By Ryan Mayer, CBS Local Sports
Arizona Cardinals- What will they get out of the QB Spot? With Palmer coming off another ACL injury, the Cardinals will need to hope he’s able to get back to full strength. If he’s not, the other camp options aren’t exactly promising. Logan Thomas, Drew Stanton both showed nothing last year in short stints, and Phillip Sims is a rookie. The Cards were dominant last year because of their D and that unit should be good again, they need the offense to help them out.
Atlanta Falcons- Can Dan Quinn improve the D enough to make them a playoff team? There are very good weapons for Matt Ryan in Julio Jones and Roddy White out wide with Devonta Freeman and rookie Tevin Coleman in the backfield. The offensive line isn’t great but even an improvement from terrible to below average on defense could help them find the postseason.
Baltimore Ravens- How quickly can Breshad Perriman pick up the offense? The Ravens have a very good running back (Justin Forsett), and an exciting new rookie at TE for Joe Flacco to work with. Steve Smith is another year older but will be productive, however after losing Torrey Smith the Ravens need a deep threat and will hope that Perriman can fill that role.
Buffalo Bills- Who is the QB? One of many teams with QB questions heading into camp, the Bills defense will be dominant again and they added a top running back in LeSean McCoy. Rex likes to punish teams on the ground and with defense so even average QB play (ala Mark Sanchez in 09/10) would probably make them a playoff team. EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor will battle it out for that starting spot.
Carolina Panthers- Can they protect Cam Newton? The line last year was terrible. Newton took entirely too many hits. They brought in Michael Oher and Jonathan Martin as possibilities at tackle but can either of those guys fulfill their potential?
Chicago Bears- How does Jay Cutler fit in the new offense? A lot has been made this offseason about Adam Gase being a Mike Martz disciple and Cutler having success under Martz in 2010-2011. That’s great, if Cutler can replicate that kind of success. Also, more emphasis on running the football with Matt Forte would help Cutler out.
Cincinnati Bengals- Who emerges as the 2nd option behind AJ Green? Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu have flashed at times but can either become a consistent second option from Dalton who seems to be on the hot seat along with head coach Marvin Lewis.
Cleveland Browns- Johnny Manziel or Josh McCown? This is a pretty easy one. The Browns defense should improve again, but without steady QB play this team is going nowhere especially in the AFC North.
Dallas Cowboys- What will the D look like? Some people are concerned about DeMarco Murray leaving, I’m not as concerned with RB’s shown to be pretty replaceable nowadays. It’s the defense that concerns me. They played well last season right about league average, and brought in Greg Hardy to improve the pass rush. Will Sean Lee actually play a full season or will the duties fall once again to someone else. If the D is even slightly better than last year, this team is a Super Bowl contender.
Denver Broncos- How does Peyton Manning hold up? Manning is 39 years old as this year opens. His stats have still been great over the past two seasons, but how long can that continue? Changes along the offensive line make me wonder how good his protection will be.
Detroit Lions- How do they replace the production on the defensive line? They lost both Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley this offseason who were key cogs in what was a stifling run defense last year. The Lions brought in Haloti Ngata and drafted Gabe Wright, while expecting more out of 2nd year man Caraun Reid. If those guys can produce even half the production of Suh/Fairley then the Lions will be in playoff contention again.
Green Bay Packers- What will the linebacking corps look like? Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers are obvious starters. But, the other two spots are still up in the air. Will they continue to utilize Matthews on the inside? Can Jake Ryan step in and be a productive player in the middle? These are questions I’m interested to watch for the Pack who are stacked again on offense.
Houston Texans- Who wins the QB battle? Another team with QB questions, do you go with the guy who was replaced by Johnny Manziel after starting out hot? Or do you go with the largely unproven commodity in Ryan Mallett.
Indianapolis Colts- Can the defense help the offense? The offense continued to add weapons like they were arming for a nuclear war this offseason picking up Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, drafting Phillip Dorsett, etc. The defense is what killed them (along with deflated footballs if you’re a Patriots hater) against New England last year and will need to get to the next level in order to make this team a Super Bowl contender.
Jacksonville Jaguars- How does Blake Bortles progress? Bortles showed flashes in his first year under center, but can he make steps forward under a new offense is the larger question. The Jaguars are looking to build and need to see if Bortles can be “the guy” moving forward.
Kansas City Chiefs- Who will help Jeremy Maclin? Picking up Maclin was a nice move as they clearly needed to upgrade their receiving core. But, one guy can’t make the passing game better so who steps up behind him is the question. Can Chris Conley make an impact as a rookie?
Miami Dolphins- Does Ndamukong Suh make the defense Top 5? Suh was given the largest contract in league history for a defensive player getting more guaranteed money than JJ Watt. Suh is certainly a disruptive force, but he’s also had his share of suspensions and issues. Is he the missing piece that the Dolphins clearly think he is? We’ll find out.
Minnesota Vikings- Can Teddy Bridgewater build off a good rookie year? Adrian Peterson’s return should certainly help the second year QB along with the addition of Mike Wallace on the outside. The Vikings haven’t had a top QB since I’d argue Dante Culpepper’s first couple years, so if Bridgewater proves to be a franchise guy, that would be huge.
New England Patriots- How do you handle first team reps? It seems the DeflateGate saga is determined to continue in perpetuity. Will Brady be available to play Week 1? We have no idea. So the question is how best to split reps or do you split reps to get Jimmy Garappolo ready.
New Orleans Saints- How does the transition from high flying attack to a more balanced style go? The trade of Jimmy Graham and addition of CJ Spiller to add to Mark Ingram seems to signal a transition to a more balanced attack. We’ll see if that’s actually the case in camp.
New York Giants- Can the defense put up the same effort? The offense seemed to take a step forward last year and will be expected to do so again this year with Eli in Year 2 of the system. Steve Spagnuolo returns as D-coordinator, I’m sure he’ll have ideas for generating pressure on QB’s even with Jason Pierre Paul out.
New York Jets- Is Geno Smith the guy? Smith has looked good at times and terrible at others during his first couple of years. In my opinion, he should be the starter at least at the beginning of the year because Ryan Fitzpatrick is pretty unspectacular too. If Geno can make a step forward, this team is dangerous.
Oakland Raiders- Can Jack Del Rio break the trend? Del Rio was hired this offseason and looks to make his impression on a franchise that has cycled through coaches faster than I go through a pizza. Del Rio will look to buck that trend and establish a culture towards building back to their old winning ways.
Philadelphia Eagles- Will Chip Kelly’s moves pay off? Kelly completely overhauled this roster and it could either work beautifully or blow up in his face.
Pittsburgh Steelers- Can Keith Butler restore the defense? Butler replaces the legendary Dick Lebeau this year in the defensive coordinator role. LeBeau was a huge part of some of the dominant Steelers defenses over the years, but they were 15th in the league last year which is very uncharacteristic. The defense has some holes, especially at the corner spots. How Butler schemes will be key.
San Diego Chargers- Will the offensive line be able to protect Phillip Rivers? King Dunlap and Orlando Franklin is a good left side of the line, but the rest is shaky.
San Francisco 49ers- Is Kaepernick really a franchise QB? Look there are a ton of questions here with all of the early retirements they had this offseason on the defensive side. My biggest concern however is the development or lack thereof of Kaepernick who regressed last season.
Seattle Seahawks- Will Jimmy Graham provide a needed 1st option in the passing game? Marshawn Lynch is another year older but will still be solid. The rest of the receiving core is average, hence why Seattle went out and picked up Graham from New Orleans. He needs to prove he can show up in big games for Wilson.
St. Louis Rams- Who will step up for Foles? Questions abound on this offense including Foles himself who was great his first year then injured last year. The weapons around him need to step up more than in years past or all that defensive talent will be for naught.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- How quickly does Jameis Winston transition? Winston is the highest profile rookie QB because of both his skill set and his off field transgressions. Will he be able to handle the reigns as the starting QB for an NFL franchise and the pressure/questions that comes with it? We’re about to find out.
Tennessee Titans- Will they put Marcus Mariota in positions to succeed? Ken Whisenhunt has been known to coach only one style of offense that favors big stationary pocket passers with strong arms. Mariota isn’t that type of QB. He’s more accurate and mobile. So will Whisenhunt be willing to adapt to his new QB or will he sit him in favor of Zach Mettenberger (more his style) at the first sign of struggle?
Washington Redskins- Can RGIII be fixed? After a stunning rookie year, he’s never gotten back on track. Things blew up a bit last year between him and coach Jay Gruden and I’m not sure they’re on the same page. This will probably be his last chance to make it work before they decide to cut bait and find their next QB.
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him. Agree/Disagree? Thoughts, comments, complaints? Email or tweet him.