Training camp MVPs for all 32 NFL teams

ByNFL Nation ESPN logo
Monday, August 19, 2019

Training camps around the NFL are starting to wrap up, and the regular season nears.

Our NFL Nation reporters talked to players and coaches to designate Mr. Training Camp for each team -- the player who stood out the most. Here are the MVPs of all 32 NFL training camps.

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Buffalo Bills

Defensive tackleEd Oliver

The rookie reportedly had "a long way to go" before the Bills began training camp, but he's picked things up quickly ever since. Oliver inserted himself into the starting lineup almost immediately after the full pads came on and held his own against All-Pro Quenton Nelson in his first preseason game. At this rate, he'll be the interior force Buffalo needs to jump-start the 26th-ranked pass rush from 2018. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

Miami Dolphins

Wide receiverPreston Williams

No Dolphins player outside of the quarterbacks has created a louder on-field buzz than Williams this training camp. The 6-foot-5, 218-pound undrafted receiver out of Colorado State has thrilled the fan base with highlight one-handed grabs, consistent big plays on throws from Josh Rosen and a strong feel that he belongs not just on the roster but in the starting lineup. Said Dolphins CB Xavien Howard, "That guy can be special. ... There's so much room for improvement with him, but he's going to be a No. 1 receiver one day." Now the Dolphins just need to find a way to get him significant playing time in 2019. -- Cameron Wolfe

New England Patriots

Wide receiverJakobi Meyers

Undrafted out of NC State, he is a strong candidate to not only make the roster but carve out a role for himself. No receiver caught more passes in training camp, and he exploded onto the scene in the first preseason game with six catches for 69 yards and two TDs. "He's done a great job and he's taken advantage of his opportunities," quarterback Tom Brady said. "I think that's really what we try to stress to anybody -- the football doesn't care how old you are, whether you were drafted or not. The football doesn't care how much experience you have. It just knows that when I let that ball go, it's got to be in the hands of the guy who it's intended for." -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets

Running backTy Montgomery

An afterthought signing, Montgomery has played his way into a key role on offense. With Le'Veon Bell on a rep count in training camp, Montgomery assumed the role of workhorse, and the former wide receiver impressed with his versatile skill set. No one touched the ball more in camp than Montgomery. Asked why he still wears a receiver number, he said, "The 88 is part of my brand. The 88 speaks to what I can do as a true hybrid." -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens

Tight endMark Andrews

As rookies last season, Andrews and quarterback Lamar Jackson made an instant connection. That has carried over into this year's training camp, where Andrews has been Jackson's favorite target, especially in the red zone. And Andrews has been a touchdown monster. "The chemistry he's developing with Lamar, that's something you can't manufacture," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "You have to go out, and that has to happen in real time." -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals

Wide receiverDamion Willis

The undrafted rookie from Troy has drawn praise and made plays throughout the preseason. At the beginning of training camp, Willis impressed quarterback Andy Dalton. Against Washington, he caught all five targets for 59 yards. He is making a strong case to make the 53-man roster. -- Ben Baby

Cleveland Browns

Wide receiverDerrick Willies

Willies entered training camp uncertain to make the 53-man roster. By the Aug. 3 scrimmage at FirstEnergy Stadium, he was already working with the first team alongside Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. "You can tell he was working in the offseason and showed up ready for camp," said QB Baker Mayfield. "He is continuing to work." -- Jake Trotter

Pittsburgh Steelers

CornerbackCameron Sutton

The third-year player is finally putting it all together, registering several interceptions during training camp. He was always a smart player but didn't make enough plays in his second year. Now he is making them and looks comfortable in the scheme. Linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi is also a candidate for his improved pass rush, but he got hurt late in camp and his preseason outlook is in question. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans

Wide receiverTyron Johnson

Johnson is an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State who has a chance to earn the final receiver spot on the Texans' 53-man roster. Coach Bill O'Brien said the receiver still has work to do as he makes the jump from college football to the NFL, but receivers coach John Perry praised Johnson's speed and said it would be a "great asset" for Houston. -- Sarah Barshop

Indianapolis Colts

Wide receiverT.Y. Hilton

In the two joint practices against Cleveland, he caught 29 out of the 30 passes he was targeted on, according to his calculation, even though most of them came from backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, since starter Andrew Luck (calf) practiced only three days. "I was able to get back to my old roots and get back to where I started," Hilton said. "Running my routes, getting to the sand, running beach routes, a lot of training-on-the-track work, just continuing to grind in the weight room, get my strength up, get my route running strong. And I'm looking good." -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars

Wide receiverDJ Chark

Chark made more of an impact as a gunner in 2018 than he did as a receiver (14 catches). He said he didn't realize the amount of time he needed to spend with his playbook each week and didn't know how to prepare. But he says he's much more comfortable now and that shows. He had issues catching the ball last season, but he showed no signs of that in OTAs and training camp. He's been the most impressive receiver, and it comes at a position that desperately needs playmakers to emerge alongside Dede Westbrook. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans

Wide receiverCorey Davis

Davis worked hard during the offseason to perfect his craft. It paid off. He is more crisp with his routes and creates more separation. The way he attacks the ball is impressive and has led to Marcus Mariota throwing him the ball even when he's covered. -- Turron Davenport


Denver Broncos

Outside linebackerMalik Reed

In 14 of the last 15 years, at least one undrafted rookie has battled his way onto the Broncos' roster to start a season. Reed has quickly distinguished himself as a rookie to watch in training camp with two sacks in the first two preseason games combined. With the departures of Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray this past offseason, there are spots on the depth chart behind Von Miller and Bradley Chubb to be earned. If he continues at his current pace, Reed should be one of those players by the time Week 1 rolls around. As coach Vic Fangio put it, "He likes to hit people, which is job description No. 1 for an NFL linebacker, and he's got good instincts and good feel." -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs

Defensive linemanTanoh Kpassagnon

The former second-round draft pick's roster chances didn't look good when camp started. But he seems rejuvenated after moving from linebacker, where he spent the past two seasons. Kpassagnon has played defensive end, rush end and inside at tackle, and he's been making plays at all of them. It's an upset now if he doesn't make the team. -- Adam Teicher

Los Angeles Chargers

Defensive tackleJustin Jones

A third-round selection by the Chargers last year out of NC State, Jones dropped 20 pounds this offseason and is playing fast and physical inside for the Chargers. Jones should help the Bolts' desire to generate more of an interior pass rush. "The sky's the limit of what he can be," Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram said. "You see him do moves at times and the way he practices -- he has the chance to be very special. He's gonna show the world." -- Eric D. Williams

Oakland Raiders

Wide receiverKeelan Doss

Perhaps no Raiders wideout has benefited more from Antonio Brown's frostbitten feet and two-week absence from camp than the undrafted rookie from Alameda High School and UC Davis. No, Doss is not getting regular first-team reps, but the domino effect from Brown being gone has given Doss some run he otherwise might not have received. His first career catch was a touchdown on a 3-yard slant from Nathan Peterman against the Rams. And in Arizona, Doss had a team-high five catches. The odds are still stacked against Doss making the team, though, especially if Oakland goes with only six receivers. He would likely have to beat out Marcell Ateman and Keon Hatcher, both of whom are ahead of him on the depth chart. -- Paul Gutierrez


Dallas Cowboys

Defensive tackleMaliek Collins

In every situation of camp, Collins has been difficult to block, from team drills to one-on-one pass-rush work. In his first three seasons, Collins has been solid, recording 10.5 sacks, but he has battled through foot and knee injuries. He has had his first fully healthy offseason and training camp and has reaped the rewards. Rod Marinelli said the three technique is the engine that makes the defense go. With an improved interior pass rush, the Cowboys' defense could take a jump into elite territory. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants

QuarterbackDaniel Jones

All eyes have been on the rookie quarterback, and he hasn't disappointed. Jones has thrown the ball well, especially downfield, and shown impressive poise. His preseason debut only showcased what he's done most of the summer. It has given the Giants and their fans hope that the future is bright. -- Jordan Raanan

Philadelphia Eagles

Wide receiverDeSean Jackson

At 32 years old, Jackson remains an impossible matchup for defensive backs in a training camp setting. Every day he's made at least one splash play, usually via a long bomb from quarterback Carson Wentz. Rejuvenated by returning to his old team, Jackson has been fully engaged, is assuming a mentorship role for some of the young receivers and looks like he's ready to do some damage this season. -- Tim McManus

Washington Redskins

CornerbackJimmy Moreland

Moreland was the guy mentioned first by several Redskins, and at various points throughout training camp. The seventh-round pick impressed in the spring with his ball-hawk ability, and that continued in camp. He does make mistakes and will get turned on inside routes, but he's quick inside against slot receivers and is tough and competitive. He can even be heard saying "No!" when coaches tell him it's time to come out during practice. Moreland might not start immediately this season, but he should play a key role in the future. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears

Running backDavid Montgomery

On a roster full of established players, Montgomery flashed more than any other newcomer. The versatile Iowa State runner is expected to have a decent role in Chicago's offense. Montgomery's strength in college was his tackle-breaking ability, but the third-round pick opened eyes in camp with the way he caught the ball out of the backfield, something his predecessor, Jordan Howard, struggled to do. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions

SafetyAndrew Adams

The Lions signed Adams to a one-year deal this offseason primarily due to his knack for forcing turnovers. And that's all he's done during training camp, intercepting at least four passes. Adams has taken himself from a player clearly on the roster bubble to one who has received work with the first-team defense in certain packages. He still needs to finish out the preseason strong, but he's put himself in line to get some playing time in a crowded Lions defensive backfield this fall because of his ability to create big-time plays -- something Detroit lacked last season. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers

Wide receiverJake Kumerow

The underdog receiver wowed the Packers last summer only to dive into the end zone and hurt his shoulder as he scored during the preseason. Kumerow wasn't activated until the final month of the season and finished with just eight catches for 103 yards and one touchdown. Another flawless camp -- few can recall him ever dropping a pass -- has him in line for a significant role this season. Said Aaron Rodgers: "He's just a very smart guy, cerebral guy, and you guys know I love playing with those kind of guys." -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings

Wide receiverOlabisi Johnson

Johnson has emerged during training camp as a bright spot on offense. As it stands, the seventh-rounder is somewhere between the No. 4 and No. 5 receiver and is furthering his consideration for a spot on the 53-man with his work on special teams. "He's a guy that can play multiple spots, and I think the more he has done that, the more he's been able to get involved in the offense," coach Mike Zimmer said. The progress he's made has earned him first-team reps. -- Courtney Cronin


Atlanta Falcons

Running backBrian Hill

He's trying to win time in the backfield behind Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith. Hill is a bigger back and is also competing with rookie Qadree Ollison for a role. Coach Dan Quinn has been impressed with how Hill has improved catching. We'll see if it's enough to earn a spot on the 53. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers

Wide receiverCurtis Samuel

Veteran Torrey Smith summed up Samuel's camp performance by saying: "He's had the most growth out of any player I've ever seen." Running back Christian McCaffrey added, "He's got foot speed that is rare. Not just in the league. I'd say the world." Seldom did a day go by that Samuel didn't amaze by beating a defender deep with his speed and precise route running. Cam Newton found Samuel wide open 40 yards downfield at one point, and the receiver ended camp with a similar deep route in a joint session against Buffalo. He's poised for a breakout year. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints

Wide receiverEmmanuel Butler

I considered tight end Jared Cook here, since Cook should play a much more important role in New Orleans' offense, while Butler is still fighting to land a roster spot. But no player has come from so far off the radar to create as much buzz as the undrafted rookie receiver from Northern Arizona. He didn't help his case with a drop in his preseason debut Sunday, but the physical 6-4, 220-pound target has consistently made tough catches even when he is well covered in practice, while drawing lofty praise from coaches and teammates.-- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

CornerbackVernon Hargreaves

Hargreaves was charged with leading a room of corners with an average age of 23. In Todd Bowles' new defense, he's brought constant energy to this young group, celebrating with them after big plays and helping coach them up on the sidelines. Hargreaves told me Bowles' scheme, which is much more aggressive and allows him to get his hands on wide receivers, feels so much more natural for him. "This is what I do. This is what I did coming out of college." -- Jenna Laine


Arizona Cardinals

Wide receiverKeeSean Johnson

The sixth-round rookie out of Fresno State has been the talk of camp almost since Day 1, and rightfully so. He's been producing at a level beyond what most people expected, running precise routes and catching nearly everything thrown his way with a deft catch ability. He's quickly established himself as the Cardinals' WR3 in a crowded receivers room. "One that has jumped out, seems to catch everything coming his way, is KeeSean," said coach Kliff Kingsbury. "He's made a ton of plays. I think the QBs, all of them, have confidence in him." -- Josh Weinfuss

Los Angeles Rams

Defensive tackleAaron Donald

He's the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and at training camp -- where he made his first appearance since 2016 -- it was easy to see why. Donald exudes an extraordinary amount of effort in every drill and on every down. One Raiders offensive lineman said after a joint practice that he had never played -- or better yet, practiced -- against a defensive lineman who put forth so much effort on every single play. "From an offensive and a defensive standpoint, it sure is great having Aaron Donald here," Sean McVay said. -- Lindsey Thiry

San Francisco 49ers

Wide receiverTrent Taylor

Yes, Taylor suffered a Jones fracture in his foot last week that will keep him out the rest of the preseason, but the Niners are hopeful he will be back for Week 1. When he does return, the hope is he will pick up where he left off after a training camp that left teammates and coaches raving about his bounce-back from an injury-plagued 2018 season. "There seems to be a connection between Jimmy [Garoppolo] and him," fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. "And he just seems to be moving at another speed and just has an incredible feel for space on the field. Many times, it's just him and Jimmy just kind of improvising." Don't be surprised if he leads the team in targets and receptions. -- Nick Wagoner

Seattle Seahawks

Tight endWill Dissly

Who would have guessed a month ago that Dissly would even be the most impressive of Seattle's tight ends in training camp? After all, he was a spectator during the entire offseason program while recovering from surgery on his torn patellar tendon. While Ed Dickson (knee) and Jacob Hollister (groin) have missed time in camp, Dissly has practiced without much limitation and has regained the connection with Russell Wilson that was starting to become evident before he went down in Week 4 of his rookie season. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer had one of the better compliments a player can get when he said of Dissly: "I am literally more at ease when he's out there." -- Brady Henderson

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