Minnesota Vikings Mandatory Minicamp
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Happy midweek, everyone! John Breech is busy raising up his Bengals-loving family, so you've got me, Cody Benjamin, to deliver all the latest from around the NFL, right here in the Pick Six newsletter.

Be sure to subscribe right here, to ensure you never miss a daily dose of NFL updates. And keep on reading for everything from minicamp news, holdout buzz, quarterback rankings and more:

1. Minicamp overreactions: Rodgers hurting the Jets?

Aaron Rodgers USATSI

Aaron Rodgers made headlines Tuesday by skipping New York Jets minicamp with an "unexcused absence," and coach Robert Saleh confirmed the star quarterback won't make any appearance during the mandatory round of practice. But Jeff Kerr isn't putting too much stock into the occurrence, however dramatic it may be.

This is only the first practice Rodgers has missed, as the quarterback has been present at every voluntary workout. Missing a practice in June doesn't relate toward missing a training camp practice in August. ... If anything, the Jets are at fault for making this a headline when it didn't have to be. This story is a nothing-burger.

Check out more of Kerr's takes on the NFL's latest hot topics right here.

2. Top 10 backup QB situations: Chiefs, Vikings secure

Speaking of absentee quarterbacks, sometimes NFL teams are required to lean on insurance plans under center. So which clubs are well-equipped for emergency in 2024? We ranked the top 10 backup situations in the league entering the new season, with Kansas City and Minnesota clocking in atop the pecking order:

Vikings (J.J. McCarthy): Rookies are often highly variable, and Minnesota is reportedly determined to slow-play McCarthy's unveiling for this reason. But the Michigan product is arguably the best-suited to succeed among this year's new NFL quarterbacks due to his setup: Coach Kevin O'Connell previously maximized Kirk Cousins, elite weapons like Aaron Jones and Justin Jefferson headline the offense, and McCarthy has the makeup of a potential play-action savant. He may also benefit from the slow integration behind Sam Darnold.

Chiefs (Carson Wentz): It's been years since Wentz was a regular difference-maker, let alone a surefire starter. But his big-bodied dual-threat ability has been undersold since he left a dysfunctional Washington Commanders group; he was legitimately solid in limited work as Matthew Stafford's No. 2 in 2023. Couple that, plus his extensive experience (93 career starts), with Kansas City's championship-caliber weaponry and coaching staff, and the Chiefs could probably remain scary even if the matchless Patrick Mahomes misses a start or three.

3. Top positional makeovers: Bears, Falcons big movers

Rome Odunze USATSI

As minicamps wind down and training camps approach, which teams did the best job upgrading entire position groups this offseason? We identified the most notable movers at everything from quarterback to special teams. And two NFC teams, in particular, look much better than they used to at premium offensive spots:

QB: Atlanta Falcons

In: Kirk CousinsMichael Penix Jr. | Out: Desmond Ridder

Cousins is aging (35) and coming off a serious injury, but he's a proven, steady-handed pocket passer who should quickly enable Atlanta to return to the playoff mix. Penix, meanwhile, offers long-term intrigue as a zippy left-armed succession plan, finally giving the Falcons multiple reasons for hope under center.

WR: Chicago Bears

In: Keenan AllenRome Odunze | Out: Darnell Mooney

For the first time in a long time, Chicago might actually have one of the NFL's top receiving corps. Allen is no spring chicken at 32 with a recent injury history, but when active, he's as sure-handed as they come. Odunze's route running should also complement the speed of D.J. Moore.

4. Under-the-radar NFC breakout candidates

Which names aren't getting as much attention as they deserve going into the 2024 season? We picked one underrated potential star for all 16 NFC clubs. Here's a sampling:

  • Bears: RB D'Andre Swift -- Swift's name has been lost in the shuffle of even bigger Bears moves this offseason, including Caleb Williams' entry at quarterback and the dual addition of Keenan Allen and Rome Odunze out wide. But he was always explosive when used by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2023.
  • Lions: CB Ennis Rakestraw Jr. -- Terrion Arnold was the splash of the Lions' 2024 draft, surprisingly sliding to Motown at the back of Round 1. But Rakestraw's tenacious physicality could make him an equally seamless fit for a Dan Campbell contender, especially depending on Carlton Davis' availability at corner.
  • Saints: CB Paulson Adebo -- Marshon Lattimore is the household name on the perimeter, but the young Adebo turned a corner as a regular starter in 2023, finishing with a career-high four picks and 18 pass breakups. Still nationally underrecognized, he could be an even bigger staple of Dennis Allen's defense in Year 4.

5. Travis Kelce addresses retirement speculation

Travis Kelce USATSI

Kelce's older brother, Jason, retired after an all-time career with the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason. So when will the Kansas City Chiefs star think about hanging up the cleats? Not anytime soon, he told reporters this week. Despite going on 35, Kelce said he still feels like a child when entering Chiefs facilities, promising to continue his career "until the wheels fall off."

6. Steelers' Russell Wilson: 'I feel the fountain of youth'

Talk about renewed confidence from the recent Denver Broncos castoff. Wilson has remained in "pole position" in Pittsburgh's quarterback competition into minicamp, and he told reporters this week he feels "revived in every way" as he approaches his Steelers debut -- "mentally, emotionally, spiritually." Thirty-five years old? More like 25, he claims, now that he's tasting "the fountain of youth" in Steel City.