NFL Preseason 2013: Rookies Who Need to Stake a Claim for a Starting Spot

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NFL Preseason 2013: Rookies Who Need to Stake a Claim for a Starting Spot
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2013 NFL preseason continuing to get underway, many players will be fighting to prove their worth before the start of the regular season.

While a number of rookies will be working tirelessly to prove to coaching staffs that they belong on an NFL roster, a number of first-year players will be battling to show that they are worthy of a starting spot.

 

EJ Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills

EJ Manuel has what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. He's a strong, mobile quarterback who possesses good mechanics. 

With Kevin Kolb sidelined with a knee injury he suffered early on in camp, the 23-year-old has to take advantage of the opportunity that is in front of him.

Hence, he has to go all out in camp, showing that he is ready.

During the Bills’ scrimmage Monday evening, Manuel went 9-for-17 with 113 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, per NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal.

Although Manuel started off slow, Bills head coach Doug Marrone told USA Today’s Marc J. Dovi that Manuel “doesn’t make the same mistake twice” and that it is “encouraging” to see that in the young quarterback.

Nonetheless, the rookie will have to tighten up and perform better when the Bills transition into preseason play. If Kolb does come back soon and manages to impress the coaching staff, Manuel will have a tough task ahead of him.

 

Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers

The Packers have a unique talent on their hands in Eddie Lacy. He possesses the strength of a linebacker, yet he is light on his feet like a wide receiver.

Although there have been questions about his conditioning throughout the offseason, the rookie running back put forth a dazzling display during the Packers scrimmage Saturday.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

By way of Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Lacy carried the ball eight times and rushed for 65 yards.

Going forward, McGinn described Lacy as the kind of running back that “should look much better with full contact.”

Although Lacy has impressed recently, he will still have to work hard to cement his name above guys like James Starks and Alex Green on the depth chart.

If Lacy can keep up the fine work throughout training camp and in preseason games, he could find himself lined up behind Aaron Rodgers quite often in the future.

 

Geno Smith, QB, New York Jets

You knew it was coming.

Ten days into training camp, Geno Smith was riding an interception-free streak, according to NFL.com’s Kimberly Jones.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Likewise, Jones noted that turnovers will be a key determinate in the battle between Mark Sanchez and Smith for the starting job.

Over the course of Sanchez’s four years in the NFL, he has thrown 69 interceptions. Throw in the 43 fumbles from Sanchez, and one could make a valid argument that the New York Jets should give Smith the nod based on that alone.

Still, Smith will have to prove to head coach Rex Ryan and his staff that he is worthy of sitting in the driver’s seat.

It will certainly be interesting (and laughable) to see how the situation plays out heading into the regular season.

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