The agonizingly long time without pro football will end this week as NFL teams report to training camp. Here’s a brief look at what each team is facing.
Atlanta Falcons (July 21, Flowery Branch, Ga.)
Key story line: Atlanta spent $80.3 million on its offensive line in the offseason in an attempt to improve a protection unit that allowed 108 quarterback hits and 42 sacks. Now it’s time to put all the pieces together.
Baltimore Ravens (July 24, Owings Mills, Md.)
Key story line: The Ravens have entrusted their offense completely to Lamar Jackson, who led them to their first playoff appearance since 2014 last year. Building on that success is a must.
Buffalo Bills (July 24, Rochester, N.Y.)
Key story line: Quarterback Josh Allen spent much of his rookie season running for his life and throwing to receivers who specialized in dropping his passes. He needs some help.
Carolina Panthers (July 24, Spartanburg, S.C.)
Key story line: The Panthers shut down quarterback Cam Newton toward the end of last season, and he had his shoulder surgically cleaned out in January. Is he back to full health?
Chicago Bears (July 24, Bourbonnais, Ill.)
Key story line: With a new defensive coordinator (former Colts coach Chuck Pagano) and a more seasoned quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago will look to build on its first division title and playoff appearance in eight seasons.
Cincinnati Bengals (July 26, Cincinnati)
Key story line: For the first time since 2002, Cincinnati will open training camp without Marvin Lewis as its coach. Former Rams assistant Zac Taylor, who’s all of 36 years old, takes the helm.
Cleveland Browns (July 24, Berea, Ohio)
Key story line: Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr. and Coach Freddie Kitchens are generating an absurd amount of optimism in Cleveland.
Dallas Cowboys (July 26, Oxnard, Calif.)
Key story line: Will running back Ezekiel Elliott hold out? Is it Super Bowl or bust for longtime coach Jason Garrett, who’s in the final year of his contract?
Denver Broncos (July 17, Englewood, Colo.)
Key story line: Von Miller and Co. have a defensive-minded head coach now in former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Denver also will find out if Joe Flacco has anything left.
Detroit Lions (July 24, Allen Park, Mich.)
Key story line: Detroit limped to a 6-10 record in Matt Patricia’s first year as coach. Another season with double-digit losses might mean there won’t be a third year.
Green Bay Packers (July 24, De Pere, Wis.)
Key story line: Aaron Rodgers has now gone two straight seasons without a playoff berth. New Coach Matt LaFleur will attempt to right the ship.
Houston Texans (July 24, Houston)
Key story line: The Texans became the first team since 1998 to make the playoffs after an 0-3 start. Keeping quarterback Deshaun Watson upright after he was sacked an NFL-high 62 times will be a point of emphasis.
Indianapolis Colts (July 24, Westfield, Ind.)
Key story line: With a mix of young (guard Quenton Nelson and linebacker Darius Leonard were both AP All-Pros as rookies) and seasoned (quarterback Andrew Luck thrived in his return from injury), there’s plenty of optimism in Indy.
Jacksonville Jaguars (July 24, Jacksonville)
Key story line: Nick Foles replaces Blake Bortles as quarterback, but the once-vaunted defense is rebuilding.
Kansas City Chiefs (July 26, St. Joseph, Mo.)
Key story line: Are the silly numbers put up by quarterback Patrick Mahomes sustainable? Can the Chiefs improve one of the league’s worst defenses with a new coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo and a host of new faces?
Los Angeles Chargers (July 24, Costa Mesa, Calif.)
Key story line: Running back Melvin Gordon might hold out, but otherwise the pieces are there for the Chargers to maintain their status near the top of the AFC.
Los Angeles Rams (July 26, Irvine, Calif.)
Key story line: Last seen sputtering to the finish line in the Super Bowl, the Rams return most of the pieces that got them there.
Miami Dolphins (July 24, Davie, Fla.)
Key story line: Miami lured Brian Flores away from the division-rival Patriots to be its head coach and brought in Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick to compete for the quarterback job. It still seems like the Dolphins will be the same anonymously bad team they’ve been for decades, though.
Minnesota Vikings (July 25, Eagan, Minn.)
Key story line: The Kirk Cousins megadeal resulted in a sour 8-7-1 record and no playoffs. Coach Mike Zimmer probably has one more chance to reverse course.
New York Giants (July 24, East Rutherford, N.J.)
Key story line: The Giants kept Eli Manning, drafted his replacement in Daniel Jones and traded Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns. Giants fans liked exactly zero of those moves.
New York Jets (July 24, Florham Park, N.J.)
Key story line: The Jets tried to one-up the Giants by firing their GM after the draft and after he engineered the signing of free agent running back Le’Veon Bell. Oh, and their coach hinted that he thought Bell’s contract was too extravagant. Good times, as usual.
New England Patriots (July 24, Foxborough, Mass.)
Key story line: The Patriots’ magic is going to run out at some point, right? Right? Rob Gronkowski is gone but nothing else has changed all that much.
New Orleans Saints (July 25, Metairie, La.)
Key story line: Most of the team that got jobbed by the refs in the NFC title game is back and is rightfully seen as one of the NFC’s best.
Oakland Raiders (July 26, Napa, Calif.)
Key story line: We’ll get an up-close look at Jon Gruden’s second year at the helm, considering the Raiders’ appearance on HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”
Philadelphia Eagles (July 24, Philadelphia)
Key story line: Ravaged by injuries in their first year as defending Super Bowl champions, Philly still found a way into the postseason and even won a game. Nick Foles isn’t there to bail out the Eagles anymore, though.
Pittsburgh Steelers (July 25, Latrobe, Pa.)
Key story line: Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are gone, but James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster proved to be viable replacements for a team that suffered five losses by seven points or less.
San Francisco 49ers (July 26, Santa Clara, Calif.)
Key story line: Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo went down in Week 3 with a knee injury and the defense was a horror show. The former is back and the latter should be improved.
Seattle Seahawks (July 24, Renton, Wash.)
Key story line: Seattle has missed the playoffs just once with Pete Carroll as coach and Russell Wilson at quarterback. If the defense is there, that run should continue.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (July 25, Tampa)
Key story line: Some think the hiring of Coach Bruce Arians is the key that will finally unlock Jameis Winston’s potential. With Winston in the final year of his contract, they probably have this season only to figure out if that’s the case.
Tennessee Titans (July 25, Nashville)
Key story line: Tennessee has gone 9-7 in three of quarterback Marcus Mariota’s four seasons, with just one playoff berth, but the Titans finally may have enough weapons surrounding him.
Washington Redskins (July 24, Richmond)
Key story line: The Redskins have gone 7-9 in each of their last two seasons, and with rookie Dwayne Haskins battling Case Keenum and Colts McCoy for the starting quarterback job, things might be trending in that middling direction again, with Coach Jay Gruden’s job possibly on the line.