What to look at at NFL minicamps: Possible dropouts, Kirk Cousins' comeback, 5 early QB battles

The NFL offseason schedule continues this week with three-day minicamps starting Tuesday for 10 teams. The remaining 22 teams will proceed with organized team activities before holding their minicamps next week.

Offseason meetings and on-field workouts are voluntary until minicamp, but now the mandatory work phase begins, and which means teams can penalize players who don't wish to participate.

These practices help coaches and players further prepare for training camp, which begins in late July and paves the best way for the preseason and regular season.

Here are among the key storylines across the league to follow as minicamps begin.

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Will contract disputes result in strikes?

The Vikings gave Justin Jefferson a huge recent contract on Monday, and the Dolphins' Jaylen Waddle received a contract extension price nearly $85 million last week, but other talented wide receivers are still waiting for his or her big payday. The 49ers' Brandon Aiyuk, the Cowboys' CeeDee Lamb and the Broncos' Courtland Sutton could avoid minicamp due to it. They is probably not the one ones, as Bengals wide receivers Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins each skipped voluntary OTA sessions on account of contract disputes. The Bengals have exercised the fifth-year option on Chase's contract, but he wants a multi-year extension like Waddle. Higgins has asked to be traded as he enters the ultimate yr of his rookie contract, however the Bengals have up to now declined.

Meanwhile, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa also wants a contract extension, but has participated in parts of the voluntary workouts. Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward, who also wants a contract extension, has skipped the OTAs.

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New coaching regimes

Seven teams hired recent head coaches this offseason, and an eighth (the Raiders) promoted interim coach Antonio Pierce to full-time coach. So minicamp will likely be the primary time Pierce, Jim Harbaugh (Chargers), Raheem Morris (Falcons), Jerod Mayo (Patriots), Dave Canales (Panthers), Mike Macdonald (Seahawks), Dan Quinn (Commanders) and Brian Callahan (Titans) will get to know their recent teams in full. The same goes for the 15 recent offensive coordinators and 16 recent defensive coordinators. These minicamp practices give coaches and assistants priceless opportunities to show players their systems while becoming more aware of their rosters before the position battles at training camp.

Early QB Competitions

At least five teams — perhaps as many as six — are expected to compete for the quarterback position this summer. The Commanders haven’t yet named Jayden Daniels because the starter ahead of Marcus Mariota, so Quinn and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury could theoretically still be in evaluation mode. In the meantime, the Raiders, Patriots, Broncos, Vikings and Giants all must agree on their starters. The position battles may not begin until training camp, but don't think Aidan O'Connell and Gardner Minshew (Raiders), Jacoby Brissett and Drake Maye (Patriots), JJ McCarthy and Sam Darnold (Vikings), Daniel Jones and Drew Lock (Giants) will wait until July to attempt to separate themselves from their counterparts with every rep and throw in minicamp.

The Bears have already named Caleb Williams, the No. 1 overall draft pick for 2024, as their starting quarterback.

Aaron Rodgers is back on the sector with the Jets after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury in the primary week of last yr. (Sarah Stier / Getty Images)

The 2023 season for various high-profile players was ended prematurely by serious injuries. Some of those players are actually at the tip of their rehabilitation phase. Others have returned to the sector and are using OTAs and minicamp workouts to shake off the rust. Coaches and training staffs use these sessions to evaluate where their stars are a few month before training camp.

Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers (torn Achilles), Kirk Cousins ​​(torn Achilles), Joe Burrow (wrist surgery), Deshaun Watson (shoulder surgery) and Daniel Jones (knee surgery) will likely be in various capacities at minicamp. Browns running back Nick Chubb and Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs, each of whom suffered torn ACLs, are among the many high-profile non-quarterbacks still working their way back to full strength.

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Familiar faces in recent places

Some of the sport's most recognizable players have modified their residences this offseason. Pass rusher Danielle Hunter signed with the Texans. Running back Saquon Barkley traded from the Giants to the Eagles. Running back Josh Jacobs left the Raiders for the Packers. And Derrick Henry left the Titans for the Ravens. Linebacker Leonard Floyd signed with the 49ers, wide receiver Calvin Ridley signed with the Titans, and the Steelers signed each Russell Wilson and Justin Fields. After a couple of OTA sessions, they need to now have a superb understanding of their roles on their recent teams and might proceed to indicate what they’ll do in minicamp.

Rookie WR Marvin Harrison will get to work when the Cardinals hold minicamp next week. (Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today)

How are the newcomers doing?

Williams, Daniels, Maye, wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., offensive tackle Joe Alt and other recently drafted players have all gotten a taste of NFL training because of a rookie minicamp and voluntary workouts. For some, nevertheless, June's minicamp will likely be their first time working with the total team on the sector and, in some cases, their first real test against experienced competition. The rookies should slowly turn into aware of their playbooks, but the educational process is ongoing. Learning will proceed throughout training camp, however the goal is to go away minicamp with a superb foundation in order that they're able to compete in July.

Experiments with special teams

NFL owners have agreed to dramatic changes to the kickoff format this season. The change would require all players on the kicking team to line up on the receiving team's 40-yard line, while the receiving team will line up nine players at its own 35-yard line. Two players will line up further back as returners. The kicker will proceed to kick from his own 35-yard line. The kickoff team's defenders usually are not allowed to maneuver until the ball touches the bottom within the “landing zone” — contained in the receiving team's 20-yard line. If the ball hits the bottom in front of the landing zone, it can be moved to the receiving team's 40-yard line, just as when a kickoff goes out of bounds. On touchbacks, the ball should be moved to the receiving team's 30-yard line.

Minicamp will likely be the primary time NFL players have a full opportunity to learn easy methods to line up and execute the modified play from their coordinators, although some teams have already begun experimenting during OTAs.

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