It is officially August, we are a week into 2018 NFL training camps…and tonight, the preseason kicks off with the Hall of Fame Game between the Ravens and the Bears. And a week from tonight, the rest of the league will join in the preseason festivities. We will talk about the Hall of Fame game later on in the program, but first, we’re going to discuss some of the major storylines of the first week of training camp. And joining us to do just that is my right-hand man, Hal Bent of BostonSportPage.com.
Hal’s Twitter handle: @halbent01
- Not only is Khalil Mack holding out of Raiders camp….but a: the Raiders have not held any talks with his camp since February and b: when asked if the defense can function without Mack, Jon Gruden said “our defense wasn’t good last year, even with Khalil Mack.” While that may be true, I personally believe that that comment reflects tealeaves on this front…and those tealeaves suggest to me that Khalil Mack’s days as a Raider might be numbered. What is your interpretation of that situation, Hal?
- As expected, Aaron Donald is holding out from Rams camp. In addition, Adam Schefter reported last week that some around the league believe that the 2017 DPOY won’t play another snap until he gets a new contract. If you’re Aaron Donald, seeing that Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley have already gotten paid, and you are still yet to get paid until after Week 1, how many regular season games would you be willing to miss? If you’re the Rams, do you do everything you can to get a deal done before Week 1?
- Roquan Smith is the lone 2018 draft pick yet to sign his rookie contract…and he is unlikely to sign it any time soon. Earlier this week, the reason why this game of chicken between Smith and the Bears shows no sign of slowing down was said to be because of the controversial new helmet rule approved by the owners this past spring. Smith’s camp wants language in the contract that will prevent the Bears from voiding the guaranteed money in the event he gets suspended for violating that rule, which in my opinion, is very vague and might be eventually rendered unenforceable. The Bears, however, as just reported by David Haugh of the Tribune, say that a behavior clause (which relates to off-the-field behavior), is what’s holding this up as opposed to the helmet rule. Haugh went on to report that the Bears actually HAVE conceded that the guaranteed $$ would be off limits in the event of a helmet rule-related suspension. This situation just keeps getting more confusing by the day. Who do you believe…Smith’s camp or the Bears?
- There is some uncertainty in the Patriots WR corps compared to the past few years. Julian Edelman is suspended the first four games of the season, and the depth chart behind Chris Hogan is a mystery right now. Kenny Britt is on PUP, Jordan Matthews was placed on IR today, Malcolm Mitchell is being shopped, and yesterday, they worked out Eric Decker. So far in training camp, which WR’s not named Edelman or Hogan are making a case for a healthy role in the offense?
- According to head coach Hue Jackson, Baker Mayfield has exceeded all expectations in training camp thus far, but he remains absolutely adamant that Tyrod Taylor will start Week 1. So, let’s assume that Taylor is set in stone as the starter in Week 1. However, if Mayfield translates his training camp performance to preseason play…how short of a leash should Tyrod Taylor be on?
- So far in training camp, no team has been hurt more by the injury bug than the Carolina Panthers. Both OT Daryl Williams, arguably their best OL, and Ross Cockrell, who was expected to be a starting corner for them, suffered injuries that are likely season-ending. When you add those injuries to a core with aging parts (Thomas Davis, Greg Olsen, Ryan Kalil)…does it make you more convinced that the Panthers are the most likely NFC playoff team from last year to be on the outside looking in this season?
- Things might be going from bad to worse in Seattle. After the offseason that saw the dissolution of the Legion of Boom, Earl Thomas is not at camp and is unlikely to report any time soon, DE Dion Jordan (who they’re counting out to replace Cliff Avril) is apparently suffering from a similar ailment that sidelined Raiders CB Gareon Conley for nearly the entire 2017 campaign, and Doug Baldwin will likely be sidelined for the entire preseason with a knee injury. Yesterday, NFL insider Benjamin Allbright predicted that the Seahawks would have the worst record in the NFL this season. How bad can it get for the Super Bowl XLVIII champions in 2018?
- So far, the word out of Colts camp is that Andrew Luck has been superb. The rapport between TY Hilton and him has essentially picked up right where it left off (they connected five times in practice on Wednesday). I obviously want to wait and see if Luck’s progress translates to the field in preseason, but there is another person in this equation that can’t be discounted…Frank Reich. Everybody that was excited by the play calling of Andy Reid and Doug Pederson last year is obviously excited to see how Matt Nagy utilizes that playbook in Chicago. Frank Reich is obviously part of that same coaching tree. Do you think those same people should be hopeful that Frank Reich can successfully turn around Andrew Luck’s career and make him into that Hall of Fame caliber QB we all believed he could be coming out of Stanford?
- Week 1 Training Camp Standouts
- What are you watching for in tomorrow night’s Hall of Fame game between the Ravens and Bears?
Thank you Hal…and that’s it for today here on Sports Krunch, but we’ll be back next week with a look at the first full week of preseason action and a LOT more…so stay tuned! Meanwhile, be sure to check out the episode archive as well as an up-to-date blog of mine at SportsKrunch.com!! And if you enjoy these podcast episodes please consider leaving us an iTunes review and donating to our Patreon at Patreon.com/SportsKrunch so we can improve our iTunes ranking and afford to produce even more shows with awesome guests like Hal.
For Hal Bent our producer Chris Brodhead, this is David Kromelow saying so long, and as usual, stay awesome!!!