Training camp is underway and the Ravens got some good news and some bad news. The Browns have a serious competition going on, though, that's relative. Pittsburgh is dealing with a distraction, whether they want to have one or not, and whether that player - cough, Le'Veon Bell - wants to admit it or not.
The Ravens dealt with so many injuries last season, and unfortunately quite a few are carrying over to this season. Terrell Suggs, Steve Smith Sr., Elvis Dumervil, and Breshad Perriman will all start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Now this isn't a huge deal. Players can be taken off the list before the regular season at anytime, once they're medically cleared, but it puts a progress report on rehab for those injured players.
It also means many of these players have been spending their offseasons rehabbing and not getting into game shape. That obviously leads to them being behind already and it will take them longer to get into season-ready form.
It is especially disappointing for Ravens fans to see Perriman, who spent all of last season dealing with a knee injury, still not on the field. Perriman was the Ravens first round pick in the 2015 draft, and has yet to see the field.
Again, it is still very early, and these players will probably get back on the field soon, but it is worth monitoring whether these important players take longer than expected to get off this list.
The Ravens most important players was on the field practicing for the first day of camp. Joe Flacco, who is returning from a torn ACL, was taking first team reps and said he felt comfortable with his knee.
This is a good sign because it means Flacco will likely not miss any regular season games which was a major concern when he was injured late last season. While Flacco says he is comfortable now, that doesn't mean much. Right now he doesn't have to worry about getting hit. He won't truly be okay until he gets up from that first big sack unscathed.
It is one less headache for the Ravens though who are trying to bounce back from a disappointing season where most of their starters were placed on Injured Reserve.
One year ban has changed Josh Gordon
Josh Gordon has been reinstated after serving his year long suspension, but he will serve another four game suspension to start the 2016 season. Gordon also joined the Browns at training camp with a quad injury, but he did come saying all the right things. Gordon made a point to say he is more open to outside help, and that he has changed.
At this point though Browns fans are used to hearing Gordon talk the talk, and they are much more interested in seeing their troubled player walk the walk. Gordon has a golden opportunity, and it will likely be his last with the Browns if he messes it up. Cleveland has stood by Gordon through some very tough and frustrating times, and if Gordon would like to continue to be employed by the team he better say the right things.
Gordon is a long way removed from when he led the league in receiving in 2013. If he can recapture that magic it will certainly help the Browns in their rebuilding process. It would help more if he and Robert Griffin III could recapture their chemistry from their Baylor days together. It would also give the Browns an offensive identity which is something that the team doesn't look like they have currently.
Gordon may also be more keen on changing given his replacement car sales job didn't go so well.
Let the Browns' quarterback competition begin
The most interesting competition for the Browns is their quarterback competition. While it appears that it is Griffin's job to lose, Josh McCown and rookie Cody Kessler aren't exactly dark horse candidates. Griffin has spent the past two seasons struggling to get playing time ahead of Kirk Cousins after being selected with the second overall pick in Washington. The coach who didn't believe in him was Jay Gruden. Could another former Cincinnati offensive coordinator lose faith in Griffin? It is possible.
At this point, the Browns have nothing to lose with an open competition. It is understood by fans, the team, and the media that the Browns are preparing to build for the long haul. So making "win now" decisions doesn't make much sense for them. They have time to either let young players get valuable game reps, or bring their younger players along slowly. Whichever route they choose to take, the best player doesn't necessarily need to play this season. Whoever gets the first crack at the starting job, do you actually believe the Browns will only start one quarterback in 2016?
Le'Veon Bell: I don't want to be a distraction
Le'Veon Bell is many things. He is a talented running back, a not as talented rapper, and now a distraction. Although Bell doesn't want that last tag to stick, it isn't going anywhere. Whether Bell will or won't serve his four game suspension due to several missed drug tests, that is the focus in Pittsburgh.
After losing Martavis Bryant for the season, Bell also received a suspension from the league for those drug tests. It has been pretty frustrating for Pittsburgh fans to be the butt of the jokes they're familiar with hurling at other teams. Over the past couple of seasons, between Bell and Bryant, the Steelers have had their hands full. Long ago are the days of trading away Santonio Holmes for next to nothing for violating the league's substance policy. The Steelers are standing by their troubled players.
While Bell doesn't want to be a distraction, as it stands, he's just that. His teammates, coaches, and fans have been and will continue to share their feelings on a player who is very talented, but for one reason or another can't stay on the field.
Ladarius Green starts training camp on PUP list
The Steelers had one of the most underrated signings this year when they replaced retired Heath Miller with Ladarius Green, the tight end who appeared to be the heir apparent to Antonio Gates in San Diego. However, he is starting training camp on the PUP list. Green has to medically cleared before he can practice with the team.
Green is recovering from a January surgery on his ankle, and his progress has been very hush hush. It isn't a great sign that he still isn't out on the field with nothing known, but the Steelers could just be taking their time with getting him into the action of training camp. Everything is pure speculation until the Steelers reveal more information, or until Green returns to the field. However, with Bryant out for the season and Bell likely to miss the first four regular season games, the Steelers need all the firepower they can get.