Ten takeaways from Thursday's minicamps


The NFL's summertime snooze begins now.

With all 32 teams wrapping up mandatory minicamp on Thursday, you won't be hearing anything substantive from Rex Ryan, Rob Ryan or Ryan Tannehill until training camp launches nationwide in late July.

These are the weeks where coaches and players vanish from the grid, making final contact with wives and offspring before the NFL season swallows them whole for the rest of 2016.

There's still plenty of unfinished business, though, with a handful of household names sitting in limbo. Two big questions to ponder as June drifts into July:

A. Will Von Miller and the Broncos finally strike a massive, long-term deal before the July 15 deadline? Denver fans hope so after Miller on Thursday promised there was "no chance" he would play this season under the franchise tag. While every new chapter of this tired negotiation has felt like a cleverly crafted ploy to win over public favor, Miller appears dead set on exceeding Fletcher Cox's six-year extension that came packed with $63 million in guarantees. We expect this to get done in time for camp. Denver's less-than-secure quarterback situation makes it all the more critical to get their Super Bowl MVP under lock and key.

B. Will the Jets ultimately lure Ryan Fitzpatrick back to town? Whether or not you buy into The Amish Rifle as a dependable starter, he's the only Jets starter in franchise history to throw for more than 30 touchdowns (which is insane). New York refuses to overspend for Fitzy, but it's much costlier to wander into Week 1 with Geno Smith under center. Understandably, coach Todd Bowles acknowledged Thursday that he's fed up discussing the topic:

Here's what else we learned from the league's final day of mandatory minicamps:

1. Bills, Jets and Dolphins fans are understandably tired of watching the Patriots squash them year after godless year. Unfortunately for the rest of the AFC East, New England this week welcomed Dion Lewis back to practice, where the electric scatback was seen making jump cuts without a brace on his surgically repaired knee. Minicamp also gave beat writers a look at the monstrous tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, with the latter telling scribes he welcomes the role of playing Gronk's sidekick, saying: "I really don't mind being Robin, you know? ... He's an excellent player, and I'm gonna be able to get a lot of single coverages with him."

2. Mark Sanchez remains an easy target in Denver, but running back C.J. Anderson went out of his way to stick up for the quarterback.

"People forget about Sanchez, you know, he has two AFC championship belts," Anderson said. "Even though he lost them (with the Jets), he has two under his belt, that he's been to. And it shows, the leadership that he had when he was with the Jets."

Anderson has a point arguing that Sanchez would "have some better targets to throw to" in Denver, along with the AFC's best defense. Still, the veteran has downshifted into the realm of backup fodder. Book it now: We'll see plenty of rookie Paxton Lynch this autumn, whether he's ready or not.

3. Few players have generated more June buzz in Buffalo than Dezmin Lewis. The second-year receiver was called the "the biggest sleeper on the team" by Joe Buscaglia of WKBW-TV. Seen by some as a potential No. 3 wideout-in-waiting, Lewis also earned praise from coach Rex Ryan on Thursday, who said: "For my money, Dez Lewis is the guy (that stood out)," adding that last year's seventh-rounder has "taken off" this spring.

Not to be outdone on the hyperbole front by his twin, Bills assistant Rob Ryan offered up that linebacker Preston Brown "is gonna be a star" this season, before Rex dropped the mic, boasting: "We've won the offseason. I would challenge any team."

Holy smokes. Come back to us, fellas.

4. It's been a weird offseason for the Jets. While general manager Mike Maccagnan has been a wholesale upgrade over "The Glacier," Gang Green has taken its time getting Fitzpatrick under contract, while balking at paying premier defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.

"It's shocking. It's frustrating," Wilkerson told The New York Post. It certainly didn't help to watch the Eagles ink Cox to a six-year, nearly $103 million contract extension, leading to Wilkerson say: "I feel like I'm better than him and whatever (his deal is) I deserve that or better."

5. Remember when Carolina's Ron Rivera was on the hot seat? Since then, he's won two Coach of the Year awards and taken the Panthers to a Super Bowl. We learned Thursday, via NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, that Rivera had his old contract ripped up to make room for a new, three-year, $19.5 million deal that runs through 2018. Rivera's assistants all got raises, too, capping a deal that was quietly done in February.

6. Saints coach Sean Payton said this week that C.J. Spiller has looked "noticeably different" this offseason after an injury-plagued 2015. Spiller isn't entirely out of the woods yet, though, with NOLA.com's Larry Holder tweeting Thursday that it's "pretty apparent" the veteran back is running third in the pecking order behind Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower. Let's not overreact to June depth-chart news, but fantasy heads can tuck this away in their caps for safekeeping.

7. The Ravens have battled the injury bug all offseason, but Thursday brought good news from Joe Flacco. "I expect to be out there the first day (of camp)," the quarterback said. While Flacco is set to return from last year's season-ending knee injury, Baltimore has to be concerned about the health of second-year wideout Breshad Perriman, recovering from another knee injury, and linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who could miss the entire preseason after undergoing foot surgery.

8. It's fair to wonder if Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton will be the same player in 2016 without play-caller Hue Jackson and wideouts Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. New teammate Brandon LaFell isn't worried, saying of Dalton: "I knew he was pretty good. But I've been here since April working with that guy (and) he's way better than advertised."

9. It's a great sign to see Jaguars rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey running at practice just weeks after undergoing surgery on his meniscus. It's not the same as cutting and shifting, but the first-rounder downplayed any concern over his knee, saying: "I feel 100 percent now. So when training camp comes, I will definitely be ready."

10. It's not easy becoming an NFL receiver. Especially if your resume includes just one year of experience in the German Football League. That said, we're rooting hard for Mo Boehringer, the German national angling for a roster spot with the Vikings. After struggling with drops during minicamp, the sixth-rounder acknowledged, per the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "Most of the time it's a mental thing. I'm not 100 percent comfortable with the playbook, but it will come."