Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer expressed his disappointment and frustration with unvaccinated players Saturday after three of his team's four quarterbacks missed practice due to COVID-19 protocols. 

Starting quarterback Kirk Cousins and backups Kellen Mond and Nate Stanley had to sit out the evening workout, leaving Jake Browning to take all of the reps under center. Offensive lineman Wyatt Davis, who played center Friday, also missed Saturday's practice. 

The Vikings released a statement prior to the workout that read: "Due to the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols, multiple players will be held out of tonight's practice inside TCO Stadium."

Zimmer met with reporters before the workout and did not address the missing quarterbacks by name. 

He did, however, make a plea to his players and everyone else. 

"It’s why people should get vaccinated,’’ Zimmer said. "[If] something like this happens a day before a game that has a chance to get you to the playoffs or something like that, [it could hamper a team].

"This Delta variant is rough. You can see the cases going up every single day now. That’s why, for the sake of everybody’s health, I think it’s important. But some people don’t understand, I guess.

"I am disappointed that this happened. I’m frustrated with, not just with my football players who won’t get vaccinated, I’m frustrated with everybody [who won’t]."

It was not clear when the players who sat out Saturday's practice would be able to return. 

In the meantime, Browning will be the star of the show for the Vikings.

"Jake’s really smart," Zimmer said. "He’s vaccinated. That helps to be the backup. So as we move forward here, he’s going to get a ton of reps.

"I don’t know about saying 'it’s going to go a long way' because we’ve still a lot of camp to go. But we’ll see.

"He’s out there, he’s available, that’s important. It’s important to be available when you’re playing football, a team sport."

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz is undergoing further tests on a foot injury that has ruled him out of participating in practice.

Wentz, who arrived at the Colts via a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles during the offseason, sustained the injury late during Thursday's session, according to reports.

The 28-year-old has endured several injury problems since making his NFL debut with the Eagles, who drafted him second overall in 2016.

Indeed, he has started all 16 games in a season just twice in his career, while inconsistent form last term saw him benched in favour of rookie Jalen Hurts.

Wentz also missed the Eagles' triumph over the New England Patriots at Super Bowl LII with a torn ACL, left to watch on as back-up Nick Foles led the franchise to glory.

Offensive coordinator Marcus Brady told the media that the Colts are still assessing the extent of the damage.

"He's with the docs, trying to figure what out the process is," he said of Wentz.

"(We are) still evaluating what the next move is, how bad it is. Then we'll go from there."

The Colts, who reached the playoffs last season, step up their preparations for the 2021 campaign next month with pre-season games against the Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions.

They begin the regular season at home against the Seattle Seahawks on September 12.

After missing the first two practices of camp, second overall draft pick Zach Wilson came to an agreement with the New York Jets on his rookie contract on Thursday.

Wilson, the last of the first rounders to sign, received a fully guaranteed contract that will pay him $35.15million over four years. The deal includes a fifth-year team option and a $22.9m signing bonus.

The sides had reportedly been hung up on the contract’s offset language, which protects the team financially if the player is cut before the end of the deal.

Wilson is assumed to be the Jets’ Week One starting quarterback after the club moved on from Sam Darnold during the offseason and invested the franchise’s highest draft pick since 1996 in the 21-year-old quarterback.

About 30 minutes before the deal was made public, new head coach Robert Saleh indicated he was not worried about Wilson missing the first two camp practices.

“You're not going to see me panic,” he said after practice on Thursday. “Like I've said, there are 89 guys that are counting on us to prepare them the best way we know how. And right now, they've got our full attention.

“Zach's going to sign. And when it happens is when it happens. I don't try to worry about things I have no control over. So when it gets done, it'll be awesome to get him back.”

Wilson participated in the team’s minicamp and offseason activities, making some impressive throws but also showing some expected signs of his inexperience.

While adjusting to the speed and complexity of the pro game, Wilson will also be forced to adapt to the bright lights of Broadway after growing up in Utah and playing his college football at Brigham Young University.

Wilson played 30 games in three seasons at BYU but made a leap in his junior season, completing 73.1 percent of his passes and piling up 32 touchdowns to just three interceptions while adding 10 scores on the ground.

Saleh said he last spoke to Wilson earlier this week and added that offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur has been texting the quarterback about the playbook to keep him from falling behind.

“We'll be excited when he gets here,” Saleh said with a smile. “And it'll be good to not have to answer questions about it.”

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton did not attempt to hide his frustration with Michael Thomas' absence from the start of training camp. 

The Saints' star wide receiver had surgery last month to repair an ankle injury that limited him throughout the 2020 season. 

General manager Mickey Loomis told reporters at a pre-camp news conference that the decision was taken to treat Thomas' injury "conservatively" in hopes that it would heal with treatment. 

Thomas participated in last month's minicamp, but the team decided afterward he needed to have surgery to return to 100 per cent. 

"It's disappointing. We'll work through it with the other players that are here," Payton said Wednesday.

"But the surgery took place, and obviously we would have liked that to have happened earlier than later. And quite honestly, it should have."

He declined to elaborate further on the timing of the procedure. 

Earlier, Loomis spoke about the team's thinking around Thomas' injury throughout the off-season. 

"We had an expectation that that would heal and he'd be fine coming into camp this year, but we get to minicamp and obviously it wasn't quite right," he said. 

"Obviously, with hindsight, we would have preferred that surgery to be earlier, in February or March, but it wasn't. It is what it is. And hopefully we'll get him back sooner rather than later."

Loomis declined to put a timeline on Thomas' potential return, and Payton indicated the team will not look for outside help during his absence. 

Thomas, 28, was the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year in 2019 after making a record 149 receptions for a league-leading 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns. 

His 2020 playing time was limited by the ankle injury he suffered in last season's opening game, as he wound up appearing in just seven regular-season games and making 40 catches for 438 yards. 

Days into preseason camp, the Dallas Cowboys already have reason for concern after quarterback Dak Prescott left practice early Wednesday with a shoulder injury. 

Prescott walked off the field at Cowboys camp in Oxnard, California after experiencing soreness in his right arm. 

The team said later that an MRI exam revealed a muscle strain in his right shoulder and will be "evaluated on a day-to-day basis." 

Wednesday was to be Prescott's first practice with the team in full pads since his 2020 season ended in Week 5 with a fracture-dislocation of his right ankle. 

Prescott, who turns 28 on Thursday, downplayed any concerns in a statement released by the team. 

"I felt some soreness when making certain throws today, and I really just decided not to push things too far," he said. "Better to be cautious and smart about it.

"I don't see this as any kind of serious setback. We'll treat it on a daily basis, and I'll be fine." 

Prescott is entering his sixth season as the Cowboys' quarterback. In 2019, his last full campaign, his career-best 4,902 passing yards were second in the NFL to Jameis Winston (5,109), and his 30 touchdown passes ranked fourth in the league. 

Garrett Gilbert ran the first-team offence in Prescott's absence for the rest of Wednesday's practice. 

The Cowboys have one more preseason game than most teams, the August 5 Hall of Fame Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Canton, Ohio, but Prescott was not expected to play in that contest anyway. 

Dallas will open the regular season September 9 away to Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Aaron Rodgers considered retirement during his stand-off with the Green Bay Packers but said the "fire still burns" to play in the NFL.

Rodgers reported to training camp on Tuesday and was on the field for practice on Wednesday having brought his self-imposed exile to a close.

A report before the start of the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft in April revealed Rodgers had informed some within the Packers organisation of his desire not to return to the team.

However, the two sides found common ground and came to an agreement to ensure Rodgers will play for the Packers in 2021.

Speaking at a media conference, Rodgers revealed the saga stretched back to conversations he had with the franchise in February following the Packers' second successive NFC Championship Game loss in which he stated his desire to be involved in conversations about playing personnel.

There had been talk of Rodgers calling time on his NFL career and the reigning league MVP revealed that thought had crossed his mind.

Rodgers said: "It's [retirement] definitely something I thought about. I talked about how important being a full-timer was for a long time, this was the first time to spend the offseason away without a Covid year or a lockout year, and I enjoyed it, I really did.

"I took time working on myself and trying to better myself in a number of areas where I feel like I can improve based on my own patterns and conditioning and it was a lot of growth in that process by continuing to find joy and happiness in things off the field.

"However, there's still a big competitive hole in my body that I need to fill and, as I got back into my workouts, I just realised that I know I can still play and I want to still play and as long as I feel like I can give 100 per cent to the team then I should still play.

"I was really working on myself and my own mental state throughout the summer and at various points deciding if I wanted to even keep playing but the fire still burns and I wanted to be on a football team and we got some things figured out in the last few days and I'm here."

One move the Packers have made to seemingly satiate Rodgers is to bring back receiver Randall Cobb in a trade with the Houston Texans. Rodgers spoke of his excitement at the return of Cobb, who racked up 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns in eight seasons with Green Bay between 2011 and 2018.

And on a reported "list of concessions" made by Green Bay is the Packers' agreement "to review Rodgers' situation at the end of this season".

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported "the biggest concession" was "the freedom to decide where he wants to play in 2022".

But Rodgers said it is not his understanding he can choose where he wants to play next offseason and refused to make any declarative statements about being with the Packers past 2021.

He added: "I'm just going to focus on this year, there's a lot of moving pieces besides myself, expiring contracts for a number of guys, there's going to be a lot of tough decisions at the end of the year.

"I'm just going to enjoy this year and then revisit that conversation at the end of the season."

On the possibility of finishing his Hall of Fame career with the Packers, Rodgers said: "I'm definitely not closing the door on anything. I'm always optimistic in the ability to change. I'd never want anyone to give up on me."

Lamar Jackson has tested positive for coronavirus, disrupting the Baltimore Ravens' preparations for the new NFL season.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh revealed on Wednesday his quarterback was missing the team's first practice of training camp.

Former NFL MVP Jackson reported to camp last Thursday but only returned a positive result on Tuesday, with running back Gus Edwards also confirmed as a case.

Harbaugh, who would not reveal how long the pair would be sidelined for, said: "It's just part of the deal. It's just the way the world is right now.

"It's no different than if somebody gets an injury – you tweak an ankle and you're out for some number of days. It's just part of football.

"To me, whenever you have a problem or whenever something comes up like that, you embrace it and you almost kind of rejoice in it because it's an opportunity to improve somewhere else."

Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley took the majority of snaps in Wednesday's practice, with Robert Griffin III waived by Baltimore in January.

Griffin started for the Ravens on both occasions Jackson was missing over the past two seasons, including when he previously tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Week 12 trip to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020.

In a 19-14 defeat, Griffin completed seven of 12 passes for 33 yards and an interception.

McSorley came off the bench to supply their sole touchdown pass, connecting with Marquise Brown for a 70-yard score from one of only two successful throws.

Across the other 15 games, Jackson regressed from his MVP year, his passer rating falling from 113.3 to 99.3 as 36 touchdowns and six interceptions became 26 TDs and nine picks.

He still passed 1,000 rushing yards, however, and scored seven times with the ball in his hands.

Trey Lance has signed his rookie contract with the San Francisco 49ers, leaving New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson as the last unsigned first-round pick.

The agency representing Lance, CAA, confirmed on Wednesday that Lance had signed his deal prior to the first training camp practice for the Niners.

His contract is a four-year, $34.1million deal with a fifth-year option that is included for all first-round picks.

San Francisco traded three first-round picks to move up to the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and select Lance as their quarterback of the future.

However, head coach Kyle Shanahan said on Tuesday that Lance enters camp as the number two quarterback, declaring there is no competition, at present, between him and starter Jimmy Garoppolo.

"There's no open competition right now," Shanahan said. "Jimmy is coming in as the one and Trey is coming in as the two."

While the 49ers can focus on developing Lance, the Jets began camp without second overall pick Wilson, who arguably needs the practice time more as he approaches his rookie season as the unquestioned starter.

The sticking point between the two sides is offset language. A common stumbling block when signing high draft picks, the Jets and most of the NFL include offsets in their contracts, providing financial protection should a player be released before the end of the contract.

An offset effectively ensures a player cannot collect two salaries from his old team and his new team if released.

New Jets head coach Robert Saleh, who was hired following a successful spell as the 49ers' defensive coordinator, did not sound overly concerned when asked about the stand-off on Tuesday.

"This is business, [general manager] Joe's [Douglas] got a great handle on everything and when it gets done it gets done," said Saleh.

"From a rookie standpoint you need as many reps as you can, it's something he'll have to navigate through and I've got a lot of faith in Zach, too. He's incredibly intelligent, he's got tremendous drive, so when he does get here I know that somehow, some way he'll make up for it."

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard has requested a trade, saying he does not feel "valued or respected" by the team.

Two-time Pro Bowler Howard reported to training camp on Tuesday but is unhappy that his contract has not been reworked.

The 28-year-old is just two years into the five-year, $75million extension that he signed in 2019. 

At the time that made him the highest-paid NFL corner but he is due a salary of $12m this year, $2m less than his fellow Miami corner Byron Jones.

Jones was signed in a big free agent deal last year, agreeing terms on a five-year, $82.5m pact to lure him from the Dallas Cowboys.

Howard does not feel the difference is fair after his recent performances which included a fine 2020 season.

Last year he was named a first-team All-Pro after recording 10 interceptions for the improving Dolphins, who finished 10-6 for their joint-best record since they last won the AFC East in 2008.

While Howard is not seeking a new deal, he has requested changes to the existing contract that he says have not been agreed by Miami.

"I don't feel valued, or respected, by the Dolphins," Howard, who has recently changed agents, said in a statement. 

"I've played on that deal for two seasons and didn't complain, but everyone knows I completely outperformed that deal.

"I'm one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and the tape backs up that claim. Yet, I'm the second highest paid cornerback on my own team, and it's not even close.

"We wanted to work things out with the Dolphins and brought solutions to the table – like guaranteeing more money – that we felt were win-wins for both sides.

"But the Dolphins refused everything we proposed.

"Just like they can take a business-first approach, so can I. That's why I want to make it clear I'm not happy and have requested a trade.

"Until that trade happens I am just here so I don't get fined, and will handle myself like professionals do."

Howard has spent his whole career with Miami since being drafted in the second round back in 2016.

He was a second-team All Pro in 2018, which was a year where – like in 2020 – he led the NFL in interceptions and made the Pro Bowl.

A memorable season

With 10 interceptions and 20 passes defended, Howard recorded two career highs in those headline statistics.

Per Stats Perform advanced data, Howard's adjusted open percentage – which measures how frequently an opponent got open against a defender's coverage, adjusted for position – was 25.19, almost a full percentage point better than that of Jones (26.16) in 2020.

When it comes to burns – when a receiver wins his matchup on a play where he is targeted regardless of whether the pass is catchable – Howard also had a significant edge in burn yards per target.

Though Howard was not exactly impressive in that category either, giving up an average of 11.12 while playing on the outside, that number is likely more reflective of how often the Dolphins left him in single coverage.

Indeed, Howard's average depth of target of 14.5 yards speaks to the frequency with which he was given the task of staying in tight coverage with a receiver downfield.

The Dolphins are not flush with cap room but, in a year where the team will be expected to make a year-three leap under head coach Brian Flores, Howard was expected to be key.

With a league-leading 18 interceptions over the past three seasons, Howard is a playmaker the Dolphins need on the field and motivated if they are to challenge in the AFC, so the team's response will be closely watched.

Aaron Rodgers has reported to training camp after reaching an agreement with the Green Bay Packers to ensure he will play at least one more season with the team.

Rodgers' future with the Packers had been in significant doubt following a report back in April that he had told some within the organisation that he did not wish to return to Green Bay.

The subsequent staring contest between the two parties cast a shadow over the Packers' offseason.

However, Rodgers and the Packers finally found common ground this week, with an agreement that seemingly gives the reigning NFL MVP the opportunity to decide where he wants to play in 2022.

On a reported "list of concessions" made by Green Bay is the Packers' agreement "to review Rodgers' situation at the end of this season".

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported "the biggest concession" was "the freedom to decide where he wants to play in 2022".

The Packers can save over $22million against the cap next offseason by moving on from Rodgers, making a trade and a passing of the torch at quarterback to 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love potentially much more palatable than it was this year.

Green Bay will hope that it will be a case of third time lucky for the Packers, who have lost in the NFC Championship Game in each of the last two seasons.

Rodgers produced one of the finest seasons of his Hall of Fame career in 2020, flourishing in his second year in head coach Matt LaFleur's offense by racking up 4,299 passing yards, a career-high 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

Per Stats Perform data, he was third in the NFL in well-thrown percentage, delivering an accurate, well-thrown ball on 82.4 per cent of his pass attempts.

He was third in pickable pass percentage. Rodgers threw an interceptable ball on only 2.23 per cent of his passes.

Rodgers and the Packers will begin a 2021 campaign in which Green Bay will be expected to challenge for a place in Super Bowl LVI when they face the New Orleans Saints on September 12.

Aaron Rodgers seems set to remain with Green Bay but only for his 'Last Dance'.

After an offseason dominated by Rodgers' desire to leave the Packers – his only team – Monday brought widespread reports of an imminent agreement between the two parties.

But a deal is likely to be structured in a way that would allow veteran quarterback Rodgers to depart in 2022 if he remains unhappy.

ESPN's Adam Schefter, who said the deal "is not done but it is close", reported a new agreement would set up a move for the end of the coming season.

On a "list of concessions" is the Packers' agreement "to review Rodgers' situation at the end of this season".

Schefter added "the biggest concession" was "the freedom to decide where he wants to play in 2022".

Crucially, that may still be enough to keep Davante Adams on board, with discussions with the disgruntled wide receiver to continue.

Rodgers and Adams last week posted the same image of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on their Instagram stories, apparently hinting at a 'Last Dance'.

The pair continued to excel in 2020, with Rodgers targeting Adams with 147 of his 526 throws in an MVP campaign.

Rodgers put up career highs in passing touchdowns (48) and passing yards (4,299) and ranked third in both well-thrown percentage (82.4) and pickable pass percentage (2.23). No rival QB beat Rodgers in both categories.

Meanwhile, Adams' 18 receiving TDs led the league, with his 115 catches and 1,374 receiving yards ranking second and fifth.

He made the most of Rodgers' elite passing by winning 70.1 per cent of his match-ups with defenders and getting open on 81.0 per cent of targets, with only two dropped catches.

A long-awaited breakthrough in talks with Rodgers, who appeared set to skip training camp, was hinted at in the Packers' annual shareholders meeting earlier on Monday.

"He's our leader and we're looking forward to winning another Super Bowl," said president Mark Murphy.

General manager Brian Gutekunst added: "We have been working tirelessly with Aaron and his representatives to resolve the issues [Rodgers has raised], and we are hopeful for a positive resolution."

Discussions reportedly took place over the weekend to reach a point where a deal was close as the team's front office faced the media.

As well as reviewing Rodgers' situation, the agreement will see the last year of his contract – 2023 – voided, with no tags allowed in future.

"Mechanisms will be put in place to address Rodgers' issues with the team," Schefter added, with Rodgers insisting earlier in the offseason his problems were deeper rooted than last year's selection of heir apparent Jordan Love with a first-round pick.

An extended stay for Adams – currently a year out from unrestricted free agency – would be accommodated by the adjustment of Rodgers' contract "with no loss of income to give the Packers more cap room now".

Aaron Rodgers reportedly plans to play for the Green Bay Packers this season.

Rodgers' future with Green Bay has been in doubt since April, when, a year on from the Packers trading up to select his heir apparent Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 draft, it was reported he had grown so disgruntled that he had told some within the organisation he did not wish to return to the team.

The reigning NFL MVP was not present for any of the Packers' offseason practices, skipping their mandatory minicamp, but NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported on Monday that Rodgers had indicated his desire to play for Green Bay this year to people close to him.

Meanwhile, speaking at the Packers' annual shareholders meeting at Lambeau Field, president Mark Murphy said of Rodgers: "We want him back, we're committed to him for 2021 and beyond. He's our leader and we're looking forward to winning another Super Bowl."

General manager Brian Gutekunst explained: "We have been working tirelessly with Aaron and his representatives to resolve the issues [Rodgers has raised], and we are hopeful for a positive resolution."

Should Rodgers return for 2021, the Packers will be among the favourites to reach the Super Bowl, having progressed to the NFC Championship in each of the previous two seasons, losing to the San Francisco 49ers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 Rodgers produced one of the finest seasons of his Hall of Fame career in 2020, flourishing in his second year in head coach Matt LaFleur's offense to the tune of 4,299 passing yards, a career-high 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

Per Stats Perform data, he was third in the NFL in well-thrown percentage, delivering an accurate, well-thrown ball on 82.4 per cent of his pass attempts.

He was also third in pickable pass percentage. Rodgers threw an interceptable ball on only 2.23 per cent of his passes.

While the Packers will be expected to be an NFC powerhouse again with Rodgers under center, his return could prove to be just a case of delaying the inevitable. Green Bay can save over $22million against the cap next offseason by moving on from Rodgers, making a trade potentially much more palatable.

With or without Rodgers, the Packers will begin their 2021 campaign on September 12 against the New Orleans Saints.

Deshaun Watson's future remains unclear, but it is looking increasingly likely he will not be a member of the Houston Texans long term.

Watson requested a trade from the Texans back in January, with the team seemingly steadfast in their desire to retain the services of the 2020 season's passing yards leader.

Yet any trade talk was overshadowed in March by the emergence of sexual assault and misconduct allegations against Watson, who is the subject of investigations from the police and the NFL and faces 22 civil lawsuits.

He reported to the Texans' training camp on Sunday despite a lack of desire to continue playing for the team, who now appear to have had a change of heart.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported on Monday that the Texans are willing to listen to offers for Watson, though their asking price will be at least three first-round picks.

His off-field troubles may impact the willingness of potential suitors to give up such capital but, in terms of on-field production, there is no doubt he is worthy of that level of compensation.

Topping 4,000 yards for the second time in his career as he racked up 4,823 to lead the league, Watson threw for 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season.

Fifth in the NFL in air yards per attempt (9.27), according to Stats Perform data, Watson did an excellent job of balancing his aggressiveness with smart decision-making.

Indeed, he threw a pickable pass on just 2.28 per cent of his attempts, the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL.

Yet the Texans still limped to a 4-12 record and frustration at his lack of involvement in the search for a new general manager and head coach led to Watson requesting a trade.

The Texans start their 2021 season against the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 12, but it would be a surprise to see Watson facing off against number one overall pick Trevor Lawrence.

For Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, reminders of their blowout Super Bowl LV loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been everywhere. 

From Tom Brady's trophy toss during the Bucs' boat parade to Thursday's unveiling of Tampa Bay's massive Super Bowl rings, the champs have stayed in the spotlight throughout the off-season. 

With training camp finally set to begin next week, though, the Chiefs are ready to clear the slate and move on.

"I think the best thing about getting to training camp is it all starts over," Mahomes said at a news conference Friday as the team's quarterbacks and rookies reported to camp.

"No matter how you ended the year before, you have to go in with the mindset of starting from scratch. We’re excited to do that and try and make another run at it.”

The Chiefs have made it to the final game two years in a row, with Mahomes taking MVP honors in their Super Bowl LIV triumph over the San Francisco 49ers. 

To Mahomes, the path back to the Super Bowl starts immediately, not in the September 12 season opener against the Cleveland Browns. 

"I think we’ve learned that if we put in the work now, that we’ll be where we want to be at the end of the season," he said.

"It’s about putting in the work right now, day by day, getting better and better so that at the end of the year you have no regrets about what you did in the season.”

Mahomes had surgery to repair a turf toe issue immediately following the Super Bowl but will be ready to go for training camp. 

Head coach Andy Reid said his 25-year-old quarterback, already among the best in the league, has spent the off-season working to be even better and he expects more of the same in camp. 

"He’s always looking for that next thing that makes him even better than what he is now, and that’s the part you love about him," Reid said. "He has that type of personality. He wants to be the best, and he’s not just talk."

The Chiefs are one of a handful of NFL teams who spend training camp away from their team headquarters, setting up shop at Missouri Western State University about 60 miles north of Kansas City. 

Reid said the more secluded location helps eliminate distractions and he looks forward to watching his team bond along the way. 

"We come up, it’s a time for camaraderie and bringing things together as a team. It’s hard work. There are no shortcuts obviously," he said. 

"We’re going to try to make sure we cover everything we possibly can, but there’s this concentration of football that you take in here.

"You’re sleeping in a dorm, you’re eating over in the dorm and you’re doing all of that. You’re here and it’s football kind of 24/7 right now.”

After months spent rehashing what went wrong in Tampa Bay, that probably is the best thing possible for the Chiefs. 

The New Orleans Saints have long since enjoyed the benefit of continuity on offense in Sean Payton era, but in 2021 they will have to contend with some significant changes.

For the first time since the 2005 campaign, the Saints will begin a season with a quarterback not named Drew Brees as their starter.

Brees' retirement was regarded by some as overdue but, if his decision to ride off into the sunset was not viewed as a damaging one for New Orleans, the loss of the receiver with whom he had built a devastating rapport certainly is a significant blow.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported on Friday that Michael Thomas is expected to miss the start of the season having undergone ankle ligament surgery in June.

Thomas was limited to just seven games last year because of persistent ankle injuries and the procedure to fix those problems will, at least in the opening weeks, rob the Saints' 2021 starting quarterback of a two-time first-team All-Pro who has blossomed from 2016 second-round pick into one of the most dependable wideouts in the NFL.

Renowned for his route-running and his proficiency in making contested catches, Thomas produced at a historic level in 2019.

He broke the single-season receptions record with 149, racking up a career-high 1,725 receiving yards at an average of 107.8 per game.

Per Stats Perform data, Thomas registered a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted regardless of whether the ball is catchable, on 76.1 per cent of his 184 targets.

That was the fourth-highest rate among wide receivers in the NFL. Only one player who finished above him, Corey Davis (69), had even 50 targets.

Thomas was tied for the second-most burn yards per route, trailing only Stefon Diggs (3.9) with an average of 3.6.

He got open on 83.2 per cent of his targets, though he did so with an average depth of target of 8.1 yards, illustrating the Saints' dependence on shorter passes in the latter stages of Brees' career.

Thomas will now miss out on the chance to quickly develop an even better understanding with the two quarterbacks, Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill, vying to be Brees' successor.

The frustration of that for the Saints will be two-fold. Winston's aggressiveness -- he was second in the NFL in air yards per attempt (10.7) in his last season as a starter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019 -- could unlock Thomas' potential as a downfield receiver to a greater extent than Brees did.

Meanwhile, Thomas' dependability would be a significant aid to an interception-prone quarterback or to a passer in Hill whose only four pro starts came last season.

Instead of enjoying those possible benefits, with Thomas on the sideline, Payton and the Saints have the imposing challenge of maintaining their offensive consistency without a Hall of Fame quarterback and without their All-Pro wide receiver.

The Saints are used to life among the NFL's offensive elite, but with the two most important parts of the equation on that side of the ball out of the picture, at least for the start of 2021, they face being removed from the top table.

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