It's kickoff time for NFL

Everybody has questions. *How soon can quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco start in Atlanta and Baltimore? *Where does Brett Favre play in 2008, if he plays at all? Is there another team such as the New York Giants that will come out of the shadows at playoff time to seize the Super Bowl? *There are no ready answers in July and August. *Training camp is a time to grind, but it's also a time for optimism. *Let's set the stage for the NFL's 89th season.

AFC North


In transition

Coach John Harbaugh brings a whole new game to the Ravens. They can only hope coordinator Cam Cameron brings a whole new offense.


Story line to watch in camp : What else? The QB watch. Before the year is out, Kyle Boller, Troy Smith and Joe Flacco all might get their chances behind center.

Cincinnati (7-9)

Training camp: Next Sunday at Georgetown (Ky.) College

In transition: Mike Zimmer is the latest in a line of defensive coordinators under coach Marvin Lewis. First-round pick Keith Rivers, a linebacker from USC, is a building block.

Story line to watch in camp: Lewis stared down playmaking WR Chad Johnson in the offseason. The coach will find out whether Johnson has checked his attitude.

Cleveland (10-6)

Training camp: Wednesday at the team's Berea, Ohio, facility

In transition: The Browns traded for DTs Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams to upgrade the run defense. They stroked the passing game by signing WR Donte Stallworth.


Story line to watch in camp: Derek Anderson is the starting QB, but Brady Quinn is pushing.

Pittsburgh (10-6)

Training camp: Next Sunday at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa.

In transition: RB Rashard Mendenhall and WR Limas Sweed, drafted in the first two rounds, give QB Ben Roethlisberger some new weapons.

Story line to watch in camp: The Steelers' defense wore down late in the season. Coach Mike Tomlin needs to find a solution.

AFC East


Buffalo (7-9)

Training camp: Friday at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, N.Y.

In transition: It's amazing the Bills were as competitive as they were with such a bad defense. DT Marcus Stroud (trade) and CB Leodis McKelvin (first-round pick) should help.

Story line to watch in camp: The job of getting QB Trent Edwards up to speed has fallen to new offensive coordinator Turk Schonert.

Miami (1-15)

Training camp: Friday at the team's Davie, Fla., facility


In transition: Executive VP Bill Parcells and coach Tony Sparano descended on Miami like a whirlwind, sweeping out the debris from a one-win season.

Story line to watch in camp: Can Pro Bowl DE Jason Taylor reinvent himself in Parcells' 3-4 defense, or do the Dolphins deal him?

New England (16-0)

Training camp: Tomorrow at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

In transition: For a near-perfect team, the Patriots made a lot of changes. Free agent Victor Hobson and first-round pick Jerod Mayo have a chance to make the biggest impact at linebacker.

Story line to watch in camp : Can the Patriots get younger on defense and still get better?


New York Jets (4-12)

Training camp: Opened Wednesday at the team facility in Hempstead, N.Y.

In transition: Coach Eric Mangini overhauled the roster to address major deficiencies, gambling on DT Kris Jenkins (Maryland), OLB Calvin Pace and OT Damien Woody.

Story line to watch in camp: Quarterback remains problematic with Chad Pennington battling Kellen Clemens.

AFC South

Houston (8-8)


Training camp: Today at Methodist Training Center in Houston

In transition: Although their defense needs the most help, the Texans made their biggest changes on offense with new coordinator Kyle Shanahan and assistant head coach Alex Gibbs.

Story line to watch in camp: The Texans are still trying to find a running game. Gibbs' proficiency in teaching the cut-block scheme could end the search.

Indianapolis (13-3)

Training camp: Thursday at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind.

In transition: The Colts turn over their roster at the slowest rate in the NFL. This summer, they welcome back RB Dominic Rhodes.


Story line to watch in camp: Pass rusher Dwight Freeney's season-ending foot injury last year was a big blow. Getting him back at full speed will be crucial.

Jacksonville (11-5)

Training camp: Friday at the team facility

In transition: In need of receivers and pass rushers, the Jaguars got a pair of both - Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson for offense and draft picks Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves for defense.

Story line to watch in camp: Assuming QB David Garrard can repeat his success, the Jaguars have to believe they can compete with the Colts for the division title.

Tennessee (10-6)


Training camp: Friday at the team facility

In transition: Offensive coordinator Norm Chow did not get the desired progress from QB Vince Young last year, so he was replaced by Mike Heimerdinger, back for his second term in Nashville.

Story line to watch in camp: DE Jevon Kearse returns to resurrect his career after a disappointing stay in Philadelphia.

AFC West

Denver (7-9)

Training camp: Friday at the team's Englewood, Colo., facility


In transition : With coaching czar Mike Shanahan, it's always someone else's fault. He has got his third defensive coordinator (Bob Slowik) in three years, and he ousted general manager Ted Sundquist.

Story line to watch in camp: Slowik has to come up with a remedy for the Broncos' 30th-ranked rush defense.

Kansas City (4-12)

Training camp: Thursday at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

In transition: The Chiefs collected six of the first 82 players selected in the draft. They got DT Glenn Dorsey and OT Branden Albert (Glen Burnie) in the first round to fill big holes.

Story line to watch in camp: After going 0-6 as a starter, QB Brodie Croyle has to show he knows how to win.


Oakland (4-12)

Training camp: Thursday at the Napa Valley, Calif., Marriott

In transition: The addition of ex-Raven Duane Starks and DeAngelo Hall at cornerback will upgrade the secondary, but the Raiders did little to improve the 31st-ranked rush defense.

Story line to watch in camp: Coach Lane Kiffin, who might not be on best terms with owner Al Davis, needs QB JaMarcus Russell to take a major step this summer.

San Diego (11-5)

Training camp: Today at the team facility


In transition: Gone are RB Michael Turner and FB Lorenzo Neal.

Story line to watch in camp : After struggling in 2007, QB Philip Rivers has to play better for the Chargers to advance in the postseason.

NFC North

Chicago (7-9)

Training camp: Wednesday at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill.

In transition: As if losing WR Bernard Berrian to a division opponent weren't bad enough, the Bears replaced him with chronic underachiever and ex-Redskin Brandon Lloyd.


Story line to watch in camp: The Bears continue to hang tough with erratic QB Rex Grossman, but a poor camp could open the door for Kyle Orton.

Detroit (7-9)

Training camp: Wednesday at the team facility in Allen Park, Mich.

In transition: Could there be a greater contrast than the switch at offensive coordinator from Mike Martz to ex-Ravens line coach Jim Colletto?

Story line to watch in camp: With the 218th pick in the draft, the Lions jumped on Army safety Caleb Campbell. Now the question is whether the Army will let him play.

Green Bay (13-3)


Training camp: Next Sunday at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis.

In transition: Brett Favre was retiring. Then he was coming back. Now maybe he'll still leave and open the door for heir apparent QB Aaron Rodgers.

Story line to watch in camp: There is only one real story line with the Packers after Favre. Can Rodgers play?

Minnesota (8-8)

Training camp: Thursday at Minnesota State Mankato

In transition: After adding DE Jared Allen, safeties Madieu Williams (Maryland) and Michael Boulware, and Berrian from the Bears, the Vikings are one of the most improved teams in the league.


Story line to watch in camp: Unfortunately, they still have unproven QB Tarvaris Jackson running the offense. A lot will ride on his progress.

NFC East

Dallas (13-3)

Training camp: Friday at Oxnard, Calif., River Ridge complex

In transition: CB Adam Jones needs to leave his Pacman baggage in Nashville if he's going to make an impact with the Cowboys. On a defense that's good already, he can make a big difference.

Story line to watch in camp: The Cowboys know they missed a Super Bowl opportunity with last year's playoff loss to the Giants. Do they come back more dedicated and hungry?


New York Giants (10-6)

Training camp: Thursday at the University at Albany (N.Y.)

In transition: DE Michael Strahan's illustrious career ended with a storybook victory. The Giants, however, can and will replace him.

Story line to watch in camp: All eyes are on TE Jeremy Shockey. Does he want to stay a Giant, or does he want out? And what will he do if it's the latter?

Philadelphia (8-8)

Training camp: Tomorrow at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.


In transition: Signing CB Asante Samuel from the Patriots was a major coup. He will force Lito Sheppard either to the nickel defense or another team.

Story line to watch in camp: The offensive line needs some help. QB Donovan McNabb was sacked 44 times in 14 starts last year.

Washington (9-7)

Training camp: Opened yesterday at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va.

In transition: New coach Jim Zorn will try to take the offense where Joe Gibbs couldn't. He picked up three potential red zone weapons in the draft's second round in WRs Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly and TE Fred Davis.

Story line to watch in camp: Zorn will prove his worth if he can smooth out promising QB Jason Campbell.


NFC South

Atlanta (4-12)

Training camp: Friday at the team facility in Flowery Branch, Ga.

In transition: Mike Smith, a former Ravens assistant, gets his big break, but he's coaching one of the NFL's worst teams.

Story line to watch in camp: How soon can QB Matt Ryan make it onto the field and make Atlanta forget Michael Vick?

Carolina (7-9)


Training camp: Friday at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.

In transition: First-round draft picks Jonathan Stewart (RB) and Jeff Otah (OT) will help the offense, but not as much as a healthy return by QB Jake Delhomme or the acquisition of Brett Favre.

Story line to watch in camp: The Panthers need a comeback year from DE Julius Peppers, a nonfactor last season.

New Orleans (7-9)

Training camp: Wednesday at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss.

In transition: The defense was in tatters in 2007. Imports such as DT Sedrick Ellis (draft) and LB Jonathan Vilma (trade) need to deliver.


Story line to watch in camp: The second year of the Reggie Bush era was a lot like the first. Underwhelming. It's time the Saints got some bang for their buck.

Tampa Bay (9-7)

Training camp: Friday at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

In transition: Coach Jon Gruden helped his pop-gun offense by adding WR Antonio Bryant, TE Jerramy Stevens and C Jeff Faine.

Story line to watch in camp: Gruden, ever shuffling his QBs, brought in Brian Griese to challenge Jeff Garcia and reportedly has interest in Favre.

NFC West


Arizona (8-8)

Training camp: Wednesday at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff

In transition: Coach Ken Whisenhunt used his Pittsburgh connections to bring in LB Clark Haggans and TE Jerame Tuman, both ex-Steelers, as free agents.

Story line to watch in camp: WR Anquan Boldin wants a contract extension in what could become a tenuous situation.

St. Louis (3-13)

Training camp: Friday at Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon


In transition: DE Chris Long, the second pick in the draft, has great bloodlines. New executive vice president Bill Devaney overhauled the offense in the offseason.

Story line to watch in camp: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders hopes to resuscitate QB Marc Bulger after Bulger's worst season.

San Francisco (5-11)

Training camp: Thursday at the team facility in Santa Clara, Calif.

In transition: With few playmakers in the passing game, the 49ers brought in WRs Bryant Johnson (City) and Isaac Bruce, who is 35.

Story line to watch in camp: Unless new offensive coordinator Mike Martz can get QB Alex Smith (two touchdown passes in seven starts last season) turned around quickly, the 49ers are looking at another regime change.


Seattle (10-6)

Training camp: Tuesday at Seahawks Headquarters in Kirkland, Wash.

In transition: Having said goodbye to RB Shaun Alexander, the Seahawks signed Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett to improve the run game.

Story line to watch in camp: After 22 seasons as an NFL head coach, Mike Holmgren takes one final lap around the NFL.