Training camps taking on new look

Training camps aren't what they used to be.

For the past several years, teams have been getting away from those grueling six-week camps at remote locations. Thirteen teams are training at their headquarters and, next summer, the Falcons are expected to do the same.

There are less two-a-days because injury fears and worries about the heat. Most teams now are scheduling one practice the day after two-a-day workouts. The Jaguars have more night practices than ever. Some camps in those remote locations are wrapping up after a couple of weeks.

For the most part, those four- and five-day rookie camps have become obsolete. Lengthy offseason programs give rookies three months to get ready for training camp. The Redskins opened a quarterback school for rookies Monday, but rookies are expected to report for camp the same time as veterans Thursday. Only the Eagles and Packers have rookies showing up a couple of days before veterans.

The late camp starts mean a quick turnaround for players. After 15 days of reporting, players will be playing games. With no American Bowl game in Japan or Mexico, only the teams participating in the Hall of Fame game -- the Redskins and Broncos -- have a fifth preseason game.

A lot has to be accomplished in a short period of time. Here are 10 things to watch (with one extra):

1. People wondered for years what the Patriots offense will look like with a dominating running back. Corey Dillon wondered what it would be like to play for a winning team. Both sides get their wishes this season. Dillon has his first training camp with the Super Bowl champs. The Patriots will see how the offense looks with Dillon's dominating style. Dillon has the potential to be a 1,300-yard back. During their Super Bowl runs, the Patriots usually got only 17 or 18 carries from their feature back. It will be fun watching them experiment with Dillon during practices and the preseason.

2. No camp will be monitored more than the Dolphins. Ricky Williams' retirement forces an unexpected backfield tryout that is vital to the team's success. Coach Dave Wannstedt usually depends on a workhorse halfback. Travis Minor gets the first chance. Sammy Morris and Leonard Henry will compete. If those three don't work, the Dolphins will be bringing in running backs from the outside. And who knows? Williams could change his mind about retirement as quickly as he made his decision and suddenly show up. If that's not enough, the Dolphins have the only true quarterback competition -- Jay Fiedler vs. A.J. Feeley. Fiedler goes in with the edge because of his familiarity with the offense, so Feeley has to clearly outperform him during the preseason games and in practices. The Dolphins also are breaking in four new offensive linemen and a new receiver, David Boston.

3. The Titans have to find answers at two of the most critical positions on their team. Chris Brown and Antowain Smith have to give coach Jeff Fisher the confidence the Titans have a satisfactory running game to go with quarterback Steve McNair. While the Titans believe they can make up the 1,100 yards they lost with the release of Eddie George, they have to develop more leadership in the locker room now that he is gone. McNair, Derrick Mason and others have to handle those assignments. A good test will be Aug. 5-7 when the Falcons come to Nashville for a scrimmage and practice. Fisher can get a preview of what he might have in the backfield. The other area of interest is defensive end after the loss of Jevon Kearse in free agency. Fisher will look at rookies Travis LaBoy and Antwan Odom to see how well they work in the defensive end rotation with Carlos Hall and Juqua Thomas.

4. Bill Parcells and the Cowboys have moved training camp to Oxnard, Calif., and the cool ocean breeze won't chill a hot training camp. In his second season in charge, Parcells is stressing competition. He's challenging veteran starters by telling young backups they will be given more chances to get on the field if they play well. Quincy Carter clearly is the starting quarterback, but Vinny Testaverde will get a lot of snaps to prepare himself for the backup job. Eddie George and Keyshawn Johnson will see how well they fit into the Cowboys offense. George's signing takes the pressure off second-round choice Julius Jones starting as a rookie. Johnson is a better fit in the passing offense than Joey Galloway because Carter needed a sure-handed possession option.

5. Kurt Warner has six weeks to win over Giants players and enter the season as the starting quarterback. Eli Manning is the future, but if he holds out, Warner has a clear track to re-establish his career and take control of coach Tom Coughlin's offense. The Giants have a tough opening schedule featuring two division road games and a trip to Green Bay during the first five weeks. The key for Warner is getting into an early rhythm and getting the Giants off to a good start before the bye week in Week 6. A slow start could open the door for Manning to get a chance to start during the bye week. Of all the new quarterbacks signed to teams, Warner has the best incentive to have a great training camp.

6. Joe Gibbs is trying to conduct his training camp in as much privacy as possible. He's limited access to reporters watching practices after the preseason games begin. In addition, fans won't be able to watch the Redskins either. Expect a tough training camp. Gibbs was hired for his attention to detail and discipline, something lacking during the Steve Spurrier years. He will be concentrating on the efficiency of quarterback Mark Brunell and the legs of halfback Clinton Portis. Offensive line coach Joe Bugel will be drilling the offensive line, which underachieved last season. It's going to be perhaps the most interesting camp in football. Too bad Gibbs isn't letting everyone take a look.

7. Coach Marvin Lewis gave Carson Palmer the starting quarterback job after the season, and Palmer can't make Lewis look bad by having a bad camp. Palmer has received rave reviews for the way he's handled the offseason. He's worked hard. He's looked good throwing the ball. But training camp is the time to win over teammates and fans. Lewis said he doesn't want his team to lose because of a young quarterback, and if the quarterback is costing the team games, he might go back to Jon Kitna. Palmer sat his first season in order to get ready for this opportunity. He doesn't want to blow it with a bad camp in Georgetown, Ky.

8. Rich Gannon doesn't plan to look over his shoulder at Kerry Collins. He's been given all the verbal assurances that there is no quarterback battle. Gannon's mission is to come off right shoulder surgery and return the offense to its performance level of two years ago. It's fitting the Raiders train in wine country in Napa, Calif. Gannon, Jerry Rice and Tim Brown have aged like fine wine, but everything started to unravel at last year's camp with then-coach Bill Callahan. Norv Turner is a player-friendly coach with brilliant offensive schemes. Gannon has to show his teammates he has the arm to take them back to the playoffs.

9. Watching Michael Vick is a treat, but watching Alex Gibbs develop the offensive line around him also is a treasure. Gibbs is one of the most aggressive blocking coaches in the game. Vick wants to be more of a pocket passer in the West Coast offense, but Gibbs was hired to recharge the offensive line. Gibbs coaches the linemen hard and gets them to use their athletic skills to knock down defenders. Then he runs downfield to make sure the receivers block to turn little gains into big plays. New coach Jim Mora brings in high energy and upbeat practices.

10. Vikings coach Mike Tice models his camp after Joe Gibbs. Camp is physical. There will be five scrimmages and four preseason games. On paper, the Vikings are on the verge of passing the Packers for talent in the NFC North. Tice has more speed on defense and more talent on the league's No. 1 ranked offense. Practices will be hard. There will be a lot of hitting. Last year's camp produced a 6-0 start. Tice's mission is to develop a swagger in camp that will carry them through the second half of the season.

Bonus. No one expects any Terrell Owens problems in training camp. Instead, he will be working on his timing with Donovan McNabb. McNabb has never had a receiver like Owens. Owens is big. He gets separation from coverage that McNabb hasn't had in Philadelphia. What was noticeable during the NFC championship loss to Carolina was how the Eagles receiving corps didn't strike any fear into a defense. Owens strikes fear into cornerbacks. But he also can be testy. Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson should have a lot of fun experimenting with ways to get defensive end Jevon Kearse involved in his aggressive defense. Getting Jeremiah Trotter back, even as a backup, is a welcome addition.

Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com.