NFL Training Camp 2017: Position Battle News & Notes
The Clock is Ticking
The preseason is half way over and many position battles have been decided. If the outcome is not fully determined at this point, there is usually a clear leader. This player will be getting the majority of the reps with the number one offense. These reps, along with the growing familiarity with the #1 offense, only adds to the advantage of the front-runner. Some battles remain undecided. Some positions are just to close to call. While others have a greater number of players who are trying to earn the coveted spot they battle over. Not all position battles remain open due to overwhelming talent stacked on the depth chart. Positions can remain open because it seems that nobody wants to step up and claim it for themselves. When there is a chance for players to rise above the competition only to have a disappointing performance that leaves more questions than answers.
Jaguars QB Situation
Blake Bortles is the perfect example of a quarterback who opens a position battle himself due to lack of execution. Grumblings of restless fans, media, and even teammates have emerged out of Jaguars camp over the past few weeks. These grumblings came to a head Thursday night after Bortles went 8-13 for 65 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. These numbers feel far superior than the performance on display. At the press conference following the 12-8 loss to the Buccaneers, Coach Doug Marrone announced he had spoken with both Bortles and Chad Henne about the job opening. Whoever can show him they have what it takes to start for his football team will do just that. Henne was 6-10 in the game with 44 yards. There were a couple sure touchdown passes dropped by receivers on darts thrown by Henne. This is probably just an attempt to light a fire under Bortles by Coach Marrone. If that doesn’t happen though, it’s already out that a switch will be made. Either way something has to give for the Jags. They will start the season on the road in Houston.
Broncos Need an Arm
The Denver Broncos rode their defense to a Super Bowl title in 2016. Even with the eroding skills of Peyton Manning, they were the top team in football. It seemed a foregone conclusion that Brock Osweiler would take over the reigns and continue Denver’s winning ways. Osweiler decided to take the money and hit the road instead for Houston. So the team took a 6’7”, 245lb. quarterback out of Memphis to run the offense. GM John Elway knew that Lynch would be a work in progress. They used his rookie season as a red shirt year. Heading into his second season, however, he has not shown the promise the team had hoped for. Trevor Siemian led the team last year. With a record of 8-6 in 14 starts Siemian completed 59.5% of his passes. He threw 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in a solid yet unspectacular rookie season. Siemian is on track to remain the starter in part due to Paxton Lynch’s inconsistent play. Elway made a bold move trading up to the 26th pick in order to draft Lynch. This is why Lynch will receive ample opportunities to finally have it all click for him. If it were not for Lynch getting every opportunity possible to step up, the team would have named Siemian the starter by this point in the preseason. The Broncos open the season at home against the Chargers.
Cardinals Air Attack
Bruce Arians ripped his wide receivers this past week saying that out of all his receivers, not all should be starting in the NFL, saying “We might have two” who should start. The two players Arians was referring to were future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald and 5th year All-Pro Jaron Brown. Jaron Brown has passed John Brown on the depth chart. Due to John Brown’s inability to stay healthy and on the field, it easy to see why. Jaron Brown is less than 10 months removed from ACL surgery himself. Arizona does have a number of injury concerns at receiver and an aging quarterback in Carson Palmer. Thankfully the Cardinals have one of the top running backs in the league with David Johnson and a stiff defense to boot. Arizona opens the season on the road in Detroit against the Lions.
Saints Go Marching
The New Orleans Saints have been known for their awesome aerial attack led by veteran quarterback Drew Brees. The Saints have finished the ’15 and ’16 season with a respectable 7-9 record both years. Respectable considering their defense in each of those years was historically bad. The offense has never missed a beat, however. The acquisition of Adrian Peterson, behind the #1 running back Mark Ingram, could end up being the best move made in the offseason by any team. Rookie Alvin Kamara has done nothing but impress in his first NFL preseason. The Saints 3rd round pick out of Tennessee was the top recruit for running backs out of high school. Originally a recruit of the Alabama Crimson Tide, a knee injury and behavioral issues ended his time in Alabama. This sent Kamara to rethink his priorities while playing for Hutchinson Community College. Eventually Alvin received a second chance in the SEC with the Volunteers. The first offensive snap for the Saints Saturday night against the Chargers was 50 yard jaunt by Kamara for the touchdown. The Saints defense also looks to be on an uptick. They recorded 8 sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery against the Chargers. The Saints travel to Minnesota to play the Vikings week one of 2017.
News and Notes
- WSH Jordan Reed TE has been activated off of the PUP list.
- CIN Shawn Williams S dislocated his elbow Sunday and could miss 4-6 weeks. There is the possibility of Shawn being placed on injured reserve and ending Williams season.
- BUF Anquan Boldin WR announces his retirement.
- BAL announces Joe Flacco QB will return to practice this preseason though he will not see action in any preseason games. Backup Ryan Mallet has been solid in Flacco’s absents. All reports on Flacco’s back are “good”.
- PIT Martavis Bryant WR caught 2 of 3 passes in his return to action for the Steelers. Pittsburgh is still waiting on Le’veon Bell to sign his franchise tender and begin to practice with the team. Rookie James Conner rushed 20 times for 98 yards Sunday against the Falcons. Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown did not play.