--DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters - LCB Antoine Cason, RCB Melvin White, FS Thomas DeCoud, SS Roman Harper. Backups - CB Bene Benwikere, CB Carrington Byndom, CB James Dockery, CB Charles Godfrey, CB De'Quan Menzie, CB Josh Norman, S Tre Boston, S Colin Jones, S Robert Lester, S Anderson Russell.
General manager Dave Gettleman is hoping Band-Aids will hold his secondary together again. Free-agent pickups Cason, DeCoud and Harper all look like starters, but they all had career-worst years in 2013. White, Norman and Thomas will battle for a corner spot, but none are super special. Benwikere and Godfrey will have an intriguing battle in camp for the No. 1 nickel role. Fourth-round pick Boston missed offseason practices after hernia surgery. Jones and Lester provide decent depth at safety.
--DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters - CB Charles Tillman, CB Tim Jennings, S Ryan Mundy, S Chris Conte. Backups - S Craig Steltz, S M.D. Jennings, S Brock Vereen, S Adrian Wilson, CB Kelvin Hayden, CB Kyle Fuller, CB Isaiah Frey, CB Demontre Hurst, CB Al Louis-Jean, CB Sherrick McManis, CB Derricus Purdy, CB C.J. Wilson.
Although getting up in age, the cornerback group is among the team's strengths. Bringing in Fuller in the first round, with Hayden still on the roster behind Tillman and Jennings makes corner easily the deepest position on defense and will make the outsides tough to reach for passers and receivers. They can go three deep with starters at nickel, with Frey also possessing a year experience at this spot, where it appears Jennings will play. The middle should be far more open for opposing offenses with Conte no sure thing to be a starter following shoulder surgery. He may not even be ready by training camp. Mundy was not regarded a high-quality starter when the Bears signed him and Jennings wasn't wanted in Green Bay. Vereen's speed and athletic ability make it possible he'll win a starting spot despite his lack of experience. The pass rush better be effective because covering the deep middle of the field could be a problem.
--DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- CB Leon Hall, CB Terence Newman, SS Reggie Nelson, FS George Iloka. Backups -- CB Adam Jones, CB Darqueze Dennard, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, CB Chris Lewis-Harris, CB Vic Hampton, CB Lavelle Westbrooks, CB Onterrio McCalebb, CB R.J. Stanford, SS Danieal Manning, S Taylor Mays, S Shawn Williams, S Isaiah Lewis.
Few teams boast the depth of the Bengals corners, particularly with the latest amazing recovery from an Achilles injury by Hall. He'll be full-go the day camp opens and settle into the top cornerback role. The addition of Dennard behind constants Newman and Jones will be a luxury, as the first-round pick performed well during the offseason program. He'll give 2012 first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick all that he can handle to maintain the No. 4 spot. At safety, Iloka comes off a strong first year as a starter and will form a talented duo with the underrated Nelson. The addition of Manning and possible second-year bump for Williams could place pressure on Mays, who found a niche last year in the hybrid linebacker/safety role vacated when Lamur was hurt.
--DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Joe Haden, RCB Justin Gilbert, FS Tashaun Gipson, SS Donte Whitner. Backups -- CB Buster Skrine, S Johnson Bademosi, CB Royce Adams, S Josh Aubrey, CB Aaron Berry, S Darwin Cook, CB Pierre Desir, DB T.J. Heath, CB Leon McFadden, CB Robert Nelson, S Jordan Poyer, CB Isaiah Trufant.
After quarterback, coach Mike Pettine considers cornerback the most important position on a football team. To that end, the Browns took Gilbert with their first draft pick. Gilbert enters training camp backing up Skrine but is expected to win the starting job. Whitner along with Dansby was a big score in free agency. Changing half the starting secondary is a reflection of the coaching change. Depth in the secondary is a strength. Aubrey and Bademosi can sub for Whitner and Gipson. Berry is trying to restart his stalled career. Desir will battle for playing time as a dime back.
Haden is happy with a five-year contract extension and Gipson led the Browns with five interceptions in 2013. An improved pass rush working with an improved secondary should make defense a strength.
--DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters - CB Brandon Carr, CB Orlando Scandrick, S Barry Church, S J.J. Wilcox. Backups - CB Morris Claiborne, CB Terrance Mitchell, CB Sterling Moore, CB Tyler Patmon, CB Dashaun Phillips, S Matt Johnson, S Jeff Heath, S Jakar Hamilton, S Ahmad Dixon, CB Ryan Smith.
The Cowboys went into the offseason with one of the worst safety situations in the league. Yet they did nothing to improve the position. They are banking on Wilcox getting better in his second year and Johnson finally getting on the field after missing the past two seasons with injuries. And if neither of those two hit, they are hoping that Hamilton, who started at Georgia as a freshman before getting kicked off the team and transferring to tiny South Carolina State, can hit like the lottery. That is on the line for the Cowboys in training camp as they search for a suitable counterpart to strong safety Church. At cornerback, the Cowboys are hoping former 2012 first-round pick Claiborne is ready to take his starting job back from Scandrick. That may be wishful thinking as Scandrick was the team's best cornerback a year ago and seems motivated to make a Pro-Bowl bid in 2014. Still, this is a big camp and a big season for Claiborne as the Cowboys must decide whether to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal after the season, worth around $10 million. He has yet to prove worthy of that deal. The Cowboys may also have a decision to make after the season on Carr, who was given a five-year, $50.1 million deal in 2012. He allowed 966 yards receiving all by himself. Carr comes into the season with the team's highest salary-cap number as they didn't want to restructure his deal and move money in future years in case they had to move on from Carr sooner rather than later. He needs a good camp and a good season too.
--DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Aqib Talib, RCB Chris Harris Jr., SS T.J. Ward, FS Rahim Moore. Backups -- CB Bradley Roby, CB Kayvon Webster, S Quinton Carter, S Duke Ihenacho, S David Bruton, CB Tony Carter, DB Omar Bolden, S John Boyett, CB Louis Young, CB Eric Hagg, S Charles Mitchell, CB Jerome Murphy, CB Jordan Sullen.
Talib and Roby were added to bring a dose of nastiness and aggression to the cornerback corps, which was overhauled after the release of Champ Bailey and the free-agent departure of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Harris is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. When he returns later this summer, he will be an every-down cornerback who moves inside to play on the slot receiver in the nickel package. Roby's role will be determined by whether he can beat out Webster, who was the Broncos' No. 3 cornerback for much of last season. Webster worked ahead of Roby during OTAs.
Ward was the Broncos' first big splash of free agency this year. His aggression and tendency to creep into the box offers a perfect complement to the rangy Moore, who returns after missing the last two months of the 2013 season because of compartment syndrome, which nearly led to amputation. Quinton Carter could challenge Moore for a starting spot if his knee holds up. He has not played since September 2012. He underwent microfracture surgery, and recovered enough to work extensively during OTAs.
Carter beat out Moore for a starting position as a rookie in 2011. If he returns to form, he could allow the Broncos to tinker with using Ward as a linebacker in the nickel package, an idea that general manager John Elway floated in March.
--DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Darius Slay, RCB Rashean Mathis, FS Glover Quin, SS James Ihedigbo. Backups -- CB Bill Bentley, S/CB Don Carey, CB Cassius Vaughn, S DeJon Gomes, S Isa Abdul-Quddus, CB Nevin Lawson, CB Jonte Green, CB Chris Greenwood, S Jerome Couplin, S Gabe Lynn, CB Aaron Hester, S Mohammed Seisay.
By far the team's weakest unit, the secondary will lean heavily on Slay, who looked great in the offseason program. He's the only cornerback on the team capable of being a shutdown guy, so this unit will be exposed against the NFC North receiving corps. Quin is a heady player, but Ihedigbo lacks the upside to make the safety tandem a fearful group. Carey, Gomes and Abdul-Quddus have starting experience if there's an injury at safety, but the cornerback group is paper thin.
GREEN BAY PACKERS