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NFL summer subplots: One burning question for each NFC team

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You got questions? We've got answers. Sort of. Maybe. Well, as much as May will allow.

Every member club in the NFL has a major subplot to watch, as the summer rolls into training camp rolls into preseason. Are the Jets the headless horsemen? Did the Cowboys do the right thing in Chicago? Is Adam Gase the great elixir for the always-middling Dolphins?

Below is an All-32 look at the biggest issues -- one for each team -- across the NFL. There is something for everyone. And if you don't agree with what I have to say, hit me up: @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Alright, let's get this monstrous, Odyssey-length diatribe on all things NFL going ...

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys: Can Ezekiel Elliott pass-protect?

Thought about going with, Where is the pass rush coming from? Then I realized the answer is ... nowhere, at least while DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are suspended and with Jaylon Smith expected to redshirt. So here we are, wondering about Elliot. If he can pick up protections, the Cowboys' offense will not be eliminating half its playbook with the Ohio State rookie on the field. It will also make him more effective by virtue of being more available in the passing game. Which will also mean the defense stays off the field for long stretches of time, especially during the first four games of the season, when those pass rushers won't be available. Availability equals opportunity for one of the top talents in the draft.

New York Giants: When Victor Cruz returns to the field, will he be the same Victor Cruz?

For the past year and a half, there has been so much talk -- and speculation -- about Cruz's return that it's easy to wonder if we are ever going to see a reboot, like "Dodgeball" and "Blade Runner" (which for some reason didn't capture my interest like other 1980's sci-fi flicks). Cruz is supposed to be ready for training camp, but after missing the better part of two seasons, will he be the same dynamic player he once was? If so, the Giants could move rookie Sterling Shepard to the slot for a high percentage of downs. With Odell Beckham Jr. and a healthy Cruz outside and Shepard in the slot, look out.

Philadelphia Eagles: Will Sam Bradford seize the starting QB job and keep it ... or regress?

Technically, the job is Bradford's already. He also played very well over his last seven games of 2015, tossing 10 touchdowns against only four picks. Yet, Bradford made an effort to skip town after the Eagles traded up for QB prospect Carson Wentz. Bradford has since resumed prepping for the season. But with Wentz always looming over this potentially testy situation, why couldn't Chase Daniel snake this deal? Daniel is more familiar with coach Doug Pederson's offense than all other parties, having worked with Pederson in Kansas City the past three seasons. So should you care? Not unless you think Bradford is more than marginally better than Daniel or what the second overall pick can be.

Washington Redskins: Can Matt Jones be the guy in the backfield?

If you've been watching "NFL HQ" or "NFL Now" lately, you're probably familiar with the questions I have about Washington's ground game. It's not that Matt Jones can't play -- rather, the concern comes down to a) whether he is a lead back or a change-of-pace guy, and b) if he can hold on to the football. Chris Canty, who faced Jones in the preseason last year, told me that the second-year pro "is a problem" -- as in, he presents a problem for opposing defenses. However, he fumbled five times (losing four) in part-time work last season (144 carries in 13 games). With Alfred Morris gone, Jones has to cure that ill -- or seventh-round pick Keith Marshall must develop quickly.

NFC North

Chicago Bears: Is this defense there yet?

The organization has poured much dollars and picks into the defensive unit over the last couple of offseasons. But is it ready to stop a powerful Packers offense with Jordy Nelson back, or an evolving Vikings attack with receiver Laquon Treadwell in the mix? The Shea McClellin experiment didn't work out. The gaudy investment in Lamarr Houston has yet to pay off. Antrel Rolle was let go after one season. LB Leonard Floyd, DT Jonathan Bullard, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, S Deon Bush and CB Deiondre' Hall -- five of the team's first six picks last month -- have to develop quickly. Or at least three of them need to evolve into major contributors by midseason if the Bears are to have any hope of competing in the NFC North. Training camp should reveal much about these rookies on John Fox's defense.

Detroit Lions: What will ball distribution look like in a post-Megatron world?

Well, call it a post-Megatron football world. Calvin Johnson is, after all, still with us. Not having him play could be terrible ... or, perhaps, result in a long-term benefit to the Lions' offense as a whole. First, the potential downside. Free-agent signee Marvin Jones is going to see more targets than he did in Cincy. Can he evolve from an on-again, off-again guy to become one of the better complementary wideouts in football? Can Golden Tate be a WR1? We might see Matt Stafford improve in terms of reading the whole field; before, he'd often lock in on Johnson. If you ask me, Detroit will be one of the more interesting squads to watch this year.

Green Bay Packers: Which Eddie Lacy will we see come August?

Lacy is reportedly slimming down, which is great news for Packers fans who want to see the version of Lacy who ran for 2,317 yards and 20 touchdowns over his first two seasons in the league. The back's inconsistent 2015 performance -- he finished with 758 yards and just three rushing scores -- undermined the efforts of an offense that was already depleted by the absence of Jordy Nelson and less-than-full health of Randall Cobb. There were times last season when the Packers wideouts literally could not get open (SEE: at Broncos and at Lions -- for most of the game). An effective ground attack will provide balance for two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers and additional punch in the postseason -- like Lacy did versus the Cowboys in the 2014 playoffs.

Minnesota Vikings: Will Teddy Bridgewater play loose this season?

While no one is down on Bridgewater -- in fact, most think he has a ton of upside -- the young QB has been awfully conservative with the football at times. He also has seemingly been, at least from an outsider's perspective, a bit tentative about taking on a leadership role with his Viking teammates. Being wary of turnovers has its benefits, but taking vertical chances down the field or with the occasional 50-50 ball in certain downs and distances also has its merits. Witness Derek Carr, who has pulled that off in Oakland, sans the negative interceptions that Blake Bortles still throws in Jacksonville (... and often makes up for with production). Year 3 is the perfect time to take charge of the offense, particularly with a few new faces joining young players like Stefon Diggs.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons: Will we see a more disruptive defense during the preseason?

Teams generally keep schemes, playbooks and anything related to football rather vanilla during the preseason. We're talking about the preseason, man. Not a real game. Not a real game. Not a real game. Preseason. That said, even the layman can identify a defensive unit that looks more imposing with the way it is tackling, pressuring the quarterback, hitting, etc. The Falcons think they found their secondary enforcer in first-round pick Keanu Neal. His position -- safety -- is important to head coach Dan Quinn, who, of course, enjoyed Kam Chancellor's services while Quinn was defensive coordinator in Seattle. Great, but Atlanta only selected three defenders in the draft last month, and no pass rushers for a unit that tallied an NFL-low 19 sacks in 2015.

Carolina Panthers: How much will the Panthers miss Josh Norman?

Maybe the question should be, How much are Panthers fans missing Josh Norman right now? Even the most ardent Carolina supporters are not hitting up my Twitter feed with talk of the Super Bowl, likely because they are concerned the secondary will only be OK with one of the best corners in the league gone. Bear in mind that while Charles Johnson is back healthy and Kony Ealy is developing, the pass rush does not figure to be dominant. Rookie CBs James Bradberry and Daryl Worley must grow up quickly and provide oomph to nickel and dime packages to mask what has become a bit of a deficiency in the wake of Norman's departure. That said, the Panthers are still as solid as any team in the league.

New Orleans Saints: Is the Drew Brees window closing?

With all the talk of fellow NFC quarterback Tony Romo's window closing in Dallas, perhaps Brees is the QB we should be looking at. While he hasn't suffered through the same injuries as the Cowboys' most integral piece, Brees is a year-and-a-half older -- and before he got hot last season, there was already talk about Brees' waning arm strength and declining play. Still, Brees led the NFL in passing yards for the second time in a row and the sixth time in his career. The problem: A historically bad defense that was only able to add three prospects in the draft. I like both the Sheldon Rankins and Vonn Bell picks, but it's not enough to overhaul the worst defense in pro football.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: How disruptive will the pass rush be?

If you are a fan of the Bucs, you know how long this team has been looking for an elite -- or even a consistent -- pass rusher. Do you realize no Tampa Bay defender has posted double-digit sacks since Simeon Rice had 14 in 2005? Jon Gruden was head coach back then. Even an offensive mind like The Grudes realizes the importance of getting after the other guy's quarterback. So new Tampa starter Robert Ayers must prove his career year in 2015 (9.5 sacks) was not solely a reflection of his impending free agency. Rookie Noah Spence managing to contribute, uh, immediately would sure help the Bucs compete in the South.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals: Will Honey Badger be ready for the regular season?

If you watched the Cardinals late last season, you saw a clear distinction after Tyrann Mathieu tore his ACL. It was like the difference between "Predator" with Ahhnold and "Predator 2" with Danny Glover. (And we don't have time to dive into Gary Busey's cameo.) Mathieu was lost in Week 15. The last three times Arizona took the field, the defense allowed 105 points. That's 35 per game. Yes, some of that was due to Carson Palmer's turnovers. Still, Mathieu was a strong Defensive Player of the Year candidate before going down, and the better he looks early, the better the Cards' chances of starting strong.

Los Angeles Rams: Will Jared Goff hold the top job from Day 1?

Case Keenum is the Rams' projected starting quarterback, for now. Nick Foles still lingers, although he was benched in favor of Keenum last season. Jeff Fisher has already said you start quarterbacks from Day 1 on a "case-by-case basis," and that "it depends on the quarterback himself." True enough. Yet, this organization has finished 7-9 seemingly the last 10 consecutive seasons. New/old fans in Los Angeles will be far more patient with that kind of outcome if Goff is learning under center. The next question: Who is the WR1 Goff can rely upon on third-and-5?

San Francisco 49ers: Will the marriage between Colin Kaepernick and Chip Kelly work?

Colin Kaepernick made it clear he didn't want to be with the 49ers, but a trade to Denver didn't fly. And this offense under Chip Kelly won't, either, if Kaepernick doesn't buy into Kelly's system -- or, in a larger sense, being a San Francisco 49er. Sure, all of Kaepernick's teammates will say the right things publicly. One of his teammates told me off the record last year how Kap carried himself in 2015 -- distancing himself from the team -- while describing the QB's personality as "aloof." The bottom line is, San Francisco has a new coach in place who didn't exactly win popularity contests in Philadelphia. So it's paramount that the Niners employ a quarterback the players want to play for and with. Of course, this is assuming the 49ers brass, Kelly or Kaepernick's teammates want him to win the job.

Seattle Seahawks: What will the offense look like this season?

Will we see a run-heavy approach reminiscent of the best days of the Marshawn Lynch era? Will Seattle take the we-have-to-force-the-ball-to-Jimmy-Graham-because-we-traded-for-him tack? Or will the Seahawks ride the Russell Wilson-driven attack they rode over the last five games of the 2015 season? The last option could be the first answer, given Wilson's performance down the stretch. Graham was lost for the year with a torn patellar tendon in Week 12. From that point on, Seattle's franchise quarterback posted passer ratings of 146.0, 139.6, 128.3, 88.4 and 123.7. In other words, Wilson was phenomenal -- and that was mostly without rookie standout Thomas Rawls, who fractured his ankle in Week 14 after rushing for 830 yards at a whopping 5.6 yards per carry. Rawls racked up 147 attempts in 13 games ... not a small sample size. But can he do it full-time for a full season behind an offensive line that has turned over again? We'll see how he looks in the preseason. As for Graham? Quit pushing it.

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS AFC TEAM QUESTIONS.

Elliot Harrison is an analyst on NFL Network's "NFL HQ" and can also be seen regularly on NFL Now. Follow him on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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