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2014 NFL preseason position battles: Teddy Bridgewater still has work to do

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Manziel was efficient -- if unremarkable -- while Bridgewater was outplayed by veteran Matt Cassel. Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden continue to battle in Oakland and Packers rookie Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is still stuck on the second team.

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Manziel vs. Brian Hoyer

At least one report claims that Johnny Manziel has leapfrogged Brian Hoyer after the rookie's mundane but efficient preseason debut last weekend. Manziel entered in the second quarter and went 7-of-11 for 63 yards passing and led the team with 27 yards rushing. Hoyer, who started the game, finished with an unimpressive 6-of-14 for 92 yards, making a pair of bad overthrows in the process.

It's worth noting that Browns head coach Mike Pettine denied the report that Manziel leads the competition, saying there is no clear-cut favorite.

It's still unclear how realistic Manziel's shot of starting the regular season is, but there does seem to be a strong chance he'll get the nod next Monday against Washington. That game could very well be the deciding factor, as Pettine has said he'd like to have a decision made before the third exhibition.

Teddy Bridgewater vs. Matt Cassel

The Teddy Bridgewater era didn't exactly start with a bang against the Raiders last Friday. While the rookie did get first-team reps and entered on the second drive, he went 6-of-13 for 49 yards and fumbled while getting sacked. Matt Cassel, meanwhile, went 5-of-6 while leading the Vikings to their only touchdown of the game on the opening drive.

That performance has earned Cassel another start this Saturday against the Cardinalsaccording to the Pioneer Press. Coach Mike Zimmer said he'll decide after that game whether Bridgewater will start in either of the final two preseason contests.

Still, this competition is still very much up in the air. Ted Glover at Daily Norseman saw plenty of promise in Bridgewater's statistically unremarkable debut.

"[Bridgewater] made smart decisions with the football. He didn't force the ball, made some good throws (one 15-yard completion was nullified with a penalty), and seemed to have a pocket presence beyond his years.

Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Darren McFadden

The Matt Schaub vs. Derek Carr competition is getting the headlines in Oakland (Schaub is still holding the starting spot after a shaky game against the Vikings), but it's the running back competition that may be the most intriguing. Last weekend's game didn't tell us a whole lot about the state of the Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Darren McFadden competition, as the two veterans combined for just three carries.

Jones-Drew, who is listed as the starter on the unofficial depth chart, was more active, grabbing a pair of passes to go with his two carries (he had a third called back by a penalty). McFadden's only touch went for 23 yards.

We likely won't get a good idea of how touches will be split until the regular season. Given both players' injury history, they're going to get light work in exhibitions. Last preseason McFadden had just eight touches while Jones-Drew, still with Jacksonville, had 10.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix vs. Micah Hyde

Most folks expected Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to walk right into the Packers' starting free safety spot, but Micah Hyde is putting up quite the battle. Hyde, a second-year converted cornerback, remains atop the depth chart as Clinton-Dix continues to learn the defense.

Both Hyde and Clinton-Dix actually started the preseason game against the Titans thanks to an injury to strong safety Morgan Burnett. Clinton-Dix made three tackles and an impressive diving pass defense during his 29 snaps. He also made a few mental errors and got run over by 170-pound Dexter McCluster.

With Burnett back at practice on Monday, Clinton-Dix still needs to fight through Hyde to crack the first team.

Shonn Greene vs. Bishop Sankey

The expectation is that Shonn Greene is just a warm body holding the Titans' starting running back spot until rookie Bishop Sankey gets his sea legs. Greene tallied just four carries against the Packers over the weekend, but one of them was an impressive cutback that ended with a 13-yard touchdown run.

Sankey found the end zone himself on a five-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter but averaged just 2.8 yards on 13 carries. This looks to be a committee back approach (with electric playmaker Dexter McCluster in the mix as well), but Sankey should see more and more of the carries as the season progresses.