Best of Monday at NFL training camps: Patrick Mahomes and other QBs work on receiver connections, Ravens’ J.K. Dobbins activated

Best of Monday at NFL training camps: Patrick Mahomes and other QBs work on receiver connections, Ravens' J.K. Dobbins activated thumbnail

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    ESPN staff

We are officially one month away from the start of the NFL regular season — which kicks off with a Thursday night Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams matchup.

It sure was an active NFL training camp Monday. The Baltimore Ravens activated J.K. Dobbins off of the PUP list and also signed kicker Justin Tucker to a four-year extension. Najee Harris returned to the field for individual drills at the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ camp. Patrick Mahomes worked on deep passes, Jalen Hurts connected with A.J. Brown, as did Trevor Lawrence with Christian Kirk. And Jameis Winston left Saints’ practice early today.

Teams are preparing as Thursday kicks off this week’s preseason action with two games — the New York Giants at New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans at the Ravens — followed by five games Friday, eight games Saturday and one game Sunday.

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

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What our reporters saw

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What our NFL Nation reporters saw Monday

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Washington Commanders: Tight end John Bates returned to practice after hurting his left calf early in training camp. His presence was noticeable, especially when it came to blocking. With No. 1 tight end Logan Thomas still on the physically unable to perform list, and with rookie Cole Turner nursing a left hamstring injury, Bates’ return was welcomed. He’ll help in the passing game, but he is also a terrific blocker in the run game. That was noticeable on one run during an 11-on-11 drill in which he was matched up vs. end Montez Sweat. Bates kept his feet and body square, then turned Sweat and wrestled him out of the way. It was an impressive block and a sight Washington needed to see. — John Keim

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Carolina Panthers: It’s not always a good sign when the general manager talks to a player after practice, particularly amid a report that player is on the trading block. But in this case it was good for quarterback Sam Darnold, who was told by Scott Fitterer “not to worry” about the social media report that surfaced over the weekend. Coach Matt Rhule took it one step further, saying he expects to have three quarterbacks on his final roster, including Darnold and Baker Mayfield, engaged in a battle for the starting job. Rookie Matt Corral likely would be the third over PJ Walker simply because Carolina invested a third-round pick in him. “Of the 32 NFL teams, 12 played one quarterback last year for all 17 regular-season games,” Rhule noted. “I think the average over the last five years is 41%, so as much as we’re concerned about the starting quarterback battle, I’m looking at two.” As for who has an edge for the starting spot, Darnold had a bad interception and Mayfield had three passes batted down at the line on Monday. Both were ineffective in a two-minute drill at the end of practice. — David Newton

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Tennessee Titans: The right guard competition between second-year player Dillon Radunz and rookie Nicholas Petit-Frere continues to heat up. The two are alternating reps with the first unit. Petit-Frere had a couple of good battles with outside linebacker Harold Landry III during a pass-rush period. The primary difference between Petit-Frere and Radunz is the power at the point of attack that the rookie brings, although Radunz is noticeably bigger than he was last year. That competition will be one to keep an eye on as camp continues. — Turron Davenport

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Atlanta Falcons: The ascent of safety Richie Grant continues to be one of the more interesting things for the Falcons this training camp. Last year’s second-round pick out of UCF, Grant was forced into playing time after corner Isaiah Oliver tore his ACL last season. Now in his natural position at safety, he has been playing like a clear starter opposite Jaylinn Hawkins, is one of the few players who has stuck with tight end Kyle Pitts and is making more and more plays in practice. On Monday, he picked off Marcus Mariota on a tipped ball — showing good awareness as he caught the ball on the run and kept going. Michael Rothstein

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Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs practiced without pads on Monday and at a slower pace than normal which allowed them to work on deep passes. Patrick Mahomes threw several passes down the field. Some went to players in the main wide receiving group, like Mecole Hardman, and some went to those competing for roster spots, like Justin Watson. The idea is to work on timing when there’s no real pass rush or meaningful defensive coverage. — Adam Teicher

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Denver Broncos: Coach Nathaniel Hackett would like to escape the preseason and training camp with no more injuries. But in his first year with the team, Hackett has consistently said he won’t dial down the competition as part of any risk-reward discussion. That has meant the starters on offense have faced the starters on defense plenty in practices. It also means he has to survive moments like the last play on Monday when wide receiver Courtland Sutton leaped over cornerback Ronald Darby — both starters — to make a highlight-worthy grab on a pass from Russell Wilson. Darby stayed down for several moments before telling teammates he had knocked the wind out of himself. But in just few seconds the play highlighted all of the benefits, and risk, of playing the best against the best in a practice.

“That’s football, that’s going to happen, you can only control what you can control,” Hackett said. ” … [We’re] trying to protect each other, but at the same time we have to make each other better.” — Jeff Legwold

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Green Bay Packers: The last time Jarran Reed remembers being a part of a defensive front as experienced as the one he’s part of in Green Bay was in 2016 with the Seahawks. He was a rookie on a front that featured the likes of Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Tony McDaniel. That trio had a combined 25 years of NFL experience and helped Seattle’s defense rank fifth in the league. He says the Packers have something similar going on with their front. Together, Reed, Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry have 18 years of experience. All three entered the NFL in the 2016 draft. It’s one of the reasons Reed signed with the Packers (one year, $3.25 million). Reed made his presence felt on Monday when during a full-pads practice he stuffed running back AJ Dillon for a loss. The Packers finished ninth in defense last year but allowed the third-most yards per rush, so those are the kinds of plays they want to see from Reed. — Rob Demovsky

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Buffalo Bills: The Bills offensive line is getting healthier and healthier. A day after left guard Rodger Saffold was removed from the non-football injury list, right tackle Spencer Brown had his most significant participation of training camp coming off back offseason back surgery. Brown was in on a portion of the 11-on-11 drills, rotating in and out of the lineup. While Saffold is still working his way back to full participation, Buffalo now has almost the entire starting offensive line working together with right guard Ryan Bates healthy. The Bills defensive line, however, has been putting together an impressive camp from the likes of Von Miller, Ed Oliver, Greg Rousseau and AJ Epenesa with the offense not having its best day Monday.

“I don’t think we’re playing catch up at all,” Bates said of the line’s lack of practice together. “I think we’re ready to roll honestly. I think we feel great as a unit. We have a lot of depth, and we have the mindset where if someone’s not ready to go, next person up mentality and we’re gonna roll forward.” — Alaina Getzenberg

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New Orleans Saints: Saints quarterback Jameis Winston left practice early on Monday for evaluation after a “foot tweak” according to coach Dennis Allen. Winston participated in the early portion of practice, which was moved indoors after lightning was detected in the area. He went through 1-on-1 drills, the highlight of which was a contested catch by Michael Thomas against cornerback Paulson Adebo. Winston also participated in 7-on-7 drills, completing passes to Chris Olave, Thomas and Adam Trautman. However, when the team moved into 11-on-11 red zone work, Andy Dalton was taking the first team snaps. Winston did not return to practice. Allen said the issue occurred when Winston was rolling out to throw a pass during the 7-on-7 portion of practice, but did not have any further updates. — Katherine Terrell

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New York Giants: A wild melee at Giants camp overshadowed a dismal day for quarterback Daniel Jones and the offense. It all began when running back Saquon Barkley lowered his shoulder on cornerback Aaron Robinson in a drill. It was more contact than the defense deemed necessary in the non-tackling period. Several chippy plays later, scuffles ensued. It got so out of control that offensive line coach Bobby Johnson got involved and pushed outside linebacker Cam Brown, who had just dragged center Jon Feliciano on the ground 10 yards across the field. Johnson pushed Brown and Feliciano came and started throwing haymakers. Brown retaliated with some of his own — all with helmets on. This all distracted from the fact that Jones went 5-of-15 passing with two interceptions and wide receiver Kadarius Toney dropped three passes during the practice. Not a pretty day at Giants practice. — Jordan Raanan

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Detroit Lions: On the eve of the Detroit Lions’ debut on “Hard Knocks”, Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders made an appearance at the Allen Park practice facility. Lions rookie tackle Zein Obeid has retired during training camp and the team has signed free agent tackle Kendall Lamm. Over the summer, defensive lineman John Penisini also announced his retirement in June after two seasons in the NFL, but Lions coach Dan Campbell didn’t sense a trend within the organization with the young guys retiring early.”I just feel like everybody’s different. Look, it’s not for everybody,” Campbell said. “Not everything’s easy about it and it’s not just about football. I wish him the best of luck. He’s a great kid. He’s a grinder and so, on with the next endeavor.” — Eric Woodyard

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Dallas Cowboys: Trevon Diggs was joined at the podium on Monday by his son, Aaiden, who became a sensation last summer when the Cowboys were featured on Hard Knocks. Aaiden has been at camp for more than a week and has become buddies with Micah Parsons’ son, Malcolm. What does Aaiden enjoy at practice? “It makes me happy and excited,” he said. “It makes me chill and happy. This is a good life for me.” — Todd Archer

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Pittsburgh Steelers: After heavy rains dumped on Latrobe over the weekend and forced cancellations of the annual Friday Night Lights practice and Saturday’s open practice, the Steelers moved Monday’s practice from St. Vincent to Latrobe Memorial Stadium. With a large turnout at the municipal stadium, the Steelers went through several team run periods, including work in third-down, short-yardage situations. With Najee Harris (foot) a limited participant, Benny Snell Jr. put together an impressive day, including one run where he broke through to the second level and had to eventually be dragged down by Cam Sutton and T.J. Watt. Harris is the unquestioned three-down back, but Snell is making a solid case to retain the backup job. — Brooke Pryor

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Baltimore Ravens: Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins was activated off the Physically Unable to Perform list and practiced for the first time since tearing the ACL in his left knee on Aug. 28, 2021. He was limited to individual drills and looked like he was laboring at times. When Baltimore held team drills, Dobbins worked off to the side. “I thought he looked pretty good in individual (drills),” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Maybe we add a little more each day and see how he handles it and how the knee responds. It seems like, so far, so good.” — Jamison Hensley

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Los Angeles Rams: Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford again didn’t throw during practice, but head coach Sean McVay said that was “part of the plan.” Stafford will throw on Tuesday, McVay said, and then the whole team will go through a walkthrough on Wednesday on the team’s final practice in Irvine. Stafford, who threw during individual drills and some 7-on-7 drills on Saturday is still recovering from right elbow pain. McVay has said several times that this throwing schedule was one the Rams planned on going into training camp. — Sarah Barshop


Top NFL news of the day

NFL asks officials to focus on illegal contact fouls: The NFL has asked its on-field officials to pay particular attention to illegal contact fouls during the 2022 season, a league spokesperson confirmed Monday. The request could lead to an increase in such flags following a big drop during the 2021 season. Illegal contact refers to prohibited contact by a defender when the quarterback still has the ball and remains in the pocket. It is a 5-yard penalty and results in an automatic first down.

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Baltimore Ravens sign Justin Tucker to extension: Tucker signed a four-year extension with the Ravens on Monday, with a source saying it’s worth $24 million and continues to make Tucker the NFL’s highest-paid kicker. Tucker, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, will earn an average of $6 million per season, the source said, which is $1 million more per season than any other kicker. He had two years left on his current deal, and is now signed through 2027 and will receive signing and option bonuses that total $11.5 million, according to the source. The extension also includes $17.5 million guaranteed, the source said, which is $5 million more than any other kicker.

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Josh McDaniels ends speculation over potential Josh Jacobs trade: Las Vegas Raiders first-year coach Josh McDaniels put an end to speculation Monday that former Pro Bowl running back Josh Jacobs was being showcased for a possible trade by playing so many snaps in the team’s preseason opener. “We have a lot of confidence in J.J.,” McDaniels said. “And, you know, he did well with his opportunities, which we hoped he would. “But no, we have no desire to do that at all.” Jacobs, who did not have his fifth-year option picked up by Las Vegas’ new regime of McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler, had five carries, gaining 30 yards, and caught two passes totaling 14 yards in the Raiders’ 27-11 Hall of Fame Game victory last week over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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New York Jets’ Mekhi Becton having MRI on surgically repaired knee: Right tackle Mekhi Becton is having an MRI on his surgically repaired right knee after limping off the practice field Monday in apparent pain. The injury doesn’t appear serious, according to the Jets, but any time lost is potentially significant because Becton has battled weight and conditioning issues.

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Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow begins tossing passes at training camp: Quarterback Joe Burrow offered the biggest sign of his progress to date since his appendectomy two weeks ago. He picked up a ball and started tossing it. While the majority of the team was participating in special teams drills during practice Monday, Burrow conducted an impromptu light walkthrough with his top wide receivers and tight end Hayden Hurst. The passes weren’t very hard and they weren’t many of them. But it was the first time he did any sort of throwing since the surgery, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said.


Best NFL photos, videos from camp

Go out and make a play.@Trevorlawrencee 👉 @ckirk@Dream_Finders | #DUUUVAL pic.twitter.com/fQz9Nw8o0h

— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) August 8, 2022

.@ZachWilson & @T_Conk1 got that chemistry 🤝 pic.twitter.com/lG6mpaGACS

— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 8, 2022

A look at Ravens RB J.K. Dobbins (knee), who was just activated off PUP pic.twitter.com/59n8zNBiJk

— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) August 8, 2022

Andrew Adams said 🙅‍♂️ pic.twitter.com/H6ac04zQsY

— New York Giants (@Giants) August 8, 2022

1 11=Plays#EaglesCamp | #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/ENqD9dU30J

— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) August 8, 2022

— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) August 8, 2022

COBY🎱🔒 @CobyBryant8_ #SeahawkCamp x @Boeing pic.twitter.com/L0AMOJUcyW

— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) August 8, 2022

Najee Harris isn’t in full pads, but he’s participating in individuals today. Most he’s worked since the minor foot injury. pic.twitter.com/0yu0AcqDC3

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 8, 2022

To wrap up practice, Ravens held a fumble recovery drill, where the rookies had to dive on the ball while being doused by water.

Lamar Jackson was in charge of the hose for many of the offensive rookies. pic.twitter.com/wUPCX4mwyt

— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) August 8, 2022

Joe Burrow is doing some very light throwing. pic.twitter.com/n09e1ZHGn0

— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) August 8, 2022

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