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15 things we learned during rookie minicamps

Rookie minicamps opened this weekend, putting players together on the field for the first time in the 2015 season.

The principal events provided the latest example that an NFL player's job is unlike any us plebeians pursue.

Regardless of how many times I slam my ring finger down on that stupid S-key that constantly gets stuck, I'm not injuring my digits to the point of needing a year's worth of rehab. And no matter how many times Brospeh McOffice stops by your cubical and makes your ears bleed with his shenanigan tales, you won't be missing 12 months of work with injury, sorry.

Playing in the NFL, meanwhile, comes with major risks, as we were reminded on the first day of minicamp Friday.

The Jaguars got terrible news when No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler Jr. suffered a "brutal" ACL tear during practice and will miss his entire rookie season. The pass-rusher -- targeted to play a major role in upgrading quarterback pressures -- was upbeat after the tear, vowing to return even better in 2016.

A day later, we were again reminded of the fragility of the body. Denver Broncos tight end Jeff Heuerman suffered an ACL tear himself and is out for the year. The third-round pick had been slated to pick up some of the slack in Denver's pass attack after Julius Thomas left for Jacksonville.

In the NFL, a season-ending injury is always just a play away, even in the first week.

Some other things we learned from this weekend's 26 rookie minicamps:

  1. Continuing on the injury-news front, Carolina Panthers first-round pick Shaq Thompson tweaked his hamstring early on Friday and missed Saturday's session. Hamstrings are fickle beasts -- ask Odell Beckham -- so the linebacker will be cautious at least until the team's minicamp in June.
  1. Pete Carroll is already glowing about third-round receiver Tyler Lockett being "all over the field" this weekend. Lockett is in line for punt and kick return duties -- a sore spot for the Seahawks last season -- in addition to his pass-catching duties.
  1. Lovie Smith praised Jameis Winston's ability to learn the playbook and improve in short order.

"He's been cramming like it's the final exam, and he's doing a good job of it," Smith said. "We've seen marked improvement from the moment we gave him his playbook. Jameis is a bright guy. He'll be able to get it all."

  1. Even with Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West already in the backfield, the Cleveland Browns are talking up Duke Johnson as someone who will add an extra dimension.

"He's got some Giovanni Bernard to him ... some Brian Westbrook," said Ray Farmer, per the Canton Republic.

Johnson is someone to keep an eye on this preseason as the Browns determine how big a role he'll play.

  1. Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo used the words "great," "fantastic" and "awesome" to describe Johnny Manziel's work the past several weeks. Josh McCown is still the leader for the starting job.
  1. Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan compared third-round running backMatt Jones to Marshawn Lynch. McCloughan had a good vantage point to view Beast Mode from the 'Hawks front office after they traded for Lynch in 2010.
  1. Despite the assumption that No. 9 overall pick Ereck Flowers would take over the right tackle job, bumping Justin Pugh inside to guard, offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo refuses to play along, for now. Big Blue's OC played the "remains to be seen" card this weekend.
  1. Quarterback Terrelle Pryorsigned with the Cincinnati Bengals after working out at rookie camp. The former Ohio State standout could bounce Josh Johnson for a job.
  1. Don't pigeonhole tall receivers at the outset. Both Chicago Bears wideout Kevin White (6-foot-3) and Carolina Panthers receiver Devin Funchess (6-foot-4) spent time in all three receiver positions during camp.

That's high praise from a reporter who has seen more than a few receivers jaunt through those halls Halas built.

  1. La'el Collins chose the Dallas Cowboys last week after his odd draft journey. Collins' agent Deryk Gilmore told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Sunday that 29 teams inquired about signing the offensive lineman before he picked Dallas.

Jerry Jones added the Cowboys aren't planning to trade any of their offensive linemen.

  1. Jones did decide to keep the trade speculation door open in another area, saying Friday that he'd consider trading his first-round pick in 2016 for a game-changing running back. Thanks. Now we get to hear more Adrian Peterson speculation over the summer.
  1. Andre Ellington isn't threatened by the Cardinals' selection of David Johnson in the third round. Nor should he be. It's only good for Ellington if someone can help with the load.
  1. Bengals veteran offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth was apologetic about how he handled his contract comments. Displaying traits of a good teammate, he was at this weekend's rookie camp to help teach up the youngsters drafted to eventually take his job.
  1. To end on a fun note: New York Jets rookie receiver Devin Smith claims he pulled off a catch better than Odell Beckham Jr.'s one-handed snag last year. And he did it before OBJ, back in 2012 while at Ohio State. This grab:
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