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NFL minicamp updates: Browns’ Deshaun Watson throws in drills; Panthers’ Bryce Young impresses



It’s the second week of mandatory minicamps in the NFL, with 22 teams taking another critical step toward the starting line of the 2024 season. Ten teams got the mandatory ball rolling last week, with three taking the practice field Monday and another 19 on Tuesday.

ESPN’s NFL reporters will be found at each of the 22 locations this week, providing information on position battles, notable appearances from new faces, compelling quotes from coaches and players and updates on injuries and holdout situations.

Top NFL news of the day

Giants expect Daniel Jones to return from ACL tear at training camp

The Giants have made it clear that they expect Jones to be ready for the beginning of training camp and be their starting quarterback this season. Their first practice is slated for July 24.

Chiefs DL BJ Thompson out of hospital after cardiac arrest

Thompson, 25, suffered seizures and went into cardiac arrest Thursday while in a special teams meeting at the Chiefs’ practice facility. “The family thanks everyone for their prayers and wants to especially thank the Chiefs medical and training staff for their rapid response and professionalism throughout this situation,” agent Chris Turnage said in a statement provided to NFL Network.

Bucs LB Randy Gregory absent from mandatory minicamp

Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles said outside linebacker Randy Gregory had an unexcused absence this first day of mandatory minicamp and that the team will “deal with it.”

“It’s disappointing when anyone’s not here, but we’ll deal with it,” Bowles said after Tuesday’s practice. “We’ll deal with it. Right now, I’m only going to coach the guys that’s here.”

The Bucs signed Gregory this offseason to a one-year deal worth $3 million with incentives that bolster it to $5 million. Per the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, a player missing mandatory minicamp with an unexcused absence results in a $16,953 fine for the first day, $33,908 for the second day and $50,855 for a third day.

Amari Cooper’s absence unexcused as Browns begin minicamp

Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper was not in attendance for the first day of mandatory minicamp Tuesday, an absence coach Kevin Stefanski said was not excused.

Stefanski would not confirm if Cooper’s absence was contract-related but said “there’s been a dialogue” between the team and Cooper’s agent.

Cooper, who turns 30 on Monday, is entering the final year of a five-year, $100 million deal he originally signed as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. He has a base salary of $20 million in 2024, none of which is guaranteed.

What our NFL Nation reporters saw today

The protection for quarterback Bryce Young wasn’t consistent, but coach Dave Canales said the top pick of the 2023 draft had “by far” his best day of operating the offense. And this included throwing an interception near the goal line on the final play.

But Young, as wide receiver Diontae Johnson noted, is going through his reads faster and getting rid of the ball faster, a priority for Canales.

“I would say just the comfort and familiarity with our terms,” Canales said of where he’s seen Young improve the most. “The execution of the plays, the defense makes plays, too. But as far as getting out of the huddle, getting to the line of scrimmage, moving the shifts and motions, using the cadence, figuring out problems with the protections, this was a fantastic day for Bryce in understanding what we’re trying to get done.” — David Newton

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson increased his activity in practice as he returns from last November’s season-ending shoulder surgery. Watson had his most extensive practice to date, throwing passes in 7-on-7drills, which he didn’t do during OTAs. Previously, he would take mental reps and simulate throws in team drills. Watson took mental reps during 11-on-11 drills on Tuesday.

After practice, coach Kevin Stefanski said Watson will continue to abide by his current regimen and throw every other day this week.

“I thought he looked good,” Stefanski said. “Made good decisions. You get mental reps when you’re back there and then it’s a little different when you’re taking the snap from the center or the shotgun. But, I thought he did a nice job.”

Watson said he plans to throw with his pass-catchers during the break before training camp but will have to continue to follow his medical team’s plan. — Daniel Oyefusi

Rashee Rice looked ready to build on his solid rookie season. He had a big day, catching several passes, including a go-route down the left sideline from Patrick Mahomes for a long touchdown. The Chiefs added major pieces at wide receiver in free agent Marquise Brown and first-round draft pick Xavier Worthy, but Rice was clearly Mahomes’ receiver of choice today.

Worthy didn’t practice because of a sore hamstring, an injury that kept him out of most of the previous offseason practices as well. The Chiefs have indicated his absence is more precautionary than anything and that he should be ready for full practice when they get to training camp next month. All non-injured players participated for the Chiefs except kicker Harrison Butker, who has been ill. — Adam Teicher

The Giants are expecting a lot out of their wide receivers after tight end Darren Waller’s retirement over the weekend. Among that group, third-year wideout Wan’Dale Robinson. Surely it was positive for them to see Robinson make the biggest play of the day at Tuesday’s minicamp. Lined up outside of first-round pick Malik Nabers, Robinson took a slant and raced through the middle of the field and into the end zone for a 50-yard score. He flashed the explosiveness that wasn’t there for most of last season as he returned from a torn ACL. With Robinson, Nabers, Darius Slayton and Jalin Hyatt, the Giants have an explosive receiving corps. “It’s great sharing the field with those guys because we all fast and we all out there doing route concepts,” Nabers said. “So it’s easy to get the ball in our hands in space.” The Giants sure hope so. — Jordan Raanan

Without Aaron Rodgers (unexcused absence), the Jets got their first extended look at backup QB Tyrod Taylor, who ran the first-team offense in practice.

It was a mixed day for Taylor. He aced the 7-on-7 period, delivering the ball quickly and accurately, but he struggled in an 11-on-11 red zone period. His last four plays of the period: three incomplete passes and one fumbled exchange with rookie RB Isaiah Davis.

The Jets experienced life without Rodgers last season, as he missed the final 16 games with a torn Achilles — and it wasn’t pretty. Determined to upgrade at QB2, they signed the well-traveled Taylor ($8 million guarantee) and jettisoned Zach Wilson. On Tuesday, coach Robert Saleh called Taylor an “elite human and an elite leader.” Maybe so, but this team still needs Rodgers at quarterback. Saleh tried to downplay his absence, saying the four-time MVP had notified them in advance that he had a previous commitment. Still, it’s never a good look when your team leader is skipping out on a mandatory event. — Rich CImini

Rookie QB Drake Maye took repetitions Monday immediately after Jacoby Brissett, which marked the second week in a row he did so. This was a change from the initial weeks of spring practices when it was Brissett, Bailey Zappe and then Maye.

Coaches have downplayed the depth chart in spring practices, but not only has Maye seemed to leapfrog Zappe at this point, he’s also receiving significantly more repetitions than him. Maye had a 20-yard TD to TE La’Michael Pettway on a laser under the goal posts, and another impressive sideline hookup with rookie WR Ja’Lynn Polk after climbing the pocket. — Mike Reiss

While free-agent veteran Gardner Minshew got the majority of the first-team reps in his quarterback competition with second-year returner Aidan O’Connell on Tuesdsay, neither QB distinguished himself particularly well in practice. There were numerous off-target throws and several miscommunications with wideouts, when the two weren’t being harassed by the defensive line.

Receiver Jakobi Meyers referred to “growing pains” for the offense. But there was the time Minshew got nickel cornerback Nate Hobbs on third and long.

“Minshew, at the top of the drop, gave me a little pump-fake and I broke on it,” Hobbs said. “Most quarterbacks can’t do that. They don’t have that awareness; they don’t have the poise. They’re just trying to get the ball out on third down….he pumped, I broke, they high-lowed me. First down. Then he pointed at me after. That pissed me off. I jumped offsides the next play.” — Paul Gutierrez

One of the most improved players this spring has been second-year receiver Parker Washington. Coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Press Taylor have each said there are two main reasons: his health and confidence. Washington was dealing with the aftermath of an ankle injury at Penn State when he was drafted and missed eight games with the Jaguars because of a knee injury. He was thrust into a prominent role after Christian Kirk‘s groin injury and caught 16 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in nine games.

“Parker’s definitely playing more confidently,” Taylor said. “I think he’s a lot healthier than he was this time last year when we got him, but just things slow down as guys [go into their second year]. … He knows the expectations of that particular player in that particular concept, and so now you just see the skill set start to come out. That confidence is a big thing and he will continue to grow.” — Michael DiRocco

Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett spoke for the first time this spring and said his goal is to be ready to practice in time for training camp. Jarrett tore his right ACL in Week 8 last year and has not practiced at all this spring. Head coach Raheem Morris said initially the hope was Jarrett would be back on the field by minicamp this week, but he was not.

“Obviously, with training camp coming up [in late July], it’s always a ramp-up period,” Jarrett said. “Mine may look a little different, but my goal is to have most of my reps getting in and not too much special treatment to the side or nothing. So yeah, that’s what I’m working for.”

Jarrett, who is going into his 10th year in the NFL, has been one of the best interior linemen in the league for years. The Atlanta native is a team leader and a key on a defense that has a lot of question marks going into 2024. — Marc Raimondi

Saints running back Alvin Kamara and cornerback Marshon Lattimore were both in attendance at mandatory minicamp after skipping all of OTAs. That’s been their normal routine the last few offseasons. Both took some snaps in 11-on-11 drills with the starting lineup.

“Lattimore has never missed a mandatory event, so I kind of expected he would be here,” said Saints coach Dennis Allen. “I think I’ll reserve judgment until I get a chance to watch the tape.”

The only notable absence was right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, who has been excused to rehab a knee issue that Allen said has not been progressing as hoped.

Buccaneers left tackle Tristan Wirfs was in attendance for the first day of minicamp, but he did not take part in any drills or team periods as he and his agent Jeremy Newberry are actively negotiating a contract extension and don’t want risk injury. Coach Todd Bowles said, “Yeah, we don’t need to see him. He’s getting the plays and he’s getting the work in. To come into work for three days would probably be useless [in terms] of getting something out of it.” Justin Skule lined up at left tackle in his place.

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