2010 Buffalo Bills Training Camp Competitions: Top Five Battles To Watch
With the 2010 NFL Draft in the past, the next offseason event to anticipate is training camp, following Organized Team Activities and Mini-Camps.
Every year in training camp, certain positions are up for grabs, with competitions held to see which player will step up and claim their role on the team.
I'll be breaking down the top five training camp battles that you should keep your eyes on as the Bills make their way to St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, New York this August.
5. Starting RB, Fred Jackson vs. C. J. Spiller
Some may be surprised to see this position so low on the list at No. 5. But before I get a bunch of flak for it, let me explain.
No matter who lines up in the backfield on the first play of the game as the "starter," both players are going to get their carries, no matter what.
While Fred Jackson has become a fan favorite in Buffalo and been very effective, C. J. Spiller comes in as a Top-10 pick and will be expected to contribute right away.
While he certainly was effective in college, I think Spiller will be used as a situational runner in his first year, while contributing as a return man and also slot receiver.
Prediction: Fred Jackson.
4. Starting SS, Donte Whitner vs. George Wilson
This was a position that saw a lot of changes last year.
In the beginning of the season, Bryan Scott was the starter with Donte Whitner the starter at free safety.
After injuries caused Scott to move to linebacker, Whitner moved to strong safety and Jairus Byrd took over at free safety.
Whitner went down with an injury the following week and George Wilson replaced him at strong safety.
Wilson never looked back.
He held onto the starting job for the rest of the season racking up 103 tackles, two sacks and four picks.
With Byrd entrenched as the starting free safety, the competition for the starting strong safety spot is between Wilson and Whitner. This may prove to be a scenario where a player's versatility actually works against him.
Because Whitner has served multiple times as the team's nickel corner, as well as having experience at both safety spots, he may be viewed as a reserve at both safety spots and nickel corner.
Due to Wilson's strong play last year, I give him the edge to retain his job.
Prediction: George Wilson.
3. Starting RT, Cornell Green vs. Jamon Meredith vs. Kirk Chambers
Throughout the course of last season right tackle was another position that saw a lot of different names atop the depth chart.
Brad Butler began the season as the starter. After he went down with an injury Jamon Meredith, Johnathan Scott and Kirk Chambers saw extensive action at the position.
Going into 2010, Butler and Scott are no longer on the roster. Butler decided to unexpectedly retire and Scott signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Meredith and Chambers are holdovers on the roster with free agent signee Cornell Green also in the mix.
Ultimately, with the rebuilding process and youth movement in full swing in Buffalo, I think the Bills will choose to go with the young Meredith. He displayed flashes in 2009, over Green and Chambers.
Prediction: Jamon Meredith.
2. No. 2 WR, Steve Johnson vs. James Hardy vs. Marcus Easley
With the Terrell Owens experiment officially over, the No. 2 receiver spot opposite Lee Evans is up for grabs.
With Josh Reed departing, there are several young, unproven players all vying for the spot.
Steve Johnson had a nice game against the Cleveland Browns two seasons ago.
He displayed solid hands and potential, but saw action in just five contests in 2009, catching only two passes.
James Hardy showed signs of improvement throughout training camp during his rookie year but suffered an ACL tear. He started 2009 on the PUP list. Hardy saw the field in only two games, catching one pass for nine yards.
Marcus Easley is a rookie with promise but is very raw in terms of route-running. Ultimately he may end up being a starter, but that might be a year or two away.
I think Johnson wins this competition because he has shown the most promise of the three in his playing time.
Hardy was a second round pick, but not by this new regime. So they will not be tempted to play him over Johnson based on draft status.
I think No. 13 and 83 will be lining up across from each other on Sundays in 2010.
Prediction: Steve Johnson.
*Note: Roscoe Parrish was not included in this competition because based on the drafting of players like Hardy, Johnson, and Easley, the Bills seem to be looking for a big, physical compliment to Evans, knocking Parrish out of the running.
1. Starting QB, Edwards vs. Fitzpatrick vs. Brohm vs. Brown
Without a doubt this will be the most heated battle in camp.
With Chan Gailey saying that "everybody that walks on that football field has a chance," the door has been left open for a four-way competition in camp.
Ryan Fitzpatrick started the most games last year for Buffalo, with eight. Trent Edwards was second with seven, and Brian Brohm started once.
None of the three were impressive in their appearances.
Ultimately, I think Fitzpatrick is at a disadvantage because of his lack of arm strength, which causes concern considering the strong winds in Buffalo.
Levi Brown, a seventh round selection, is at a major disadvantage because of his inexperience.
And Brian Brohm's mobility is not on the same level as Edwards. Gailey looks for mobile quarterbacks.
Ultimately, I think Edwards will win the starting gig, and if Gailey can get him to be less hesitant on the field, he may wind up playing pretty well.
He has all the physical tools, but he needs to get out of his own head.
Also, bear in mind that even if Edwards opens the season as the starter, there is a good chance that the others will start under center for the Bills.
Edwards has never played a full 16-game season in his three-year career.
Prediction: Trent Edwards.