There’s a distinct wrestling vibe in Nashville this week, and it spilled over into the Tennessee Titans‘ training camp on Thursday.
WWE is hosting Summer Slam on Saturday, and on Sunday, pro wrestling legend Ric “The Nature Boy” Flair will perform in the ring for the last time on an independent show. Before that milestone event, Flair, 73, took time to stop by the Titans practice and speak to the players, at the invitation of coach Mike Vrabel, according to ESPN Titans reporter Turron Davenport. Flair walked onto the field after practice as the team played his theme music and shared who his favorite NFL player is, and said Vrabel could have had a career in wrestling.
The first week of the 2022 NFL training camp schedule has had its share of news, including word Thursday that Tampa Bay Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen was carted off the field with a left knee injury. Meanwhile, Carlos Dunlap II is going to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs, and after Cameron Heyward‘s rebuttal to Ben Roethlisberger claim that today’s players are more “me first,” the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback tried to add some context to his statement.
Here’s what you need to know from camps across the league:
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What our NFL Nation reporters saw today
New England Patriots: Veteran WR DeVante Parker had one of the plays of the day, catching a back-shoulder TD pass from Mac Jones near the left pylon of the end zone, as CB Jalen Mills had tight coverage. In fairness to Mills, he was wearing mitts on his hands as part of a technique coaches use to help CBs avoid grabbing, and these aren’t padded practices, so there is no contact. But Parker has made an early statement nonetheless. — Mike Reiss
Jacksonville Jaguars: Cornerback Shaquill Griffin didn’t have an interception in his first season with the Jaguars in 2021, but he did drop four potential picks, which is why he made working on his hands a priority in the offseason. It appears to have paid off early in training camp. Griffin made a diving, one-handed catch to secure a tipped pass in the end zone during red zone work on Thursday. Trevor Lawrence tried to zip a pass to tight end Evan Engram, but linebacker Shaq Quarterman deflected it and Griffin nabbed it. Griffin, who signed three-year contract worth $40 million in March 2021, said in the spring that he had been trying to catch 75-100 balls per day. — Mike DiRocco
Washington Commanders: The Commanders’ offense did not look sharp Thursday, especially the passing game. Too much pressure by the defense; too many hands in passing lanes and too many errant throws. But late in practice quarterback Carson Wentz showed off his arm on a deep ball to rookie receiver Jahan Dotson, hitting him in stride on an approximately 40-yard throw vs. tight coverage by corner Benjamin St-Juste. The play also highlighted Dotson’s strengths as he maintained leverage and made an over-the-shoulder catch. Dotson has been impressive since the spring. — John Keim
Los Angeles Chargers: Chargers star safety Derwin James Jr. did not practice for a second consecutive day as negotiations over a contract extension continue. James is, however, participating in the walk-through portions of practice. Edge rusher Joey Bosa went through the contract process two years ago and said he’s talked with James about the situation. “He’s, I think, doing the right thing,” Bosa said about James, a two-time Pro Bowl selection. “He obviously deserves whatever he’s going to get,” Bosa said. “He puts in 100 percent every single day…. the fact that he’s out here, coaching the guys, fully involved, 100 percent locked in every day, it obviously means a lot to all of us.” James is scheduled to earn $9 million in the final season of his rookie deal.
Atlanta Falcons: It’s only been two days, but quarterback Marcus Mariota has looked good. Based on unofficial calculations, Mariota has completed all 24 passes he’s thrown so far in camp — although to be fair, a lot of them have been short passes, and Thursday he was bailed out a few times by nice plays from his tight ends, including Anthony Firkser with a one-handed, diving catch. Rookie QB Desmond Ridder also has looked like he’s getting a handle on the offense — a deep throw to Drake London in particular sparkled Thursday — but he also held the ball too long in multiple instances. The Falcons have essentially indicated that they are starting out with Mariota as their No. 1, but it’s going to be an interesting competition to watch. — Michael Rothstein
Top NFL news of the day
Ryan Jensen was carted off the field during Thursday’s training camp practice with a left knee injury.
Bucs coach Todd Bowles said Jensen will undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the injury. General manager Jason Licht said the team might not have a diagnosis for a few days due to swelling.
The injury happened during a team period and resulted in the whole team gathering around Jensen, who has been a fixture on the Bucs’ offensive line for five seasons. The mood immediately turned somber.
Veteran defensive end Carlos Dunlap is signing a one-year deal worth up to $8 million with the Kansas City Chiefs, agent Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Thursday.
The Chiefs were 29th in the league and sacks last season and lost one of their top pass rushers in veteran Melvin Ingram, who left in free agency to the Miami Dolphins.
After attributing a lack of playoff success to a rise in “me-first” players, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger walked back his comments in an interview with a local radio station Thursday.
“I probably should’ve been more detailed, more specific,” Roethlisberger told 102.5 DVE. “It’s not the majority of guys are that way.”
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