A pair of quarterbacks are under the most serious threats heading into the 2012 NFL season. Controversies in both Seattle and Tennessee could end in new starters under center in both cities.
In Pittsburgh, a veteran defensive player, essential to the team's success, could lose his job through injury as a couple of young pretenders circle, while in New York an unheralded rookie seems set to supplant a coach's favourite.
Here are five NFL players set to lose their starting job before the 2012 season:
Will Montgomery, C, Washington Redskins
Will Montgomery suddenly finds himself surrounded by competition, specifically from third-round draft choice Josh LeRibeus. In May, the Washington Post reported that LeRibeus worked a lot at center during Washington Redskins rookie minicamp.
That's not great news for Montgomery, who was a weak pass blocker in 2011. The middle of the Redskins' front five was routinely manhandled by powerful interior rushers.
Letting the likes of Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Derek Landri again bull rush blockers back into the quarterback will quickly make top rookie Robert Griffin III look like Rex Grossman. Starting the more tenacious and scrappy LeRibeus could be an option.
Bart Scott, ILB, New York Jets
NFL.com recently reported that New York Jets third-round draft choice Demario Davis has a great chance of supplanting veteran Bart Scott at linebacker. NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal indicated that the ex-Central Arkansas standout can improve the Jets' team speed on defense.
Scott has been a key player in head coach Rex Ryan's multiple blitz, hybrid 3-4 schemes over the years. However, with the Jets moving to more 4-3 looks in 2012, the 31-year-old may find himself pushed aside for a more scheme suitable choice.
Tarvaris Jackson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
When a team spends big in free agency and uses a third-round draft pick to address the quarterback position, the incumbent probably shouldn't feel too comfortable. That's just the position Tarvaris Jackson finds himself in with the Seattle Seahawks.
Head coach Pete Carroll targeted Matt Flynn in free agency and still felt the need to add Russell Wilson via the draft. Jackson threw for over 3,000 yards and more touchdowns than interceptions in 2011.
However, given the investment made in Flynn, that may not be enough to save Jackson's job this season.
Casey Hampton, NT, Pittsburgh Steelers
Players aren't supposed to lose their jobs through injury, but that's just what could happen to 34-year-old Casey Hampton. The skilled nose tackle has been the linchpin of the Pittsburgh Steelers' fearsome defense since 2004.
The 6'1", 325-pounder suffered an ACL injury in the final game of the 2011 season, and the Steelers drafted Alameda Ta'amu in the draft's fourth round as the heir apparent. Steelers.com has also reported that the team has confidence in three-year pro Steve McLendon.
The Steelers are beginning to get younger on defense, so unless Hampton can make a quick recovery, he could find himself warming the bench this season.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Tennessee Titans
Matt Hasselbeck might have known he was nothing more than a stop-gap, especially after the Tennessee Titans drafted Jake Locker eighth overall in the 2011 draft. However, that doesn't mean that Hasselbeck will give up his job easily.
The brittle veteran threw for over 3,500 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2011. Yet Locker is clearly the future, and after missing the playoffs last season, Titans head coach Mike Munchak might be inclined to see what Locker can do now.
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