Even as most NFL teams are ready to wrap up the grinding work of training camp, some players realize the importance and impact these tough weeks have on a team.
"It may be a little easier to keep that training camp mentality of football 24/7 because you are staying in the dorms. ... You're sort of living, eating, breathing football," Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said.
During these intense days, some players jump out and make a name for themselves or confirm their known greatness. Even if that is not all nationally televised or reported, these camp stars often show up quickly in the preseason games.
The Sports Xchange asked AFC correspondents to select the most impressive players over the last week on each team -- the Campers of the Week.
Results include flashy newcomers, such as Buffalo returner Marquis Goodwin, as well as better known names, such as Kansas City's Alex Smith, who has taken firm control of that quarterbacking job -- just in time to face his former team, the San Francisco 49ers, in a preseason game this Friday.
Here is a review of each AFC team's COW from the last week (teams listed alphabetically):
BALTIMORE RAVENS -- Wide receiver LaQuan Williams.
Williams is making a bid for a roster spot and helped his cause with a fumble recovery on a punt that set up a touchdown, a touchdown catch and a blocked punt he recovered in the end zone for another touchdown. He helped account for three scores in a 44-16 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The former Maryland standout, a Baltimore native, is showed his toughness by playing through a painful shoulder injury.
BUFFALO BILLS -- WR/KR Marquise Goodwin.
The rookie out of Texas, an Olympic long-jumper, made plays all week in practice then capped off his week with a 107-yard touchdown return for a touchdown against the Colts. His nickname is "Flash," which is only appropriate as the fastest man in the NFL. Based on Indianapolis Combine times in 40 yards, his clocking of 4.21 seconds ties that of Trindon Holliday (Denver Broncos) as fastest time this century.
CINCINNATI BENGALS -- Quarterback Josh Johnson.
Johnson directed the Bengals to four scores on Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons. Of the six possessions that Johnson was in, he had 164 of the 253 total yards in that span. Johnson had the biggest offensive play of the night with a 43-yard scramble on the first play of the second quarter.
CLEVELAND BROWNS -- WR/KR Travis Benjamin.
Benjamin is taking the drama out of the battle to replace Joshua Cribbs as the Browns' punt returner. Benjamin returned a punt 91 yards Thursday night against to give the Browns a 17-0 lead over the St. Louis Rams. Benjamin also caught one pass for 12 yards and caught a deep pass on a flag pattern from Jason Campbell in practice on Tuesday.
DENVER BRONCOS -- Running back C.J. Anderson.
An undrafted rookie, Anderson's odds of making the 53-man roster are long, but he might stick around on the practice squad after an eight-carry, 46-yard performance in San Francisco. He displayed good explosion and balance, while leading the Broncos in yards from scrimmage.
HOUSTON TEXANS -- Nose tackle Terrell McClain.
McClain signed with the Texans last season and was on the third team behind Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell. The Texans were desperate when Cody suffered a back injury during the season. When Cody was healthy, McClain, a third-round pick by Carolina in 2011, remained on the roster and played special teams. Over the last week of camp, McClain began to assert himself in the battle for the backup job. In the victory at Minnesota, he tied for the team lead with five tackles. More important, he had a team-high 2.5 sacks. If McClain keeps it up, he'll win the job behind Mitchell.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS -- Nose tackle Josh Chapman.
After missing the 2012 season with a knee injury, Chapman has been the talk of training camp. He appears to be exactly what the Colts' defense has lacked for the past several seasons. Chapman is currently working as the No. 2 nose tackle behind veteran free agent pickup Aubrayo Franklin.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS -- Running back Jordan Todman.
Before this week, Todman was an unknown; a backup running back trying to make the roster by earning a special teams spot. But with Maurice Jones-Drew still limited on number of plays and his backup, Justin Forsett, hampered with a sprained big toe, it was an opportunity for others to step up. Todman was the most impressive of the group and it carried over into Friday's preseason game with Miami.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS -- Quarterback Alex Smith.
He took the offensive starters on the field for the first preseason game and went 80 yards in 14 plays, completing 7 of 8 passes and orchestrating one of the best opening drives the Chiefs have seen in some time. Smith did it with his feet as well, getting away from pass rush pressure. His only incompletion was one that he threw away when he ran out of running room on the sidelines. For a reward he gets to face his former team, the San Francisco 49ers, on Friday.
MIAMI DOLPHINS -- Tight end Dustin Keller.
The veteran free agent signee had two receptions for 46 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown reception. On that scoring catch Keller was working in the end zone and went down low to make a nice catch. Keller also had a good 22-yard reception in the middle of the field. Both plays were a good illustration of how the Dolphins want to use the tight end.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -- Running back LeGarrette Blount.
The former 1,000-yard rusher hadn't wowed anyone in the limited contact work in training camp, but Blount busted out for a big performance with 11 carries for 101 yards (9.2 average) and two scores in the preseason opener in Philadelphia. Blount is battling for the backup job in his first season in New England and his 51-yard touchdown against the Eagles certainly helped his cause.
NEW YORK JETS -- Safety Jaiquawn Jarrett.
Jarrett may have needed only one game to win one of the safety jobs. Jarrett practiced with the starters on Sunday, two days after he played 50 snaps against the Lions. Antonio Allen, who was penciled in as the starter opposite Dawan Landry, played only 19 snaps. Jarrett is a former second-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles.
OAKLAND RAIDERS -- Defensive lineman Sio Moore.
Moore, a third round draftee, was one of two rookie starters in the preseason opener against Dallas (with defensive tackle Stacy McGee). Moore played a handful of snaps with his hand on the ground as a defensive end. He is only 6-1, 240 pounds, but shows great athleticism.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS -- Defensive end Al Woods
Woods, who made the team as a backup last year, has been practicing at nose tackle much of training camp. But he played left end Saturday night against the New York Giants, mostly in the second half, and was the star on defense. The Saints' fourth-round pick in 2010 had a sack, two tackles for losses, a quarterback hurry and led the defense with six solo tackles and nine overall.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS -- Wide receiver Dan DePalma.
DePalma spent last year on the New York Giants' practice squad. The 5-11, 192-pound DePalma has been solid for a couple of weeks, which is good timing. The Chargers already lost No. 1 receiver Danario Alexander to a season-ending injury, then rookie Keenan Allen sat out Tuesday's practice due to "wear and tear" and Malcom Floyd is out for now with an ACL injury. Against the Seahawks last Thursday, DePalma was targeted a game-high eight times and he caught five passes for 43 yards.
TENNESSEE TITANS -- Running back Jackie Battle.
Battle, who signed just before the start of camp, may not make the roster but has looked good carrying the ball. He was impressive in an intra-squad scrimmage last week and then had a 19-yard gain on a screen pass Thursday night against the Washington Redskins.
--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed material for this story.
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