Shadowy league figures have nearly succeeded in their quest to make the NFL a year-round sport. In truth, there are only five dead weeks off during the pro football calendar. Summer vacation starts now.
Twenty-five teams wrapped up their mandatory minicamps this week, and will go into hibernation until late July. Here's what we learned from each one of them before the break:
- Ravens rookie wideout Breshad Perriman came out of college with a reputation for drops. The first-rounder looked good earlier this spring, but struggled Tuesday with four dropped balls. "Just really paying attention, getting too tired and really not focusing," Perriman explained to The Baltimore Sun. Despite the gaffes, coaches say Perriman has put together plenty of strong practice tape.
- Veteran back Justin Forsett has shown the "same form" that helped him run for 1,200 yards last season, per the team's official website. His ability to adjust to Marc Trestman's offense will be key, but Forsett is bound to see more catches this year after Trestman guided Chicago's Matt Forte to 102 grabs in 2014, an NFL record for running backs.
- Sammy Watkins graduated to 11-on-11 work this week, a good sign he is recovered from offseason shoulder surgery. Expect him to be a full-go for the start of training camp.
- Looking to give his slumping passers a break after a rough Wednesday practice, Ryan sat his first-team defensive line during drills on Thursday. "Kind of looked a little watered down over there on defense," Ryan said with a smile, via ESPN.com. This tells you a lot about the state of things.
- Rookie running back Duke Johnson has been the talk of minicamp on offense, with ESPN's Adam Caplan saying the former Hurricanes star has been "the most impressive" back at camp, playing all over the field and even at wideout. One Browns source told Around The NFL that Duke and fellow rookie fullback Malcolm Johnson are "going to play a lot of football for us."
- Browns defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil said of rookie nose tackle Danny Shelton: "In two days, he's had only one busted play and we've thrown everything at him. I can't be happier." The play-caller also talked up outside linebacker Scott Solomon as a "car accident" for opponents, noting that Barkevious Mingo would need to earn his snaps.
- After Cincy's four straight one-and-done playoff appearances, play-caller Hue Jackson acknowledged this week: "I'm tired of our organization being the brunt of jokes." Dalton's play will decide how far this team can go, which is scary, but Jackson -- one of the game's top strategists -- is stressing a versatile attack that uses players all over the field.
- Still no sign of Jadeveon Clowney at Texans practice, but the team remains optimistic the former No. 1 overall pick will be an impact player this season. J.J. Watt praised Clowney for showing increased maturity. Clowney and Johnny Manziel should stage an Increased Maturity-Off this summer. Who's not watching?
- Allen Robinson is a breakout candidate on offense. The receiver showed flashes of playmaking ability during a banged-up rookie season. He's healthy and drawing raves this spring. "He's been unbelievable," quarterback Blake Bortles said, according to The Associated Press. "He's definitely a threat now in the red zone."
- Marqise Lee has struggled to stay on the field in his young career, and we didn't get to see him during minicamp. He is battling a knee issue that originally sidelined him during OTAs. The Jags are probably just being cautious with the wide receiver, but it's not a great start.
- It continues to look like rookie second-round pick T.J. Yeldon will be an immediate contributor. ESPN's Adam Caplan said that Yeldon "could wind up" in a three-down role for a team searching for stability in the backfield.
Kansas City Chiefs
- Kansas City says they want Alex Smith to go downfield more often this season. It would be impossible to throw deep less.
New England Patriots
- Life is back to normal for Malcolm Butler. The cornerback, who was benched most of OTAs for showing up late to the first voluntary practice, has engaged in "spirited one-on-one competitions" with Julian Edelman, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss. Butler has the potential to make or break New England's secondary.
- Post-Gazette beat writer Ed Bouchette believes defensive coordinator Keith Butler will blitz more often this season, writing: "Other changes you might see is what he told us last week, that the linemen will be more involved than just eating up blocks to allow the linebackers to run free."
- Le'Veon Bell never thought about a long NFL career until meeting DeAngelo Williams, telling the Tribune-Review: "It never crossed my mind until when we got DeAngelo." Williams is gearing up to play a lead role if Bell's three-game suspension sticks, but we don't see Le'Veon's touches dipping from last season.