As the NFL season begins to loom closer (finally, move over baseball!), training camp will be getting underway real soon. Here are my intriguing training camp position battles.
Houston Texans- Steve Slaton v. Arian Foster v. Ben Tate
The running back position was a big question mark last season as they ranked 30th in rushing yards per game. They have lots of young talent, but the problem was they loved to put the ball on the ground. Slaton had a miserable sophomore season as he fumbled the ball left and right, and later obtained a serious neck injury. Foster showed some glimpses of greatness toward the end of the season, but he too had some fumbling problems. This all led to the Texans drafting Tate in the 2nd round, which is the highest pick for a back in Texans’ history. Many don’t remember, but Slaton led the AFC in yards from scrimmage in 2008 as a rookie. Now that he is healthy and leaner, he might be able to regain his form and confidence that we saw his rookie year. This will be Slaton’s third year and he knows Kubiak’s system well by now, so look for him to pick it back up. If so, the Texans’ offense could be scary, as the running game that they lacked could take some pressure off of Schaub.
But if he continues to lose the football, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tate take over. Foster is more of a back-up in my eyes, as he was undrafted for a reason. In my opinion, the Texans need to bring back Stacey Mack!
Arizona Cardinals– Matt Leinart v. Derek Anderson
Either way the Cardinals are in a lose/lose situation here as they try to replace a soon to be Hall-of-Famer in Kurt
Warner. Leinart hasn’t shown us much since he’s been in the league other than he can take beer bongs like a champ with some ASU hotties, but can you blame him? Anderson, who I like to call Anderception, threw a pick in nearly every game he played in last season and lacks the accuracy to hit wide open targets. Anderson did have that one breakout year in the 07-08 season when he was named into the Pro-Bowl, but the QB we saw that season has been long gone. Look for the Cardinals to rely on the running game now instead of that prolific passing attack we saw with Warner.
I don’t think the Cardinals are going to give up on their 10th overall pick just yet. But if he doesn’t produce this season, look for them to start looking elsewhere. All I know is that I wouldn’t want either of those quarterbacks leading my team, both of them are garbage. It’s going to be a long season for Cardinal fans.
San Diego Chargers– Ryan Mathews v. Darren Sproles
Move over Sproles as Mathews is kicking you back to special teams where you belong. The Chargers drafted a beast in Mathews as they look to improve their struggling running game from last season, and Mathews is the right guy for the job. This 220 lb-er has the ability to power through the tackles (something Sproles can’t do) and finish runs with his breakaway speed. Look for Mathews to have a major impact in the Chargers offense right away, as I project him to be my preseason rookie of the year. Sproles will be demoted to a third down back, making the most out of those screens.
Denver Broncos– Kyle Orton v. Tim Tebow v. Brady Quinn
The pressure is on Orton as he will be on a thin leash this season. After having an average year, and missing the playoffs after a 6-0 start, many people are already ready to see Tebow take over. I do not believe Orton is going to be that guy who leads Denver into the playoffs; I just can’t see it. Orton doesn’t have the arm strength you need in a quarterback and if you’re playing in Denver, arm strength is a must. He lacks all the physical attributes you need in a quarterback: he can’t throw the ball down the field, he’s slow as hell, and he is inconsistent when throwing the ball outside the hash marks/other difficult routes. Most of Orton’s throws last season were quick, short and easy throws. It’s just a matter of time until Tebow takes over. Tebow is the kind of guy who is going to be successful in anything he sets his mind too and carries all the intangibles. He is very vocal and is a natural born leader. This is the type of guy you want in the huddle. Not some guy who looks like a rat (sorry Orton). As for Quinn, I’m not even sure why Denver traded for him. Quinn has never won a big game in his career, just ask the Irish fans. But, if you are looking for a quarterback who specializes in three yard passes, then Quinn is your guy.
Edge: Orton, only because he has the experience.
Look for Tebow to end the season as the new Broncos’ starting quarterback, but either way I don’t expect to see the Broncos in the playoffs yet again. However, I do look forward to seeing Josh McDaniels do those fist pumps again acting as if they won the Super Bowl ………What a tool….
Indianapolis Colts– Pierre Garcon v. Anthony Gonzalez
Interesting battle here, as Gonzalez finally seems to shake off that knee injury from last season. Before his knee injury, Gonzalez looked to be a solid number two, but with the emergence of Garcon, he may be moved down to the fourth receiver as Austin Collie solidified himself as the slot receiver. Garcon proved to everyone that he can be a sold number two, across from Reggie Wayne, in this league. His speed, yards after catch, and abilities to stretch the field make him a special talent. He even stepped it up big in the playoffs, burning the number one Jets’ defense. Look for Garcon to retain his starting job as Gonzalez will, at best, be competing with Collie for the slot.
Edge: Garcon, speed kills in this league.
Other Position Battles:
-Washington Redskins- Clinton Portis v. Larry Johnson v. Willie Parker….Edge: Portis
(aka, the battle of the washed up, injury prone RB’s)
-Detroit Lions: Kevin Smith v. Jahvid Best…….Edge: Best (It’s the Lions……who gives a sh*t.)
-Dallas Cowboys: Alan Ball v. Michael Hamlin……Edge: Ball (Either way, the Boys still need an upgrade in safety.)
-Kansas City Chiefs: Jamaal Charles v. Thomas Jones…….Edge: Charles (Tough one here as Jones had another career year last season; expect Jones to get just as many touches.)
-Buffalo Bills: CJ Spiller v. Fred Jackson……..Edge: Spiller (Doesn’t matter because the Bills will always suck.)