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: *
- The release of former first-round tackle Sam Baker this week highlighted Atlanta's dramatic offensive line overhaul. Change can't be a bad thing for this group.
- John Fox said key injured players, receiver Kevin White and linebacker Jon Bostic, are expected to be back for training camp. The rookie, White, will have to battle up the depth chart, as Jay Cutler said he's currently No. 4. The Bears also added running back Daniel Thomas in advance of training camp.
- Speaking of the defensive front, second-year tackle Caraun Reid took the majority of first team reps alongside Haloti Ngata as the Lions try to replace Ndamukong Suh, per the Detroit News' Josh Katzenstein. A training camp battle between Tyrunn Walker and Reid will be something to watch, as Detroit needs to find production inside.
Green Bay Packers
- After a dismal season, Norv Turner thinks the offensive line will be fine. We'll have to see it in August to believe the group won't short circuit an otherwise intriguing offense.
New Orleans Saints
New York Giants
- Unsigned franchise player Jason Pierre-Paul skipped minicamp, as expected. If momentum for a new deal doesn't pick up by early July, he's likely to play under the one-year tag for 2015.
- First-round pick Nelson Agholor has not disappointed, but that doesn't mean he will enter the season in a starting role. Second-year wideout Josh Huff has been lining up opposite Riley Cooper on the outside in three-wide receiver sets, with Jordan Matthews in the slot. The coaching staff is high on Huff, per multiple reports.
- It was a luxury to use a third-round pick on a return specialist in Tyler Lockett. But all reports indicate that he has looked sensational in practice and could be a factor as a receiver as well.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Pierre Garcon's playmaking ability too often went to waste in the switch from Kyle Shanahan's offense to Gruden's last season. Garcon has moved from the "X" spot to the "Z," which is the featured position in Gruden's scheme. The coaches are determined to get Garcon more involved this season.