Best of Wednesday at training camps: Wilson finds a groove, Love preps for preseason start

iCrackStreamsAugust 11, 2021

As teams prep for this weekend’s 2021 preseason games, quarterbacks took the spotlight at training camp practices on Wednesday.

The Ravens’ Lamar Jackson had his most accurate day of camp, Zach Wilson looked comfortable for the Jets, and Jordan Love prepared to start in the Packers’ preseason games on Aaron Rodgers’ day off. Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa battled through a tough Chicago defense in joint practice, while the Bears’ top receiver Allen Robinson II sat out with a hamstring injury. Las Vegas got the day off from on-field work, but the Raiders’ QB Derek Carr still took an opportunity to comment on his playing future.

In other news, sources say injured Colts QB Carson Wentz could be ready for Week 1 … but the Ravens lost another receiver to injury in Rashod Bateman.

Here’s what you need to know and see from camps across the league:

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    What our NFL Nation reporters saw today

    Dolphins head coach Brian Flores did not pick an easy opponent for Tua Tagovailoa and the offense. The first of two joint-practice sessions between Miami and Chicago primarily favored both defenses, and for Tagovailoa, it afforded him the chance to go up against a Bears’ unit that features Pro Bowlers on every level. “I think that defense is really good up front,” Tagovailoa said. “When you are hitting your back foot on your throws, they are right there in your face.” Tagovailoa said he attempted as often as possible to target tight end Mike Gesicki, who Miami activated off the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. — Jeff Dickerson

    Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson had his most accurate day of training camp despite having a banged-up wide receiver group. Jackson was 17-of-22 (77%) as he mostly stuck with short and intermediate throws. The Ravens were down to seven wide receivers (and two were added this week) because of injuries to Marquise Brown (hamstring), Rashod Bateman (groin), Miles Boykin (hamstring) and Deon Cain (undisclosed). Like Jackson has done for the previous three seasons, he relied heavily on tight end Mark Andrews, who caught five passes from Jackson. — Jamison Hensley

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    Kimberley Martin and Tim Hasselbeck examine the keys to success for Ravens QB Lamar Jackson this season.

    Jalen Mayfield received some first team reps at right tackle for the Falcons on Wednesday, the first time that’s happened since Friday’s practice. He and Willie Beavers have been in a competition there, and for Friday’s preseason game, don’t be surprised to see Beavers at left tackle and Mayfield at right tackle to get some evaluation. The competition for right tackle will heat up next week, when Kaleb McGary and Jason Spriggs are both expected to fully return to practice. It is one of the few starting jobs truly up for grabs. — Michael Rothstein

    Rebounding from a handful of lackluster practices, rookie quarterback Zach Wilson was solid on Wednesday. He looked more comfortable in the pocket and showed his arm strength with a couple of high-velocity intermediate throws. But he got careless on one pass, trying to drop one over the head of linebacker C.J. Mosley, who nearly made the interception. Wilson said he’s taking risks on the practice field because “this is where I’m learning what I can get away with and what I can’t.” — Rich Cimini

    The first of two joint-practice sessions between the Bears and Dolphins — interrupted for 45 minutes due to thunderstorms — was mostly dominated by the defenses. For Bears starter Andy Dalton, it provided a nice alternative to Saturday’s preseason game against the very same Dolphins, where Dalton will be limited to a handful of plays. “I think it’s fun to get these opportunities to go against a different team, and it comes at a good time,” Dalton said. Chicago’s offense had to practice without their best player, wide receiver Allen Robinson II, who sat out on Wednesday with a hamstring injury. — Jeff Dickerson

    Cardinals wide receiver Andy Isabella is back in the COVID protocol after missing the first five days of camp because of it. How that could impact his job security is yet to be seen. If he has to miss Friday’s preseason game, Isabella could risk another of the young receivers impressing enough to start making inroads on his roster spot. But in all likelihood, it wouldn’t affect his standing with the Cardinals unless he continuously goes on the protocol, which would limit his availability and could put his roster spot at risk. — Josh Weinfuss

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    Raiders coach Jon Gruden gave the team the day off from on-field practice Wednesday — after the players were already dressed in full pads — as a reward of sorts for their hard work in training camp thus far. “It felt amazing for a minute,” said defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins. “I thought I was still dreaming, it was so early.” The Raiders, in an effort to beat the Southern Nevada heat, have been practicing at 7:30 a.m. “It wasn’t a day off,” said quarterback Derek Carr. “We were still working, in the weight room … and with the trainers.” — Paul Gutierrez

    Wide receivers coach Antwaan Randel El is one of eight former NFL players on the Lions’ coaching staff. When asked who would win in a potential one-on-one rep against former Pro Bowl DB Aaron Glenn — Detroit’s defensive coordinator — Randel El confidently says he would be victorious. “I didn’t say you were gonna see it,” he said, laughing. “I like my Achilles and all that stuff intact.” In his heyday as a player, Randel El starred in Super Bowl XL at Ford Field, and his 43-yard reverse touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to wide receiver Hines Ward helped Pittsburgh beat Seattle 21-10. — Eric Woodyard

    In what was a precursor to Saturday’s preseason opener against the Texans, the Packers’ Jordan Love handled the QB1 reps in Wednesday’s practice because Aaron Rodgers got the day off. Love still looked inconsistent — one play hitting Amari Rodgers, who made a high-degree-of-difficulty outstretched catch, and another throwing the ball at a player’s feet. No one has caught more balls from Love so far in camp than Reggie Begelton, who insisted that Love is “a lot quicker recognizing defenses. He understands where his receivers are supposed to be and, honestly, he does his job, and he’s doing good.” — Rob Demovsky

    Rain forced the Browns to work inside on Wednesday, and with limited space due to the team’s weight room still residing in the indoor practice facility, the Browns focused on short-yardage and goal-line situations. Tight ends Austin Hooper and Harrison Bryant dominated early, before the defense controlled the practice, highlighted by safety John Johnson III’s impressive pass breakup in the corner of the end zone. — Jake Trotter


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    NFL quotes of the day

    “It was the right opportunity for me and my family, and I felt like I could come here and put a footprint in this organization and actually be a part of this leadership — along with Jeff [Okudah] — and do something special, do something big. Not just win, but win big.” Lions CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, who joined Detroit as a free agent this week despite multiple teams having interest

    “I feel like I can play another 15 years, without a doubt. Nothing’s hurting. It’s the middle of camp, and I feel great. I feel strong, I feel fast, I feel explosive. And I think it’s just the way we train now.” Raiders QB Derek Carr

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