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11 Early NFL Training Camp Standouts

  • Ryan Fowler
  • August 1, 2022
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With all 32 NFL teams’ training camps officially kicking off this week, the 2022 NFL season sits right around the corner! A time to celebrate and raise expectations, a first look glance across the league showcased a group of standouts throughout the first week of full team work. 

While the success must be taken with a grain of salt as a majority of NFL teams have yet to suit up in pads, it’s overreaction season, and, well, we’re excited for football. Let’s dive into a few names to keep an eye on as we move towards the meat of camp.

Travis Etienne, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

The second ball-carrier taken on Day 1 in last year’s draft (after Najee Harris), reevaluating Etienne’s skill set in a revamped Jacksonville offense should entice newly-minted head coach Doug Pederson. Clemson teammate and current quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who enters a massive year two after throwing for 12 touchdowns against 17 interceptions in his first season, should benefit from Etienne’s increased role, as well. 

A blend of size and strength, the former Tiger running back was truly a prospect in his own class coming out of school. While it’s hard to compare him to a bigger, stronger Harris—who enjoyed rookie success in Pittsburgh—Etienne offers a skill set unlike any other in his class or any other of recent memory.

Now healthy, Etienne has been the star of Jaguars camp through one week and should be primed to go from Week 1 against the Washington Commanders on. His dynamic skill set will allow Jacksonville to extend its playbook, and in turn, make life easier on the face of the franchise under center in Lawrence. 

Skyy Moore, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

A smooth-moving, alignment-versatile talent, Moore has received a ton of looks from Patrick Mahomes early in camp—a potential hint toward his workload in year one.

“He’s a tough player,” Mahomes said of the Western Michigan product. “He’s smaller as far as height, but he’s thicker as a receiver. I think you can see that he’s making a lot of tough contested catches over the middle. He’s thinking a lot because he’s a rookie getting thrown into the offense and we’re not holding back at all. You can tell, when he knows what he’s doing, he runs some great routes and has great releases. I think he can be a big part of our offense moving forward.”

If the first week is a sign of things to come, Moore is just getting started in what will be a new-look Chiefs offense with Tyreek Hill in Miami.

Chigoziem Okonkwo, TE, Tennessee Titans

Although the Titans signed Austin Hooper this offseason, Okonkwo is expected to get a ton of work when Tennessee wants to run their offense out of 12-personnel.

A dynamic athlete with the ball in his hands, Okonkwo worked extensively with the starters in full 11-on-11 drills last week, and as a fourth-round rookie, could drastically outplay his draft slot early in his rookie campaign. A late riser in the draft process after outstanding performances at the East-West Shrine Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine, following the loss of A.J. Brown, the Titans will lean on their rookie to holster a target share throughout the season. 

“To see his size, his strength, his speed, how he’s able to play through contact, he definitely gives us another weapon,” Tannehill said of the former Maryland Terrapin. 

Trent McDuffie, CB, Kansas City Chiefs

The second Chiefs rookie on my list isn’t the last. While the loss of Hill will affect the offense, the departure of starting corner Charvarius Ward has gone overlooked, and McDuffie is expected to fill the role right away. With work coming both on the inside at nickel, and on the perimeter, McDuffie has aligned all over the place” for Kansas City so far in camp.

​​“Inside, outside, [ I’ll play] wherever the coaches need me,” McDuffie said. I tell them wherever you need me to play I’m going to do my best to make sure I’m ready for my opportunity.”

Travis Jones, IDL, Baltimore Ravens

One of the most physically-dominant defenders in the 2022 draft class, Jones makes up what was one of the more impressive draft hauls in recent memory from general manager Eric DeCosta. A man-mover within the trenches, Jones hasn’t wasted any time in translating his dominance at the collegiate level to the NFL. Baltimore’s open practice at M&T Bank Stadium showcased a potential game wrecker within the lungs of the Baltimore defense. 

Allow six-year vet Michael Pierce to explain.

Did you see him today? That’s all you need to know. He’s special man, he’s special. Physically gifted. For a big dude, he can really, really move. They don’t make too many like him.”

Cole Turner, TE, Washington Commanders

With presumed starter Logan Thomas and backup John Bates dealing with injuries, Turner was thrust in with the starters and looked all the part of a potential aerial threat for Carson Wentz. He had two touchdown catches in red zone drills on Saturday, showcasing his large frame and sure hands over the middle of the field. Separation will remain key for him once the pads are put on, but Turner has opened eyes and he could force himself into a substantial workload if his upward trend continues. 

Isaih Pacheco, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

Built like a Mack truck, Pacheco, a seventh-rounder in April, received snaps with the ones during the week. A versatile athlete whose prowess in the passing game will allow Kansas City to continue to offer teams unique looks on offense, the Chiefs love speed, and his 4.37 40-yard dash will more than play for Andy Reid this year. 

Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Denver Broncos

Bradley Chubb and prized free agent acquisition Randy Gregory will start on opposite sides of the line, but Bonitto is expected to be heavily involved after totaling seven sacks last fall at Oklahoma. In camp, Bonitto has showcased his elite athletic profile in running the arc and will slot in nicely to complement Denver’s two veteran sack artists.

Joshuah Bledsoe, S, New England Patriots

After missing the entirety of his rookie campaign recovering from a nagging wrist injury, Bledsoe has dominated Patriots camp, recording five PBUs in just four days of work. A sixth-rounder by way of Missouri in 2021, New England is in desperate need of playmakers in the secondary following the loss of J.C. Jackson, and Bledsoe will find himself in the fray early in his “redshirt” season.

C.J. Saunders, WR, Carolina Panthers

The undrafted talent out of Ohio State worked with the starters throughout the first week of camp and that looks like something that will stay rather than fade off as we move down the line. After appearing in just two games for Carolina as a rookie last fall, the Panthers and oft-criticized head coach Matt Rhule are looking for any signs of positivity, and Saunders could be a massive sleeper to keep an eye on. D.J. Moore and Robbie Anderson are expected to lead in targets while Terrace Marshall Jr. and Rashard Higgins are both expected to compete for snaps, but Saunders has more than thrown his name in the conversation as a pass-catcher to watch as Carolina figures out who will start under center for Rhule come Week 1.

Velus Jones Jr., WR, Chicago Bears

Darnell Mooney remains the lone impact playmaker for the Bears on the outside, and Jones’ versatility will remain paramount in making life as easy as possible for quarterback Justin Fields.

A burner on the perimeter whose speed will threaten any secondary, if Jones is able to find comfort within the phone booth that is the intermediate areas of the offense, he and Mooney could evolve into a nice 1-2 punch for Fields as Chicago enters year one under Matt Eberflus.