Breaking Down Each NFL Team's Most Intriguing Training Camp Battles
Do you smell it? The whiff is there, just around the corner. Football is almost here.
We are still mired in the doldrums of the NFL offseason, but the light at the end of the tunnel has appeared: training camp. Sure, teams are conducting organized team activities right now, but there is a reason Hard Knocks is not filmed in May.
Football begins in earnest when training camp hits. There are plenty of positional battles to take place during camps around the league; here are the most intriguing ones for each team.
Quarterback: John Skelton vs. Kevin Kolb
The Cardinals ponied up when they traded Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a future second-round pick for Kevin Kolb in 2011 and then signed him to a massive contract, including a $7 million roster bonus that was triggered this past March.
Does this guarantee he is the starter based on investment?
Ken Whisenhunt knows that he must balance the financials with what he sees on the field. Still, Kolb's contract seems to give him a leg up, as Coach Whisenhunt said, according to Arizona Republic beat writer Kent Somers:
I'll be honest with you, I obviously know how much we invested in Kevin. I want Kevin to be successful. I want him to be our quarterback but I'm not going to ignore the fact that John Skelton worked pretty hard and did a good job in there when he was playing, too. He's earned the right to compete for that spot.
Even so, the quarterbacks are splitting time at practice, and results should dictate who starts come fall.
Inside Linebacker: Stewart Bradley vs. Paris Lenon
Though Lenon tallied 64 solo tackles last year in lieu of concussed Stewart Bradley, he was the second-worst inside linebacker according to Pro Football Focus (PFF).
Of course, coming back from serious concussions is no simple matter, and having almost the entire season off may have put a rust coating on the talented Bradley. Hopefully his concussion issues are a thing of the past.
If fully healthy and back to form, Bradley should win the job over Lenon. It will be intriguing to see what happens here.
Offensive Tackle: Jeremy Bridges vs. Bobby Massie
A rotation at right tackle is not ideal, but that is what the Cardinals were stuck with on their woeful offensive line last season. Bridges and Brandon Keith spent much of last season trading off at the position with disappointing results.
Massie was drafted to help shore up that offensive line, and the Cardinals were lucky to get him after waiting all the way until the fourth round to take him.
The hulking rookie will be given a shot to beat out the veteran Bridges on the right side.
Cornerback: Greg Toler vs. William Gay vs. Jamell Fleming
Arizona's pass defense started the year terribly but got better as the season wore on. The porous secondary was the major culprit after being exposed without Toler, who injured his knee prior to last season.
He is almost all the way back, but the Cardinals added some competition while he was gone.
Gay is a solid veteran that spent years in a fantastic Pittsburgh defense, while Fleming is the high-upside rookie out of Oklahoma.
I expect Toler to come out on top, but he must prove he is healthy in training camp.
Right Guard: Adam Snyder vs. Senio Kelemete
While on the surface Snyder was a good pickup for a poor offensive line, he was the third-worst offensive guard in the league last year, as rated by PFF.
Kelemete needs to prove himself as a rookie, however, and Snyder's experience gives him a healthy lead over the fifth-round pick. If he stumbles out of the gate, though, do not be surprised if Kelemete steals the starting job out from under the veteran.
Center: Joe Hawley vs. Todd McClure
While some still might believe Peter Konz was drafted as the heir apparent to the 35-year-old McClure, it is likely Hawley will inherit the starting gig at center for the Falcons while Konz will be the future at right guard.
The question is a matter of "when," not "if," for Hawley's ascension to starter. Plus, how can that beard lose?
McClure has the edge in experience, but this will be Hawley's third season in the league, and his youth should afford him an advantage in athleticism and strength at this stage in their careers.
Inside Linebacker: Akeem Dent vs. Lofa Tatupu
Dent played just 10 snaps at middle linebacker as a rookie last season, but he finds himself in a position to win the starting job in camp.
He has former Seahawk Lofa Tatupu to contend with, however.
That said, the former Pro Bowler has an uphill battle to climb after taking a year off from football. After starting his career with three straight seasons making 100-plus tackles, Tatupu's career has careened off the track.
This battle should be a good one.
Cornerback: Dunta Robinson vs. Asante Samuel
After trading a late-round pick for Samuel and giving him a new contract, the Falcons suddenly find themselves looking at a strong defensive backfield. Who will start opposite Brent Grimes, though?
The fact remains that, while he possesses excellent instincts and playmaking skills, Samuel takes risks and does not play the run very well. For all his prowess as a ball hawk, Samuel had just three interceptions to Robinson's two last season.
Whoever loses this battle is still likely to see the field plenty, but it will be interesting to see who shines in training camp.
Running Back: Jacquizz Rodgers vs. Jason Snelling
These two running backs could scarcely be more different, but they will be duking it out to see who will have more playing time behind Michael Turner.
While Snelling is the veteran and a better pass-blocker, the Falcons will not be able to ignore Rodgers' Darren Sproles-like playmaking ability out of the backfield. While improving his pass-blocking skills would make him ideal for the position, training camp is a good place to prove it.
Wide Receiver: Tommy Streeter vs. Tandon Doss vs. Jacoby Jones
The starters are set for the Ravens at wide receiver with Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, but the third man up in the game is up for grabs.
Perhaps a change of scenery will be good for Jones, who was a major disappointment in Houston. He failed to rise to the occasion when Andre Johnson was injured last year and has simply never lived up to his potential.
Rave reviews have emanated from Ravens OTAs about sophomore Tandon Doss after a disappointing rookie season, meaning he should have a leg up on the other two.
Do not sleep on 6'5" burner Tommy Streeter, however. He may be raw, but with proper coaching and a good work ethic this preseason, he could shoot up the depth chart.
Left Guard: Kelechi Osemele vs. Gino Gradkowski vs. Jah Reid
Baltimore theoretically drafted Osemele in the second round to be their left guard of the future after Ben Grubbs' departure, but Jah Reid had something to say about that.
“I certainly have to go in and expect to play,” Reid said. “I want this position, and it's mine to lose.”
Reid is a second-year man out of Central Florida with the talent to win the starting job, but he faces stiff competition from rookies Osemele and Gradkowski.
These three will duke it out for the starting gig, but a little depth on the line is not a problem.
Kicker: Billy Cundiff vs. Justin Tucker
2012 has not been kind to Cundiff. After he missed a game-tying field goal in the AFC championship game and was punished by the greater Baltimore area for it, the Ravens signed undrafted rookie Justin Tucker out of Texas to provide competition for the veteran this preseason.
If the Ravens really believe Cundiff's confidence could be compromised after the playoffs, is signing an undrafted rookie for competition likely to help?
We will see come training camp.
Cornerback: Cary Williams vs. Jimmy Smith
The Ravens took a bit of a chance on Smith in the first round of the 2011 draft after character concerns caused his draft stock to sink, and he has rewarded them by staying out of trouble through his first year in the league.
He will be rewarded, in part, with a shot at a starting gig.
The Ravens retained Williams on a one-year tender, meaning he must perform well to earn a big contract, whether it is with the Ravens or elsewhere. He was one of the league leaders in passes defensed with 14, but he had zero interceptions last season.
Smith should be coming hard for that opportunity to start opposite entrenched Lardarius Webb this training camp.
Cornerback: Stephon Gilmore vs. Aaron Williams vs. Leodis McKelvin vs. Terrence McGee
The trio of Williams, McKelvin and Drayton Florence did not fare very well last season, each allowing opposing passers an NFL rating of 100 or above on passes thrown their direction, according to PFF.
A knee injury that shelved Terrence McGee last season did not help matters, and it will be interesting to see how well he does in his return this year.
Buffalo selected Gilmore with its first-round pick, and it will likely give him every opportunity to win a starting job. The opportunity is there for the rookie out of South Carolina, and proving it begins in earnest during training camp.
Wide Receiver: Donald Jones vs. David Nelson vs. T.J. Graham vs. Naaman Roosevelt
Many thought the Bills would address the receiver position earlier or with a bigger name in the 2012 draft, but their only addition of note was speedster T.J. Graham. With the Bills leading the league in four-receiver sets last season, it is a good bet that three of these guys will see the field often next year.
Who will start opposite Stevie Johnson will be an interesting question to answer during training camp.
Defensive End: Chris Kelsay vs. Mark Anderson
With the addition of Mario Williams and Anderson at defensive end, Kelsay might find himself on the outs as a starter, particularly with the switch to a 4-3 defense.
It is unlikely Anderson will not be tabbed to start, but Kelsay might technically be the starter if the Bills choose to use him as a defensive end in rushing situations, which tends to be the case at the beginning of games.
Right Tackle: Erik Pears vs. Cordy Glenn vs. Zebrie Sanders
Two rookies versus one underwhelming veteran in a struggle to shore up the right side of the offensive line.
The truth of the matter here is that Pears might be moved to left tackle, where Chris Hairston filled in poorly for injured
Demetrius Demetress Bell last season, who has since departed to Philadelphia to try to fill the void left by Jason Peters' ruptured Achilles.
That would mean the right tackle position would come down to the two rookies, and Glenn has a pretty good leg up considering he was drafted three rounds ahead of Sanders.
You never know what will happen in training camp, though.
Inside Linebacker: Luke Kuechly vs. Jon Beason
This is one of the more intriguing positional battles on defense in the NFL going into training camp.
That puts Kuechly on the outside, where he will be out of position.
While Kuechly will likely succeed wherever the Panthers put him, he could make the Panthers rethink their plans if he shines in training camp while Beason continues to make his way back from injury.
Wide Receiver: Brandon LaFell vs. David Gettis and Joe Adams vs. Kealoha Pilares
LaFell is one of those players who has never lived up to his potential during his young career in the NFL, and this could be his last, best opportunity to cash in with Carolina. LaFell is going into training camp as a starter, but Gettis will have plenty of time to catch up if he performs well.
Meanwhile, rookie Adams and sophomore Pilares will duke it out for playing time in the slot. Pilares barely saw any action last year, and Adams was an underrated player coming out of college.
They will be stuck behind LaFell and Gettis on the depth chart, but the winner of this battle could see action in four-receiver sets or if an injury occurs.
Safety: Sherrod Martin vs. Haruki Nakamura vs. Reggie Smith
Incumbent Sherrod Martin was put on notice when the Panthers brought in Nakamura and Smith this offseason. It is likely Smith will pose more of a threat because he has played free safety like Martin, but Nakamura could be a fit there as well.
Wide Receiver: Devin Hester vs. Alshon Jeffery
It may seem like a given that Jeffery was drafted to start, but the Bears have stated that Hester is their starter opposite Brandon Marshall.
While Hester certainly has a leg up as a veteran, he has never proven to be a consistent threat at wide receiver. He can try to emulate Marshall all he wants, but I think he has reached his ceiling as a receiver.
Jeffery must prove that his draft-season work ethic was not just a product of trying to get paid, however—the rookie's reputation as an overweight slacker did not help his draft stock, dragging him down to the middle of the second round in the end.
If Jeffery can play to the level we saw from him in 2010, he should wrest the starting gig from Hester. The Bears might be better served letting Hester focus on kick- and punt-returning duties more anyway, where he is a lethal game-changer.
Defensive End: Israel Idonije vs. Shea McClellin
Idonije is the veteran here, but the Bears did not take McClellin with their first-round draft pick without reason.
Although he is not the pass-rushing talent that some of the other rookies are, McClellin is a hard-working defensive end out of Boise State and will push to start immediately. Idonije will have to prove he has improved on his meager five sacks from a year ago.
Safety: Craig Steltz vs. Major Wright
These two will battle it out to start opposite Chris Conte in the Bears secondary, but Wright is going into camp as the starter, according to Lovie Smith.
Chicago gave Steltz an extension this offseason, however, and he performed well after Wright went down with injury last season. All in all, Wright has missed nine games in his two seasons with various injuries, meaning Steltz might win the job by mere attrition.
Tight End: Kellen Davis vs. Evan Rodriguez
Whereas the tight end position was an abyss of underutilization under Mike Martz, it is a whole new day under new offensive coordinator Mike Tice.
This finally gives incumbent starter Kellen Davis a chance to shine, but rookie Rodriguez might just rain on his parade. Davis is more of a traditional tight end, however, and his status as a veteran should be an advantage over the rookie.
Wide Receiver: Mohamed Sanu vs. Marvin Jones vs. Jordan Shipley vs. Armon Binns vs. Brandon Tate
Jerome Simpson's departure left an opening at starting receiver opposite A.J. Green. Who will step in to fill that void?
While not the novelty that rookies Sanu and Jones represent, Shipley figures to have the inside track to start despite coming off season-ending ACL surgery. If his recovery continues to go well, Shipley's status as a veteran may be enough to stave off the up-and-comers.
The other four will not go down without a fight, however, and they will make things interesting in Cincinnati.
Surprisingly, Binns and Tate have been making noise in recent practices for the Bengals. Seeing what these two can do to challenge Shipley in training camp should be intriguing and entertaining.
Defensive Tackle: Devon Still vs. Brandon Thompson vs. Domata Peko vs. Pat Sims
The Bengals clearly tried to address the defensive tackle position by drafting rookies Still and Thompson in successive rounds of the 2012 draft. Will those two challenge the veterans Peko and Sims?
Neither of the veterans played lights out opposite entrenched starter Geno Atkins last year, opening the door for one of the rookies to take over the starting gig.
The likelihood is that Peko will retain his starter status while the rookies get in games on a rotational basis, but anything could change in training camp.
Cornerback: Leon Hall vs. Dre Kirkpatrick
In a vacuum, this would not even be contested—Hall is a very good veteran who should start when fully healthy. His Achilles injury casts doubt on his effectiveness going into 2012, however, and that is why Kirkpatrick will have a shot to start going into training camp.
Kirkpatrick, meanwhile, might have a bit of a chip on his shoulder after falling in the first round. If Hall comes back healthy, he should be the starter after training camp, but Achilles injuries can have tricky recoveries.
Offensive Guard: Travelle Wharton vs. Clint Boling vs. Kevin Zeitler
Upgrading the guard position was a big need for the Bengals, particularly after Jacob Bell's retirement, and they showed that by signing Wharton away from the Panthers and drafting Zeitler.
Bell was not particularly good last year, but neither was Boling as a rookie. Zeitler figures to give these two a run for their money as a first-round pick.
Quarterback: Brandon Weeden vs. Colt McCoy
This may be moot if the Browns wind up trading McCoy like the rumors and speculation have been saying.
Should Cleveland opt to keep McCoy, who is relatively inexpensive, the Browns could stage a bona fide quarterback competition in training camp. There might be pressure to start Weeden right away because he is 28 years old, but he is, after all, a rookie. Perhaps some seasoning might be necessary.
Weeden must prove his doubters wrong with a strong training camp or this could be another long season for the Dog Pound and Browns fans.
Defensive Tackle: Brian Schaefering vs. Scott Paxson vs. John Hughes vs. Billy Winn
Cleveland was mocked for drafting Hughes and Winn when it already had some depth at defensive tackle, but Phil Taylor's torn pectoral made it look like a soothsayer.
It will be intriguing to see if the veteran backups will win the starting gigs in training camp or if the rookies can make some noise and win the jobs.
Wide Receiver: Jordan Norwood vs. Travis Benjamin and Mohamed Massaquoi vs. Joshua Cribbs vs. Carlton Mitchell
Who will step up as the starter opposite Greg Little, and who will be the slot threat?
The receiving corps has not been particularly good for the Browns in recent years, and the only major addition they made was Benjamin with a fourth-round pick. He has an excellent shot at winning the slot role, but Norwood flashed some potential last season and will give him a great battle at the position.
As for Little's running mate on the wings, the choices do not seem terribly palatable. None of these guys has lived up to their potential thus far, but injuries hampered Massaquoi in his second year. If he can stay healthy, he figures to have the inside track on the outside receiver gig, but only training camp will tell which one of these is the man for the job.
Wide Receiver: Kevin Ogletree vs. Danny Coale vs. Dwayne Harris
Maybe Ogletree needs another shot to prove himself, but he was not particularly good when given opportunities last season.
Coale, meanwhile, is a late-round rookie with some promise. He was viewed as the potential No. 3 receiver soon after the draft, but a broken foot may sideline him through some of camp, putting him behind the eight ball.
If Dwayne Harris can become noticeable in a good way, he might wind up with the job to start the season.
Offensive Guard: Mackenzy Bernadeau vs. Nate Livings vs. Levy Adcock vs. Bill Nagy vs. David Arkin vs. Kevin Kowalski
There is a bit of a scramble to see who will fill a vacant starting spot here after Bernadeau had surgery to repair his hip. He will be out 10 to 12 weeks from mid-May, giving one of these guys an opportunity to shine during the beginning of training camp.
Inside Linebacker: Bruce Carter vs. Dan Connor
Carter was Dallas' second-round pick in the 2011 draft despite coming off ACL surgery, and he did little on the field as a rookie. Connor, meanwhile, filled in admirably for the injured Jon Beason in Carolina.
This should be an interesting one to watch.
Running Back: Ronnie Hillman vs. Willis McGahee vs. Knowshon Moreno
Also known as Moreno's Last Stand, this summer will determine the former first-round pick's future with the team.
After Moreno seemingly fell out of favor with coach John Fox, the Broncos drafted Hillman in the early part of the third round of the 2012 draft—considered a reach by some—lending credence to the notion that Moreno's job is unsafe.
While it may seem like McGahee's job as starter is assured, his age and running style may not suit the new, Peyton Manning-led offense.
The likelihood Hillman wins the starting job outright is slim—he is not prototypical at the position, despite his speed, and he will need to adjust to NFL pass protection, something Manning values deeply in a running back.
Wide Receiver: Eric Decker vs. Demaryius Thomas
Both of these young studs will start on this team, but which one will be Manning's next Marvin Harrison?
While Thomas has the size and talent advantage over Decker, the latter is a gritty receiver who could play a similar role to what Austin Collie did when Manning was in Indianapolis.
The world will be captivated with Manning as he starts his new chapter in Denver, and picking his favorite target will be interesting to see.
Center: J.D. Walton vs. Philip Blake
The incumbent Walton was the worst-rated center in the NFL last season according to Pro Football Focus. This may be the reason Denver drafted his fellow Baylor alumnus, Philip Blake.
About the only thing Walton has on Blake is experience, and that will not save him if he continues to play poorly.
Offensive Tackle: Riley Reiff vs. Gosder Cherilus vs. Jeff Backus
The offensive line was a bit of a problem for Matthew Stafford and the Lions last season. Cherilus and Backus were big culprits, as they combined to give up 16 sacks.
It is no wonder that the Lions snapped up Reiff, the draft's second-best offensive tackle by many accounts, when he fell to them at No. 23.
Being a first-round pick does not guarantee anything for the big man out of Iowa, however. The Lions have penciled Backus and Cherilus in as the starters for now as Reiff practices with the second team. I would imagine Reiff will be given every opportunity to assume one of those starting spots during training camp and the preseason.
Wide Receiver: Ryan Broyles vs. Titus Young vs. Nate Burleson
This might be an easy call were it not for Young's off-field issues. The second-year receiver out of Boise State has not ingratiated himself with the coaching staff by participating in some of the shenanigans that have landed Lions players in trouble this offseason.
Broyles, meanwhile, looks to be ready to go for training camp—he is recovering from a torn ACL suffered this past fall at Oklahoma. If he can regain his form quickly, he could give Young and Burleson a serious run for their money.
Speaking of Burleson, his status as a veteran who does not get into trouble might just be what Jim Schwartz is looking for right now.
Running Back: Joique Bell vs. Keiland Williams vs. Stephfon Green
With Jahvid Best's career in doubt due to concussions, Kevin Smith's glass body and Mikel Leshoure being part of the knucklehead club this offseason, these guys will be fighting for a quality backup position in Detroit.
None of them seems palatable, but given the right opportunity, one of them might shine. While Williams never really caught on in Washington, he is the biggest back in this trio and could see time at the goal line as a result.
Bell and Green are dynamic backs that could see time in third-down situations as pass-catchers.
Green Bay Packers
Running Back: Brandon Saine vs. Alex Green
James Starks ascends to the rank of full-time starter after Ryan Grant's departure, leaving Saine and Green to battle it out for the backup role.
Saine has the edge in experience—particularly after Green was shelved for the season with an injury in 2011—but the second-year running back out of Hawaii brings electrifying speed and pass-catching ability to the table.
Wide Receiver: James Jones vs. Randall Cobb vs. Donald Driver
Old Man Driver is back after a successful stint on Dancing with the Stars. The fact remains, however, that he is 37 years old and barely got a new contract with his team. He is on his last legs despite having success last year—I do not see him keeping up with these other two.
Will the Packers put the veteran Jones in as the third receiver or give Cobb a shot?
The youngster played well in limited duty last season after a spectacular rookie debut when he returned a kick for a touchdown. If he can gain Aaron Rodgers' trust, he will be a dynamic option for the reigning MVP.
Quarterback: Graham Harrell vs. B.J. Coleman
Matt Flynn's departure for rainy pastures leaves the backup quarterback position up for grabs. Harrell and rookie Coleman will duke it out to see who will back up their all-world starter, and the result will not be trivial—Flynn was pressed into service in 2010 after an injury to Rodgers.
Quality backup quarterbacks are important, and it will be interesting to see if the rookie can push the veteran during training camp.
Defensive End: Phillip Merling vs. Jerel Worthy vs. C.J. Wilson vs. Ryan Pickett vs. Jarius Wynn vs. Mike Daniels
The defensive line was problematic last season, leading to a dramatic overhaul that included drafting Worthy and Daniels and signing former second-round draft pick Merling away from the Dolphins.
Green Bay suddenly has a surplus at the position, creating healthy competition for playing time.
It would not surprise me if newcomers Worthy and Merling wind up starting—the trio of Wilson, Pickett and Wynn simply did not play well last season.
Most of these guys will likely see plenty of playing time on a rotational basis, regardless of who is tabbed to start.
Wide Receiver: Lestar Jean vs. DeVier Posey vs. Kevin Walter
vs. Dwight Jones
The No. 2 wide receiver position has been problematic for the Texans over the years, and youngsters Jean and Posey hope to change that.
Jean in particular has been impressive thus far this year in what is perhaps the beginning of an answer to that problem.
Walter has held onto that status for years, but his time might be up with the arrival of Posey and emergence of Jean.
Inside Linebacker: Darryl Sharpton vs. Bradie James
The departure of DeMeco Ryans via trade has left a bit of a hole in the middle of the defense for the Texans, and it is up to one of these guys to plug it.
Sharpton brings a youthful upside while James brings the experience and familiarity with Wade Phillips. One of these two will win a starting gig opposite Brian Cushing, and it should be fun to see them duel in camp.
Cornerback: Brandon Harris vs. Kareem Jackson vs. Roc Carmichael
While Johnathan Joseph has one of the starting positions locked down, the other one is up for grabs.
Jackson has been unimpressive since being drafted in 2010, meaning 2011 draftees Harris and Carmichael will have a good shot to take over.
Offensive Guard: Brandon Brooks vs. Antoine Caldwell
Another rookie versus veteran battle will loom large for a Texans offensive line that will also be missing perennial stud Eric Winston, who moved on to Kansas City.
Nose Tackles: Josh Chapman vs. Antonio Johnson vs. Brandon McKinney
The Colts are switching to a 3-4 defense, meaning they will need to find a starting nose tackle.
Josh Chapman is the most intriguing out of this group in that he would have likely been a much higher draft pick were it not for a torn ACL.
Chapman is on the mend and says he should be ready for training camp, putting the other two on notice.
Wide Receiver: T.Y. Hilton vs. LaVon Brazill
Both of these players are electrifying receivers, and both will be given a shot at serious playing time behind Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie.
This should be one of the more exciting duels to watch this preseason.
Quarterback: Blaine Gabbert vs. Chad Henne
Make no mistake about it—Gabbert is the man at quarterback right now.
After rumors that Mike Mularkey is not sold on the oft-maligned second-year quarterback, however, there is serious merit to the notion there will be a camp battle at quarterback.
Gabbert himself knows that nothing is assured (per Brian McIntyre, NFL.com):
I compete every practice. I know perfect isn’t really ever achievable, but I like to think it is. I’m plenty competitive and I get really mad at myself, just like anybody would if you expect it to be perfect. When you miss a throw, miss something easy that you know you can make, the biggest thing is you just have to bounce back.
Chad Henne is no stranger to quarterback controversy after spending years under fire in quarterback-starved Miami.
Wide Receiver: Mike Thomas vs. Cecil Shorts vs. Lee Evans
The Jaguars got a shot in the arm at wide receiver when they signed Laurent Robinson and drafted Justin Blackmon during the offseason, putting former starter Mike Thomas in danger of being cut or traded.
He will get his shot to make his way as the third receiver, but he will have to contend with the likes of second-year man Cecil Shorts and recent playoff goat Lee Evans.
Cornerback: Rashean Mathis vs. Aaron Ross
Mathis is on the mend from a season-ending injury, and he will find himself fighting to get his starting job back with newly-acquired Aaron Ross.
He should win his job back, but Ross performed admirably for the Giants in a banged-up secondary last season, intercepting four passes.
Running Back: Rashad Jennings vs. DuJuan Harris
With Maurice Jones-Drew in a bit of a spat with management over his contract, figuring out his backup will be imperative for the Jaguars.
Jennings has performed well in MJD's stead on occasion, but he is coming back from a blown knee suffered in last year's preseason.
If Jennings is unimpressive, Harris could sneak in and steal the backup role away from him.
Kansas City Chiefs
Wide Receiver: Jonathan Baldwin vs. Steve Breaston
The Chiefs surprised many by selecting Baldwin with their first-round pick in the 2011 draft, and his rookie season left something to be desired. He came on toward the end of the season, however, and the big wide receiver looks to be a strong contender to start this year.
Inside Linebacker: Jovan Belcher vs. Brandon Siler
Though Siler is coming off season-ending surgery while Belcher has retained a starting job over the past three years, a little healthy competition is not a bad thing. Siler should be eager to get back on the field and try to wrest the starting job from Belcher.
What will we see out of these two during training camp?
Running Back: Cyrus Gray vs. Dexter McCluster
The battle between these similar players should be interesting considering McCluster's relative ineffectiveness over the years.
Of course, misusing him may have been a reason for that—was he a running back or a wide receiver?
Gray performed well at Texas A&M, and he has skills as a pass-catcher.
Nose Tackle: Jerrell Powe vs. Dontari Poe
Kansas City used its top pick on the freakishly athletic Poe despite his tape suggesting he might have been a bit overrated.
Still, the Chiefs needed an answer at nose tackle, and they felt good enough about Poe that they took him in the top half of the first round. Whether he starts as a rookie or not is another matter. Jerrell Powe could give him a run for his money during training camp, particularly if Poe fails to impress like his tape suggests.
Tight End: Tony Moeaki vs. Kevin Boss
Having to contend with a solid veteran for his own starting job must not have been Moeaki's ideal scenario, as he is making his way back from a season-ending injury.
Nonetheless, Boss will push Moeaki for playing time.
He might have had a disappointing season in Oakland, but who could hardly blame him in that offense? Boss' skills as a blocker will be key to this battle, but if Moeaki can truly return to form he should win the starting job.
Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill vs. Matt Moore vs. David Garrard
The quarterback situation in Miami seems pretty scary right now.
Even though Moore performed admirably after stepping in for injured Chad Henne last year, there are serious doubts about his ability as a starter.
Is the 34-year-old Garrard an upgrade as a stopgap, or should the Dolphins take the plunge with Tannehill right away? Joe Philbin is not sure after pre-camp competition.
"They all bring different attributes to the table," Philbin said on WQAM 560, via Sporting News. "I will say that the room itself, the quality of the individuals in the room, I think is excellent."
This one should be quite entertaining.
Safety and Nickelback: Jimmy Wilson vs. Richard Marshall
Training camp will decide the fates of these two players as they each vie to start on the defense as a free safety or nickel cornerback.
Though Marshall is better suited to play safety, his skills and experience might be needed more at cornerback.
Wilson has performed well at free safety thus far in OTAs, but the second-year man could see time at the nickelback position.
Strong Safety: Reshad Jones vs. Tyrone Culver vs. Chris Clemons
The Dolphins opened up a hole in the secondary when they released longtime starter Yeremiah Bell this offseason, much to the dismay of many Dolphins fans.
They have opened up the starting job to a full-blown competition between three underwhelming players, at least thus far in their careers. Jones has the most promise as a third-year defensive back, and he likely fits the bill as a starter at strong safety.
He has been known for coverage issues, which are not so pronounced at this position, but they could cost him the job if one of the other two can be solid all-around.
Right Tackle: Jonathan Martin vs. Lydon Murtha
Marc Colombo was terrible at right tackle for the Dolphins last year, making it a position they needed to shore up this offseason.
Up until the draft, Murtha was penciled in as the starter. He performed well for Jake Long last season when the stud was injured, showing promise that he could handle the job at right tackle.
That is, until the Dolphins had Jonathan Martin fall into their laps in the second round of the draft.
The former Stanford left tackle will need to adjust to the new position, but he has the talent to make a switch and become a starter right away.
Murtha still believes that it is his time, however. We shall see.
Wide Receiver: Legedu Naanee vs. B.J. Cunningham vs. Rishard Mathews vs. Jeff Fuller vs. Clyde Gates
With Brian Hartline and Davone Bess entrenched as the starters, the Battle Royale behind them will be brutal.
Miami needed to upgrade its receiving corps this offseason, and all it could come up with were twice-castoff Naanee, two late-round rookies and an undrafted free agent.
That may cause a snicker or 10 around the league, but these guys will all be fighting to prove they can help an offense that does not need a true No. 1 receiver.
Wide Receiver: Jerome Simpson vs. Greg Childs vs. Michael Jenkins vs. Devin Aromashodu vs. Jarius Wright
With Simpson's legal troubles behind him, he should be a strong candidate to start opposite Percy Harvin in this Vikings offense. The Vikings are reportedly in love with the new acquisition already, meaning the others will have a tough time heading into camp.
Veteran Jenkins and rookie Childs might have a thing or two to say about that, however.
Tight End: John Carlson vs. Kyle Rudolph
Sophomore Kyle Rudolph was looking at a lot of playing time as the starter with the departure of Visanthe Shiancoe, but the Vikings went and signed Carlson to a five-year, $25 million contract in the offseason.
That might throw a wrench in things for Rudolph, but the Vikings should have them both on the field plenty in two-TE sets. It will be interesting to see who wins the starting job in training camp, however.
Rudolph's upside might be his key to victory.
Cornerback: Chris Carr vs. Josh Robinson vs. Zack Bowman
vs. Asher Allen
Asher Allen retired suddenly at the age of 24 this week, whittling this battle for the slot cornerback position down to three.
Bowman was not terribly good with the Bears last season despite some upside, but perhaps a change of scenery to the rival Vikings will help. Carr has been the best of these three throughout his career, but Robinson is an unknown quantity as a rookie who could steal the show in training camp.
New England Patriots
Running Back: Joseph Addai vs. Stevan Ridley vs. Shane Vereen
Belichickery is in full effect yet again this offseason after the Patriots signed Addai only to have Vereen take starter reps during OTAs this week.
The backfield is as muddled as ever in New England, but Addai might win out despite a history of injuries and disappointment in Indianapolis. He is a veteran who was quietly effective when healthy, however, and he could reprise BenJarvus Green-Ellis' role as touchdown vulture. He brings pass-catching and pass-blocking ability that "The Law Firm" did not have as well.
That said, sophomores Ridley and Vereen possess the upside that Addai does not, and one of them could win the starting gig with a great training camp.
Wide Receiver: Chad Ochocinco vs. Donte' Stallworth vs. Jabar Gaffney
vs. Anthony Gonzalez
One has already fallen in this battle to the career death. Who will be next?
There is really no reason for the Patriots to make those decisions until the preseason, but Gonzalez was cut during OTAs, leading some to question his viability as a player in the NFL.
While in reality the other three are likely to find work elsewhere if they are cut, they are certainly on the bubble in New England. With Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker, Matthew Slater and Julian Edelman virtual or actual locks to make the roster, there is not much room for over-the-hill receivers.
Cornerback: Alfonzo Dennard vs. Will Allen vs. Ras-I Dowling vs. Sterling Moore
Set aside what seems like a requirement that any Patriots player can play defensive back (see: Matt Slater, Julian Edelman, Troy Brown)—the battle for the No. 2 cornerback spot should be interesting.
The Patriots took a chance on the troubled Dennard in the seventh round and recently signed him to a four-year deal. He will get a chance to compete against veterans Allen and Moore during training camp.
Allen is intriguing because he plays well when he can stay on the field. Therein lies the rub, however: He is prone to injury.
Moore began last season as a safety and was moved to cornerback as the Patriots shuffled their defensive backfield. If you recall Lee Evans' dropped touchdown from the AFC championship game, Moore was the man to knock it out of his hands.
Of course, none of that likely means anything to Bill Belichick.
New Orleans Saints
Running Back: Pierre Thomas vs. Mark Ingram
How soon before the Saints decide to cut their losses on Ingram?
The answer will certainly not come this summer, as Ingram is just in his second year. His mounting injury woes and lack of production must be alarming for New Orleans, though, who traded away this year's first-round pick for him in the 2011 draft.
Thomas' emergence as a dynamic and dependable back cannot be helping things for Ingram.
Having offseason surgery to a problematic knee cannot help things either for the second-year back out of Alabama. He should be back in time to do battle with Thomas in training camp, however.
Wide Receiver: Lance Moore vs. Devery Henderson vs. Nick Toon vs. Adrian Arrington
The starting gig opposite Marques Colston opened up when Robert Meachem bolted to the Chargers.
Moore has quietly played well when healthy in recent years, but this should be a full-blown competition during training camp. Will Moore finally take his game to the next level, or will Henderson catch up? Will rookie Nick Toon light it up during camp, or will Adrian Arrington finally climb the depth chart?
Intriguing storylines at the wide receiver position this offseason abound for the Saints.
Outside Linebacker: Chris Chamberlain vs. Martez Wilson vs. Jonathan Casillas
Even though the Saints signed Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne to play linebacker, Jonathan Vilma's suspension will press one of these into a starter role on the outside.
Chamberlain played well for St. Louis and Steve Spagnuolo last season, tallying 64 solo tackles in just 612 snaps. He is likely the starter going into camp, but Wilson or Casillas could unseat him if they have great camps and Chamberlain struggles.
New York Jets
Tebowmania has swept through New Jersey faster than the latest tanning fad—Tebow's jersey was the second-highest-selling one this offseason, behind Peyton Manning—putting the heat on incumbent Mark Sanchez like never before.
Will he be able to withstand it?
The fact remains that neither of these guys has shown he can be a good passer at this level. Sanchez has been statistically stagnant during his first three seasons, while Tebow continues his quest to drastically improve his throwing motion.
Right Tackle: Wayne Hunter vs. Vladimir Ducasse
The Jets have publicly supported Hunter as the starter going forward, but he was the worst-rated offensive tackle last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Perhaps they will see the light during training camp.
Wide Receiver: Stephen Hill vs. Chaz Schilens vs. Jeremy Kerley
With Plaxico Burress still looking for work, look for one of these three to fill the role the 6'5" receiver left opposite Santonio Holmes.
The rookie Hill has tremendous upside, but he is also tremendously raw. Schilens did not prove much in Oakland, where he could not get out from behind the likes of Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy on the depth chart, but a new start in New York could be just what the doctor ordered.
Kerley is a dark horse to start opposite Holmes, but a good preseason is all he needs to earn that spot.
Defensive End: Quinton Coples vs. Mike DeVito
New York landed Coples after motivational concerns caused a drop in his draft stock. Rather than play him outside, however, they will be installing him as a defensive end in their 3-4 scheme.
Now that he has signed his $8.8 million contract, will he continue to work hard, or will he become what many feared before the draft? If only we had some sort of television show following the Jets around camp to enlighten us...
New York Giants
Wide Receiver: Rueben Randle vs. Jerrel Jernigan
Hakeem Nicks is injured yet again, but he should be back before the season starts. Either way, his injury will give the Giants more time to evaluate the rookie and sophomore receivers during training camp.
Randle was a steal for the Giants, who almost took him with their first-round pick but wound up scoring him at the end of the second.
Jernigan has promise, however, and the benefit of a full NFL season under his belt. We will see if that is enough to stave off the rookie during training camp.
Offensive Guard: Kevin Boothe vs. Mitch Petrus vs. David Diehl
Boothe and Diehl were pretty offensive as left guards last season, possibly giving Petrus an advantage over them going into training camp. The third-year guard should be able to propel himself past those two on the depth chart, but he needs to have a good preseason to do it.
Cornerback: Jayron Hosley vs. Prince Amukamara
This may be rigged to favor Amukamara, who was picked in the first round of the 2011 draft, but Hosley will bring the heat in training camp. He is an underrated cornerback out of Virginia Tech who could be a camp star, particularly as a kick returner, though that bears little relevance to this positional battle.
Running Back: Mike Goodson vs. Taiwan Jones
This is an important battle for the Raiders considering Darren McFadden's injury history.
The talented running back missed the rest of last season after injuring his foot in Week 7, making Michael Bush the lead back as a result.
Bush is gone, leaving Goodson, whom the Raiders traded for this offseason, and second-year tailback Jones as backup running backs.
Both are great pass-catching running backs, but Goodson may have a leg up on Jones because of his experience. The latter has blazing speed, however, and he could win the third-down back role by wowing his coaches during training camp.
At the very least, this should be fun to watch.
Offensive Guard: Tony Bergstrom vs. Cooper Carlisle
About the only thing Carlisle has on Bergstrom is experience at this stage.
Bergstrom, meanwhile, comes from a zone-blocking scheme (ZBS) in college, a system the Raiders will be switching to this coming season.
The writing seems to be on the wall for the veteran, making this his last stand as a starter in Oakland. He will not go down without a fight.
Cornerback: DeMarcus Van Dyke vs. Chimdi Chekwa
While veterans Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer will likely start and try to fill the big shoes Nnamdi Asomugha and Stanford Routt left in consecutive offseasons, Van Dyke and Chekwa will be duking it out for the nickelback role.
Running Back: Chris Polk vs. Bryce Brown
It is not often that a seventh-rounder and an undrafted free agent have a chance to vie for a backup role, but that is precisely what is happening here with Brown and Polk, respectively.
Polk, who was once considered a second-round draft pick, has the hype despite medical concerns that dropped him entirely out of the draft. Brown has the talent, however, despite being a diva throughout his college career.
Wide Receiver: Riley Cooper vs. Marvin McNutt
Cooper was a nice story last season, especially for desperate fantasy owners who cashed in on his nice three-week run last year, but he will be pushed by incoming rookie Marvin McNutt.
The Iowa product was a big producer in college but was part of a collective drop in draft stock at the wide receiver position.
Left Tackle: Demetress Bell vs. King Dunlap
Philadelphia's fantastic offseason might have been perfect were it not for the devastating injury Jason Peters suffered to his Achilles, rupturing it twice—once initially in practice, and once more while operating his help vehicle, for which he is suing the manufacturer.
While signing Bell may have put a band-aid on the gaping wound at left tackle, he is not necessarily assured the starting gig.
Defensive Tackle: Derek Landri vs. Mike Patterson vs. Fletcher Cox
At first blush you might think the Eagles will insert heralded rookie Fletcher Cox right in the middle of that defensive line, but Philadelphia actually had a nice trio of defensive tackles last season between Cullen Jenkins, Landri and Patterson.
While Jenkins is entrenched as a starter, Cox will push the other two for playing time sooner than later. It will be exciting to see just how much he will do that during training camp.
Wide Receiver: Emmanuel Sanders vs. Antonio Brown
You might think this is a foregone conclusion given Brown's emergence last season, but do not sleep on Sanders this preseason.
He was the starter going into last season and only gave Brown a chance when he went down with injury. If he can stand out in the preseason, the two receivers could reverse roles from a year ago.
The diminutive receivers figure to see plenty of playing time regardless, but they will certainly push each other to see which one will start this year.
Linebacker: Stevenson Sylvester vs. Sean Spence vs. Larry Foote
The Steelers have a starting position to fill after releasing 37-year-old James Farrior, and they have three viable candidates to fill the role.
While a bit undersized, Spence is an incredibly instinctual and athletic linebacker out of Miami. He should push for playing time right out of the gate.
Foote has been a solid backup for years, though, which should make him the front-runner going into camp.
Cornerback: Cortez Allen vs. Curtis Brown vs. Keenan Lewis
William Gay's departure for the desert leaves an opening at cornerback opposite Ryan Clark.
Lewis is the veteran with his foot in the door here, but the two second-year players will give him a run for his money.
Fullback: David Johnson vs. Will Johnson
This battle could result in a feel-good story for the Steelers if the Will of these Johnsons wins the camp battle.
Undrafted out of West Virginia in 2011, the former receiver worked three jobs while working his way toward the 2012 WVU Pro Day. He managed to catch Mike Tomlin's eye there while bench-pressing 225 pounds 30 times and running a supposed 4.49 40-yard dash.
If he can take that athleticism to a NFL level and impress in an H-back role, he could find himself on the Steelers roster come September.
David will do everything in his power to stop that.
San Diego Chargers
Wide Receiver: Robert Meachem vs. Malcom Floyd
San Diego gave Meachem a sizable contract amidst a flurry of new deals for receivers this past offseason, but does that guarantee he will be the No. 1 receiver come September?
Floyd could be the No. 1 receiver if he could just stay healthy—he has played just 16 games once in his eight-year career. The 6'5" receiver is primed for a big year if he can stay on the field.
The offense might suit a guy like Meachem, however.
Whoever emerges as the top dog at receiver is sure to have a big year with Philip Rivers throwing the ball.
Cornerback: Marcus Gilchrist vs. Antoine Cason
Gilchrist was taken as a cornerstone cornerback in the 2011 draft, and he should push Cason for the starting job.
Cason was near the top of the league last season in touchdowns allowed with seven. He needs to turn things around this preseason to stave the youngster off.
Outside Linebacker: Jarret Johnson vs. Shaun Phillips and Antwan Barnes vs. Melvin Ingram
New acquisitions Jarret Johnson from the Ravens and Melvin Ingram from the draft will push incumbents Barnes and Phillips during training camp.
Barnes was effective as a pass-rusher last season, racking up 11 sacks. Phillips, on the other hand, had just 3.5.
Though it may seem that Ingram has the best shot to start, Johnson throws a wrench in all this. He comes over from a fantastic Ravens defense and could wind up beating Ingram and Phillips out.
San Francisco 49ers
Wide Receiver: A.J. Jenkins vs. Kyle Williams vs. Chris Owusu
The 49ers got Alex Smith some "Christmas presents" this offseason, including Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. While those two figure to start along with Michael Crabtree as the third receiver, rookies Jenkins and Owusu and sophomore Williams will do battle for the third receiver position.
Though it may seem Jenkins has the inside track here, Williams has the experience, and the 49ers liked him last year. Owusu has also apparently looked better than Jenkins in some drills thus far, but we are talking about OTAs.
Running Back: LaMichael James vs. Kendall Hunter
Frank Gore is not getting any younger at 29, but the veteran should remain the starter for now.
He may not be in on third downs as much with the dynamic backs the 49ers have behind him. It was a bit of a head-scratcher that the 49ers took James with Hunter on their roster, but they could not resist his playmaking ability.
It will be interesting to see how quickly they bring James along with Gore and Hunter in the fold already.
Quarterback: Josh Johnson vs. Colin Kaepernick
These two quarterbacks have very similar styles, and it should be fun to watch them play this preseason. Johnson's talent has never gotten to the next level, however, and Kaepernick is just in his second year.
If Alex Smith regresses, one of these guys could be pressed into action. That makes this battle of the backups more important than many others.
Kick Returner: LaMichael James vs. Ted Ginn Jr.
This is an important battle for Ginn because his value to the team stems from his ability to return kicks at this point. With the depth the 49ers suddenly have at receiver, he can ill afford to have James—a dynamic kick returner himself—usurp his place on the team.
Of course, the 49ers might choose to keep them both as a contingency—they certainly could have used a good backup during the NFC championship game, that is for sure.
Quarterback: Matt Flynn vs. Tarvaris Jackson vs. Russell Wilson
While healthy competition is a good thing for any team looking to figure out its quarterback position, is having three viable candidates a good or a bad thing?
Pacific Northwesterners and NFL fans all around will find out this summer, as the trio of Flynn, Jackson and Wilson will duke it out for the starting gig.
Tight End: Kellen Winslow Jr. vs. Zach Miller
This may seem like a no-brainer after the Buccaneers practically gave Winslow away, but the Seahawks did not give up a draft pick for a relatively expensive tight end without reason. Miller was also a colossal disappointment in his inaugural season with the Seahawks, which may have contributed to their decision to trade for Winslow.
Wide Receiver: Doug Baldwin vs. Golden Tate vs. Ben Obomanu
Undrafted free agent Doug Baldwin quietly led the Seahawks in receiving last year, largely due to injuries sustained by Sidney Rice.
Unfortunately, that guarantees nothing going into this preseason, as guys like Tate and Obomanu will be given every opportunity to wrest playing time from Baldwin.
Tate, in particular, has the talent to shine. He has, to this point, not taken his opportunities by the horns. He has a broken hand that will keep him out until training camp, however, and this could be his last stand in Seattle.
St. Louis Rams
Wide Receiver: Greg Salas vs. Brian Quick and Austin Pettis vs. Chris Givens
Two sophomores go up against two rookies here as the Rams do everything they can to improve the weaponry around Sam Bradford.
Quick was drafted as the No. 1 receiver of the future, but he might be too raw to make an impact right away. Salas, meanwhile, played well as a rookie last year but had some big drops that contributed to Bradford's sophomore slump.
Pettis and Givens should give a nice show battling for the slot role. Givens brings a ton of speed to the equation, putting the heat on Pettis to perform in training camp.
Cornerback: Janoris Jenkins vs. Bradley Fletcher and Trumaine Johnson vs. Kendric Burney
Big free-agent acquisition Cortland Finnegan is assured a starting spot, but who will flank him?
If Jenkins really is the best pure cover corner out of the 2012 draft, he could be the answer opposite Finnegan. Of course, he will need to keep his head on straight. Much like Jimmy Smith, Jenkins could prove his doubters wrong this season and stay out of trouble.
Defensive Tackle: Kendall Langford vs. Michael Brockers vs. Trevor Laws vs. Darell Scott
The Rams took a position of need and made it one of strength this offseason by acquiring Langford in free agency and Brockers as one of the top defensive tackles in the draft.
Langford and Brockers should wind up being the starters here, but veterans Laws and Scott could push one of them out of the starting role.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Running Back: LeGarrette Blount vs. Doug Martin
This is practically a foregone conclusion. Martin is the first-round pick, while Blount spent much of last year in former coach Raheem Morris' doghouse.
Still, Blount was quietly effective when given the ball last year, aside from some fumbling issues that put him in said doghouse.
Martin, meanwhile, is the "Muscle Hamster" out of Boise State who is a better all-around back than Blount, making him the front runner for the job. We will see if that holds during training camp.
Wide Receiver: Mike Williams vs. Arrelious Benn
After a great rookie season, Williams crashed back down to earth. Perhaps having Vincent Jackson in town to take the pressure off will help, but a poor preseason could doom the third-year receiver, particularly if Benn has another great one.
Kicker: Kai Forbath vs. Connor Barth
This may have flown under your radar this offseason, but the Buccaneers have quietly put together the most expensive kicking and punting corps in the NFL.
It will be interesting to see if Forbath can get any traction this preseason even though Barth recently signed his franchise tender.
Quarterback: Jake Locker vs. Matt Hasselbeck
When will the Titans decide to hand the keys over to Locker? The second-year quarterback should be the starter this year, but Matt Hasselbeck is holding on to the job quite stubbornly.
Perhaps Locker's 51.5 completion percentage from last year is a red flag for the Titans, despite his success as a fantasy quarterback.
At least Mike Munchak is being open about it, declaring a competition at quarterback this preseason.
The likelihood is Locker will start the season behind Hasselbeck and ascend to starter sometime during the season, but he will make them think twice or three times if he can play lights out during training camp.
Wide Receiver: Kendall Wright vs. Nate Washington
In a bit of a surprise, the Titans took Baylor graduate Kendall Wright with their first-round pick in the 2012 draft.
Considering the depth they have at receiver, they must really like the kid.
While Washington has played well, particularly last season, Wright could parlay his explosiveness into a starting job opposite Kenny Britt.
Of course, he will have to learn a playbook for the first time in his life, which could prove to be a problem.
Outside Linebacker: Zach Brown vs. Will Witherspoon
This one could already be in the books after the Titans selected Brown in the second round, but Witherspoon did a decent job at the position last year, and he will not give up the starting gig without a fight.
Running Back: Roy Helu vs. Tim Hightower vs. Evan Royster
Shanahanigans is back!
While Helu seemed to be the leader in the clubhouse this offseason, Hightower has stormed back after re-signing with the Redskins and declaring he should be ready for camp.
Whether you think Hightower with his 3.9 career YPC is worthy to start is irrelevant because Mike Shanahan thinks he is.
There is still a good chance that Helu can prove to be the better back. Royster could do the same after lighting up the scoreboard in Helu's absence last season.
Wide Receiver: Leonard Hankerson vs. Josh Morgan vs. Santana Moss
It is likely Pierre Garcon will line up on the outside as one of the starters, but who will start opposite him on the wings?
Second-year man Leonard Hankerson had a fine couple of games before a hip injury ended his season. He provides great upside to the position, whereas Josh Morgan's trump card is his reliability.
While Moss may be getting on in years, he is still good enough to start himself, though having all these youngsters around might cramp his style a bit.
Tight End: Fred Davis vs. Chris Cooley
Conventional wisdom says Fred Davis is the starter no matter what, but Chris Cooley is eager to prove himself after an injury forced him to sit out most of the 2011 season. Can he return to form, or will Davis keep his head on straight and win the starting job like he should?
Safety: Tanard Jackson vs. Brandon Meriweather vs. Madieu Williams
Who will win this epic contest between three mediocre safeties?