For the third year in a row, all 32 NFL teams are kicking off training camp by holding practices with club-led fan events, and NFL Network, NFL+ and NFL.com will provide complete coverage through Back Together Weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Nick Shook provides his takeaways below from Saturday's camp offerings.
Take a look at these other training camp storylines:
- READ: Ezekiel Elliott leaves Patriots visit without contract
- READ: Cooper Kupp getting back into 'groove' at Rams camp
- READ: Anthony Richardson impressive early for Colts
- READ: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones standing firm with Zack Martin
- READ: Travis Kelce apologizes for skirmish
- READ: Jonathan Taylor asks for trade after Jim Irsay meeting
- READ: Sony Michel informs Sean McVay he's retiring
1) Bijan Robinson performing as advertised. One day after a clip showing the Falcons' rookie running back shaking a defender and making a highlight-reel grab went viral, NFL Network's Cameron Wolfe got an up-close look at the eighth-overall pick of the 2023 draft.
The future is bright for Robinson, according to Wolfe:
2) Patrick Mahomes hoping to cement Chiefs' place in history. Kansas City begins the 2023 season as the reigning Super Bowl champions for the second time in the last half-decade. One more Super Bowl triumph will place KC among those known as dynasties.
That's the main goal -- the only goal -- for the powerhouse Chiefs in 2023.
"Dynasty to me is over a long stretch of time," Mahomes told NFL Network's Kimmi Chex and Steve Mariucci, "and I know we've done a lot of great things, all the AFC Championship Games, the Super Bowls, the championships and everything like that, but I always say you can't talk about dynasties until you're done. We want to continue to make that dynasty, we want to make our imprint on the NFL, and Kansas City and on the world.
"And that's going to take hard work every single day at training camp, going out there and giving it everything we have on the football field, and at the end of the day when we look back on our career, I'm hoping that we get to say it was a dynasty because of the way we play football."
Kansas City has accomplished the seemingly impossible, remaining an offensive juggernaut even when key pass-catchers depart for new destinations. Having Mahomes helps, sure, but the quarterback deflected credit in the direction of his coach, Andy Reid.
"Coach Reid has a good sense of how to give the guys the right reps, let everybody get in and see what your strengths are and what your weaknesses are and how we can strengthen those," Mahomes said. "And I said this last year, as long as coach Reid is calling plays, I'm not worried about who's out there running routes, I'm going to go to the right guy on time and he'll be open."
3) Jags just as eager as everyone else to embark on 2023 campaign. The 2022 season was a pleasant surprise for Jacksonville fans who had grown far too accustomed to losing. In his first year, Doug Pederson turned the Jaguars into a feisty bunch that strung together enough late-season wins to reach the AFC Divisional Round.
That means higher expectations await Pederson, quarterback Trevor Lawrence and all of the Jaguars in 2023.
"Yeah, obviously the better you play, the more success you have, the more expectations you're going to have," Lawrence told NFL Network's Sara Walsh. "That's the position you want to be in, so that's a good thing, but you also have to work the same way, you have to treat everything the same way as it was when there weren't any expectations, when people didn't expect much of us, when no one expected us to win those games and we wanted to prove everybody wrong. You have to keep that chip on your shoulder and also we just have to keep our circle tight.
"It's about the people in this building, my teammates, the coaches, it's not really about the outside opinions, good or bad. At the end of the day you've got to go play on Sunday, and I think that's the mindset that helped us get here, and to take that next step we've got to keep that, keep it tight."
Lawrence will have a new weapon at his disposal in receiver Calvin Ridley, who is already turning heads with the intensity with which he performs each rep in camp.
"Yeah, all of that is, I can echo that," Lawrence said of Pederson's effusive praise for Ridley. "Obviously, the fans are excited he's here, and we're all excited he's here, and just his work ethic and the way he practices, I mean he's such a special talent for one, but it's cool to see that paired with the way that he works.
"I mean every play, every route that he's in, it's full speed. There's no plays that he takes off, he wants the ball every play, and he just goes about things the right way, he wants to earn what he's going to get, and he's doing that right now. I'm just happy he's on our team."
4) Jordan Love is the captain now. Love has yet to earn the "C" patch on his jersey, but he's enjoying his first camp as the man in charge of Green Bay's offense.
"Oh, it's really fun. It's really fun," Love told NFL Network's Stacey Dales. "Like you said, when you get to let a pass rip and see it, they run a great route and the whole play kind of comes together, it's really fun."
Love is stepping into the new role of Packers starting quarterback, taking over for the departed Aaron Rodgers and officially launching a new, forward-facing era in Green Bay. Love knows he is not Rodgers -- in fact, Rodgers told him as much in a recent conversation -- but he's aiming to lead like Rodgers did with the hopes it produces similarly positive results.
"I'm the man now and it's going to be fun," Love said. "It's going to be on display all year with the team, and it's just bringing everybody along, have fun with the guys and make the most fun of this opportunity we got."
The offense might look a little different without No. 12 behind center, but as Love explained Saturday, it's still going to be Matt LaFleur's system dictated by the coach's decisions. Considering LaFleur's past success, that's a good thing. But with Rodgers gone, expectations have admittedly changed.
Love sees it as an opportunity.
"Being a Green Bay Packer, there's always very high expectations from the organization, from the guys who've been here before and nothing changes," Love explained. "We have a young team, but I look at it as a fresh start. Fresh start for everybody to go out there and make a name for themselves and become the player they want to be. But the expectations are still high, nothing's changing."
5) Derek Carr enjoying his new digs. The veteran quarterback has a new home in New Orleans and welcomed a familiar face -- his older brother, NFL Network's David Carr -- for a sit-down interview following Saints practice Saturday.
First order of business: Delivering an update on receiver Michael Thomas, who is on track to start a season fully healthy for the first time in years.
"Obviously it's so early, but he looks like Michael Thomas to me," Carr told his brother. "I have nothing to gauge it off of except the film, but he looks like Michael Thomas, he looks violent in his routes, he's fast, he doesn't get enough credit for his speed in which he can accelerate vertically, and win horizontally, and he's just the ultimate competitor, and you're seeing it every day."
Thomas isn't the only source of optimism for Carr. He's liking what he's seeing from his new teammates, who are taking the field with purpose at the start of camp.
"A lot of these guys have this alpha dog mentality. You can feel it," Carr explained. "A lot of these guys remind me of Maxx Crosby. ... There's not going to be one of those 11 that goes out there that ain't a dog."
6) Vikings staying in touch with Danielle Hunter during absence. Hunter is still available via trade, and is staying away from camp until the Vikings either trade him or decide to keep him for 2023. One might expect such a situation to breed animosity, but not here, where coach Kevin O'Connell said he's maintaining daily communication with the veteran edge rusher.
"We're still kind of in that on-going process," O'Connell said Saturday. "I'm having daily dialogue personally with him. My hope is we continue to work towards (finding common ground) over the course of a long training camp. He's played a lot of football, he'll be ready to go."
Hunter's absence benefits both himself and the Vikings by protecting his health and his trade value. If general manager Kwesi Odofo-Mensah doesn't field a legitimate offer in the next month, we could see Hunter to rejoin the Vikings with a focus on the upcoming season. He's preparing accordingly, per O'Connell, who is still holding out hope they spend 2023 together.
"My hope is that we can work toward him being out on the practice field with us sooner rather than later," O'Connell said. "He's been great. … I've not tried to hide my feelings. Danielle Hunter is a very special player. As soon as we can get him out here, you'll see him out here and our fans will see him out here."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Hunter agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $20 million on Sunday, NFL Network Insiders Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport reported, clearing the way to bring the pass rusher back to the team as O'Connell had hoped.
7) No Zeke, no problem. 2023 will be the first for Dallas without Ezekiel Elliott, provided he doesn't return on a cheaper contract. Dallas' newly anointed lead back, Tony Pollard, is tasked with carrying a load split between he and Elliott a year ago.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had nothing but good things to say about Pollard, who Prescott believes can and will handle the increased workload.
"Yeah, for sure, Tony is a guy that does everything the right way," Prescott said. "Definitely you could say a silent leader, you could just watch him and see how to approach the game on and off the field, how to take care of your body, but from the time Tony's come in, he's been a pro and he's been able to do everything that we've asked him to do.
"And it's not just a home-run hitter or whatever, he can be an every-down back, he can block, I'll feel comfortable doing that, and you can see it out here on each and every play, and coming back from an injury he's been great."
8) Frank Clark knows Broncos need to win before talking tough. The former Chiefs edge rusher is now in Denver, and was asked about the franchise's rivalry with the reigning Super Bowl champions.
"I wouldn't call it a rivalry. A rivalry is competitive," Clark said bluntly, via the Denver Gazette's Chris Tomasson. "And I've been on the other side and we didn't call it a rivalry then. I'm with the Broncos now. Until we become competitive enough, we have to beat the team."
Clark isn't wrong. Denver hasn't defeated Kansas City since Sept. 17, 2015. That year, the Broncos won the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning played quarterback. It was a long time ago.
Fifteen straight losses will take the juice out of a rivalry -- just ask Cleveland how things went with Pittsburgh from 1999-2017 -- but Denver is feeling spunky in its first year under the direction of Sean Payton. Adding Clark in the offseason was another win-now move. But until the Broncos start finishing on the victorious side of this matchup, Clark will be right.