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MM 8.26: Training camp roundup for Terps in the NFL

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This is the Maryland Minute, a short story followed by a roundup of Terps-related news.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Handout Photo

Terps around the NFL have been back in action during this summer’s preseason training, as unorthodox as it is amid the COVID-19 pandemic. From rookies to veterans, Maryland’s former football stars are on the grind ahead of week one in September.

With no preseason games, this is their chance to gain more snaps and make a good impression.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs is impressing on the practice field for his new team after a long stint with the Minnesota Vikings. Diggs, who is now teamed up with gunslinger Josh Allen, has the chance to lead Buffalo to its second consecutive division title.

“He’s a guy that can adjust and do some freakish things on the football field,” Allen said Monday. “I think what a key part of having a good quarterback-receiver relationship is the communication between the two.”

Rookie running back Anthony McFarland Jr. went to work for the Pittsburgh Steelers, complete with five former Terps, as a potential top backup to James Conner ahead of the season.

McFarland Jr, who fell to the fourth round in the 2019 draft due to playing through a

Undrafted rookie running back Javon Leake, who signed with the New York Giants, has “flashed with a long run and caught a ball as well. He has some serious burst,” ESPN reporter Jordan Raanan said.

Last season for the Terps, Leake was named the Rodgers-Dwight Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year after an impressive 26.8 yards per return average; he also broke Torrey Smith’s record for most career return touchdowns. He also led the conference with 7.2 yards per carry.

He could have easily gone in the draft, but he ran a 4.6 at the combine — which, anyone who has seen Leake play live just doesn’t show how fast he is. He told Testudo Times on a podcast prior to the draft that he felt very tight and knew he underperformed. Now he has a chance to prove it was a fluke, and he seems to be making quite the impression.

Third-year receiver DJ Moore is set to be Teddy Bridgewater’s go-to target on the Carolina Panthers this season after a breakout sophomore campaign. He’ll look to prove he can continue improving and become the top receiver of the future for team under first year coach Matt Rhule.

Patriots defensive back J.C. Jackson has stood out at camp while battling wide receiver N’Keal Harry, the team’s 2019 first round pick.

“Both are extremely physical players for their positions, and the two have locked horns about a dozen times over the past two days,” Patriots writer.

“Each side enjoyed some success, and in terms of styles each suits the other perfectly....Jackson loves to get his hands on the receiver and uses his strength effectively to try to disrupt routes.”

Jackson also had a breakout year in 2019. He had five interceptions for 39 yards, second on the team, along with 36 tackles. Head coach Bill Belichick is hard to impress, so even more is at stake for the former Terp in camp, especially since there are no preseason games.

In other news

Maryland men’s basketball posted a flashback to the 2003 NBA All-Star Game featuring former Terp Steve Francis and Kobe Bryant in honor Bryant’s birthday this week.

Maryland Athletics announced the new Gossett Fellows for the Class of 2022.

Terp fans welcomed Scott Van Pelt home for the launch of his new Washington, D.C., based show.

With Lionel Messi reportedly wanting out of Barcelona, the Minnesota Timberwolves made it clear that they already have a No. 10 in Jake Layman and won’t be a landing spot.

Maryland women’s soccer celebrated a walk-off double-OT winner against NJIT a year ago thanks to Hope Lewandoski.