June Minicamp thoughts
The NFL inches a step closer to Week 1 with mandatory mini camps kicking off. Teams have the chance to witness their draft picks take an NFL practice field for the first time. It is an opportunity for newly signed free agents to become accustomed to their new homes.
The in-house drama continues to loom over a cloud on teams, whether it is a hold out due to a contract dispute or refusal to play in a particular situation.
June’s minicamp may not be significant in the long haul, but it creates a buzz within the football community. It can even teach us a few things as we proceed into training camp.
Now, allow me to tell you what to take away from June minicamps.
The spotlight is on the rookies
These mandatory mini camps provided a singular purpose throughout the off-season, the rookies being able to show teams why they were drafted. It is their one shot at making a decent first impression.
Like Trevor Lawrence, Kyle Pitts, and Jamarr Chase, mini camp brings high expectations and lots of media attention. Any sort of slip-up could lead to unnecessary press.
For others, it is a chance to prove why they belong in the NFL. Undrafted free agents receive a second chance with hopes of taking a spot from a low-round draft pick.
The minicamp is only a sample of how training camp will unfold. Live football is rapidly approaching.
Loss of Loyalty
Minicamp gives teams a chance to evaluate their rosters before training camp. Many players come eager to get on the field and make plays. Unfortunately, not everyone shows up to the mandatory event.
The NFL deals with at least two holdouts every season, so this is not out of the ordinary. However, one situation in 2021 stands by itself, thanks to the league’s MVP.
Stephon Gilmore, former DPOY, has refused to attend camp due to a contract dispute; Jamaal Adams played copycat a day later.
Luckily for teams, they have time to work out their issues with their star players. No one wants to mimic Le’Veon Bell’s actions, especially after last week.
A preview of position battles
The mini-camp serves a purpose other than being the first live-action football since February. It acts as a precursor to training camp. The football community can see which rookies have the chance to take that next step into a starting role.
This season’s position battles raise more eyes than usual. For example, the Jaguars drafted Travis Etienne with the 25th pick in the draft. A selection still has experts scratching their heads, especially with the recent news of Laviska Shenault impressing coaches more day by day. Also, James Robinson ranked inside the top five in rushing yards a year ago.
As we look at other battles, the quarterback controversy in Chicago has the league on the edge of its seat. Darnell Mooney smiled as he caught passes from the 11th overall pick, Justin Fields. Fields have impressed the coaching staff throughout the first week of the mini-camp. Does Andy Dalton believe he is still starting Week 1?
Fields is not the only rookie QB fighting for the starting job. Trey Lance and Mac Jones began competing for the role this week. Mac Jones has shown struggles early into camp but has improved each day. On the other side of the country, Lance has gained the respect of George Kittle, who said Lance was “special.”
These moments are simply a glimpse into training camp. Teams must continue to evaluate the talent around them.
Minicamp acts as an incredible tease before training camp begins in a bit over a month. It gives fans a chance to see their favorite players again. Still, most importantly, it gives coaches the best opportunity to thoroughly evaluate rookies and newly signed free agents to evaluate rookies and newly signed free agents simply.