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COLUMN

NFL training camps arrive with storylines galore

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Colts' Bradshaw on PUP list

Newly acquired running back Ahmad Bradshaw's debut with the Indianapolis Colts will have to wait.

Bradshaw was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list by the Colts on Tuesday, four days before the opening of training camp at Anderson University.

Bradshaw, a free-agent signee, spent the last six seasons with the New York Giants, rushing for 4,232 yards and 32 touchdowns. If Bradshaw does not come off the PUP list and ends up on the reserve/PUP list, he would miss the first six weeks of the season.

The Colt also announced that draft pick John Boyett from Oregon is on the non-football injury list. Boyett has battled knee problems and the Colts said when drafting him they were not sure if he would be ready by training camp.

For more on the Colts, follow Reggie Hayes via Twitter at www.twitter.com/reggiehayes1

Will Peyton find the promised land? Who takes Urlacher's spot?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 2:52 am

Here come NFL training camps and I'm still trying to figure out how Peyton Manning choked away the Denver Broncos' playoff hopes last season.

Seriously. I've watched the video of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco's miracle throw to send the AFC Divisional playoff game to overtime and the same thing happens every time: Manning fails to cover receiver Jacoby Jones. Leaves him wide open deep. What a choker. No wonder Tiki Barber likes Eli better.

The good news is, it's time for new storylines.

NFL training camps hit full bloom this week. The Indianapolis Colts, Manning's former team, report to Anderson University on Saturday.

Best of all, training camps bring fresh intrigue.

It's a new season, even if the games are a ways away, and here's what I want to see:

Will RG3 run free?

It sounds like Robert Griffin III, the Washington Redskins' dynamic quarterback, won't be getting much time during preseason as he recovers from a knee issue. That's fine. Preseason is the height of irrelevancy unless you're a utility offensive lineman trying to snare that last roster spot.

But it'll be fascinating to see RG3 return to true action eventually. Will he remain the darting, risk-taking, dynamic quarterback who's always a treat to watch? Or will he be forced to take his dynamism down a notch?

Tom Brady's search for receivers

The big man, Rob Gronkowski, remains in recovery mode. The little man, Wes Welker, ran off with Peyton. The wanted man, Aaron Hernandez, has been released for obvious reasons.

So who's going to catch the ball, Tim Tebow? That could be a storyline ESPN could get behind, no? The bad news is that Brady will be throwing to a bunch of relative no-names to open the season. The good news is Brady is capable of turning no-names into Wes Welker.

Like Manning, Brady's touch makes the average receiver look well above average. He can do it again. He'll have to do it again.

Pep in their step

Big changes in Indianapolis saw Bruce Arians leave as offensive coordinator to become the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. The Colts hired former Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton to take over, which seemed to please former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

Luck took some heat from critics for his 54.1 completion percentage, but two factors conspired in that: Arians' penchant for calling deep throws and the offensive line's occasional protection issues. It remains to be seen how much Hamilton will alter the Colts' offense, Luck's number of high-percentage pass attempts should increase.

Are the Bears the Bears without Brian Urlacher?

Quick answer: No.

Urlacher was the heart and soul of the Bears for more than a decade, so his departure leaves a significant void. There's no heir apparent when it comes to desire, drive and leadership. Frankly, there's no one with the intensity of Urlacher on his best days, and probably not even his worst.

New coach Marc Trestman will try to bring innovation to the Bears' offense, and that's likely where the most interest lies for fans post-Urlacher. Can Jay Cutler cut it?

Ravens search for repeat

Baltimore lost way too many pieces and put way too much into Flacco's bank account. Super Bowl champs often stumble the year after their win.

Not only did Ray Lewis retire, the Ravens lost a ton of other players to free agency and changes. With Lewis and Fort Wayne's Bernard Pollard gone (Lewis to an air-conditioned studio, Pollard to Tennessee), where are the hits to be afraid of any more?

Detroit Lions, same old same old or greatest show on turf?

The Lions added Reggie Bush to Calvin “Megatron” Johnson in the arsenal of quarterback Matthew Stafford, so they have hopes of playoff status again after last year's implosion of a season.

Bush can still do things with his quickness and great hands that make him an exceptional offensive weapon. Megatron is simply Mega.

The verdict seems to be out on Stafford, however, who threw for more than 5,000 yards two years ago. That kind of production can't just be because of one outlandish receiver. Can it?

Peyton's last stand

OK, so maybe this isn't Manning's last season. Or maybe it is. You never really know when Father Time will stop by and refuse to leave again.

Manning enters this season with another contender and another chance to add to his rich legacy as a quarterback. Bringing in Welker gives him a younger version of Brandon Stokley, and that type of slot receiver has always been a Manning-led offense's staple.

Let's just hope Manning has improved his defensive back skills in the offseason. I'd hate to see him choke away another one.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. E-mail Reggie Hayes at rhayes@news-sentinel.com.