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Wed, 27 Jul 2022 03:48:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : The Computer Scientist Challenging AI to Learn Better

Kanan has been toying with machine intelligence nearly all his life. As a kid in rural Oklahoma who just wanted to have fun with machines, he taught bots to play early multi-player computer games. That got him wondering about the possibility of artificial general intelligence — a machine with the ability to think like a human in every way. This made him interested in how minds work, and he majored in philosophy and computer science at Oklahoma State University before his graduate studies took him to the University of California, San Diego.

Now Kanan finds inspiration not just in video games, but also in watching his nearly 2-year-old daughter learn about the world, with each new learning experience building on the last. Because of his and others’ work, catastrophic forgetting is no longer quite as catastrophic.

Quanta spoke with Kanan about machine memories, breaking the rules of training neural networks, and whether AI will ever achieve human-level learning. The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

How does your training in philosophy impact the way you think about your work?

It has served me very well as an academic. Philosophy teaches you, “How do you make reasoned arguments,” and “How do you analyze the arguments of others?” That’s a lot of what you do in science. I still have essays from way back then on the failings of the Turing test, and things like that. And so those things I still think about a lot.

My lab has been inspired by asking the question: Well, if we can’t do X, how are we going to be able to do Y? We learn over time, but neural networks, in general, don’t. You train them once. It’s a fixed entity after that. And that’s a fundamental thing that you’d have to solve if you want to make artificial general intelligence one day. If it can’t learn without scrambling its brain and restarting from scratch, you’re not really going to get there, right? That’s a prerequisite capability to me.

How have researchers dealt with catastrophic forgetting so far?

The most successful method, called replay, stores past experiences and then replays them during training with new examples, so they are not lost. It’s inspired by memory consolidation in our brain, where during sleep the high-level encodings of the day’s activities are “replayed” as the neurons reactivate.

In other words, for the algorithms, new learning can’t completely eradicate past learning since we are mixing in stored past experiences.

There are three styles for doing this. The most common style is “veridical replay,” where researchers store a subset of the raw inputs — for example, the original images for an object recognition task — and then mix those stored images from the past in with new images to be learned. The second approach replays compressed representations of the images. A third far less common method is “generative replay.” Here, an artificial neural network actually generates a synthetic version of a past experience and then mixes that synthetic example with new examples. My lab has focused on the latter two methods.

Unfortunately, though, replay isn’t a very satisfying solution.

Wed, 03 Aug 2022 08:11:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Building a business case for zero-trust, multicloud security

Were you unable to attend Transform 2022? Check out all of the summit sessions in our on-demand library now! Watch here.

Bottom Line: Building a business case for securing multicloud configurations needs to surpass the costs and benefits, while recognizing that public clouds lack advanced zero-trust features and unified reporting.

The pace enterprises want to move at when it comes to digital transformation goals often surpasses their infrastructures’ security. It’s especially the case when they’re relying on multicloud configurations. For example, each public cloud provider has its version of Identity Access Management (IAM), Privileged Access Management (PAM), Policy Management, configuring admin & user access controls  and more. 

The typical enterprise needs domain experts for each public cloud they integrate with. That’s why choosing to invest heavily in training needs to be one of the costs enterprises get right when creating a business case for multicloud security. Another reason for prioritizing training is that data integration in multicloud configurations often increases the data complexity of the data itself, making data consumption, security  and compliance more complex. The greater the data complexity, the more the risk of misconfiguration breaches. 

Invest in people first 

Cyberattacks on multicloud configurations succeed more due to human error than other factors. For instance, 82% of data breaches involve mistakes configuring databases and administrator options and accidentally exposing entire networks to cybercriminals. 

What makes multicloud so challenging to get right from a security standpoint is its dependence on training people and keeping them current on new integration and security techniques. In addition, the more manual the hybrid cloud integration process, the easier it is to make an error and expose applications, network segments, storage  and applications.

Multicloud security business cases need to start with intensive cloud security training, including offering to pay for security certifications for members of the IT and security teams. A core part of any business case for multicloud security needs to budget enough time and funding to turn training and configuration knowledge into a strength. 

Defining multicloud security’s benefits 

Building a business case for multicloud security needs to start by auditing all cloud configurations. Making auditing the first step helps immediately identify configuration gaps. It’s a good idea to build the business case of multicloud security on core zero-trust principles and the data obtained from auditing multicloud configurations first. The Shared Responsibility Model is a commonly used framework to explain which areas of mulitcloud security are owned by the cloud provider versus the enterprise customer. It’s a useful framework for communicating to senior management why zero trust needs to anchor multicloud integrations. 

The following are the benefits that need to be included in creating a business case for investing in multicloud security:

  • Reducing gaps in Identity Access Management (IAM) and Privileged Access Management (PAM) across cloud platforms reduces the risks of recurring breaches. Like all public cloud platforms, AWS delivers a free baseline IAM module that organizations can use to get started. In addition, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP)  and others offer similar IAM and PAM modules tailored for their specific platforms. They don’t cross-integrate to provide enterprise-wide IAM and PAM security, however. 

Enterprises need to consider if the risk of running dedicated IAM and PAM modules in each public cloud instance without securing the integration points are worth the risk. The majority decide to secure the entire cloud infrastructure as part of their zero-trust initiative. They’re opting for cloud-based IAM and PAM platforms that can protect an entire multicloud configuration at the infrastructure level. By 2025, 70% of new access management, governance, administration  and privileged access deployments will be on converged identity and access management platforms, according to Gartner

  • Reduce the complexity, cost  and need for emergency security projects to fix weak multicloud configuration points. Solving complex cloud configuration, security misconfigurations and hacked connections burn millions of dollars a year and thousands of hours in lost productivity. Defining a business case budget for securing each integration point and removing any implicit-based trust across multicloud integration points are key. Assuming that the 4,000 hours security teams spend on emergency cloud integration security problems could be reduced, organizations could save approximately $400,000 a year.
  • Reducing the risk of data exfiltration while having better visibility into why multicloud costs were so high saved one organization over $300,000 a year – and averted a malware attack. Taking an audit-based approach to identifying the gaps in multicloud configurations helped one company identify how to fine-tune each public cloud configuration and Excellerate the performance of their multicloud networking software. Not only did their AWS and Azure bill go down, but they also discovered their configuration changes helped thwart a malware attack that would have easily promoted fileless payloads to users and critical systems if they hadn’t done the audit.
  • Discovered how much budget was wasted maintaining the first cloud integrations to legacy systems. One IT department found that the first cloud integrations they had done over a decade ago were for systems that only delivered a few data elements on a report that hardly anyone was using. The multicloud security audit found the legacy integration was over two years overdue for an upgrade,  and the data elements weren’t as important to the business unit that had requested them years before. So, IT pulled the plug on the integration and re-allocated the budget to the zero-trust intuitive. Cost savings amounted to approximately $25,000 a year. 
  • Closing multicloud integration gaps reduce compliance costs and the risk of regulatory fines. The more regulated the business, the more audits look at how well data is secured, especially in multicloud configurations. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)  and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) all require ongoing audits, for example. Providing the reporting and audit histories, these and other regulatory agencies require specific to how data is stored more efficient if multicloud integration is in place. The time and cost savings of automating audits by organizations vary significantly. It’s a reasonable assumption to budget at least a $75,000 savings per year in audit preparation costs alone. 

Evaluating multicloud security costs 

The following are the most significant multicloud security costs that need to be included in the business case: 

  • Annual, often multi-year licensing costs for IAM are minimal, with PAM also offered as part of a suite on large enterprise deals. IAM providers vary significantly in their pricing models, costs  and fees and can range in price significantly, depending on the size of the organization and the number of devices. Vendors have been known to bundle in PAM modules for no charge on large-scale enterprise deals. TrustRadius finds that vendors sell tiers of functionality with enterprise-level pricing. As IAM is a cornerstone of zero trust, it’s a good idea to begin early on in an organization’s zero-trust roadmap.  AWS offers its IAM for free, which is why so many enterprises stick with it despite its lack of multicloud security coverage.
  • Evaluate if multicloud network software (MCNA) is a good fit for your organization, as it’s proving valuable for addressing network weaknesses in organizations today. Enterprises often select MCNA software to compensate for the lack of advanced features and consistent management of multi-cloud configurations. Organizations rely on MCNA deployments to achieve a consistent network operations model across all public cloud deployments. Consider using consumption-based pricing for either a one to a three-year contract, and renegotiate based on results. As an example, Arrcus Multi-Cloud Networking (MCN) is available on the AWS Marketplace and is $400,000 a year running on a t2.medium EC2 instance. 
  • Double down on education and change management costs. Change management, implementation  and integration costs increase with the complexity of multicloud security integration. Expect to pay at least $6 for every dollar spent on software for education, implementation, integration  and change management costs. For example, if total software costs are $100,000, expect to pay at least an additional $60,000 for all aspects of training, implementation, integration  and change management. 

Creating a compelling business case for multicloud security 

The best multicloud security business cases provide a 360-degree view of costs, benefits  and why acting now is needed. 

Knowing the initial software and services costs to acquire and integrate multiple clouds across your organization, training and change management costs  and ongoing support costs are essential. Many include the following equation to provide an ROI estimate in their business cases. The Return on Investment (ROI) for an endpoint security initiative is calculated as follows:

ROI on Endpoint Security (ES) = (ES Initiative Benefits – ES Initiative Costs)/ES Initiative Costs x 100. 

A financial services company recently calculated the annual benefits of multicloud integration at $800,000  and the costs, $421,840, will yield a net return of $8.90 for every $1 invested. 

Additional factors to keep in mind when building a business case for endpoint security:

  • Multicloud ROI estimates fluctuate  and it’s best to get started with a pilot to capture live data with budgets available at the end of a quarter. Typically, organizations will allocate the remaining amounts of IT security budgets at the end of a quarter to multicloud initiatives. 
  • Succinctly define the benefits and costs and gain C-level support to streamline the funding process. It’s often the CISOs who are driven to achieve greater multicloud security the quickest they can. Today, with every business having their entire workforce virtual, there’s added urgency to accomplish multicloud security.  
  • Define and measure multicloud initiatives’ progress using a digitally enabled dashboard that can be shared across any device, anytime. Enabling everyone supporting and involved in multicloud security initiatives must know what success looks like. A digitally enabled dashboard that clearly shows each goal or objective and the company’s progress toward them is critical to success.

Zero trust needs to be designed in 

Multicloud security needs to be included in any zero-trust framework and roadmap, focusing on quick wins in the areas of IAM, PAM  and secured identity access for humans and machines across the network infrastructure. In addition, IT and security teams creating the zero-trust roadmap must target those multicloud integration points that rely on implicit trust. They’re everywhere in legacy system integration points. Going after those first will help remove a major risk to the network and future zero-trust progress. 

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Sun, 17 Jul 2022 19:34:00 -0500 Louis Columbus en-US text/html
Killexams : Keys to Ukrainian victory? Logistics, heavy weapons and the ‘test of will’

Exactly four months ago, Grid spoke about the war in Ukraine with an American general who until recently had commanded all U.S. forces in Europe. In early April, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Hodges argued that beyond economic sanctions and condemnation of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, more needed to be done in terms of military aid to Ukraine. It was, Hodges said then, a matter not only of supporting the Ukrainian resistance but arming and training its armed forces to a level that would enable them to reverse Putin’s aggression.

Much has changed since then — on the front lines and the weapons supply lines, and there are questions about the staying power of global support for Ukraine.

We asked Hodges for an update on all these fronts and how he sees the next phases of the war unfolding. Hodges said he’s optimistic that Russia can be driven back — but only if the West continues to “stand with Ukraine.”

Hodges served as a brigade commander in Iraq, a director of operations in Afghanistan, and the commander of United States Army Europe and Africa from 2014 to 2018. He is currently the Pershing chair in strategic studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Grid: We spoke in the first days of April, about one month into the war, and you gave us general impressions about how things were going. Can you step back and provide us your sense of how you think things are going now — whether from the perspective of the Ukrainians, NATO, the Russians or all together?

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Hodges: I remain optimistic about the outcome. And I say that because we know that war is a test of will and it’s a test of logistics. The Ukrainian logistical situation gets a little bit better each week, as the West continues to deliver ammunition and equipment. Ukrainians started from one point, and now here we are, almost six months in, and they’re much more mature in the development of their institutions, if you will, and structures.

On the other hand, the Russian logistical situation gets worse by the day. I think they’re exhausted, actually. I don’t know how much more ammunition they have — seemingly endless amounts. But they don’t have much else that they can do. And now that the Ukrainians have the ability to destroy ammunition storage points and [Russian forces] are having to move back, that significantly increases the load, the transportation requirement on their truck fleet, which has already been seriously damaged.

In other words, the logistics picture improves for Ukraine and gets worse for Russia.

That said, on the Ukrainian logistics side, I do think we still have two major challenges. One, the distribution network inside Ukraine is being asked to do things for which it was never designed or properly equipped. The amount of ammunition, heavy equipment, troops moving all this stuff around inside Ukraine — it’s enormous pressure there. If we’re not going to put our own troops and logisticians on the ground there, certainly there are large commercial logistics companies that could do this. We depended on commercial logistics companies in Iraq and Afghanistan for 20 years. Transport expertise, forklifts, those kinds of things would be helpful.

The other thing is they still are not getting enough ammunition fast enough. The White House announcement that there’s another 50,000 or 75,000 rounds of artillery ammunition, more rockets for HIMARS, that’s good. But this is a challenge. Can we provide them the ammunition that they need to continue to destroy Russian artillery, Russian rockets and Russian ammunition storage? Because that’s what causes most of the problems.

That’s the logistics test. And I believe the momentum is in favor of Ukraine.

G: From a distance, and a layperson’s perspective, it can seem like a miracle of logistics that the volume of heavy weaponry, HIMARS and all these other things can make their way into the country and across the country to the eastern front. But I gather from what you’re suggesting it’s not as streamlined or effective as it should be.

BH: I’m having to make that assessment based on understanding what the requirement is and also knowing, from some conversations I had before this all started back in February, the state of transport inside Ukraine.

Fortunately, the Russians have not been able to interdict it. They launched some rockets and hit a few train stations, but they don’t seem to have the dynamic targeting capability to hit and identify convoys, trains, all this stuff, and then hit them along the way. I hear almost no reports of interdiction on the lines of communication. But what I’m concerned about is, are those lines robust enough that they can absorb some losses, they can adjust? Because eventually the Russians are going to try and figure out a way to interdict that. So, are they resilient and robust enough?

The other thing is the expertise. So much of logistics is anticipation and being able to forecast requirements, whether we’re talking about fuel, artillery, ammunition, maintenance repair parts. This is a challenge because they’ve gotten a lot of help from a lot of different places, but that means you’ve got multiple different types of repair parts that are needed for all the different systems.

The barrels for an artillery: normally between 2,000 and 2,500 rounds. The tube on a howitzer that has to be replaced. So, the logistics is not just about transporting ammunition or fuel, it’s also about the maintenance to back it all up. This is where I think having some expertise there that can manage this for them would be very useful.

G: About one month into the war, you were quite critical of NATO and Europe more generally. You said it didn’t appear that the West was really supporting Ukraine to win, it was more just to help them defend themselves. Do you still feel that way now?

BH: This is the other test I’m talking about, the test of will. Clearly Ukrainian soldiers and the Ukrainian population have a will superior to what Russian soldiers have. We see so many indicators of that. The real test of will is between the Kremlin and the United States, the U.K., Germany, France — the West.

This is the key. I think that clearly the White House has the will to continue doing this. Secretary [of Defense Lloyd] Austin said, “We’re going to help Ukraine win, and we’re going to weaken Russia so much they cannot threaten their neighbors anymore.” But after that, those words were never heard again. And I think this a mistake, that the White House continues to believe that if they do certain things, somehow Russia will be provoked to do something else. And I think this is an overstated concern about escalation that is unfounded.

The Russians don’t have anything else they can do except to use a nuclear weapon. Over 85 percent of their ground forces are in Ukraine. And after five months, they only control about one-quarter of Ukrainian territory, if that. Ukrainians are making progress in and around Kherson, the Russians are pulling troops out of the east to reinforce the effort, and this is with 85 percent of their land forces committed. They’re unwilling to do a mass mobilization because the whole world would then see that their mobilization system is a total failure. It’s corroded by corruption, and a lot of people won’t show up, so they can’t escalate.

Back in World War II, in 1944, at a critical time of the war, tens of thousands of Siberian troops came from behind the Urals, and all these fresh Soviet troops showed up and totally turned the tide against the German Wehrmacht. There are no Siberian divisions on the other side of the Urals coming now. There is nothing else out there, and the [Russian] navy and air force are terrified of Ukrainian anti-ship missiles. The Russian air force has been largely ineffective, except in launching cruise missiles from inside Russia and Belarusian airspace.

The escalation that they can do, of course, is to use a nuclear weapon. But I think this is very unlikely. It’s possible, but very unlikely. Why is that? For Russia, I think their nuclear weapons are actually only at their most effective if they don’t use them.

We in the West continue to hamstring ourselves and just kind of spoon out things rather than saying, “We’re going to push everything, all the chips on the table.” Instead, every two weeks, there’s an announcement of a few thousand more rounds, or “Here’s two more HIMARS.” The rest of the countries will follow the U.S.; if the U.S. says, “We’re going to help them win,” then I think you’ll see an increase in output from other countries as well. I think that we are making a mistake by hamstringing our own efforts and not going all in.

G: You mentioned the HIMARS rocket launchers. Explain for the layperson — do you think they are making an appreciable difference already, and if so, how?

BH: What’s needed is long-range precision fire. That means whether it’s rockets or artillery, drones, missiles, things that can reach out and hit what is causing the most damage — that’s Russian artillery, Russian rocket launchers and Russian airfields from which aircraft take off and launch cruise missiles.

So, the Ukrainians need the ability to hit those targets, and that requires precision. A basic regular artillery is what we call an “area fire weapon.” That’s where you have six howitzers typically in a battery, because all six howitzers can fire at the target, and then the rounds would land within 200 meters of each other.

That’s obviously how the Russians do it, and you need enormous amounts of ammunition. But if you’ve got a rocket or missile that uses GPS retargeting, you can put it in the pocket of the guy that you’re trying to hit. And with a warhead, we’ve seen over the last few weeks how many Russian ignition storage sites have been destroyed because of launching one or two rockets, precision weapons, into those storage sites. So those make a huge difference.

We’ve seen a dramatic reduction in the amount of Russian artillery rockets that are pounding away on Ukrainian positions. That’s the capability that’s needed.

Where the White House, I think, has come up short is the reluctance to provide the Ukrainians rockets called ATACMS — rockets that can be fired from HIMARS or other rocket-launch systems. It’s the one that has a range of 300 kilometers — and it’s exactly 300 kilometers from Odessa to Sevastopol. So, you could imagine if they started launching one or two of those things and hitting the [Russian] maintenance and refueling facilities at Sevastopol, the Russian navy would have to move from there.

The White House is concerned that the Ukrainians would use these launchers to go after airfields inside of Russia. Of course they would. Of course they should. That’s what I would do. But Ukrainians have said, “We won’t do that.” If you’re saying you won’t let this happen because you will shoot into Russia, causing this so-called escalation, I think this is a mistake.

G: Another potential game changer, depending who you talk to, is the looming Ukrainian offensive to retake Kherson and other areas in the South. Help us to understand how vital that part of the country would be.

BH: Ukrainians have done a masterful job of protecting information. I’ve been impressed. We know so much more about who’s doing what on the Russian side than we do on the Ukrainian side, at least in the public information space, which is as it should be. I should not know what Ukrainian plans are, what their genuine status is, because that’s information they would want to protect from Russians.

Having said that, it does seem to be a lot of effort in the Kherson direction, which I think is significant. They have an opportunity to destroy a large number of Russian troops that are there. And I don’t think that most of the region around Kherson is friendly or supportive of the Russian occupiers. So, if in fact the [Ukrainian] general staff was planning a large strike in that region, part of it would be done in conjunction with partisan and/or special forces operations in the rear that can disrupt transportation reinforcement, go after leaders, things that would make it more difficult for the Russians to defend.

I would imagine that the general staff has been working very hard to build up capabilities necessary for that. We’ll see. I hope they’re able to do it.

G: For some time now, since the Russians turned their military focus to the east and parts of the south, the war has been described as kind of a slog or war of attrition. Is that the way you see it in the weeks and months ahead? Or do you see opportunities for a breakthrough for either side?

BH: I don’t believe that the Russians have the capability to break through. They’ve lost so much capability. It would require them to fix almost every problem that they’ve shown in the last five months. They have not developed the ability to do joint operations where air, land and sea forces and special forces are integrated.

I don’t think they can do a breakthrough. So, what the Russians have settled for is attrition. Attrition of Ukrainian capabilities, just endless artillery rockets, but also attrition of our will.

Ukrainian people — their will is not going to be attrited. But the Kremlin, I believe, is counting on the U.S. to back down because of our own domestic issues, worries about China and all of that. As for the Germans, there’s a lot of anxiety about the impact on the German economy because of the gas cutoff. The U.K. is going through its own domestic issues right now, looking for a new prime minister and so on.

So that’s the attrition that matters most from a Russian perspective.

If we, the West, deliver what we have said, if we can keep pushing ammunition to Ukraine, then I think this Ukrainian approach can be successful. But if we don’t stick together, if the West doesn’t stick together, if we don’t keep delivering what we said at speed, then attrition could win, or at least extend it longer.

That’s the advantage for the Russians. If this thing goes wrong, if most people in the West lose interest like we typically do, and the Russians wait for a couple of years, they’ll fix most of their problems or many of their problems, rebuild, and in three years you and I will be talking again about why the fighting is still going on here.

Thanks to Lillian Barkley for copy editing this article.

Fri, 05 Aug 2022 00:25:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Province investing $5 million for training for auto jobs in Oshawa, Oakville and around Ontario

Published August 4, 2022 at 11:19 am

The Ontario government is investing $5 million to provide free training to 500 people from underrepresented groups to prepare them for jobs in the automotive manufacturing sector.

The project will provide participants with the necessary skills for careers in machine operation, assembly, quality control, and logistics. The program will also help address a critical shortage of workers in a vital industry as Ontario positions itself as a North American leader in auto manufacturing.

“Our government is securing game-changing investments in the province’s auto sector that will ensure the electric vehicles and batteries of the future are made here in Ontario by Ontario workers,” said Premier Doug Ford. “As we do, we’re investing in training the next generation of Ontario’s automotive workers and connecting hundreds of them with good-paying jobs at local businesses in immediate need of their world class talent and expertise.”

Led by the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association (APMA), training includes three-month paid job placements through APMA’s network of more than 300 small and medium-sized businesses. After completing the program, each participant will receive a job offer from a local employer.

“Our auto workers are heroes, and we need more of them to deliver our ambitious plan to build Ontario,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “This investment will help local manufacturers find the skilled workers they need to grow our economy and connect job seekers with meaningful careers where they can proudly earn bigger paycheques for themselves and their families.”

The program features a combination of online and on-the-job training, where participants learn critical skills, such as manufacturing essentials, project management, and troubleshooting. Training is tailored to the needs of each participant and employers can receive up to $4,600 in wage subsidies for each trainee.

“The future of the automotive sector in Ontario will benefit from welcoming new faces, voices and perspectives,” said APMA president Flavio Volpe. “This investment creates a sustainable platform for communities that haven’t historically participated in the sector to become integral to its success.”

This project is funded by Ontario’s Skills Development Fund, a more than $200 million initiative that supports innovative programs that connect job seekers with the skills and training they need to find well-paying careers close to home.

While the major manufacturers like General Motors and Ford are not active participants in the program it is worth noting that about two-thirds of the nearly 100,00 people employed in the automotive industry in Ontario work in spin-off businesses like parts manufacturing.

The project is underway and runs until March 31, 2023. Individuals and employers interested in the program can apply through APMA’s website.

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Thu, 04 Aug 2022 03:19:00 -0500 en-US text/html
Killexams : How the Ravens Scouts Sharpen Their Skills During Training Camp

Ryan Mink

Ravens players and coaches aren't the only ones getting better during training camp.

Behind the scenes, General Manager Eric DeCosta is also sharpening his scouting department's skills, and he's been doing so for several years.

In 2019, the Ravens launched an offseason speaker series in which DeCosta brings in highly successful professionals from all walks of life to speak with his staff before scouts hit the road for fall scouting.

Last week, CNBC finance TV personality Jim Cramer and recently retired WBAL-TV investigative reporter Jayne Miller spoke to the entire scouting department. Miller did so from the Ravens' draft room.

"We started the series because it was clear to me that there are many intelligent and curious people from all different backgrounds who can impact our scouting team with their knowledge and life experiences," DeCosta said. "In any business, you can get so caught up doing the same things the same way all the time and that can hinder growth. That's what our series is intended to address."

The Ravens had two other guest speakers earlier this offseason, Alex Garwood (Director of the Pat Tillman Foundation) and Chris Soto (Director of Colby Personality Lab). Here are the other guests in previous years:


Sal Paolantonio, ESPN sports reporter

Jonathan Lenzer, Chief of Staff of FBI

Dr. Kiki Leutner, London-based psychologist

Kate Murphy, Journalist and author

2020: (limited because of covid)

Ryan Holiday, Author

Brandon Scott, Mayor of Baltimore


Shayne Buchwald and Maurice "Mo" Tolliver, FBI agents

Mallory Rubin, Editor and podcaster

John Linehan, T. Rowe Price Portfolio Manager

Joseph and Michele Rigby Assad, former undercover officers in CIA

Craig Rothenberg, strategic communications executive

"It's really cool to see them talk about their jobs and how they're using principles and techniques, whether it be to find potential employees, try to get information, build sources," Director of College Scouting David Blackburn said.

"It's a lot of things that tie into what we do as scouts. I also just think it's cool to hear people's stories, how they speak passionately about what they do. I don't know what it's like with other teams, but it's one of the benefits of this place. It's not just about football. It's about professional development, personal development."

Miller began her talk by talking about her experience in Baltimore dated back to the Colts' departure in 1984. She largely spoke about some of the issues facing the city, including its toxic perception and how racial division has contributed to the problems.

As an investigative reporter, she answered questions about interview techniques, source handling, credibility, and more. For example, what agenda might a source have?

Cramer took an hour to speak about the leadership he sees from CEOs he's constantly talking to - their passion, relentlessness, resourcefulness and more. Cramer, and the successful CEOs he speaks to, will stop at nothing to accomplish their goals, while also not hiding from their failures along the way.

Cramer emphasizes outworking everyone, relaying that he wakes up at 3:30 a.m. every morning, works out, prepares for the day and shows up to every show with passion.

"A lot of these people have the same commonalities. There's no question as to why they were successful," Blackburn said. "The past two with Cramer and Jayne - passion, drive, relentlessness, work ethic, attention to detail, integrity. Those types of drivers. You can feel it when they talk. They're kind of older in the game but you still feel like they have so much more to accomplish and there's a lot of drive in them to still push in this late stage of their careers."

Tue, 02 Aug 2022 07:40:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Nullafi Announces New Channel Partner Program

Nullafi, a fast-growing provider of data security software, today announced the launch of its new channel partner program. Nullafi offers resellers and MSSPs valuable data security solutions, programs, training, and enablement they need to drive revenue and help customers Excellerate their security posture, drive agility in their business, and provide them a competitive advantage. The Nullafi Channel Partner Program consists of four tiers - Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Authorized, with a range of program benefits customized to each tier.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Walter Specht, Vice President of Channel Sales at Nullafi (Photo: Business Wire)

Walter Specht, Vice President of Channel Sales at Nullafi (Photo: Business Wire)

Earlier this year, the company announced the general availability of Nullafi Shield, an agentless, Zero Trust data security solution that sits between applications and endpoints, tying in with existing network technology in order to detect and redact data across applications. At the same time, the company appointed Walter Specht to the executive leadership team at Nullafi as Vice President of Channel Sales.

"Nullafi offers network-level software that enables companies to control the data any app sends to anyone, anytime, anywhere, with no application integrations necessary. Our partners love this differentiated approach to solving one of the biggest problems their customers face," said Specht. "It's an ideal solution to help resellers and MSSPs secure their customers' data while procuring new business and developing new revenue streams. We're thrilled to launch the new Channel Partner Program with world-class benefits and incentives."

Nulafi intelligently recognizes and obfuscates sensitive data in transit, before it gets to the user's device, no matter where it originates, what field it's in, or how it's labeled. In recognition of its innovation, Nullafi has now been awarded nine patents from the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO).

"The NXGN team is excited to partner with Nullafi," said Jimmy Merlo, Vice President of Customer Advisory Services at NXGN, a leading technology advisory firm. "Nullafi has created a great program to help us solve our customers' Zero Trust needs together. As organizations leverage more applications, their data, including their customers' sensitive information, continues to be proliferated across the multiple vectors. Nullafi sits in a unique position where it is able to mask sensitive data, all while keeping data integrity. As organizations implement Zero Trust security solutions, Nullafi will play an integral role in how they manage their data."

To learn more about the Nullafi Channel Partner Program:

If you'd like to enable your customers to protect sensitive data within any application so that their users see only the data they need to see, please request a Nullafi demo today.

About Nullafi

Nullafi is a fast-growing provider of data security software that helps customers quickly, easily, and comprehensively detect and redact sensitive data, automate policy enforcement, and eliminate risks such as data leakage, inadvertent access, and improper downloading-all while allowing business to continue without interruption. With Nullafi, users see only the data they need to see, giving organizations unprecedented control over data access. The company serves primarily mid-market companies, technology resellers, and application developers in North America. With rave reviews from analysts, multiple patents granted, and key partnerships already established, Nullafi is well-positioned to transform data security as we know it. For more information, visit

[ Back To's Homepage ]

Tue, 02 Aug 2022 03:22:00 -0500 text/html
Killexams : WIMI Hologram Academy: VR-based Practical Teaching for Industrial Robotics Courses

The MarketWatch News Department was not involved in the creation of this content.

HONG KONG, Aug 04, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE via COMTEX) -- HONG KONG, Aug. 04, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- WIMI Hologram Academy, working in partnership with the Holographic Science Innovation Center, has written a new technical article describing their exploration of VR-based practical teaching for industrial robotics courses. This article follows below:

With the automatic assembly technology of industrial robots becoming the current research hot spot of intelligent manufacturing in China, the teaching of industrial robotics courses has received more and more attention in major universities. However, in traditional industrial robotics courses, students' participation is not high enough, practical experience is lacking, and the teaching effect is very little due to the high risk of practical operation and the small number of students and robots. Scientists from WIMI Hologram Academy of WIMI Hologram Cloud Inc.(NASDAQ: WIMI), discussed in detail the introduction of VR technology into the industrial robotics curriculum to explore a new model of combining reality and reality, and to realize a new model of classroom teaching and learning. The goal of the project is to break the limitations of traditional industrial robotics teaching, accelerate the reform and innovation of teaching content, curriculum, teaching methods and operation mechanism, and fill the gap of industrial robotics practice teaching.

The development of VR technology is a great fit with the industrial robotics teaching process, and can be used to make the classroom truly virtual and real with the help of instruments and equipment and other material conditions to achieve the leap from perceptual understanding to engineering practice. For example, VR technology can be used to model virtual simulations of industrial robots for assembly and maintenance, to identify possible defects and problems in the initial stages of the design process and reduce unnecessary waste. Another example is the virtual calculation and design of the process of robots used for automatic drilling and riveting of aircraft, which can enable students to match the realistic manufacturing process. Another example is the use of virtual assembly technology, which enables students to realize the overall arrangement and coordination of large aircraft in a more realistic and natural environment, complete with simulation of the robotic assembly process as well as maintenance and testability simulation.

1. Status quo of teaching and research of industrial robotics courses

Industrial robotics is a highly interdisciplinary subject, which integrates many professional knowledge such as mechanics, mechanics, cybernetics, electronics, computer science, etc. The theoretical knowledge is abstract and closely connected with engineering applications, so the course is also more practical and needs to emphasize the combination of theory and practice. In the teaching, students are not clear about the basic concepts of robotics, the classroom participation is not high enough, and the lack of hands-on robotics experience seriously affects the cultivation of engineering practice and innovation ability. The main reasons are as follows: 1)traditional experiments only support repetitive cognitive experiments, and cannot carry out highly exploratory experiments of industrial robots combined with large aviation parts manufacturing, which directly affects the improvement of students' innovation ability; 2) due to factors such as large aircraft assembly experimental sites, large equipment, large parts, and complex processes, it is difficult for schools to replicate industrial robot equipment manufacturing sites; 3) the danger factor of real robot practical operation large, there is a certain safety risk to carrying out industrial robot-related teaching experiments; 4) aviation large parts manufacturing experiments need to constantly upgrade large professional equipment and tooling, consuming a lot of expensive experimental materials, coupled with the physical robot is also more expensive. The cost of physical experiments is extremely high. In the face of the number of students and the number of robots is small, it is difficult to use genuine robots as experimental equipment for teaching and training. Therefore, exploring new teaching modes has become an inevitable trend for industrial robotics curriculum reform.

2. Teaching content design of the curriculum integrating VR technology

This paper takes "automatic aircraft assembly process" of aerospace manufacturing engineering as a typical case, establishes a VR teaching platform based on industrial robot intelligent assembly equipment, and explores a new mode of combining VR technology and industrial robot teaching. The VR platform is designed to explore a new model of combining VR technology and industrial robotics teaching. It transforms industrial robot programming, accuracy compensation, trajectory planning and automatic drilling and riveting of aircraft assembly robots, which depend on large test sites and equipment, into a practical course, so that students can experience the operation and programming of industrial robots and their cutting-edge applications in aerospace manufacturing without leaving school. This paper focuses on the construction of an industrial robotics teaching platform that combines reality and imagination, the innovation of an industrial robotics curriculum that combines reality and imagination, and the exploration of the content of an industrial robotics curriculum that combines reality and imagination.

1)The construction of the teaching platform of industrial robotics combining reality and imagination

The construction of the virtual-real industrial robot teaching platform is divided into two parts: "virtual" and "real". The "virtual" part mainly relies on VR experimental equipment as the basis to build an industrial-grade 5G wireless LAN and fiber optic data transmission platform to realize multi-terminal and low-latency data sharing, so as to achieve the purpose of centralized teaching and interactive experiments for multiple students in the virtual environment.

The "real" part relies on the existing industrial robot equipment with different loads in the laboratory, allowing students to understand the structural characteristics of the robot in a realistic environment, so as to better bring students into the virtual world for aircraft assembly, robot drilling and riveting experiments.

2)Innovation in the form of industrial robotics course combining reality and imagination

In this paper, we propose to adopt a three-dimensional experimental teaching method, focusing on the student-centered approach, paying attention to the difference of different students' acceptance of the virtual-real teaching method, adopting different motivational methods for different students, arranging differentiated experimental objectives, and grouping and assigning tasks according to students' abilities. In addition, we will realize diversified ability cultivation in the teaching process, taking basic theory as the starting point and gradually bringing in engineering scenarios to realize the cultivation of students' technical exploration ability, and in the process, cultivate students' analysis ability and innovation consciousness of engineering problems. The teaching content of the course will also focus on the combination of basic theory, advanced technology and experimental operations, breaking the traditional classroom format of teachers lecturing and students listening to lectures, realizing the interactive teaching of teachers and students to explore together, and innovating the teaching mode of equal communication between teachers and students and mutual assistance and cooperation among students.

3)Exploration of the content of industrial robotics course combining reality and imagination

The content of VR-based industrial robotics course mainly includes three aspects: basic theory, experimental teaching and engineering application. The basic theory includes the development history of industrial robots, robot kinematics, dynamics and control methods, etc., which lay the theoretical foundation for the subsequent experimental courses and engineering applications. The experimental teaching includes two parts: the virtual-real experiment and the robot hands-on experiment. The virtual-reality part will guide students to operate the virtual robot in the laboratory environment with the help of virtual reality equipment, which not only achieves the experimental effect of industrial robot operation teaching, but also avoids the possible harm to students and experimental equipment caused by misoperation. The robot practice aspect relies on the existing small-load industrial robots in the laboratory to realize the transformation of students from VR experiments to genuine operation experiments. Since the operation skills have been mastered in the virtual-reality experiments, the experimental efficiency can be significantly improved in the practical operation link, saving a lot of teaching costs and teaching sites for purchasing industrial robots. After students have fully mastered the operation skills of industrial robots, they will be led to enter the virtual world again to explore the application of industrial robots in aircraft assembly, with industry frontier issues as group syllabus assigned to individual student groups, thus cultivating students' ability to analyze and solve engineering problems and improving their comprehensive quality in all aspects.

VR technology can certainly refresh students and increase their interest in learning, but in the teaching process, the teacher's reasonable teaching method is an important factor in determining the quality of teaching. In the teaching process, teachers should be more aware that technology is only an auxiliary tool to Excellerate the quality of teaching and learning, teaching to pay attention to technology but not rely on it, in the process of teaching and learning, to provide students a wide space to express their ideas, encourage and guide students to actively think and innovative culture.

3. VR technology-driven curriculum teaching research methods

1)Industrial robot VR teaching platform construction

The industrial robot teaching platform with VR technology as the core integrates the specific object of industrial robots into VR technology, which requires the establishment of a general VR framework and the integration of the detailed characteristics of industrial robots to form an overall platform architecture. Firstly, the VR framework development engine is established, and the product number model of the six-degree-freedom industrial robot is built by using professional modeling software, and the product number model is further optimized and reduced in surface by combining with model optimization software tools in the industrial design field and imported into the engine as the final model. kinetic model to completely transplant the characteristics of the real industrial robot into the VR robot. Finally, establish the corresponding human-computer interaction rules in combination with the specific use scenarios of the teaching platform, and determine the specific VR equipment configuration (stereo glasses, virtual helmet, etc.) with students as the center, so as to finally realize the human-computer interaction and information flow between the industrial robot and the operator in the VR immersion environment.

2)Exploration of teaching methods based on VR technology

Based on the teaching platform of industrial robotics based on VR technology, with the immersive characteristics of VR technology, we change the teaching methods, explore the application of new technologies in teaching and talent training work, and plan the teaching ideas and methods of industrial robotics based on VR technology as a whole. Firstly, VR technology is used to provide students with virtual scenes that are close to reality, and teachers play the role of guidance and instruction in virtual scenes to guide students to acquire relevant knowledge in the virtual scenes. Finally, for distance learning needs, VR can be used remotely to provide teaching resources for students, and teachers can realize remote instruction, assistance, testing and evaluation through the teaching platform to provide certain for teaching quality.

3)Teaching resources information construction for VR technology

High-quality teaching resources information construction is the basic premise for colleges and universities to cultivate high-quality talents, and the teaching platform with VR technology as the core pays more attention to the construction of basic teaching resources. First of all, based on the existing courses, sort out all the involved experimental equipment and related teaching resources, ensure the full coverage and practicality of teaching resources; secondly, use the school-enterprise joint and other channels to develop advanced network cloud storage technology for teaching and experiment, ensure the information storage service of massive teaching resources. Finally, with the professional requirements as the guide, in the genuine teaching with typical work tasks as the main body, the use of modern information means, construction of teaching experiment platform, construction of "learning, practice, examination" all-round learning and assessment system, to achieve efficient use of teaching resources and sustainable development.

4. Construction of VR technology-driven teaching and training system

The reform of training methods is an important part of the reform of student teaching and training system, and VR technology needs to take student training as the core and use various advanced teaching methods to realize the training of high-quality talents. First, for the existing industrial robotics course teaching system, analyze the advantages and shortcomings of the existing teaching mode methods, make reasonable teaching mode corrections to the course with the help of VR technology, and realize the wide application of VR technology in the course training. Second, combine VR technology, use computers and sensors and other related teaching resources, set up typical cases of industrial robot processing and manufacturing based on VR technology, and Excellerate teaching quality. Finally, according to the students' mastery and evaluation indexes in the course, the feasibility and practicality of the teaching model will be comprehensively evaluated, and the original training system will be combined to make corrections to the student training system and complete the reform of the teaching and training system.


This paper has explored a new model of teaching industrial robotics based on VR technology, designed the teaching content of the industrial robotics courses integrating VR technology, and proposed a research method for teaching industrial robotics courses. The deep integration of VR technology with industrial robotics curriculum is conducive to cultivating students' "diversified" abilities and meeting the needs of innovative learning. Unlike traditional "cognitive" teaching, VR technology as a teaching platform can realize the interaction between students and the knowledge they learn, and complete the personalized teaching transformation from "teacher-centered" to "student-centered". "It can also Excellerate students' ability to analyze practical engineering problems and to use industrial robots to manufacture products with low cost and high efficiency.

Founded in August 2020, WIMI Hologram Academy is dedicated to holographic AI vision exploration, and conducts research on basic science and innovative technologies, driven by human vision. The Holographic Science Innovation Center, in partnership with WIMI Hologram Academy, is committed to exploring the unknown technology of holographic AI vision, attracting, gathering and integrating relevant global resources and superior forces, promoting comprehensive innovation with scientific and technological innovation as the core, and carrying out basic science and innovative technology research.


Holographic Science Innovation Center

Email: pr@holo-science. com


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Thu, 04 Aug 2022 00:30:00 -0500 en-US text/html
Killexams : Language models are complex. Now imagine adapting it for children with speech and hearing disabilities

Artificial intelligence has changed many industries and made them more efficient, safer, and cheaper. But there are still areas that AI has not yet penetrated such as Speech Therapy for example. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders, in the U.S., about seven percent of children aged 3-17 (or 1 in 12) suffer from problems related to voice, language and speech. Today, only about 60 percent of children receive treatment, and speech therapists feel the burden as they treat about 80-100 children at the same time. At best, they can allocate 5-10 minutes of treatment per week to each child. One of the most in-depth studies in the field, which included approximately 7,000 participants and lasted almost 30 years, found that those with communication disabilities also suffer in their adult lives from a lower socioeconomic status, low self-esteem and a higher risk of mental health problems. Additionally, according to research recently conducted in the UK, untreated communication disorders are a significant risk factor for child development, and there is a correlation between untreated communication disorders and crime. In standard educational settings, communication deficiencies are not always detected by teaching staff and sometimes the issue is fused to the child's laziness, low IQ, and lack of discipline.

And this is exactly where AI comes in since it leads to smart systems that can be very advantageous. For example, it can help speech therapists in certain stages of the treatment thereby relieving them of their burden. Treatments usually include two main phases: learning new material and concepts and practice. Practice, which usually takes quite a bit of time, is an essential part of the entire learning process, especially in speech therapy. An AI-based system can work with a student to help them practice, check performance and report back to their clinician on progress. Such an automatic system could help an unlimited number of students at all hours of the day, yet is also significantly cheaper, when compared to investing in personnel for the same purpose.

Existing solutions are not good enough

The solution to having software include those with communication disabilities seems simple: to understand what the child is saying, use a Speech-to-Text engine (S2T for short) like Google's engine, which can convert the speech into text. The problem is that commercial S2T engines are often trained using data taken from mature speakers with no impairments, such as LibriSpeech, which has about 1,000 hours of audiobooks. Children with speech and language problems do not speak like book narrators, so commercial S2T engines often fail at the task.

From tests we conducted, for example, with the commercial S2T engine, we discovered that it correctly recognized only about 30-40 percent of the words spoken by children with communication disabilities. The solution was clear: to develop an S2T system that could understand them.

So how do you build an AI system for speech therapy?

Until the era of deep networks, the construction of S2T was mainly done by huge companies and required a huge investment in collecting, cleaning, and tagging data. Sometimes hundreds or even thousands of hours of tagged speech were required to train classical models, such as HMM. But that reality has changed with the development of deep networks.

To develop S2T for children with communication disabilities, we used Transfer Learning. This method allows you to take a network that has been trained for a similar purpose and refine it to Excellerate performance for specific data. As the contributor, we chose to use wav2vec 2.0. The acoustic model for speech recognition wav2vec was developed several years ago by Facebook. This is a Transformers-based deep web. The advantage of wav2vec is the network's ability to learn from unlabeled data. The learning process of the network is carried out in two stages: self-learning on untagged data and fine-tuning of tagged data (speech signal with appropriate text).

In the process of self-learning, the network is required to reproduce part of the original signal – a hidden part of it. This is how the system learns to recognize the sounds of the language and the structure of the phonemes. In the second stage, the system learns to associate the learned phonemes with the characters of the text. One of the amazing things we discovered is that the amount of tagged data required for the second stage can be relatively small compared to classical systems: the network manages to reach an error of 8.2 percent per test set with only 10 minutes of tagged data. One hour of tagged data equates to 5.8 percent and 100 hours, only four percent. A variety of wav2vec networks are available to the general public and can be downloaded free of charge. We chose a network that underwent full training on LibriSpeech and fine-tuning with 960 hours.

To train the network, we collected thousands of recordings of children with communication problems. Collection of the data was carried out during treatments using a computer; some are labelled, and some are not. As we saw earlier, wav2vec allows us flexibility in using tagged data as well as untagged ones. Labelled data improves the accuracy of S2T, so it is always better to label the data. As the number of tagged data increases, the accuracy of the system will also improve.

After the data was collected, we recruited a team of speech therapists to label it. During the labelling, the experts were required to provide the text of the recording as well as provide additional indications related to the nature of the recording itself. In quite a few cases there are disturbances during the lesson: background noises, voices of other children who are in the same room, and more. Using noisy recordings can complicate the learning process.

After some of the data was tagged, we ran a fine-tuning of the wav2vec system on a few hours of data and saw a dramatic increase in accuracy in recognizing children's speech. The WER (Word Error Rate) dropped almost twice. True, it still does not reach the performance level of commercial systems for adult speakers, but it is much better for speech recognition in children. The data tagging project is still ongoing, but there is already cautious optimism about expected results.

Written by Edward Roddick Director of Core Tech at AmplioSpeech

Tue, 02 Aug 2022 01:45:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : 2022 NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stack Up Entering Training Camp?

0 of 32

    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    Break out the sleeping bags. Pack the mosquito netting. Grab the graham crackers, Hershey's bars and marshmallows.

    It's camping time.

    Wait? It's not that kind of camp? Oh. Never mind then.

    Joking aside, we have hit an important point on the NFL calendar. There's no more shorts and shells—it's time to strap on pads and get after it. The whole "voluntary" thing is out the window. Now, if a player no-shows for a workout, it can hit them right in the wallet.

    Training camp is here. And that brings us one big step closer to the Buffalo Bills and Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams kicking off the 2022 regular season at SoFi Stadium on Sept. 8.

    As we move closer to the offseason becoming the in-season, Bleacher Report NFL analysts Gary Davenport, Maurice Moton and Brent Sobleski have gathered again to rank all 32 teams from worst to first.

    Spoiler alert: You won't be seeing the Bills or Rams for a while.

1 of 32

    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    At the risk of starting these power rankings on a harsh note, the cold reality in Houston is that the Texans are probably the most talent-deficient team in the NFL. It's a roster that is woefully short on impact players.

    Yes, the Texans have a solid veteran wide receiver in Brandin Cooks, who topped 1,000 yards for the sixth time in seven years in 2021. Edge-rusher Jonathan Greenard tallied eight sacks in 12 games last year. And quarterback Davis Mills was better as a rookie than just about anyone expected.

    But outside of Cooks, the Texans have precious little in the way of offensive firepower.

    That was before news that rookie wide receiver John Metchie III has been diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia and will miss the entire 2022 season.

    Greenard missed five games a season ago, and Houston ranked 31st in total defense and 27th in scoring defense. And while Mills wasn't bad, he wasn't great, either—26th in passing yards, 23rd in passing touchdowns and 21st in passer rating.

    The Texans had the second-worst defense and worst offense in the NFL last year on the way to a 4-13 record.

    Expecting things to be markedly different in 2022 just isn't realistic.

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    Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

    It's the dawn of a new age in Atlanta. For the first time since selecting him third overall in the 2008 draft, the Falcons will head into the regular season with a quarterback not named Matt Ryan as the starter.

    The question now is who will replace him. Veteran Marcus Mariota joined the Falcons in free agency, and Atlanta head coach Arthur Smith talked up the 2015 No. 2 overall pick while speaking to reporters at OTAs.

    "With everybody, you get another shot at something, there are lessons to be learned, they are hard lessons, but if you take them the right way, you're more appreciative of the opportunity," Smith said. "He's authentic. He is who he is. We're not asking him to come here and be Matt Ryan or be Peyton Manning. Be Marcus Mariota. That's what we want."

    Of course, this is the same Marcus Mariota whom Smith benched as the offensive coordinator in Tennessee, and the Falcons landed Bleacher Report's No. 1 quarterback prospect in 2022 (Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder) in the third round of April's draft.

    Mariota still appears to have the edge on opening the regular season as the starter. But he's probably not going to have much margin for error.

    And given the overall lack of talent around him, success isn't going to be easy to come by.

3 of 32

    Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    There's little question what the biggest storyline in Chicago is as training camp gets underway.

    What will Justin Fields' second season look like after a rocky NFL debut?

    As a whole, Fields' rookie season wasn't good—he was 31st in the league in passing yards, threw three more interceptions than touchdown passes and posted a woeful passer rating of 73.2.

    But as Josh Schrock wrote for NBC Sports Chicago, it wasn't all doom and gloom for Fields. Get him on the move, and he is actually quite effective.

    "Last season, Fields led the NFL with 14 runs of 10 more yards," he said. "That athleticism helped Fields notch an NFL-leading 90.5 passing grade when outside the pocket over his final five starts. That number meshes well with Fields' 138.5 passer rating on designed rollouts which led the NFL, per SportsInfoSolutions."

    "The problems in Chicago go well beyond Fields' rookie struggles," Davenport said. "Besides Darnell Mooney and maybe running back David Montgomery, no one on the Chicago offense frightens opponents even a little. Add in that Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus ranked the offensive line as the league's second-worst, and the team's young signal-caller isn't exactly being set up for success."

4 of 32

    Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

    Much like the Falcons, the Seattle Seahawks are headed into uncharted waters under center after Russell Wilson was traded to the Denver Broncos in the offseason.

    And just like Atlanta, the Seahawks aren't entirely sure who will be the team's starting quarterback when they open the 2022 season against (coincidentally) Wilson and the Broncos.

    So far, Geno Smith appears to have the edge over Drew Lock to be the team's Week 1 starter. Head coach Pete Carroll expressed confidence in Smith's ability to lead the offense during an interview with Seattle Sports 710 (h/t Corbin K. Smith of All Seahawks):

    "He showed us a good deal of command of our offense when he played last year and he has a terrific understanding of it so he's out in front of the other guys that are involved in the competition in that regard. By the time he got a couple games under his belt after sitting for three or four years, he functioned in the Jacksonville game as well as you can function and he had a beautiful game there... He popped the ball around, he was fast with the football and got it out and did some really cool things."

    Seattle has talent at wide receiver and in the backfield. But with a suspect offensive line and defense and a pair of quarterbacks for whom mediocrity has been closer to ceiling than floor, Seattle's days of dominance in the NFC West appear to be long gone.

5 of 32

    Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The 2021 season was an absolute disaster for Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Running back Travis Etienne suffered a season-ending injury before ever taking a regular-season carry. Urban Meyer was a complete fiasco as the team's head coach. And Lawrence's first professional season was a mess.

    Now, there's a new head coach in Jacksonville in Doug Pederson. And Lawrence said on The Herd with Colin Cowherd that the difference between this year and last is night and day (h/t Myles Simmons of Pro Football Talk):

    “[H]is resume speaks for itself. But then seeing the way he carries himself, the way he treats people. The way he leads, I think we’re similar — just our demeanors our personality. Doesn’t get too high or too low. I think that’s really important to have if you’re going to be a really good head coach, especially in the NFL. So it’s been great getting to know him. I think he’s done a great job just planning out our offseason. There were a lot of changes we needed to make and I think he’s made those. He’s put together a great plan of progressing our team offensively and defensively. So now that we’re ready going into camp, I think he’s done a great job. So, I’m excited."

    The Jaguars added talent on both sides of the ball in the offseason, whether it was veterans like wide receiver Christian Kirk and Foyesade Oluokun or rookies like No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker.

    But the Jags have had the first pick in back-to-back drafts for a reason, so expectations need to be tempered in 2022.

6 of 32

    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    There's an odd emotion swirling about the New York Jets in 2022. One that hasn't been seen around the team in some time.


    The Jets managed just four wins last season and ranked 26th in total offense and dead last in total defense. But after an offseason that saw the team add talent on both sides of the ball (including three first-round picks in April's draft) the hope is that the Jets are primed for a major step forward in 2022.

    As a matter of fact, while appearing on The Rich Eisen Show, wide receiver Braxton Berrios said that if these Jets can't make the playoffs, then the season will be a failure.

    "We have a lot to do," Berrios said (h/t David Scott of the New York Post). "We have all the tools to be able to do that, absolutely. If we don't get there, it's obviously a failed season to everybody in the building, especially us players.”

    Going from 4-13 to the playoffs may be pushing it—the Jets are a young team led by a second-year quarterback in Zach Wilson who had his share of ups and downs as a rookie.

    But just threatening to post a .500 record and proving to be a tough out on a weekly basis would be a huge step in the right direction for a team whose last winning season came in 2015.

7 of 32

    There's a new sheriff in town in Charlotte.

    And the Carolina Panthers hope that Sheriff Mayfield can turn around the team's lagging fortunes and be what owner David Tepper has vigorously pursued since buying the club: a legitimate franchise quarterback.

    After four seasons of highs and lows in Cleveland, Baker Mayfield will play out the final year of his rookie contract with a new team. And he told reporters that he's confident a fresh start will help him regain the 2020 form that saw him lead the Browns to their first postseason win in almost three decades.

    "A lot of ups and downs," Mayfield said, "a lot of things I learned, but when it came down to it, it was wanting a fresh start, wanting to be with a coach and a GM that truly wanted me ... and just wanting the same thing, and that's to win football games."

    Mayfield still has to beat out Sam Darnold for the right to start in Carolina, but given how badly Darnold struggled in 2021, it's not especially difficult to imagine that happening.

    "Baker Mayfield may not be the difference-maker the Carolina Panthers envisioned at quarterback when the offseason opened," Sobleski wrote. "But he turned into the best option available to the team. With that in mind, Carolina upgraded behind center, even if it's marginally. The rest of the roster is solid with a healthy Christian McCaffrey potentially back, a rebuilt offensive line, wide receiver DJ Moore and a good, young defense. This team can make some noise if it can keep all of the drama in check."

8 of 32

    To say the Detroit Lions are used to futility is something of an understatement. The Lions haven't won more than six games since 2017. This is a franchise that has all of one postseason win in the past six decades.

    However, after joining the Lions last year (and then suffering through a miserable 3-13-1 campaign in his first season as starter, quarterback Jared Goff insists the Lions are on the right track.

    "People outside the building can't see it, obviously," Goff said, according to Peter King of Pro Football Talk. "But we have a plan, and we're all-in. People see some of what Dan [Campbell] says, and that's great. But I can tell you—Dan knows what the hell he's talking about, and he's got the respect of that [locker] room.”

    Detroit's head coach echoed those sentiments:

    "I know that people are probably tired of hearing foundation and the culture, but I do feel like we set that in year one. I do feel like that for us was the primary goal. We have to create our own style, our own identity, our own culture of who we are, what we accept, what we don’t accept, and now let’s build from there. Now, in year two, we feel like we have that foundation built now. Let’s start stacking on top of it."

    Detroit does have some things going for it, including a revamped wide receiver corps and a top-five offensive line.

    But for the Lions to be a legitimate threat in 2022, both Goff and the Detroit defense are going to have to Excellerate markedly this year.

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    This is it for New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones. After three rocky years as the team's starter, the Giants passed on Jones' fifth-year option. If he struggles again in 2022, Jones will be moving on next year.

    There's also a new head coach in New York in Brian Daboll. Per Shanna McCarriston of CBS Sports, former quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick thinks the former Bills offensive coordinator can bring out the best in Jones.

    "I'll say this, you know, with his new coach, and what they've already been able to do with Josh Allen. You take a guy that was low-50s completion-percentage guy and [Daboll] brought him all the way up to the top five—67-68 percent, whatever it was (69.2 percent in 2020)," Fitzpatrick said. "That was Josh Allen, but a lot of that was also Daboll on what he was able to do. So hopefully they can get on the same page and get comfortable quickly, and I think Daboll is going to do great things for his career."

    However, at least one of our analysts has his doubts about Jones and the Giants in 2022.

    "The passing-game talent in New York isn't great," Davenport said. The defense is average. And the offensive line aspires to one day be average. The hiring of Daboll as head coach was a good move for the G-Men, but there's not enough around Jones to have significant optimism that Jones' fourth season will be markedly different than the first three."

    Moton agrees, although he likes the potential of the New York defense in 2022.

    "Aside from the production on the field, Big Blue’s top playmakers must stay healthy, and that includes running back Saquon Barkley," he said. "This team has been plagued by injuries at the skill positions over the past few years. Defensive coordinator Don Martindale fielded a top-three scoring defense in three of his four years with the Baltimore Ravens. He has some playmakers with Leonard Williams, Azeez Ojulari, Dexter Lawrence and rookie first-rounder Kayvon Thibodeaux in the front seven. Daboll and his staff may steer the Giants in the right direction, but the process may take some time before it translates to wins."

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    Carson Wentz is at a crossroads in his career.

    It has been quite the ride for Wentz—from No. 2 overall pick to MVP candidate to watching Nick Foles lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl to traded from the Eagles to the Colts to one disappointing year in Indy followed by another trade to Washington.

    However, while appearing on 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies, NFL insider Adam Caplan asserted that Wentz is more than capable of turning things around—and that he's better than the quarterback who will be starting for the Eagles in 2022.

    "It's not even close. Wentz is so much more talented than [Jalen] Hurts," Caplan said. "I mean, the guy can play. The thing you're gonna see, folks, that Commanders fans are gonna see this season, there are gonna be some games where you're gonna go, 'Why did Philly trade him?'"

    It's not just Wentz who is looking for a turnaround in 2022. Washington finished last season 22nd in total defense and 25th in scoring defense despite being littered with first-round picks.

    If that defense plays to its potential (it finished second and fourth in those respective categories one year prior) and if Wentz can turn back the clock this year, Washington could surprise in the NFC East.

    But those are some big "ifs."

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers have quite a few things going for them. Running back Najee Harris ranked fourth in the league in rushing as a rookie. Keyed by a record-tying 22.5 sacks from 2021 Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt, the Steelers once again led the league in sacks last year.

    But there's also a massive question mark looming over the team at the game's most important position. Whether it's veteran Mitch Trubisky, rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett or a mixture of the two, someone has the unenviable task of replacing maybe the best quarterback in franchise history in Ben Roethlisberger.

    While appearing on The Rich Eisen Show, Harris said he expects the battle to start under center to sort itself out quickly once training camp begins in earnest.

    "When this camp starts up on the 26th, I think we're going to have a good identity of who's going to be the guy," Harris said. "As of now, we just had OTAs, minicamp, it's kind of hard to say who's the guy right now. But this upcoming week, we're going to see for sure."

    The Steelers haven't had a losing season since Mike Tomlin took over as Pittsburgh head coach in 2007. But between the uncertainty at quarterback and an offensive line that Pro Football Focus ranked 30th in the NFL, keeping that streak going in 2022 isn't going to be easy.

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    After a one-year hiatus, the New England Patriots were back in the playoffs in 2021, led there by the NFL's fourth-ranked defense and an efficient rookie season from quarterback Mac Jones.

    Per Justin Leger of NBC Sports Boston, Jones made it a priority in the offseason to Excellerate in several areas, whether it's his conditioning or his relationship with his teammates.

    "It all goes back into just trying to be a better player and person. That was my goal this offseason," Jones said. "I feel better, I feel confident, and that's what's important. I'm just gonna try and go in there and do my thing and lead everybody and help us come together as a unit. That's kind of what it's all about, and the offseason's a great time to sit back and relax a little bit but also try and make strides in where you want to make strides, so I feel like I've done that."

    The Patriots also took steps to get better around Jones in 2022, adding a new No. 1 receiver in DeVante Parker and replacing the departed Shaq Mason with rookie first-round pick Cole Strange. But these Patriots, just like last year's iteration, will likely advance only as far as the team's defense takes them.

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    There isn't a harder team in the NFL to slot in these power rankings right now than the Cleveland Browns.

    As of the publication of this article, there has been no word when retired federal judge Sue L. Robinson could issue her decision as to a potential suspension of quarterback Deshaun Watson for violating the personal conduct policy after he was sued by 24 women for sexual assault and misconduct.

    No one knows when that decision will be handed down or what it will be. Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Watson and the NFLPA plan to challenge the suspension in court if it spans the entire 2022 season. Another report from Florio states the Browns are bracing for as much as an eight-game ban to open the season.

    The Browns have made contingency plans, signing veteran backup Jacoby Brissett and recently adding 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen. But Cleveland is a much different team with Brissett than Watson, and even if he does play this season, it will be his first game action since January 3, 2021.

    The Browns could be a legitimate playoff contender. Or they could just as easily finish last in the AFC North. But until we know who the team's quarterback will be in 2022, it's almost impossible to say with any certainty which they will be.

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    Most of the offseason chatter in New Orleans has centered on the health status of quarterback Jameis Winston, the condition of Michael Thomas' balky ankle or the felony battery charge levied against running back Alvin Kamara and the suspension that could result from it.

    But the Saints didn't win nine games in 2021 because of the offense. This is a team that was carried by the defense last year, and while appearing on Good Morning Football, safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson said he'll stack that defense up against any in the league (h/t Kevin Patra of

    "I mean from first level, second level, third level. I mean, you got Cam and the front to pop it off, Shy (Tuttle), Marcus Davenport. Then you got Demario in the middle calling all the shots. ... You saw what they were doing last year with ... Pete [Werner], [Kaden] Elliss, all those guys in the middle. Then the back end, bringing in the Honey Badger (Mathieu). We just had a Super Bowl safety, two-time Super Bowl safety (Malcolm Jenkins), now we are bringing in another hometown hero, won a Super Bowl, Pro Bowler. So he knows, and we know what to expect. We're just going to go out there and dominate and take advantage of the opportunity. Cause all this talent, why not? Can't waste it."

    Moton believes the Saints can be a real player in the NFC South in 2022.

    "The Saints made a couple of splashy post-draft moves, signing three-time All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu and five-time Pro Bowl wideout Jarvis Landry," he said. "If wideout Michael Thomas makes a full recovery from ankle/foot surgeries, the Saints would have a solid trio of receivers with Landry and rookie first-rounder Chris Olave also on the perimeter. This offseason, the front office replaced Malcolm Jenkins and Marcus Williams with Mathieu and Marcus Maye at safety. The Saints have balance, which gives them a chance to upend the division-leading Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC South."

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    A lot of things are different in Minnesota this year. There's a new head coach and a new general manager. But one thing has not changed: When the team opens the regular season against the rival Green Bay Packers, Kirk Cousins will be the quarterback.

    In the opinion of former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber, Cousins should thrive under head coach Kevin O'Connell.

    "I think he's gonna finally thrive, really thrive, in a system and a coach that actually respects him," Leber told the Zach Gelb Show. "I mean, it's not like I'm not breaking news here that Mike Zimmer did not like Kirk Cousins. And I think that showed in the way that Kirk behaved and the way that he carried himself. The team was never given to him, or he was never allowed to earn the trust of the team, because the head coach I think just didn't like him."

    "The Vikings are going to be a good offensive football team," Davenport wrote. "The skill-position weaponry is good, the offensive line is decent, and while Cousins may not be Tom Brady, he threw 33 touchdown passes against just seven picks in 2021 and ranked fourth in the league in passer rating. The question in the Twin Cities is a defense that allowed the fifth-most passing yards per game a year ago. If that defense is better this season, the Vikings have some playoff potential."

    "The Vikings' rejuvenated offense with Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook and Irv Smith Jr. should be able to win scoring shootouts, but an improved defense will get them back into the playoffs," Moton added. "With the addition of edge-rusher Za'Darius Smith, linebacker Jordan Hicks, rookie first-round safety Lewis Cine and first-year cornerback Andrew Booth Jr., the unit could make a significant jump."

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    The Dolphins made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason when they swung a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs that brought star wideout Tyreek Hill to Miami.

    That deal made the Miami offense significantly more dangerous, but it also ratcheted up the pressure on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to turn it on big-time in his third season.

    There have been quite a few questions raised about whether Tagovailoa has the arm talent to take full advantage of the weapons at his disposal. One person who isn't at all concerned about that is Hill himself.

    "It's gonna be a lot of people taking their words back on what they said about [Tua]," Hill said on his podcast, It Needed to Be Said. "Reporters, analysts, Twitter trolls. All those people are gonna take their words back on what they said about [Tua]. I'm gonna be sitting there, eating my popcorn."

    In Hill, second-year pro Jaylen Waddle and tight end Mike Gesicki, Tagovailoa isn't hurting for weapons. The signing of Pro Bowl tackle Terron Armstead should help fortify Miami's offensive line. And the Dolphins fielded a top-15 defense in terms of yards allowed last year.

    In theory, first-year head coach Mike McDaniel has the tools at his disposal to be a factor in the AFC East this season.

    But how big a factor will depend to a large extent on what kind of season Tagovailoa puts together in 2022.

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    Last year, the Tennessee Titans were a 12-win division champion and the AFC's No. 1 seed. Fast-forward seven months, and after the Titans traded star wideout A.J. Brown to the Eagles, most analysts are lukewarm at best on the team's 2022 prospects.

    In part, it's likely because when we last saw Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill, he threw three picks in an ugly loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the divisional round of the playoffs. The team's top two receivers are an unproven rookie (Treylon Burks) and a veteran coming off an ACL tear (Robert Woods). Star running back Derrick Henry missed a big chunk of last season with an injured foot.

    However, while Tannehill's numbers dropped in 2021 relative to the year before, he's still 23-10 over his last two seasons as the team's starting quarterback. Tennessee's defense was 12th in the league in yards per game allowed and sixth in points per game allowed. And the AFC South isn't exactly a loaded division.

    "The Titans aren't a team without problems," Davenport said. "But the wide receiver situation isn't as dire as some make it out to be, the defense is underrated, and while Tannehill may not be a star, he's a capable veteran quarterback. There's a reason this team has won its division each of the past two years, and a three-peat by Tennessee can't be ruled out."

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    The Las Vegas Raiders were one of the most active teams in the offseason. They added impact players on both offense and defense, whether it was through free agency (edge-rusher Chandler Jones) or trade (wide receiver Davante Adams).

    But as they play in a stacked AFC West that includes three superstar quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Russell Wilson, Moton wrote that the Raiders, while talented, will have their work cut out for them.

    "Quarterback Derek Carr believes outsiders have overlooked the Raiders despite the team's headline moves for Adams and Jones," he wrote. "Whether Carr is right or looking to motivate his teammates, head coach Josh McDaniels and his staff must sort out the offensive line, specifically the right side. After a rough rookie campaign, Alex Leatherwood needs to Excellerate or else Carr could be under constant duress in 2022.

    "Furthermore, with cornerback Trayvon Mullen Jr. on the physically unable to perform list following surgery in May, the Raiders head into training camp with two new starters on the boundary," Moton continued.

    "Even if Mullen makes a quick return, the club has a question mark on the opposite side of the secondary. Rock Ya-Sin or Anthony Averett will have a big role this year. On the other hand, the Raiders have high-profile players on both sides of the ball, including Carr, Adams, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow, Maxx Crosby and Jones, who can keep this team competitive against top-tier competition."

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    The 2021 campaign was a tale of two seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles. The front half of the season was a mess. But after they transitioned to a run-heavy offense, the second half was a different story. The Eagles won six of their last eight games and made the playoffs.

    They added a new No. 1 wide receiver in the offseason in A.J. Brown, and as Dave Zangaro wrote for NBC Sports Philadelphia, head coach Nick Sirianni thinks Brown's arrival and more comfort in Philly's offense will make quarterback Jalen Hurts that much more dangerous as a playmaker in 2022.

    “I’m not BS-ing you guys,” Sirianni told reporters in June. “I’ve been really impressed with the ability to process the plays that we’re going through, and to get it out on time. He’s making good, accurate decisions, and he’s doing them on time.”

    While the Dallas Cowboys couldn't do much to Excellerate in the offseason (and may have taken a step back), the Eagles added quite a bit of talent on offense and defense, whether it was Brown or rookies Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean.

    Much will depend on how Hurts fares in his third season in Philadelphia, but the Eagles appear to have the talent to be a legitimate challenger to the Cowboys in the NFC East.

    "General manager Howie Roseman is the preseason favorite to be named NFL Executive of the Year after he traded for Brown, drafted Davis and Dean, and signed Haason Reddick and James Bradberry," Sobleski said. "The Eagles don't have a single glaring hole on the roster, no matter how you feel about Hurts, who is much better than he's often given credit for. The Eagles should be the class of the NFC East."

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    The big storylines in San Francisco as camp gets underway concern a player who quite possibly won't be on the team in Week 1 and another who not that long ago said he didn't want to be.

    Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, as 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo continues his rehab from offseason shoulder surgery, the team has given the 30-year-old's agents permission to seek a trade. Meanwhile, after wide receiver Deebo Samuel requested a trade this offseason, the sides have been in discussions about a contract extension.

    However, as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network said on NFL Total Access, player and team aren't especially close to an agreement.

    “They have had contract talks on a long-term deal that would keep Deebo in San Francisco," he said. "But at this point, there is absolutely nothing that is imminent.”

    It's quite a bit of drama for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, but Davenport sees a scenario where all the hubbub amounts to nothing.

    "Fans and the media may be champing at the bit for the Trey Lance era to begin," he said. "But Lance is nowhere near a sure thing, and Garoppolo was one game from a second Super Bowl in three years in 2021. If the 49ers can't get any kind of real return for Garoppolo, the argument can be made that the wisest course is to keep him around in case Lance shrinks in the spotlight."

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    There has been no shortage of attention on the desert this offseason, whether it was because of the six-game suspension handed down to star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, the trade that brought Marquise Brown to town to offset Hopkins' absence or the contract kerfuffle with quarterback Kyler Murray.

    That last bit was only recently resolved. As Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported for, Murray received a five-year, $230.5 million extension that keeps him under contract through 2028. Armed with approximately all the money ever, Murray said his priority now is guiding the Redbirds to the first Super Bowl win in franchise history.

    "My job is to fulfill my promise and bring a championship here," Murray told reporters. "There's no questions about it. There's no other place that I wanted to be this whole time. And I mean that."

    However, at least one of our analysts has his doubts about whether that will happen in 2022.

    "The Cardinals are a good team with quite a bit going for it," Davenport said. "But there are problems as well. The departure of Chandler Jones leaves questions on the edge. Pro Football Focus ranked the offensive line 25th in the league.

    "Murray looked absolutely awful in the postseason last year. And the Cardinals have faded badly in the second half of the past two seasons. This team might make the playoffs, but it won't host the Super Bowl next February."

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    The Indianapolis Colts were one of the teams that took a spin on the league's quarterback carousel in the offseason. After one year in Indy, Carson Wentz was shipped to Washington and replaced via another trade with former NFL MVP Matt Ryan.

    Ryan's arrival marks the fifth starter the Colts have had in five years. But running back Nyheim Hines doesn't expect the offense in Indianapolis to miss a beat.

    Hines told the Jim Rome Show (via Matthew VanTryon of the Indianapolis Star):

    "The offense is a little bit different from last year this year. I won't say it’s anything do with Carson (Wentz’s) playstyle or anything, but I think it’s seeing how the quarterback likes things. Having five quarterbacks in five years, you see how an offense completely changes based on one guy.

    "Based on what Matt sees or what Matt likes, there'll be a little bit different plays, a little bit of different wrinkles. I think some of those wrinkles will benefit me. I think Matt's gonna be a great commander and leader of this offense, and we all have trust in him. We've worked with him for eight weeks, and I'm already ready to run through a brick wall for him."

    The Colts have offensive weaponry. Talent on defense. And a quarterback who has taken a team to the Super Bowl. With a positive break or two in the season to come, this team can make some noise in the AFC.

    "The Colts are built to dethrone the Tennessee Titans as the AFC South champ," Sobleski said. "But plenty of work had to be done to reach that point. Ryan should provide a steadying, veteran presence behind center.

    "The running game is counted among the league's best. The offensive line is still rock-solid despite changes at left tackle and right guard. Yannick Ngakoue gives the defense an genuine edge presence. Plus, Stephon Gilmore should thrive in coordinator Gus Bradley's coverage schemes."

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    Changes abound for the Denver Broncos this year, including a new head coach in Nathaniel Hackett. But the new face everyone wants to see as training camp gets underway is quarterback Russell Wilson.

    Per ESPN's Jeff Legwold, Wilson said he has already developed a level of comfort in Hackett's scheme, which just produced back-to-back MVP seasons for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.

    "I feel extremely confident in what we're doing," Wilson said. "We look really good. ... We're making touchdown plays."

    Denver wide receiver Tim Patrick also gushed about the offense's potential in 2022.

    "Outside run, throwing it deep, everything plays off each other," Patrick said. "There's no tells in our plays. We have, I guess you could say, five routes that all look the same, and so you can never just key in on one route. The defense has to play us honestly, especially corners."

    There's a difference between moving the ball in practice and doing it once the games begin. But the Broncos have their best quarterback since Peyton Manning retired after the 2015 season. There's offensive firepower galore. Ample talent on defense.

    This team could do damage in 2022. But while playing in arguably the NFL's toughest division, the AFC West, there's little margin for error.

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    The Dallas Cowboys were the NFC East champions in 2021 and owners of the NFL's most prolific offense. But for all the team accomplished during a 12-win regular season, the year ended in inglorious fashion when Dallas was bounced from the playoffs at home by the 49ers.

    The Cowboys had a bumpy offseason, losing some major contributors from last season such as wide receiver Amari Cooper and edge-rusher Randy Gregory. But Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated still thinks Dallas has a chance at a Super Bowl run:

    "The Cowboys have one of the five best quarterbacks in football; one of the game’s most sought-after play-callers; a defensive coordinator (Dan Quinn) who, a year into his head coaching rehab assignment, was one of the hottest names on the market; a game-changing, positionless pass rusher and a running game that should be solid enough to complement the times Dak Prescott isn’t hurling the ball to CeeDee Lamb.

    "While this team has let us down before, Prescott is now more than a year removed from a devastating ankle injury and Dallas has a cleaner route than most to the postseason through an NFC East that shouldn’t offer much pushback outside of the Eagles."

    However, Moton isn't so sure.

    "The Cowboys will have two new starting offensive linemen following the departure of guard Connor Williams and right tackle La'el Collins," he wrote. "Prescott won’t have two of his top four wide receivers from the previous season in Cooper and Cedrick Wilson Jr.

    "Yet the Cowboys have depth in their pass-catching group with wideouts CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup along with tight end Dalton Schultz. Dallas also selected wide receiver Jalen Tolbert in the third round of this year's draft. Prescott may defer to the ground game with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard in the backfield.

    "The Cowboys offense could struggle early in the season because of the changes up front and on the perimeter."

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    After an injury-marred mess of a 2021 season that saw the Baltimore Ravens miss the playoffs, a distraction is the last thing they need as training camp gets underway. But the team potentially has one in the contract status of MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson.

    Per's Nick Shook, Kyler Murray's extension sets a new baseline for Jackson's next deal—and it's a whopper:

    "The new benchmark, then, is in the $230 million range for five-year deals. That's the target the NFL should expect Jackson to seek whenever he and the Ravens get around to negotiating a new deal. For now, though, Jackson remains as the only star quarterback without a lucrative, long-term deal in place. We'll see whether this prompts Jackson and the Ravens to work on a new contract, or ride it out through his fifth-year option."

    Jackson's contract isn't the only potential issue facing the Ravens. Running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards are both returning from ACL tears. After the team traded Marquise Brown, Baltimore's wideouts are a huge question mark. And the Ravens secondary was beset by injuries last season.

    "The Ravens are one of the hardest teams in the NFL to get a bead on," Davenport wrote. "If the team stays healthy and Jackson plays well, Baltimore could easily win the AFC North and make a deep playoff run. But as we saw last season, if the injuries start piling up again, Baltimore's status as a contender could be on shaky ground."

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    In each of the past three seasons, the Green Bay Packers have won 13 games and captured the NFC North. In each of the past two seasons, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has captured the NFL's Most Valuable Player award.

    And yet, uncertainty reigns supreme in Titletown as training camp gets underway. After the Packers traded Davante Adams, the wide receivers in Green Bay are a huge question mark looming over a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

    However, as Matt Schneidman wrote for The Athletic, Rodgers expressed confidence this group can get the job done in 2022.

    "Excited about Randall [Cobb]," Rodgers said. "We’ve played a lot of football together. Excited about Sammy [Watkins]. Excited about Allen Lazard. He’s been our dirty-work guy for most of his career here, now he’s getting an opportunity to be a No. 1 receiver, so I’m not thinking about him at all stepping into that role."

    The Packers remain the favorite to win the division by a fairly sizable margin. Any offense led by Rodgers will be formidable. And the Green Bay defense is underrated. Even if these Packers aren't quite as good as prior iterations, they remain one of the NFC's more dangerous teams.

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    The 2021 season ended in crushing fashion for the Los Angeles Chargers—a loss to the rival Raiders in Week 18 cost the Bolts a berth in the postseason. But the team didn’t take that disappointment lying down.

    The Chargers offense was already loaded with talent. But the defense ranked 23rd in the league last year, and Los Angeles vigorously attacked that deficiency. The Chargers traded for an edge-rusher to pair with Joey Bosa in Khalil Mack and signed one of the league's best young cornerbacks in 26-year-old J.C. Jackson.

    However, for all those additions, quarterback Justin Herbert is the key to a deep playoff run, and Dan Hanzus of expects Herbert's third season to include an ascension into true superstardom:

    "As a rookie in 2020, Herbert broke a number of records, most notably logging 31 touchdown passes. He was even better in Year 2, crossing 5,000 passing yards with 41 total touchdowns. But Herbert's value goes beyond his gaudy counting stats. The 24-year-old is simply different—he makes throws the vast majority of NFL passers can only dream of. He's the master of the 35-yard 'turkey hole' shot, the king of the scramble and 60-yard heave, the expert of the 10-yard sandwich coverage dart. In a golden age at the position, no quarterback has delivered more "Wow!" plays over the past two seasons."

    The AFC West will be quite the gauntlet in 2022. But Sobleski believes the Chargers are up to the task.

    "This is the year for the Chargers to finally strike," he said. "The Chiefs will once again be in the mix among the AFC's best, but the Tyreek Hill trade coupled with Orlando Brown Jr.'s contract demands completely change Kansas City's offensive dynamic.

    "On the opposite side of the ball, Los Angeles has the horses on defense to make Patrick Mahomes a little uncomfortable and possibly force him into some mistakes. With Herbert's continued evolution, the Chargers could easily become the team to beat in the AFC."

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    The Kansas City Chiefs are in a similar situation as the Green Bay Packers. The Chiefs have been the gold standard in the AFC over the past several seasons. The team has hosted the last four AFC Championship Games, won a Super Bowl and appeared in another.

    But after Kansas City sent Tyreek Hill packing, there are questions about whether the Chiefs can maintain the same level of excellence in 2022.

    However, for once, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has been healthy in the offseason after he rehabbed from toe surgery a year ago. Per ESPN's Adam Teicher, Mahomes has taken advantage of that by working on building a rapport with an overhauled wideout corps. The quarterback said:

    "We got some chemistry in just working with the guys for almost a month. Working out with them, throwing with them. We go to lunch, go to dinner, stuff like that. You kind of build that chemistry and I think a big part of especially our offense is having that chemistry on the field.

    "Being able to know what the guy is doing without needing to talk about it. I think it's translated. So far in the practices that we've had, we think we're on the same page and kind of having chemistry and we're going to keep building on that."

    "Say what you will about all the changes in Kansas City," Davenport said. "Or about last year's disappointing second half against the Cincinnati Bengals. But this is a team that has hosted four straight AFC title tilts for a reason.

    "The receiving corps is better than many are giving credit for, especially when you have Mahomes slinging the rock. If the Chiefs defense can Excellerate on last year's ranking of 27th in yards allowed, there's no reason to think Mahomes can't lead the team to a third Super Bowl."

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a new head coach in Todd Bowles. The team nearly had a new quarterback, but Tom Brady decided to provide it one more go in 2022. And for what it's worth, the former believes that taking pressure off the latter is important if the team is going to get back to the Super Bowl.

    "I think if everyone gets to the mindset of, 'We need to make Tom’s job easier, not him make our job easier,’ we’ll be a better team,” Bowles told the Ira Kaufman Podcast. “If we don’t have to rely on the [Brady] heroics ... and everybody’s doing their job and earning their keep, we’ll be a better team."

    This Tampa team isn't that much different from the squad that won Super Bowl LV. And where differences do exist, the franchise has addressed departures. Shaq Mason replaced Alex Cappa at guard. Russell Gage provides some insurance as Chris Godwin attempts to come back from a late-season ACL tear. Second-year pro Joe Tryon-Shoyinka will step in at edge-rusher to replace Jason Pierre-Paul.

    The Buccaneers have no shortage of talent on both sides of the ball and the greatest quarterback in NFL history leading the offense.

    And if history has shown us anything, it's that you can never count out Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr.

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    The Cincinnati Bengals enjoyed a fantastic run to the AFC title in 2021—a run that came up just short against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI.

    As Mitch Stacy reported for the Associated Press, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow wasted no time putting the Super Bowl loss behind him—and he said the first step in getting back to the big game is getting off to a faster start as a team in 2022:

    "We need to start stronger this year. As an offense, we kind of just skidded at that beginning part when we weren’t quite doing all the things we needed to do to win those games that we expected to win. Just going into this year, I just expect to be a more refined, more technical offense that really maintains the explosiveness and efficiency throughout the entire year."

    The Bengals have an offense loaded with skill position talent, whether it's running back Joe Mixon or arguably the NFL's best threesome of receivers in Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins and 2021 Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja'Marr Chase.

    After adding three veteran starters up front—right tackle La'el Collins, right guard Alex Cappa and center Ted Karras—Cincinnati's offensive line should be vastly improved in 2022. And while the contract impasse with safety Jessie Bates III would be a blow for the defense, the Bengals already have a replacement in rookie first-round pick Daxton Hill.

    The days of the Bungles are in the rearview mirror. This is the age of "Joe Cool."

    And these Bengals have what it takes to return to the Super Bowl.

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    Joshua Bessex/Getty Images

    When last we saw the Buffalo Bills, they came up short in the most exciting playoff game in latest memory. But while 2021 may have ended in disappointment, 2022 begins with considerable optimism.

    In three seasons, 26-year-old Josh Allen has become one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the league, leading a Bills offense that was fifth in the NFL in yards per game and paced the AFC in scoring at 28.4 points per contest.

    The Bills are more than just a high-octane offense, though. With talent galore at all three levels, they led the league last year in both total defense and scoring defense—and that was with cornerback Tre'Davious White on the shelf for a chunk of the season. The Bills also added a future Hall of Famer on the edge with the signing of Von Miller.

    At OTAs, backup quarterback Matt Barkley told reporters that the Bills have one goal this year: winning the franchise's first Super Bowl.

    "We have high goals. I think we’ve come close almost every year now, and even last year when I wasn’t with them. But the Super Bowl is the goal. And I think we’ve got the pieces in place, but every week is a new week, and you have to stay focused and persevere through those challenges of some injuries during the year, and the ups and downs of the schedule. So I think having older guys in the room, at least with Josh, and then kind of bringing back that leadership will hopefully help us go far into February next year."

    This is a team fully capable of achieving that lofty goal.

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    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Rams are the reigning kings of the NFL after they downed the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI. But many times, staying on top can be harder than getting there. In addition to having an excellent roster, teams need good fortune to make it back to the promised land.

    The Rams have already received a little in 2022. After offseason surgery to repair the injured elbow that bothered quarterback Matthew Stafford much of last year, his rehab has progressed to the point that head coach Sean McVay told reporters he'll be a full-go for training camp:

    “He’s feeling good. He’s been able to do a lot of things over the last handful of weeks, even since we’ve been off. I think with a veteran player, anyone of his magnitude or really with the amount of experience, you want to be smart with following some pitch counts and different things like that. He is going to be ready to go, but we will be smart with what that workload looks like within our four- and three-day work week increments.”

    The news isn't quite as rosy for star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who will open camp on the PUP list because of shoulder surgery. The Rams also have questions on the offensive line and at edge-rusher after Andrew Whitworth retired and Von Miller signed with the Bills.

    But for our NFL analysts here at Bleacher Report, the Rams remain the NFL's top-ranked team.

    "The Rams might not have the NFL's best roster on paper," Davenport said. "But the team has the reigning Offensive Player of the Year in Cooper Kupp and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year in Aaron Donald. You want to be the best? First you have beat the best."

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