Breaking Down Buffalo Bills' Biggest Training Camp Battles
Training camp is all about positional battles.
OK, that's not the only thing training camp is about, but positional battles are the most entertaining aspect, especially when they take place on a rebuilding team with a multitude of new parts like the Buffalo Bills.
Before the NFL invades Pittsford, New York, familiarize yourself with the Bills' biggest training camp battles.
This is why they'll show up in droves to St. John Fisher College.
Kevin Kolb vs. EJ Manuel.
Obviously, Manuel represents the future, but there's a chance Kolb gives the Bills the best chance to win right away.
With the New England Patriots as vulnerable as they've been in quite some time—on paper, at least—there's a logical school of thought that suggests Kolb may be the better option for the season-opening showdown with the reigning AFC East champs in Orchard Park.
That said, if Manuel plays to Kolb's level in training camp, one has to imagine he'll be given the nod and will begin his NFL legacy at home against Tom Brady.
There's a huge hole on Buffalo's offensive line, and it's at the left tackle position.
Doug Legursky should be the early front-runner due to his NFL experience, and heck, maybe his ties to Doug Whaley will help his cause. However, a large grouping of contenders sits behind him, unestablished guys hungry to win the starting gig.
Names to keep in mind: Colin Brown, Chris Scott, Sam Young, Zack Chibane and even Zebrie Sanders, who came into the NFL in 2012 as a tackle.
No. 2 Wide Receiver
Stevie Johnson needs a complement. Quite the understatement.
Gone are complementary wideouts David Nelson, Donald Jones and Ruvell Martin. They were replaced by Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and Da'Rick Rogers, who are young, talented, noticeably faster and more physically impressive pass-catching options.
T.J. Graham, a third-round pick in 2012, will also be involved in this heated positional battle.
The players who "lose" this competition won't instantly be relegated to the bench. A longshot like Goodwin—who's better suited to be a gadgety slot option—will likely still see considerable time on the field as a No. 3 guy.
However, whenever a "starting job" is up for grabs in training camp, especially at wide receiver, it's worth watching.
Justin Rogers, Ron Brooks, Dominique Ellis, Crezdon Butler, T.J. Heath and Nickell Robey. All candidates to play inside against nimble slot receivers for the Bills in 2013.
Rogers and Brooks played extensively in 2012, but neither performed especially well. Robey is tremendously undersized, but he made his presence known during OTAs.
Yes, kicker. Rian Lindell no longer has a booming leg, and the Bills drafted kicker Dustin Hopkins in Round 6 of this year's draft to further assemble what's becoming Florida State North in Orchard Park, New York. The two will square off in a heart-pounding positional battle this August. The loser probably make won't the team.
Fullback/H-back/Hybrid Tight End
When it comes to traditional tight ends, Scott Chandler and Lee Smith will likely be the No. 1 and No. 2 in 2013. However, the trendy H-back position—a fullback/tight end hybrid—could be utilized by offensive coordinator Nate Hackett.
Dorin Dickerson has some NFL experience, but Chris Gragg was a multi-dimensional weapon at Arkansas before he fell victim to injury and ran a 4.50 at this year's combine.
Da'Norris Searcy will start as the No. 1 strong safety—although Mike Pettine's defense doesn't necessarily use that label—but he will pushed by rookie Duke Williams. With Jairus Byrd likely missing the beginning of camp, there should be a good deal of shuffling at safety for Buffalo.