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Preseason Training Camp Battles Article

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Preseason Training Camp Battles Article

Postby bertfinsfan » Thu Aug 19, 2004 9:07 am

This is a long article but I found it to be an interesting read. Just thought I would share it.

FANTASY GURU Free Newsletter wrote:2004'S Training Camp Battles
Updated 8/16/04
--------------------------

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys
---------------------

The Battle: Julius Jones vs. Eddie George for the team's starting RB job.
The Winner: Jones was drafted because Troy Hambrick never showed he could
handle the rushing load last season. Jones is immensely more talented and
versatile than Hambrick and showed NFL observers during Senior Bowl
practices that he could play at a high level. As much confidence as they
have in Jones as their RB of the future, the club signed veteran RB Eddie
George because they want to move to a power rushing attack. To do that,
they needed a bigger back than Jones. Dallas wanted to run the ball as
much as possible to take the pressure off starting QB Quincy Carter, and
now they will do the same for Vinny Testaverde. Although George is on his
last legs, we expect him to open up the season as the starter because he's
simply a better fit for their offense. Jones, however, is already giving
him a run for his money after an impressive debut this past weekend.

The Battle: Dan Campbell vs. Jason Witten for the team's starting TE job.
The Winner: This is one of those situations in which it really doesn't
matter who starts but who handles the receiving role at the position. That
job is clearly going to be Witten's, as he took over the role during the
second half of the 2003 season (27 catches in his last eight games,
including an eight-catch game against Miami). Campbell is known as a good
blocker, and he'll continue to handle that role. Witten had three catches
in the opener.

The Battle: Terry Glenn vs. Antonio Bryant for the team's starting WR
(#2).
The Winner: Coming into last season, Glenn had to prove he could still
play at a high level, and he immediately did just that. Glenn, who turns
30 this summer, may be seven years older than Bryant, but he understands
what head coach Bill Parcells expects, while Bryant hasn't been able to
take advantage of his opportunities. Unless Bryant has an outstanding
training camp, we're expecting him to be their #3 WR again, with Glenn
winning this battle. But at least Bryant is still in good standing with
the team, despite his blowout with Parcells, and he actually is having a
good camp.

Philadelphia Eagles
---------------------

The Battle: Brian Westbrook vs. Correll Buckhalter for the team's starting
RB job.
The Winner: Westbrook doesn't have the build to be an every down back, and
head coach Andy Reid understands that he needs to rotate him with
Buckhalter and perhaps a third back this season, as he did in 2003, in
order for Westbrook to hold up. Look for Westbrook to get 15 or so touches
a game (8-12 carries, 3-5 catches), including handling most third down and
passing situations, while Buckhalter should get 10-13 touches a game, and
he should handle the carries at the goal line, where he was very effective
in 2003. Westbrook has looked stronger and just as fast this summer, and
you can call him the starter.

The Battle: Chad Lewis vs. L.J. Smith for the team's starting TE job.
The Winner: Like a lot of TE jobs, this one isn't so much who starts but
who will have the majority of passes thrown his way. Smith showed glimpses
of greatness last season, including a big game at Atlanta (6-97). Lewis
turns 33 this fall and is clearly at the end of the line. Look for Smith
to be the receiving threat at the position for the Eagles in 2004 and for
years to come.

New York Giants
---------------------

The Battle: Kurt Warner vs. Eli Manning for the team's starting QB job.
The Winner: The team didn't plan on rushing Manning unless he clearly
beats out Warner, but they may have changed their minds a little here.
Although both are on even footing right now, Manning, after his impressive
showing in the preseason opener, now has a chance to take this starting
job before Week One. Warner looks to be on the downside of his career, and
he's been up-and-down thus far in camp. So although we expect him to win
this battle, we see Manning taking over the job quickly, perhaps as early
as Week Two.

Washington Redskins
---------------------

The Battle: Mark Brunell vs. Patrick Ramsey for the team's starting QB
job.
The Winner: Gibbs claimed there would be an open competition during
training camp, and it appears there is, as both have played with the
first-team offense plenty and have alternated starts in the exhibition
season. Gibbs doesn't have a history of being trigger-happy with his QBs,
unlike his predecessor Steve Spurrier. The edge right now goes to Brunell,
who is the higher paid of the two, has much more playing experience, and
who has played better. If the team is out of the playoff race in the
second half of the season or if Brunell plays poorly, then look for Ramsey
to take over.

The Battle: Robert Royal vs. Chris Cooley for the team's starting TE job.
The Winner: Gibbs' base offensive set is one-back and tight ends. One will
be used for blocking purposes (likely veteran TE Walter Rasby), and the
other will play an H-back position, like former Redskin TE Clint Didier
did for Gibbs years ago. Cooley may be a rookie, but the coaches believe
the more athletic Cooley could get downfield a little better than Royal
and find open spaces. Look for Cooley to win this battle, but they could
wind up sharing time.

The Battle: Rod Gardner vs. James Thrash vs. Darnerian McCants for one of
the team's two starting WR jobs.
The Winner: After reviewing the tape from last season, Gibbs went on
record as saying that he believed that McCants could be an impact player
in their offense, but he didn't specify when. In fact, it's Thrash who is
in line to be the #3 - not McCants. Gardner is still clearly the starter.
However, McCants had a real good preseason opener, so we shall see.

NFC North

Chicago Bears
---------------------

The Battle: Anthony Thomas vs. Thomas Jones for the team's starting RB
job.
The Winner: This battle was over before it started. Head coach Lovie Smith
named Jones as the starter during their first off-season workout. Jones is
a much better fit for their new offense, which will be similar to the ones
that the Rams and Chiefs use. Jones will also handle the third down and
passing situation roles because he's a solid receiver. Thomas' only
potential roles we see are as the #2 RB and possibly handling some of the
red zone/goal-line work.

The Battle: Justin Gage vs. David Terrell for the team's starting WR (#2).
The Winner: Terrell is currently the starter, as Gage has been out with a
hamstring injury. The coaches believe Terrell could finally reach his
potential in this WR-friendly offense, or at least be a solid red zone
threat. Gage, on the other hand, could wind up being an even better fit
because he's faster than Terrell, and they want speed on offense. We're
going to give the former first-round pick Terrell the upper hand here, but
if he slips during training camp, look for Gage to surpass him for good.
Before Gage got hurt, the reports out of Bear camp were that Gage was
making some great catches and that Terrell is really impressing with his
routes. We should add that Gage was working great with QB Rex Grossman.

Detroit Lions
---------------------

The Battle: Shawn Bryson vs. Artose Pinner vs. Kevin Jones for the team's
starting RB job.
The Winner: The team believes that Jones is their RB of the future, but
he'll have to win the job clearly in training camp if he's to be the
featured back this season. He was running with the first-team offense in
camp but then missed some time with a hamstring injury that opened the
door a little for Pinner. It will come down to whether or not Jones proves
himself and gains Mariucci's trust in training camp. If Jones can do that,
it wouldn't surprise us at all if he handles the bulk of the rushing load
this season. If not, there will be a committee, as Pinner and Bryson both
look solid. We'll call this a RBBC early on but with Jones taking over the
lead role by mid-season, if not before, if he's healthy.

The Battle: Roy Williams vs. Az-Zahir Hakim vs. Tai Streets for one the
team's two starting WR jobs.
The Winner: This one actually isn't over yet, as Williams has not been
named the starter and still has to beat Streets out. Streets was signed to
a one-year deal to address the Lions' lack of depth at the position.
Williams has been solid thus far, though, and was drafted to be a
playmaker opposite second-year WR Charles Rogers. Williams also started
the preseason opener, so we expect Williams to win the job, with Streets
backing him up. Hakim will be the #3/slot guy.

Green Bay Packers
---------------------

The Battle: Tony Fisher vs. Najeh Davenport for the team's backup RB job
(#2).
The Winner: Davenport clearly won this job in training camp last year, and
he's doing the same this summer. The coaches like his battering-ram style,
and he's an excellent short-yardage back. Fisher is best used as a change
of pace, and we expect him to man the third spot on the depth chart again.

The Battle: Javon Walker vs. Robert Ferguson for the team's starting WR
job (#2).
The Winner: The Packers are looking for Walker to be their big-play guy.
Whether that means he starts or not, is still up in the air, and he's
still the #3 technically. However, he will play as much as - if not more
than - Driver and Ferguson. Ferguson will continue to be their possession
receiver, while signs suggest Driver could be option #3 even if he remains
a starter.

Minnesota Vikings
---------------------

The Battle: Michael Bennett vs. Moe Williams vs. Onterrio Smith for the
starting RB job.
The Winner: Although we were a tad perplexed at what head coach Mike Tice
told our John Hansen last Saturday, we still expect Bennett to be the guy.
Hansen asked Tice about his RB situation, and Tice said that he would "go
with the hot hand" this year. Then, seconds later, he said that he fully
expects Bennett to have a breakout season. Hansen also spoke to Bennett,
who said he was healthy and that he feels ready to bust out and that he
expects to be more involved in the passing game on screens and dump-offs.
Williams, meanwhile, saw a reduced role last year once Smith established
himself, but he'll likely handle the third down role again. Smith figures
to be the main backup to Bennett, but if he's the hot hand, they could
feature him at times. We figure Smith will get about 5-7 carries a game
with Bennett getting about 15-18.

NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
---------------------

The Battle: Charlie Garner vs. Michael Pittman vs. Jamel White for the
team's starting RB job.
The Winner: This one won't be much of a battle at all. Garner was brought
in to be the main back, with White coming in as a change of pace. Pittman
is suspended for three games, but when he comes back, he's slated to be
the #2 RB behind Garner. Our Buc insider does envision Pittman taking some
catches away from Garner when Pittman comes back, but he says right now
(as of 8/15) that Garner's looking like he'll the man here. In he fact, he
tells us that head coach Jon Gruden thinks Garner can go 1000-yards
rushing and receiving, although that's a tad optimistic.

The Battle: Joey Galloway vs. vs. Charles Lee vs. Michael Clayton for one
of the team's two starting WR jobs.
The Winner: What we do know is that veteran WR Keenan McCardell will be
one of the starting WRs-if he reports to training camp. We also know that
Jurevicius is out for a while. Right now the two starting WRs are Galloway
and Clayton. If McCardell reports and if Lee gets hurt, look for McCardell
and Galloway to start, with Clayton and Lee the #3 and #4 guys. They like
that Clayton, especially in the red zone. Also around are veterans Bill
Schroeder and D'Wayne Bates. What we're looking at is a true WRBC, quite
possibly all season should all of their WRs stay healthy. But the likely
starters are McCardell and Galloway, with Clayton seeing the most time of
the backups.

Atlanta Falcons
---------------------

The Battle: Warrick Dunn vs. T.J. Duckett for the team's starting RB job.
The Winner: Duckett has yet to show that he can be a featured back, so
we're expecting the two to split time again. Duckett figures to handle
short-yardage/goal-line work, and Dunn looks to handle most, if not all,
third down and passing situations, with both sharing playing time
throughout each game. Dunn is listed #1 on the depth chart and started in
the opener. The #1 designation matters little, as both will play plenty,
but it shows that Dunn's undervalued right now.

The Battle: Brian Finneran vs. Dez White vs. Michael Jenkins for one of
the team's two starting WR jobs.
The Winner: The Falcons wanted to sign a player in free agency who could
make plays downfield, and they feel White can do that. However, they
wanted a WR with size who could make big plays and more, and the tall but
slender Jenkins will help to fill that role. Finneran is a solid
possession type of WR who will always have a role with the team. Finneran
was dropped behind #1 WR Peerless Price, and Jenkins and White are
battling for the #2 slot. It's believed that Jenkins will eventually be a
starter once he learns the offense, but we envision White opening as the
starter at split end, but with Jenkins having an increased role as the
season progresses-possibly starting.

Carolina Panthers
---------------------

The Battle: Keary Colbert vs. Muhsin Muhammad for one of the team's two
starting WR jobs.
The Winner: Muhammad is back for his ninth season in Carolina and seventh
as a full-time starter. However, Colbert is a polished WR who could cut
into his playing time, despite being a rookie. Muhammad will win this
battle, but Colbert, who had two long TDs in the opener, could steal
playing time if he gets off to a good start in training camp and continues
to progress until the season is underway.

New Orleans Saints
---------------------

The Battle: Donte Stallworth vs. Devery Henderson vs. Jerome Pathon for
the team's starting WR job (#2).
The Winner: It's over. Although Pathon will play plenty, Stallworth is the
clear starter and #2 WRs.
The Battle: Ernie Conwell vs. Boo Williams for the team's starting TE job.
The Winner: Although both will play in 2-TE sets, Williams wins in this
battle, and he should be a nice middle-round sleeper.
NFC West

Arizona Cardinals
---------------------

The Battle: Damien Anderson vs. Josh Scobey for the team's backup RB job.
The Winner: Head coach Dennis Green was complimentary of Scobey, who
played behind Emmitt Smith this past weekend and likes his speed, but
Anderson has actually started a couple of games and is serviceable.
Anderson played plenty in the preseason opener and looked solid, so even
though Scobey looked to take the early lead last week, this one's still up
in the air.

The Battle: Bryan Gilmore vs. Karl Williams vs. Nate Poole vs. Kevin
Kasper for the team's #3 WR job.
The Winner: Bryant Johnson was supposed to be the #3, but with Anquan
Boldin out he and Larry Fitzgerald will almost certainly start. Johnson
suffered a stress fracture in June, and his availability for is still up
in the air, though. For now, assuming Johnson and Fitzgerald are healthy,
Bryan Gilmore is the #3, but that's assuming he's healthy. Williams might
be pushing for playing time. It's a total mess.

San Francisco 49ers
---------------------

The Battle: Brandon Lloyd vs. Curtis Conway vs. Cedrick Wilson vs. Rashaun
Woods vs. Derrick Hamilton for both of the team's starting WR jobs.
The Winners: Wilson is seen as a better #3 and third down WR, and that's
his most likely role, although he's still the starting flanker with Lloyd
the starting split end. Conway is on his last legs and has yet to define
his role, although he will compete for the flanker spot with Wilson and
Woods. Woods is the most talented and explosive of the five and should
emerge as one of the top WR of the group-even as a rookie - but he's
behind now, as he's missed a lot of time with a hamstring injury. Hamilton
is the biggest of the five WRs, but he is seen as a potential starter down
the road. Look for Woods, who has missed some time in camp due to an
injury, and Lloyd to win the battles by the end of training camp or early
in the season. But these WRs are still pretty interchangeable right now.

St. Louis Rams
---------------------

The Battle: Lamar Gordon vs. Steven Jackson for the team's backup RB job
(#2)
The Winner: There is no doubt that that Rams drafted Jackson to be veteran
RB Marshall Faulk's successor once he decides to retire. Gordon was still
technically #2 on the depth chart, but he's out now with an injury for a
month, so Jackson, who was solid in the preseason opener, should wind up
#2 job on the depth chart to open the season. If he has any problems,
though, FB Arlen Harris could be moved back to tailback.

Seattle Seahawks
---------------------

The Battle: Itula Mili vs. Jerramy Stevens for the team's starting TE job
The Winner: For the third straight year, both players will battle for the
starting job. Stevens has started only five games in his first two seasons
(partially due to injury), while Mili has shown tremendous improvement in
that time. The coaches want former first-round pick Stevens to be the
starter, but he hasn't given them any reason to pull Mili out of that
role. Stevens and Mili are splitting the reps with the #1 unit, and also
working in more two-TE sets than the Seahawks have used in the past. They
obviously want Stevens to be the guy, and his has made strides - both
physically and mentally. But Mili is really consistent. They'll both play
a lot.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills
---------------------

The Battle: Travis Henry vs. Willis McGahee for the team's starting RB job
The Winner: Henry will enter training camp as the starter, and we're
expecting him to have that same role once the regular season starts.
However, the team wants to get a healthy McGahee on the field as much as
possible, and the coaches are devising a way to get both backs on the
field at the same time. We're expecting Henry to handle 65-75% of the
running plays, while McGahee should back him up and possibly handle the
third down role. Henry will win this battle, and we expect him to have
that role throughout the season. But McGahee is looking great so far and
will definitely have a large role in the offense.

The Battle: Josh Reed vs. Bobby Shaw vs. Lee Evans for the team's starting
WR job (#2).
The Winner: Reed was part of a passing game that finished 28th in the
league, and he struggled last season with dropped passes and did little to
solidify a starting role heading into training camp. Shaw is seen as a
#3/slot WR type, so we don't envision his having a realistic chance to
start, although he did start in the preseason opener. The coaching staff
envisions Evans to be close to what Peerless Price was in his final year
with the team-a guy who gets open and makes plays downfield. Look for
Evans, who has spent time with the #1 offense and has made some plays, to
see an increase in playing time as training camp progresses and for him to
win the starting job before the season starts.

Miami Dolphins
---------------------

The Battle: Jay Fiedler vs. A.J. Feeley for the team's starting QB job
The Winner: Although reports out there say this battle is still even,
Fielder looks to be in the lead. Feeley is more of a pocket passer than
Fiedler and he has the better arm, while Fiedler is more athletic but is
injury prone. The retirement of Ricky Williams puts a lot of pressure on
the offense and could make the team more inclined to go with the veteran
Fiedler, at least to start the season. But for the long haul, we'll give
the edge to Feeley, for whom they traded a second-round pick, and who they
believe could be their starter of the future.

The Battle: Sammy Morris vs. Travis Minor for the team's starting RB job
The Winner: Morris was brought in to play FB and back up starter Rob
Konrad at that position. However, with starting RB Ricky Williams gone,
Morris is expected to expand his role to playing RB. Morris started eight
games at RB in his rookie year and put up very good numbers (six total
TDs, 37 catches) in the pass and run game, so he's capable of challenging
Minor for the starting job. Minor is the speedier of the two, but he
doesn't have the bulk that Morris has. The Dolphins run a power rushing
attack, so this will help Morris get on the field more. Minor has been the
starter in camp, and he's doing pretty well, but Morris is getting a look,
too, and he has been pushing Minor. Morris could also see short-yardage
and goal-line carries. He could also see time on third downs because he's
an excellent receiver out of the backfield. Minor's the guy, but his hold
on the starting job at this point isn't that strong, especially after his
poor showing in the preseason opener (his line sucked).

New York Jets
---------------------

The Battle: Anthony Becht vs. Mikhael Ricks vs. Chris Baker for the team's
starting TE job
The Winner: Both players head into this season on the last year of their
contracts. Becht will be the starter, but Ricks will also see playing time
behind him in two-TE sets because he's a better downfield threat. We're
expecting Becht to handle most of the red-zone work, as he has since he
was drafted, but Baker could see an increase in playing time on plays
in-between the 20s.

New England Patriots
---------------------

The Battle: Christian Fauria vs. Dan Graham vs. Ben Watson for the team's
starting TE job
The Winner: Fauria wasn't as big a part in their red-zone offense last
season as he was in 2002, and he's mostly known for his blocking rather
than his receiving. The Patriots will use a lot of two-TE sets, so Fauria
should see playing time, but right now Graham is the top guy, especially
with Watson missing so much time.

The Battle: Troy Brown vs. David Patten vs. David Givens vs. Deion Branch
for the team's two starting WR jobs
The Winner: The 33-year old Brown saw his role really reduced last season,
and he suffered through his second injury-plagued season in a row. Patten
is coming off a season in which he played in only five games due to
injury. His absence gave Givens and Branch a chance at a lot of playing
time, and they showed that they'd be able to compete for a starting job in
2004. Branch is seen as a speedy WR and probably the club's best deep
threat. Givens put up solid numbers in the last three games of the regular
season (16 catches, three TDs) and carried that play over into their final
two playoff games (13 catches, two TDs). He has the size (almost 220
pounds) that the coaches are looking for, and his physical play helps him
get open a lot. Givens has been out because of undisclosed injuries, so
it's been mostly Brown, Branch, and Patten taking reps with the ones.
Right now we're projecting a true committee, especially if Patten, who is
having a good camp, makes the team.

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals
---------------------

The Battle: Rudi Johnson vs. Chris Perry for the team's starting RB job
The Winner: The selection of Perry in the first round was interesting,
considering the team had needs elsewhere. However, they selected him for
two reasons. For one, Johnson signed a one-year deal, so he will be
eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after the season unless he
signs an extension. Two, the fear is that should Johnson have a breakout
season, he'll be hard to sign, so they need a backup plan at the position.
Johnson will clearly be the starter, with Perry his likely backup and
possibly the third down back due to his excellent receiving skills.

The Battle: Reggie Kelly vs. Matt Schobel vs. Tony Stewart for the team's
starting TE job
The Winner: Kelly is seen strictly as a blocker, and he'll always have
that role in their offense. The job that is open is for the receiving job
at the position between the other two players. Schobel is the better
player, but he's been limited by injuries in his first two seasons as a
pro. Stewart saw an increase in playing time as last season went along,
but as long as Schobel is healthy, Stewart is likely to man the third spot
on the depth chart.

Cleveland Browns
---------------------

The Battle: William Green vs. Lee Suggs for the team's starting RB job
The Winner: Suggs separated himself with a sensational showing against the
Bills last weekend, but both came out even after the preseason opener, so
this battle is still pretty close. What we're still projecting here is the
more explosive and instinctive back Suggs to win the job.

Baltimore Ravens
---------------------

The Battle: Musa Smith vs. Chester Taylor for the team's backup RB job
(#2)
The Winner: This job became very important in the off-season due to
starting RB Jamal Lewis' legal situation. Taylor is seen more as a third
down back than a possible replacement, which is why the team selected
Smith in the 2003 draft. Should Lewis be lost for a prolonged period of
time, look for Smith to handle the bulk of the carries, while Taylor would
handle third downs and passing situations. If Lewis is out for a short
period of time, you could very well see both players sharing time.

Pittsburgh Steelers
---------------------

The Battle: Tommy Maddox vs. Ben Roethlisberger for the team's starting QB
job.
The Winner: Maddox opened up training camp and the season as the starter,
and unless the rookie signal caller has a great training camp, Maddox will
keep the spot at the top of the depth chart. However, since the team
doesn't look to be significantly improved over last year's disappointing
season, the coaching staff may turn to Roethlisberger, who looked very
good in the preseason opener, sooner rather than later to be the starter.

The Battle: Jerome Bettis vs. Duce Staley vs. Verron Haynes for the team's
starting RB job.
The Winner: Staley offers the club more versatility; plus, he's clearly
the better player. Bettis, meanwhile, could wind up sharing carries and
red zone work with Staley, should his body hold up. Haynes, however, may
wind up sharing third down and passing situation work with Staley. In this
situation, it's not about who starts but more about who gets the most
touches, and that should be Staley. Despite rumors of this battle still
being up in the air, our insider thinks Bettis will be a factor near the
goal but will be lucky to get even 10 carries a game, and that's if Staley
struggles. That observation was backed up this past weekend when Staley
started and Bettis came in with the backups.

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts
---------------------

The Battle: Marcus Pollard vs. Dallas Clark vs. Ben Hartsock for the
starting tight end job
The Winner: The selection of Hartsock on the first day of the draft was a
surprise but not as much when you look at why it was done. He was one of
the best blocking tight ends in the draft, and with Pollard turning 32
earlier this year, he likely won't be around much longer. Clark is not
only seen as his successor but he's more of the prototype TE that teams
covet. The battle for the receiving TE job comes down to why they drafted
Clark-to make more plays in the middle of the field. We expect Clark to
win that role by the end of training camp, but the two could wind up
splitting time as they were doing last year before Clark suffered a
season-ending injury.

The Battle: Dominic Rhodes vs. James Mungro for the backup running back
job (#2)
The Winner: These two offer the team different looks for the back-up job
to starting RB Edgerrin James. Mungro is more of a power back, while
Rhodes offers more versatility and explosiveness. Overall, Rhodes is the
better back, and he's having a good camp and looks healthy, so we're
expecting him to win this battle without too much of a push from Mungro.

Jacksonville Jaguars
---------------------

The Battle: LaBrandon Toefield vs. Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala vs. Greg Jones
for the team's backup running back job (#2).
The Winner: Jones hasn't had a great camp, and he's again being pushed by
Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala. Jones was drafted in part to help their red zone
and goal-line offense, which was the area in which he excelled during
Senior Bowl practices. Toefield figures to handle some third down and
passing situations along with Taylor, and he could give Taylor an
occasional breather for a series or two in the course of some games. So
what we have here could be a RBBC for the #2 job, with Jones the best bet
to have the most fantasy value due to his scoring.

The Battle: Troy Edwards vs. Reggie Williams for the team's starting wide
receiver job (#2)
The Winner: The team selected Williams #9 overall in this year's draft,
and he's got better size and ability than Edwards, who is best suited for
a slot role. But Edwards will give Williams a run for his money, and
Williams really hasn't stood out in camp yet. Still, we expect Williams,
who signed right before the start of camp, to win this job no later than
September's end.

Houston Texans
---------------------

The Battle: Corey Bradford vs. Jabar Gaffney for the team's starting wide
receiver job (#2)
The Winner: Gaffney won this job last year and started 11 of their 16
games, while Bradford backed him up. Bradford is more of a deep threat
than Gaffney, who is seen as more of a possession-type WR. The team likes
what Gaffney can give them - a WR who can catch the ball underneath while
#1 WR Andre Johnson and Bradford go deep - and we expect them to have a
similar rotation in the 2004 season.

Tennessee Titans
---------------------

The Battle: Chris Brown vs. Antowain Smith for the team's starting running
back job
The Winner: Brown's role will increase in a big way. In fact, he's in the
driver's seat to start right now, especially after his impressive debut.
However, the signing of Smith signals that they won't hand him the job
completely, and Brown still has to answer durability questions. As for
Smith, they liked him because he's played as a starter, a backup, and a
role player, so they have options with him. If Brown stays healthy, he'll
open up the season as the starter. If Brown struggles with injuries, they
could fall back on Smith.

The Battle: Drew Bennett vs. Tyrone Calico for the starting wide receiver
job (#2)
The Winner: Bennett has already been installed as the #2 WR, and he's
expected to handle that job once the regular season starts because he's
the more polished receiver of the two. However, Calico could cut into
Bennett's playing time if he shows improved hands and route running during
training camp, which he is doing. But at the end of day, Bennett will win
this battle without too much of a problem.

The Battle: Ben Troupe vs. Erron Kinney for the team's starting tight end
job.
The Winner: Troupe was selected in this year's draft due to the retirement
of veteran TE Frank Wycheck. The team uses lots of two-TE sets, so Troupe
will see a lot of playing time, despite Kinney being the starter. Kinney
is probably the better blocker of the two, but Troupe is seen as the
better receiver, and he has better downfield speed and playmaking ability.
We'll give the nod in this battle to Kinney, but the two could very well
be splitting time because Troupe is one of the better tight ends to come
out of the collegiate ranks in recent years and will definitely be a
factor at times this year.

AFC West

Denver Broncos
---------------------

The Battle: Quentin Griffin vs. Garrison Hearst vs. vs. Mike Anderson vs.
Tatum Bell for the team's starting running back job.
The Winner: Right now, the depth chart in Denver is still Griffin,
Anderson, Hearst, and Bell. Griffin is the starter and looks great;
Anderson has been making noise; and Bell has been out with his broken
finger. Hearst hasn't been ruled out as an option as the starter, but his
chances appear to be becoming slimmer and slimmer. Once Bell gets healthy,
acclimated to the offense, and can prove he can handle his blocking
chores, we still expect him to take over the starting job down the road,
but that might not be until mid-season. As for the second-year back
Griffin, he's been given the job for now, but he's too small to handle
that role over the course of a full season. Look for him to eventually be
used as a change of pace, which is the role that he is best used in. The
team really wants one guy to emerge, but there still could be a committee
here. In other words, this situation is still pretty messy.

San Diego Chargers
---------------------

The Battle: Philip Rivers vs. Drew Brees for the team's starting
quarterback job
The Winner: The Chargers love Rivers, but he's really hurt his chances by
holding out. Brees lost his chance at being the starter once he began to
struggle last season. And with the team trading for Rivers in the first
round of this year's draft, look for him to start most of the season,
although his holdout means that Brees should be the guy come Week One

The Battle: Jesse Chatman vs. Michael Turner for the team's backup running
back job (#2).
The Winner: Chatman has been in this role the last two seasons and he
started in the opener, as the team opted to sit starter LaDainian
Tomlinson down. However, the team drafted Turner, who is probably the most
talented back competing for the backup job. We see a committee situation
for this battle between Turner and Chatman, with Turner eventually being
the top guy behind Tomlinson.

The Battle: Tim Dwight vs. Reche Caldwell vs. Eric Parker vs. Kevin Dyson
vs. Kassim Osgood for both of the starting wide receiver jobs.
The Winner: Both starting jobs are wide open due to the departure of
veteran WR David Boston and the inconsistent play of Caldwell last season
before he got hurt. In the preseason opener, Dyson and Parker started, but
Caldwell and Osgood are in the mix. Although Parker is better served
playing in the slot as the #3, we'll give him the edge here, but any one
of the four could start alongside Dyson.

Kansas City Chiefs
---------------------

The Battle: Larry Johnson vs. Derrick Blaylock vs. Tony Richardson for the
team's backup running back job (#2)
The Winner: Blaylock did a nice job (scored three times) as the main
backup to starting RB Priest Holmes last year, and he also played on
special teams and proved he could handle blocking assignments. Richardson,
the team's starting FB, was expected to be the #2 back, but Blaylock
showed more versatility, and he was able to keep the role most of the
season. We expected Blaylock to handle the #2 job again, but Johnson looks
much improved in camp and is making a lot of noise, so we'll call this
battle even right now.

Oakland Raiders
---------------------

The Battle: Amos Zereoue vs. Tyrone Wheatley vs. Justin Fargas vs. Troy
Hambrick for the team's starting running back job.
The Winner: Raider head coach Norv Turner has worked with mostly bigger
backs, which is what has led us to believe that Wheatley, the biggest back
of the three, will be the starting back, with Zereoue backing him up
because he has much more playing experience than Fargas. That's the case
right now, as Wheatley is all but a lock to be the starter. Fargas is more
of a change-of-pace back similar to Zereoue, but he's not as powerful.
Although Hambrick is a big back, he does not possess the natural running
run instincts that Wheatley does, so Hambrick looks destined to be only a
backup and an insurance policy for Wheatley.

The Battle: Doug Jolley vs. Roland Williams vs. Teyo Johnson for the
team's starting tight end job.
The Winner: Williams is seen in NFL circles as one of the better blocking
tight ends, and he'll have that as a main role in his second stint with
the Raiders. The battle for the receiving role with the team comes down to
Jolley and Johnson. Jolley was benched last season by the previous
coaching staff after struggling with route running and blocking
assignments. But right now he's won the job, so he might be someone to
watch.
Last edited by bertfinsfan on Thu Aug 19, 2004 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby deftdelivery » Thu Aug 19, 2004 1:37 pm

Nice find - keep em coming! ;-D
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Postby foam » Thu Aug 19, 2004 2:00 pm

Excellent read ;-D
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Postby Big Pimpin' » Thu Aug 19, 2004 2:49 pm

great read. thank you.
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Postby BGbootha » Thu Aug 19, 2004 3:34 pm

wow, i just love the fact i can come here and read all the important articles without searching for them myself.

thanks. nice read. ;-D
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Postby KingGhidra » Thu Aug 19, 2004 3:41 pm

Good stuff.

;-D
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Postby MadScott » Fri Aug 20, 2004 11:05 am

Baltimore Ravens
---------------------

The Battle: Musa Smith vs. Chester Taylor for the team's backup RB job
(#2)
The Winner: This job became very important in the off-season due to
starting RB Jamal Lewis' legal situation. Taylor is seen more as a third
down back than a possible replacement, which is why the team selected
Smith in the 2003 draft. Should Lewis be lost for a prolonged period of
time, look for Smith to handle the bulk of the carries, while Taylor would
handle third downs and passing situations. If Lewis is out for a short
period of time, you could very well see both players sharing time.
Yet another reason to hope that Lewis gets picked ahead of me.
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Postby bungle613 » Fri Aug 20, 2004 11:56 am

Appreciated bert. Thanks, may be the best info post of the year.
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Postby Estarr01 » Fri Aug 20, 2004 12:13 pm

good post, thanks
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Postby Tiki » Fri Aug 20, 2004 12:30 pm

Good read. nice find and keep them coming! ;-D
Keep it lit.
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