Training camp coverage marks return to NFL football action

There is no such thing as downtime for the folks who run NFL Network. They have spent considerable work during the summer months cloistered in meetings over preparations for the upcoming season. The exercise is necessary, but it also can seem endless. So that is why the antsy crew always looks forward to the sounds of NFL training camps.

"Once we hear that first, 'Hut, hut, hut,' everyone gets in their groove," said Scott Henry, coordinating producer for NFL Network's training camp coverage. "That's the sound we've been waiting for. We just want to get on the air and go."

Added Mark Quenzel, NFL Media's senior vice president of programming and production: "It's nice to get to the point where we're actually playing some football."

All of the planning sessions have NFL Network more than primed and ready. From July 26 through Aug. 10, the network will blanket the training camps of all 32 teams with 206 hours of live coverage. Then, beginning with the New Orleans-New England game on Aug. 11, it will show all 65 preseason games, 16 of them airing live.

The priority during training camp, Henry said, is to provide viewers with plenty of action and reports from all 32 teams. He said there will be as many as 100 live remotes. "Inside Training Camp Live" features nine hours of live coverage each day starting at 10 a.m. ET.

Unlike in previous years, when the programming was more studio-based, NFL Network crews will spend an unprecedented amount of time at the camps. Hosts and analysts such as Andrew Siciliano, Brian Baldinger, Rhett Lewis and Charley Casserly will visit 14 teams as part of the road show. Starting Aug. 1, "Inside Training Camp Live" will originate from a series of teams' camps, including the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys.

"Our goal is to get to as many camps as possible to show as much live football as possible," Henry said. "We're going to try to provide access to things you can't see anywhere else."

To that extent, NFL Network is launching its "Back 2 Camp" feature this year. Former players Kurt Warner (who visited the Rams), Michael Robinson (Seahawks), Maurice Jones-Drew (Jaguars) and Ike Taylor (Steelers) revisited their old teams and teammates during offseason minicamps.

"Michael Robinson was watching the Seahawks work out, and he's going, 'I don't miss this,' " Henry said. "It's fun to see the relationships and the reactions of the players."

Yet, even with all the planning, Henry said NFL Network will be ready to deviate from the script if -- make that when -- news breaks. Last year, the network devoted two straight hours of reports when Jets quarterback Geno Smith suffered a broken jaw in an altercation with then-teammate IK Enemkpali.

All of the training camp coverage leads up to NFL Network's first live preseason game: the New Orleans Saints at the New England Patriots on Aug. 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Quenzel said intense planning to put together a package of 16 live games began "five minutes after the schedule was announced."

During the preseason, the NFL only designates the opponents. It is up to the teams to figure out which days and times they'll play on.

"We have to insert ourselves into the conversations," Quenzel said. "We want to make sure we get good windows for doubleheaders on a night. The teams are great, but it requires some work to figure it out."

On top of the live games, NFL Network also will show replays of every other preseason game multiple times. On some days, there will be 10 hours of games using the local telecasts produced by the various teams.

As for the games that air live, Quenzel said the focus will be on emerging storylines. He expects there will be plenty of interest in the Kansas City-Los Angeles game (Aug. 20, 9 p.m. ET) as fans tune in to see No. overall 1 pick Jared Goff and the Rams' return to Los Angeles.

Normally, a Saints-Patriots game would feature limited action from Tom Brady in the preseason opener. But the dynamic changes with Brady's looming four-game suspension to open the season.

"When Brady goes out, Jimmy Garoppolo comes in," Quenzel said. "Now it gets interesting, because Garoppolo will be the Patriots starting quarterback [for the regular-season opener]."

All told, the volume of training camp coverage and the preseason games should get fantasy players ready for their drafts and everyone back in football mode.

"If you're an NFL fan, you're going to love it," Henry said.

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