Players To Watch In NFL Training Camp: NFC West
The Father chooses one player from each team to keep an eye on this summer
Training camps will be opening up later this month, and roster battles will begin, new players will find a role, injured players will seek a return to form, old players will try to show they still have it, and young players will try to show they have improved. Every team has their own storylines and players to watch, and I am going to take a little time over the next couple weeks to highlight some of these players. I will pick one player from each team to highlight to keep an eye on in training camp. If they can fulfill their destiny, they can make a big difference in what happens with their team this year.
We now move on to the NFC West.
LA Rams: Austin Corbett
Corbett started out his career in Cleveland, but found himself being moved to the Rams for a fifth round pick when the Browns couldn’t find a place for him. Since then, Corbett has excelled with the Rams at, first left guard, then right. Now, he will move full time to center. The Rams interior offensive line has undergone a significant makeover since their Super Bowl trip, and there have been growing pains. Two years ago, the Rams offense went from sending Todd Gurley to the Pro-Bowl, to out-to-pasture. Last year saw some improvements, but this line is still thin, and Pro-Bowl veteran left tackle Andre Whitworth is winding down his career. If there are any injuries, Corbett is going to have to hold together a very young and inexperienced group. This matters as it is critical they keep Matthew Stafford clean. Stafford has struggled with back injuries in recent years, and they need to protect him. Last year saw their season fall apart with injuries to Jared Goff, and this year will be the same story unless Corbett can lead this group.
San Francisco 49ers: Jimmy Garoppolo
I was extremely tempted to put the 49ers training staff here, as last year’s plague of injuries has them on the hot seat for sure. I went with Garoppolo, however, because the season really hinges on him. Garoppolo has certainly had flashes with the 49ers, and he lead the team to the Super Bowl just 2 years ago. He has had problems throughout his career staying healthy and being consistent, however, and this lead the 49ers to draft his eventual replacement this offseason in Trey Lance. While I certainly see why Lance was a high draft pick, he also never played above FCS in college, only played one game in the last year (poorly) and is certainly going to require some seasoning before he is ready to guide a playoff caliber team. It’s Jimmy’s job to lose. Keep an eye out in camp for his health and his mindset. It can’t be a good feeling to see your replacement taken, and if he has one foot out the door, it could complicate things.
Arizona Cardinals: Isaiah Simmons
The Cardinals were ecstatic to see Isaiah Simmons fall to them in the draft in 2020, and they had reason to be. Tight end coverage was the biggest weakness the Cardinals defense had in 2019. Simmons was projected to be the kind of multi-use weapon modern defenses are craving. In reality, Simmons struggled throughout most of the year before finding some success very late in the year. The Cardinals had a tough time keeping their number one pick on the field. The same versatility a player can advertise, can also mean they are not really great at any one thing, and that seemed to be the problem for Simmons. He wasn’t great as a rookie in coverage, or against the run. After an offseason, he has the chance at his first full training camp, and the hope is he will be more prepared this year. His talent is there, but can he put it all together. Keep an eye on how he does next to rookie Zaven Collins, another multi-use talent. Can they play together? Or will one push the other to the bench. Given the draft capital involved, the Cards are desperately hoping “together”.
Seattle Seahawks: Jamal Adams
Jamal Adams came to the Seahawks last offseason in a blockbuster deal from the Jets for two first round picks. The Seahawks believed that Adams was the missing piece; a Cam Chancellor like player who could solidify the secondary and turn the Seahawks back into lock-down unit. That’s not what happened. The Seahawks defense was mostly terrible last year, Adams struggled with injuries, and the Jets had their draft pick. This year, Adams is holding out for a new contract (that he is going to get, because you don’t trade two first round picks to not sign someone to an extension), the Seahawks secondary could best be described by saying 13 players are trying out for two cornerback spots, and the team has added little else in the offseason (thanks in part to that missing pick). It’s going to be up to Adams to sign a contract, get out on the field, and lead this group back to respectability. Keep an eye on his health, mindset, contract, and leadership with teammates as he is the key cog if this team hopes to stay in the mix of a brutal division.