By Andrew Schuster @ShootsMcGavin on July 25, 2014
Battles are brewing all across the NFL at various training camps. The New Orleans Saints kicked off their first day of practices on Friday at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, WV. With that in mind, let's take a look at the top five position battles for Sean Payton and company.
Drew Brees is obviously the starter, but it's up for grabs after him. The Saints could be looking to add depth at other positions, so only keeping one extra QB around is a definite possibility. Veteran Luke McCown, who handled duties last year, is the favorite, but second-year man Ryan Griffin out of New Orleans' own Tulane University looked superb at minicamp. Rookie Logan Kilgore should not be a factor when the final decision is made.
Unless the 36-year-old Champ Bailey goes down, the starters seem to be set with him and Keenan Lewis. Corey White, Patrick Robinson, Rod Sweeting and rookie Stanley Jean-Baptiste are likely locked into the 53-man roster, but will be fighting hard with each other for the nickel spot and extensive playing time. Some undrafted free agents are in the mix as well, however, they will need lights-out performances to even be considered for a job.
It was originally planned that Tim Lelito would be the guy to man the center after Brian de la Puente departed, but with the addition and return of veteran Jonathan Goodwin, a battle is a brewing. Goodwin, who was originally acquired for insurance purposes, may be the better fit to start the season. He is experienced and familiar with the Sean Payton system. Lelito is the favorite for now, but that scenario could change at any time.
Marques Colston, Kenny Stills and Brandin Cooks are locked in. After that, it's up for grabs and we could see guys like Robert Meachem, Joe Morgan, Nick Toon and even some UDFAs -- Brandon Coleman in particular -- in an all-out battle. Everybody wants to be catching balls from Drew Brees this season.
Victor Butler, who came over from Dallas with Rob Ryan last year, missed all of 2013 with a torn ACL. He was in line to start on the outside, opposite Junior Galette, but that may not be the case at the moment. The Saints acquired Parys Haralson last season, who filled in nicely. The pass rush is one of the reasons why the Saints defense was so successful last year. Butler will be fighting lights-out to reclaim his starting role.
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