Primer: 8 camps in 8 days

By Neil Reynolds

I’m off to the United States this week and will be attempting to visit the eight London-bound teams in eight straight days, weather and travel schedules permitting!

My visit on behalf of Sky Sports and NFL UK will see me rack up an approximate 16,780 air miles on 11 flights. Just hook me up with a coffee-filled IV right now! I currently have interview requests to speak to more than 60 NFL players and coaches, which should be more than enough to whet the appetite for the new season.

Here is my travel plan, along with a few thoughts in each city.


The Cardinals are talking a good game in the early days of training camp and intent on a bounceback year after the disappointment of a 7-81 record in 2016. This is not a team settling for .500.

What I’m interested to see…

Head coach Bruce Arians has confirmed he is going to “roll the dice” and allow his team to do more hitting in training camp. I’ll be keen to see just how physical the Cardinals are when on the field.

Who I’m looking forward to interviewing…

The aforementioned Arians always provides a good quip or quote, but I’m fascinated to find out how much emotional gas is left in the tank of veterans such as Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald.


The Rams limped across the finish line in 2016, losing 11 of their final 12 games after a 3-1 start. That disastrous showing cost head coach Jeff Fisher his job with the drama playing out for all to see on TV.

What I’m interested to see…

The demeanour of second-year quarterback Jared Goff is going to be huge. I didn’t think he displayed many leadership skills when I met him as a rookie. Has he grown in stature heading into 2017?

Who I’m looking forward to interviewing…

Sean McVay oozes confidence and passion as the youngest head coach in NFL history and I am intrigued to hear his views on rebuilding the Rams. He will certainly bring plenty of energy.


The Vikings went through their share of adversity in 2016 and only just came up short of the playoffs. The last undefeated team from last season seem full of confidence in 2017. Is it justified?

What I’m interested to see…

The Vikings claim they are going to open up their passing attack in 2017 given that it will be Sam Bradford’s second season at the helm. I’ll be looking for hints of that in training camp.

Who I’m looking forward to interviewing…

I’m hearing on the grapevine that Vikings receiver Adam Thielen is a very bad comedian who loves to tell ‘Dad’ jokes. What’s not to love about that? I’ll go armed with a few myself, of course!


The Ravens are another team who came close to making the playoffs in 2016, losing a close Christmas Day affair against Pittsburgh that proved vital. Expectations are always high in Baltimore.

What I’m interested to see…

Baltimore are waiting for an offensive difference-maker to emerge and the hope is that third-year receiver Breshad Perriman can be that man. Time is running out for this former first-rounder to shine.

Who I’m looking forward to interviewing…

Maybe I’m a sucker for a ‘brothers fighting in the back yard’ story but I’m looking forward to hearing from John Harbaugh on how he grew up in a football family and constantly has the Ravens competitive.


The Saints are another one of those middle-of-the-pack teams who are talking a good game on the eve of the new campaign. I guess with Drew Brees at the helm, you always feel like a contender.

What I’m interested to see…

You’ve got more chance of seeing a fat bloke in a red suit steering a group of reindeers across the sky on Christmas Eve than you have of seeing Adrian Peterson on the practice field in camp. But I live in hope!

Who I’m looking forward to interviewing…

Brees is always a good interview and it will be good to get his take on where this team stands heading into the new campaign. He is bullish about their playoff chances in 2017, that’s for sure.


It’s a new dawn in Jacksonville with the business-like pairing of Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone demanding much more of what is a very talented yet underachieving group of players.

What I’m interested to see…

I always find it hard to judge a running back in camp because they are not in a position to break tackles. That said, I’m looking forward to a first glimpse of rookie Leonard Fournette, who could be special.

Who I’m looking forward to interviewing…

I hope to chat with both Tom Coughlin and head coach Doug Marrone. I’m keen to learn how they work together, who has the final say on things and what they expect from the Jags in 2017.


The Dolphins were one of the feelgood stories of 2016, overcoming a 1-4 start to make the playoffs. Can they kick on in year two under Adam Gase? They are making all the right noises in South Florida.

What I’m interested to see…

The running game shone in Miami last season and I’m interested to see if Ryan Tannehill and his exciting group of receivers can hold up their end of the deal in 2017. It is a talented bunch ready to soar.

Who I’m looking forward to interviewing…

I want to get a read on young wide receiver DeVante Parker, who made some circus catches in 2016 and could have a big year. Gase put him on notice in the offseason and Parker has worked hard to show his commitment to the cause.


The only way is up for the Browns, who won just a single game in 2016. But second-year head coach Hue Jackson is insisting on a much-improved showing this year and his team is “quietly confident.”

What I’m interested to see…

A genuine training camp quarterback battle! It will be telling how the Browns divide up their practice reps between Cody Kessler, DeShone Kizer and Brock Osweiler. Will an early favourite emerge?

Who I’m looking forward to interviewing…

Joe Thomas IS the Cleveland Browns and I cannot wait to find out how you survive more than 10,000 snaps in your career without taking a single play off – in the heart of the offensive line!

You can follow my journey across the United States with regular reports and vlogs being posted to The Reynolds Report.

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