It's kickoff time for NFL

July 20, 2008|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun reporter

Everybody has questions. *How soon can quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco start in Atlanta and Baltimore? *Where does Brett Favre play in 2008, if he plays at all? Is there another team such as the New York Giants that will come out of the shadows at playoff time to seize the Super Bowl? *There are no ready answers in July and August. *Training camp is a time to grind, but it's also a time for optimism. *Let's set the stage for the NFL's 89th season.

AFC North

In transition

Coach John Harbaugh brings a whole new game to the Ravens. They can only hope coordinator Cam Cameron brings a whole new offense.

Story line to watch in camp : What else? The QB watch. Before the year is out, Kyle Boller, Troy Smith and Joe Flacco all might get their chances behind center.

Cincinnati (7-9)

Training camp: Next Sunday at Georgetown (Ky.) College

In transition: Mike Zimmer is the latest in a line of defensive coordinators under coach Marvin Lewis. First-round pick Keith Rivers, a linebacker from USC, is a building block.

Story line to watch in camp: Lewis stared down playmaking WR Chad Johnson in the offseason. The coach will find out whether Johnson has checked his attitude.

Cleveland (10-6)

Training camp: Wednesday at the team's Berea, Ohio, facility

In transition: The Browns traded for DTs Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams to upgrade the run defense. They stroked the passing game by signing WR Donte Stallworth.

Story line to watch in camp: Derek Anderson is the starting QB, but Brady Quinn is pushing.

Pittsburgh (10-6)

Training camp: Next Sunday at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa.

In transition: RB Rashard Mendenhall and WR Limas Sweed, drafted in the first two rounds, give QB Ben Roethlisberger some new weapons.

Story line to watch in camp: The Steelers' defense wore down late in the season. Coach Mike Tomlin needs to find a solution.

AFC East

Buffalo (7-9)

Training camp: Friday at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, N.Y.

In transition: It's amazing the Bills were as competitive as they were with such a bad defense. DT Marcus Stroud (trade) and CB Leodis McKelvin (first-round pick) should help.

Story line to watch in camp: The job of getting QB Trent Edwards up to speed has fallen to new offensive coordinator Turk Schonert.

Miami (1-15)

Training camp: Friday at the team's Davie, Fla., facility

In transition: Executive VP Bill Parcells and coach Tony Sparano descended on Miami like a whirlwind, sweeping out the debris from a one-win season.

Story line to watch in camp: Can Pro Bowl DE Jason Taylor reinvent himself in Parcells' 3-4 defense, or do the Dolphins deal him?

New England (16-0)

Training camp: Tomorrow at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

In transition: For a near-perfect team, the Patriots made a lot of changes. Free agent Victor Hobson and first-round pick Jerod Mayo have a chance to make the biggest impact at linebacker.

Story line to watch in camp : Can the Patriots get younger on defense and still get better?

New York Jets (4-12)

Training camp: Opened Wednesday at the team facility in Hempstead, N.Y.

In transition: Coach Eric Mangini overhauled the roster to address major deficiencies, gambling on DT Kris Jenkins (Maryland), OLB Calvin Pace and OT Damien Woody.

Story line to watch in camp: Quarterback remains problematic with Chad Pennington battling Kellen Clemens.

AFC South

Houston (8-8)

Training camp: Today at Methodist Training Center in Houston

In transition: Although their defense needs the most help, the Texans made their biggest changes on offense with new coordinator Kyle Shanahan and assistant head coach Alex Gibbs.

Story line to watch in camp: The Texans are still trying to find a running game. Gibbs' proficiency in teaching the cut-block scheme could end the search.

Indianapolis (13-3)

Training camp: Thursday at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind.

In transition: The Colts turn over their roster at the slowest rate in the NFL. This summer, they welcome back RB Dominic Rhodes.

Story line to watch in camp: Pass rusher Dwight Freeney's season-ending foot injury last year was a big blow. Getting him back at full speed will be crucial.

Jacksonville (11-5)

Training camp: Friday at the team facility

In transition: In need of receivers and pass rushers, the Jaguars got a pair of both - Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson for offense and draft picks Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves for defense.

Story line to watch in camp: Assuming QB David Garrard can repeat his success, the Jaguars have to believe they can compete with the Colts for the division title.

Tennessee (10-6)

Training camp: Friday at the team facility

In transition: Offensive coordinator Norm Chow did not get the desired progress from QB Vince Young last year, so he was replaced by Mike Heimerdinger, back for his second term in Nashville.

Story line to watch in camp: DE Jevon Kearse returns to resurrect his career after a disappointing stay in Philadelphia.

AFC West

Denver (7-9)

Training camp: Friday at the team's Englewood, Colo., facility

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