With training camp under way it’s worthwhile to examine one camp battle from each division. So here are the eight I find the most important.
AFC North: Every single teams QB room.
Excluding the Bengals there is a lot to be learned about what the AFC Norths QB Situation will look like next year. The Browns have a massive decision on whether or not to play number one overall pick Baker Mayfield, or go with the safer choice in Tyrod Taylor. Then you have the Ravens who are being held back by Joe Flacco, you wonder if Lamar Jackson will see significant first team reps in camp with a host of new receiving targets around the team. Then you have the Steelers back up battle between rookie Mason Rudolph and vet Landry Jones. I don’t think Jones makes it out of the preseason alive and it will be very interesting to see how the backup scenario plays out in the Steel city.
AFC South: Colts running backs.
One would think Marlon Mack is the clear number one overall back but he didn’t have much of a chance to prove himself last year. Christine Michael is a vet who always figures out a way to get fifty plus touches a season and could be the go to guy in Frank Reich’s system if he preforms well in camp. There are also rumblings that rookie Jordan Wilkins has a chance to win the starting job. I think Mack wins the job but there is still some serious intrigue in watching the backs battle through camp and the preseason.
AFC East: Bills QB, WR, RB
This is just so much more tantalizing than the Jets QB battle. This roster has minimal offensive talent if Shady can’t go week one. So, you have to wonder if Chris Ivory is actually going to be the starting running back. Adrian Peterson? Maybe the Bills call up all day and request his services. Think about it, good fit he would get lot’s of touches with three inexperienced QB’s under center. Then you look at the QB’s and wonder who the starter is, camp will tell us a lot but I think week one the depth char goes as follows: Nathan Peterman, AJ McAaron, Josh Allen.
AFC West: Broncos running backs.
This is a bit of a homer pick. However, I think it’s ridiculous the fact some people love Royce Freeman so much more than Booker and that people sort of hate on Booker. Booker preformed well last year look no further than his game against the Colts last year. 299 yards on 79 attempts is not bad at all. Especially considering the Broncos never let him get into a rhythm even though out of college at Utah he was a rhythm runner. Freeman could be great and if he impresses in the preseason and training camp let him be the starter, but don’t throw Booker under the bus before you even give him a chance. Look no further than the season opener two years ago against the Panthers, on his first run Booker fumbles. However they come back to him and he gets a critical first down. The Broncos have never given Booker a chance, if they do he could shine.
NFC North: Lions Running Backs.
You look at the backfield in Detroit and again it remains a cluster. On one hand you have LeGarrette Blount a great down hill runner but a guy who has never had a majority of the carries in a backfield and who has dealt with some injuries. Then you have Ameer Abdullah, a considerable first round bust and a guy who I believe will be fighting to make the roster in 2018. Theo Riddick was a decent back last year but will have much more competition this year. In my opinion it’s the rookie out of Auburn Kerryon Johnson who might come out as the starter. If he has a good camp he has the skill set to be a good number one running back and has the size to be a power runner, something the Lions desperately need.
NFC South: Buccaneers Corner Backs.
The Battle between young gun Ryan Smith and vet Brent Grimes could be a heated one. Throw in Vernon Hargraves and you have a pretty contentious battle for who ends up as the number one corner for a team in desperate need of it’s secondary to show up after a bad showing this year.
NFC West: Arizona QB
Perhaps this won’t be a real battle but lot’s of people have said that Josh Rosen has a real chance to win this starting job. I think a lot of it depends on the preseason, however from what weve seen Sam Bradford usually plays well in the preseason and training camp and then get’s injured three to four weeks in. If Rosen somehow blows the doors off in training camp and the preseason though Steve Wilks just might go to him early.
NFC East: Redskins running back.
Chris Thompson verse Darius Guice. Thompson isn’t the sexiest names in running backs but he got the job done last year and Guice is a locker room weirdo who didn’t come out of the draft process looking like a great teammate. Will he acclimate and earn the trust of the coaching staff throughout training camp is the biggest question here. If he does the answer to the starting RB question is without a doubt Guice.