NFL: Top 10 Most Intriguing Training Camp Backup Position Battles

Brian DiTullioSenior Writer IAugust 13, 2010

NFL: Top 10 Most Intriguing Training Camp Backup Position Battles

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    ENGLEWOOD, CO - AUGUST 05:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Bronocs takes part in practice during training camp at Dove Valley on August 5, 2010 in Englewood, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    With everyone focusing on the starter battles, everyone forgets there are a bunch of little battles going on around the league for backup positions.

    Sometimes the backup positions are the most important ones to win. When the starter goes down, or fails miserably, the backup becomes the savior at that position, whether it's quarterback, cornerback, running back, or defensive lineman.

    Up and down the league, guys are battling for jobs, here's a look at some of the more interesting ones.

Sammy Morris Versus Kevin Faulk

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    FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 02:  Sammy Morris #34 of the New England Patriots carries the ball during training camp on August 2, 2010 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Laurence Maroney is the starting running back for Bill Belichick, but who gets the bulk of the rest of the carries?

    That battle will come down to Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk. Morris is younger, but Faulk has been around the team longer.

    Don't forget Fred Taylor is lurking in the mix as well.

    The only thing certain in this battle is that Belichick will not tip his hand either way. The battle will be won or lost through the reps, and the players will find out five minutes before everyone else does.

Phillip Dillard Versus Keith Bulluck

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 1: Linebacker Phillip Dillard of Nebraska runs the 40 yard dash during the NFL Scouting Combine presented by Under Armour at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 1, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    With Jonathon Goff starting at middle linebacker, rookie Phillip Dillard is fighting for second team snaps with newly-signed veteran Keith Bulluck.

    Bulluck is coming off of reconstructive knee surgery, but he obviously has the kind of experience Dillard just isn't old enough to have yet.

    This battle will be between the experienced but slowing vet and the young but inexperienced rookie.

Cooper Carlisle Versus Bruce Campbell

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Offensive lineman Bruce Campbell of Maryland runs during practice drills during the NFL Scouting Combine presented by Under Armour at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Ge
    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    With Cooper Carlisle starting at right guard, fourth-round pick Bruce Campbell is hoping his rookie status doesn't keep him from falling too far down the depth chart.

    At the moment, Campbell is listed as the backup guard, with Brandon Rodd listed as the third option.

    Rodd was an undrafted free agent in 2008 who has fought his way onto NFL rosters, so don't think he's going to go away without a fight.

Tavaris Jackson Versus Sage Rosenfels

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    MINNEAPOLIS - JANUARY 17:  Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings talks with quarterback Sage Rosenfels #2 before the game against the Dallas Cowboys during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on January 17, 2010 i
    Elsa/Getty Images

    I give up.

    Brett Favre is coming back, that's all there is to it. So Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels will be competing for that all important backup spot once the season starts.

    Jackson was the starter at one point, but his inability to own the role is the reason Favre was there last year in the first place.

    Rosenfels has been a backup most of his career with starting roles popping up in Miami and Houston.

Dwight Lowry Versus Kyle Wilson

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 15:  Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs the ball past Dwight Lowery #21 of the New York Jets for a first quarter touchdown on November 15, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo b
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Darrelle Revis will be on the field at some point in 2010, so the backup spot goes to one of two people, Dwight Lowry or rookie Kyle Wilson.

    In a surprisingly unselfish act, Lowry has been advocating more first team snaps for Wilson in the absence of Revis.

    The question now is: Has Lowry engineered his own fall down the depth chart once Revis returns?

Tim Dobbins Versus Austin Spitler

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 29:   Linebacker Tim Dobbins #51 of the San Diego Chargers sacks Quarterback Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs for a safety during the NFL game on November 29, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  (Photo by D
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    The Miami Dolphins have added Tim Dobbins to their inside linebacker mix. With Channing Crowder listed as the starter, Dobbins will be fighting for the backup spot with Austin Spitler.

    Dobbins has had a setback with a minor ankle injury, and head coach Tony Sparano said that just gives more opportunities to Spitler.

    Linebacker A.J. Edds is out for the year with a knee injury, meaning Dobbins has an edge in keeping the job, but Spitler has a window to make an impact this week until Dobbins returns.

Ziggy Hood Versus Brett Keisel

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    LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 22:  Ziggy Hood #96 of the Pittsburgh Steelers rushes the quarterback during the game against the Washington Redskins at Fed Ex Field on August 22, 2009 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Defensive end Ziggy Hood was the Steeler's first-round pick last year and didn't make much of an impact.

    Hood wants to change that this year by challenging Brett Keisel for his place on the depth chart.

    Pittsburgh's defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau has noted Hood's improvement over last year's camp, and head coach Mike Tomlin has singled him out in press conferences, noting his improvement.

    Keisel is 32 years old, but doesn't look to be slowing down. However, the Steelers defense broke down as the 2009 season wore on, and Hood's youth may end up giving him the edge over Keisel's experience.

Patrick Crayton Versus Everybody

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    MINNEAPOLIS - JANUARY 17:  Wide receiver Patrick Crayton #84 of the Dallas Cowboys runs the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on January 17, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Viking
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Patrick Crayton is not the No. 1 wide receiver on the Dallas Cowboys roster, that's Austin Miles. He's not even No. 3.

    Going into training camp, Crayton was listed as the No. 4 receiver on the depth chart. While depth can be a little misleading when it comes to the wide receiver position, Crayton knew his salary made him expendable and promptly demanded a trade.

    Rookie first-round draft pick Dez Bryant is nursing a minor injury at the moment, so Crayton has a chance to move up the depth chart, or face being cut.

Keyunta Dawson Versus John Chick

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    INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 08:  Keyunta Dawson #96 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates after the Colts beat the Houston Texans 20-17 at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 8, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Keyunta Dawson was adjusting to playing defensive end in 2009, and he's still behind Dwight Freeney on the right side.

    Challenging him for the backup spot is John Chick, the defensive MVP of the Canadian Football League in 2010 signed by the Colts this past January.

    Chick had success in the Canadian Football League, but the question now is if he can translate that experience to success in the NFL.

Tim Tebow Vs. Brady Quinn

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    ENGLEWOOD, CO - AUGUST 05:  Rookie quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Bronocs tosses the ball as he takes part in practice during training camp at Dove Valley on August 5, 2010 in Englewood, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Kyle Orton has been named the starter going into camp, but Tim Tebow was drafted in the first round, and Brady Quinn is a former first-round pick looking for a new start in Denver.

    The question of the offseason about Tebow has been where he will be placed on the Broncos depth chart once the season opens.

    Tebow wasn't drafted to be buried as a third quarterback, but Quinn certainly has had enough of riding the bench during his time in Cleveland.

    The preseason should be very interesting in Denver.