Best of Wednesday at NFL training camps: No-look FitzMagic, catch competitions and dogs at practice

Wednesday’s NFL training camp practices brought a dose of FitzMagic in Miami, an injury scare in Philadelphia, a catching competition in Tampa Bay and a National Dog Day celebration in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Giants and Bears suffered costly injuries during their practices, and more Adam Gase-Le’Veon Bell drama surfaced at the Jets’ camp. Plus, many teams began scrimmaging during their Wednesday sessions, and there were plenty of highlight-reel plays.

Here’s what you need to know from camps across the league:

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Top news of the day

Bengals’ Alexander arrested for battery; father still missing

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Mackensie Alexander, who left the team Tuesday after his father was reported missing, was arrested in Florida on one count of battery. Alexander was arrested Tuesday by the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, according to jail records. Alexander, 26, was in custody Wednesday morning but released on bail later in the day. NFL Network reported Wednesday that Alexander was arrested after allegedly confronting the man who left his father behind while on a berry-picking trip.

Bears RB Montgomery leaves practice with groin injury

Chicago Bears starting running back David Montgomery suffered a groin injury early in practice on Wednesday, coach Matt Nagy said. Montgomery slipped before he took a handoff from quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and went to the ground. He got up holding his left leg and appeared to be in serious pain. He limped off the field and was carted back to the team facility about 10 minutes later.

Giants’ defense takes hit with McKinney, Mayo injuries

The New York Giants lost rookie safety Xavier McKinney to a fractured foot and linebacker David Mayo to a torn meniscus in his left knee. Mayo started 13 games for them last season. McKinney was a second-round pick earlier this year out of Alabama. He was expected to play a significant role in an already thin Giants secondary.

Jets’ Gase, Bell at odds over RB’s scrimmage usage

New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell added a touch of drama to a routine team scrimmage Wednesday, using social media to question why he spent the latter half on the sideline. Afterward, coach Adam Gase told reporters that Bell was removed as a precaution because of hamstring tightness. The Jets have experienced a rash of soft-tissue injuries in training camp, and Gase said he didn’t want to take any chances with Bell. Bell took issue with Gase’s reasoning.

Panthers to sign XFL star receiver

The Carolina Panthers are reuniting backup quarterback P.J. Walker with wide receiver Cam Phillips, Walker’s favorite target from the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Dianna Russini on Wednesday. Phillips led the XFL with 455 receiving yards in five games. He also had nine touchdowns, including three from Walker during a Week 3 game in which Phillips had eight catches for 194 yards.


What our NFL Nation reporters saw Wednesday

There was a scary moment for Carson Wentz and the Eagles, as left tackle Andre Dillard was driven into the back of Wentz’s legs during team drills. Wentz buckled and went to the ground. He shook it off and finished practice, but it was a reminder that the most important thing about training camp is finishing it healthy. The sequence also re-highlighted the change at left tackle, with the inexperienced Dillard taking over for Jason Peters. The security of Wentz’s blind side remains a question mark entering the season. — Tim McManus

Patriots running back Sony Michel practiced for the first time in training camp, as he officially came off the physically unable to perform list. He looked fast, and his fresh legs stood out from the rest. Michel underwent foot surgery in the offseason and missed the first eight practices of camp. He has 2019 third-round pick Damien Harris challenging him for the No. 1 spot. — Mike Reiss

The Raiders gained the services of right tackle Trent Brown for the first time since at least Aug. 12 but were without backup quarterback Marcus Mariota, who has struggled throwing the ball after dealing with shoulder and ankle injuries entering camp. Still, coach Jon Gruden described Mariota’s ability to extend plays as “dazzling” two weeks ago. A source said Mariota was day-to-day and that both the shoulder and ankle were “fine.” With Mariota out, Nathan Peterman got his most extensive work of camp as Derek Carr‘s backup and showed a decent command of the offense, even as he was picked off by undrafted rookie linebacker Javin White. The Raiders are off on Thursday but return to Allegiant Stadium on Friday for a practice in front of coronavirus-tested family. — Paul Gutierrez

The Lions spent two hours practicing in what ranged from heavy to light rain Wednesday, their first real experience with weather during training camp. It led to some players slipping on cuts and breaks, but getting some work in challenging circumstances could be beneficial during a camp without joint practices or preseason games. A standout, again, was safety Tracy Walker. He had an interception and another pass breakup during individual drills against tight ends and was also active breaking up at least one pass during team drills. Walker, one of the team’s starting safeties last season, has bounced between the first- and second-team defenses throughout camp yet has been one of the team’s strongest performers. — Michael Rothstein

Saints receiver Tre’Quan Smith said he knows his third year is “really big” after he has battled injury and inconsistent results during the first two seasons. But he said, “I gotta treat it like any other year. The future isn’t promised.” Smith said his nagging ankle injury last year was his biggest hurdle, but he also had to adjust to being asked to play more inside. Smith has flashed his big-play potential with 10 TDs and two 100-yard receiving outings in 26 career games played. But he said, “I need opportunity” to showcase that and “I can’t do that being hurt.” — Mike Triplett

Chicago running back David Montgomery‘s groin injury overshadowed most of the Bears’ practice, but veteran quarterback Nick Foles had a strong performance in a situational drill where he fired a perfect touchdown strike to second-year receiver Riley Ridley. Mitchell Trubisky was far less accurate on Wednesday, but he also spent the entire workout on the second team. The quarterbacks will switch again on Thursday. Both will have the opportunity to throw at Soldier Field on Saturday — the final practice of camp that will be open to the media. Chicago’s QB competition has been relatively even through eight padded practices. — Jeff Dickerson

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was a busy man Tuesday and again Wednesday as the Niners continue to ramp him up. He has been getting extra reps in practice, even working with the backups a bit because of injuries elsewhere on the roster. As coach Kyle Shanahan explains it, the Niners have scaled back the overall reps in practice because of some of the injury issues at certain positions (i.e. wide receiver), but when they do that, it means less work for the quarterbacks. Hence, Garoppolo staying on the field more. “When you take down the reps for the whole team, it ends up helping the team but hurting the quarterback,” Shanahan said. Garoppolo’s extra snaps have come in the red zone, and he had mixed success there Wednesday, with three interceptions and three touchdowns. The hope is the additional reps will help Garoppolo settle in early as the Niners open the season. — Nick Wagoner

The Jets held their first scrimmage Wednesday, and the starting offense was — how can we put this gently? — brutal. Six possessions, three turnovers and zero points. And they faced the second-team defense, not the starters. The Sam Darnold-led unit didn’t have WR Breshad Perriman (knee), but that’s hardly enough reason for the sloppiness. There’s no reason to panic — yet. Remember, this was the first game-like situation, so there was bound to be hiccups. But as coach Adam Gase reminded the team afterward, the season opener is less than three weeks away and they need to raise the level of urgency. — Rich Cimini

The Panthers were scheduled to practice at Bank of America Stadium on live television across North and South Carolina on Wednesday night. It replaced the annual FanFest and was a reward for local stations that didn’t get to broadcast preseason games. One thing to keep an eye on at all practices is the music. Coach Matt Rhule likes rap and rock ‘n’ roll when everything is going at a good pace. “If I don’t like practice I’ll put on some country music every once in a while just to make sure guys know if we’re not going to play fast, we’re not going to play [rap, rock],” Rhule said. In charge of the music is Jaiquawn Jarrett, one of Rhule’s former safeties at Temple and a second-round pick by the Eagles in 2011. Players often lobby Jarrett for specific songs. “As long as it’s clean, I’m fine,” Rhule said. — David Newton

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Quotes of the day

“Absolutely not. Every day is a work day for me. That label is not important to me right now. I have so much I need to get better at, so much I need to learn, so much I need to be comfortable with…” Cam Newton, Patriots QB, on whether he feels like the starter

“We all hope that yesterday sticks with all of us forever and hopefully it makes an impact on someone, somewhere and gives people strength and courage, hope. I think that’s what’s so powerful about it … Football is what we do and what we love, but in the end we’re also trying to make great influences on each other and affect people for long-term and affect families. Hopefully we did that and that’s something that won’t go away.” Matt Patricia, Lions coach, on the Lions’ canceling practice on Tuesday following the shooting of Jacob Blake

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