It's nervous time in the NFL as we near the final weekend of preseason football. Position-battle participants aren’t very comfortable in their current situations, as they could change in the blink of an eye.
Head coaches want players that strive to start and aren’t content with a backup role. If you have any doubts about whether you can start in the NFL, then the competition is already over.
Here are position-battle winners who won’t survive the regular season.
Prior to the third preseason game, the Miami Dolphins selected Ryan Tannehill as their starting quarterback for the regular season.
This announcement brought a quiet enthusiasm to Dolphins fans as the Tannehill era officially began. They might have liked for him to spend a little more time as a backup to get himself fully acclimated to the pro game.
This decision wouldn’t have taken place if quarterback David Garrard had stayed healthy in training camp. He was signed to be the bridge before Tannehill became the starter, but as fate would have it, Garrard hasn’t played a down this preseason.
Now, we will see how Tannehill handles the mental aspect of being a starting quarterback in the NFL, as the Dolphins don’t have the receivers to run an effective West Coast offense.
The frustration of not having any offensive weapons could wear down the rookie and force a quarterback change at some point this season.
Heading into training camp, the New York Giants named Chase Blackburn as their starting middle linebacker. But defensive coordinator Perry Fewell wanted to give linebacker Mark Herzlich every opportunity to win the starting position.
All Giants fans have a special place in their hearts for Herzlich, who defeated cancer during his time at Boston College.
The competition between him and Blackburn was very competitive, with the coaching staff feeling confident in leaving each player on the field for an extended period of time.
This is a win-win situation for the Giants, as Herzlich is just scratching the surface of his true potential, while Blackburn is still a valuable member to the defense because of his experience on the field.
This unit is awfully tough to go against, as the Giants have many young, athletic players on their defense.
"Pathetic" might be the right word to describe the Arizona Cardinals' quarterback competition.
The main reason why there has been poor production from this position is a lack of pass protection from the offensive line. It doesn’t matter if either John Skelton or Kevin Kolb is under center, as both are rattled by the early pressure.
Also, it’s tough to make reads downfield when you’re running for your life out of the backfield. The pass-protection problem can be rectified by implementing more two-tight end formations that can help handle the outside rush.
Both quarterbacks have been hot and cold in the preseason, and Skelton is the safe choice to the start the season.
But Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt might have found his quarterback of the future in undrafted rookie Ryan Lindley, who has completed over 50 percent of his passes in the preseason. His composure in the pocket has been eye-opening.
He’s bound to play this season, as the Cardinals have used three starting quarterbacks three times (2000, 2004 and 2010) in 12 years.
Let’s make this perfectly clear: There was no quarterback competition in the Cleveland Browns training camp this summer.
The front office's sole purpose of drafting quarterback Brandon Weeden was to have him start ASAP. Unfortunately, Colt McCoy was dealt a bad hand in this mess.
Remember, Browns head coach Pat Shurmur is auditioning for his job as well. With new ownership in place, he must win now or risk losing his job at season’s end.
There’s no longer a guarantee for long-term job security in Cleveland, so Shurmur believes Weeden gives him the best opportunity to win right now.
But lurking in the background is McCoy, just waiting for his one shot to shine again on a football field. He’s a quarterback that protects the football and extends a play with his legs.
Last season, McCoy was very efficient in games, despite not having a running game or receiving threat downfield. He still managed to throw more touchdown passes than interceptions.
In the preseason, he has taken too many unnecessary hits during his brief appearances in games.
Injuries have decimated the Pats offensive line, but its play as a unit must improve immediately. Marcus Cannon might not be the short-term solution for the right tackle position, as Sebastian Vollmer may not play at all this season.
If the offensive line doesn’t come together, then the Patriots will not stay in contention for a playoff berth.