NFL training camp 2020: Lamar Jackson returns; Le'Veon Bell jokes about Sam Darnold

ByESPN staff ESPN logo
Monday, August 24, 2020

Baltimore Ravens safety Chuck Clark spoke for the first time since his altercation with fellow safety Earl Thomas. It has been such a big story that barely anyone noticed reigning MVP Lamar Jackson returned to practice after missing the past two sessions with an injured groin.

Elsewhere in the NFL, the Miami Dolphins revealed their plans to allow 13,000 fans at each home game, and Le'Veon Bell revealed his plan to keep Jets QB Sam Darnold healthy.

Here's what you need to know from camps across the league for Aug. 24:

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Ravens' Chuck Clark 'moving forward' after altercation with Earl Thomas Baltimore Ravens safety Chuck Clark declined to talk about last week's altercation with Earl Thomas that led to the seven-time Pro Bowl player getting released on Sunday. Clark was punched by Thomas toward the end of Friday's practice after the two exchanged words on the sideline regarding a blown coverage by Thomas, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. "Right now, as a team and an organization, we're moving forward," Clark said Monday in his first words since the incident occurred.

Dolphins, University of Miami to allow fans at home openers; plan deemed 'risky' The Miami Dolphins will allow up to 13,000 socially distanced fans to attend their home opener against Buffalo on Sept. 20, a decision that divided political leaders and upset Bills coach Sean McDermott. The same plan will be followed for the University of Miami's football home opener against UAB at the Dolphins' stadium on Sept. 10. Crowd size will be about 20% of the stadium's 65,326-seat capacity, with the limitation imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Groups of spectators will be spaced 6 feet apart.

Jets Le'Veon Bell praises Sam Darnold but says QB has to stay healthy, so 'no bars' New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell gushed about Sam Darnold, praising the quarterback's improved command of the playbook and huddle. After a brief pause, Bell smiled. "We just have to make sure he stays healthy," Bell said Monday with a twinkle in his eye. "I told him, 'No bars.'"


What our NFL Nation reporters saw and heard today

Reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson returned to Baltimore Ravens practice after missing the previous two days with a groin injury. He wasn't particularly sharp throwing the ball in his first practice since Friday, but he moved around well. It was noticeable that Jackson didn't take off on any long runs. "He looked good," coach John Harbaugh said. "He had a good practice. We're moving forward." -- Jamison Hensley

Dallas Cowboys' practices are mostly quiet. Music plays only during what Mike McCarthy calls the "television timeouts," in between sessions. In the past, music was a constant in Jason Garrett's practices to help get the players accustomed to what games will be like and bring some energy to the workout. "I think there's a place for music. I think even more so than any year that I've coached in this league, this is probably a year for not very much music," McCarthy said. "Right now, it looks like we're going to be playing our first game with no fans. What I've always done is you try to keep your training environment as close to the game situation as possible. The influx in music for me, in the practices that I've had in the past, is there's a purpose for it. So when the offense is playing on the road, we'll have music during their periods for the communicate challenge and things like that." -- Todd Archer

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints' starting offense had by far their best performance to date Monday, including two TD passes to Michael Thomas to go a perfect 2-for-2 in simulated two-minute drills at the end of practice. Brees also completed two passes of 40-plus yards through the air to Emmanuel Sanders and Tre'Quan Smith during full-team drills, among other highlight throws. Brees and Sanders had their best connection yet Monday, and it would've been even better if Sanders had held on to a diving catch on another downfield pass. -- Mike Triplett

New York Giants coach Joe Judge continues to ride his team hard. This time it was a 2 1/2 hour padded practice in the 90-plus-degree heat on Monday. Judge even rallied the group and had some choice words for them (pretty much all expletives) prior to the final few periods. He wanted to make sure they knew the "speed and emphasis of the drill" they were about to run. Afterwards, Judge said his team worked hard and finished with intensity. This is what he demands of his players in training camp. It's next level from the previous regimes, and only time will tell if it pays dividends. -- Jordan Raanan

A Las Vegas Raiders official said the team switching from padded practices with media viewing to closed walk-throughs on Sunday and Monday was not related to COVID-19 concerns, despite a lab in New Jersey producing 77 "false positive" results affecting 11 teams, which altered practice schedules. The Raiders, like every other NFL team, use the same company, BioReference, for testing. But the lab the Raiders' samples go to is in Burbank, California, and there were no reports of irregularities or issues there. The Raiders will now practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, which had originally been scheduled off days. -- Paul Gutierrez

Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones set a 2020 goal of being the NFL's defensive player of the year. "That's something I've always done throughout my career is set my standards high," Jones said. "If I'm the best player in the league then I'm obviously doing well for my team and helping my team be one of the defenses in the league." Jones has come to close to delivering on his lofty preseason goals before. He predicted in 2018 he would lead the league in sacks. He didn't but finished third with 15.5. -- Adam Teicher

Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins had a strong day in the two-minute drill, culminating in a long touchdown pass to Terry McLaurin. Coach Ron Rivera liked how Haskins handled the drill, taking what was available to start and then getting more aggressive as they moved the ball. He preserved their timeouts, and when he got man coverage vs. McLaurin on the outside, he pounced. "He did a nice job," Rivera said. "It's about making the right play. He made a bunch of the right plays today." Haskins has taken all the first-team reps during training camp; as long as he does his job and looks good, no one will beat him out. -- John Keim

Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio said after Monday's practice that the team has already had more "soft tissue" injuries over the past eight days of practice than it had in all of last year's OTAs, training camp and preseason games combined. The Broncos had 11 players miss Monday's practice alone with several of those, including wide receivers KJ Hamler, Tim Patrick and Juwann Winfree, linebacker Todd Davis as well as cornerbacks De'Vante Bausby and Michael Ojemudia to go with defensive tackle Mike Purcell each held out of practice due to hamstring, groin, thigh or calf injuries. Fangio said Monday's workout was also originally scheduled to be a padded practice, but he changed it to look more like a fast-paced walk-through instead. -- Jeff Legwold

Why has Aaron Rodgers been especially sharp -- not that he's not always sharp in training camp -- the past few days? "We were watching some old film of some of the cutups," Rodgers said Monday. "As we do the installs, we'll put some film alongside it. I just noticed something from a clip from 2010 actually. It kind of hit me. And I know it was 10 years ago but the next day I went out to practice and started working on what I saw on the film, and the last couple days kind of happened." The result were near-flawless practices over the weekend. He completed 10-of-13 passes during 11-on-11 periods on Saturday and followed that up with an 11-of-15 day Sunday that included a 50-yard TD to Davante Adams, a 45-yarder to Jake Kumerow and a game-winning field goal drive in the 2-minute drill. The Packers practiced Monday at jog-through speed. "It's just a good reminder for all of us the tape of yourself can often be the most important to watch," Rodgers said. "Because you can always pick things up. I won't get into exactly what I saw, but it definitely has helped me the last couple days." -- Rob Demovsky

Jalen Mills is taking well to the safety position. On Monday, the former cornerback made a one-handed interception of a Carson Wentz pass in the end zone and took off up the field, capping the play with a forward tumble at midfield. He has been a camp standout, doing much of his best work in the red zone. -- Tim McManus

Bruce Irvin has a new nickname in the Seahawks' locker room as he begins his second stint with the team: "OG." But at 32 and entering his ninth season, he doesn't want to hear anything about being over the hill. Irvin was trying to prove he still has the athleticism of his younger years when he jumped over a tackling dummy in a recent practice. "I just read all these things about 'he's old, he's lost a step,'" Irvin said. "It's just crazy to me because I've never -- knock on wood -- I've never had any crazy injuries, I don't miss games. ... I still got some juice in me." So, was that stunt the reason Irvin had to sit out for a couple of days with what Pete Carroll called a minor issue with his hip-flexor? "That OG term means a lot of things," Irvin said with a laugh. "You gotta take care of your OGs, man. That's all that was about. I'm good." -- Brady Henderson

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