We’re getting ever closer to the return of football.
The latest offseason benchmark to be hit is the opening of rookie training camps Wednesday. The Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New Orleans Saints will all welcome their rookie classes onto the field to get a jump on preparations for the upcoming season.
The Miami Dolphins will follow Thursday and a mix of rookies, injured players, and veterans from additional teams will also get to work as the week progresses.
Here are 10 rookies to watch upon their arrivals to training camp:
Myles Garrett, DE, Browns
Last we saw of Garrett, the first overall pick in this year’s draft was being helped off the field with an ankle injury. He’s had more than a month to heal and showcased his strength in an offseason workout video. Nonetheless, the Browns faithful and brass would be comforted to know he’s completely over his previous ailment.
The defensive end could also shed some light on the progress of his development and how much of the playbook he’s digested in an important training camp for the rebuilding Browns.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars
Much of the discussion regarding Fournette this offseason has revolved around his weight. He was the heaviest running back at the combine, then shed 12 pounds for his pro day. How much will he weigh at training camp?
Fournette has said he intends to play at 235 pounds. Regardless, head coach Doug Marrone has said the rookie will have to earn any first-team reps he receives.
The immediate future of the franchise rests on how Fournette can perform as soon as he steps into the pros.
Mitch Trubisky, QB, Bears
Trubisky isn’t expected to play much in his first year, but that doesn’t mean he’s been given a year off. The Bears stuck out their necks for the unproven quarterback and want to at least see a glimpse of what they envision for their future.
The young signal-caller took the extra step in declaring he believes the Bears will make the playoffs in 2017, though Mike Glennon will be at the controls. This year, the majority of Trubisky’s pass attempts may come at training camp.
Marlon Humphrey, CB, Ravens
Of the rookies that are likely to make the starting lineup to begin the season, Humphrey may have the best case of all. As Baltimore continues to overhaul its once dominant secondary, the Alabama stud figures to be the marquee piece.
The Ravens were happy to have the corner fall into their laps at pick No. 16. They view him playing on the outside and hope he can hone his talents through camp.
Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints
With Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson taking up much of the headlines, it’s easy for Kamara to be lost in the background. However, with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, the 5-foot-10 rusher could carve out a significant role in the rotation.
He will likely inherit the Saints’ backfield in the near future, but it’s not a stretch to imagine Kamara as an important piece of the puzzle for 2017.
Sidney Jones, CB, Eagles
Jones continues his recovery from the torn Achilles he suffered at his pro day, but his four-to-six month timeline retroactive to April could see the corner return to the field by the end of training camp.
The former Washington standout figured to be one of the first cornerbacks taken in this year’s draft ahead of the injury. He was selected by a pro team in need of immediate help at corner and will therefore be thrust into a position in which he could make an instant impact.
Chad Kelly, QB, Broncos
Kelly underwent wrist surgery for an injury that nagged him last season and popped back up during his pro day. He’s expected to be healthy enough to resume throwing at camp, however.
This year’s Mr. Irrelevant, Kelly was taken with the last pick of the draft. Yet, with his pedigree and arm strength, he could position himself for a bigger role in the future with a solid showing at his first training camp.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings
The Vikings’ battle for the starting running back job will be one to watch throughout the preseason, and rookie Dalvin Cook will get a head start as rookie camp opens for the team Sunday.
The man he will contend with, Latavius Murray, underwent offseason surgery, but should be ready to go at the outset of training camp. Cook underwhelmed at the combine, which may have prompted his drop to the second round of the draft. He could regain a lot of favor with a solid camp.
Ryan Switzer, WR, Cowboys
Of the Cowboys’ draft picks, Switzer came with little fan fare, but he’s been quick to make an impression. Working with Dez Bryant during minicamp, the fourth-round pick has shown the potential to contribute.
The Cowboys could use the receiving help. They ranked 23rd in passing yards per contest, as the offense centered on the running game. Switzer could combine with Cole Beasley as a slot option and climb the ranks if injury befalls the position.
Raekwon McMillan, LB, Dolphins
Another rookie with a starting job ripe for the picking is McMillan. The linebacker figures to join Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons on the Dolphins’ opening-day lineup, but first must secure that spot.
McMillan is a versatile defender, able to play in multiple roles, but he could begin his pro career on the outside as Koa Misi awaits clearance from a neck injury he suffered in 2016.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)
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