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2024 NFL offseason: 10 NFL teams open mandatory minicamps today

The last major benchmark of the offseason workout program has arrived for 10 NFL clubs: mandatory minicamp.

The Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans kick off their three-day minicamp today.

Each club is permitted to conduct one mandatory minicamp during Phase Three of the offseason workout program. Whereas previous work was voluntary, skipping mandatory minicamp is a finable offense.

Minicamps provide the best opportunity for evaluation before teams head off on summer break ahead of July training camps. There are no definitive conclusions to make from watching minicamps, but they can provide nuggets of knowledge. Which veterans continue to skip to make a contractual statement despite the fines? How are rookies meshing with their elder teammates? How are installs for new coaches and coordinators coming along?

There is a cornucopia of storylines for each club; let's look at one for each team kicking off the mandatory minicamp today.

How is Caleb Williams progressing in Shane Waldron's offense? Rumblings early in the OTA portion of workouts were that the No. 1 overall pick had some rocky outings -- particularly when he didn't have the bulk of his starters at practice. That's natural and expected at this stage for any rookie. The question is how Williams develops and shakes off any bumps along the way. The quicker he develops a rapport with DJ Moore, Keenan Allen and Rome Odunze, the faster those struggles will dissipate and the quicker the Bears' ultimate turnaround will be.

Is CeeDee Lamb attending? Lamb is in line for a massive extension entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract. Coming off three consecutive 1,000-plus yard seasons, including a 1,749-yard 2023 in which he led the NFL with 135 catches, Lamb is highly underpaid at $17.991 million this year. With Justin Jefferson inking a four-year, $140 million extension this week, the parameters for Lamb's deal should be pretty much set. The question is whether Lamb, who skipped voluntary workouts to work out independently (including a few sessions with Dak Prescott), will avoid mandatory minicamp. The Cowboys surely wouldn't fret about Lamb missing a few days of work in June, but his absence would be symbolic for a Dallas team that has yet to do a major deal with any of its stars this offseason. (Editor's note: After publishing, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Lamb is not reporting to mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.)

Early pecking order in the remade secondary. Brad Holmes did yeoman's work revamping the secondary, trading for Carlton Davis, signing Amik Robertson, bringing back Emmanuel Moseley and drafting Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw Jr. in the first and second rounds, respectively. The overhaul has a Lions defense that was picked on last season looking for swift turnaround. The question heading into mandatory minicamp is how each, particularly the rookies, will be used early in the process. With Brian Branch's versatility, will he play the nickel role or be more of a roving safety spot with one of the rookies filing the slot?

Stefon Diggs' role in the offense. The trade for the star receiver provides a potential game-changing weapon opposite the recently paid Nico Collins. Minicamp is our best chance to see how the Pro Bowl wideout meshes into Bobby Slowik's offense. The trio of Diggs, Collins and Tank Dell has the chance to be the best in the league. After four years of catching passes from Josh Allen, Diggs moves to sensation C.J. Stroud. How easily the transition comes for the veteran will indicate how quickly the entire unit will hit the ground running come September.

How does Anthony Richardson look? All indications are that the second-year quarterback is mostly back to himself. We won't truly know whether Richardson plays any differently coming off a season-ending injury until the season starts and he really takes hits, but at this stage, every practice is progress. Richardson looked fantastic in his brief appearances as a rookie. Health was the biggest question mark. Most quarterbacks make a mental leap in Year 2, so tracking how A-Rich has improved in developing his timing, ability to read defenses, and decision-making are things we can keep an eye on during offseason work.

"Svelte" Tua Tagovailoa is attending despite no contact resolution. Given his previous participation in some voluntary workouts, it would be a big statement if Tua skipped the mandatory minicamp. Assuming he does report, how the noticeably thinner quarterback looks in Year 3 of Mike McDaniel's scheme is noteworthy. After bulking up last year, Tagovailoa shed some lbs in hopes of shedding more blitzing LBs in 2024. The Dolphins have buffered the former first-round pick with massive amounts of speed. The big question heading toward training camp is whether Miami will shell out the dinero to make him one of the top-paid QBs in the NFL. (Editor's note: After publishing, McDaniel announced the Dolphins' perfect attendance for mandatory minicamp, including Tagovailoa.)

J.J. McCarthy's progress. Justin Jefferson's contract getting done on Monday shifted focus from the receiver's situation to the quarterback. McCarthy landed in one of the friendliest spots for a rookie signal-caller. The weaponry is outstanding, led by the $140 million receiver. The offensive line is stellar, led by a left tackle growing into one of the game's best. And play-caller Kevin O'Connell runs a QB-friendly scheme. The Vikes could choose to bring McCarthy along slowly, electing to start Sam Darnold early in the season. How that situation plays out will depend on the progress McCarthy makes this offseason, with minicamp a big benchmark in the process. If the rookie shines from here on out, there will be no question who should be in the saddle.

Kellen Moore's offensive install. The Eagles importing Moore's offense in a pivotal year for coach Nick Sirianni has somehow flown under the national radar. How does the new offensive coordinator's plan mesh what Jalen Hurts does well with staples of Moore's scheme? How much under-center work will Hurts do this season, given that's how Moore's historically gotten into his running game and play-action concepts? How will a deep shot-focused offense adjust and become more station-to-station consistent this season without losing the explosive ability?

Brandon Aiyuk's status. The wideout is among those waiting for a big deal this offseason. The Niners generally do their deals closer to the start of the season, so the fact that a new contract hasn't come down yet isn't necessarily an indication it won't get done. However, with San Francisco selecting a first-round wideout, Ricky Pearsall, and already having Deebo Samuel on a big deal, will they shell out cash to put Aiyuk in the $30-million club? If the intention is for this season to play out and then figure out the future after another playoff run, how does Aiyuk respond? Does he hold out into training camp? Regular season? Does he relent and agree to chase a Lombardi, knowing that a payday will eventually come?

Will Levis' incorporation into Brian Callahan's offense. Levis displayed moxie and big-play ability as a rookie, but the jaw-dropping explosive plays he showed aren't exactly what keeps an offense running in 2024. Levis must develop his decision-making and ability to take the quick early read and not big-play hunt so much. A revamped offensive line should help, but the mental aspect of learning Callahan's offense will be more important for the Year 2 QB. Minicamp will provide a good indicator of how progress is coming.

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