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Veterans report to NFL training camps as early as Saturday, and by the week’s end every team will be back to the business of football.
XN Sports will be previewing each division prior to the start of training camp to give the major storylines for each of the 32 NFL teams as they begin their camps.
Here’s the XN Sports Training Camp Primer for the AFC North:
Is C.J. Mosley the real deal? The first-round pick should be a starter right away. How can he alter the success of this defense?
Will Timmy Jernigan push Brandon Williams for the starting defensive tackle job? Jernigan was touted as a first-round talent, but Williams has the grip on the starting job. But for how long?
How’s the health of Geno Atkins? Arguably the best defensive tackle in the NFL, Atkins is coming off surgery on his torn ACL. The Bengals defense suffered without him, but can he return to form?
What will the offense look like under Hue Jackson? The new Bengals offensive coordinator takes over for longtime assistant Jay Gruden, now coach of the Redskins.
Can Darqueze Dennard crack the starting lineup? The first-round pick has two aging veterans in Terence Newman and Adam Jones ahead of him on the depth chart, but offers more upside than those declining players.
Is BenJarvus Green-Ellis going to be cut? Gio Bernard is the starter and Jeremy Hill looks like he’ll have a big role. Does that spell the end of the Law Firm’s tenure in Cincy?
Will Brian Hoyer be able to stave off Johnny Manziel? Hoyer has the starting quarterback job until the rookie takes it away from him. But Manziel has a whole nation in his back pocket and is ready to pounce whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Is Justin Gilbert ready to be a starter? The first-round pick has a very talented secondary around him, including one of the league’s best shutdown corners Joe Haden. That should mean he’ll get targeted early and often.
Is Ryan Shazier the new face of the defense? No more LaMarr Woodley, and in his place is the highly touted Shazier. Along with Jason Worilds, Lawrence Timmons and last year’s first-rounded Jarvis Jones, it’s an entirely new-look unit.
Can Mike Mitchell be an upgrade over Ryan Clark? Clark is now in Washington, and Mitchell was the Steelers’ big free-agent signing. Mitchell has long been underrated in Carolina.
Is Steve Mclendon primed for a bigger role? He’s penciled in as the starting nose tackle. All indications are that the Steelers are very high on his anchoring the defensive line.
Can Cameron Heyward and Cam Thomas spark the pass rush? Last year’s unit lacked production, finishing 25th with 34 sacks. Now it falls on Thomas and Heyward, and perhaps rookie Stephon Tuitt, to get back to Steelers football.
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