clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A Look At NFL Position Battles After A Week Of Preseason Fun

The first week of preseason play in the NFL is over. Where do things stand with the league's biggest roster battles?

Aug 11, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; NFL: Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn (15) talks with Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker (10) following a 27-17 victory by the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE
Aug 11, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; NFL: Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn (15) talks with Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker (10) following a 27-17 victory by the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

Congratulations. You made it through Monday night's minor league game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders. You have successfully completed the first week of preseason football, the NFL's own version of purgatory.

A never-ending slate of games did at least give us some insight into where things stand on the various roster battles happening around the league. Let's take a look at where things stand with a little insight from our team bloggers.

Miami Dolphins Wide Receivers

Sure Chad Johnson's arrest provided plenty of fodder for the Internet. It also left the Dolphins scrambling to find answers at the wide receiver position, a position where answers were few from the start. Davone Bess has been the top guy in training camp; he saw most of his work in the slot last year. Legedu Naanee has a chance to claim the other starting job with Brian Hartline injured. The real competition, however, may be from a pair of younger receivers, says SB Nation's Dolphins blog The Phinsider:

Julius Pruitt and Roberto Wallace seem to have the inside track to claim their spots, but, everyone thought that last week too, then the Dolphins released their first depth chart, with Wallace listed at the bottom of the wide receivers. Pruitt and Wallace were the first two to work with Bess and Naanee in the first team reps during yesterday's practice, and are thought to be impressing the coaches in camp.

The two combined for 10 catches and 123 yards in Miami's preseason opener last weekend.

Matt Moore Vs. Ryan Tannehill

You can't really talk about the Dolphins receivers without mentioning the quarterback battle there. The original three-man field has dropped to just two players with David Garrard injured.

Matt Moore is on top of the depth chart by virtue of his incumbency. Rookie Ryan Tannehill gave head coach Joe Philbin something to think about with a strong performance last weekend. The answer may not be coming soon, according to The Phinsider:

Of course, both players want to start, and neither one wants to given an inch in this competition. The Dolphins should be releasing a new depth chart tomorrow, so it will be interesting to see who is listed as the top guy. Is it Moore moving up into the number one spot after being number two last week? Or, does coach Philbin look at this week as a chance for Tannehill to work against a number one defense. especially since Moore started last week's game?

Jake Locker Vs. Matt Hasselbeck

Preseason results all have an asterisk attached to them, but the difference between Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker last week was stark. The veteran threw two picks in his return to his old stomping grounds, even struggling with the crowd noise that he should have been familiar with.

Music City Miracles, SB Nation's Titans blog, is pulling for Locker as the team gets on track for the future.

There are all kinds of reports out there that the organization wants Locker to win the job. That is absolutely true, and he can take a huge step in that direction if he can show them that he can handle this start.

Locker showed good chemistry with Kendall Wright on Saturday night. Watching those two develop together is going to be a very exciting thing for Titans' fans.

Matt Flynn Vs. Russell Wilson

Yeah, I didn't even bother to include Tarvaris Jackson in there. Jackson did not play a single snap this weekend, which is not surprising. The only thing surprising here is that Jackson is still on the roster.

Flynn played a solid, if slightly conservative, game for Seattle last week. Russell Wilson electrified things, lighting up the Titans' second and third team defense for 114 passing yards, 59 rushing yards on three carries, while throwing a touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards and running one in himself.

Field Gulls, SB Nation's Seahawks blog, offered a reasoned take on Wilson's debut performance:

However or whatever you see him as, the fact is that Wilson posses above average tools, athleticism and instincts as a player - traits that were showcased immensely and distinctively whenever Wilson had the ball ... With that said, Wilson is just a rookie, and just like any other rookie, prone to mistakes. We also saw this Saturday, and if you bring both ends of the spectrum together, Wilson ends up being just like what you expected out of a 3rd round pick: highly dependent on development, with tons of promise.

John Skelton Vs. Kevin Kolb

The most shrug-inducing quarterback battle of all, but it's one that could rage through the preseason, if not bleed into the regular season. Revenge of the Birds broke down the play of both quarterbacks from last week's game against Kansas City, going throw by throw for each.

On Kolb:

Bottom line? Kolb didn't stand out except for the accurate back shoulder throw.

On Skelton:

If he keeps his footing, he makes good throws. He does not throw the ball well on the run. Since he has yet to see many blitzes overall, this could be something that could cause a problem.

Doug Martin Vs. LeGarrette Blount

This position battle lives in a gray area. Since both are running backs capable of contributing, the Buccaneers will get both players onto the field. Which one gets the starting nod and the bulk of the carries is yet to be determined.

Against the Dolphins, head coach Greg Schiano tabbed Blount as a his starter, with Doug Martin in mostly a third down role. Bucs Nation called it for Blount in the early results.

We can call Sunday's game a clear win for Legarrette Blount, who displayed much improved running ability, had a good pickup on a blitz, and at least caught a ball. Blount was decisive and powerful with his running, and was consistently productive. His biggest problem in the past may have been inconsistency and indecisiveness, which led to too many negative runs, with a few big runs to offset those. The new, improved Blount looked like a much more capable runner, and one on which the team could build an offense.

Evan Royster Vs. Roy Helu

In case you forgot, Robert Griffin III is not the only player wearing a Redskins uniform this season. The team is also likely to use a, get ready for it, running back. Which running back is the go-to guy is still being determined. Considering this is Mike Shanahan's team, the starting running back is likely to change at some point during the season. Tim Hightower will probably get the job, but while he gets healthy, Royster and Helu are making their case.

Hogs Haven says Royster is no lock to make the final cut at this point:

Royster was less than impressive and seemed sluggish on Thursday. There were a couple of cut-backs that the second year player missed in the game and just couldn't seem to get things going despite getting the starting nod from Mike Shanahan ... A botched hand-off early in the game with Griffin will also weigh heavily on the coaches minds.

Helu did have the best yards per carry average with 4.3 in this contest. He still has a strong grasp on his roster spot and could be a great weapon for Robert Griffin III this upcoming season.

Dontari Poe Vs. Anthony Toribio Vs. Jerrell Powe

For a stacked defense, the Chiefs went into the draft seeking more certainty at the nose tackle position, the soft underbelly of the whole thing. They picked Dontari Poe out of Memphis, knowing that he was a pretty raw player, despite lofty comparisons in the media.

Arrowhead Pride brought up Poe's progress following a recent radio interview with head coach Romeo Crennel, who said that the rookie defensive tackle had plenty of work to do.

So it this a motivation thing, hoping Poe reads this in the media? Or is this legit, Poe really does need a lot more time?

I never would've figured Poe to be a three-down player in his rookie year if the Chiefs hadn't said on draft day that Poe is a three-down player. We know defensive tackles take longer to develop. That's a point I made on draft day, hours after the pick was made.

Toribio has been one of camp's biggest surprises for the Chiefs, and he now sits atop the depth chart in the middle of the defensive line.

Green Bay Packers Second Cornerback

Yes, it is shorter to list it that way than it is to try and jam every name into the subheader. Green Bay's defense proved to be its undoing last season. In the secondary, the Packers are mixing and matching a collection of disparate parts to make things work, most notable moving Charles Woodson to safety at least some of the time.

Acme Packing Company checks in on the horse race for the cornerback job opposite Tramon Williams:

At the end of the night the leader of the pack is probably Jarrett Bush. The main reason for this is the questions surrounding the health of Davon House. Until House is healthy the best option for the #2 CB spot is Bush. Casey Hayward will still needs time to grow into his role, and should push for reps as the season goes on. Sam Shields needs to get healthy and start showing up in practice and next week against the Browns if he doesn't want to fall too far behind the rest of the pack.

How are you betting on these position battles to shake out? What other roster jockeying should be on the radar as the preseason continues? Let's discuss in the comments.