Training camps have opened across the NFL, and it didn't take very long for the freshest wave of injuries and off-field issues to impact our future football picks.
Has the NFL gone completely to heck? It might look that way given the bad news the league has generated over the past couple of years – bad news that continued this week at the start of training camp. But just like it is with the rest of the world, the further you go back in time, the worse things were overall. We're just better informed and more sensitive now.
That's little comfort to fans of the San Francisco 49ers. What figures to be an awful 2015 campaign just got even worse, and if you haven't already got the UNDER on the Niners, you might want to get in before the NFL odds respond to the latest crisis. Let's kick off our first training camp tour of the season with a trip to the Field of Jeans.
Flowers for Aldon
You knew things were desperate in Santa Clara when they thought LB Aldon Smith might be the team's savior on defense. After making the Pro Bowl in 2012, Smith was ranked No. 7 in the NFL Top 100, so maybe he could have gotten his groove back after missing most of the last two seasons to drug-related and DUI incidents. Smith would have had plenty of opportunity after the Niners defense lost six key starters from last year.
You can forget about it. Smith had his contract terminated on Friday, one day after he was arrested again on DUI, hit-and-run and vandalism charges. Despite the news, at press time the Niners remain available at the same football odds, including UNDER 8.5 wins (–200) at WagerWeb. By the way, after Smith's release, San Francisco cancelled practice for the second day in a row; on Thursday, it was because the grass at the stadium was all chewed up. This is going to be a problem all season, and it might be the only way the Niners prevent other teams from scoring.
Doug Flutie Says Hi, Vol. 17
On the other side of the country, the Buffalo Bills are – you guessed it – looking for a quarterback. They seem to have everything else a good team needs, including a new and mostly respected head coach in Rex Ryan. But their QB competition this year is between EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor – and it looks like Taylor is winning so far.
It's a bad enough situation that Ryan said he was considering a reunion with one of his former New York Jets, Michael Vick. But Ryan decided against it, saying that Vick wasn't a “bad-weather” quarterback. It's assumed the Bills will be doing a lot of running this year instead, but just to make things a little worse, RB Fred Jackson hurt his hamstring on Friday and will miss two weeks of practice. And RB LeSean McCoy has been on and off the field with a sore toe. Get well soon, guys.