Offseason workouts are critical for NFL veterans and rookies to establish a rapport ahead of the season. Most teams are wrapping up their second and third round of OTAs and several former Buckeyes are early standouts.
we already broke down how this year's rookies did during their first mini-camps. Now, here's a look into what some Ohio State veterans are up to this offseason.
Philly Brown, WR: One of the Panthers top wide receivers is missing offseason workouts with a hamstring injury, which means Brown will get more reps with quarterback Cam Newton ahead of the season. As he heads into his second season in the league, Brown has already hauled in several long passes during practice and is poised to make some noise this coming fall.
Ted Ginn Jr., WR: Having played in Carolina before a short season in Arizona, Ginn has a chance to make an impact again as a receiver. He has been utilized as a special teams players and kick returner for most of his career. He has found more success as his original position while playing for the Panthers and now that he's back, this is chance to get more reps as WR3. It seems that the chemistry between Ginn and Newton picked up right where they left off.
David Newton of ESPN noted, "Highlight II: I'll give it a tie between Newton throwing a touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr. in the left corner of the end zone and safety Tre Boston picking off Newton on the first play of a hurry-up drill."
Kurt Coleman, S: Free-agent acquisition, Coleman, is already rotating in the starting safety spot for Carolina. There have been rumblings that he could possibly replace Robert Lester who missed the entire 2014 season due to injury. When Lester's replacement, Roman Harper, failed to impress in his absence, the Panthers looked to outside sources and landed Coleman back in March. Coleman is a veteran and having played for several teams already in his career, can be versatile and learn quickly.
A.J. Hawk, LB: After 10 years in the league, Hawk found himself leaving the comfort of Green Bay for an unknown team in Cincinnati. He has alot of work to do learning a new playbook and defensive scheme, but he was one of the finest in college and can be that again. He's making the rounds on the line and trying to learn as much about as many position as he can. One of his best qualities is his attitude, as he participates in offseason workouts with a brand new team.
"I don't claim to be the smart, wise, old vet coming in here," Hawk said. "I'm asking these guys questions just like a rookie. I'm learning the defense like these rookies are learning it."
Terrelle Pryor, QB: Pryor has been an enigma at the next level, having jumped from team to team without ever landing a solid starting spot. He started briefly for the Raiders during his time in Oakland, followed by an even shorter stint with the Seahawks and Chiefs, before signing with the Bengals in May. Starting quarterback Andy Dalton has the reigns of the offense for now, but with a few lackluster seasons behind him, Cincinnati is geared for a backup taking snaps.
Per Josh Kirkendall of Cincy Jungle, "Pryor signed a one-year deal worth $660,000 after an impressive performance as an invite during Cincinnati's rookie minicamp."
Brian Hartline, WR: Hartline was traded by the Dolphins just as he felt he was hitting his stride. The veteran wide receiver is a welcome addition to Cleveland's offense, who are trying everything they can to support a somewhat green quarterback situation. He's had several good practices so far with his new team and is expected to be a big contributor this fall.
Donte Whitner, DB: One half of the Brown's secondary that is fighting to be one of the best in the league, Whitner has been putting in work on and off the field to ensure that the DB group is ready for any offense they face. Alongside vocal leader Joe Haden, the pair have a combined 14 years experience that they bring to the locker and film rooms.
"It's gonna be on us, but we know we have the ability to be the leading group of the team," Haden said per ESPN Cleveland.
Dan "Boom" Herron, RB: He may be playing for a professional team, but that doesn't mean he lost his signature calling card. Even in Indianapolis he is known as Boom, a nickname that is both fitting and fun to say. Herron was a key contributor near the end of the 2014 season and into the post-season. During the free agency period, the Colts released running back Trent Richardson, and there were reports that it was due to the confidence they had in Herron moving forward.
"Boom Herron showed last year that he's more than capable of an extended role in the backfield." - Kevin Bowen, Colts.com
Jack Mewhort, G: Mewhort made a late season shift from left to right guard, out of necessity, not because the team wanted to him to stay there. With the addition of Todd Herremans from the Philadelphia Eagles during free agency, the Colts should have their right side issues taken care of, leaving Mewhort safely on the left side of the line.
"It's been expressed to me by people in the organization how much the Colts like the left side of their line, with Mewhort and Castonzo, giving them a combo that could play together for many years." - Stephen Holder, IndyStar
New York Jets
DeVier Posey, WR: Posey will be spending his first season since college back up north, and is taking his talents to the Jets after being traded by the Houston Texans. He is pretty much a lock at making the final roster, but he will definitely have competition at the receiver spot. With other veterans and standouts like Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall all vying for the same touches and playing time, Posey will certainly have to put in the work to prove his worth.
Nick Mangold, C: Despite an ankle injury in December of last year, Mangold is still the projected starter and keeper of his position. A six-time Pro Bowl selection, he is one of the more seasoned veterans amid not only rookie players but a whole new coaching staff. The Jets are officially moving on from the Rex Ryan era and placing their bets on new head coach, Todd Bowles.
According to PFF on Mangold, "Back to his best, the longtime benchmark for center play in the NFL would finish the regular season our top-ranked center. An excellent run blocker it was his pass blocking that pushed him over the edge, where he allowed only seven hurries all year."
Chimdi Chekwa, DB: Just a day before the Raiders kicked off their first offseason team activity of the year, Chekwa was released from the New England Patriots only to re-sign a one year deal with his former squad. Drafted by the Raiders, Chekwa spent his first four seasons playing in California before his brief two-month stint with the Patriots. He was never a standout player at the next level, and this may be his last shot to make and stay with a team if he wants a long career.
Malcolm Jenkins, S: Having spent most of his career playing for the New Orleans Saints, Jenkins made his way to the Eagles before the 2014 season. He quickly rose to be a leader of the defense and in the locker room; he's a stand-out on and off the field. He firmly holds the first starting spot at safety, with the team considering rotating a corner to the second safety position. The Eagles brought in a lot of backfield talent during the offseason, but they all fall in line under Jenkins.
"Right now you might label the group Malcolm Jenkins and the 5 Heartbeats." notes Tommy Lawlor, Iggles Blitz.
Mike Adams, OT: Having lost his starting spot back in 2013, he has yet to regain his confidence and position. He's been limited to the sideline so far during offseason workouts for undisclosed reasons, but if he can fend off any injuries, he could get his chance to prove his worth as a back-up during the season. Adams is headed into the last year of his rookie contract with the Steelers, and if he doesn't show his worth now, he may be lining up for another team next year.
Will Allen, S: The Steelers were hit hard this offseason with departures and retirements, which worked out pretty well for Allen who was re-signed just hours after the retirement announcement of Troy Polamalu. Entering his twelfth year in the league, and sixth season with the Steelers, Allen is the veteran of the secondary but isn't exactly looked at as the future. Pittsburgh drafted a possible replacement for Polamalu, and while Allen doesn't exactly see himself as his mentor, he knows his role will be somewhat different this year.
"I don't really know what my role is," said Allen, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Everyone thinks I'm getting old, but every year I end up starting games here."
Cameron Heyward, DE: Another player heading into the last season on their rookie contract, Heyward is projected to be one of the first to sign a new contract with the team. At only 26 years old, he is already acting as a mentor to younger players, and is quickly filling a leadership role among the defense. Second-year player Stephon Tuitt specifically has been learning a lot from Heyward over the past year.
On Heyward's ability to succeed in a leadership role, Steelers Depot reports Tuitt saying, "Everyone knows Cam can do it. I definitely try to ricochet my game off of him."
Ryan Shazier, LB: Following an injury early on in his rookie career with the Steelers, Shazier gave up his starting spot on the line, but is determined to get it back. It's not just Shazier that is looking to have a better year, the veteran lineman around him have high expectations as he gets healthy.
Behind the Steel Curtain reported Shazier saying, "I'm definitely taking advantage of these (OTAs). I'm trying to get a better understanding of everything, make sure I know what everybody is doing and make sure I know what I am doing. That way, we can all be on the same page.''
San Francisco 49ers
Carlos Hyde, RB: After spending his rookie season learning from one of the best and most seasoned running backs in the league, Hyde is ready for his starring role on the 49ers offense. Frank Gore was traded to the Colts during free agency, and it was reportedly due to the effort and skill Hyde showcased during his rookie season. The team did pick up former Saints and Lions standout Reggie Bush, but he's likely to be more involved in the passing scheme. Hyde has cut weight and trained hard this offseason, in addition to the starting spot almost assuredly going to him, he is projected to be one of the most successful 'sophomores' in the league in 2015.
As noted by Bleacher Report, "Hyde had a forgettable rookie season in which he only gained 401 yards from scrimmage, but that was largely because Gore continued to be the team's bell cow.
Additionally, he suffered an ankle injury in December that forced him out of San Francisco's final two games of the year.
Assuming Hyde can stay healthy this year, it should be his turn to get the lion's share of the 49ers' carries—just as Gore did for the past 10 years."
Alex Boone, G: Early on in the offseason Boone expressed interest in a contract extension and made it public that he wasn't planning on attending any of the voluntary workouts or practices. He confirmed he would still participate in all the mandatory activities, but also is reportedly open to a trade, according to CBS Sports.
St. Louis Rams
James Laurinaitis, LB: Despite being the last team to report to OTAs this offseason, Laurinaitis is ready to get back to work. As a leader of the defense, he takes a big role in OTAs and learning about the rookies and seeing who can step up and make it at the next level.
"You learn all this stuff in OTAs to establish the base you can build on,'' Laurinaitis said, per FOX Sports. "That gives you something to study during the summer and then really get after it when camp starts.''