Chris Wesseling did a great job Wednesday breaking down the biggest organized team activities/minicamp storylines in the AFC. There's only so much we can learn from non-padded practices, but the teaching sessions do provide important clues for the upcoming season.
Here are the biggest NFC storylines to monitor over the next month.
The maturation of Michael Floyd is something to watch. Last year's first-round pick opened OTAs playing ahead of 2012 starter Andre Roberts. The Cardinals are quietly deep at wide receiver. ... Look for the Cardinals to line up Larry Fitzgerald in the slot and use him more creatively. ... Coach Bruce Arians doesn't like running back committees, so we'll be curious to see how he lines up Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington during OTAs. Williams is the slight favorite here.
With DeAngelo Williams' contract settled, will Carolina line him up strictly as a backup behind Jonathan Stewart? ... The starting cornerback spot opposite Josh Norman and the starting strong safety jobs are both up for grabs. ... Ted Ginn, Domenik Hixon, David Gettis, Armanti Edwards and Joe Adams all will battle for playing time at wide receiver.
Former first-round pick Gabe Carimi's absence from OTAs provides coach Marc Trestman's first minor "distraction." It's unclear if Carimi will even make the team if he returns. He's definitely not a starter ... Once people realize that Brian Urlacher is not walking through that door, we can start focusing on the battle for the starting middle linebacker job between Jon Bostic and D.J. Williams. ... With Devin Hester banished to special teams, there's room for Earl Bennett to carve out a big role in the offense again.
Will Jason Garrett directly answer a question about who's calling the plays, or do we have to wait for training camp? ... We should get a better feel of where everyone will line up in Monte Kiffin's new 4-3 defense. The defensive tackle rotation is still a bit of a mystery. ... This is also the time of year when we'll hear too much hype about a No. 3 receiver candidate, but it is an important battle to watch.
The right tackle battle between Corey Hilliard and Jason Fox will mostly take place during camp. ... With Titus Young long gone, Ryan Broyles' recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament takes on more importance. He hopes to be ready for Week 1, but midseason is more realistic barring a setback. ... Detroit's big offseason objective this year is staying out of the news
Green Bay Packers
The new offensive line setup with Bryan Bulaga and Josh Sitton on the left side gets a test drive. ... We should have a genuine kicker battle between Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio. Kicker battle! ... We'll be waiting for reports on how the Packers' new running backs (Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin) look and if the group as a whole can stay healthy. We also want to see if Randall Cobb remains a return man.
Erin Henderson is expected to start at middle linebacker, but the progress of rookie fourth-round pick Gerald Hodges during OTAs could decide whether the Vikings dive back into the linebacker market in free agency. (Although it probably won't be Brian Urlacher.) ... Cordarrelle Patterson might have the toughest road to a starting job of the three first-round Vickings picks. Watch to see if he struggles to pick up the pro playbook.
New Orleans Saints
The left tackle position is up for grabs, with Charles Brown getting the first crack at it. ... The team's new 3-4 defense will try out a lot of players in new positions, like Akiem Hicks moving to defensive end. The defensive depth chart is very much a work in progress. ... For the first time in a while, snaps are wide open at the wide receiver position after the starters. ... How will the Saints deploy first round pick Kenny Vaccaro into the secondary?
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New York Giants
Victor Cruz's contract standoff should end sometime this summer. These things usually take until training camp, but don't be surprised if Cruz gets it done in time for mandatory minicamp in June. ... The depth charts at wide receiver and running back are wide open after the starters. Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy, and Jerrel Jernigan are among those battling at wideout. Andre Brown and Da'Rel Scott are battling behind David Wilson. Another veteran could be added, but we'd be surprised if it was an ex-Giant like Ahmad Bradshaw or Brandon Jacobs.
All things Chip Kelly are fascinating at the moment because it's all so new. For now, the quarterback reps are being split closely between Michael Vick and Nick Foles. Will that continue through the mandatory minicamp? ... It's also worth watching how the completely rebuilt secondary lines up. I wouldn't assume much in terms of who is starting. Safety Kenny Phillips, for one, needs to show he's healthy. ... Bryce Brown could get tested for the backup running back job by Felix Jones.
San Francisco 49ers
Frank Gore's role is secure. We're more curious to see who is ahead between LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter. ... The various levels of health of Mario Manningham, Cornellius Carradine and Marcus Lattimore is worth watching. ... Last year's first round pick A.J. Jenkins will try to show he's matured after a disastrous offseason last year. ... Former British Olympian Lawrence Okoye will be someone to watch. If he can adapt to American football quickly, he could earn a spot on the team's 53-man roster.
The Seahawks are so deep on the defensive line that we'll be watching to see who emerges. ... Will Christine Michael force his way into carries early? He's going to have to prove he can handle pass protection. ... Watch for reports on the chemistry of Russell Wilson and Percy Harvin. Also watch to see if Sidney Rice is finally 100 percent.
St. Louis Rams
All eyes are on the "skill positions." It's a mystery how the Rams will order their wide receiver depth chart after Tavon Austin, although Chris Givens and Brian Quick figure to be first in line. Austin Pettis and rookie Stedman Bailey also are vying for snaps ... At running back, Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, and rookie Zac Stacy are all in the mix. Pead is trying to recover from a rough rookie season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Can rookie quarterback Mike Glennon show enough this offseason to get a legitimate chance to start later this year? It's not that crazy a notion. ... Tiquan Underwood, Kevin Ogletree and Steve Smith will battle for snaps on Tampa's undermanned receiver group. .. Who will step up as the backup running back behind Doug Martin? Right now the options are Brian Leonard, Mike James and Michael Smith. ... Will track star Jeff Demps show up?
We could pretend that anything else other than Robert Griffin III's recovery from knee surgery matters in Washington , but that wouldn't be accurate. The reality is we probably won't know much until camp. ... Pass catchers Josh Morgan, Pierre Garcon, and Fred Davis are all trying to get healthy after injury-plagued years. ... Rookies David Amerson, Phillip Thomas, and Bacarri Rambo will try to earn quick playing in the secondary.