NFL training camps are opening up this week as offseason fodder becomes preseason fodder.
One of the deepest traps fans can fall into during training camp is buying into the stereotypical quotes that don’t really mean anything. It’s an easy mistake to make after waiting for months for something meaningful to be said in the NFL.
In an effort to keep excitement levels somewhat even with expectations, here’s a quick guide to parsing over-hyped training camp talk.
“This is as good a team as I’ve ever been around.”
Most likely to hear from: Cowboys, Dolphins, Jaguars, Titans, Eagles, Buccaneers, Patriots
Camp hasn’t even begun and Jerry Jones already used this one. For anyone on a team that had a breakout 2016 and didn’t lose too many pieces, or on a team that made a bunch of offseason moves, it’s an unverifiable claim that can used to pump up existing excitement or garner attention if the outlook is bland.
“I’m in the best shape of my life.”
Most likely to hear from: Keenan Allen, Robert Nkemdiche, Adrian Peterson, Jaylon Smith, Laquon Treadwell, Carson Palmer, Jamaal Charles
Are you coming off an injury, or a young player who struggled to jump from college to pros, or a really old veteran? Well, here’s the quote for you. There’s been very little, if any, contact to cause injury. It’s still early in camp. You haven’t played at game speed in months. You’ve had plenty of time to relax and recover at your own pace. Of course you feel like you’re in great shape!
“We can compete with anybody.”
Most likely to hear from: Jets, Browns, Bears, 49ers, Jaguars
Technically, if you can line up a 53-man roster and make it to the stadium on time, you can compete with anyone. This is code for “we might not get blown out every game.” Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson said his team will win the Super Bowl this season, which was so far past this version of the quote that no one found it remotely believable.
“There’s a different energy around the team this year.”
Most likely to hear from: Cowboys, Steelers, Giants, Texans, Saints
Adding a big-name player, filling a longtime position of need, or just being a young team can bring a different energy or vibe to a club. The feeling that things are noticeably different for a good reason can create a new aura around any team willing to be optimistic.
“We’re getting better every day.”
Most likely to hear from: Everyone
That’s the point of training camp – to get better every day.
“The guys are really buying into the system.”
Most likely to hear from: Rams, Bills, Broncos, Chargers, 49ers
If your team got a new coaching staff this offseason, you better believe there’s a new system coming in. And if you expect your players to want to play under the new coaches, you ought to expect that they’re really buying into that new system.
“I’m excited to compete.”
Most likely to hear from: Someone probably about to lose their roster spot
If you know your roster spot is safe, you would be excited for camp to be over.
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