The Hall of Fame Game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars was a tasty appetizer last week, but now comes the main course. With a full schedule of preseason games on the menu beginning Thursday, teams are readying to put some of what they've been practicing on display for fans across the country.
The Buffalo Bills left the cozy confines of their college home --St. John Fisher University -- but not before a fight broke out between members of the offensive and defensive lines.Kansas City Chiefsquarterback Patrick Mahomes is getting acclimated with his new receivers. The tallest Green Bay Packers player is making his sizable presence felt. And the Indianapolis Colts continue to enjoy good luck on the injury front.
Things are picking up throughout the NFL. Who else made a mark Thursday? Who got dinged up? Who had the most fun?
Here's what you need to know from camps across the league:
What our NFL Nation reporters saw today
Carolina Panthers:Matt Rhule still won't say whether Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold will start Saturday's preseason opener at Washington, but the coach said both will play one series. The same for most of his starters, although second-year cornerback Jaycee Horn (foot) won't play. The staff wants Horn at full speed for next week's joint practices at New England on Tuesday and Wednesday.
As for Thursday night's FanFest at Bank of America Stadium, neither Mayfield nor Darnold was sharp. Darnold had a pick-six by cornerback CJ Henderson. Mayfield was erratic at times. Rhule said it was hard to judge because of the atmosphere but admitted "it wasn't great today.'' -- David Newton
Las Vegas Raiders: While Nate Hobbs enjoyed a standout rookie season as the Raiders' slot cornerback last season, injuries forced him to play more on the outside in camp. Hobbs has not shirked the responsibility. In fact, he has been asking to take one-on-one reps against Davante Adams and has more than held his own against the best receiver in the NFL.
"Oh, man, they've been going at it," said quarterback Derek Carr. "Everybody knows how I feel about 'Tae, being one of my best friends. But Nate, I tell him all the time, 'I'm so proud of you. Keep working. Keep going.' He's not backing down ... that's one thing I love and respect about Nate. He's flashed a lot of talent and ability, so hopefully that translates into the season." -- Paul Gutierrez
Denver Broncos: RB Melvin Gordon III's foot injury has given Mike Boone some additional snaps in practice this week and could allow one of the team's younger backs, such as Arvada, Colorado, native Max Borghi, to get noticed.
Gordon has been held out of practice two days this past week and will not play in Saturday's preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys (few of the Broncos' regulars are expected to play in the game, healthy or not).
Javonte Williams has worked throughout the offseason program into training camp as the team's top back, and Gordon, early on in camp, made it clear he was ready to carve out a role in the offense, especially as a receiver out of the backfield.
Gordon's injury will not change that plan, but it gives Boone a pile of snaps as the No. 2 back and allows other players, like the rookie Borghi, to be put in situations they would not otherwise have had the opportunity to experience.-- Jeff Legwold
Minnesota Vikings:QB Kirk Cousins' illness left the Vikings with two quarterbacks for their full-pads practice Thursday afternoon.
Sean Mannion and Kellen Mond split first-team reps, with Mannion generally getting the first crack at each possession in 11-on-11 drills, but both quarterbacks had some shaky moments.
Mannion's first pass was tipped, his second was nearly intercepted and he was forced to throw his third ball in the dirt when Za'Darius Smith got around left tackle Christian Darrisaw on what would have been a sack in a live situation. However, he later unleashed two strong throws over the middle toJustin Jefferson.
Mond dropped a snap from under center, continuing a worrisome trend that has reared its head during various points of training camp. -- Kevin Seifert
Seattle Seahawks: Chris Carson's retirement plus Rashaad Penny's long injury history andKen Walker III's strong start to camp have made it clear that the rookie will have a big role in the Seahawks' backfield.
The point was hammered home Tuesday, with Penny sidelined again during the team's walk-through and coach Pete Carroll offering a glowing assessment of Walker afterward.
"[Running backs coach Chad Morton] challenged him right from the beginning," Carroll said. "... So he could play all three downs and we would feel comfortable with it."
Walker caught only 19 passes in three college seasons, but his receiving skills have also stood out in camp.
As for Penny, Carroll said he's "feeling a little bit of groin tightness, so we're just taking care of him."-- Brady Henderson
Buffalo Bills:Dorm life has officially come to end for the Buffalo Bills in 2022 with the team holding the final practice at St. John Fisher University on Thursday. The Bills are one of seven teams to have gone away from their home facilities for training camp this year, and coach Sean McDermott said that he would "love" for the team to return to Rochester, New York, in the future. There is no contract currently in place for next year. Quarterback Josh Allen also is a fan of the team going away to a college campus.
"I love camp. I love hanging out with the guys. It's an awesome atmosphere to be around, especially when you have the type of guys that we have in our locker room, guys that genuinely love and care about each other."
McDermott said that Allen will not be playing in the team's first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday. The first-team offense and defense had a much more physical practice Thursday, including tackling and a fight sparked between defensive tackle Ed Oliver and left tackle Dion Dawkins, while the second team and third team had more of a walk-through ahead of the first preseason game. -- Alaina Getzenberg
Kansas City Chiefs:The Chiefs conducted their final practice session before Saturday's preseason opener against theChicago Bears.Patrick Mahomes won't play more than a quarter but will get his chance to throw to a mostly new group of wide receivers for the first time in game conditions. JuJu Smith-Schuster has been a favorite target during training camp and the two connected on a handful of completions on Thursday. As for his goals against the Bears, Mahomes said, "I like to get in there and get hit one time. Once you get hit one time and kind of see what it is to get hit again as a quarterback, you're kind of good to go.'' -- Adam Teicher
New York Jets:The Jets' starters will play a series or two Friday night against thePhiladelphia Eagles, according to coach Robert Saleh. DE Carl Lawson, nearly one year removed from Achilles surgery, will play -- a mild surprise. So much for easing him back slowly. Saleh said the Jets will be smart with Lawson, who hasn't missed a practice, but they also don't want to keep him in "bubble wrap."
Lawson, who signed a three-year, $45 million contract last year, said it will be a "confidence boost" to play Friday. He said he has "ridiculous expectations" for himself in 2022, adding, "I want it all. I want to do something that's not supposed to be possible." -- Rich Cimini
Green Bay Packers:It's hard not to notice rookie tackle Caleb Jones. After all, he's the tallest player in Packers camp at 6-foot-8 3/4 (he's listed at 6-9). But it's time to take notice where the undrafted free agent is on the depth chart. At the beginning of camp, Jones was the right tackle with the No. 3 offensive line. This week, he lined up as the No. 2 left tackle, and considering the Packers don't have David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins yet, Jones might be making a legitimate run at an opening-day roster spot.
"Everyone wants to talk about his size, [but] he's a little bit better foot athlete than I think people give him credit for," Packers GM Brian Gutekunst said. "You've got to give him a lot of credit, he's made the most of his opportunities."
In the one-on-one pass-blocking drill, he has a 10-4 record. Anytime he has gotten has hands on the rusher, he has stopped him. And after dropping his weight from 370 at his pro day to 338 at his most recent weigh-in, Jones has improved his mobility.
"At this position nowadays every guy I'm trying to block runs a 4.4, and it's really done wonders being able to have my weight down," Jones said.
When asked if there were any tall tackles he has studied or tried to emulate, Jones laughed and said: "It's really tough because there's not very many." -- Rob Demovsky
Washington Commanders:Washington ran a relatively light practice Thursday as it prepares for Saturday's preseason opener vs. the Carolina Panthers. The starters, including quarterback Carson Wentz, will play 15 to 20 snaps.
Saturday will be a good chance for rookie quarterback Sam Howell to display what he has learned thus far. Howell, a fifth-round pick who is firmly the No. 3 quarterback in camp, has steadily progressed. He'll play most of the second half. He mostly has been confined to the pocket in practice as he gets used to the timing and rhythm of a play, but Saturday he'll be able to showcase more of his athletic ability when a play breaks down. But what coach Ron Rivera really wants to see is how Howell handles two-minute situations, should one arise. To prepare him, the Commanders had Howell run a two-minute drill against a scout team defense on Thursday. -- John Keim
Indianapolis Colts:The Colts spent a majority of last season's training camp piecing together an offensive line as four of their eventual five starters missed time with injuries.
In this training camp, the Colts have had incredible injury fortune up front, with all five members of the starting unit participating in each of the team's practices so far.
"It's been great," All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson said. "I'm feeling great with the offensive line that we have."
Nelson missed nearly all of training camp in 2021 after undergoing foot surgery. Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly and right tackle Braden Smith also were sidelined at times during that camp. That was a precursor to a regular season marked by rampant injuries within the unit and underperformance for what had been one of the league's elite lines.
Nelson, in particular, is healthy and seems primed for a big season after a mentally taxing 2021.
"It's definitely freeing," Nelson said. "[Health] is something you don't take for granted again."-- Stephen Holder
Pittsburgh Steelers:Despite being two days away from their first preseason game, the Steelers practiced in pads Thursday afternoon and had several live tackling drills. The highlight was running backs versus defensive backs and linebackers, and training camp signee Master Teague was a force against the Steelers defenders. Teague and rookie linebacker Mark Robinson ended the drill going at it three times in a row. Teague won the first matchup, Robinson the second, and the third was hotly contested, with both sides claiming a victory. With Benny Snell missing practice and Najee Harris still limited, Teague and the rest of the backup running backs got another long look, and Teague, Jaylen Warren and Anthony McFarland all had good days. -- Brooke Pryor
Top NFL news of the day
James White retiring from NFL after eight seasons
The longtime New England Patriots running back announced his retirement from the NFL on Thursday, saying it was "an honor to represent" the franchise.
Tom Brady away from Tampa Bay Buccaneers to 'deal with some personal things'
Brady will be away from the team for a period of time, coach Todd Bowles said Thursday.Bowles said Brady's absence was discussed in advance and that he will return after next week's preseason game against the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 20.
Chicago Bears WR N'Keal Harry undergoes ankle surgery
Harry underwent surgery on his left ankle Thursday and will be sidelined for an unspecified amount of time, according to coach Matt Eberflus.
- Sources: Mac Jones, most New England Patriots starters not expected to play in preseason opener
- Denver Broncos name NFL executive Damani Leech new team president