Latest Buzz on Training Camp Position Battles from Around the NFL
Most NFL training camps are well into their second week of action, which means we can finally start getting a true pulse on some of the best positional battles.
There are a number of fascinating quarterback battles to watch—including the one in Seattle, which we'll touch on at length—plus a few other competitions we're keeping our eye on.
In the following slides, we break down some of the latest buzz regarding training camp battles around the NFL.
Seattle Seahawks QB
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There may be no truer quarterback competition in all the NFL this summer than in Seattle, where head coach Pete Carroll seems intent on giving all three of his guys—Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson—a legitimate chance to win the job.
In fact, Carroll has rotated the three each day so each has a chance to work with the No. 1 offense.
After a difficult first day of camp for everyone involved at the position, Flynn stood out Saturday and has continued putting his foot on the throat of the competition. At this point, he's the clear favorite to start the Seahawks' first preseason game.
But don't sleep on Wilson, the third-round rookie from Wisconsin. After watching practice Sunday, Peter King of Sports Illustrated thinks Wilson has a chance to win the job outright:
But the vibe I got here Sunday is that Wilson has a legitimate shot to win the starting job. Carroll loves him. GM John Schneider loves him. ... That gives the charismatic Wilson a chance, which is all he's ever wanted. I spent 20 minutes with him Sunday, and I was ready to run extra routes for him after listening to him.
The Seahawks are the only team among 32 who have three guys competing to start at the game's most important position.
But is that in Seattle's best interest?
Bleacher Report's Aaron Nagler wrote a smart column Tuesday morning, outlining why he thinks Carroll needs to make a decision on the starter sooner rather than later. I think he's right.
Arizona Cardinals QB
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Some speculated that the Cardinals quarterback position was up for grabs this training camp. Big-money acquisition Kevin Kolb struggled during his first stint as Arizona's starter, and backup John Skelton had six wins as a starter in 2011.
To begin camp, however, it's clear Kolb is the overwhelming favorite to start.
Kolb began Cardinals camp working with the No. 1 offense, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. On Monday, the Cardinals' official website released the team's first depth chart, and Kolb was listed as the first-team quarterback.
Kolb's place atop the depth chart is no surprise. The Cardinals gave Kolb a six-year, $65 million deal ($12 million guaranteed) last summer, so there was little chance this team was going to give up on its investment this early.
When the Cardinals open up the preseason, expect Kolb to be making the start.
Miami Dolphins QB
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After a one-day holdout, rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill arrived at training camp with a new deal. But how close Tannehill is to actually competing for the Dolphins' starting quarterback job is yet to be seen.
Early on, it appears as if Matt Moore and David Garrard will battle to be the team's starter to begin preseason.
According to the Palm Beach Post, Moore began camp taking the No. 1 offense's snaps. However, Garrard, who was hyped as the early leader before camp, eventually filtered in to take snaps with the first team.
Tannehill impressed once he got on the field—Ben Volin at the Post said, "It's been hard not to notice how good Tannehill has been throwing the football"—but he might be a little ways off yet.
Tennessee Titans QB
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Few quarterback competitions are as fluid as the Titans' is currently.
Don't expect this competition to drag deep into camp, however.
Head coach Mike Munchak has said many times that he wants this competition decided before the third preseason game, and there's no reason not to take him at his word. Hasselbeck may be the early leader to be that guy, but Locker has higher upside and looks more accurate early on in camp.
At some point in 2012, Locker is going to be the guy. Whether it's after the third preseason game or later is still left to be decided.
Chicago Bears LT
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One of the NFL's most important position battles outside of the quarterback position comes from Chicago, where Jay Cutler's blindside protector is up for grabs.
J'Marcus Webb has started there for the last two seasons, but the results have been mostly disastrous. In fact, it's been so bad that the Bears are pushing former first-rounder Chris Williams back out to tackle to give Webb competition.
Webb started camp as the starter—mostly by default—but Chicago has been rotating the two with the No. 1 offense, according to CSN Chicago. The job is still very much in the air.
Neither option is particularly enticing, but the Bears have to get better play at left tackle to compete in the NFC North.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB
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This positional battle was probably over before it even began, but Buccaneers rookie running back Doug Martin is making sure there's no question.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Martin is looking like the "Bucs' primary running back" early in camp. He's getting the first-team reps and making the most of them.
From the Times:
He is showcasing his quick burst at the line of scrimmage, showing his ability to decisively hit holes, then use his speed to make defenders miss in the second level. That speed and quickness gives the Bucs the option to use more tosses and perimeter runs, things they haven't been able to utilize much with Blount who lacks comparable speed.
LeGarrette Blount, the Bucs' starter for most of the last two seasons, is losing ground in a hurry. This looks like Martin's job to lose now.