alex Flanagan had a one-on-one chat with Peterson on Wednesday, in which Peterson said he believes he's the league's best at his position.
"It was extremely important to be the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL," Peterson continued. "Oh yeah, that was definitely a point of emphasis throughout the negotiations, and as you guys can tell, they made it happen."
As far as the chirping that transpired between Peterson and the Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman? "I think it's fine," Peterson said. "Honestly, I think it's friendly, there's no harm, fouls, and, I mean, he may say something here and there that's kind of a jab or a low blow, but I don't take it the wrong way."
» Looks like this week's extension news have a few Bengals players contemplating their own financial futures. Quarterback Andy Dalton told NFL Media's Albert Breer that there's a chance contract talks between his camp and Cincinnati could get tabled. "But both sides are still trying to work things out, so it doesn't get to that point," Dalton said. "It's gonna happen at some point. It's just a matter of time."
A.J. Green hopes to follow in the footsteps of Smith and Peterson as well. "It's good to get it started," Green told Breer. "All the guys who got the deals done are definitely deserving of it. I'll just wait my turn, man. Whenever it comes.
"It's definitely good for the 2011 class," Green continued. "It's crazy, because we've got that option. But it's good that the teams are starting to get those done."
» NFL Media's Brian Billick caught up with the defensive coordinator from his Baltimore Ravens days: New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan. Among other things in the one-on-one interview, the two discussed different responsibilities as a head coach versus a coordinator, such as witnessing the Jets defense force quite a few turnovers on Wednesday. "'Hey, it's great getting those turnovers!' It's also bad that we turn over," Ryan said. "If you play like that today on defense, you're never gonna lose a game. If you play like that on offense, you're not going to beat anybody. So we've got to do a much better job of taking care of the football, but at the same time, working to get those turnovers."
Billick teased Ryan, saying, "It's never a good day for you!" to which Rex replied, "It's something you never told me!"
» The Denver Broncos got to test the all-weather performance of their players early this year: Wednesday's training session occurred in the rain. Offseason addition DeMarcus Ware said the conditions are what the defense needs in order to toughen up. NFL Media analyst Terrell Davis, returning to his old stomping grounds amongst his former team, said the rain shouldn't be a cause for concern. "As long as no one's getting hurt," Davis said. "I think if you start seeing guys getting hurt, pulling hamstrings, slipping all over the place, if the play starts to look a little bit sloppy, they might have to do something about it.
"But for a defense, you don't mind being in the mud," Davis continued. "You don't mind getting a little grass stains on you, getting a little physical in this type of conditions."
"I don't know what that word and what that definition is. A lot of people throw it around out there, the so-called experts," Harbaugh said. "I have heard it as it relates to a certain position or a team or a side of the ball or a unit. But it really comes down to, you're doing it again. Even though you have proved it 1,000 times and now you're proving it again and all those times don't matter, when you're proving it again.
"So, there is a high confidence with our team because they have done it before, they feel like they'll do it again and you know, I am watching them do it so weâre on track." So ... is that a yes?
» Faulk also chatted with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was asked the same question. Unlike his coach, he didn't delve into the finer points of the English language.
Kaepernick: "For me, I've always been on teams where the offense has carried the team, and to come to a team where it's known for their defense, that's something that I want to change as far as the offenseâs perspective that, 'You guys, not that we're an elite defense or elite offense, at this point, we should be an elite team.'"
It's safe to say that a team that has reached back-to-back NFC title games is pretty close to an "elite" level ... whatever that means.
» NFL Media's Aditi Kinkhabwala reported from Pittsburgh Steelers training camp in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where 2013 first-round draft pick Jarvis Jones from Georgia is "stronger than ever," has "shown impressive bull-rush moves" and feels more comfortable in this year's defensive scheme. But the real revelation, according to Kinkhabwala, is this year's first-round pick, linebacker Ryan Shazier from Ohio State, who seems on track to become the first Steelers rookie to start on defense since 2001.
Checking in later, Kinkhabwala said Jones is impressed with Shazier's production thus far; Jones noted that Monday's padded practice "didn't slow him down one bit," per Kinkhabwala. The rookie is slated as a starting linebacker for now alongside Jones, Jason Worlids and Lawrence Timmons.
On the offensive side of the ball, Aditi reports that -- despite what Emmanuel Sanders says -- Ben Roethlisberger is showing great leadership with his young group of wide receivers. She says second-year pass catcher Markus Wheaton and rookie receiver Justin Brown have been putting in lots of extra hours this summer as they battle to emerge behind No. 1 receiver Antonio Brown.
» Steve Wyche was in Davie, Florida, where new Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor (Chip Kelly's QB coach in Philadelphia last season) is working to increase the pace of the Ryan Tannehill-led offense.
Of chief concern, however, is a revamped offensive line that could feature five new starters. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey is being treated with caution as he recovers from hip surgery, and Wyche reported Wednesday that backup Sam Brenner suffered a minor foot injury, forcing guard Shelley Smith to move over to center and causing some problems with the center/quarterback exchange. The Dolphins feel a lot more comfortable with their tackles at this point, with Wyche reporting that free-agent acquisition Branden Albert and first-round draft pick Ja'Wuan James are gelling well.
Ryan Tannehill's productivity -- nay, reputation -- depends upon the strength of his offensive line this season. Wyche thinks that, despite Tannehill's two years in the league, it's been hard to get an accurate read on the signal-caller -- especially last season, in which the QB was sacked an astounding 58 times. "If he can't get the protection that he needs," Wyche said, "we still might not know exactly what he is."
And finally, the Dolphins had a quick skirmish today. The ITC Live crew offered some basic rules of flare-ups: no one should hit the ground; helmets and mouthguards should stay in place; and "you really don't want to throw punches," per Brian Baldinger. Sound advice for life as well.
» Per NFL Media's Solomon Wilcots, Jay Cutler's health is the linchpin that makes the Bears go 'round. Long story short: healthy Cutler equals consistent receivers -- and there's no duo more lethal than Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. "There's no one even anywhere near (them) when you're talking statistically," Wilcots said on ITC Live. "But you know, in this league it's, 'Can you do it all the time?' The question will be, 'Can those guys put up those same numbers all this year with one quarterback?' And that's Jay Cutler. And I think they can do that."
Wilcots also believes that with Marc Trestman simplifying the QB game, all Cutler has to do is put the ball "in the vicinity" of the 6-foot-3 Jeffery and the 6-foot-4 Marshall. Baldinger offers an additional insurance policy: going back to the Denver Broncos, Marshall has never caught fewer than 100 passes when Cutler was under center.
Culter's receiving corps, fortunately, has rock-solid belief in their QB's potential this season. In a session with Michael Irvin, Marshall prognosticated that Cutler will be the league MVP this season. "...his leadership is through the roof," Marshall said. "He's correcting the coaches. This is his offense. This is his organization, he's running it, and I love it." To summarize: this is Cutler's world, and we're just living in it.
Rapoport, entrenched with the Chicago Bears, says the signal-caller was in top form Wednesday:
We would be remiss to mention the Bears' training camp and not offer an update on what's going on with the defense -- you know, the unit that finished 30th in total defense last season. Looks like a silver lining is in the works in the form of Jay Ratliff, per Rapoport:
» Rapoport is offering up dispatches from every stop on his annual training camp tour. Where's he been? Where's he headed? Check it out.