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KempBolt

Important Camp Battles

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Obviously we are all more plugged into our team's roster and depth chart than the average NFL fan. So share with the rest of us-- what are the key positions of competition to be sorted out in camp and what are you predicting/hoping for as a result.

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The RB and CB position. The starters at the positions are pretty much set, but we have a lot of depth at RB and someone good is likely to be cut. For CB I'd looking closely at the Nickel position, I thought DJ Moore might be the guy but he was cut. I'm hoping Rashaan Melvin steals the spot, I really like his potential.

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:Chargers:

 

RG: Jeromey Clary was a serviceable guard in his first year transitioning over from tackle. There's no getting around the fact that he's overpaid, but I appreciate his steady play in pass protection and from all accounts he's a good guy to have in a locker room. That said, he's in the last year of his deal and currently on the PUP list due to offseason hip and shoulder surgeries.

 

Filling in for him is a combination of Johnnie Troutman and Chris Watt. Trout was very lopsided last year in his chances on the field-- he provided about as strong of run blocking as I saw out of our line all year, but his pass protection was at times atrocious. Keeping in mind that it was essentially his rookie year in 2013, I'm keeping my mind open to potential improvements. Chris Watt is a 3rd round rookie who has apparently looked comfortable thus far. He's penciled in as a future starting guard, or perhaps center is he can be groomed for it.

 

The Chargers are in a pretty good position. With Clary not practicing, they'll get a chance to give tons of snaps to the young guys-- they'll should know what they have by camp's end. If one of them impresses enough, Clary could be gone. If not, well he's projected to be back healthy by week 1.

 

 

5th WR: So this probably sounds really unexciting, but given the fragility of both Eddie Royal and Malcom Floyd, a 5th WR could pretty easily factor into the regular season. The candidates are returning veteran/STer Seyi Ajirotutu, CFL poachee Dontrelle Inman, 7th round rookie burner Tevin Reese, and an assorted UDFA grab bag.

 

While Ajirotutu and Inman possess coveted size, I'm pulling for Reese to separate himself here. His deep ball skills and speed would be unique skill sets on our roster. There's also hope that he can contribute as a KR, which is a job up for grabs in camp this year. Not to jump the gun, but the first day of practice was really positive for Tevin.

 

The main obstacle in his way is his diminutive frame. He'll need to continue to get bigger/stronger while proving that he can hold up and produce once the pads come on.

 

 

DL: Though I can make some pretty educated guesses, Corey Liuget is the only player who I think is locked into a starting job up front for the Chargers. Kendall Reyes has tantalized with incredible talent and pass rush production at times, but has been extremely suspect vs the run at others (in addition to disappearing entirely). The job is really his to lose, but if he comes out looking like he did last year I wouldn't be surprised if he did in fact lose it to a steadier player like Lawrence Guy.

 

On the nose, Sean Lissemore is the projected starter. Despite not fitting the typical 330+ lb prototype, he gave our run defense a boost last year when he was healthy. But he's always been a part time player, so one has to consider what a much larger snap load might do to his effectiveness. Rookie Ryan Carrethers looks the part, but based on what I saw at Arkansas State, he's at least a year away. Kwame Geathers is the x factor here. Normally I'd say that he's too tall to be a starting NT, but we're only in our base 3-4 ~40% of the time, so he might have a shot. He ran really hot and cold at Georgia so I'm interested to see if he can discover some consistency.

 

Rotation is going to be the name of the game up front regardless of who "starts," but I'm still fascinated to know who earns the lions' shares.

Edited by KempBolt

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Probably kicker for the Lions. As crazy as it sounds.

 

Is Devin Taylor going to give Jones any competition for the LE spot?

  • Upvote 1

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our most important competition will probably be with the linebackers based on the combination of scheme change, poor performance last year, and a lot of new faces, Wesley Woodyard is more than likely starting at one inside spot and Zach Brown will probably get the other, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Moise Fokou, who started most of last season at MLB, or Colin McCarthy, who's also a very good MLB when healthy, push for a spot, then the OLB spots are completely up in the air, though regardless of who's officially 'starting' there'll probably be a good rotation among Akeem Ayers, Derrick Morgan, Shaun Phillips, and Kamerion Wimbley

 

the second CB spot should be interesting as well between Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Coty Sensabaugh, though similarly to the OLBs I expect whoever loses this competition will still see a lot of action as the nickel back

 

fourth WR could be interesting as well, we all know the top three, but behind them it's basically a crapshoot, hopefully Michael Preston can finally make the leap to be a decent contributor rather than the perennial practice squad all-star or Marc Mariani can prove himself useful on offense rather than just as a returner, where I don't think he'll find a roster spot behind Leon Washington and Dexter McCluster (assuming we're willing to use McCluster in that capacity, which I'm expecting) beyond those two we've also got journeymen Brian Robiskie and Derek Hagan, in the not unlikely event none of those guys step up we'll probably end up grabbing someone off the scrap heap once other teams make their cuts

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Blidi is pretty much guaranteed the #2 CB spot, IMO. Sensabaugh is a slot CB and is good at it, no reason to move him from there. Ray Horton also likes his CBs to be a bit on the physical side, and Blidi fits that a good deal better than Sensabaugh.

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I really liked Wreh-Wilson coming out of Connecticut. The Huskies have become quite the little factory in recent years.

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For the Eagles I think an important battle will be at SS. Nate Allen played much better this year than he ever has and he'll be playing under the same scheme with a DC who is actually a DC. He could build on that, he could level off or he could regress. I'm hoping he builds on it to be honest because he got drafted in the second round for a reason. He's a decent athlete with good size. Earl Wolff is the challenger for his spot. Wolff was really raw when he was on the field this year but he has everything he needs and more physically, but he has a long way to go before he's anything more than a back up. If he can make the jump he could be a good player. The Eagles need to show they can develop defensive talent as well as offensive talent.

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:49ers: Backup RB with Hunter out for year now. Will go to Hyde, IMO, but James and Lattimore will both put up fair competition.

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Safety:

 

The safety spot next to McCourty is the big one. It's between Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson, possibly Logan Ryan if we move him from CB to S, and Pat Chung (no God, please).

 

Harmon is a 2nd year player from Rutgers obviously, got some snaps at S last year. Probably the favorite right now.

 

Tavon Wilson, 3rd year player, right now it's fair to say he's been a monumental bust.

 

Logan Ryan, 2nd year player, really liked him at CB last year; big time ball-hawk. Kinda small for a S but I could see us going this route. S's aren't even allowed to lay out receivers anymore anyway, so his small size probably isn't a big deal.

 

And then there's Pat Chung who if he wins the starting S spot, I am going to be very scared because that means everyone else must really blow.

 

----------------------------------

 

Center:

 

Ryan Wendell, the incumbent. Was horrible last year. Too small, gets overpowered by bigger DL.

 

Dan Connolly: did a good job at RG last year, I could see a switch to C for him and then have Marcus Cannon, who I love, play RG.

 

Bryan Stork: the rookie. Not sure BB will trust a rookie to play C, so Connolly is my pick.

 

----------------------------------

 

Those are probably the only starting spots up for grabs.

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Running back will be a huge position to watch heading into pre-season. The Falcons seem set on letting the Steven Jackson signing play out for our #1 back, but they are a mess after that. They seemed to like Rodgers as the #2, the drafting of Freeman kind of illustrated they know he's not the guy that can replace Jackson. The Rodgers/Freeman battle should be good to watch to see who will get the most carries behind Jackson.

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Obviously we are all more plugged into our team's roster and depth chart than the average NFL fan. So share with the rest of us-- what are the key positions of competition to be sorted out in camp and what are you predicting/hoping for as a result.

Texans have several battles looming.

With the addition of Tyson Clabo, Derek Newton will have some competition for the RT position, despite DN already being named starter. Newton could keep it for now, simply because he has a heads up on Clabo.

The linebacker positions also need to be solidified as do some of the secondary spots. Brooks Reid will likely switch to ILB with Cushing, with hopefully some strong competition from Max Bullough.

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The Falcons all across the board at LB is interesting as well. The loss of Spoon makes it open season at every backer spot...but if we have Angerer and Worrilow on the inside in our 3-4 packages...that's gonna be nasty. I'm pretty excited for our run defense this year as long as everyone remains healthy.

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The S position is going to be the most important for the Packers featuring 1st round pick HaHa Clinton-Dix and converted CB, Micah Hyde. Through two days (yes, I know it's only two days), Hyde has been with the 1's and has excelled while Dix has looked mediocre at best giving up big plays and letting the Flynn - Abbrederis connection beat him.

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QB. I think it will be McCown's unless he completely fucks up in TC and the pre-season, but it'd be very interesting if Glennon could take it from him.

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:Eagles:

 

Safety - Our most interesting camp battle at the moment is at the safety position like Sean already mentioned. Nate Allen has pretty much underwhelmed at the position for quite a few years. However last season, he played very well down the stretch in Billy Davis's system. I'm still very excited about Earl Wolff because of the potential he has. He flies all over the place, is very athletic and I like his tenacity when he attempts to make tackles. Nate Allen appears to be a better center fielder and Wolff is better at being a in the box safety who was somewhat shaky in coverage at times. Considering Nate Allen's improvement last year playing very well down the stretch and this will be the first year he will have constancy having the same defensive coordinator thus keeping the same system, it appears to be his job to lose unless Earl Wolff explodes on the scene. Again, excited about Earl Wolffs potential but we need the better cover guy on the field considering our pass defense last year. We were pretty solid against the run.

 

CB - The Eagles picked up Nolan Carroll from free agency this offseason and Chip said he can immediately compete for a starting job. For some reason amongst Eagle fans and local media, it seems that Cary Williams job security is sealed and Bradley Fletcher is the person that is being pushed for his job. I honestly believe it should be the other way around. Cary Williams did make some great splash plays but he was getting beat and getting penalties more than I'm comfortable with. He played that soft zone coverage and allowed so many first downs underneath that use to drive me CRAZY. However, Fletcher appeared to be consistently above average throughout the season and made some nice under the radar plays. Injuries have been an issue over his career and he was hurt for a few games but I was more impressed with his consistent play/results over Cary Williams erratic gamestyle. Carroll has also been very impressive so far. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

 

Back up QB - The Eagles brought in Mark Sanchise ( :laugh:) this free agency period and we have Matt Barkley going into year 2. My thoughts on Sanchez isn't as critical as everyone else's. I always felt as though if Sanchez had a nice system around him and a running game to take the pressure off, he could be at least be an effective game manager type of QB. The Jets never quite put anything around him and Chip Kelly's system is so QB friendly so I don't see him as a bad pick up like most people. And Matt Barkley last season, I saw some good things and saw bad things as well. The drives that he orchestrated, he did very well moving up the field at times. However, he just made some horrible decisions and couldn't finish drives. In that Dallas game, we were getting stoned on offense period (lol), and in the Giants game, I saw flashes. For a rookie QB in this first games against division opponents where games can go either way, I'll give him a pass. Like I said, I saw some good with the bad so he's not without all hope.

Edited by Dutch
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:jags:

 

RG — The Jags drafted Brandon Linder in the 3rd round to compete with Jacques McClendon for the starting RG spot to replace the departed Uche Nwaneri. The cut of Nwaneri makes some sense because he's not exactly the most athletic guard and in the ZBS that's obviously what you're going for — his contract and them not seeing him in their future plans were part of the reasoning as well. So far both Linder and McClendon have traded reps with the 1s but until the pads come on that battle is still open. Linder is definitely the athletic guard type you would look for in the ZBS. I personally was very unimpressed with him during Senior Bowl week during one-on-one drills but during the actual game we didn't see those problems surface. Further research into his cut-ups and games at Miami reveals a very versatile and effective guard. Obviously he played with current Jags OC Jedd Fisch in Miami so he knows his strengths and weaknesses and I do expect him to win the job. But McClendon does offer a different set of skills in that he's more the mauler type. If he can execute what the Jags want in the ZBS he has a shot at holding Linder off for another year but it's obvious that Linder is the future at RG for the Jags.

 

OLB — Posluszny is a lock to start at MLB but there's actually two battles to be won at both OLB spots. Geno Hayes started at weakside linebacker last year and will look to hold off the impressive rookie and one of my favorite draft value grabs in former FSU LB Telvin Smith. Geno's problem has always been inconsistency and one of Gus Bradley's repeated words about the LB core has been consistency. Geno flashes big plays but also can drive you nuts with break downs giving up plays as well. Telvin Smith is an athletic confident ball of energy who has legitimate LB instincts, anticipation and speed. He's always around the ball. The main knock on him from some has been is he too light to play LB? He's flashed already many times in OTAs and in training camp so far and even gotten reps with the 1s over Geno Hayes already. The thing with Telvin is even if he doesn't win the starting spot it's believed no matter what he will see the field on nickel defense and passing downs due to his outstanding coverage potential and agility.

 

The Jags are calling the strongside linebacker spot the OTTO now, and it's said that this LB will have more frequent pass rush/blitzing responsibilities. This is interesting because the guy they brought in to man this spot is Dekoda Watson. The only problem is he's still sitting out due to sports hernia surgery. This has left the door wide open to an impressive UDFA from last year in LaRoy Reynolds:

 

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He was a special teams demon last year but has a high ceiling given his physical gifts, tenacity and instincts. His future IMO lies at MLB once they move on from Posluszny but for now he's getting looks at the OTTO spot. For now the Jags are on a wait and see with Watson on when he'll be ready to be 100% to actually compete for the job they envisioned him at and until then it seems it's Reynolds' gig.

 

WR — The top three of Shorts, Robinson and Lee seem like a lock. But prior to Ace Sanders' suspension he was in a battle for the 4th WR spot with Mike Brown and impressive UDFA Allen Hurns. He was also in a battle for the PR spot with veteran Tandon Doss. It wouldn't shock me at all if the Jags put Ace Sanders on the IR with a designation to return later in the year while he seeks help with his personal issues. So now it's down to 5 guys with Mike Brown, Allen Hurns, Damian Copeland, Kerry Taylor, and Chad Bumphis. Tandon Doss isn't so much so in the battle just because it seems like he's gonna be looked at as a four core special teams guy given his success returning punts and as a gunner in coverage units. Chad Bumphis is limited to the slot role only and has done some good things in OTAs when all the starting 3 WRs were out with injuries but I haven't heard anything at all about him in training camp. It's quite the opposite with former Miami Hurricane Allen Hurns. He knows Jedd Fisch's system and the coaching staff as well as the QBs have raved about him so far. He's got size, good speed and has been playing at every WR position so far. He looks like he has a legitimate shot at making the roster. Mike Brown has improved each year after working out with Cecil Shorts, Larry Fitzgerald and those other WRs in Fitz's offseason camps. He flashed some good games last year and will be a pain in the ass to beat for the other WRs, he's consistent and solid. Damian Copeland is a dark horse; he's really good at finding spots in zone to get open and made lots of plays for former teammate Teddy Bridgewater the past couple years. This is gonna be one of the most if not the most contested battle in camp and the preseason for the Jags. I expect Mike Brown and Allen Hurns to make the cut in the end with Tandon Doss making the team strictly as a special teams and emergency WR option.

 

RB — Toby Gerhart is gonna be the starter. Behind him however is very interesting. Jordan Todman did really well in his spot starts for an injured MJD last year and offers a change of pace with his speed and ability to get outside. However Denard Robinson has been a star so far in OTAs and training camp — not only with his speed and vision running but with newly found good hands in receiving. Last year Denard couldn't catch to save his life. What we weren't made aware of was that he was still having nerve damage issues with one of his hands due to that injury in college that forced him to stop throwing and playing as a QB at Michigan. Apparently he couldn't open his hand and keep it open without it involuntarily closing due to this nerve issue. As you can imagine that makes for some serious issues catching the football. This year? It's completely healed and he's making snag after snag. He said he spent the offseason clutching a football damn near every hour of every day too in hopes of overcoming his fumble issues (which also could be due to that nerve issue.) Making this spot even harder to predict is rookie Storm Johnson — another one of my favorite draft value picks. It sucks but I can see him being the odd man out just due to him being a year behind in knowing the system like the other guys. All three of these backs sort of offer the same thing and that's quickness and speed. However IMO Robinson and Storm Johnson have better vision than Todman. If I were to have my way it'd be Todman to be the odd man out but he's certainly flashed and proven himself more so far than Robinson and obviously the rookie. One thing all will need to work on is pass protection. That may be the area that wins the battle for these guys because they're all very quick, and fast.

 

TE — Marcedes Lewis is obviously the starter there but behind him are intriguing receiving options in Clay Harbor and UDFA Marcel Jensen. Clay Harbor showcases sneaky route running ability and can do some things as a move TE in double TE sets. He made some nice plays last year but needs to show up better blocking to really separate from the rookie. Jensen is a specimen. He's the same size as Marcedes Lewis (and thus has the same potential as a blocker — though like Lewis coming out of college he needs a ton of work in that area.) However he's a smoother receiver than Marcedes IMO. He looks effortless catching the ball and offers a nice red zone option along with Marcedes inside the 10 as he's not only tall be he has UPs and jump ball skills as well. He stood out big time in OTAs including this play for a TD:

 

iCsoISYTyAPw5.gif

 

However he's been quiet in training camp so far and instead Marcedes Lewis has been the star, with Clay Harbor flashing some plays as well. All three probably make the roster but it'll be interesting if the rookie can recover in camp and unseat Harbor who has less potential as a "true" TE.

Edited by CampinWithGoatSampson
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Micah Hyde still making big, flashy plays... Sean Richardson (backup S who was hurt last year) also putting good stuff on tape and in the coaches heads. Dix still looks like a rookie, says he isn't fully caught up on the speed of the game yet (in practice.. ugh). Not down on Dix at all, yet... but it definitely looks like he will be redshirting his rookie year unless something big happens.

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After the Jags live streamed their most recent night practice (did it at a HS in the county over to give back to some regional fans), along with listening to coaches when asked some questions about the position it has become clear to me: Center is an open competition quietly as well.

 

C — The Jags took a shot at signing Alex Mack to a deal even though the Browns had more cap space than them and could easily match his offer sheet. They obviously knew Mike Brewster isn't your ideal choice at Center going into the year. It became obvious that the Jags didn't really expect Mack to be let free by the Browns after he signed the Jags contract and liked his visit but that's a story for another thread. Mike Brewster was immediately talked about as their guy. The only thing is he's undersized, and lacking in strength. Apparently he spent a lot of time in the weight room this offseason to try and get stronger but he's still lacking in that area compared. He can move around though and in a ZBS being able to move around is a good thing, but you still need some strength/anchor to your game. He was terrible in 10 starts at OG in the past, and while C is his more natural position all three teams in the AFC South now run a 3-4 defense which means he'll have a big NT lined up right on him and if you're lacking strength there's gonna be some problems. A player I mentioned before in a battle at RG Jacques McClendon is taking 2nd string snaps at C too. When asked about the RG battle, Gus Bradley lowkey said he wanted to get "the best guys on the field" and Linder the rookie at RG was doing a nice job and that's why he was running with the 1s over McClendon. As well as "we're playing McClendon at Center too." In fact the entire practice McClendon never lined up at RG and instead played Center. Meanwhile Mike Brewster was getting whipped the entire practice by any big man they lined up across from him. As I mentioned before in the RG post McClendon brings a mauler type aspect to the OL. He's got strong hands and a nice punch. He's not as mobile as Brewster but he wasn't getting beat over and over again like Brewster was in one-on-one drills or team drills either. I feel like it's very possible McClendon can overtake and beat out Brewster at the Center position now. I just don't think Brewster has it for the NFL.

Edited by CampinWithGoatSampson

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Doesn't surprise me to hear Mike Brewster sucking. He was awful at Ohio St.

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Doesn't surprise me to hear Mike Brewster sucking. He was awful at Ohio St.

 

And yet he was regarded as the best pivot in the country.

 

Center seems to be the one position that outsiders get horribly wrong most often.

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Doesn't surprise me to hear Mike Brewster sucking. He was awful at Ohio St.

LeCharles was always very clear about this. Brewster was awful and had 0 technique.

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