Quantcast
X

Have feedback / suggestions? Let us know!

NFL

25 Most Intriguing NFL Training Camp Battles

25 Most Intriguing NFL Training Camp Battles

Geno Smith Jets
Getty Images

Training camp and the preseason might seem meaningless to most, but this time of the football season can make or break seasons and could even make or break careers. From highly touted rookie quarterbacks challenging for starter's snaps right away to running backs and other skill position players looking for first-team reps, many positions will be up for grabs. Here now are 25 battles that you should pay attention to during training camp.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB: Josh McCown vs. Mike Glennon

Mike Glennon Buccaneers
Getty Images

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB: Josh McCown vs. Mike Glennon

Mike Glennon Buccaneers
Getty Images

New Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith has already made it clear that 38-year-old Josh McCown is his starter this season, but second-year QB Mike Glennon is still in competition with McCown, a journeyman veteran, until training camp begins.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars QB: Chad Henne vs. Blake Bortles

Chad Henne Jaguars
Getty Images

24. Jacksonville Jaguars QB: Chad Henne vs. Blake Bortles

Chad Henne Jaguars
Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars have stated all along that Blake Bortles will redshirt this season and Chad Henne will be the starter, but preseason promises don't always come true. The Jaguars did not draft Bortles with the 3rd overall pick this past May just to be holding a clipboard for most of this season.

23. Indianapolis Colts TE: Coby Fleener vs. Dwayne Allen

Coby Fleener Colts
Getty Images

23. Indianapolis Colts TE: Coby Fleener vs. Dwayne Allen

Coby Fleener Colts
Getty Images

When you have the likes of Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks, and T.Y. Hilton in the passing game, the last position to look out for might be the tight end. The battle here is between Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. Allen was the starter before needing season-ending hip surgery, but Fleener was drafted first as the superior receiver.

22. New York Giants MLB: Jameel McClain vs. Mark Herzlich

Mark Herzlich Giants
Getty Images

22. New York Giants MLB: Jameel McClain vs. Mark Herzlich

Mark Herzlich Giants
Getty Images

The New York Giants thought they had found a long-term answer at middle linebacker a year ago with Jon Beason's addition at midseason. Now with Beason out for most of the offseason with injury, the question has returned. The Giants will now look at either weak-side linebacker Jameel McClain or former undrafted free agent Mark Herzlich to start until Beason is healthy.

21. New Orleans Saints CB: Keenan Lewis vs. Champ Bailey

Keenan Lewis Saints
Getty Images

21. New Orleans Saints CB: Keenan Lewis vs. Champ Bailey

Keenan Lewis Saints
Getty Images

After signing both Jairus Byrd and Champ Bailey this offseason, the Saints have completely revamped their secondary. For Bailey, he will compete with incumbent Keenan Lewis to determine who will be the Saints' No. 1 corner. While Lewis has experience playing in the scheme and has more upside as a young player, Bailey is a future Hall of Famer who still has enough left in the tank.

20. Oakland Raiders RB: Darren McFadden vs. Maurice Jones-Drew

Darren McFadden Raiders
Getty Images

20. Oakland Raiders RB: Darren McFadden vs. Maurice Jones-Drew

Darren McFadden Raiders
Getty Images

If this competition was back in 2009, the Raiders would have an embarrassment of riches. However, in 2014, the competition at running back between Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew will be one of many camp battles for the Raiders. McFadden has more breakaway ability, but past injuries have hurt his chances of becoming a reliable starter. Jones-Drew also has question marks because he has had a lot of carries in his career.

19. St. Louis Rams DT: Kendall Langford vs. Aaron Donald

Kendall Langford Rams
Getty Images

19. St. Louis Rams DT: Kendall Langford vs. Aaron Donald

Kendall Langford Rams
Getty Images

Defensive tackle might not be the sexiest position on the field, but for the St. Louis Rams, 2014 first-round pick Aaron Donald can join a defensive line that already has three former first-round picks as starters. With or without Donald as a starter, the Rams will boast one of the best front fours in the NFL in 2014. If Donald is named the starter, he will have to beat out Kendall Langford to start opposite Michael Brockers.

18. Dallas Cowboys MLB: Justin Durant vs. Anthony Hitchens vs. DeVonte Holloman

Justin Durant Cowboys
Getty Images

18. Dallas Cowboys MLB: Justin Durant vs. Anthony Hitchens vs. DeVonte Holloman

Justin Durant Cowboys
Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys had the worst defense in the NFL last season, and since they've lost middle linebacker Sean Lee (torn ACL, likely out for the season), the Cowboys have a lot of work to do. Justin Durant is the veteran who is penciled in to start at middle linebacker right now, but youngsters like DeVonte Holloman and fourth-round pick Anthony Hitchens will push him in training camp.

17. St. Louis Rams RB: Zac Stacy vs. Tre Mason

Zac Stacy Rams
Getty Images

17. St. Louis Rams RB: Zac Stacy vs. Tre Mason

Tre Mason Rams
Getty Images

Zac Stacy may have had a breakout season last year as a rookie for the St. Louis Rams, but the team doesn't seem to be convinced that Stacy is their feature back after drafting former Auburn RB Tre Mason in the third round this past May. While Stacy may be the starter heading into camp, expect Mason to give him a serious run at the starting job in training camp.

16. New York Jets RB: Chris Johnson vs. Chris Ivory

Chirs Ivory Jets
Getty Images

16. New York Jets RB: Chris Johnson vs. Chris Ivory

Chris Ivory Jets
Getty Images

After being released by the Tennessee Titans this offseason, star running back Chris Johnson is now with the New York Jets, who already have a deep backfield. However, last year's starter, Chris Ivory, is more suited for Rex Ryan's ground and pound style. Johnson will be the presumed starter heading into camp, but expect Ivory to get a leg up on Johnson, especially with his familiarity with the scheme.

15. Carolina Panthers WR: Kelvin Benjamin vs. Jerricho Cotchery vs. Jason Avant

Kevlin Benjamin Panthers
Getty Images

15. Carolina Panthers WR: Kelvin Benjamin vs. Jerricho Cotchery vs. Jason Avant

Kelvin Benjamin Panthers
Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers turned over their entire wide receiving corps this offseason, but they enter training camp without any clear starters. Kelvin Benjamin, a raw rookie first-rounder, might be the lone No. 1 starter for the Panthers, but he hasn't had a snap of an NFL full-contact practice yet. Veterans Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant will compete as well to be the No. 1 receiver, but none of these players are No. 1 material right now.

14. Philadelphia Eagles TE: Zach Ertz vs. Brent Celek

Zach Ertz Eagles
Getty Images

14. Philadelphia Eagles TE: Zach Ertz vs. Brent Celek

Zach Ertz Eagles
Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles figure to once again have one of the most productive offenses in the NFL in the second year of Chip Kelly's system. While the focus is mainly on the backs and receivers, the tight ends were crucial aspects of Kelly's offense last season. With second-year tight end Zach Ertz in the fold as well as Brent Celek, the Eagles have two viable options as a starting tight end.

13. Oakland Raiders QB: Matt Schaub vs. Derek Carr

Derek Carr Raiders
Getty Images

13. Oakland Raiders QB: Matt Schaub vs. Derek Carr

Derek Carr Raiders
Getty Images

The Oakland Raiders weren't the first team to draft a quarterback this past May, but they might be the first to name one as a starter. Matt Schaub is heading into camp as the starter, but his poor 2013 season will be fresh in everyone's minds. Second-round pick Derek Carr is already being tabbed as the future quarterback for the Raiders, but with a solid camp, he could supplant Schaub as the starter during camp.

12. St. Louis Rams WR: Tavon Austin vs. Chris Givens

Tavon Austin Rams
Getty Images

12. St. Louis Rams WR: Tavon Austin vs. Chris Givens

Tavon Austin Rams
Getty Images

The St. Louis Rams are in win-now mode after years with high draft picks from the Robert Griffin III trade. Even with all the high draft picks, the Rams still don't have a true No. 1 receiver for Sam Bradford. Despite drafting Tavon Austin in the 1st round in 2013, there are still questions about him as a No. 1 receiver. Chris Givens, who started 14 games last year, only had 34 catches. Who will step up for the Rams in 2014?

11. Cincinnati Bengals TE: Tyler Eifert vs. Jermaine Gresham

Tyler Eifert Bengals
Getty Images

11. Cincinnati Bengals TE: Tyler Eifert vs. Jermaine Gresham

Tyler Eifert Bengals
Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals are going to use two tight ends prominently in Hue Jackson's offense, but second-year player Tyler Eifert's potential as a receiver could make the team a one tight-end offense. While Eifert is not the blocker that former first-round pick Jermaine Gresham is, Eifert is a superior receiver compared to Gresham.

10. New York Giants RB: David Wilson vs. Rashad Jennings

David Wilson Giants
Getty Images

10. New York Giants RB: David Wilson vs. Rashad Jennings

David Wilson Giants
Getty Images

New York's running game was a mess last season, but with the acquisition of free agent RB Rashad Jennings and the return of former first-round pick David Wilson from injury, the position can't get any worse than it did last season. The position will come down to whether Wilson is fully recovered from a neck injury and if his fumbling issues have subsided. If not, Jennings will be the starter during training camp.

9. Philadelphia Eagles WR: Riley Cooper vs. Jeremy Maclin

Riley Cooper Eagles
Getty Images

9. Philadelphia Eagles WR: Riley Cooper vs. Jeremy Maclin

Riley Cooper Eagles
Getty Images

After releasing DeSean Jackson this offseason, the Eagles showed enough confidence in their receiving corps to determine that Jackson was expendable. Now, the question is who will replace Jackson as the team's No. 1 receiver? The competition will come down to Jeremy Maclin, who is coming off a Torn ACL, and Riley Cooper, who had a breakout 2013 campaign.

8. Seattle Seahawks LB: Malcom Smith vs. Bruce Irvin

Malcolm Smith Seahawks
Getty Images

8. Seattle Seahawks LB: Malcom Smith vs. Bruce Irvin

Malcolm Smith Seahawks
Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks' defense is so stacked that not even Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith is guaranteed to start next season. With former first-round pick Bruce Irvin waiting on the bench and pushing to become a starter, Smith will have to earn his job once again during training camp, or else risk becoming a most valuable backup.

7. New Orleans Saints RB: Mark Ingram vs. Pierre Thomas vs. Khiry Robinson

Mark Ingram Saints
Getty Images

7. New Orleans Saints RB: Mark Ingram vs. Pierre Thomas vs. Khiry Robinson

Mark Ingram Saints
Getty Images

Darren Sproles' departure leaves the New Orleans' backfield with more questions than answers. There is still no true No. 1 running back on the roster despite several having intriguing players. Mark Ingram has been a bust so far, while veteran Pierre Thomas' skills have started to decline. The player with the most upside is Khiry Robinson, but he is still a young player who is trying to learn the position.

6. Indianapolis Colts RB: Trent Richardson vs. Ahmad Bradshaw

Trent Richardson Colts
Getty Images

6. Indianapolis Colts RB: Trent Richardson vs. Ahmad Bradshaw

Trent Richardson Colts
Getty Images

If the Indianapolis Colts are going to make the next step for their offense in 2014, they will have to settle on a true starting running back. The competition will come down to Trent Richardson, whom the Colts traded a first-round pick for last season, and Ahmad Bradshaw, who was signed as a free agent last season.

5. New England Patriots RB: Stevan Ridley vs. Shane Vereen

Stevan Ridley Patriots
Getty Images

5. New England Patriots RB: Stevan Ridley vs. Shane Vereen

Stevan Ridley Patriots
Getty Images

The running back job in New England will be the biggest battle in camp. Stevan Ridley, who has been a notorious fumbler, will compete to maintain his starting job against the pass-receiving back in Shane Vereen. Ridley has constantly been in Bill Belichick's doghouse due to his fumbling, but despite his struggles, Vereen hasn't proved he can be a top running back just yet.

4. Miami Dolphins RB: Knowshon Moreno vs. Lamar Miller

Lamar Miller Dolphins
Getty Images

4. Miami Dolphins RB: Knowshon Moreno vs. Lamar Miller

Lamar Miller Dolphins
Getty Images

The running back position in Miami seemed to be a lock after the team signed former Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno this offseason, but things are not a slam dunk anymore. Moreno will be out at least 4-5 weeks following knee surgery, and with him out, former starter Lamar Miller has an opportunity to get back his starting job.

3. Minnesota Vikings QB: Teddy Bridgewater vs. Matt Cassell vs. Christian Ponder

Teddy Bridgewater Vikings
Getty Images

3. Minnesota Vikings QB: Teddy Bridgewater vs. Matt Cassell vs. Christian Ponder

Teddy Bridgewater Vikings
Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings do not have one starting quarterback on their roster, they have three potential starting QBs. Former first-round pick Christian Ponder is still around, as is veteran journeyman Matt Cassel. This year, another first-round pick in rookie Teddy Bridgewater joins the QB competition. If Bridgewater can start right away, either Cassel or Ponder won't be with the Vikings much longer.

2. New York Jets QB: Geno Smith vs. Michael Vick

Geno Smith Jets
Getty images

2. New York Jets QB: Geno Smith vs. Michael Vick

Geno Smith Jets
Getty Images

The New York Jets have another controversy at quarterback on their hands. Instead of Mark Sanchez competing with Geno Smith, it is now veteran Michael Vick who will compete with Smith to be the starter. Smith may be the quarterback of the future, but Vick can give the Jets the best chance to win right now.

1. Cleveland Browns QB: Brian Hoyer vs. Johnny Manziel

Brian Hoyer Browns
Getty Images

1. Cleveland Browns QB: Brian Hoyer vs. Johnny Manziel

Brian Hoyer Browns
Getty Images

The clear competition that will be talked about all off-season is between Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel as Cleveland's starting quarterback. As much as the Browns brass wants Hoyer to win the job outright, the pressure to start Manziel will be compared to Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez with the Jets in 2012.