Things that could go wrong in NFL camps Don’t be shocked if there are a few ex­plo­sions over the next sev­eral weeks

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTSBRIEFING - Nam y. Huh

Chicago Bears quar­ter­back Jay Cut­ler isn’t the eas­i­est guy to work with. So, what hap­pens when he mixes with of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike Martz? We will see.

Train­ing camp is foot­ball’s ver­sion of spring train­ing, where sel­dom is heard a dis­cour­ag­ing word, even if the skies aren’t cloudy enough to keep the heat in­dex to a tol­er­a­ble level in full pads.

But while you’ll be read­ing plenty of op­ti­mistic story lines in the com­ing weeks as the NFL goes camp­ing, here are some that could go wrong:

Of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike Martz re­pairs quar­ter­back Jay Cut­ler and gives Chicago an ex­plo­sive of­fense wor­thy of com­pet­ing with Min­nesota and Green Bay in the NFC North.

Isn’t this the same Martz who hasn’t had a great of­fense in nearly a decade? Martz may be bril­liant, but he’s caus­tic, sar­cas­tic and mis­er­able to quar­ter­backs who are re­sis­tant or don’t catch on quickly. Cut­ler is no joy to deal with, ei­ther.

Maybe it works. Or it could be a train wreck. Think Jeff Ge­orge and June Jones.

Seat­tle coach Pete Car­roll, hav­ing latched on to a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar lifeboat while USC goes glug, glug, glug to the south, makes the Sea­hawks an NFC West con­tender with his re­lent­less en­thu­si­asm.

Car­roll’s rah-rah act didn’t play in the NFL as a head coach be­fore, and there’s no rea­son to think it will now. He won big at USC be­cause he had far su­pe­rior tal­ent.

Be­sides, trad­ing for quar­ter­back Char­lie White­hurst and giv­ing him $10 mil­lion over two years (for two ca­reer pass at­tempts) was just plain weird.

Den­ver coach Josh McDaniel’s stead­fast be­lief in quar­ter­back Tim Te­bow will show in a rapid as­cent from project to main­stay.

It’s great that Te­bow is a leader, but he has two other qual­i­ties that too of­ten spell trou­ble in the NFL — a me­chan­i­cally flawed, oc­ca­sion­ally in­ac­cu­rate throw­ing arm and a propen­sity for run­ning the ball.

That means a lot of stalled drives and even­tu­ally, an in­jured quar­ter­back. Let’s see how Te­bow leads from the bench in a sling.

Rex Ryan’s New York Jets, who will be must-see TV on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” make good on the brash boasts of Buddy’s son and be­come the beast of the AFC East.

Off­sea­son ac­qui­si­tions in­cluded char­ac­ter risks in wide re­ceiver San­to­nio Holmes and cor­ner­back An­to­nio Cro­mar­tie, plus an over-the-hill LaDainian Tom­lin­son. Mean­while, Thomas Jones, the team’s con­science, was re­leased af­ter a 1,402-yard sea­son be­cause of a $3 mil­lion bonus in a year with no salary cap.

Cor­ner­back Dar­relle Re­vis, com­ing off one of the best sea­sons any cor­ner­back has ever had, wants more money than the team is will­ing to give.

A cir­cus is fun, but it also leaves a mess in its wake.

San Fran­cisco fi­nally will be re­warded for tak­ing Alex Smith No. 1 over­all in the 2005 NFL draft.

Smith has taken charge this off­sea­son, fi­nally given his sec­ond sea­son in a sys­tem. But there are no guar­an­tees of suc­cess, and if Smith isn’t the an­swer, the 49ers wasted an­other year get­ting on with the rest of their life at quar­ter­back when Dono­van McNabb was on the block.

In that way, Oak­land had it easy — dump­ing Ja­Mar­cus Rus­sell was a no-brainer. It’s the biggest piece of ad­di­tion-by-sub­trac­tion in re­cent years — maybe ever.

McNabb be­comes Mike Shana­han’s new John El­way and Washington makes Philadel­phia re­gret turn­ing to Kevin Kolb.

McNabb has long been one of the NFL’s class acts, but there’s no ev­i­dence the Red­skins can pro­tect him, and it was ev­i­dent dur­ing his game in Oak­land last year he’s an er­ratic back-footed thrower in the face of a con­stant rush. Kolb is a bet­ter sys­tem fit in Philly than McNabb.

Al­bert Haynesworth’s re­luc­tance to play in a new align­ment af­ter cash­ing a $21 mil­lion op­tion bonus is a bad start for the Shana­han regime.

Un­der Mike Holm­gren’s guid­ance, the good name of the Cleve­land Browns is fi­nally re­stored.

Holm­gren was an elite coach in Green Bay and a bet­ter coach than gen­eral man­ager in Seat­tle. Now he’s run­ning the Browns, where one of his first moves was to bring in Jake Del­homme, dumped by Carolina af­ter a tor­rent of turnovers.

The con­trol-freak ex­ec­u­tive re­tained con­trol-freak coach Eric Mangini. That can’t be good.

Pitts­burgh QB Ben Roeth­lis­berger re­builds his im­age with his team­mates dur­ing camp and has a smooth tran­si­tion emerg­ing from his four-to six-game sus­pen­sion for vi­o­lat­ing the league’s per­sonal con­duct pol­icy.

There’s al­ready some grous­ing about By­ron Leftwich be­ing el­e­vated to tem­po­rary starter over Den­nis Dixon, and if the Steel­ers are in a big hole by the time Roeth­lis­berger re­turns, they aren’t likely to for­give him so eas­ily.

Tim Te­bow

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