Tuesday 20 February 2018 / 02:56 AM

NFL pre-season update: training camp underway

Now that the ‘pads are on’, both literally and figuratively, it’s time to start legitimately thinking about the 2015 NFL campaign.

After all, we’re just a hair over a month away from September 10th, when the Steelers visit the Brady-less (as of right now) Patriots on TNF to kick off the season.

But let’s not put the cart before the horse. Here are some of the top stories from the first week of training camp.

Texans suffer major setback

Off the field, Arian Foster has been making waves recently as the NFL’s anti-Tebow. He publicly came out of the closet as an atheist and was open in expressing his desire to parlay his celebrity status into improved public acceptance of atheism.

While this showing of religious honesty probably didn’t sit so well with the hordes of God-loving Texans fans praying and barbecuing in America’s heartland, the real concern in Houston is their star running back’s groin injury.

The team will now look to Alfred Blue to carry the load. Blue has looked more than worthy of the role when covering for Foster in the past but only time will tell how he holds up as ‘the guy’. Don’t be surprised if Bill O’Brien gives former Washington Huskies star Chris Polk an opportunity to prove his draft-day plummet was unwarranted. After all, handing the ball off to JJ Watt isn’t actually a realistic option.

49ers woes continue

Mike Iupati, Frank Gore, Chris Culliver, Michael Crabtree and Perrish Cox. Gone, gone, gone, gone and gone. All thanks to free agency.

Justin Smith, Chris Borland, Anthony Davis. Retired, retired and retired.

Oh yeah, Patrick Willis, too.

Jim Harbaugh? He’s stacking dollar, dollar bills y’all in Michigan.

So when pass-rushing specialist Aldon Smith was arrested for his third DUI with a side of hit-and-run and vandalism, the Forty-Niner Nation must have collectively peed their pants.

Smith is no longer with the team and they haven’t got a single player in uniform who’s got a chance in hell of stopping Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson.

“This organization has tried very hard to help Aldon fight his issues,” the team said.

“Although he is no longer a member of this team, our support and concern for him will continue.”

I’m more concerned about whether or not the Niners will be able to win a single game.

DeSean Jackson separates shoulder

As one of the few players on the Redskins roster with genuine star potential, DeSean Jackson took to the Twittersphere recently to talk some trash.

As a Grammar Nazi I must first remind DeSean that the correct structure here is “I don’t think anyone can guard me…”, but the real double negative is the Grade 2 separated shoulder Jackson suffered at the hand of a tackling sled this week in practice.

Perhaps neither Revis nor Sherman can slow down the Washington speedster, but apparently an inanimate object can.

As of right now, he’s expected to suit up for week one but setbacks just seem to be business as usual for the Redskins.

The Legion of Boom minus one?

The paychecks are finally flying in Seattle as Russell Wilson rightly transformed from the League’s #1 bargain to one of the NFL’s highest-paid players.

Bobby Wagner, perhaps the second-most important player on the vaunted Seahawks defense behind Earl Thomas, signed his extension almost immediately after tweeting his frustration:

But there’s still trouble in paradise. SS Kam Chancelor’s holdout for more money has now reached seven days.

My gut feeling is that the club will hem and haw and eventually hope Bam Bam settles for an extra mil like they did last offseason with Beast Mode, but with Michael Bennett also chirping for more cash the team may have no choice but to draw a line in the sand to prevent additional players from doing the same.

Richard Sherman has openly supported his teammate “in whatever he decides to do” but it’s easy for #25 to be sympathetic when he’s set to make more than double Chancellor’s salary in 2015.

Positive signs from the Big Apple

Jets fans are excited to see what’s in store during the impending post-Rex era. It’s not that they were gung ho to give Ryan the boot, they were just ready for a change.

If Chris Ivory has anything to say about it he’d like to be the biggest name in New York rushing since Curtis Martin.

The battle for the AFC East will be epic. Particularly if Geno Smith can take just a little bit better care of the football.

Room for more optimism in New York

It’s not just the Jets who are looking to bring winning football back to NYC. Odell Beckham Jr. alone has Giants fan dreaming of newfound relevance in 2015.

We’ve seen this situation before. Just when we start to think Eli Manning’s goose has been cooked he takes a good (but not great) squad all the way to the end and wins the Super Bowl.

With Viktor Cruz as the team’s #2 WR and the top five rounding out with Rueban Randle, James Jones and Dwayne Harris, this is a receiving corps that could rival any of the NFL’s top passing attacks.

That is, of course, if the offensive line can keep Manning upright and give him time to run the offense. Few O-Lines boast massive name recognition but injuries and lack of depth could lead the G-Men to open week one with a bunch of no-namers out there to protect Eli.

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Michael Airhart

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