The San Francisco 49ers join 23 other teams in kicking off a mandatory minicamp to wrap up their offseason training activities. Most teams will conduct three-day minicamps before a six-week break until training camp. Players will continue studying their playbooks and working out in some context, with some likely sticking around the team complex. However, any official team workouts will not be allowed until no earlier than fifteen days before a team's first preseason game.
There is still a lot of time between now and the start of the season, which means a lot of news now is likely to have limited bearing on the regular season. Nonetheless, I thought I'd start a new weekly series of posts taking a brief look across the various teams on the 49ers regular season schedule. We won't discuss every team, but rather, those teams that have had something resembling remotely significant player news.
After the jump, I've posted some bits of news in order of when the 49ers meet the given opponent.
The Lions don't have much of note happening right now, but that is mildly news-related as they continue discussing a long-term deal with franchise defensive lineman Cliff Avril. It is highly unlikely that he is not in camp in time to be playing by week two against the 49ers, but it is still of some note. The 49ers saw nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin sit late into camp in 2010 ago as their franchise player and he struggled out of the gates at the start of that season. It will simply be something to keep an eye on as training camp approaches. The Lions and Avril have until mid-July to work out a long-term deal.
Although it was expected for several months, news finally came down yesterday that wide receiver Jerome Simpson would receive a three-game suspension for his marijuana trafficking issue. Simpson likely would not have been their top receiver in week three, but he has enough upside that he could have been a dangerous threat (check out this circus catch). Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Jarius Wright will provide plenty of weapons on their own, but removing Simpson from the field isn't the worst thing in the world.
New York Jets
While some of the media would prefer to focus on the Tim Tebow/Mark Sanchez "QB battle", the intriguing storyline is Darrelle Revis' displeasure with his contract. He apparently has said at times he's not unhappy with his contract, but he will not commit to attending training camp. A lot of these "holdouts" end in time for the season, and I suspect this one will as well.
My personal favorite story lately from the Jets practices is Santonio Holmes apparently going off on the coaching staff for what he believes was them overworking him. Plenty of players around the league express their displeasure with a variety of issues, but this still somehow strikes me as a very Jets thing to do.
The Buffalo Bills news revolves around their wide receivers. Stevie Johnson is recovering from groin surgery and appears to be ahead of pace in his recovery. He was expected to be back by training camp, but now it sounds like he'll be able to get some light work in this week. In other receiver news, Donald Jones has apparently emerged as the leading candidate to fill the number two receiver role opposite Johnson.
New York Giants
In the Giants Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots, tight end Jake Ballard badly tore up his knee, to the point where he needed ACL and microfracture surgery. He was hoping to battle back for at least the late part of the 2012 season, but that will not be happening. Yesterday, the Giants waived Ballard and used his roster spot to re-sign defensive tackle Rocky Bernard. It sounds like both sides expect to reunite for the 2013 season. If Ballard clears waivers, the Giants can place him on injured reserve. We'll find out if that happens today or tomorrow.
In other news, the Giants joined the wave of recent DUIs as offensive tackle David Diehl was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. I don't expect a suspension for Diehl, but even if he did get suspended, he would be back in time for the 49ers-Giants week six showdown.
The Seattle Seahawks have made some solid additions to their squad, but at the end of the day, the biggest story will be their quarterback battle. Matt Flynn had reportedly looked good in some early workouts after the draft, but now it is possible Tarvaris Jackson has a slight lead in the battle. As the article suggests, experience in the offense might be all that gives Jackson the edge. I have to think Flynn is running the show by September, but who knows what Pete Carroll will decide.
Sometimes I wonder if Jay Cutler knows how to "play the game" when it comes to PR. He has made several comments about how the Bears needs to improve their offensive line to take the next step. They have given up a ton of sacks, so it is not like he is making up some nonsense. However, it seems like there can be better ways to make these kinds of comments. Or maybe that kind of honesty is necessary. I don't know.
In other comments, Cutler said that he expects Matt Forte in camp, knowing that he has the tender money still available if a long-term deal doesn't get work out. While Cutler isn't exactly going to give Forte leverage in the situation, that kind of comment doesn't do wonders for Forte's existing leverage. Cutler does speak his mind, so it should not be surprising, but it's still interesting to hear.
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees remains unsigned. The Saints have plenty of things to resolve between now and the start of the season, but Brees is obviously the biggest concern. I still think a deal gets done in time, but it could make for an amusing game of chicken to observe from the outside.
The Dolphins made a bit of news yesterday as they signed wide receiver Chad Ochocinco to an incentive-laden deal. He brings some upside, but I don't imagine he's a huge option at this point. The bigger news is the quarterback battle. The Dolphins drafted Ryan Tannehill as their man of the future, but they also signed David Garrard to bring some veteran presence to camp.
Reggie Bush told Total Access that he thinks Ryan Tannehill is the favorite to win the job. Yesterday morning, a Dolphins beat writer indicated that it appeared David Garrard was the man to beat for now. Both guys could be right. Garrard could have the upper hand right now simply because of his extensive experience. That does not mean the rookie Tannehill won't win the job in training camp. And even if Garrard wins the job initially, I'd be pretty surprised if he was still starting by the time the Dolphins travel to San Francisco in Week 14.
New England Patriots
It's been a relatively quiet offseason for the Patriots. What I find most notable is their continued attempts to roll out as many running backs as humanly possible. This year, they add Joseph Addai to a mix that already includes Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead. There's been chatter that Vereen has worked his way to the top of the depth chart, but given how Bill Belichick operates, they'll be mixing and matching running backs throughout the season. The 49ers and Patriots don't square off until Week 15, which makes it all the more difficult to predict who will have what role in the Patriots rushing attack.