After Commish Roger Goodell told Bills' Running Back Marshawn Lynch to take a seat for the first three games of the regular season, attention in the Bills front office turned to free-agent tailback Dominic Rhodes to provide insurance in Buffalo's backfield.
There's just one problem.
Is he the starter or the backup?
Fred Jackson has made it known that he wants a new deal and so far the Bills are unwilling to budge. Out of all of the position battles leading up to the season, it's the running back spot that I will pay most attention to.
Depending on how Jackson wants to handle his contract will largely impact the Bills offense and those first three games of '09.
And it's very likely, with the uncertainty at running back, the Bills could start 1-2 or 0-3. Looking at the schedule, the Bills face the Pats on the road week one and then host the Buccaneers and Saints.
The Bills were interested in Rhodes early during Free Agency, but the Lynch suspension made it all the more necessary to sign the former Indianapolis Colt.
Rhodes is a capable backup, rushing for over 500 yards last season, even for the Colts, who were by far the worst rushing team in football.
But the Bills are only one injury away and/or holdout from facing serious problems in the backfield.
Rhodes will contribute, but he's no Marshawn Lynch or Fred Jackson. I'm actually hesitant to put either of those two in the starting role, but it's a choice that the Bills are forced to make.
I guess I answered my own question. Neither Jackson nor Rhodes will be dubbed the starter or back-up. It's a shared venture, a patch-job until Beast Mode returns to the lineup.
Undoubtedly, the Bills will test both players during camp and in the preseason, but the Bills will probably enter game one with the mentality of playing "the hottest" guy.
But whoever begins the season lined up behind Edwards will be a decision that will lead all the way to opening night in Gillette Stadium.
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