For football fans, the offseason sometimes feels interminable. The last regular-season game was played six months ago, the Super Bowl was decided in February, and the draft in April was little more than a short-term fix for the truly addicted.
But the long wait is almost over. The Cleveland Browns open training camp Friday in Berea, and by Aug. 1, all 32 teams will be sweating somewhere under summer’s heat.
So why wait any longer? Here are five questions we’re anxious to see answered when camps open:
1. Where will T.O. go? Let’s start with the teams that have no interest in Terrell Owens: the Redskins, Chargers, Seahawks, Vikings and Patriots, plus a few others. Although his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, insists there’s still a market for the 36-year-old wide receiver, don’t expect a contract offer for a few weeks – or until an injury creates a need for a wideout. Owens, whose numbers have tapered off in each of the past three seasons, will have to accept a supporting role and an incentive-laden deal, and he’ll have to tone down his usual over-the-top histrionics. But is that really a bad thing?
2. Will Albert Haynesworth be a happy camper? No one knows for sure, but if the Redskins defensive lineman has really dropped 32 pounds, as his personal trainer claimed last week, it can’t be view as anything but a good sign. Still, you can’t get away from the fact Haynesworth has been absent from the team’s offseason activities and has yet to agree to jump on board Washington’s switch to a 3-4 defense. Until that happens – and until he makes amends with disgruntled teammates who were unhappy over his no-shows – there’s no reason for new coach Mike Shanahan to feel optimistic.
3. Will Michael Vick be wearing an Eagles uniform when camp breaks? Right now, the smart money says yes. Vick should feel happy to have a job, but he hasn’t hidden his desire or intention to still be a starting quarterback somewhere. Even so, it’s difficult to understand why he’s doing things to sabotage his career since gaining reinstatement last season. Vick has already been paid a $1.5-million roster bonus, so unless a team approaches the Eagles about a trade (not likely), he’ll probably serve as Kevin Kolb’s backup and as a gimmick player again.
4. Can Jason Campbell turn the Raiders into contenders? Probably not, but if there’s such a thing as addition by subtraction, Oakland will certainly be better than last season’s 5-11 team. The release of JaMarcus Russell can only be viewed as a good thing, but there’s just so much Campbell can do. Given the fact the Raiders last season scored fewer points than every team but the St. Louis Rams and totaled just 17 touchdowns, their offense will need to improve in several areas to finish ahead of the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos in the AFC West.
5. Will Brett Favre return for one more season? Puh-leez. The only question is when Favre will come back, not if (that’s why Vikings coach Brad Childress was in Mississippi on Monday to visit with the QB). OK, so Favre still sounds undecided because his left ankle isn’t fully healed since undergoing surgery two months ago. The fact is, he wants to come back and was throwing the ball to some kids in Hattiesburg last week. Anyway, how much time does Favre really need in training camp? Sure, he turns 41 in October, but he played in just three preseason games last season and still took the Vikings to the NFC Championship game. Best guess: He suits up around mid-August.