It was a big birthday Wednesday around the NFL.
None was bigger (or older) than Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady turning 45. There were many “goat” tributes to be had across social media.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, 38, was asked at the end of his Wednesday news conference if he’ll still be playing when he’s 45.
Rodgers answered very quickly and with a big smile: “No, no. But happy birthday, Tom.”
Brady’s wasn’t the only birthday of note. New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson turned 23 and promptly had his best practice this year.
Other NFL players who celebrated Aug. 3 birthdays included Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James (26), Kansas City Chiefs running back Ronald Jones (25), Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo and Jets linebacker Kwon Alexander (28).
And don’t look now, but there’s also a game on Thursday! The Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders will clash in the Hall of Fame Game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
But back to action Wednesday. Some rookies stood out while others stood close and listened intently while being tutored by legendary vets. A couple of teams had workouts indoors, and some took the day off.
Here’s what you need to know from camps across the league:
What our NFL Nation reporters saw today
Baltimore Ravens: Adam Dedeaux, Lamar Jackson‘s personal quarterback coach, is at training camp this week. Jackson is constantly talking to Dedeaux throughout practice.
“We feel very fortunate,” Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “Anything we can do to help our cause. I think Adam is a real strength for us. I love talking football with him. Later, after meetings tonight, we’ll sit down and talk quarterback play and technique and fundamentals. He’s a real joy to have around.” On Wednesday, Jackson remained accurate, completing 25-of-33 passes (75.7%).. — Jamison Hensely
San Francisco 49ers: In the one week since the Niners opened camp, one player has looked particularly ready to make a big leap in his third NFL season: wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
Aiyuk was at it again Wednesday, hauling in a touchdown from backup QB Nate Sudfeld in which he climbed the ladder in the back of the end zone and got two feet down for a score. He caught another touchdown catch from Trey Lance along the right sideline where he tapped his feet down. Earlier, he came down with a deep ball against Ambry Thomas for a tough contested catch. Aiyuk has made similar plays every day of camp, earning the respect of all teammates.
“Right now he’s having an outstanding camp,” safety Jimmie Ward said. “I feel like he’s having the best camp out of everybody on the team offense and defense. OK, besides [Nick] Bosa… But I’m just saying BA is taking his game to another level. It’s crazy.”
Aiyuk spent his offseason working with Lance in Southern California, so it’s no surprise to see him making an impact. If he continues down this path, he could challenge George Kittle and Deebo Samuel to be this team’s most productive pass-catcher. — Nick Wagoner
Denver Broncos: The Broncos now have to go without wide receiver Tim Patrick in their offense. Patrick suffered a torn right ACL in Tuesday’s practice and will miss the regular season.
The Broncos will miss Patrick’s toughness, his willingness to lead and his knack for getting open in the red zone.
“Got to see him, [Wednesday]” said Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett. ” … We didn’t talk [Tuesday], he was trying to take a moment which I respected. But got to see him [Wednesday], big hugs, great smile on his face … [but] here’s an opportunity for somebody to step up.”
Rookie Montrell Washington — a fifth-round pick this past April who is already in line to be the team’s kickoff and punt returner — has shown he could be ready for more duty as wide receiver more quickly than expected.
Washington has repeatedly shown he has the speed to win the ball on deep routes, and despite his size — 5-foot-10, 170 pounds — has competed for the tough catches. That has to translate into the preseason games, and if it does, the Broncos will find some snaps for him in the offense. — Jeff Legwold
Washington Commanders: Wide receiver Curtis Samuel returned to practice after sitting out the past three days of workouts. Samuel’s Washington career has been marred by starts and, mostly, stops. Samuel played in just five games last year because of a groin injury and then a hamstring injury. This spring, Samuel was in and out of practices because of some tightness in the hamstring. So Washington coach Ron Rivera said they want to be smart with him and “ramp him up” to make sure he’s back in football shape. Samuel was active in full-team work Wednesday, catching several passes on screens or underneath throws. Samuel moved and cut well — when he worked with trainers the past several days he continued to cut sharply. Wednesday, Samuel was aligned on the same side at times as rookie receiver Jahan Dotson and veteran Terry McLaurin, providing a fast and diverse trio for defenses to cover. Washington’s offense will be much better if Samuel can stay on the field. — John Keim
New York Giants: The day of rest appears to have worked. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay had his best day of training camp after spending most of the previous afternoon watching on a semi-maintenance day. Golladay, who didn’t score a touchdown and struggled in his first season with the Giants last year, beat starting cornerback Adoree’ Jackson for a long touchdown in 1-on-1 drills. He also caught three passes in live periods in his most active day of the summer. It’s a promising sign considering Golladay wasn’t moving particularly well for the second consecutive year early in camp. “Last year there were a lot of injuries involved,” Golladay said earlier this week. “I think this year is a little bit better as far as just the training staff, strength staff and then coaching staff taking care of our bodies and us as players doing the right things on and off the field.” Seems the extra day of rest paid dividends in this case. — Jordan Raanan
Atlanta Falcons: With the season-ending injury to Vincent Taylor, there are opportunities on the Falcons’ defensive line rotation and this could be a place where a surprising player wins a job. Third-year pro Jalen Dalton, who was kicked out of Saturday’s practice for throwing a punch, has gotten some first-team reps, and undrafted free agent Derrick Tangelo has consistently flashed the first week in pads. It’s going to create an interesting battle as training camp moves on at one of the more intriguing positions on the roster. — Michael Rothstein
New England Patriots: In a slower-tempo practice not held in full pads, QB Mac Jones flashed a hand signal to WR DeVante Parker before the snap, and shortly thereafter threw a pass in his direction along the left sideline that was intercepted by CB Terrance Mitchell. It appeared to be a breakdown in communication between Jones and Parker, as Jones’ throw indicated he was expecting a different type of route. It has been a struggle at times for the Patriots’ offense early in camp, and this was an example of the things they are working through. It was Jones’ fourth INT of camp (seven practices). — Mike Reiss
Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs continued to sort through a deep group of running backs with a physical practice that included an extended period dedicated to the running game. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Ronald Jones, Derrick Gore and rookie Isiah Pacheco each had multiple carries in the period and each had at least one productive run. The Chiefs have another running back in Jerick McKinnon who shines as a receiver, so they face a tough decision at running back when it comes time to trim the roster. The Chiefs may wind up keeping four backs. — Adam Teicher
Carolina Panthers: Many assumed the left tackle job would go to rookie Ikem Ekwonu, selected No. 6 overall in the April draft. But so far the job has belonged to 2021 third-round pick Brady Christensen, who gained the staff’s confidence last season because of the way he played in the final couple of games. It comes down to technique, and it was obvious watching Christensen and Ekwonu in Wednesday’s pass-rush drills that Christensen had a decided edge. So don’t be surprised if the former BYU left tackle gets the nod there for the season opener. “He’s got a long way to go,” coach Matt Rhule said of Ekwonu. “He does some things really well naturally. He’s unbelievably powerful and talented. But there’s a lot to this game. … He has a long ways to go. He’ll get there, but every day he’s got to work.”— David Newton
Green Bay Packers: If it’s hard for Christian Watson to sit back and watch fellow rookie receiver Romeo Doubs get all the attention in training camp, he’s not letting on. In fact, Watson was photographed in mid-jump celebrating with Doubs after a play in practice. “We’re going to celebrate each other’s successes,” Watson said. However, Watson, the Packers’ second-round pick, admitted that being sidelined to start training camp because he underwent knee surgery this summer has taken its toll. “It’s definitely frustrating, but I’ve tried not to let that affect me too much,” Watson said. Meanwhile, the praise keeps coming for Doubs, the fourth-round pick. “Every single day, there’s been at least one kind of ‘Wow’ play for him,” Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday. “And that’s kind of rare for a young guy like that. Now we’ve had some guys over the years kind of do that, but they’re all in the top 10 I think in the Packers’ receiving history. So good start for him.” — Rob Demovsky
Los Angeles Chargers: Safety Derwin James, the key playmaker in the Chargers’ secondary, has continued a hold-in that now has lasted seven days as he awaits an agreement on a contract extension. Coach Brandon Staley said Wednesday that there was no update on James’ situation. In James’ absence, safety Nasir Adderley has commanded attention over the last two practices, intercepting passes from quarterbacks Justin Herbert and Chase Daniel. “Really big-time break by him. Great play,” Staley said about Adderley’s interception off Daniel, which involved a diving effort (and ended in a momentarily scary collision with receiver Maurice Ffrench, who remained on the grass for several minutes before standing up. Staley said afterward he was “OK.”). “I told you guys at the end of minicamp that I thought that he was a real bright spot, a standout,” Staley said about Adderley. “He’s really flashing in the run game and in the passing game.” — Lindsey Thiry
New Orleans Saints: Safety Tyrann Mathieu made his first appearance at training camp on Wednesday morning after missing the first week due to a personal matter. Mathieu participated in the team walkthrough and individual drills but stayed out of 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills as part of the steps to get his conditioning back up. Also, wide receiver Michael Thomas took the next step in his progression from his ankle injury that caused him to miss last season, participating in 7-on-7 drills for the first time. Saints quarterback Jameis Winston wasted no time in getting the ball to Thomas, kicking off the 7-on-7 session with two quick throws to Thomas, who made catches against Bryce Thompson and Bradley Roby. Thomas also caught a pass from Andy Dalton to start the next set up 7-on-7 drills, finishing the day 3-for-3. — Katherine Terrell
Top NFL news of the day
Directive to lose games in 2019 by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross never made it to field, assistant says
While an NFL-backed investigation may have found Dolphins owner Stephen Ross made it known he believed the team’s draft position should take precedence over winning games in 2019, those beliefs did not make it down to the football field. Dolphins running backs coach Eric Studesville, who has held that title since 2018, said the team’s directive during the 2019 season was not questioned as far as he knew. “From the top down (the goal was) to win football games and prepare and get ready to go — that’s how it’s always been,” Studesville said Wednesday.
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