Bears, Chiefs set to buck the rookie trend at QB

Blame Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco for the unrealistic expectations placed on rookie quarterbacks in today's NFL.

Prior to the last decade, it was customary for highly touted first-year quarterbacks to learn at the knee of a battle-tested signal-caller, biding their time until they mastered the nuances of American sports' most complex and demanding position.

The neophyte tandem of Ryan and Flacco went on to lead their respective teams to the playoffs as 16-game starters in 2008, forcing front offices and coaching staffs to reconsider their aversion to baptisms by fire.

When the Rams waited until Week 9 to unveil No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff, it was an exception to the rule that has seen highly touted rookies such as Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota under center in the season opener.

The Jaguars and Eagles vowed to resist the temptation to rush Blake Bortles and Carson Wentz, only to banish the veteran competition and turn the offense over to the future of the franchise.

Might Chicago and Kansas City reverse that trend in 2017?

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, general manager Ryan Pace announced unequivocally that former Buccaneers backup Mike Glennon is the Bears' starting quarterback. Not only will No. 2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky be blocked from competing for the top spot, he's also entering training camp behind Mark Sanchez as the development prospect, third on the depth chart.

A perennial playoff contender under Andy Reid, the Chiefs figure to exercise even more patience. With steady veteran Alex Smith at the helm, Reid boasts the NFL's best regular-season record since the middle of the 2015 season. Barring an unforeseen collapse by Smith, Reid will have the luxury of a deliberate development path with talented but raw first-round pick Patrick Mahomes.

Here's what else we learned as 15 teams reported for training camp on Wednesday:

  1. While Glennon is entrenched as the Bears' QB1, the Browns will hold an open quarterback competition in Berea. That said, Cody Kessler is the early favorite, as Hue Jackson stated that last year's third-round pick "deserves a chance to walk out there first."

By way of explanation, Jackson noted that Kessler offers the best grasp of the offense as well as the most experience in a Cleveland uniform. The head coach's preference is to settle on a Week 1 starter by the opening week of the preseason.

  1. The Broncos will enter camp with a battle of their own, just as coach Vance Joseph has promised all offseason. Although incumbent starter Trevor Siemian will take the first snaps with the starters, he will rotate days with 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch. Coming from a defensive background, Joseph will seek input from offensive coordinator Mike McCoy as well as general manager John Elway. It will be a "group decision," Joseph stressed.
  1. The Texans' competition, meanwhile, is something less than open. The starting job is clearly Tom Savage's to lose, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport emphasized Wednesday. Should Savage stumble even momentarily, rookie DeShaun Watson will be hot on his heels. The team's decision-makers "absolutely love" what they've seen from Watson to date, Rapoport added.
  1. Entering a contract year, Houston's No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins is simply seeking stability at quarterback. Hopkins and the Texans have made no progress on a new deal, Rapoport reported, which means he will be a strong candidate for the 2018 franchise tag if there's no agreement prior to the start of the season.
  1. The Falcons have contract questions of their own, with reigning MVP Matt Ryan and Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman in the market for new deals. Freeman's agent has left Flowery Branch after meeting with Atlanta's brass. The team is setting no deadline for a deal, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported. The Falcons are more likely to address Ryan's contract after the season, per Pelissero, who added that there have been no substantive talks with the quarterback's camp to date.
  1. In other Falcons news, Julio Jones hired a team of divers to search for a $100,000 earring lost while jet skiing in Lake Lanier. Alas, the divers came up empty-handed in their mission to retrieve the shiny object deemed precious by Homo sapiens of the modern Holocene era.

Transaction Corner

  1. Lucky Whitehead wasn't out of work long. After a wild week filled with bizarre twists and turns, the former Cowboys return specialist was acquired via waivers by the Jets.
  1. For the second time in three years, the Vikings have rewarded pass rusher Everson Griffen with a mega contract. After signing a five-year, $42.5 million deal in 2014, Griffen landed a four-year, $58 million extension on Wednesday. The new pact includes $34 million in guarantees, per Rapoport. It's an impressive haul for a homegrown player originally drafted in the fourth round.
  1. Have premature post-draft grades gained a small measure of vindication? Linebacker Marcus Smith was widely and immediately panned as a major reach when Chip Kelly's Eagles selected him with the No. 26 overall pick in the 2014 draft. He ended up recording just four sacks in limited playing time over three seasons before his inevitable release on Wednesday.
  1. Originally slated for release alongside Smith, veteran offensive lineman Allen Barbre was ultimately traded to Denver in exchange for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2019. Offering the versatility to play guard as well as tackle, Barbre has started 28 games for Philadelphia over the past two years. He offers premium insurance for an overhauled offensive line that was a trouble spot for the Broncos in 2016.

Injury Updates

  1. Returning from a broken tibia sustained in Week 13 of the 2016 season, All-Pro safety Earl Thomas expects to have no limitations when the Seahawks open camp on Sunday.
  1. DolphinsPro Bowl center Mike Pouncey passed his team physical and has been cleared to return from offseason surgery.
  1. Redskins star Jordan Reed, on the other hand, was surprisingly placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. The oft-injured tight end is dealing with soreness in his big toe, according to ESPN's John Keim. Reed's importance to quarterback Kirk Cousinscan't be overstated.
  1. Likewise, Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates is a candidate for the PUP list after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Coates emerged as one of the league's most dangerous deep threats before a pair of broken fingers relegated him to special teams work in the second half of the season. He's in a dogfight for snaps now that Martavis Bryant has returned from suspension and second-round pick JuJu Smith-Schuster is pushing for a role.
  1. Although Bengals first-round receiver John Ross has avoided the PUP list following offseason shoulder surgery, the team's website does not expect him to make his practice debut for a couple of weeks. Ross should see preseason action at some point, however, NFL Network's Mike Garofolo reported.
  1. J.J. Watt's return from back surgery is going smoothly. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year has not been limited early in camp, and the Texans are once again seeing Pro Bowl form, per Rapoport.
  1. Cam Newton is throwing ... outdoors. You can find the video evidence right here.
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