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What we learned: Six underrated camp stories

Last year's most expensive free-agent signing gave virtually no return on the dollar in 2014. He's been absolutely missing in action in training camp this year. And yet no one outside of New Orleans has seemed to notice.

The signing of Jairus Byrd should not be forgotten when examining the Saints' recent front office misfires. He missed most of camp last year after a surprise back surgery, and then played poorly for a month of the regular season before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Byrd hasn't practiced at all in camp, although no one will say why.

"I think he's progressing well," coach Sean Payton said Wednesday, without saying what exactly Byrd is progressing from.

Byrd's injury got us thinking. What are some of the most underrated stories of camp thus far? To the list!

Six more underrated camp stories

  1. The best player on the Miami Dolphins offense last season -- by a wide margin -- might not be ready for Week 1. Tackle Branden Albert has been lightly practicing at training camp and the team seems very unsure whether he'll be ready for the start of the season.
  1. We all thought that Hakeem Nicks was an outstanding gamble by the Indianapolis Colts in free agency last year. It didn't work out, and his signing in Tennessee felt like an afterthought. After a splashy start to camp, it sounds like Nicks could wind up edging ahead of Justin Hunter, Harry Douglas and rookie Dorial Green-Beckham on the depth chart. The effusive praise for rookie Marcus Mariota thus far in camp feels exaggerated, but this passing attack is undeniably more interesting this season. DGB's slow start to camp, filled with drops, makes us wonder if he'll be on the field much.
  1. The Patriots running back battle involves James White, Travaris Cadet, Jonas Gray and Dion Lewis all with legitimate chances to be the first running back on the field for the team in Week 1. That group makes the Cowboys backfield look accomplished.
  1. Packers rookie receiver Ty Montgomery has been opening eyes and impressing in Green Bay. The Press-Gazette believes that he's outplayed ballyhooed Davante Adamsearly in training camp.
  1. Clay Matthews is truly sticking at inside linebacker. While it's certainly not underreported in Green Bay -- home to the best local coverage of any team in football -- Matthews' switch to the inside was not expected to be such a lasting solution. Matthews will certainly rush the passer some and move outside at times, but the disappointing start to camp for other Packers inside linebackers indicates he's not staying on the outside anytime soon.
  1. Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden has the first round pedigree and the big name ... but he's still behind second-year players like Keith McGill and T.J. Carrie on the depth chart. That has to be hugely disappointing for general manager Reggie McKenzie.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast features Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo sharing his thoughts on the upcoming season.

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