SHARE

With training camp and the preseason behind us, and the NFL regular season upon us, teams are still fine-tuning their rosters. As they do, all the teams, even the mighty, still have major issues coming out of camp.

Taking quarterback out of the equation — there are so many teams with that as a problem — here are 10 areas of concern for some potential playoff teams heading into the season.

The teams that fix them best will be the teams playing deep into the postseason.

Arizona Cardinals

Trouble spot: Cornerbacks

They have Patrick Peterson , one of the best in the league on one side, but the other side is a major concern. Veteran Mike Jenkins , who was batting for the job, tore his ACL two weeks ago and is lost for the season. Justin Bethel , their star special-teams player who started last year, has missed time with an injury and returned last week. Rookie Brandon Williams also is in the mix. Tyrann Mathieu , who plays the slot corner as a hybrid player, is battling back from a torn ACL. It’s not a great situation right now.

Carolina Panthers

Trouble spot: Cornerbacks

The Panthers let their top corner Josh Norman go, and he’s now in Washington. That leaves Bene’ Benwikere as the most experienced corner. It also leaves two rookies, Daryl Worley and James Bradberry , as key players in their defense. Bradbury has really impressed in the preseason, while Worley had some rough moments. They will probably be the outside players with Benwikere as the slot. This is a team predicated on winning up front to cover for the secondary. But these young players will have to grow up quickly.

Cincinnati Bengals

Trouble spot: Second and third receivers

When I visited the Bengals in camp, the coaches and players were insistent they weren’t concerned about the receivers behind star A.J. Green after losing Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency. They have big expectations for rookie Tyler Boyd , who Green raved about in camp. Veteran Brandon LaFell is also going to be on the field, but he missed a lot of time in camp with a hand injury. I would expect Boyd to emerge as the No. 2 at some point this season. As long as Green is going, the passing game will be fine. It’s not like Jones and Sanu were stars.

tyler-boyd.jpgIs Tyler Boyd ready to fill the No. 2 receiver role in Cincy? USATSI

Green Bay Packers

Trouble spot: Down defensive linemen

After B.J. Raji retired, the Packers were thin up front. Injuries thinned the D-line even more this summer. It doesn’t help that backup nose tackle Mike Pennell will be out four games serving a drug suspension to open the season. Rookie Kenny Clark and veteran Letroy Guion both have been slowed by injuries, but are expected back for the opener. The Packers kept five linemen. Could Julius Peppers play some down? It’s not an ideal situation for a good team.

Houston Texans

Trouble spot: Offensive line

The Texans lost starting center Nick Martin , a rookie from Notre Dame Fighting Irish , for the season with a foot injury, which forces Greg Mancz in as the starter. They also haven’t had left tackle Duane Brown this preseason as he recovers from a torn quadriceps injury he suffered last season. He was activated from the PUP list last week. Chris Clark has started in his place and might start early in the season. Right tackle Derek Newton returned to practice last week after injuring a hamstring on the first day of camp. This is a group in flux right now, which isn’t a good way to go into the season.

Indianapolis Colts

Trouble spot: Pass rush

With all the concerns about the offensive line and Andrew Luck , there hasn’t been enough attention paid to this glaring issue on the defense: Who rushes the passer? Robert Mathis is one of the pass rushers, but he is 35 and didn’t play a down in the preseason. How much does he have left? The other side didn’t produce much. Trent Cole is the expected starter, but he’s not a kid either at 33. They need a young player to emerge. But who?

trent-cole.jpgHow much can the Colts really expect from over-30 rushers Trent Cole and Robert Mathis? USATSI

Jacksonville Jaguars

Trouble spot: Pass rush

All summer it appeared Dante Fowler would be a potential 10-sack player in his first season. Then the games started. He didn’t sniff a sack this preseason, which is concerning. He didn’t even start the third game. He has to be able to provide pressure or they will have big issues again rushing the passer. Free-agent addition Malik Jackson will provide push inside, which he showed in the summer. But they need an edge rusher in the worst way to emerge — and that has to be Fowler.

Kansas City Chiefs

Trouble spot: Pass rush

With Justin Houston out for six weeks on the PUP list and Tamba Hali just now getting back on the field because of knee issues, the Chiefs’ vaunted outside pass rush has major problems. Dee Ford , their first-round pick two years ago, has not lived up to the expectations and didn’t get a sack in the preseason. Ford and the 33-year-old Hali have to hold things down until Houston comes back following his knee surgery last winter.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Trouble spot: Cornerbacks

This is how concerned the Steelers are with their corners: They traded to get Justin Gilbert , a bust of sorts in Cleveland, on Saturday. The starting corners right now are William Gay , a feisty veteran, and Ross Cockrell , who was a waiver-wire pickup last year. The nickel corner is Sean Davis , a rookie from Maryland Terrapins who I expected to be a safety. First-round corner Artie Burns has been slowed some this summer with injuries. They also lost 2015 second-round pick Senquez Golson with a foot injury that could land him on IR. Gilbert has talent, so maybe the new address will help. The Steelers sure need it.

Seattle Seahawks

Trouble spot: Offensive line

The Seahawks’ offensive line was a major issue last season, which is why they don’t have one player starting in the same spot this season. The interior of the line looked much improved in the preseason, with two first-time starters at guard, including rookie Germain Ifedi at right guard, but the tackles remain a major issue. Both Bradley Sowell and Gary Gilliam had their problems in the preseason. J’Marcus Webb is also in the mix and could be the right tackle if he beats out Gilliam.

More musings on news from around the NFL:

Why the Sam Bradford trade can be a win-win: Can a trade be good for both teams? That’s how I see the Sam Bradford trade from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Minnesota Vikings . The Vikings lost Teddy Bridgewater for the season last week with a major knee injury, so they had to do something.

The Vikings were a good team in 2015 with not a lot of help from Bridgewater. They are built to run it with Adrian Peterson and play good defense. That got them a division title last season.

So why not make a move to get a veteran passer who can drive the ball down the field in Norv Turner’s offense? Bradford has fought through a lot of injury issues in his six seasons, but he has had moments where he has been a good passer. Has he lived up to being the first overall pick by the Los Angeles Rams ? No. But he is better than Shaun Hill .

Let’s wait and see before deciding that the Vikes gave up too much for Sam Bradford. USATSI

That’s why it makes sense for Minnesota. They give up a first-round pick and a fourth-round pick to get him. If they get to the postseason, and win a game or two, that first-round pick will be late. So why not go for it?

As for the Eagles, this is the right move so they can play rookie Carson Wentz . He is their future. So get on with it. They won’t be good this season anyway, so let Wentz learn on the job. For those who say he won’t be ready, that’s crap. You learn 10 times as much playing as sitting. Let him take his lumps.

If he can’t handle it — and some can’t — then you drafted the wrong guy anyway. Like I always say: Play the kid. Now.

This was a win-win trade for both teams.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens kept seven corners on their 53-man roster, but just one — Jimmy Smith — was a corner on their roster last season. Lardarius Webb moved to safety this season. There is a lot of youth among the corner group, which is why keeping Smith healthy is so vital this season.

Chicago Bears

Smart move by the Bears to give guard Kyle Long a four-year, $40-million extension. He played tackle last year — which he really didn’t want to do — and did a solid job. Now that he’s back to guard, he should again be a dominant offensive lineman. Long does have some shoulder problems that limited him this summer.

The Bears will be without pass rusher Pernell McPhee for six weeks after he was placed on the PUP list. McPhee has knee issues that will keep him out. He will be missed in Vic Fangio’s defense.

Cleveland Browns

You have to give the Browns credit for truly starting from scratch. They got rid of a lot of bad players from the previous regime and they kept all of their draft picks. That’s the smart way to start over. But it’s going to take a long time to get this thing turned around. I hope owner Jimmy Haslam can be patient.

Denver Broncos

Jordan Taylor , who was Peyton Manning ‘s receiver during his rehab last year when on the Broncos’ practice squad, made the Denver roster. He had a big game last week in the preseason finale to seal the deal, but he was impressive the entire offseason. That work with Manning must have really helped.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers releasing guard Josh Sitton was shocking. Sitton can still play at a high level, and was a leader on that offensive line. His played tailed off a bit last year, but he’s still one of the better guards. He was also big in helping the young centers make the line calls. Without Sitton, who signed with the Bears on Sunday, the Packers will now likely turn to Don Barclay or Lane Taylor at guard, probably Taylor, or maybe shuffle the line and find a spot for rookie Jason Spriggs .

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts gave veteran Stevan Ridley a look-see at running back for a week, but decided to cut him. That means rookie Josh Ferguson will be the backup to Frank Gore . Young legs are always better than older legs. Look for Ferguson to get more work as the season moves along.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars will start free-agent pickup Kelvin Beachum at left tackle and move 2013 first-round pick Luke Joeckel inside to guard. This was a move that the team planned to make back in March when Beachum was signed. But when Beachum was slow to get on the field, Joeckel played left tackle in the first two preseason games and did a nice job.

He moved inside last week against the Bengals and wasn’t nearly as bad as he was portrayed. He did get bowled over by Geno Atkins on a play — winding up on his back — but he was tripped by center Brandon Linder . Joeckel will be a much better guard than he was tackle. He always had problems with players who had room. Inside, that won’t be the case. He’s also athletic enough to get up to the second level. Here’s a bet the Jacksonville offensive line will be much improved in 2016.

New England Patriots

So Tom Brady took the NFL sticker off his helmet. Big deal. Fine him and move on. Just like if it were any other player. He isn’t bigger than the game — even if some think he might be. Yes, he’s mad at the NFL for his four-game suspension. And he should be. But rules are rules.

New York Giants

I can’t wait for the two Redskins-Giants games. Why? Josh Norman against Odell Beckham Jr. The two went at it last season when Norman’s Panthers played the Giants, leading to fighting and Beckham Jr. getting tossed from the game. Now they get each other in two games.

Norman keeps fueling the flames too. This week he said, “I’ll be honest, I don’t care for the guy at all. Now don’t get me wrong, he’s a good player or whatever, but he’s not what he thinks he is. If you hit guys like that, if you completely jam them and shake them up, they can’t relate to that. So they start making excuses like, ‘Oh, he touched me.’ They don’t know how to respond because they never got hit like that. So me, every time I see him, I’m going to hit him in the mouth. I don’t care. Until he stops crying and bitching.”

Can’t wait.

And finally …

One of the worst things for a young player has to be making the 53-man roster on one day, then getting cut because of a waiver claim the next. Cruel business.


Source: CBS Sports / Monday Musings: Trouble spots for 10 contenders, Bradford swap a win-win