Some say the NFL is sleepy in June. I say those people are clueless.
Schein: Indispensable defenders
Adam Schein tabs nine vital defensive cogs. One major twist: The reigning Defensive Player of the Year isn't among them. **More ...**
A week of organized team activities and minicamps produced some sizzling big-picture developments.
I give you my biggest takeaways from an active week, Schein Nine style, starting with a bevy of storylines that could shape the NFC East in 2013:
1) Big Blue's receiver no-shows are a big deal.
Yes, these OTAs technically are "voluntary," but are they really? Tom Coughlin doesn't seem happy Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks aren't participating. Eli Manning doesn't seem happy. And I don't blame them.
This is going to linger.
Cruz wants big-time money. So does Nicks. Cruz found a chilly reception on the open market as a restricted free agent. I totally support the New York Giants on these negotiations. Slot receivers come and go. Cruz needs a reality check.
Nicks can't stay healthy for a full season, but he's the kind of complete beast -- with his hands, size, speed and body -- you win with. Reporters Adam Schefter and Mike Garafolo asked Nicks' agent, Peter Schaffer, if his client is skipping workouts because of the contract. Schaffer's response? "It's a great day to be alive." I'll take that as a yes.
Cruz is due a contract first, in chronological order. But Nicks wants more -- and deserves more, in my opinion. This situation will continue to be sticky.
These guys need to be working with Eli and endearing themselves to the organization.
The Giants announced that Jason Pierre-Paul had back surgery on Tuesday and is out for approximately 12 weeks. Do the math. Week 1 of the season is in 12 weeks. Tom Coughlin told the media on Thursday it would be considered "aggressive" to say Pierre-Paul would be ready. And I agree.
JPP was on my list of the nine most indispensable defensive players in the league. The Giants defense is built around the pass rush, specifically Pierre-Paul. The linebackers are weak. The secondary is questionable, at best. JPP is the second-most important player on the team (behind Eli).
The Giants play Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, Cam Newton and Alex Smith in the first quarter of the season. A slow start could prove damning once the wheel stops spinning in the very competitive NFC East, a division that should have four teams in the eight-win range.
Gil Brandt lists 10 reasons to think Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys will dramatically improve their fortunes in 2013. **More ...**
3) Bill Callahan calling plays in Dallas is problematic.
It's a problem on so many levels. When the Dallas Cowboys publicly announced this week that Callahan would assume play-calling duties, Jason Garrett seemed blindsided. Garrett is a better play caller than Callahan, but Garrett needs help with game management. And if you were looking for a play caller to replace Garrett, why not bring back Norv Turner?
Once again, chaos and confusion rule the day in Dallas.
4) There's a new sheriff in town in Philly.
I've written that Chip Kelly is the perfect coach to replace Andy Reid in a few different ways this offseason, but I've never been more convinced of this than I am now.
I loved seeing the new coach play hard ball with DeSean Jackson, a talented receiver/diva whose production has faded in the last couple seasons. Kelly demoted him. Kelly met with him. And it's June. Kelly is sending a message on accountability, knowing he needs Jackson to win. I love it.
Robert Griffin III says he will be ready for training camp: "Without a doubt."Mike Shanahan is pushing the pause button on that notion, saying the doctors will make that call.
6) San Diego's doing the right thing in shielding Manti Te'o.
Te'o spoke when he was drafted. During the season, he will have mandatory media responsibilities. Every out-of-town paper will have a writer pen the Te'o tale, as they should. He will be asked about the fake girlfriend by every television and radio reporter.
But right now, San Diego is easing him in, allowing him to focus on football. This is smart.
7) There's no such thing as "minor surgery" for Ben Roethlisberger.
Color me concerned with Big Ben's "minor surgery" for knee discomfort. The Pittsburgh Steelers say he will be back for training camp. And he very well could be. But the team's offensive line is weak, the run game doesn't boast a stud back and Mike Wallace has left the building. Not to mention, there are legit questions about the relationship and chemistry between Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
I'm concerned about the ultra-important Roethlisberger staying healthy. Pittsburgh has 7-9 written all over it.
8) The Pep Hamilton transition will be positive for Indy.
Darlington: Life after 'ChuckStrong'
After fighting off leukemia, Colts coach Chuck Pagano is bringing a new approach to his job. Jeff Darlington reports. **More ...**
A few alarms were sounded around the Indianapolis Colts when franchise icon Reggie Wayne said he still hasn't grasped Hamilton's offense. Yes, it's a change from the great Bruce Arians' approach. But Wayne is a pro's pro.
Andrew Luck will be better than ever in reuniting with Hamilton, Stanford's offensive coordinator during Luck's final collegiate season. And Luck and Wayne have a special connection.
9) Trent Richardson is injury prone.
The Cleveland Browns running back has a very concerning lower leg injury. It can't be overlooked when a player gets shut down in June as a precautionary measure, especially a bruising runner who has a history of injuries (in college at Alabama and during his rookie season in the NFL).
Last month, I listed this second-year back as a breakout candidate for 2013. Richardson told me on SiriusXM that he was looking forward to shedding the injury-prone label. He's off to a rough start. And with Brandon Weeden at quarterback, the Browns have a problem if their star runner is compromised.