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NFC Campers of Week: Cardinals' Peterson stars on offense

The SportsXchange

As NFL training camps progress, many players need to make an impression either to get a job or keep one.

This is when and where unknown players become known, to teammates, coaches and anybody watching camp workouts, and some veterans prove they can still bring it.

As most teams cruise toward their first preseason game, The Sports Xchange asked NFC correspondents to report on those players making a good impression on each team -- the Camper of the Week.

Results include surprising reports on known veterans, such as Arizona Cardinals defensive back Patrick Peterson being used on offense, to some who are beginning to lose their tag as an unknown, such as with Seattle Seahawks defensive end Benson Mayowa, a free agent rookie from the University of Idaho.

Here is a review of each NFC team's COW near the end of the second week of camp (listed alphabetically):

Arizona Cardinals -- Cornerback Patrick Peterson.

The fifth overall pick in 2011, Peterson is getting more snaps than any other player. That's because he has been playing offense in addition to his regular defensive duties. Coaches are expanding a package of plays they have for Peterson. Peterson is lining up at receiver, not wildcat. He has run deep routes and short ones. He hss carried the ball on end-around plays and thrown it on option plays. If Peterson wanted to commit to offense, coach Bruce Arians said, he would be among the top five receivers in the NFL.

Atlanta Falcons -- Cornerback Peyton Thompson.

Thompson, who was on the practice squad last season, returned an interception for a touchdown in the live scrimmage. Also, he is getting his hands on a lot of passes in practices. He had two near picks against the Cincinnati Bengals' Andy Dalton on Monday.

Carolina Panthers -- Tight end Brandon Williams.

Williams has been out of football since he was at Oregon in the spring of 2011, when doctors discovered he had a spinal condition. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder was eventually cleared medically, and the Panthers discovered him during the super regional combine in Dallas. He has been one of the most imposing players in camp and his chances of sticking increased when the team cut Nelson Rosario, but he is still a long shot. During Carolina's annual Fan Fest practice, Williams had two bad drops early in team drills but later grabbed two touchdown catches.

Chicago Bears -- Cornerback Isaiah Frey.

Frey, a 2012 sixth-round draft pick from Nevada, was waived last year and then brought back to the practice squad. In this camp, he has been all over the field with deflections or interceptions, although mostly against the second or third team. Frey's improvement from last year comes partly from better strength and a little more weight, as well as a better understanding of the defense and conspicuous play on special teams. He could have a future in Chicago with the top three corners all in the final year of their contracts.

Dallas Cowboys -- Defensive end George Selvie.

Selvie signed with the Cowboys on July 24 as an injury replacement and for depth purposes after Tyrone Crawford and Anthony Spencer went down. But he has been better than expected in every practice and showed up big-time in the preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins with four tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hits.

Selvie, a seventh-round pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2010, has played 36 games for three teams in four seasons. The Bucs signed Selvie, 26, in April

Detroit Lions -- Cornerback Bill Bentley.

Bentley easily has been the most active and disruptive player for the defense in both seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills. He has played mostly exclusively in the slot and, according to statistics kept by defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, he has allowed a team-best 25 percent completion percentage against him in those drills.

Green Bay Packers -- Running back Eddie Lacy.

Lacy, the second-round draft pick from two-time reigning national champion Alabama, is charging hard toward becoming the Packers' lead back in the season opener. Just days after he was the target of criticism for appearing overweight in one early camp photo, Lacy had a profound reply with a remarkable performance in Green Bay's Family Night scrimmage. The 5-11, 230-pounder flashed his cutback ability and explosiveness between the tackles and gained 60-plus yards in eight carries, highlighted by big runs of 16 and 19 yards.

Minnesota Vikings -- Defensive end Everson Griffen.

Griffen was a controversial fourth-round draft pick out of USC in 2010 when there were concerns about his off-field conduct. Last year, he had a career-high eight sacks. In this camp, Griffen is playing his best football since arriving in the NFL. He had three sacks in Saturday's big night practice and appears quicker than in previous years. He has lined up on either end, at linebacker and has been obvious on special teams.

New Orleans Saints -- Outside linebacker Junior Galette.

Galette, who is making the switch from defensive end to linebacker, has been a hit at his new position. He was serving as the backup to Jack linebacker Will Smith during OTAs but was moved to the Sam spot when camp started to replace injured Victor Butler. Galette received rave reviews from coaches and teammates and in Saturday's Black and Gold Scrimmage had two of the defense's five sacks.

New York Giants -- Wide receiver Rueben Randle.

Randle is making the most of his opportunities. With No. 1 receiver Hakeem Nicks not on the field often, Randle stepped into that spot and showed outstanding progress from last year, when he caught 19 passes for 298 yards as a rookie. Randle has mostly gone up against cornerback Prince Amukamara and proved he can ward off jams at the line and battle for the ball in traffic. As a rookie last year, Randle caught 19 passes for 298 yards and three touchdowns, an average of 15.7 yards per grab.

Philadelphia Eagles -- Wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

New coach Chip Kelly arrived with reservations about Jackson's commitment to the game, evidenced by a reluctance even to confirm the sixth-year receiver as a starter. Jackson is coming off his worst season as a pro, with career lows of 45 catches for 700 yards in 11 games. But he appears to be stepping it up in camp while learning a far more complex offense than he played in previous years.

St. Louis Rams -- Running back Zac Stacy.

Stacy has consistently impressed in practice and is in the mix to be part of a backfield-by-committee with Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead and possibly Terrance Ganaway. Quarterback Sam Bradford has been impressed. "I think Zac's doing a great job," Bradford said. "I've been very impressed with his ability to pick up blitzes. For young guys, that's a part of the game that a lot of guys struggle with."

San Francisco 49ers -- Kicker Phil Dawson.

After last season's debacle with kicker David Akers, the job Dawson has done in training camp has been a welcome sight to the 49ers' coaching staff. He has consistently nailed just about every kick he attempts -- even using the narrower practice uprights. Dawson, who was with the Cleveland Browns since 1999, was signed by the 49ers as a free agent this year. He converted 29 of 31 field-goal attempts for the Browns last season and was selected to the Pro Bowl. Akers made only 29 of 42 in the regular season.

Seattle Seahawks -- Defensive end Benson Mayowa.

After a spring tryout, Mayowa signed as a free agent rookie out of the University of Idaho. He made a positive impression in OTAs, minicamp and, with injuries to others giving him more playing time, played surprisingly well with and against the first team. With Chris Clemons on the PUP list while rehabbing from ACL knee surgery and Cliff Avril still nursing a hamstring issue, Mayowa will get some work in exhibition play.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

Jackson had a great week. Not only did his wife deliver a baby boy, he has been catching everything thrown in his direction. Jackson had such a great practice Monday, making numerous one-handed grabs in traffic, it forced coach Greg Schiano to take notice. "Yeah, he made some catches today, didn't he?" Schiano said. "That would be one of the better ones that I've seen."

Washington Redskins -- Wide receiver Santana Moss.

With presumed No. 1 receiver Pierre Garcon being eased back into full-time duty because of offseason shoulder surgery and a still-bothersome toe injury, Moss has made the best of increased reps with the first unit. The 35-year-old Moss, Washington's former No. 1 receiver, has consistently abused former Tampa Bay starting cornerback E.J. Biggers.

--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed material for this story.
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