NFL training camp updates 2022: Joint practices liven things up, coaches grab spotlight

ByESPN staff via ESPN logo
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
ESPN

The order of the day for NFL training camps for this Wednesday were joint practices.

Coaches like them because it allows them to evaluate players at a different level. Players like them because they not only don't have to see the same faces, but they can hit guys who aren't teammates.

There was a fight at the joint practice with the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers, who play a preseason game Friday night at Gillette Stadium. It actually was the second day in a row the teams scuffled.

There also were joint practices between the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans, the San Francisco 49ers and the Minnesota Vikingsand the Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts.

Elsewhere, coaches grabbed some time in the spotlight. Dennis Allen of the Saints signed autographs on his way to practice, and Matt LaFleur of Green Bay high-fived some fans while riding a bike to the practice field. Bill Belichick looked to be smoothing things over with Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey.

Here's what you need to know from camps across the league:

What our NFL Nation reporters saw today

Jacksonville Jaguars: Seven players spent time in the recovery tent dealing with heat issues: DT Roy Robertson-Harris, LG Ben Bartch, TE Chris Manhertz, LB Rashod Berry, WR Tim Jones, WR Willie Johnson and OL Darryl Williams. No one was taken from the field, and the players were able to rejoin the team once practice ended. Wednesday was the first time in a week the Jaguars have practiced in the sun since Aug. 10. They had a walkthrough the following day, played the Cleveland Browns last Friday night, were off Saturday and Sunday, practiced Monday night at TIAA Bank Field, and were off on Tuesday. -- Michael DiRocco

Washington Commanders: The Commanders are banged up enough at guard that they had to shift second-year right tackle Sam Cosmi inside during practice Wednesday. Both of Washington's projected starting guards -- Andrew Norwell (undisclosed injury) and Trai Turner (quad) -- remain sidelined, and backup Wes Schweitzer (hip) hurt himself in practice Monday. They like rookie guard Chris Paul, who took snaps with the starters in full-team drills Tuesday. But, on Wednesday, Washington wanted to prepare for the emergency-type situations so they shifted Cosmi inside and inserted Cornelius Lucas at right tackle. Before the 2021 draft, some analysts pegged Cosmi as a better guard than tackle. While he has developed nicely at tackle, he has the footwork and strength to play inside as well. -- John Keim

Miami Dolphins: Jevon Holland was the star of the day, intercepting Tua Tagovailoa twice and covering the width of the field to break up a deep pass to Tyreek Hill. He has taken a step forward after a strong rookie season and should garner Pro Bowl or even All Pro recognition in 2022. On the sideline, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and YouTube star Jake Paul were in attendance. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs are confident in their depth at wide receiver even after trading Tyreek Hill, and they had little choice but to get a good look at some of their backups after working without Mecole Hardman and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Hardman was carted off the practice field with a groin injury. Smith-Schuster didn't practice for the second straight day because of a sore knee. Justin Watson, who had 23 catches in four seasons with the Buccaneers, made the most of the extra work. He caught a touchdown on a fade pass from Patrick Mahomes. Watson also had a TD catch in the preseason opener against the Bears. Defensive tackle Chris Jones was also carted off the practice field with a back injury. -- Adam Teicher

Tennessee Titans: The Titans and Buccaneers finished the first day of joint practices with a situational period where each team's offense took over at their 30-yard line in need of a field goal with 1:30 on the clock. Ryan Tannehill was sharp in his two attempts. His chemistry with tight end Austin Hooper is building. The two connected on three consecutive plays to help set up a field goal by Randy Bullock in the first series. Tannehill also led the offense on a drive capped off with a field goal on his second series. -- Turron Davenport

New England Patriots: Outside of more fighting between the Patriots and Panthers -- which made two days of joint practices more of a disappointment than anything else -- the Mac Jones-to-Nelson Agholor connection delivered the highlight play of the day for New England. Jones was working in the red zone when he threw into heavy coverage to the right side of the end zone, with Agholor blanketed by defensive backs Myles Hartsfield and Jeremy Chinn, and CB Jaycee Horn also in the area. It was a high-risk throw, and Agholor made it pay off, adjusting in the air to haul it in for the TD. "Mac gave me an opportunity, put the ball in the air, and I just went to go get it," Agholor said. "That's what we talk about in the receiving room, and as an offense, the quarterback gives you an opportunity you have to do whatever you can to get it. It's you or nobody." -- Mike Reiss

Carolina Panthers: It's only a matter of time before coach Matt Rhule names his Week 1 starting quarterback between Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold. It continues to look as though Mayfield, acquired last month in a trade with Cleveland, will get the job. Mayfield was 5-for-10 passing in the final team drill against New England on Wednesday, getting Carolina inside the red zone. Darnold was 6-for-9 with a touchdown, but began his segment with an interception. Rhule said after the second of two joint practices against New England that only second- and third-team players are expected to play in Friday's preseason game against the Patriots. He didn't elaborate on what that meant for Mayfield and Darnold, leaving open the possibility one could be named the starter for the season and the other could play in the game. That also left open the possibility that backups PJ Walker and rookie Matt Corral could play the entire game since Mayfield and Darnold got the bulk of work in the joint practices. "It could be any point [when we name the starter],'' Rhule said. "It could be two more weeks from now and it could be now. We're just making sure we're thorough."-- David Newton

Minnesota Vikings: Coach Kevin O'Connell's first training camp has been notable for, among other things, its adherence to the latest in sports science models. To protect players from preseason injury, he has tightly managed the physical parts of practices and has an aggressive plan for limiting the playing time of established veterans in preseason games as well.

But all along, O'Connell had two days circled on his summer calendar: Wednesday and Thursday's joint practices with the San Francisco 49ers. O'Connell wanted to make sure that every minute of the two-hour sessions were intense and, in many ways, better for football conditioning than a preseason game.

He got what he was looking for Wednesday, as the teams worked hard but did not fall victim to the time-wasting scrums that have marred other joint practices. There were no scuffles of note, but there were several moments that indicated a higher-than-usual intensity. After completing a pass to receiver Adam Thielen, quarterback Kirk Cousins let out his usual celebratory phrase -- "You like that!" -- but mixed in a rare profanity as well.

Cousins, who was practicing for the first time since he tested positive for COVID-19 last week, said "there's always a little more juice for obvious reasons" during joint practices. -- Kevin Seifert

Buffalo Bills: Cornerback Tre'Davious White continues to rehab as he works his way back from a torn ACL suffered on Thanksgiving, but while he remains unavailable, the Bills are giving the team's newest cornerbacks plenty of work. Dane Jackson, a 2020 seventh-round pick, has been the starter alongside White whenever he is healthy. Jackson sat out the team's first preseason game vs. the Colts, giving rookies Kaiir Elam, the team's first-round pick, and Christian Benford more playing time. "[Jackson's] played games for us," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said Wednesday. "His experience matters, although it's limited in the grand scheme of things. But for us, he's ahead of the rookie corners that we have. We just needed to be able to see them more." Elam and Benford will have significant opportunities in the next two preseason games to show what they can do. -- Alaina Getzenberg

Las Vegas Raiders: As he suggested last week, TE Darren Waller returned to practice Tuesday for the first time since July 30. It was a strange situation as Waller, who is hoping for a contract extension and was also dealing with a hamstring issue, attended the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces game Sunday, rather than the Raiders exhibition. Raiders coach Josh McDaniels did not seem pleased at the time, saying, "I think it was before our game started, which is, I understand that. He wasn't going to play today. I don't want to make more of that than it was." Waller was also joined on the practice field by two others who had missed significant camp time in CB Rock Ya-Sin and LB Divine Deablo while four PUP guys came off the list in DTs Bilal Nichols and Johnathan Hankins, CB Trayvon Mullen and WR Dillon Stoner.-- Paul Gutierrez

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts and Detroit Lions squared off in the first of two days of joint practices in Indiana, a workout highlighted by the strong performance of the Colts' passing game. Quarterback Matt Ryan had an impressive day for the Colts, particularly in a full-team red zone period against the Lions' starting defense in which Ryan threw touchdowns on each of his first three pass attempts. One was was a spectacular catch by rookie Alec Pierce, who made a one-handed grab on a fade route in the back corner of the end zone. "Those are the kind of things we saw from Alec in college," coach Frank Reich said. That was a good step. That was a good stuff." -- Stephen Holder

Cincinnati Bengals: Bengals veteran offensive tackle La'el Collins missed Wednesday's practice because of personal reasons, coach Zac Taylor said after the session. Collins, who missed the beginning of camp with a back issue, was out on Monday as the team looks to work him back into the mix. Taylor didn't have an immediate timetable for Collins' return but he isn't concerned about the right tackle's availability for Week 1.

"We just got confidence that he'll be ready," Taylor said. "He's doing a lot of the walkthrough stuff and doing some individual stuff with Frank (Pollack). I feel like we'll be there." -- Ben Baby

Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Pickett took second team reps again today, the third day in a row he has worked with the second string throughout team periods. Coach Mike Tomlin said afterward Pickett was getting more runs with the second team in preparation for the second preseason game against Jacksonville on Saturday night. "He's going to get some reps and more varsity-like action in this game in an effort to get to know him and see how he fares," Tomlin said. "What he's doing out here is just preparing for it." Through the 11-on-11 periods, he completed six passes to wide receiver Gunner Olszewski, including three in the first period. -- Brooke Pryor

Baltimore Ravens: Free safety Marcus Williams, the Ravens' top free-agent signing, made his first two interceptions of training camp. He picked off Lamar Jackson, who had only been picked off twice in the first 16 practices of camp. Williams, who played last year with the Saints, has looked more comfortable in the defense this week.

"He can cover some ground," coach John Harbaugh said of Williams. "You saw that today." -- Jamison Hensley

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