Wednesday August 10, 2022

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance said Saturday that things are slowing down for him as he seeks to improve in his first training camp as a starter, but there are still uneven moments.

After a solid day Friday, Lance had a couple of miscues Saturday, but he still has shown a steady progression.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, and the entire offense, also struggled. The Browns continue to await the fate of Watson, who is currently facing a suspension of at least six games after being accused of sexual assault and other inappropriate conduct during massage sessions in civil lawsuits filed by 25 women. Jake Trotter also reported that Kareem Hunt will not particpate in team drills while he awaits an extension.

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The New York Jets, meanwhile, hosted free agent tackle Duane Brown, per ESPN reporter Rich Cimini, as the team searches for quality depth. Brown turns 37 on Aug. 30, but he started every game for the Seattle Seahawks last season.

And while many Kansas City Chiefs fans are focusing on how the team is going to replace All-Pro receiver Tyreek Hill, rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie is starting to establish himself as someone to watch.

The first-round pick turned in his best practice of camp on Saturday and has consistently been working with the starters.

Here’s what you need to know from camps across the league.

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What our reporters saw

Top NFL news of the day

Bears OT Teven Jenkins returns to practice, denies clashing with coaches: Chicago Bears offensive tackle Teven Jenkins returned to training camp on Saturday after missing seven straight practices with an undisclosed injury. Jenkins, who is in a ramp up period, only participated in individual drills. The second-year lineman would not disclose specifics of his injury, including whether he got hurt during the team’s first practice on July 27, whether he’s still dealing with back issues after undergoing surgery last offseason and what he’s currently recovering from, but estimated that he should be at 100% full health in ‘a couple of days.’

Panthers QB battle to remain open: The Carolina Panthers won’t make what coach Matt Rhule called a “major decision” on any position, particularly the battle between quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold, until after the Aug. 19 preseason game at New England. Even then, Rhule might not declare a winner if one hasn’t clearly separated from the other after two joint practices in Foxborough, Massachusetts, and the game.

Thomas participates in 11-on-11 drills: New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas took the next step in his return to football on Saturday. Thomas participated in 11-on-11 drills for the first time since the end of the 2020 season, continuing a ramp-up process that has been ongoing since the offseason started. Thomas was only a spectator at OTAs in June, but he was able to practice on Day 1 of training camp and returned to 7-on-7 drills on Wednesday.

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Giants rookie offensive lineman Marcus McKethan suffers season-ending knee injury: New York Giants rookie offensive lineman Marcus McKethan is expected to miss the 2022 season with a torn ACL in his right knee, the team confirmed Saturday. This was the fear after he was carted off the previous day during a scrimmage at MetLife Stadium. McKethan was placed on the reserve/injured list, ending his season.


What our NFL Nation reporters saw Saturday

San Francisco 49ers: Niners QB Trey Lance said after Saturday’s practice that he feels like things are slowing down for him, and he can tell because he believes he’s shown improvement from day to day in practice. “Every rep I take, I think the game slows down,” Lance said. Lance had a solid day Friday, and Saturday came with some ups and downs. Lance nearly threw an interception to CB Emmanuel Moseley during team drills and later threw one that FS Jimmie Ward did catch and returned for a would-be pick-six. But Lance followed with a touchdown drive in the two-minute drill, completing 5-of-6 and capping it with a tough throw to receiver Ray-Ray McCloud III for the score. Lance has shown a steady progression as camp goes but also is facing a loaded defense, which he believes will help make him better as he continues his first training camp as an NFL starter. — Nick Wagoner

New York Jets: Looking for offensive-tackle depth, the Jets hosted free agent Duane Brown on Saturday, a source told ESPN. Brown, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, was scheduled to attend the team’s annual Green & White scrimmage Saturday night at Met Life Stadium. Brown, who has 203 career starts at left tackle, would be a nice insurance policy as a back-up swing tackle. He turns 37 on Aug. 30, but he started every game last season for the Seahawks. The current back-ups are Chuma Edoga and Conor McDermott, neither of whom is a lock to make the team. — Rich Cimini

Philadelphia Eagles: Starting cornerbacks Darius Slay, James Bradberry and Avonte Maddox have taken turns starring at practice this summer. Saturday was Slay’s day. During 7-on-7s, he stayed step-for-step with speed receiver Quez Watkins down the right sideline, then turned and leapt for a Jalen Hurts offering, securing the ball as he crashed to the ground for the interception. The first-team defense has had an excellent camp to date, with the corners leading the way. — Tim McManus

Carolina Panthers: While quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold were on display during Saturday’s major scrimmage, so was rookie left tackle Ikem Ekwonu. Second-year player Brady Christensen opened at left tackle as he has all training camp, but Ekwonu got more reps there than usual in a session that was as game-like as the staff could make it. Bottom line, there’s still a reason Ekwonu is far from winning the position. “He’s got a long way to go,” coach Matt Rhule said for the second straight day. “He gave up a huge sack there at the end. I’m not super concerned with the run blocking, it’s the pass protection he [needs to] continue to develop. He’s right where he’s supposed to be, but that’s not like a receiver where you can have three good plays and then a drop. A drop at left tackle means the quarterback gets hit.” — David Newton

Atlanta Falcons: The play of the day came from Feleipe Franks, who continues to turn in a very strong training camp. Franks looked like he was falling on an out route on a ball that did not seem to be well-thrown by quarterback Desmond Ridder. And yet, Franks somehow snagged the ball while on the ground. It was a heck of a play from the player making the conversion from quarterback to tight end. Every day, Franks seems to make a flash play or two, and he’s making strides as a blocker, too. Most of this work has been against the second team, but you can see the potential head coach Arthur Smith and the coaching staff sees in him. — Michael Rothstein

Kansas City Chiefs: Rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie, the Chiefs’ top draft pick, had perhaps his best practice of training camp. Among his highlights were two pass break-ups in a two-minute drill with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback. McDuffie said afterward he’s been working on finishing plays. McDuffie has been consistently working with the starters, playing at various times both slot cornerback and on the outside. — Adam Teicher

Green Bay Packers: For the first week and a half of camp, all the attention the three rookies received went to fourth-round pick Romeo Doubs. That changed when the Packers took to Lambeau Field for their annual Family Night practice. It’s not that Doubs didn’t perform – he still made a nice catch on a deep ball during the 1-on-1 period – but seventh-rounder Samori Toure turned some heads for the first time. His best practice to date included a 54-yard touchdown catch from Jordan Love, which was the highlight of the practice, and a perfectly played fade for a contested touchdown from third-string quarterback Danny Etling. With second-round pick Christian Watson‘s status for Week 1 uncertain because of his pre-camp knee surgery, the Packers might need Toure to be ready for the start of the season. — Rob Demovsky

Cleveland Browns: Running back Kareem Hunt has told the Browns he will not participate in team drills in training camp until he gets an extension, a league source confirmed to ESPN. Hunt is entering the final season of his deal. He signed a two-year, $12 million contract extension with the Browns in 2020, which included $8.5 million guaranteed. Hunt, the 2017 NFL rushing champ, is the No. 2 running back on the Cleveland roster, backing up Pro Bowl rusher Nick Chubb. CBS Sports first reported the news that Hunt was a hold-in, which means attending practice but not participating.

Meanwhile, It was a rough day for the offense as the Browns continue to await the fate of QB Deshaun Watson, who is currently facing a suspension of at least six games after being accused of sexual assault and other inappropriate conduct during massage sessions in civil lawsuits filed by 25 women. On the first play of Saturday’s team session, Watson’s pass bounced off the chest of TE David Njoku and into the diving arms of CB Greg Newsome II for an interception. Drops and turnovers marred the offense for the rest of the afternoon. — Jake Trotter

Minnesota Vikings Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell spent a long time Saturday speaking about the uneven camp performance of center Garrett Bradbury. O’Connell said that Bradbury has been “really good in the run game” but that there have been some plays in pass protection where he has been isolated against players who have won the rep against him. Ultimately, O’Connell said that “it’s too early to make any kind of assessments” and that “I’m definitely not worried.” But Bradbury’s situation is pretty important. Former coach Mike Zimmer benched him briefly last season, and the Vikings’ new regime of O’Connell and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah declined to pick up the fifth-year option on his contract. They signed a series of veteran guard/center backups, including Jesse Davis and Austin Schlottmann, but no one who would be expected to beat out Bradbury in camp. The tone of O’Connell’s comments suggests the Vikings are a long way from giving up on Bradbury, who was the No. 18 overall pick in the 2019 draft. They still hope that they can scheme to protect him from some of those isolation blocks, and they’ll count on Kirk Cousins to help get the team in better looks at the line of scrimmage. But there will be some occasions when the Vikings will count on Bradbury to make tough blocks in pass protection, and it remains an open question whether he is up to it. — Kevin Seifert


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