Let the Battles Begin
As the 2017 NFL season draws near there are plenty of position battles to keep an eye on. These battles will play a role in everything from the way fantasy football leagues shape up, to the team that is crowned champion of the NFL in early February. Some battles may not be noticed outside of the coaching office. Others will take place on HBO’s Hard Knocks newest installment in Tampa. A battle is brewing there between the 59th pick of last year’s draft Kicker Roberto Aguayo and veteran Nick Folk that is pitting brother against brother and tearing homes apart. Maybe I’m being dramatic. Lets take a look at some battles that can make or break a team’s chances this season.
Mile High Battle
Early on in camp for the Denver Broncos, it seems Quarterbacks Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian will split reps. Siemian has a clear advantage at the start, with his experience as starter from last season. It also seems he is the better fit for head coach Vance Joseph’s system. Joseph is in his first season with the team. Lynch, however, has a bright future and a greater big play ability. The Broncos first pre-season game will be against the Bears in Chicago on Thursday, August 10th at 8:00pm.
Cincy RB Trio
Marvin Lewis is the second longest tenured coach in the NFL behind the Patriots legendary Bill Belichick. He is yet to win a playoff game with the Bengals. It seems Lewis has an abundance of talent and a couple of decisions to make at the running back position this season. The ever controversial first round pick of the Bengals, Joe Mixon turns the backfield into a three-headed monster in Cincinnati. Giovani Bernard is trying to bounce back from an ACL tear that ended his 2016 campaign. While Jeremy Hill averaged a measly 55 yards rushing per game and is trying to get back in Lewis’ good graces. It seems as though Joe Mixon is the projected number one back. Controversial or not the kid can run. Bernard looks to fill his usual role on passing downs. This could mean Hill’s roll would be more of a change of pace back for the Bengals. I feel for fantasy purposes, look no further than Joe Mixon, as the Bengals try to turn their running game up a notch. Cincinnati opens up the pre-season at home against the Buccaneers Friday, August 8th at 7:30pm.
Da’ Bears QB Situation
The first few days of camp could not have went better for Bears rookie Quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Front office members and coaches will not openly admit to a QB battle. If Trubisky can continue his hot start, Mike Glennon will undoubtedly feel the pressure from the rookie and fans alike. Teams don’t trade up that early in the draft to take a clip board holder. There have been a few reports of some fumbles for Trubisky early on. Fumbles are common for young players learning new cadences and the speed of the NFL. Plus factor in working with multiple centers and it seems like something that will fix itself over time. It is worth keeping an eye on though. The Bears and their fans are ready to get back to the winning ways of old. Forget the 8 years that they couldn’t make it over the hump with Jay Cutler at the helm. The Bears will make their pre-season debut at home against the Broncos August 10th at 8:00pm.
Seattle’s RB Battle
At the start of training camp the Seattle backfield is more crowded than their bandwagon back in 2013. At this point it appears Eddy Lacy has the early lead for the number one RB job. With his track record however, the race is still anyone’s guess. C.J. Prosise, Alex Collins, and Thomas Rawls round out the list of potential ball carriers. Rawls broke out in 2015 when he led the league in yards per carry for the Seahawks. He regressed last season however and opened the door for then rookies C.J. Prosise and Alex Collins to break on to the scene. Prosise looked electric in his limited action before his season was lost to a fractured scapula. Prosise is said to have “beefed up” this off season. The extra weight is in hope of limiting injuries and to be more involved in early down work. Collins had 31 carries in limited action last season, averaging 4 yards per attempt. This early in training camp, even Miss Cleo cannot predict the outcome of this battle. The Seahawks kickoff the preseason on the road against the Chargers of L.A. Sunday, August 13th at 8:00pm.
Who’s next in Cleveland?
Just as fall brings new school years to children, so does it bring another question mark at the Brown quarterback slot. This year the three players trying to turn that around are Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler, and rookie DeShone Kizer. In 2016, Kessler started 8 games, going 0-8 with an injury to his chest keeping him out for several weeks. He did show flashes of starting talent last season and proved he could throw the deep ball accurately at times. Osweiler looks to prove that he can be a legit starter in the NFL. The Browns owe Osweiler a cool $19 million after trading for him in March. That’s 19 million reasons why he deserves every shot at the starting job under center. Last, but not least, is the rookie DeShone Kizer. Kizer, out of Notre Dame, is already winning over wide receiver Kenny Britt. Britt said on Sunday “He (Kizer) is going to be a great one.” Kizer had his share of ups and downs at Notre Dame. A speedster with a strong arm, Kizer could be the answer they have been waiting for in Cleveland. The Browns host the Saints Thursday, August 8th to open up their pre-season schedule.
Keep an eye out
Now that the pads are on and the first contact of the year has been made, the battles will start to heat up. Tempers will flair and stories will spiral out of the locker room and onto news feeds world wide. All positions are open to the best available player and last year means nothing. We have only scratched the surface of the battles that will unfold in the coming weeks. Buckle up because it will be a wild ride. In the words of former Jets linebacker Bart Scott, “CAN’T WAIT!!!!”