Ridaught: Camps kick off NFL season

NFL football

The countdown to kickoff for the upcoming NFL season has officially begun.

Training camp for all 32 teams is either underway or begins tomorrow.

Rookies began reporting as early as last Monday, with all veterans reporting no later than Tuesday.

The defending champion Los Angeles Rams opened up training camp on Sunday, with one of the biggest questions centering around quarterback Matthew Stafford as he continues to deal with an elbow issue.

The Rams just signed quarterback Luis Perez, who is very similar to Stafford in both height and weight. Perez just led the USFL New Jersey Generals to a 9-1 record by completing 71.7% of his passes for 1,200 yards with nine touchdowns and only one interception.

Stafford’s recovery will be key if the Rams hope to repeat.

With the return of both Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp, head coach Sean McVay explained why returning to the Rams was an easy decision.

Last week the Rams received their championship rings, which was the most carat weight in the history of a sports championship ring. 

Los Angeles is looking to be the first team to repeat since New England won back-to-back during the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

In fact, only seven teams have been repeat champions in the NFL — Green Bay, Miami, Pittsburgh (twice), San Francisco, Dallas, Denver, and New England.

This past March, Joe Zagorski, who is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America, explained the reasons why it’s rare to repeat.

But there is one key ingredient that most repeat champions have — leadership. That being said, what are the chances of the Rams repeating as champs?

Cincinnati, which lost by a field goal to the Rams in last year’s Super Bowl, has Joe Burrow returning at quarterback after leading the Bengals to the Super Bowl in just his second season.

However, there is one key position battle that looms.

Another big storyline heading into training camp is that almost a third of the teams will have a new head coach, including all three NFL teams in the Sunshine State.

Doug Pederson takes over for Urban Meyer in Jacksonville.

The Jags are hoping that quarterback Trevor Lawrence, last year’s No. 1 overall pick, takes that next step with more weapons around him (the additions of Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram) and improved coaching. 

Pederson, who is considered a guru, said “the sky is the limit” with Lawrence.

The NFL preseason kicks off Thursday, Aug. 4, with the Jacksonville Jaguars facing the Las Vegas Raiders in the Hall of Fame game, which will be nationally televised by NBC.

Former assistant Mike McDaniel is the new head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibilities that the Dolphins can make the playoffs in McDaniel’s debut season.

Speaking of “the sky is the limit,” that is certainly the case for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who is hoping to develop some chemistry with three-time All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill.

Tagovailoa and Hill are two of five offensive players to watch as training camp begins.

This past May the Dolphins were considered among the five dark-horse NFL teams to watch out for in 2022.

Meanwhile, Todd Bowles of Tampa Bay has a seven-time Super Bowl winner at quarterback with Tom Brady announcing his return.

Bowles takes over for Bruce Arians with a lot of unanswered questions. 

Will running back Leonard Fournette get down to his playing weight? What is the injury status of Pro Bowl wide receiver Chris Godwin? Will the loss of Rob Gronkowski be too much?

While all three Florida teams could be taking a step forward this year, here are five teams that will take a step back during the 2022 NFL season.

One thing that will look a little different this year in the NFL are the return of alternate helmets. A total of 13 teams will be showcasing them.

Also in 2022, the NFL is launching its own streaming service for the first time called NFL+. The $4.99 per month service will include all out-of-market preseason games.

The NFL preseason will run through Aug. 28. Week 1 of the regular season begins on Thursday, Sept. 8, when the defending champion Rams host the Buffalo Bills.

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