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What We Learned From the First Days of NFL Training Camp

Getty Images
Getty Images

The start of NFL training camp typically brings with it an eclectic mix of news dumps, with players, coaches, and executives meeting the media for the first time in weeks. Thirty teams have opened camp (the 49ers and the Texans start on Saturday), and the resulting headlines have run the gamut from run-of-the-mill contract drama to Bill Belichick invoking the Son of God. As we head into the weekend, here’s what’s catching our eye on practice gridirons across the country:

1. Barring divine intervention, Tom Brady will be the Patriots’ starting quarterback in Week 5.

Belichick confirmed as much by muttering “Jesus Christ” in response to a reporter’s question about whether Jimmy Garoppolo could unseat Brady after the four-game Deflategate suspension, ending the most lopsided quarterback competition of all time:

But let’s not bury the lede here: Belichick showed up to training camp in a motherfucking sleeveless sweatshirt. Dude will always and forever be a fashion icon. Now he just needs a barbed-wire tattoo on his wondrously exposed biceps, a trucker hat, and a can of Monster to complete the look.

2. Redskins GM Scot McCloughan wasn’t pleased to hear about Josh Doctson’s Achilles injury.

Naturally, McCloughan was quite upset to learn that his prized rookie wideout would start camp on the PUP list. What’s notable here is that the second-year GM took out his frustrations on a goddamn wall, landing a punch that resulted in an undisclosed hand injury. On the one hand, this seems like an unhealthy reaction to a regular workplace occurrence — if McCloughan punched a wall every time a Redskins player got hurt, he’d require an amputation by Week 4. On the other hand, he has the misfortune of working with Dan Snyder, so his anger issues are at least understandable. (The other hand is fine, by the way — for now.)

McCloughan attended practice with a large wrap on his hand, and former tight end Chris Cooley claims that Doctson’s injury is less severe than initially thought. (No, front-office execs aren’t allowed on the PUP list.)

3. Bosa Watch has officially begun.

As one of just two remaining unsigned first-round picks (and it looks like the other, 49ers guard Joshua Garnett, will be getting a deal done soon), Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa didn’t report to camp today. Per NFL Network’s Steve Wyche, the impasse revolves around “bonus payout timing and offset language,” characterized by San Diego GM Tom Telesco as “small, fundamental differences.” A contract doesn’t seem to be particularly close, even though rookie holdouts have been exceedingly rare since the NFL introduced a wage scale based on draft position in 2011. With Bosa, we might actually get one! Savor this moment, football historians!

4. Geno Smith is treating this training camp like an audition.

This comes straight from the horse’s mouth … literally:

In light of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s signing, Smith understands that this summer is all about putting “things … on tape for a lot of people.” When all you’re trying to do is ball out in training camp, you can’t be bothered trying to quote Young Thug accurately. What, exactly, he’s trying to put on tape, and who will be interested enough to watch, remains unclear. If Geno isn’t able to find a suitor, though, we’ll always have Week 17 of the 2014 season, when he accrued a godlike 158.3 passer rating in a win over the Dolphins.

5. The Denard Robinson story is getting weirder.

Apparently, Robinson wasn’t impaired when he was found asleep behind the wheel of his car in a pond on July 3. He was just … really tired? The police had to convince Robinson that his car was sinking. The Jaguars running back was issued a careless driving citation on July 10, which took him by surprise. The investigation is ongoing. “You read what you read. I don’t want to go against it,” Robinson told the media on Friday. Well, that clears everything up. Looks like we’re done here. Thanks, Denard! (Note: Robinson may be a deep sleeper IRL, but that doesn’t make him one in fantasy football.)