Predicting the Biggest Playing Time Increases, Decreases for Upcoming NFL Season
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Training camps have opened around the NFL and position battles have begun. There are battles for depth-chart spots on all 32 rosters. Players will be under the proverbial microscope and playing time is up for grabs.
Injuries can open the doors for some players to seize more playing time. In other cases, a rookie might make noise in camp and impact a veteran's playing time.
In this slideshow, we'll feature five players who might see more playing time in 2013. We'll also feature five players who could be spending more time on the sidelines. We'll alternate between the two categories on this slideshow.
Click start and see who's the first player primed for more playing time.
Lamar Miller, Running Back: Miami Dolphins
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Lamar Miller of the Miami Dolphins is in for a big increase in playing time.
Reggie Bush departed for Detroit in free agency, and Miller inherited the feature-back role. He doesn't have much competition behind him on the Miami roster. Daniel Thomas struggled with injuries last season. Thomas dealt with multiple concussions early in the season and a knee injury late in the season.
Marcus Thigpen and Mike Gillislee are on the depth chart, but pose little threat to Miller's role.
Miller ran the ball 51 times last season and gained 250 yards with a touchdown. Look for his statistics to improve dramatically in 2013.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Running Back: Cincinnati Bengals
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BenJarvus Green-Ellis stands to have a reduction in his playing time in 2013, thanks to rookie Giovani Bernard.
The Cincinnati Bengals relied on Green-Ellis to be their primary running back last season. He responded with 1,094 yards and six rushing touchdowns on 278 carries.
Cincinnati drafted Bernard in the second round out of North Carolina, and he adds another wrinkle to the Bengal offense. Bernard can catch passes out of the backfield which is something Green-Ellis isn't known for. With Bernard's abilities, the Cincinnati backfield might turn into a running-back-by-committee situation.
According to Joe Reedy of Cincinnati.com, the Bengals might have a 50-50 split between the two backs. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden hinted at it. If it comes to be, Green-Ellis could see his carries drop significantly.
Aaron Dobson, Wide Receiver: New England Patriots
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There has been quite a buzz around Aaron Dobson of the New England Patriots. Dobson could find himself in line for a top wide receiver spot on the New England depth chart.
The Patriots had an upheaval in their receiving corps for various reasons. It leads to opportunities for newcomers to step up and Dobson has done so.
According to Luke Hughes of NESN.com, Dobson has impressed in the early part of training camp. He's also reportedly gaining Tom Brady's trust which is key to his success.
The rookie from Marshall looks to be in the right place at the right time. He could step in and potentially start for the Patriots this fall.
Mark Sanchez, Quarterback: New York Jets
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The Jets drafted Geno Smith out of the University of West Virginia in the second round. He is expected to be in the running for the starting role.
According to the New York Daily News, Rex Ryan stated it would be a "team decision." That also includes general manager John Idzik having his say. Apparently, Ryan and Idzik might not see eye-to-eye, according to this article from the Daily News.
Sanchez and Smith will battle until a starter is named. If the Jets choose Smith, Sanchez will see his playing time drop drastically.
Ed Dickson, Tight End: Baltimore Ravens
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With Pitta out, Dickson gets a shot to improve his role and statistics. Last season, Dickson made 21 receptions for 225 yards with no touchdowns. Dickson recorded a season-best six catches in the season finale against Cincinnati. Other than that game, Dickson recorded two catches or fewer in every game last season.
Dickson will have to pick up the slack from Pitta's absence. He'll be looked at to help in the Baltimore passing attack after the Ravens traded Anquan Boldin to San Francisco. Quarterback Joe Flacco will be looking at Torrey Smith, as the deep threat, and running back Ray Rice to be keys in the passing game. Dickson will have the opportunity to step up and show he can fit right in.
Michael Vick, Quarterback: Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Foles (left) and Michael Vick will compete in Philadelphia.
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According to Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Vick is facing a tough battle with the younger Foles. Vick reportedly bulked up in the offseason to help endure the physical punishment of being a running quarterback. Vick has the edge in mobility but being prone to injuries hurts his chances.
In the article, head coach Chip Kelly joked that his depth chart was written in sand. Vick needs to rely on his experience to fend off Foles and rookie Matt Barkley. DeSean Jackson thinks Vick can win, which he expressed via ESPN, according to NJ.com, but it's Kelly's call.
Chris Ivory, Running Back: New York Jets
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Chris Ivory signed with the New York Jets and is positioned to see a sharp increase in his playing time.
Last season, he was buried on the depth chart in New Orleans. He struggled to battle for scraps behind Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas. Ivory managed 40 carries for 217 yards and two touchdowns in limited action.
He goes from a bad situation on a good offense to a good situation on a bad offense. Shonn Greene left for the Tennesse Titans, so Ivory has a clear path to a big workload as the featured back. Mike Goodson, Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight will provide little competition for the starting role.
The Jets ran the ball 494 times last season. Look for Ivory to get the bulk of them.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Running Back: Indianapolis Colts
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Bradshaw is coming off a solid season with the Giants. He ran 221 times for 1,015 yards and six touchdowns. He added 23 receptions and 245 yards out of the backfield. He won't get to those numbers again as he is at risk for a significant drop in playing time.
Bradshaw is starting the season for the Colts on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List due to foot issues. Those issues have led to him undergoing three surgeries on his right foot, one on his left foot and operations on both ankles.
Vick Ballard will use Bradshaw's absence to try to pry away the starting role from him. It might not happen, but Bradshaw is prone to re-injuring his feet. This could be a running-back-by-committee situation for the Colts.
Bradshaw and Ballard will battle for the top spot. Regardless of who wins, Bradshaw isn't likely to seethe the neighborhood of 250 touches again this season.
Riley Cooper, Wide Receiver: Philadelphia Eagles
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Jeremy Maclin tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in camp Saturday and is out for the season. Riley Cooper is going to have the opportunity for more playing time as a result.
According to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, Cooper will likely have the opportunity to be the starting wide receiver opposite DeSean Jackson when Week 1 rolls around.
Cooper has never made more than 23 catches in any of his three NFL seasons. He has never recorded more than 320 yards in a season and has five career touchdowns.
He has the opportunity to have a career-best season with Maclin out of the picture. This is also a contract year for Cooper, so he has extra motivation to perform well. At 6'4" and 230 pounds, Cooper has the chance to be the big target in the Philadelphia passing game.
Knowshon Moreno, Running Back: Denver Broncos
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The running-back carousel in Denver is spinning, and Knowshon Moreno looks to be the odd man out for now.
Moreno ran for 525 yards and four touchdowns on 138 carries last season. Most of those came after Willis McGahee was lost for the season with a knee injury. McGahee is out of Denver, but Moreno has to compete with Ronnie Hillman and rookie Montee Ball for snaps.
According to the Denver Post, Hillman and Ball have been working as the top two backs in the offense. Both of those backs would have to perform poorly or get hurt for Moreno to have a hint of his playing time from last season.
Moreno looks to be more of a third-down back on a team who should excel in the passing game. With the way the Broncos can move the ball, Moreno might see little playing time in 2013.