NFL training camp updates 2022: Matthew Stafford, Najee Harris manage minor stings

ByESPN staff via ESPN logo
Tuesday, August 2, 2022 1:25AM
ESPN

For most teams, Monday marked the first day players suited up in pads at 2022 NFL training camps, a sure sign that things are getting real ahead of Thursday's Hall of Fame Game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

It's the first time that some players hit the field for practice. San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel made his camp debut after inking athree-year contract extension worth up to $73.5 million. Denver Broncos receiver KJ Hamler returned from his torn left ACL, and Carolina Panthers second-year cornerback Jaycee Horn was back in action after breaking his right foot during his rookie campaign. Neither of them played after Week 3 last season because of their injuries.Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow also made his first appearance in camp, but didn't suit up for practice.

With the pads on, things are picking up throughout the NFL. Who made a mark Monday? 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

Seattle Seahawks:Geno Smith is still ahead of Drew Lock in the battle to replace Russell Wilson. That was clear during the offseason program and has continued through the Seahawks' first four practices of training camp.

Lock, acquired from Denver in the Wilson trade, said he's focused on making the most out of the work he's getting with the No. 2 offense and will "let time sort it all out."

Neither quarterback had a good day Monday as the defense dominated the offense in the most lopsided practice of camp. It was highlighted by Uchenna Nwosu's athletic interception of Smith on the first play of seven-on-seven, which prompted the defense to erupt in celebration.

"I felt like they came out with a little more juice than we had today," Smith said. "You could see them talking smack ... It's about how we respond. I look forward to tomorrow's practice." -- Brady Henderson

Los Angeles Rams: Matthew Stafford did not throw during team drills on Monday, something coach Sean McVay said was because the team wanted to lessen his workload. McVay said Stafford is "still feeling a little bit of pain," but "it's not something that we're concerned about." Stafford didn't throw during the team's spring workouts after he had an injection in his right elbow for an injury he played through for part of last season. McVay emphasized that Stafford could push through the pain, but that the Rams want to be smart and "take it a week at a time" during training camp.

"The most important thing is for him feeling good and healthy on September 8," McVay said. "We could certainly push and he could really grind through this but that's not the goal with somebody like him. It's not something that we're concerned about. We just want to be really smart with somebody that is as important as our quarterback is." -- Sarah Barshop

Pittsburgh Steelers: Second-year running back Najee Harris got stepped on in an early team period and didn't participate the rest of the day. Afterward, coach Mike Tomlin said it "shouldn't be a major deal." Harris limped off about an hour into practice, putting little weight on his left foot and was examined by head athletic trainer John Norwig. Harris eventually put his socks and shoes back on and rejoined the team on the sideline, but didn't return to practice. -- Brooke Pryor

San Francisco 49ers: The Niners had a little extra bounce in their step Monday after do-everything offensive star Deebo Samuel returned to the fold a very wealthy man. Samuel signed his three-year extension worth up to $73.5 million on Monday morning and then was on the field in pads with his teammates for the first time this camp. Samuel will be eased back in after working solely on conditioning as he awaited a new deal. Of most importance, Samuel appears to have reported in excellent shape and won't need much time to get up to speed (pun unmercifully intended). "He's been hitting all his speeds and stuff, so we feel good about his conditioning," coach Kyle Shanahan said. "I always worry just throwing a guy in with the amount of routes because routes are different. So, we'll ease him in, and he won't be 100% with the reps that he would normally get, but we'll increase it each day and watch how he is once he gets in those reps." Samuel did manage a couple of catches for big gains from backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld in team drills, drawing loud cheers from fans in attendance. -- Nick Wagoner

Miami Dolphins: Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa continued to look calm and decisive as a passer. He did throw a red zone interception to cornerbackTrill Williams after a miscommunication with receiverJaylen Waddle, but he and Waddle connected for a touchdown earlier in practice with All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard draped all over the receiver. Tagovailoa's accuracy has been a highlight of his camp so far, as has been his willingness and ability to throw the deep ball -- something he did not do much of during the 2021 season. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

New York Jets: The Zach Wilson-led offense sputtered in its first true test of training camp -- a "live" 11-on-11 at the end of practice. The Jets call it a "move the ball" period, but Wilson & Co. certainly didn't move the ball. Two possessions, two three-and-outs. "Not so hot," offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said. Coach Robert Saleh claimed the "defense was on fire," which is what you'd expect a defensive-minded coach to say. It was another lackluster practice for the second-year quarterback Wilson, who couldn't get much going after a long touchdown pass to receiverElijah Moore at the start of practice. LaFleur said Wilson is making daily, nuanced improvement in his game. -- Rich Cimini

Atlanta Falcons: There wasn't the big pop you usually see from the first day of padded practices with the Falcons, but it was obvious how good of a player defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is once the pads came on. Jarrett, it seemed like, was in the backfield and making massive differences against the Falcons' offensive line throughout the first day with pads. It would have been more noticeable had the Falcons been allowed to take players to the ground -- they aren't -- but Jarrett became a constant disruption to offensive consistency against left guard Elijah Wilkinson and center Drew Dalman, who were with the first team Monday as they compete with Jalen Mayfield (left guard) and Matt Hennessy (center) for starting roles. -- Michael Rothstein

Washington Commanders:Receiver Curtis Samuel, who played just five games last season because of a groin injury and later a hamstring injury, did not practice Monday. Washington started reducing his workload in practice late last week. Coach Ron Rivera said Samuel is not dealing with any groin issues, but they want to take it slowly with him. They first wanted to see where he was physically early in camp. On the second day, he cut sharply after a catch to create extra yards. However, since then, he hasn't done much in full-team drills. "It's all about the plan," Rivera said. "[After] looking at him, there was a little concern about football conditioning and shape. You can condition all you want, but to come back and do some things you want to do, you have to be smart about it." The good news for Washington: Running back Antonio Gibson did return to full-team work after being limited with a minor hamstring issue last week. -- John Keim

Tennessee Titans:Rookie cornerback Roger McCreary had a really good day. McCreary broke up five passes during team and 7-on-7 periods. He also had sticky coverage during one-on-ones, where he has consistently been matched up against first-round draft pick Treylon Burks. "Our main focus is to get each other better," McCreary said after practice. "If he makes a good play, I tell him, 'Good job.' We talk back and forth."-- Turron Davenport

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs got a scare when quarterbackPatrick Mahomes received attention from the trainers on the sideline after being stepped on by a teammate late in practice. Mahomes left one play before the end of his scheduled time, and he retreated to the medical tent to allow trainers to examine his left foot. He returned to the practice field in time to join his teammates for their usual post-practice stretching and running routine. Mahomes later said he would be fine, but the situation bears watching. -- Adam Teicher

Buffalo Bills: The Bills' defense was the overall winner of the team's second practice in pads -- in part thanks to the continued shuffling of the offensive line due to injuries and the corresponding strong play of the defensive line, including defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who has had a good camp. A fight broke out during Monday's session, and there were some impressive moments, but linebacker Tremaine Edmunds' interception of quarterback Josh Allen is worthy of recognition. For Edmunds to take another step forward in his fifth season and a contract year, he needs to make more splash plays, which defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said "will help propel us to another level." Toward the end of practice, the middle linebacker dropped into coverage, read Allen well and came down with a pass intended for wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Not bad for a splash play. Safety Micah Hyde also returned to practice in pads after missing one day to a hip/glute injury, but he did not participate in team drills. -- Alaina Getzenberg

Philadelphia Eagles: Rookie defensive tackle Jordan Davis opened some eyes during Monday's session. His combination of size (6-foot-6, 340 pounds), speed and other physical skills was too much for most of the lineman who went against him during one-on-one drills. Davis got work with the first team during team drills and was effective eating up double teams and generating pressure up the gut. Expect Davis, the first-round pick out of Georgia, to be an immediate contributor. -- Tim McManus

New York Giants: The full pads came on Monday for the first time at Giants practice. It still didn't seem to change much for the passing game, which continues to struggle. Quarterback Daniel Jones was 5-of-13 passing during live periods, during which wide receiver Kenny Golladay caught one short pass. They had one explosive pass -- the first time they put the ball in the air -- on a completion over the middle to rookie Wan'Dale Robinson. Still, the Giants are insistent there isn't a need to panic. It's early, and they are making progress. "I feel like there is good competition on both sides of the ball," said Golladay. "I definitely like what we're doing. [Monday] was the first day of pads, and it was good to see the running game going a little bit. Give the ball to Saquon [Barkley]. It was exciting." -- Jordan Raanan

Jacksonville Jaguars: Running back James Robinson (Achilles) hasn't yet been cleared to practice fully, so that has meant a lot of work for rookie running backSnoop Conner. The fifth-round pick out of Ole Miss had his best practice on Monday. He had two long runs, including one down the sideline, and scored on a run from inside the 10-yard line. The knock on Conner was his lack of speed (he ran 40 yards in 4.59 seconds at the combine), but he has looked quicker than anticipated at camp. Conner caught only 32 passes in three seasons at Ole Miss, but he has shown in camp that he can be a reliable pass-catcher. Even when Robinson returns (the Jaguars are hoping for mid-August), it's unrealistic to expect him to resume his normal workload for a while, and early in camp it looks like Conner might be involved more in the offense than just as a goal-line back. -- Michael DiRocco

Las Vegas Raiders: Lester Cotton Sr. has been the feel-good story of camp. Cut four times by the Raiders and having spent 2020 out of football, Cotton has been on the ascent since signing with the practice squad last season and is in line to start at right guard. "When I got released in 2020, my second year, it was a big wake-up call," Cotton said Monday. "I was out 10 months. I had to really, like, look at myself in the mirror and say, 'If this is what I'm going to do, I have to lock in and be 100%.' That's what I've been doing every day." Raiders quarterback Derek Carr recalled Cotton asking him as a rookie, in 2019, what he had to do to be a starting guard. "I said, 'Man, keep working your butt off,'" Carr recalled. "At the time, you [could] see who we had there and it was going to be hard for him. But I told Lester when we were walking to our cars yesterday, 'Lester, I'm so proud of you. Because through the cuts, through the re-signs, through this and that, new schemes, you have done nothing but put your head down.'"-- Paul Gutierrez

Green Bay Packers: All you have to do to know it's the special teams portion of training camp is listen. It'll be the loudest period of practice. It's safe to say new special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia doesn't stand for players who cut corners or don't pay attention to details. On Monday, he didn't like the way the punt team broke the huddle, so he immediately blew his whistle and ran from 30 yards down the field to make sure the group knew it. He told them -- no, screamed at them -- to get back in the huddle and come out faster to line up. It's far too soon to say whether the Packers' special teams will be any better than last season -- not that they could be much worse -- but it won't be for a lack of vociferous coaching. "I don't know if you guys can feel it," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said, "but there certainly is a purpose, an intensity when we go to those periods."-- Rob Demovsky

Carolina Panthers: Baker Mayfield perhaps showed the first sign of creating separation between him and Sam Darnold in competition for the starting quarterback job during red zone drills in the first padded practice. The former Browns starter, working with the second-team offense, threw three touchdown passes against the second-team defense. Darnold scrambled for a touchdown but didn't throw one -- although he was close once. Darnold also put the ball on the ground with a bad pitch that he owned up to by doing pushups without being told to. "I was a little ticked off after it,'' Darnold said. "I didn't know what to do, so I started doing pushups.'' The two quarterbacks will switch roles again on Tuesday, with Mayfield working with the 1s. And as coach Matt Rhule again reminded, the competition is far from over. "We're not looking at any one day for this,'' he said.-- David Newton

Cincinnati Bengals:QuarterbackJoe Burrow made his training camp debut Monday, but the third-year player coming off an appendectomy watched from inside an electric cart as the team went through practice. Bengals coach Zac Taylor said he didn't have a timetable for Burrow's return. The most entertaining part of practice featured Burrow attempting to navigate an electric scooter as his potential transportation option to watch practice. After a quick test run, he opted for the cart, which allowed him to chat with teammates and observe drills. Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd said it was good to see Burrow's return. "Every guy on the team knows he's a strong individual. And we know he overcomes adversity very well," Boyd said. "And we know he will bounce back, but he gotta get right first." -- Ben Baby

Dallas Cowboys: In the first padded practice of camp, Dak Prescott completed 17 of 23 passes in 7-on-7 and team drills Monday. He completed five of his six throws to receiverCeeDee Lamb, including one on a scramble that was purposely underthrown to keep Lamb away from the defender. The two connected on three midrange passes through traffic, with Prescott trusting Lamb would make a play. Prescott had a little bit of luck on one completion to wide receiverSimi Fehoko after the ball deflected off the hands of tight end Dalton Schultz and over a defender. -- Todd Archer

Denver Broncos:The matchup that still keeps popping up in training camp's early going is one of the best there is to see: wide receiver Courtland Sutton and cornerback Pat Surtain II going at it. It was certainly at the forefront Monday when quarterback Russell Wilson repeatedly challenged Surtain in coverage, a challenge Surtain withstood almost every time, including two pass knockdowns on throws meant for Sutton. The wideout did finally break through in a red zone period when he reeled in a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone with Surtain in close pursuit. Surtain has been one of the brightest spots for the Broncos in their first week of camp -- his composure and physical skills are continually on display -- but Wilson's willingness to challenge the Broncos' secondary all over the field, including Surtain, and force the group to make high-end plays to keep the Broncos' offense from piling up completions has also been easy to see. But Surtain's work to this point has even his most low-key teammates touting the second-year cornerback's Pro Bowl-level work. -- Jeff Legwold

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