2012 NFL Training Camp has lifted off, so let's take a look at the top position battles on offense for each NFC team!
NFC Offensive Battles
QB Battle: Kolb vs. Skelton
- In what has been a very injury-riddled career for Kevin Kolb so far, might pay dividends this season for John Skelton. If Kolb is able to stay healthy, he should fight off Skelton for the #1 spot, but Skelton will continue to push him for the starting gig. With his strong arm & building chemistry with Fitzgerald, John could be the guy the offense relies on to take them to a postseason birth this season.
RB Battle: Turner vs. Snelling vs. Rodgers
- Yes, we are putting up an argument to replace Michael Turner as starting running back. Turner is aging & his hits are beginning to take a toll on his entire body. With Jason Snelling being a very agile power back, Turner is immediately pushed for the amount of carries he will receive this year. This competition also includes 2nd year running back Jacquizz Rodgers, once compared to Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans. Jacquizz has the speed & quickness to elevate the Falcons' running game & take pressure off of White & Jones. Turner should be the #1 back going into the regular season, but expect his reps to be limited this year, with Rodgers taking a good share away from him, as well as Snelling coming 3rd in weekly touches.
RB Battle: Williams vs. Stewart vs. Tolbert
- The question isn't if they have solid options at running back, but who will get the most touches at the position. With new arrival Mike Tolbert, who had a couple good games in San Diego, Stewart & Williams are immediately pushed for their starting gigs. It looks like Williams could open the season as the starter, with Stewart complimenting him as the #2 back, but look for Tolbert to steal a good amount of 3rd down/goalline carries away from both backs. We are very curious how exactly the Panthers decide to treat each back when it comes to weekly carries, but there's a good chance that whatever option they do use will be positive. I mean, who are we kidding? They have Cam Newton at the helm, after a monster year in his rookie campaign.
WR Battle: Hester vs. Bennett vs. Jeffery
- Look out for DA' BEARS this season! After acquiring Brandon Marshall as their #1 WR for Jay Cutler, the Bears will have to choose who will be their 2nd & 3rd options on offense. Between Forte & Bush, the running game will attract enough attention to let their wide receivers run loose all game. Hester may be the 1st man up as the #2 WR, come week 1 of the regular season, but look for Bennett to make a ton of noise this season, with rookie Alshon Jeffery eventually having his coming out party as the season progresses. 6 foot 7 Kellen Davis will break up the opposing safeties, making it almost impossible to guard each WR. Look for the rotation to showcase Marshall, then Hester, followed by Bennett, until Jeffery is eased into the big leagues.
WR Battle: Ogletree vs. Austin vs. Holmes vs. Harris vs. Coale
- With Dez Bryant staring at a possible suspension and Austin aggravated by hamstring injuries, the Cowboys look very shallow at wide receiver this season. If the 2 starters can't sustain their spots this season, look for Olgetree to be a top option early in the season. The Cowboys will soon be scrambling to pick up WR options off of free agency, but that is barring any of their other options emerging. Only time will tell for Dallas, as right now, they are not in an ideal situation for their offense.
WR Battle: Young vs. Burleson vs. Broyles
- With the entire world knowing Megatron will hold that #1 receiving spot, not just for the Lions, but for the entire league, we are curious to see who comes up as the #2 option this year. After a strong showing in his rookie year, Titus Young may have the upperhand on veteran Nate Burleson & newcomer Ryan Broyles, especially considering Broyles is coming off a knee injury. Look for Young to start across Calvin Johnson week 1, with Broyles possibly making a splash during the latter part of the season this year.
Green Bay Packers
RB Battle: Starks vs. Tyler vs. Saine vs. Bennett
- The Packers have it all together, and even without a running back solidifying their offense, they are ranked #1 in the power rankings going into the 2012-2013 season. While Rodgers has proved it doesn't matter who he has at running back in any given moment, Green Bay could definitely use a guy to step up this year. With Ryan Grant out, James Starks is the early favorite for the starting gig, but look for Marc Tyler to make a ton of noise right away. A young running back out of USC, Tyler has the ability to contribute right away for the Cheeseheads, while Saine & Bennett are a bit behind in this battle.
WR Battle: Jenkins vs. Childs vs. Simpson
- Barring any injuries, Percy will begin the season as the top option at wide receiver for Christian Ponder, but the question remains for #2 option. Simpson would probably have the spot locked up, but is suspended for the 1st 3 games of the season, so Minnesota needs someone else to step up for them. With the competition being between declining Michael Jenkins & rookie Greg Childs, Childs could emerge as a solid 2nd option for Ponder. Look for Childs to open the season starting opposite Harvin, but Simpson to push him for that spot come week 4.
New Orleans Saints
RB Battle: Thomas vs. Ivory vs. Ingram
- The entire league knows Darren Sproles will get his fair shair of touches, whether it comes rushing or receiving, but who will be the next back in line to grab touches this season? It comes down to 2nd year player Mark Ingram, previous #1 back Pierre Thomas, & surprisingly effective in 2011, Chris Ivory. If I had to choose a player out in front right now, it would be Pierre Thomas, but Mark Ingram is just itching to break out in his 2nd year in the league. With the Saints offense passing the ball more than often anyways, look for Ingram to take control of their running game & emerge as a top RB in the league this year.
New York Giants
WR Battle: Barden vs. Jernigan vs. Randle vs. Stanback
- Eli Manning has his top 2 WR targets, Hakeem Nicks & Victor Cruz, returning this season, as the Super Bowl Champion New York GMEN look to repeat this 2012-2013 season! His 3rd favorite target last year, Mario Manningham, has been shipped to San Francisco, so now the Giants need someone to step up to take his place. The options they will be choosing from include: Tall, physical Ramses Barden; former Cowboys WR Isaiah Stanback; 2nd year player Jerrel Jernigan; and lastly rookie & former LSU star, Rueben Randle. Ramses Barden was the supposed #2 guy in the early part of last year, but injuries threw him off track, giving way to Cruz & Manningham. We believe Ramses will emerge as the 3rd option, but look for Randle, who was compared to Hakeem Nicks, to push him for the gig and definitely get some touches from Eli this year, while we also need to be aware of Jerrel, as he has had an outstanding training camp. Whoever prevails, Eli is in a very good position as Jerry Reese made sure to surround him with talent this year.
WR Battle: Avant vs. Gilyard vs. Jacobson
- Mike Vick at the helm, he looks to take football's supposed "Dream Team" into an elite level, finally living up to their extremely high expectations. If DeSean is able to get back to his normal self & Maclin improves, the Eagles look for a 3rd guy to step up at the WR position. Jason Avant is a very physical guy who can ge the job done, but look for 2nd year player Mardy Gilyard & rookie from BYU McKay Jacobson push him for the 3rd spot.
San Francisco 49ers
WR Battle: Crabtree vs. Williams vs. Manningham vs. Jenkins vs. Moss
- It's not a bad problem to have, but head coach Jim Harbaugh can't seem to give an edge to anyone of his wide receivers this year. He has said earlier this offseason, "We have five #1 wide receivers". Translation = no 1 WR has stood out more than the other one. This is definitely one of the toughest, if not the most difficult battle to predict this training camp. We believe Michael Crabtree has the potential to emerge as their #1, with Super Bowl hero, Mario Manningham trailing shortly behind, & rookie A.J. Jenkins grabbing the #3 spot. Randy Moss will eventually get his reps, but he may be too old to take the majority of reps for the 49ers this season. Kyle Williams has a chance to grab the #3 spot over Jenkins, but we have high hopes for the rookie A.J. Jenkins.
QB Battle: Jackson vs. Flynn vs. Wilson
- Training camp in Seattle has consisted of a continuous battle at the helm for starting QB. It comes down to Pete Carroll choosing between Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Flynn, or Russell Wilson. Tarvaris has the starting experience & speed, while Matt Flynn was taught under Aaron Rodgers, setting a single season record for passing yards the one chance he got in Green Bay. The competition seems to be between Jackson & Flynn, while Wilson is just too young to rely on right now. Look for Matt Flynn to begin the season at starting QB come the regular season.
St. Louis Rams
WR Battle: Alexander vs. Amendola vs. Gibson vs. Givens vs. Quick vs. Pettis vs. Smith
- Sam Bradford looks to finally break out for the St. Louis Rams, but he needs to find a go-to WR. Back in the day, the Rams never had a trouble with their wide receivers, from Isaac Bruce to Torry Holt, but these days, wide receivers are hard to find in Missouri. Rookie Brian Quick is the most talked about WR to emerge as their #1 option, while Brandon Gibson is also another favorite to win a starting spot. If anyone remembers Steve Smith, former Super Bowl Champion for the New York Giants, he always has a chance to become a popular go-to guy for Bradford. Only time will tell if Amendola is fully healthy & recovered from his season-ending injury in the 2011-2012 season. Also, Danario Alexander has a shot to make a splash, as he stands 6 foot 5 inches on the outside. In our eyes, the Rams have a lot more issues than just wide receiver to fix from last season, but we see the Rams wide receivers looking as follows when week 1 begins: #1 Brandon Gibson; #2 Brian Quick; #3 Steve Smith.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
RB Battle: Blount vs. Martin
- After a so-so season in Tampa Bay, LeGarrette Blount is now being pushed for his starting job by 2012 1st round draft pick Doug Martin. Although LeGarrette did show flashes of brilliance last year, one instance being his monster run against the Green Bay Packers, Martin is more of a home run threat for the Bucs. It will be interesting to see who seizes the 1st team gig, but in our eyes, Doug Martin is more of a lock to open up the season at #1, with Blount taking more of a goalline/3rd down back role.
WR Battle: Garcon vs. Morgan vs. Hankerson
- Santana Moss looks poised to be the #1 WR for RGIII this year, but who will challenge him for balls? Pierre Garcon had a very solid season for the Indianapolis Colts last year, considering they lost Peyton Manning for the year, so look for him to get a lot of attention from Griffin. Also, look for Josh Morgan to make a little bit of noise for th Redskins, as he is also an extreme talent in the spread. Everyone anticipates Robert Griffin the 3rd to be an immediate stud, so let's see what he's got and how he handles his wide receiving corp.