2010 NFL Offseason: Top 5 Position Battles Going into Training Camp
With rookie minicamps taking place over the weekend, it's close to the point of the 2010 NFL offseason where position battles begin to heat up on each team. Players will compete with others at their position to win the starting job on opening day once September rolls around.
It may only be May, but with just a few months before the start of training camp, there are a number of key position battles to keep an eye on. Here are the top five position battles heading into training camp.
Honorable Mention—Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterbacks: Who Spells Big Ben?
The Steelers will have to adjust to life without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the start of the 2010 season; the only question left to be answered is who will be his replacement until his return?
Pittsburgh traded for Byron Leftwich before Big Ben's suspension was made official in case there was an opening for the starting quarterback position the first couple games of the season.
Now, he'll compete with Dennis Dixon—who has started just one career game against the Ravens last season—for the starting job for a Steelers' offense that has seen plenty of changes this offseason.
Not only is Roethlisberger out for the first six games, but former Super Bowl MVP--and troublemaker--Santonio Holmes is now with the Jets. Whichever quarterback wins the starting job for opening day, will have quite the work-load on offense.
5. Dallas Cowboys Running Backs: Barber vs. Jones
Jerry Jones made it clear that third-year running back Felix Jones was the starter for the Cowboys entering minicamp. Now, it's a matter of how much competition Marion Barber gives him for the starting job before the 2010 season.
Barber has started 28 games for the Cowboys over the last two seasons after replacing Julius Jones following the 2007 season. After rushing for a combined 1,817 yards and 14 touchdowns, it seems he lost the starting job because of his lower yards-per-carry average.
In his two years as the starter in Dallas, Barber has averaged just 4.0 yards-per-carry while Jones is averaging 6.5 yards-per-carry. While both players should see a significant amount of playing time at running back next season, this battle will be one to keep an eye on during training camp.
4. Seattle Seahawks Running Backs: White vs. Washington
After five straight playoff appearances from 2003-07, the Seahawks look to bounce back in 2010 following a combined 9-23 record the last two seasons.
New head coach Pete Carroll has made plenty of moves this offseason, but two of the most interesting ones may be the trades he made to bring in his former running back LenDale White from the Titans and Leon Washington from the Jets.
While White is coming off a disappointing 2009 season in which he finished with just 222 yards on the ground and two touchdowns, Washington looks to return to full strength after fracturing his right leg in Week Seven against the Raiders last season.
Both players have adjusted to backup roles over the last few years, but are capable of winning the starting job at running back with Seattle in 2010. As of now, White should be considered the early favorite considering his history with Carroll at USC.
3. Washington Redskins Running Backs: Portis vs. Parker vs. Johnson
The Redskins have an interesting situation when it comes to running back. Three players—Clinton Portis, Willie Parker, and Larry Johnson—with experience as a No. 1 running back will all be under Mike Shanahan's belt next season.
The Redskins' ground game struggled last season mainly because Portis dealt with injuries for half the season. Not only did he play in just eight games, but he led the team by rushing for 494 yards—which shows why they signed Parker and Johnson to improve the running game.
As of now, Portis is considered the favorite to start considering his history with Shanahan. However, injury permitting, there should be no surprise if Parker or Johnson takes over the starting role for the Redskins next season.
2. Oakland Raiders Quarterbacks: Campbell vs. Russell
The fact that Jason Campbell threw more touchdowns last season than JaMarcus Russell has in his three-year career—a span of 25 starts in 31 games—is enough to make him the early favorite as the starting quarterback for the Raiders next season.
Campbell was recently acquired by the Raiders during the draft and is coming off the best season of his five-year career. Despite the Redskins disappointing 4-12 record, he threw for 3,618 yards and 20 touchdowns with very few weapons on offense.
As of now, Campbell will most likely be the starter on opening day considering Russell is flirting with the "bust" label. He's thrown more career interceptions (23) than touchdowns (18) and may not even make it to training camp if the Raiders decide to release him and his massive contract.
Of course, if Al Davis decides to keep him around, this will make quite the interesting quarterback battle.
1. Denver Broncos Quarterbacks: Orton vs. Quinn
Despite all of the hype in Denver surrounding Tim Tebow's new throwing motion, the most interesting story entering training camp is who will start at quarterback for the Broncos in 2010.
Kyle Orton's job was secure last season after he was acquired through the Jay Cutler trade. In his first season with the Broncos, he set career highs in numerous categories—including pass yards (3,802 yards) and touchdowns (21).
He may be the starter heading into training camp, but Brady Quinn—who was acquired in the offseason—will give Orton a run for the starting job at quarterback.
He may have just started 12 games in his career, but Quinn has just as much of a shot at the starting job as Orton does in Denver next season.