The Most Overlooked Storyline of Training Camp

[si_cvp_video id="video_0096E8FB-5F27-5F82-6716-1B1AB5D38D02"]

Big surprise here.

So on Friday of draft weekend last April, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and his family rented a room in a Madison hotel to celebrate his being drafted. It happened in round two, when the Broncos chose Ball.

“My phone started blowing up,” Ball said the other day. “You know, friends and family all texting and calling to congratulate me. I couldn’t read ‘em all, there were so many. Then this real long one came in, from a number I didn’t know. Like, Congratulations, so proud of you, you worked so hard to get to this point, you made your mark at Wisconsin, and now this is what we expect of you. Stuff like that. I scrolled all the way down, and at the bottom, it said, ‘P. Manning.’ Whoa! Peyton Manning texted me. I said, ‘Hey! I got Peyton Manning’s phone number!’ “

I am not surprised. Manning did the same thing after the Colts drafted Donald Brown in 2009, and I’m sure if I asked every offensive guy drafted by his team in recent years, they’d say Manning reached out to them and began laying the plan for the guy to get to know the offense.

Manning, 37, and I spoke for The MMQB when I was in Denver on Thursday (more coming soon in our every-weekday 3Q Interview), and I asked him if he was starting to get to the point where football was becoming wearisome—in any way. The prep, the sameness … anything.

“The reason I’m lucky,” he said, “is because I still love working at it. I’ve heard older players say, ‘The game’s the easy part. I dread the meetings, the practice, the preparation.’ That’s not me. [Brother] Eli and I had a little minicamp with some of our receivers down at Duke in the spring. Which, obviously, we didn’t have to do. But I loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Loved working with the receivers during the day, loved having dinner at night and talking football. I think if it doesn’t eat you up and you’re not consumed by it, it’s time to go. It’s not time for me yet.”

***

[si_cvp_video id="video_C653248D-B607-25F4-B980-2856C806F3DE"]

Ten things I learned out West.

1. Coaches watched the Jason Garrett speech. A couple were surprised that the Cowboys allowed the 35-minute tape of Garrett’s pre-training-camp speech to his team to be shared with The MMQB. Two coaches I’ve spoken to watched the entire 35 minutes. “A good resource,” one said. “I liked how he stressed camaraderie, because with teams being so fluid and changing so much, that becomes an important issue.” This coach said he enjoyed the section of the speech when Garrett discussed eating together as a team. Said the Dallas coach to his players: “Eat your meals with your teammates. I’m about to ban the Styrofoam deals, guys. [Dallas allows players to go through the team-meal line with a Styrofoam container and get food to go.] … This is an incredible opportunity you guys have. It’s one of the great experiences of your life to be a teammate with somebody in the National Football League. The camaraderie you develop at a team meal is like nothing else. When people retire from the game, you know what they say? ‘I miss the locker room. I miss the camaraderie at the meals.’ So lose the Styrofoam thing, get a tray, sit down next to one of your teammates, and let’s build a football team. Let’s build a football team. It’s really important stuff. You’re gonna thank me for it later. Trust me. You’re gonna thank me for it later.”

2. The riskiest draft pick in the first round isn’t hitting anyone yet. Oakland cornerback D.J. Hayden, who nearly died from a heart injury on the practice field at the University of Houston last November, has a red shirt on at practice, as so many quarterbacks wear this time of year. That signifies a player who shouldn’t be hit. I watched Saturday’s practice in Napa, Calif., and Hayden, who has not had a collision since the day he was hurt, ran and covered well—except on a play on which he clearly interfered with a receiver in deep coverage. There’s no plan for precisely when Hayden will put on pads, in part because his recovery was hampered in the spring when he kept vomiting on the practice field. Turns out scar tissue from the surgery was wrapped around part of his bowel, so he needed bowel-obstruction surgery. When we spoke on Saturday, he seemed tired of talking about the story. “I just want to play football,” he said. “I really think after the first collision, I’ll be fine. I really don’t think it’ll be an issue.”

3. Most impressive unknown player I saw: Oakland tight end David Ausberry, who had the best single move—a nifty catch, juke and run—in the first week of my tour.

4. Eric Mangini’s back. Hidden, quiet and understated, Mangenius watches practice as a Niners offensive consultant—he, of course, has been a longtime defensive coach—and tries to absorb Greg Roman’s offense.

5. Quentin Jammer could be reborn in Denver. The Broncos are looking at him at safety in the nickel and also at slot corner. His impact could be felt most in his versatility. And by the way, John Elway loves him some Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Thinks he’ll be reborn playing next to Champ Bailey and Chris Harris.

6. Of the Denver DUI twins—personnel men Matt Russell and Tom Heckert—I expect to see Heckert back first, perhaps within a month. Both are undergoing counseling. Sounds like Russell’s is significantly more involved, and if he returns to the team it will be well into the season.

7. The Niners are getting a kick out of Lawrence Okoye, the British Olympian trying to make the transition to football. He put on pads for the first time Friday, and put the thigh pads in upside down. He’s trying to make it as a 6-6, 304-pound defensive lineman. The British record-holder in the discus asked one day which bloke he was supposed to block. Justin Smith liked that one.

8. Seattle and Denver fans are drunk on Super Bowl Express punch. The fervor in those places is noticeable at practice and in the city. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, it’s a pretty business-as-usual atmosphere. “No hoopla here,” new corner Nnamdi Asomugha said. “Just football. I like it.”

9. Most beloved player on the trip: Oakland safety Charles Woodson. Raiders fans are smitten with their guys anyway. Woodson, who spent his first eight seasons in Oakland before leaving for Green Bay in 2006, is being feted as though Howie Long or Lester Hayes returned.

[si_cvp_video id="video_2D72561B-E63D-ECAA-6223-285D692C80BE"]

10. Best sight I saw: Marcus Lattimore, on a side practice field, running at about 85 percent speed and in perfect form on Sunday afternoon. Lattimore is only 10 months removed from his gruesome knee injury at South Carolina, and he told me he’s confident of being on the field with full contact by midseason. I expect the Niners, who drafted Lattimore in the fourth round, will treat this as a redshirt year for him. “This,” he said, looking out on the field before practice, “is my reward.” What an optimistic, hopeful kid.

***

If this doesn’t make you feel old, nothing will.

Seeing this line on the camp roster of the New York Giants:

eli-manning-inline

Experience: 10.

Eli Manning, a 10-year veteran. Same for Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger, of course.

Just another reminder of how time marches on for everyone in this game, and how it won’t be long before the Giants, Chargers and Steelers have to start thinking of life after their franchise quarterbacks.

“It’s gone by quickly,” said Manning, upon checking in for his 10th camp. “It really has. Each year I’m very grateful to be here and have another opportunity to play for the New York Giants and compete for championships for the Giants and the organization. They put a great team together, a great coaching staff, and Coach Coughlin and everybody is going to be on the same page and determined to go out there and win a championship, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

That quote is another reason why Manning is so invaluable to the Giants. In an era when anything that smells remotely controversial ends up in a screaming headline on the back pages in New York, Manning, in the tradition of his family, can always be counted on to say and do the right thing—win or lose.

PREV 1 2 3 4NEXT VIEW AS A SINGLE PAGE
More from The MMQB
227 comments
AnnabelLee
AnnabelLee

"In Baltimore’s improbable Super Bowl run last winter, ...".  What was so improbable?  They were SB contenders from the beginning.  As a matter of fact, they are SB contenders every year for most of the last decade.  Sure, they lost a couple of games late in the season.  Bet you would never use "improbable" when referring to your beloved Pats.  And SF is SB favorite this year?  Have you seen them play?  From the looks of their 2 losses so far this year the niners getting into the playoffs is improbable.  Slurp slurp.

Richard Long
Richard Long

Uggg, Ranger IPA?  Oh man, there are so many other good IPAs.  Spend a week in Bend Oregon and you will come to realize what good IPAs are about. 

Richard Long
Richard Long

While I don't usually buy into the non-football stuff, King is so right about airline gates.  I would bet the guy with all of the bags trying to cut in is traveling for his work, which means they will reimburse him for any costs of checking.  He just didn't want the extra hassle of going to get his bag.  Instead, he would prefer to inconvenience other people who bring on one bag for the overhead.  

DWJ08
DWJ08

This site is great. I don't go on the regular SI site anymore, and forget about ESPN. This site has all I need a little bit more. 

ChrisDudding
ChrisDudding

Love the new site.  As one of the stated goals is to allow us to consume sport information in whatever method we choose, can we please bring back the "print" function?  I don't mind if there are ads on each page, but right now printing the new site is a mess...

While we're at it, is there a way to subscribe via Kindle?

mtoews
mtoews

Read the article as always, agreed with some of what you said but not all, as always.  One point keeps getting stuck in my head and I cant get it out.  What does a kid wearing a "You Mad Bro" shirt have to do with Richard Sherman.  Just because Sherman has said a meme doesn't make it something that he owns.

"" 4. I think the star turn of Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman may be just beginning. Not just because of his appearance onthe cover ofSports Illustrated this week (if you haven’t, read the first of a series of guest columns he’s writing for The MMQB). But walking through the terminal at Denver International Airport late Thursday, I saw a young boy with a “YOU MAD BRO?” t-shirt.""

tj90036
tj90036

thanks for adding a PRINT BUTTON!!!!

jimbor2223
jimbor2223

More garbage from Peter King. When will he show some "sack" and call people out.  Everything is roses in his article so he won't piss anyone off in the NFL. Borrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrinnnnng!

GeorgeJ.Day
GeorgeJ.Day

"Tim Tebow caught three passes in the first practice of Patriots training camp. I see him being in the mold of a utility player if he makes the team, active some weeks and inactive others, not playing one set position."

I would like to see Tebow molded into a player like the old Dolphins backup QB, Jim Jensen.  I can hardly remember a game in which Jensen played QB, but he seemed to do a little bit of everything else.  Jensen is one of my all time favorite Miami players because of his willingness and ability to play wherever the coaches needed him.

andrewm47
andrewm47

Hey, normally love your writing, from a writer's point of view, but...

"There’s one of the most nonimpactful seventh overall picks ever."

Really? Even though I am finally ready to admit that "impact" can be used as a verb, and that "impactful" (ugh) is now a word in English, that is unnecessarily ugly. Why not

"There's one of the lowest impact seventh-overall picks ever." 

gary41
gary41

On Harvin:  Labral tears of the hip, based on player's information and MR imaging, which was presumably obtained, either by Harvin or the Seahawks, vary in severity like virtually all injuries.  MR arthrography & arthroscopy are needed to really evaluate how bad the tear is.  Unfortunately if the tear is very bad, open surgery may be needed to effectively suture the pieces back together.  There is a lot of nonsense in the media about how one players cortisone shot was just fine in treatment of one hip problem, so this might be fine for others, often with inadequate imaging and evaluation.  There is also a feeling, based on ignorance among coaches, that players with grit can play through injuries.  It just doesn't work that way.  Playing through injuries results in more damage, which shortens useful athletic lives.  Both Harvin & the Seahawks want to do the right thing.     

RantsNRavens
RantsNRavens

The Dennis Pitta injury is going to present challenges for my Ravens, I'm not denying that at all.  But I will be so happy when the coming season is over and I can come back and tell everyone like King who keeps going on and on about what a bad deal getting rid of Boldin was how once again Ozzie was right to do it.  Young guys on the Ravens are going to step up, and Bolding isn't getting any younger/faster.  I'll always be grateful for how clutch he was in in their second Super Bowl run/win, but nobody was singing his praises during the regular season much, if at all, and the guy is clearly on the downside of a great career.  Good luck to him but not the Whiners; they are reflection of their head coach now, for better or worse.

Loren1
Loren1

So....regarding Anquan Bolden to SF. Is it too obvious to ask, this is one brother feeling a little guilt, and brotherly support to the other...and trying to help him get a SB trophy? No matter how you pitch it as a pragmatic move for Baltimore, there is no way that I can see it advantageous to give up a high impact receiver still with many good years of productivity, for such a low round pick. This is so remarkably skewed toward 49ers favor, that its almost irresponsible of Baltimore.

JPSmall
JPSmall

NO ONE better be actually comparing Jerry Rice and Wes Welker. His avg ypc is more than 6 yards less over his career; that's a lot of dump off stuff. Not to mention, he dropped a ball that probably would have won them a SB, even if it was a bad throw (still hit his hands). 

JPHolwell
JPHolwell

Most overlooked part of the first tweet of the week: a man with the name "O'Brien Schofield." That name makes no sense... O'Brien is a surname, a family name. It literally means: descendant of Brien. 

Sheesh... Names in this country keep getting weirder and weirder.

Maybe more concussions will help... And now back to football.

101philosopha101
101philosopha101

What do you mean no one's talking about? Everyone's talking about Anquan Boldin's huge gain for the 49ers and equally huge loss to the Ravens.  King, you need to retire, man...your writing is more than predictable, you are starting to lie in order to get some coverage.  I'm done reading your stuff.

Mike26
Mike26

So Percy Harvin is hurt (again) and disagreeing with management (again) over the severity/treatment of his injury?  Wow, I'm completely shocked by this turn of events.  Who didn't see this coming?

JKY220
JKY220

Jim Saccamano? Wasn't that Kramer's friend?

shawn p
shawn p

The most overlooked story in training camp continues to be PED use in the NFL. Where is the outrage, or is that reserved for baseball only?

avikingfan44
avikingfan44

For all those bemoaning lack of "Print" feature, I'm assuming it's not an oversight but a choice.  They've got sponsors ponying up big time to support the site and print feature that cuts ads defeats the purpose.  They may lose in the end because this ship sailed long ago, but I suspect it is all calculated.

Theo
Theo

I hope Alex Smith leads the NFL in completions over 20 yards and KC bans this fat, smarmy, beer drinking, non-running, fat bastard from their facility. What a complete turd of a human being. You give SI a bad name Mr. King. Your trite remarks and disgusting political forays make me sick. Your annoying view that we all want to hear how you think things should be astonishes me. Please hire new writers for your stolen from Grantland idea so we don't have to read the same damn article week after week. How did SI give you a new deal? What an awful decision. 

Starstruck
Starstruck

@mtoews I also hope that MMQB doesn't turn into yourfootballnerdness in desperation for article material. Personally, I think Sherman is an example of what is wrong with the NFL today: an emphasis upon the 'I' than cannot be found in 'TEAM'. Apparently there are no leaders in the Seattle lockerroom to reign in a Sound-Bite Seeking Mouth.

jb98311
jb98311

@tj90036 Ditto. That wasn't so hard now, was it? I will now return to reading MMQB. Thank you.

duckfan59
duckfan59

@jimbor2223 Then why bother reading it? I don't understand people who come on here just to say "what a lousy writer; I don't like his column." If you don't like him, don't read him and don't come on here commenting about it so we all have to hear your whining. Don't like Peter King's columns? Simple solution: Don't click on them with that little mousy thing.

Mike26
Mike26

@GeorgeJ.Day That's a good analogy, except that Jensen was all set to be the starting QB and then Miami drafted that weird-looking curly-haired guy and they simply gave him the job for the next 16 years for no reason.....LOL!

It would be a good thing for Tebow but he doesn't sound like he's interested in it.

Folsom49er
Folsom49er

@gary41 Good points Gary,

The Seahawks paid ALOT to get Harvin & if in fact he needs surgery then they have to look at the Big Picture which is beyond this season.

RantsNRavens
RantsNRavens

@Loren1 Let me know at the end of the season if you still feel this way, and if you truly believe Q was worth $6 million.

Saqalicious
Saqalicious

@JPSmall Agreed (for the most part - I still think the throw by Brady was more to blame than Welker dropping the ball). 

In addition to YPC, Rice also destroys Welker in TD's scored. Rice caught quite a few dump offs, but he turned those into long gains, not just 9 yard receptions.

Loren1
Loren1

@101philosopha101 

you're way too harsh...and pointless to be so critical. He means that SI hasn't covered it much, and it is an obviously head scratching trade. But since you're not reading this anymore...I guess you won't see this, right? heh heh. I bet you're still checking?

mystafugee
mystafugee

@101philosopha101 all NFL writing nowadays is predictable.  Ever since the NFL strong-armed ESPN into cancelling Playmakers, all these writers have been towing the company line.  Peter King practically sounded like the owner's PR person during the lockout.  

Mike26
Mike26

@shawn p Maybe because the NFL has been testing forever and baseball has "gotten tough" on PED's starting about 3 months ago.

duckfan59
duckfan59

@Theo Lighten up, Francis.
What, you're butthurt because he pointed out the obvious that Kaepernick is better QB than Smith? He didn't diss KC, just said SF made the right decision....which they did.

Phroggo
Phroggo

@Theo 

The orderlies are on their way, Theo, it's time for your sponge bath.

Loren1
Loren1

@Theo 

I think the rest of us have some conclusions about you, based on your rant. To call people names, because you don't like what a person writes? Dude, you obviously have problems and need anonymity to vent a problem life you live. Digusting political forays? Dude, a light hearted quip occasionally is nice way to remind that we can still laugh sometimes at serious stuff. Well, you yourself admitted it....you're sick indeed.  

Mike26
Mike26

@Theo Why are you here?  It's clear you have no superiority over Mr. King, yet harbor save savagely personal feelings towards his writing = writing that you are in no way required to read.  In the words of the great JoeCabot:  There is something wrong with people like you.

tj90036
tj90036

@jb98311 @tj90036 THEY TOOK IT AWAY!!!!   BRING ME A PRINT BUTTON!!!  BRING ME A PRINT BUTTON!!!!

posmoo
posmoo

@duckfan59 @jimbor2223

I love reading PK  BECAUSE he is the worst sports writer in existence. I enjoy collecting his stunted, incomplete, awkward phrases.

Here's are an example from this weeks episode of clunky cliched drivel:


"But walking through the terminal at Denver International Airport late Thursday, I saw a young boy with a “YOU MAD BRO?” t-shirt."


That's it. That's the complete sentence. it's like he has never taken a writing class in his life. Here's another one:

"Give me the option any day, with as much uncertainty as the Bears have right now." 

could you make this any more awkward if you even wanted to?


mystafugee
mystafugee

@Mike26 @shawn p The NFL tests are a joke, unless you do blood tests, it's too easy to get past.  To this day I'm still genuinely shocked when an NFL player flunks a test.  

Theo
Theo

@Phroggo @Theo @Loren1@Mike26Ah personal attacks instead of examples  . . . the refuge of the stupid liberal/Dem. You and the others above try and call me out but each of you just attack. Not very well either, I might add. Calling me sick? What a bunch of lemmings. Peter King is an obnoxious jerk and this format allows me to post my opinion. You fools attack because it does't agree with yours? I will feel nothing for your empty, meaningless ends. Each one of you and whatever loser brood you claim is a pox on society. Please stop voting. I'm sick? Good one idiots. 

Theo
Theo

@Loren1 @Theo Light hearted quip? Are you delirious? You are the sick one hiding behind anonymity you annoying worm. Please don't vote again you are contributing to the destruction of our country. What a foolish person you are. Peter King is a piece of human waste and should be dropped deep in a hole with you and the rest of your voting ilk. Sick? Imagine if I could be honest . . .

Theo
Theo

@Mike26 @Theo I'm here to call out sheep and make my feeling known. . .why are you here? Go about your business maggot and don't bother me.

DWJ08
DWJ08

@tj90036 @jb98311 Does Ctrl+p not work? It shows pages and pages of MMQB when I press that combo. 

Mike26
Mike26

@Phroggo @Theo Phroggo, in his defense, he's doing pretty well for a 7th grade-level writer....

Theo
Theo

@Mike26 @Theo @Phroggo @Loren1 What you did there? I don't see it . . . what a slurping fool you are. Keep coming and I'll continue to obliterate your foolish life.

Mike26
Mike26

@Theo @Phroggo @Loren1 @Mike26 What you clearly don't understand about football and professional writing is virtually all there is to know about them.

Phroggo
Phroggo

@Theo

I doubt that's a photo of you, Theo, because I find it hard to believe you played with a helmet on.

Mike26
Mike26

@Theo @Saqalicious @Loren1 I guess if you take pride in that type of "speech", go for it.  Most middle-schoolers are right there with you!

Theo
Theo

@Saqalicious @Theo @Loren1 Nope, it makes me a person who exercises his right to free speech. You two aren't too bright huh? 

Saqalicious
Saqalicious

@Theo @Loren1 "Peter King is a piece of human waste ..." yet Theo continues to read and comment on his articles.

Wonder what that makes Theo? A human waste fanboy?

Theo
Theo

@Mike26 @Theo Yet your original post tells me I have something wrong with me for expressing an opinion that differs from yours. Like I said before, your political party is known for attacking when you have no facts so I expect nothing less from you. No name calling kid but probably a better understanding of who you are through your passive aggressive trash than you do over umpteen beers after  day landscraping. Carry on . . . 

Theo
Theo

@Mike26 @Theo Do you mean a cogent point? Wow kid, you have to stop embarrassing yourself over P. King. Go suck someone else's nuts . . . 

Mike26
Mike26

@Theo @Mike26 You ARE 13!  I knew it!  

I'll leave you alone when you make your first salient point in a football post.  I won't hold my breath waiting...

Newsletter