2023 NFL mandatory minicamp tracker: Highlights, analysis, updates as Cowboys, 49ers, others wrap-up workouts

The roster-building portion of the NFL offseason is mostly over. Free agency is behind us, as is the 2023 NFL Draft. We also know the full week-by-week schedule for the upcoming season.

All that’s left is to see these teams in action on the field, and that’s what the next two weeks are for. After going through voluntary organized team activities (OTAs) throughout May, it’s time for mandatory minicamps. Teams will go through two to three days of workouts with the entire club before having one final break, then the grind of the 2023 campaign begins with the start of training camp in late July.

Below you’ll find the mandatory minicamp schedule for every team as well as real-time highlights, updates and analysis from around the league, beginning Tuesday.

Minicamp highlights

Nine teams start mandatory minicamp this week: The Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Las Vegas Raiders, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, and Washington Commanders. Coaches and players will speak at the conclusion of practice.

Watch out for Aiyuk

Those on hand for 49ers mandatory minicamp singled one player out, but it wasn’t Christian McCaffrey. Or George Kittle. Or Deebo Samuel

It was Brandon Aiyuk, whom The Athletic said was the best player on the field during the team’s two-day session.

“We’ve been having our battles since college,” cornerback Deommodore Lenoir said of Aiyuk. “He’s going to be a top-five receiver in this league this year. He’s going to put everybody on notice.”

A first-round pick in 2020, Aiyuk began his NFL career in Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse before emerging as an integral piece in one of the league’s best offenses. He’s gotten better every year — he put up career-highs in catches (78), yards (1,015) and touchdowns (eight) in 2022 — so don’t be surprised if he is a Pro Bowler this fall.

Best CB duo in the NFL?

That’s what Jalen Ramsey told CBS Sports this week from Dolphins mandatory minicamp.

“We are,” Ramsey said of he and Xavien Howard. “I’m very confident in saying that, and we’ll prove that this year on the field. But even if you just look on paper, we are. That’s kind of like a fact. But we have to go out there and prove it because this is our first time playing together.”

Ramsey, who came over from the Rams this offseason, also discussed his fit within new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s scheme and why be believes in Tua Tagovailoa — all of which you can read about here.

Catch of the offseason?

Deshaun Watson seems to have already built a solid rapport with wideout Elijah Moore, whom the Browns acquired from the Jets this offseason. If you scroll down, you’ll see Watson throwing a TD to Moore during Tuesday’s practice.

The pair connected for another score Thursday, but it was Moore who did most of the work. Check out this full-extension, one-handed catch while getting both feet down.

Howell remains QB1 entering training camp

While Commanders coach Ron Rivera views the starting quarterback situation as a competition between Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett, the former still has the upper hand entering training camp. In Rivera’s opinion, the 2022 fifth-round pick showed enough during mandatory minicamp to warrant first-team reps once the pads come on.

“He’s young … but there is a lot of room for growth, and we know that,” Rivera said. “He’s got a good skill set: he’s mobile, he’s got good foot movements, he’s got quick twitch to him, a good decision-maker. He’s still learning to make decisions, but he’s also got the arm talent, and that’s the thing that excites us.”

Canton mindset

Nick Bosa is one of the best defenders in today’s NFL. Here’s his resume: Rookie of the Year, three-time Pro Bowler, first-team All-Pro and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. 

Yet as Bosa enters his fifth season, new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks knows he has even bigger goals for his professional football career. It’s why he’s mentioned Bosa in the same breath as all-time greats like Brian Urlacher and Luke Kuechly.

“All those guys that I just mentioned, along with Bosa, is about really trying to create a legacy,” Wilks said from the team’s mandatory minicamp (via 49ers Webzone). “And that was probably one of the things that I did talk about, beyond just him as a person. It’s just: What are we building toward now? Each step is toward Canton, and I think that’s his mindset as well.

Canton, Ohio, is the location of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Bosa is on the right path to end up there.

Catch of the offseason? (x2)

No, this isn’t as good as the catch Darnell Washington made at the NFL Scouting Combine, but it could be in contention for catch of the offseason workouts. Check out this grab by the Falcons’ Drake London, a former first-round pick looking to build on a promising rookie campaign.

‘Best friends’

Justin Fields and D.J. Moore have only been teammates for about three months, but they’ve elicited the “best friend” moniker from Bears teammates.

“It looks like they have that chemistry going, earlier than I expected,” safety Jaquan Brisker said of the duo (via 247Sports). “They are like best friends.”

Several reporters have noticed a connection between the two, with The Athletic pointing out how often Fields looks for Moore during practices and the Chicago Bears commenting that in seemingly every session that has been open to the media, the two have hooked up for a big play. The relationship between Fields and his new No. 1 receiver will be huge as he attempts to take another big leap in Year 3.

First-round rookies face off

As the crown jewels of Seattle’s 2023 NFL Draft class, cornerback Devon Witherspoon (No. 5 overall pick) and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (No. 20) are going to have plenty of heated battles during Seahawks practices. On this occasion, the Ohio State playmaker got the best of the Illinois standout for the long touchdown.

Someone who knows a little something about being a consistently productive player is Tyler Lockett, and the veteran receiver has had a lot of good things to say about his talented rookie teammates.

“I love him, I love the way he plays,” Lockett told reporters about Witherspoon. “When I’m watching him out there as he’s kind of like doing his little movements, you could tell he knows the game. You can tell he knows when to sit, when not to sit, when to jump, when to play it safe. And the more and more he understands the plays and he understands the freedom that he has to be able to know when to do certain things and when not to, I think he’s going to be a really, really great player.”

“I think he’s going to be phenomenal, Lockett told reporters about Smith-Njigba. “It’s always hard just being able to get adjusted when you first come in. But the way he runs routes, the way he’s understanding the way that receivers coach Sanjay [Lal] coaches, the sky’s going to be the limit. I think he’s going to be really good at all the things that the Seahawks — that we want him to be able to do. I’m excited to be able to go out there and work with him. Even though you’re a vet, you can still learn from the young guys, too. So it’s always being able to teach each other stuff and iron sharpening iron and just helping each other be better to win.”

Bryce Young takes ‘next step’ toward QB1

Since spring practices began, Bryce Young has been slowly working his way toward becoming the Panthers’ Week 1 starter. First, veteran Andy Dalton got first-team reps. Then, Young didn’t start as QB1 but took a majority of first-team reps.

Fast forward to Thursday, when for the first time (at least in a practice open to the media), the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft opened team drills with the starting offense. According to NFL Media, head coach Frank Reich and general manager Scott Fitterer circled this week to have Young take the “next step” in his development. 

Young had a solid day of practice Thursday, per The Athletic, which included several on-target throws and a deep shot to DJ Chark. Afterward, one of Carolina’s newest WRs spoke about what Young has brought to the team so far.

“I can tell you he has the support of everyone in that locker room,” Chark said, “and he hasn’t done anything to lose it.”

Dak gushes over his WRs

It’s a big year for the Cowboys offense. They’re learning the “Texas Coast” system under new play-caller Mike McCarthy, relying on Tony Pollard to be the lead back after Ezekiel Elliott’s release, and hoping free agent signing Brandin Cooks can team up with CeeDee Lamb to be a dynamic receiving duo.

Speaking from mandatory minicamp, Prescott had high praise for two of his biggest weapons.

“It’s beautiful. Yeah, real speed,” Prescott said of Cooks’ ability to stretch the field (via The Dallas Morning News). “For him to be able to do it every play, every route, the start of every route — the cornerbacks, defense, they don’t know what they’re getting. It all looks the same. I’m thankful he’s here.”

“I say it, I believe it, I think he can be the best receiver in this league,” Prescott said of Lamb (via The Athletic). “He’s really only scratched the surface of what he’s capable of doing. … This is just the beginning for him.”

Patriots’ undrafted QB tries new position

Malik Cunningham ended his collegiate career as one of Louisville’s most productive quarterbacks in school history, but he’s also been used at another position in his first few months as a Patriot.

“He played quarterback at Louisville, so we’re giving him some work at receiver,” Bill Belichick said Tuesday. “We’ll see how it goes. He’s an athletic kid, smart. He’s able to learn two spots. We’ll see.”

Belichick, of course, produced one of the best QB-turned-WRs in NFL history in Julian Edelman, so he’s familiar with the process. It will be interesting to see how New England uses Cunningham once training camp and preseason games get underway.

Love’s go-to WR

It’s Jordan Love’s team now in Green Bay, but who will be his Davante Adams? It seems like it’ll be the pass-catcher who recently said Love “can do the exact same thing” as four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers.

That would be second-year wideout Romeo Doubs.

One-handed snag!

Brian Robinson Jr. was known as a bruiser of a running back at Alabama, but the Commanders’ second-year pro has some pass-catching ability as well. Based on what he showed during practice Wednesday, it seems Robinson will eclipse the nine passes he caught as a rookie.

Bounce-back year for Deshaun Watson? 

No. 1 wide receiver Amari Cooper seems to think so, noting the three-time Pro Bowler has looked good so far in mandatory minicamp. 

“He looks in a bit of a better groove,” Cooper said of Watson (via ProFootballTalk). “Just having that long layoff, of course you’re going to lose some rhythm, some form of rhythm. But he looks like he’s really getting that back.”

Following an 11-game suspension, Watson looked like a quarterback who had not played in a meaningful game in almost two years. He went 3-3 in his six starts last season, completing a career-low 58.2% of his passes while throwing just seven touchdowns compared to five interceptions. Speaking from Browns minicamp Wednesday, Watson expects 2023 to go better.

Meet ‘the guy’ of the Patriots backfield

Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson’s co-starter, Damien Harris, is now a Buffalo Bill, opening the door for the third-year back to be a leader both on and off the field in 2023. He’s excited to be “the guy” for New England going forward.

“That’s what’s being asked of me right now,” Stevenson said Tuesday, per the Boston Herald. “I’m trying to take that step. It’s still early, but I’m trying to take that step to be a leader.”    

Fantasy football managers take note!

Aaron Rodgers continues pop quizzes with Jets

The new face of the New York Jets wants to make sure he and his teammates are on the same page, so he’s brought over a staple activity from his time with the Packers: pop quizzes.

“We’ll be in the meeting and Hack will be talking, then Aaron will butt in real quick,” running back Breece Hall said of Rodgers.

Jets playmakers better study up!

Commanders may practice indoors Thursday due to air quality

With over 100 active wildfires burning along the United States-Canadian border Wednesday, the air quality in many places along the U.S. East Coast is declining and bordering on dangerous. Those concerns have seeped down to Ashburn, Virginia where the Washington Commanders reside. The team practiced outside on Wednesday, but they are strongly considering going indoors for their next practice on Thursday. 

“We looked at the air quality index,” Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera said Wednesday. “We reached out to our doctors, our medical personnel and asked about what our options are about practicing today, tomorrow and probably next week we’ll have to continue to monitor it.”

“We’re going to talk to the players before we go out there and tell anybody that has respiratory concerns, obviously we would excuse,” Rivera continued. “Or if they start feeling any issue during workouts we would send them inside. Then we would have to consider tomorrow potentially going inside the bubble to practice. If we can avoid it we will, but if not, if the air quality becomes a little too concerning, then we most certainly will go in.”  

McDaniel labels Tua Miami’s most consistent offseason performer

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who led the NFL in passing yards per attempt (8.9) and passer rating (105.5) in Year 1 under head coach Mike McDaniel in 2022, has earned high praise from his head coach for his work in the 2023 offseason program. McDaniel said Wednesday, via NFL Media, that Tagovailoa has been as “consistent as anyone” as the team goes through its organized team activities and minicamp phase of the offseason. 

Consistency is significant for a quarterback like Tagovailoa, someone who suffered multiple concussions in 2022. The 25-year-old has spent the offseason studying judo in an effort to fall more safely and prevent additional head trauma. 

“This dude is everything you look for in a starting QB,” McDaniel said. 

Tyreek Hill held out of OTA  team reps on Tuesday

“If Tyreek is at risk for further injury, he doesn’t know any speed on the practice field except full go,” Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said Wednesday, via Pro Football Network. “There’s also a component of coaches protecting players from themselves. He’s dealing with some minor stuff, but if at any point we think it makes the Miami Dolphins worse for someone to practice, we will turn the page and he will not practice.”

An incredible sight as Hamlin was seen on the practice field as a full participant in minicamp. Just five months after suffering cardiac arrest on the field, Hamlin is back and playing for the Bills. 

Hamlin did return to practice after getting his shoulder looked at after a play, apparently frustrated with the injury. 

During Tuesday minicamp session, Watson seemed to have an early rapport with wideout Elijah Moore, who was acquired by the Browns this offseason in a trade with the Jets. The two connected on a touchdown during a 7-on-7 period. The 23-year-old receiver is a former second-round pick out of Ole Miss and is coming off a 2022 season where he caught 37 balls for 446 yards and a touchdown. 

As for Watson, the quarterback was reportedly sharp during those 7-on-7 drills as Cleveland.com notes he completed touchdowns to Moore, Amari Cooper, David Bell, Donovan Peoples-Jones and David Njoku.

Despite having his fifth-year option declined, Young said he’s “ready to go” and “felt good running routes with his teammates.” Young participated in practice with the Commanders and is in positive spirits as he’ll be a free agent after this season. 

Floyd signed with the Bills on Monday and is already hitting the ground running at minicamp. He projects to play a huge role in the pass rush, rotating with Von Miller and Gregory Rousseau. 

No mandatory minicamp for Jets

Head coach Robert Saleh has seen enough from his team through the voluntary minicamp sessions. The Jets won’t have mandatory minicamp this year due to starting the season (and training camp) a week earlier because they’re scheduled to play in the Hall of Fame game. 

The Jets join the Eagles and Bengals in not holding mandatory minicamp. 

Cowboys’ Luke Shoonmaker loses boot

One of the more noteworthy items heading into Cowboys minicamp was the status of rookie tight end Luke Shoonmaker. He’s been dealing with a plantar fascia issue and was previously spotted wearing a boot. However, he was seen at the start of Dallas’ minicamp on Tuesday without a boot, which is a good sign for his prospects of being a full participant by the time training camp rolls around. 

The Dolphins are holding mandatory minicamp, but Connor Williams won’t be in attendance. The only Miami player not present, Williams and head coach Mike McDaniel have been in communication and the absence is not excused. In the final year of a two-year contract, the Dolphins’ starting center is seeking a new deal and a pay raise. 

The Dolphins can fine him for each day he misses minicamp. 

Jared Goff a ‘better QB’ now with Lions

Lions head coach Dan Campbell heaped praise onto his quarterback Jared Goff, specifically because he is fully immersed in Detroit’s system and knows it inside and out. 

“I mean, he’s a better quarterback than he was there [with the Rams] in my opinion because he can do more things. He’s mentally on it.,” Campbell said. “We ask him to do a lot more in my opinion than what [the Rams] were actually doing out there. They had a lot of pretty good pieces out there as well as we know. Damn good defense. All those things, but I just feel like, I know from speaking with him and watching him really over the last two years, I just feel like … we put a lot of things on him where I’m not so sure that was ultimately what they were doing.”

Gibbs flashing route-running ability

The Lions’ first-round running back may need to work on securing the football, but the early impressions of him coming out of minicamp have praised his route-running ability and speed. The club has reportedly used him as a receiver throughout the offseason on top of his prowess as a running back, so this could be the foundation of a key chess piece in this Detroit offense. 

Jaxson Smith-Njigba working on goal-line drills

Here’s one of the first looks of Seattle’s first-round receiver Jaxson Smith-Njigba, who was working with Geno Smith on some goal-line drills inside the red zone. While the Seahawks already boast two top wideouts in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, Smith-Njigba could carve out a sizable role with this team, especially if he can work the short field in the red area like he was practicing here. 

Quarterback competition in Washington?

Rivera and the Commanders have continued to preach Sam Howell is QB1, but seemed to pivot a bit on that on Day 1 of mandatory minicamp. Howell and Brissett are in a competition for teh starting quarterback job in Washington, even if Howell is No. 1 on the depth chart. 

The Commanders want Howell to win the job, but aren’t going to hand it to him. 

Derrick Henry pushing trade rumors aside

Derrick Henry has been the NFL’s top back for the past few years, but did see his name sprout up in trade rumors this offseason. However, no deal ended up coming to fruition and Henry noted on Tuesday that he’s simply putting all of that outside noise to the side. He also noted that he’s building a relationship with new GM Ran Carthon. 

Kevin Byard on the field for Titans

Titans star safety Kevin Byard was present for the start of mandatory minicamp after skipping out of Tennessee’s OTAs. Byard has been away from the team after GM Ran Carthon asked him to take a pay cut in March. The 29-year-old didn’t speak to reporters on Tuesday.  

NFL mandatory minicamp schedules

June 6-8

June 12-14

June 13-14

June 13-15

NOTE: The Philadelphia Eagles are not holding a mandatory minicamp. Instead, they will hold voluntary organized team activities June 5, 6 and 8.

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Wrapping Up Workouts: Highlights, Analysis, and Updates from the Mandatory Minicamp of 2023 NFL Teams Including Cowboys, 49ers, and More

The NFL offseason roster-building phase is almost over, and voluntary OTAs have given way to mandatory minicamps ahead of the 2023 campaign’s start in late July. Nine teams begin mandatory minicamp this week, and San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk impressed most observers. Tennessee Titans cornerback Jalen Ramsey claims he and Xavien Howard are the top cornerback duo in the NFL. Among rookies, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba have shown promise. Meanwhile, Chicago Bears quarterback Bryce Young is taking the “next step” toward becoming the team’s Week 1 starter.

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