It might feel like the dog days of summer for football fans, but the 2017 campaign is rapidly coming down the pike. With training camps opening later this month, Around The NFL's Conor Orr, Kevin Patra and Marc Sessler are examining the key issues for each team in this division-by-division series. Here's the NFC East camp primer:
Training camp report dates: rookies (July 19) and veterans (July 22).
Location: Marriott Residence Inn in Oxnard, California.
Most important position battle: Cole Beasley vs. Ryan Switzer. The development of Switzer's role as a rookie receiver has been interesting to watch this offseason. Theoretically, he plays a similar position to Beasley, and in owner Jerry Jones' mind, that could mean one of two things. The first: With, as ESPN.com pointed out, Dak Prescott clearly favoring the veteran Beasley by targeting him a team-high 98 times last season, having two Beasleys is better than having one. The second: Switzer could end up being an evolved version of Beasley, like Julian Edelman was compared to Wes Welker. As a writer for the team's official site noted, Switzer is already pumping out routes "perfectly" from the slot, and he will serve as a special teams threat of sorts. Will we see two on the field at once, or are both competing for similar roles?
Newcomer to watch: DE Taco Charlton. Jones' ballyhooed search for a "War Daddy" pass rusher this offseason culminated with the selection of the Michigan defensive end in the first round. Outside of some less-than-clever endorsement deals, Charlton has been known for some daily non-padded battles against All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith. Jones, always a subscriber to the iron sharpens iron theory, is likely hoping that once the pads come on in late July, Charlton gets a graduate-level education in how to beat back some of the game's best pass blockers.
Looming camp question: Do the Cowboys evolve? Dallas was able to shove its running game down the throats of opponents last year, rushing more than 60 percent of the time in first-and-10 situations. The Cowboys will absolutely have the capability to put up similar numbers, but which added wrinkles will separate the team from 2016? There has been talk about Ezekiel Elliott being more involved in the passing game. We mentioned the addition of Switzer above. What makes them harder to stop now that everyone has the requisite tape on Prescott and Elliott to make the climb harder?
New York Giants
Training camp report date: rookies and veterans (July 27).
Location: Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Most important position battle: Right tackle. Much like the Raiders, the Giants seem to have everything they need except for stability at the right tackle position. The Giants will likely open the job up to D.J. Fluker, Bobby Hart and rookie Adam Bisnowaty in camp and let the trio fight it out for a starting gig next to guard John Jerry. While it's not the sexiest training camp battle, these three will be routinely tested by Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, making this a trial by fire worth watching.
Newcomer to watch: WR Brandon Marshall. Marshall arrived to much fanfare, essentially replacing Victor Cruz as the team's No. 2 wideout. He gives the Giants' attack a far different dimension than it's had in years past, though he does not fit the typical mold of a receiver who has excelled in the Mike McCarthy-style offense before. Marshall has posited himself not only as a receiving threat, but a mentor to the team's young receiving duo of Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. By the end of training camp, we'll have a sense how that scenario might work out.
Looming camp question: How will rookie Evan Engram fit into the offense? Engram has been compared to players all over the spectrum, which makes his role in training camp all the more interesting. The Giants essentially run an 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR) on nearly every play, which means the tight end must be a stellar blocker in order to sell the possibility of a run. That wasn't one of Engram's strong suits coming out of college. This is one of the reasons the club acquired Rhett Ellison in free agency. But in order to make this system work at its full potential, something has to give. Engram's fluidity in protection drills could be the key to this summer.
Training camp report dates: rookies (July 23) and veterans (July 26).
Location: NovaCare Training Complex in Philadelphia.
Most important position battle: Nelson Agholor vs. the Eagles' patience. I'm looking toward the bottom of the depth chart for this one. Agholor, a 2015 first-round selection by Chip Kelly, has been scattershot at best during his first two years in the NFL. He's received the standard offseason praise from head coach Doug Pederson, but at some point, the Eagles are going to either see tangible progress or cut the USC product loose. Pederson signed Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery this offseason in hopes of ramping up the receiving corps. There might not be room left for a project.
Newcomer to watch: CB Rasul Douglas. Douglas was an interesting third-round pick with size -- 6-foot-2, 210 pounds -- that jumps off the page. Because second-rounder Sidney Jones might not play this year after a March Achilles injury, Douglas will likely get a few more opportunities to flash during training camp. The Eagles' secondary is in need of some youthful energy, with Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson currently expected to hold down the cornerback spots alongside Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod.
Looming camp question: Can Carson Wentz take the next step? No matter what we're discussing when it comes to the Philadelphia Eagles, we're ultimately talking about Wentz. The second-year quarterback faces sky-high expectations this season in a division that is opening up defensively (only the Giants return a potential top-five defense in 2017). Wentz grabbed this team like a veteran early on last year, but now he has an incredible weight on his shoulders, thanks to the infusion of talent in the receiving game. We'll see quite early how his relationships with Jeffery and Smith are coming along, though a jaunt through North Dakota a few weeks before couldn't hurt.
Training camp report date: rookies and veterans (July 26).
Location: Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Virginia.
Most important position battle: Jonathan Allen vs. Ziggy Hood. Perhaps it's not technically a battle, but the Redskins would love to see Allen float to the top of their depth chart. Gutted by free agency, Washington was pleased to find Allen sitting toward the back end of the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Head coach Jay Gruden said "never in a million years did we think he would be there," but now they'd like the rookie defensive lineman to sprint out ahead of veteran competition like Hood quickly.
Newcomer to watch: WR Josh Doctson. Is it fair to call Doctson a newcomer? The team's first-round pick last year was loaded with promise, but he appeared in just two games, catching a pair of passes for 66 yards. Gruden seems optimistic, but, according to CSN Mid-Atlantic, is grooming him for a very specific role at the Z more consistent with a true No. 1 wideout. That may be a stretch right away.
Looming camp question: Does Terrelle Pryor fold in elsewhere on offense? Pryor established himself as a true wideout last season in Cleveland, but he also added a second dynamic to the Browns' offense as a wildcat quarterback. The Redskins probably don't want to take Kirk Cousins off the field much, but they do want to maximize Pryor's athleticism and potential after losing two very good wideouts to free agency in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson.