Joint practices, Deshaun Watson saga, QB situatio Cincinnati Bengals jerseyns amongst most sensible NFL preseason takeaways | Opinion

The 2022 NFL preseason is in the books. Tuesday will bring with it the final round of roster cuts and a moderate flurry of roster reconfigurations, and then squads will fully dive into preparations for the regular season.

The training camp and preseason portions of the NFL calendar always offer intrigue as the puzzle pieces begin to come together for the coming year. But as approaches to load management have sparked evolution around the league, the suspense-filled position battles of the past are no more.

A good deal of mystery still surrounds many teams because of players' limited preseason action. This isn’t entirely new. Even in the days of four-game preseasons, veteran coaches often preached that it generally took three or four weeks for teams to take shape. Now, that process could take five to six games.

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But that doesn’t mean the preseason didn’t offer a handful of intriguing lessons or developments. Here are five of the leading takeaways.

Joint practices grow more popular as an evaluation tool

<div class=\"caas-img-container caas-img-loader\"Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) is defended by Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) and cornerback Anthony Brown (3) during joint practice at Jack Hammett Sports Complex.Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) is defended by Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) and cornerback Anthony Brown (3) during joint practice at Jack Hammett Sports Complex.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) is defended by Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) and cornerback Anthony Brown (3) during joint practice at Jack Hammett Sports Complex.

This summer saw a continuation of the trend that has NFL teams downplaying the importance of preseason game action to instead place a higher emphasis on joint practice repetitions as a method for evaluating talent. The 2022 preseason featured 20 joint practices league-wide, according to the NFL Players Association. (Joint practices are classified as at least two consecutive days of practice between two teams).

Meanwhile, fewer starters saw action in preseason contests as teams aimed to protect them from injury. Roster evaluations are important, however, many coaches and team officials are finding increased benefits in seeing how their players compete in a controlled environment (the Rams-Bengals joint practice serving as the exception). Coaches and talent evaluators say that joint practices allowstarters to get more reps (sometimes in staged scenarios where they see a need for additional work), and also help talent evaluators see how younger players measure up against unfamiliar opponents. These factors help teams reach a clearer conclusion on where their player Football s stand in advance of final roster cuts.

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Of course, not every team took part in joint practices, and some lament the fact that one fewer preseason game limits their ability to evaluate bubble players. However, a growing majority of teams have embraced the joint-practice approach. It’ll be interesting to see how the trend continues in future years. Will the NFL reach the point where no established starters play  in the preseason?

Deshaun Watson saga produces mixed emotions, some optimism for players

The Watson disciplinary hearing, initial decision and appeal process loomed over the nfl jerseys for sale NFL, and many of the developments frustrated players. Although most understood the seriousness of the allegations of sexual misconduct and assault leveled against Watson by more than two dozen women, the NFL’s decision to appeal and overturn independent disciplinary Sue L. Robinson’s initial ruling of six games angered many players because the power shifted back into the hands of commissioner Roger Goodell. Those were, indeed, terms of the CBA, which players agreed upon in 2020. But players saw the move as disregarding Robinson's decision and pushing for the unprecedented punishment to make an example out of Watson. Such a move by the league risked damaging the already precarious relationship between t New York Jets clothes he league and its players, people familiar with the situation said. The people requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. 

Goodell appointed Peter Harvey as the arbitrator of the appeal process, and then Watson and the NFL reached a settlement of 11 games and a $5 million fine. That helped the NFL avoid a legal battle with the NFLPA, which had plans to sue the league if Harvey had handed down a suspension of a year or longer.

Some members in the player leadership ranks drew  encouragement from how things ultimately played out in the first independent arbitrator disciplinary process since the 2020 modifications. The consensus among players is that Robinson’s handling of the process and her explanations helped improve transparency, and that Robinson represented a far more neutral figure than in the past when Goodell served as judge, jury and executioner. It’s believed that the faults that Robinson pointed out in the league’s case against Watson also helped pave the way for the settlement, and could help nudge the league and players towards a more balanced process when future personal conduct policy cases arise.

Tom Brady’s most intriguing season yet?

<div class=\"caas-img-container caas-img-loader\"Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) smiles while he walks off the field  before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) smiles while he walks off the field  before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) smiles while he walks off the field before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Mystery surrounded Brady during the Bucs star quarterback’s 11-day absence from the team, but Brady offered little insight into the reasons behind his getaway.

“It’s all personal,” Brady told reporters after Saturday’s preseason game against Indianapolis. “You know everyone’s got different situations they’re dealing with. So, we all have really unique challenges to our life. I’m 45 years old, man. There’s a lot of (expletive) going on. You’ve just got to try to figure out life the best you can. It’s a continuous process.”

For the better part of the last two decades, we’ve come to regard Brady as a walking marvel — or even almost as a superhero of sorts. But in that moment Saturday night, Brady showed himself to be as human as they come. Regardless of the reasons for his break, all of us can identify with the stressors of life as an adult, and many of us know what it’s like to have to take a couple of weeks off from work to tend to our affairs.

Brady’s absence came as a surprise, however, because traditionally football players don’t just skip out on this cru Russell Wilson cial, fou Ryan Tannehill ndation-laying point of the calendar. But if Brady felt the need to tend to matters to ensure an improved work-life balance, then good for him.

Given his age and his 40-day retirement early in the offseason, Brady will face questions about desire and competitive drive. But reports suggest he has looked like his normal, highly effective self in practices, and now the Bucs hope that a refreshed Brady can lead them back to the Super Bowl.

Can Brady fully dial it back in at this point in his career? Will the changes around him help or sidetrack him? While the end is near for the player regarded as the G.O.A.T, watch and enjoy whatever he has left to offer.

MORE: Tom Brady named No. 1 in 'Top 100 Players of 2022' countdown

Waiting game for rookie QBs

After a series of talent-rich quarterback draft classes, last spring saw only one NFL team take a passer in the first round, and it could be some time before Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh’s selection at 20th overall) and his classmates see the field in a regular-season game. Both before and after the draft, NFL talent evaluators said that they didn’t believe this year’s crop featured a true franchise quarterback, and now exiting the preseason, that assessment apparently holds true.

Pickett did have some bright spots during the preseason, but offseason pickup Mitchell Trubisky played well in three starts, making the fourth-year veteran the favorite to be the Steelers’ opening day starter.

After Pickett’s selection, quarterbacks endured a two-round wait last spring. Desmond Ridder (Falcons), Malik Willis (Tennessee) and Matt Corral (Panthers) went in the third round while Bailey Zappe (Patriots) went in the fourth round, Sam Howell (Commanders) went in the fifth and Chris Oladokun (Steelers), Skylar Thompson (Dolphins) and Brock Purdy (49ers) and went in the seventh. And none in that bunch appears to have a shot at starting. Willis, who like Pickett could develop into a solid NFL starter, showed some flashes in preseason action, but isn’t ready to unseat Ryan Tannehill. Meanwhile, the rest of the quarterbacks drafted in 2022 look like projects or career backups. That means that barring some unforeseen development, this season will be the first time since 2007 that no rookie quarterback will be starting a Week 1 contest.

The non-existent Jim All Back To School my Garoppolo trade market

In one of the most surprising non-developments of the offseason and preseason, Garoppolo remained with the San Francisco 49ers after agreeing to restructure his contract, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, even though both sides originally  preferred to part ways. The person requested anonymity Jackets because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the situation.

Why did a trade never take place? Because despite his accomplishments with the 49ers (reaching a Super Bowl and two NFC championship games in a three-year span), opposing NFL teams regard the youth jersey nfl 30-year-old, eight-year veteran as a game manager rather than a game-changing talent.

While making it clear that Trey Lance would take over as their starter, the 49ers did not get serious interest entering free agency and the draft.  Garoppolo was recovering from shoulder surgery and faced an uncertain recovery. The 49ers hoped that once healthy and as the season New York Giants jersey drew near, that trade talks would pick up. The $26 million initially owed to Garoppolo this season scared some teams off, especially considering Garoppolo’s durability issues (he has started all 16 games just once in his career) and, at times, inconsistent play, according to rival talent evaluators. The 49ers didn't want to just give Garoppolo away, but with no serious suitors lined up, San Francisco and the quarterback agreed to a new deal that would reduce Garoppolo's base salary to $6.5 million while including incentives that could bump his earnings up to $16 million, according to the person.

The 49ers' only other choice would have been to release Garoppolo, but now they hang onto a veteran insurance policy (which some within the organization believed all along was wise) but at a more affordable rate.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB situations, Tom Brady among top NFL takeaways

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