NFL training camp 2020 – Flying helmets, kicking contests, injury scare for Derrick Henry

Some of the biggest news in the NFL came off the field on Tuesday, as the Lions canceled practice to protest a police shooting in Wisconsin, and the Cardinals made a significant investment in one of their standout young players.

On the field, there was a scare for the Titans, and one Ravens wideout let his frustrations get the better of him.

Here’s what you need to know from camps across the league for Aug. 25:

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The Detroit Lions canceled practice Tuesday to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. They addressed reporters as a team in front of their building to deliver a message that they will be part of the change in the United States against police brutality.

Three Lions players — safety Duron Harmon, defensive end Trey Flowers and offensive tackle Taylor Decker — addressed the media to explain their decision and share why, when they entered the building Tuesday, they felt football wasn’t as important as speaking out and sending a message that what happened to Blake and many others in this country is not OK.

“As a team, we looked each other in the eyes and realized that football isn’t important today,” Harmon said. “We have a platform that we are able to use not just to raise awareness but to create change.”

The Arizona Cardinals are making two-time Pro Bowl selection Budda Baker the highest-paid safety in NFL history by giving him a four-year extension worth $59 million, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Baker was Arizona’s second-round pick in 2017, and his rookie contract was set to expire after this season.

The deal will average $14.75 million per year, but no other financial details were disclosed. The Cardinals announced the four-year extension Tuesday.

Next year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony might as well be a giant Pittsburgh Steelers reunion in Canton, Ohio.

Not only will the Steelers have three members inducted as part of the delayed Class of 2020 celebration, but more could be joining them in the Class of 2021.

Longtime scout-turned-director of player personnel Bill Nunn, who died in 2014, was selected as a contributor finalist Tuesday.

Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter envisions 15 to 25 touches per game for new running back Todd Gurley II, provided the running back’s left knee remains healthy throughout the 2020 season.

The Falcons currently have the 26-year-old Gurley on a load management plan in preparation for the Sept. 13 season opener at home against the Seattle Seahawks. Gurley sat out two padded practices during training camp thus far but participated in Monday’s scrimmage, although he did not have a heavy workload.

The Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers and San Francisco 49ers have all announced they will begin the season without fans in attendance at their home games.

“After careful consideration and discussion with state and local health officials, the Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams and SoFi Stadium have announced that Rams and Chargers games will be held without fans in attendance until further notice,” the Chargers and Rams said in a joint statement.

The teams’ NFL neighbor in Northern California issued a similar statement Tuesday.

“We can confirm that we will begin our season on September 13th against the Arizona Cardinals without fans in attendance,” the 49ers said in their statement, later using the word “if” in regard to having fans at Levi’s Stadium at any point during the season.


What our NFL Nation reporters saw and heard today

Derrick Henry went down in a pile during the team period. He got up and limped off the field, favoring his right foot. Henry returned and took part in the rest of practice including his daily trip to the sandpit for some extra work. Henry worked on pass-catching with running backs coach Tony Dews. Ryan Tannehill offered his thoughts on Henry’s receiving ability. “We see Derrick working on it. He made some strides and is catching the ball more confidently. The more we can move him around and use him as a weapon not only running the ball but in the passing game, [all the better].” — Turron Davenport

Ravens wide receiver Jaleel Scott let his frustrations get the best of him toward the end of practice when he tossed his helmet into the woods that are behind one of the team’s practice fields. Scott, a bubble player, was so upset about not being able to pull in a deep pass — that has been the theme of his camp — that he took off his helmet and flung it into the trees, which are about 10 yards beyond the end zone. It was a tough day for Scott, who caught a touchdown pass at the end of practice but injured himself by falling on the ball. — Jamison Hensley

In a training camp setting, Blake Jarwin had a beautiful reception down the seam on a pass from Dak Prescott during one of the team portions of Cowboys’ practice.

Had it been a game?

“That probably would’ve been his last play,” safety Xavier Woods said.

Woods had Jarwin lined up for the big hit, but since they are teammates there was no way the safety was going to finish it.

“You don’t have to show it in practice, just save it for the game,” Woods said. “I mean, I know on the back end we can’t hit guys in that type situation so we just save it for the game. But just to know that I’m there, that’s all that matters.”” — Todd Archer

One of the biggest developments in camp is the new role for safety Marcus Maye, who has replaced Jamal Adams as their box safety. Previously, Maye was used almost exclusively as a deep safety. “I feel like there’s a lot of tools in the tool belt,” he said of his untapped versatility. This could prove to be a lucrative change for Maye, who will be a free agent after the season. The Cardinals’ Budda Baker is a box safety (zero career interceptions) and Tuesday he landed the richest contract for a safety in history. — Rich Cimini

After a day off on Saturday and walkthroughs on consecutive days, the Raiders padded up on Tuesday and had what general manager Mike Mayock said was “as competitive a practice as we’ve had this year.” The days off rested legs, Mayock said, “and today they came out with great energy … they competed their asses off. Not just the 1-on-1stuff, but on team [drills].” Derek Carr continued to look sharp in the team’s fifth padded practice and has been a pleasant surprise for Mayock. But the GM had no updates or specifics on injured starters Tyrell Williams, Trent Brown and Trayvon Mullen. “Tyrell will be ready when he’s ready,” Mayock said. “Trent’s in a process with the trainers and I think we’ll see him pretty soon. He’s looking good…[Mullen will be back] sooner, rather than later. We were worried about him last week but it was less than we thought it was going to be.” — Paul Gutierrez

Kicker Joey Slye had a tough day, going 1-for-5 on field goal attempts with one blocked as Carolina held a live scrimmage outdoors. One reason the Panthers released veteran Graham Gano beyond the salary cap savings was they were comfortable with Slye, who last season was 8-for-11 from 50-plus yards and also 8-for-11 from 40 to 49 yards. Four of Slye’s misses Tuesday were from 49-plus yards. He got so many attempts because the offense failed to score touchdowns working on a lot of situational stuff, such as starting the game off fast, trying to score the last four minutes of the half and the end of the game. Starting QB Teddy Bridgewater got a lot of work against the first-team defense and had his moments, but engineered only one touchdown. He also was picked off by rookie corner Troy Pride Jr. on a two-point conversion. Pride has been impressive of late. — David Newton

Tuesday’s practice was interrupted because of lightning in the area, but newly signed kicker Cairo Santos did attempt a handful of field goals after the team returned to the field. Bears coach Matt Nagy stressed again that Santos — who briefly kicked for Chicago in 2017 — is insurance behind starter Eddy Pineiro, who is currently battling a groin injury. Nagy reiterated though that he plans to keep two kickers around in the regular season. The most likely scenario is one (probably Pineiro) will be on the 53-man roster and another kicker will be signed to the practice squad. “It’s just two important of a position,” Nagy said. The Bears infamously held a kicker competition last summer that Pineiro eventually won. — Jeff Dickerson

During an 11-on-11 session, quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. threw a pass to running back J.D. McKissic in the right flat which Landon Collins intercepted for a pick-six. After practice Haskins and McKissic went over the play again. Coaches talked to McKissic about the pace they wanted him to run the route, but coach Ron Rivera focused on Haskins’ role, saying he was late and needed to throw the ball wider. Rivera then talked to Haskins. It was another teachable moment. “I think if you want to say one position is really ‘As they go, we go,'” Rivera said, “it could be our quarterback position this year more so than any other this year. As they go, we truly will go.” — John Keim

With all the focus this offseason on the Packers’ top-three draft picks — quarterback Jordan Love, running back AJ Dillon and versatile tight end Josiah Deguara — fifth-round pick Kamal Martin quietly went about his business in relative anonymity. Not anymore. Practice after practice, Martin has stated his case to be the starting inside linebacker next to Christian Kirksey. He’s in competition with Oren Burks and Ty Summers, but he might already have the edge.

In the same team period on Tuesday, Martin blew up a run play, getting Jamaal Williams on a tackle for loss, and then shed a block to stop a screen pass before it could get going. Based the way he moves, it would be hard to tell he’s a rookie coming off knee surgery from an injury that occurred in his final college game at Minnesota. Perhaps he’s been able to digest the Packers’ defense so quickly because of his background reading defenses as a quarterback. In fact, he originally committed to Eastern Michigan as a quarterback but changed his mind when the home-state Gophers offered him the shot to play there as a linebacker.

“A lot of this game is mental — 90 percent of this game is mental and 10 percent is physical,” Martin said. “The more you know in-between the lines it will be beneficial on the field.” — Rob Demovsky

It’s surprising to hear that Saints defensive end Carl Granderson say he’s between 277-280 pounds now after he played at 258 last year as undrafted rookie, because he sure looks fast and fluid with a couple highlights almost every day in practice. Granderson said he made it a priority to add strength this offseason to play in the trenches (the Saints prefer bigger 4-3 DEs over smaller 3-4 OLB types). If Granderson takes a big leap forward, their depth at DE won’t be much of a question mark. — Mike Triplett.

With severe weather threatening the area Tuesday afternoon, the Steelers moved practice to their indoor facility on the south side of Pittsburgh. It was the first training camp practice not held at Heinz Field this year, and it gave the team a chance to navigate the COVID procedures for changing practice locations and transporting players to the new spot. It’s not the first time weather has changed the Steelers’ practice plans. A storm blew in during Saturday night’s practice and forced Tomlin to end the night with a period and a half still left on the script.

“You can’t win the Mother Nature battle,” Tomlin said then. “We don’t combat lightning.” — Brooke Pryor.

Broncos tight end Nick Vannett, who signed with the team in free agency, is in his fifth NFL season so he has some perspective about what it takes to succeed at the position. And consider him already on board for the Broncos’ potential in a two-tight end look. Tuesday, he said this season has the potential to be Noah Fant‘s “coming out party” (Fant was third on the team in receptions in 2019, with 40) and he called rookie tight end Albert Okwuegbunam “the real monster, just so physically gifted.” And on his own potential as a receiver — he’s never had more than 29 catches in a season — Vannett said “I’ve always had great hands … this is by far the best I’ve felt, I feel more like a receiver.” Overall, the tight end position — where the Broncos also have Troy Fumagalli and Jake Butt — could the most difficult to cut. — Jeff Legwold

Tuesday’s practice was devoted to goal-line work, including live, full-contact periods. Tom Brady had a strong day with tight end O.J. Howard, who made a leaping grab in the back of the end zone behind Jordan Whitehead for a score (Howard had two TDs today). Brady also hooked up with Cameron Brate, who made a diving catch working against Jack Cichy. And on one particular third down, Brady ran it in for a 7-yard score. Ronald Jones II also delivered an impressive 30-plus yard touchdown run on a third-and-short situation. Today was Howard’s best day yet. He’s handled the trade talk this year with the arrival of Rob Gronkowski about as well as anybody. Justin Watson is also flashing more and more. — Jenna Laine

The play of the day: Quarterback Cam Newton (6-foot-5, 245 pounds) lofting a beautiful high-arcing bomb down the right sideline to undrafted running back J.J. Taylor (5-foot-6, 185), as linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley trailed in coverage. Newton was pumped, and he seemed to reference Taylor’s diminutive stature in his celebration as he looked in Taylor’s direction and lowered his right hand toward the ground. Newton continues to take the majority of the repetitions, as he’s seized control of the QB picture. — Mike Reiss


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Quote of the day

“You can’t win the Mother Nature battle. We don’t combat lightning.”

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on moving practice indoors on Tuesday

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