Mandatory minicamps open for 24 teams Tuesday, which marks the final three days of offseason workouts before shutting down until training camp in late July.
While these minicamps are mandatory, little else changes from the "voluntary" organized team activities that have been taken place. Minicamps remain non-contact, no pads. Teams can conduct "live" offense vs. defense drills as part of their installations.
While we can glean little substance from men running around in shorts in June, there are some storylines worth tracking. Let's take a gander at one thing to watch for all 24 teams:
Dan Quinn's defense will be under the microscope in Year 2. The front seven needed a blast of toughness and playmaking. The addition of Derrick Shelby flew under the radar as a great signing that should immediately boost a meager run defense. However, the Falcons did little to upgrade the pass rush. Vic Beasley is moving to the SAM linebacker role. Keep an eye on how much coaches have the team's best pass rusher drop in coverage, even during pad-less practices.
Cam Newton won the MVP award without his best receiver for the entire season. Kelvin Benjamin is back. We'll track how much the Panthers put their No. 1 wideout through. Keeping it cautious with a key player is prudent in June. While getting some timing back with Newton is important, it's more vital Benjamin is full-go during training camp and not suffer a setback that could jeopardize the start of his season.
The Bears rebuilt their leaky defensive front seven in a jiffy and could be a sneaky underrated group in 2016, but the back end looks terrible on paper. Kyle Fuller is the clear No. 1 with a soon-to-be 30-year-old Tracy Porter the No. 2. Counting too much on Porter is a dangerous game. The competition for the nickel job should start in earnest. Questions at the safety spot behind Adrian Amos must be answered.
Tony Romo's return, Ezekiel Elliott's touch count, Dez Bryant's in-shapeness, yada, yada, yada. The Cowboys' offense gets the headline, but the key this season will be the defense. The lack of pass rushers is troubling -- who will scare a quarterback, at least until suspension are up? Don't dismiss Dallas' back end. Byron Jones will move to safety full time and has the ability to drop down in coverage. How creative the Cowboys' coaches are moving around the second-year player is an intriguing plotline to watch this early in the process.
Replacing Calvin Johnson is a long-term question. The Lions are still signing bit receivers to fill out the unit behind Marvin Jones and Golden Tate, so it's not an answer we'll get anytime soon. The more pressing question will be the offensive line, which was horrendous last season. Will Taylor Decker remain at left tackle all minicamp? Sans hitting, it's hard to judge a young o-lineman. And how will the Lions manage their disastrous center situation? (Who thought Detroit fans would yearn for the days of Dominic Raiola?)
Green Bay Packers
Jeff Janis Watch! The most beloved minicamp receiver in the NFL will get another chance to dazzle against pad-less, contract-free defenses. The Packers are primed for an explosive season, but the receiving depth chart has some sorting out. Davante Adams, Janis and Ty Montgomery are all fighting for snaps. Has Janis' route running improved enough to earn a full-time role? Or will his magical playoff performance slide forever into Green Bay lore?
If the Vikings are to make the leap for good to great, they'll need more production from the passing game. To that end, it'll be important to watch rookie Laquon Treadwell's progress the rest of the summer. The Vikes desperately need toughness in the wideout corps. Treadwell can provide tough catches against close coverage, but will he struggle to grasp the offense right away or step immediately into the starting role? Are the roster spots of Charles Johnson and Cordarrelle Patterson in jeopardy?
New Orleans Saints
The Saints defense bears watching -- specifically the lack of pass rushers. But what I really want to know more about is Michael Thomas' role in the offense. Can the big-bodied Thomas take over the Marques Colston role from the jump? Thomas boasts strong hands and should see plenty of red-zone targets. Will his rapport with Drew Brees continue to grow or struggle during the summer months?
New York Giants
Who is going to run the ball for the Giants? Rashad Jennings is the underwhelming leader in the clubhouse. Andre Williams very well could be cut at some point. Shane Vereen is more pass-catcher than runner. Orleans Darkwa is Orleans Darkwa. Bobby Rainey doesn't display an ability to carry the load. There is a good argument to be made that rookie Paul Perkins is the most talented back on the roster, but he missed workouts all offseason due to the silly college graduation rule. This situation needs to sort itself out.
With Thomas Rawls still rehabbing a broken foot, can the rookies force their way into early snaps this season with a good minicamp and training camp? C.J. Prosise seems destined to be a third-down passing compliment, but could he carve out a bigger role? Fifth-round pick Alex Collins has the best chance to use offseason work to earn more snaps. Collins could pass enigmatic Christine Michael for early-down snaps and lock down the backup role entering the season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs tight ends were going to be interesting to watch even before Austin Seferian-Jenkins got kicked off the field last week. The second-round pick has been an injury magnet in two seasons and could be close to the end of his time in Tampa. Cameron Brate displayed great rapport with Jameis Winston and could lock down the starting gig with solid work in minicamp and training camp. We'll also be watching to see if ASJ gets kicked off the field, again.
The Redskins own one of the deepest pass-catching units in the NFL, how will Jay Gruden juggle the group? How much (if any) work will rookie Josh Doctson get during minicamp? With DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder all returning, whose snaps will get cut? Tight end Niles Paul also returns from injury, how will the Redskins integrate the athletic blocking and receiver TE back into the rotation behind Jordan Reed? There are a lot of mouths to feed on Washington's offense, how Kirk Cousins manages them will be an intriguing plotline.
-- Kevin Patra
Trent Richardson! The former No. 3 overall pick will be competing for carries against Terrance West, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Javorius Allen and others. Standing out at running back during a light-contact training camp and minicamp is one of the most difficult things to do in football, so the onus will be on Richardson to stand out mentally. How quickly can he lock down protections and passing plays?
Will Stephon Gilmore be a willing participant? Rex Ryan has seen underpaid cornerbacks go down with phantom hamstring injuries in an effort to get their point across. Gilmore was a higher pick than Darrelle Revis and played better than Revis did a year ago. He could very likely meet or top Josh Norman's recent five-year deal in Washington, but for now he plays the waiting game.
How is Brock Osweiler commanding his new arsenal of weapons? Osweiler now has Will Fuller, DeAndre Hopkins and Braxton Miller at his disposal, not to mention a new center -- Nick Martin -- who is expected to be a Day One starter. Houston paid Brock Osweiler more than $70 million for his ability to manage all this talent. Will it run smoothly?
Who lines up where on defense? Per NFL Media's Jeff Darlington, Tuesday was the first day No. 4 pick Jalen Ramsey, second-round linebacker Myles Jack and 2015 first-round pass rusher Dante Fowler were on the field at the same time together. While we can't imagine Ramsey doing more than light jogging, it will be interesting to see if they plug him in on some walkthrough drills on defense. This has the chance to be the most improved defense in football this year, but a lot of dice rolls need to go Jacksonville's way.
Kansas City Chiefs:
Will Reshad Jones change his mind? The Dolphins are already without Mario Williams for minicamp (personal issue), but will they also be missing arguably their best player? Per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, Jones does not plan to attend any team functions until a new deal is signed. There is one quick out for this, but will VP Mike Tannenbaum cave to demands?
New York Jets:
How does Geno Smith look? As the most boring contractual impasse in recent memory trudges on between the Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith is the star of the show. The butt (and face) of countless jokes, Smith may have to seriously take some snaps from behind center this season. All of a sudden, a roster loaded with veteran talent is counting on the second-round pick to lead.
Will Ryan Harris lock down the left tackle job? The Steelers have opened the position up for competition but signed 31-year-old Ryan Harris to a deal with the intention of pushing Alejandro Villanueva. While there are plenty of other storylines to watch, including the development of Sammie Coates at wide receiver, only one has a direct impact on the health of Ben Roethlisberger.
Who is penciled in at right tackle? Oakland will likely let raw prospect Menelik Watson push Austin Howard for the starting job on the right side. While this may not seem fascinating to the typical fan, Oakland should have one of the best offensive lines (on paper) in the NFL this season. A misfire at right tackle, however, could ruin some lofty plans for the Raiders' offense.
San Diego Chargers:
What will the team say about Joey Bosa? Speaking of boring contract impasses, the Chargers and Bosa are currently at odds over the very exciting world of offset language. It hasn't been a stellar introduction into the NFL for Bosa thus far, and now he might end up missing significant -- and valuable -- time while the rest of a potentially-loaded defense moves on without him.
How does the exotic smashmouth look? More and more, we're thinking that Tennessee's offense will look a bit like Chip Kelly's in Philadelphia last year (sorry, DeMarco Murray). The team is loaded with downhill runners who could set up an enticing run/pass option for Marcus Mariota in the shotgun. Time will tell if its nearly as effective.
-- Conor Orr