San Diego Chargers: Updating the Biggest Training Camp Battles to Watch

Mike Walkusky@mwalkuskyContributor IJuly 27, 2012

San Diego Chargers: Updating the Biggest Training Camp Battles to Watch

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    The San Diego Chargers have a number of interesting position battles that will play out during this year's training camp.

    Following an extremely disappointing 2011 season, the position battles will be magnified due to their importance to the team's success this year.

    A.J. Smith has revamped the personnel at several positions this year—especially at strong safety.

    Let's take a look at four of the more intriguing position battles that will take place during training camp.

Tyronne Green vs. Rex Hadnot

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    Due to the retirement of Kris Dielman, the Chargers have a big hole to fill at the left guard position in 2012.

    At the end of the 2011 season, Tyronne Green looked like he could be a good starter in the NFL.

    Unfortunately for Green, the Chargers decided to bring in Rex Hadnot to compete for the job.

    Hadnot has extensive starting experience in his career, and 16 of his starts came with the Arizona Cardinals last season.

    Hadnot's addition is a fantastic move for the Chargers. His signing helps shore up a position that Chargers fans were scared would be a black hole this season.

    The addition of Hadnot will push Green to give 100 percent effort throughout training camp, which will help Green improve as a player.

    This position battle might be the most interesting to watch during training camp.

Atari Bigby vs. Brandon Taylor

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    The Chargers have essentially had a revolving door at strong safety since Rodney Harrison was cut from the team in 2003. 

    A.J. Smith hopes that his moves during this offseason will finally put an end to the lack of production from the strong safety position. 

    In March, Smith signed Atari Bigby to give the Chargers a starting-caliber player at strong safety.

    Smith further solidified the position by trading up in the third round of the draft and selecting Brandon Taylor out of LSU. 

    Now that the Chargers have two solid players at the strong safety position, the coaching staff has to decide who will get the starting nod.

    Currently, it appears as if Bigby has the inside track on the job.

    In the past, Bigby has flashed a lot of talent, but he has gotten unlucky with injuries.

    Furthermore, he was stuck behind Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor in Seattle last season.

    In an interview with the North County Times, Eric Weddle revealed that he has been impressed by Bigby thus far.

    Weddle said, "The dude [Bigby] can play. He's been impressive to me by how he carries himself and the way he works. He's a lot like me, only a little bigger. He's very knowledgeable and understands the role of each player in the secondary. That's why I think we're going to have a solid working relationship."

    However, if Taylor shows that he deserves a considerable amount of playing time during training camp, it will be hard to deny the rookie the starting job.

    This training camp battle will be the classic case of an old wily veteran against the green rookie. Keep an eye on how this battle progresses throughout camp. 

Nick Novak vs. Nate Kaeding

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    Nate Kaeding was subject to one of the worst nightmares for an NFL player last season: He suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the season.

    Following Kaeding's torn ACL, the Chargers brought Nick Novak in to be his replacement.

    Novak started off the year great, but his performance tailed off as the season progressed.

    Novak finished the year with 27 made field goals out of 34 attempts.

    Throughout his career, Kaeding has been much more accurate than Novak. Kaeding is currently the most accurate kicker in the history of the NFL with an 86.5 percent conversion rate.

    However, fans only remember the mishaps in Kaeding's career, and they are correct to criticize Kaeding for his mistakes in the past.

    Despite being the most accurate kicker in history, Kaeding is 8-for-15 in the playoffs—including several misses during the crunch time.

    Kaeding has shown much more talent than Novak in the past, but he'll have to prove that he's completely healthy following his ACL injury. 

    The competition will likely come down to which kicker is more accurate during the Chargers' preseason games. 

Backup Running Back

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    The Chargers will turn Ryan Mathews into their workhorse running back in 2012.

    However, they will need a few solid backup running backs to help spell Mathews whenever he's tired.

    The Chargers signed Ronnie Brown, Jackie Battle and undrafted free agent Michael Hayes.

    Additionally, the Chargers drafted Edwin Baker out of Michigan State in the seventh round.

    The Chargers also have Curtis Brinkley returning.

    Chargers fans expressed excitement when Brown was signed. Unfortunately, it looks like Brown is now an over-the-hill running back.

    The Eagles were similarly excited when they brought in Brown last year. Their excitement was quelled when Brown committed what might be the worst mistake of the season when he attempted pitching the ball to a teammate while being tackled.

    Battle might be a more interesting addition to the roster than Brown.

    Last season, Battle showed a bit of power running the ball for the Kansas City Chiefs. That is what the Chargers need in a backup for Mathews.

    Although he doesn't receive much attention, Brinkley also showed the ability to produce in spot duty last season.

    It will be interesting to see how Baker performs during training camp. He left Michigan State early after a disappointing junior season, but he has a lot of talent.

    Hayes is a wild card in the equation. No one knows too much about him, but he showed the ability to score touchdowns in college, as he reached pay dirt 15 times in just 182 touches.

    The Chargers have a big decision to make when they decide which running backs to keep on the roster.