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Friday, July 11, 2008
Updated: July 21, 6:55 PM ET
2008 Training Camp Guide: AFC Team-by-Team

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AFC EAST
Buffalo Bills
• Location: St. John Fisher College, Pittsford, N.Y.
• Camp dates: July 25-Aug. 20
• Team Web site | Camp information | Practice schedule | Directions/parking

• What Len Pasquarelli says: Held at a college campus in a suburb of Rochester, N.Y., this is the kind of NFL training camp a lot of baby boomers attended while growing up. The small, tucked-away Catholic college has a great atmosphere and enjoys terrific architecture on its grounds. The school, run by the Basilian fathers, is 54 years old, but appears a lot older, largely because of the classic style of the buildings. There are bleachers set pretty close to the field from which to watch the practices, and the Bills tend to have a good share of evening workouts. One caution: There always seems to be some kind of construction work taking place at the college. It's an easy drive to St. John Fisher College from downtown Rochester, where there are a few surprisingly good restaurants.
• What to do besides training camp: Home to the Bills since 2000, St. John Fisher College counts team owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. among its biggest supporters. The training camp is considered one of the best in the league for fans, as it includes activities such as a quarterback challenge, obstacle course and football toss. The Bills are not the only sporting attraction, as Pittsford is home to the famous Oak Hill Country Club, which hosted the 1995 Ryder Cup. Otherwise, the surrounding area features two large malls, Eastview Mall in Victor and Marketplace Mall in Henrietta.

Miami Dolphins
• Location: Nova Southeastern University, Davie, Fla.
• Camp dates: July 26-Aug. 14
• Team Web site | Training camp information/practice schedule

• What Len Pasquarelli says: Pack the sunscreen, plenty of water and a visor. Toss a pair of binoculars into the car, too, because from the stands it can be difficult to see the action without them. Davie is much closer to Fort Lauderdale than Miami, but there are still plenty of good hotels, restaurants and extracurricular activities.
• What to do besides training camp: The city's main tourist attraction is the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds. Originally established as a rodeo arena, the venue's list of events now includes a circus, monster trucks, horse shows, dog shows, car shows, air boat shows, specialty shows and industrial shows. Davie also is home to the Flamingo Gardens – a wildlife sanctuary, aviary and botanical garden that contains otters, alligators, pelicans, blue-beaked ducks, peacocks and flamingos – and the Grande Oaks Golf Club (formerly Rolling Hills Country Club), where the hit 1980 comedy "Caddyshack" was filmed.

New England Patriots
• Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
• Camp dates: July 24-Aug. 14
• Team Web site | Training camp information | Practice schedule | Directions

• What Len Pasquarelli says: For this camp one would be wise to pack binoculars, because the bleachers surrounding the practice fields don't offer great views. It's a fairly sterile environment, well-suited for the businesslike nature coach Bill Belichick wants to nurture in his teams. Foxborough is a 30- to 40-minute drive from Boston and there isn't a lot to do, particularly since the complex of shops and restaurants that owner Robert Kraft has planned for the area surrounding the stadium is still in the formative stages. Of course, it's always neat to take a day to visit Boston and see a little history. But here's a suggestion: Consider flying into Providence, R.I., because the airport there isn't nearly as crowded; and the drive to Foxborough is a bit easier and Providence has great Italian restaurants.
• What to do besides training camp: Fans can enjoy everything from skills games to music to face painting at the Patriots Experience, which is staged next to the practice fields. The interactive games allow fans to test their kicking, passing and tackling prowess with a variety of obstacle courses, football tosses and other challenges. Foxborough also is a city brimming with history. Memorial Hall is a stone building and monument in the center of town dedicated to those who served in the armed forces, while the Historic Homes Plaque Program designates important houses in town.

New York Jets
• Location: Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.
• Camp dates: Begins July 24
• Team Web site | Camp information/practice schedule | Directions

• What Len Pasquarelli says: Only one summer remains to catch the Jets at Hofstra, on Long Island, before the franchise relocates training camp to New Jersey. But a trip to Hofstra, and historic Weeb Ewbank Hall, is worth the trip. Bring earplugs and aspirin. During practice coach Eric Mangini loves to crank the tunes – rock, rap, even classical – and his selections are eclectic; it must have something to do with helping the players' attention spans. There's a pretty good chance you'll leave with a suntan and a headache.
• What to do besides training camp: Adjacent Uniondale is home to the NHL's New York Islanders and the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League, both of whom play at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The venue also is one of the summer stops (July 26) for the Warped Tour, a music and extreme sports festival that features mostly post-hardcore, pop punk and metalcore acts.



AFC NORTH
Baltimore Ravens
• Location: McDaniel College, Westminster, Md.
• Camp dates: July 22-Aug. 14
• Team Web site | Training camp information/directions and parking | Practice schedule

• What Jeffri Chadiha says: While there really isn't much to say about the Ravens' ho-hum training camp home, the upside is it's one of the more fan-friendly environments in the NFL. Kids and adults usually line the entrance to the locker room after each practice, and players stop to sign autographs before heading to the showers. It might not sound like much, but visitors certainly appreciate a nice ending to a day in a place where there is little else to do. Fortunately, the town is about a 25-minute drive from the team's headquarters, so visitors can easily travel back to suburban Baltimore for a nice meal.
• What to do besides training camp: The private, liberal arts college was once home to the Baltimore Colts' training camp. The arrival of the Ravens will coincide with one of Westminster's most exciting events, the Carroll County Fair (July 26-Aug. 1), which includes everything from a tractor pull to pig and geese racing. In addition, a free, outdoor movie is shown each week throughout the summer at Westminster City Park. For those interested in a bit of sightseeing, just outside of Westminster is the farm where Whittaker Chambers hid the so-called "pumpkin papers."

Cincinnati Bengals
• Location: Georgetown College, Georgetown, Ky.
• Camp dates: July 28-Aug. 14
• Team Web site | Training camp information/practice schedule/directions

• What James Walker says: Take it from someone who has covered a Bengals training camp from start to finish: it gets hot in Georgetown. Kentucky is not thought of as one of the warmest states of the country, but do not be fooled. You will not find a hotter training camp spot in the AFC North division, as days can often reach the mid-90s this time of year. There is little shade in Toyota Stadium, whether you are on the field or in the bleachers. So be prepared.
• What to do besides training camp: Everything is better in Lexington. There are about 20 miles that separate the two cities. But if you're looking for quality hotels, restaurants and entertainment after watching "Ocho Cinco" and Carson Palmer practice, it is worth the trek. The University of Kentucky provides lots of options in Lexington. There are plenty of concerts and shows on the university's campus in the summer. Also, Kentucky is a big horse-racing state and there are no shortage of tracks in the area to tickle your fancy. That might be the best option if you are staying in the Georgetown area.

Cleveland Browns
• Location: Team training facility, Berea, Ohio
• Camp dates: July 23-Aug. 16
• Team Web site | Training camp information | Practice schedule | Directions and parking

• What James Walker says: There is a lot of barking going on at Browns training camp, but don't worry. It's just the faithful Dawg Pound rooting for their team. The training camp practices are very fan friendly. The bleachers are at ground level and not far away from the players. In addition to barking, Cleveland fans also are very vocal. So if someone makes a big play in camp or has a major screw up, the players usually hear it from the crowd.
• What to do besides training camp: Berea is a good location for fans, because you have many choices nearby. Downtown Cleveland is about 20 miles away; you can enjoy the city's nightlife, museums or the renowned Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Akron, the home of NBA superstar LeBron James, also has many options to choose from and is just 30 miles from Berea in the opposite direction. Cleveland's Family Night at Browns Stadium (Aug. 1) also provides entertainment and gives fans a chance to see the team scrimmage under the bright lights for the first time, which often is the highlight of training camp.

Pittsburgh Steelers
• Location: Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, Pa.
• Camp dates: July 28-Aug. 17
• Team Web site | Training camp information/directions | Practice schedule

• What James Walker says: The Steelers are known for their consistency throughout, and that goes all the way down to their choice of training camp sites. The Steelers have been in Latrobe for more than three decades now and the beautiful scenery never seems to gets old. The camp, too, has always been fan friendly and accessible. The approximate 45- to 50-minute drive each way from Pittsburgh and back again could be a hassle at times, but for fans of Steelers football it's well worth the trip.
• What to do besides training camp: Latrobe is just a big enough city to entertain for a couple nights but certainly quaint enough to keep the players secluded and out of trouble. That is probably a major reason the Steelers have stayed at this location for so long. With approximately 40 miles between Latrobe and Pittsburgh, there is an option to commute back and forth. But that may be tough because the daily crowds during training camp get very large. Fans should weigh their options, determining whether the accessibility to practices or the entertainment value afterward is more important.



AFC SOUTH
Houston Texans
• Location: Team practice facility, Houston
• Camp dates: July 26-Aug. 2 (seven practices open to public; tickets are free)
• Team Web site | Training camp information/parking/ticket information

• What Jeffri Chadiha says: The best part about the Texans camp is the convenience of it. If the sultry August heat rises to unbearable levels, the team simply moves inside the spacious indoor practice facility across from the Texans' headquarters at Reliant Stadium. If the weather cooperates, they'll remain outside where fans can monitor their progress on nearby outdoor fields. Either way, it's never a chore to take in a Texans practice at this time of year.
• What to do besides training camp: With the team's practice facility located downtown, visitors have an opportunity to enjoy the city, beginning with the Reliant Center. The building hosts some of the largest conventions and trade shows in Houston. The Theater District is a 17-block area in the center of downtown Houston that is home to the Bayou Place entertainment complex and is replete with restaurants, movies, plazas and parks. Meanwhile, Space Center Houston offers insight into the history of NASA's space-flight program. Other tourist attractions include the Galleria (Texas' largest shopping mall, located in the Uptown District), Old Market Square, Tranquility Park and the Downtown Aquarium.

Indianapolis Colts
• Location: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, Ind.
• Camp dates: July 25-Aug. 15
• Team Web site | Training camp information/practice schedule | Directions to campus

• What John Clayton says: The Colts train on two fields and have plenty of booths and games for those who attend. It's a family setting for a family-oriented team. The key to watching Colts practice is seeing how Peyton Manning plays pitch and catch with his receivers, although this summer team officials aren't sure how much Manning will be participating, due to injury. Still, everything is about efficiency and execution with the Colts. They don't do a lot of hitting because, like most teams, they fear injuries. Coach Tony Dungy runs a smart, effective practice that keeps players tuned up for the regular season.
• What to do besides training camp: This is another of the most fan-friendly camps in the league. It features the popular "Colts City," which runs the first weekend of camp and into the following week only. Activities include a mountain slide, field-goal challenge, quarterback throw and rock-climbing wall. Terre Haute is home to the CANDLES Holocaust Museum, which attracts visitors from around the world. The Vigo County Historical Museum boasts an extraordinary collection of artifacts, and the Swope Art Gallery Museum and Turman Art Gallery also are worth checking out.

Jacksonville Jaguars
• Location: Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.
• Camp dates: July 26-Aug. 6
• Team Web site | Training camp information/practice schedule/parking

• What Len Pasquarelli says: The Jaguars have their camp on the practice fields just outside their stadium, so all of the accommodations of downtown Jacksonville are at your disposal. One can walk to the stadium from many of the downtown hotels, but bring a bottle of water for the 20-minute jaunt because the temperatures even early in the day are usually brutal. Bring a mask, too, because walking past the Maxwell House Coffee facility can give you a caffeine high, even if you only inhale once. The area beaches and golf courses aren't too far away, and a trip to historic St. Augustine should be on everyone's planner.
• What to do besides training camp: For starters, the Jacksonville Suns, a minor-league affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, play their home games nearby at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Also close by is the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass, one of the most famous golf courses in the world. Culturally, Jacksonville is home to the Museum of Science & History, found on the South Riverwalk, as well as the Florida Theatre. Another area of attraction is Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, which features the second-largest animal collection in the state.

Tennessee Titans
• Locations: Baptist Sports Park, Nashville
• Camp dates: July 25-Aug. 20
• Team Web site | Training camp information/directions and parking | Practice schedule

• What Paul Kuharsky says: The training camp site at the Baptist Sports Park complex isn't far from downtown Nashville … or from some of the city's best music spots. It's an easy city to get around and everything is in a compact area, but you'll need a car. Camp is a pretty relaxed atmosphere, although one needs to bring a folding chair or be willing to stand for all of practice. Every player on the team is scheduled for an autograph session during camp, and the team does a good job of updating that schedule. Lightning is trouble for fans, as it will force the Titans into their practice bubble, where there is no room for spectators.
• What to do besides training camp: Nashville, of course, is renowned as a tourist destination. Popular attractions include the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Opry Mills mega-shopping mall. Lower Broadway is home to many honky-tonk bars like Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. Civil War history is important to the city, as well. Sites pertaining to the Battle of Nashville, and the nearby Battle of Franklin and Battle of Stones River, may be of interest. Nashville also has the First Center for the Visual Arts. If you don't mind a line, have an early breakfast at the Pancake Pantry in Hillsboro Village. You might spot a celebrity, though Music City protocol says you shouldn't interrupt for a picture or autograph.



AFC WEST
Denver Broncos
• Location: Dove Valley, Englewood, Colo.
• Camp dates: July 25-Aug. 12
• Team Web site | Training camp information/practice schedule/directions and parking

• What John Clayton says: The Broncos train at their headquarters near a suburban airport. What's amazing is the amount of parking spaces available, which is important because Broncos fans flock to the summer practices. There are plenty of workers there to funnel the cars to a lot within walking distances of the facility. Places to eat are located more than a mile away, which is appropriate. Broncos practices are all about football. Coach Mike Shanahan wants it that way.
• What to do besides training camp: The peaceful, scenic area is home to a number of recreational parks, as well as Pirates Cove, a family aquatic center. Englewood Golf Course offers visitors an opportunity to work on their swing when not attending practice, while the CityCenter Englewood Amphitheatre will play host to free outdoor concerts as part of the Sounds of Summer series. Another point of interest is Merrill Engineering Laboratories – where, if you aren't already aware, the world's first electronic dynamic wheel-balancing system was invented in 1945.

Kansas City Chiefs
• Location: University of Wisconsin-River Falls, River Falls, Wis.
• Camp dates: July 25-Aug. 15
• Team Web site | Training camp information/practice schedule

• What Jeffri Chadiha says: The charm of traveling to the Chiefs' training camp home at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls is that you really are entering a typical Midwestern small town. River Falls has one main road that winds through the city and that's where you'll find a handful of shops, restaurants and bars filled with sincere and likeable locals. You get the sense that this is the annual opportunity to show off their town and they want to make the most of it. It helps that Chiefs fans roll in by the bunches, some of whom plan their summer vacations around the chance to see their team in two-a-days.
• What to do besides training camp: Located some 30 miles east of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, the city offers a number of fun activities for fans, including overnight camping at Hoffman Park throughout the summer. As for the training camp itself, the Chiefs will host a joint practice on July 31 with the Vikings. Family Fun Night is scheduled for Aug. 2 (general admission, $7; ages 17 and younger, free of charge) and will feature food, music, games and autograph sessions with players and coaches. Chiefs personnel also suggest visiting Stillwater, Minn., along the St. Croix River; some call it the quintessential river town, and it's filled with tourists to take in the cute shops, restaurants and bars.

Oakland Raiders
• Location: Napa Valley Marriott, Napa, Calif.
• Camp dates: July 24-Aug. 15 (closed to public)
• Team Web site

• What John Clayton says: The Raiders have the best training camp setup in football, but fans aren't allowed to watch practice. The Raiders summer home is the Napa Marriott. There is wine tasting in the afternoon, but players obviously don't involve themselves there. The rooms are luxury, five-star quality, with movies on demand. There is an open weight room that players use after practice that also is not available to the public.
• What to do besides training camp: The Raiders could not have picked a better location to hold their training camp each year. The second-most popular tourist destination in California (behind Disneyland), Napa Valley is famous for its wine industry, as the region features some of the most world-renowned wineries. As expected, there are many wine-tasting and wine-tour options to choose from, one of the most enjoyable being a hot-air balloon ride. The Napa Valley Casino is not far from the practice facility. The area also is considered one of the most beautiful golfing destinations on the planet, with a number of public and private courses available.

San Diego Chargers
• Location: Chargers Park, San Diego
• Camp dates: July 25-Aug. 14
• Team Web site | Training camp information/practice schedule/directions

• What John Clayton says: Though it was hard to give up the old training camp home that had an ocean view, the Chargers have a nice place to watch practice at the team facility. Plenty of fast-food places are available to grab a bite beforehand. The Chargers have two fields in back of the facility that offer a chance for the fans to see everything. One of the neat features is hearing Scott Yoffe from the public relations staff do play-by-play and offer information to fans as they watch the workouts.
• What to do besides training camp: After a number of years of training at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., the Chargers will spend the entire preseason in their own training facility, affording fans the opportunity to enjoy beautiful San Diego. Tourist attractions include SeaWorld San Diego, the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park and Legoland. San Diego also features a number of historical sites, such as its Spanish missions and Balboa Park. The city boasts a number of popular museums; prominent among them are the San Diego Museum of Art and the San Diego Natural History Museum.

• NFC Team-by-Team Training Camp Travel Guide

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