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#pounditThursday, October 29, 2020

5 most intriguing NFL position battles entering training camp

Mitchell Trubisky

We don’t quite know what NFL training camp will look like this year, but when it comes down to it, expect a lot of the same narratives to emerge as usual. Teammates will be battling each other for starting roles while coaches make difficult decisions about who has earned the right to start at key positions.

Which of these battles are worth keeping a close eye on? Here are five to watch this preseason.

5. Denver Broncos RBs: Phillip Lindsay vs. Melvin Gordon

After back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, Phillip Lindsay probably thought he had a great chance to be Denver’s lead back in 2020. Then the Broncos went out and signed Melvin Gordon, casting that into doubt. Ultimately, both should see significant time out of the Denver backfield. That doesn’t mean this is lacking in intrigue. Lindsay sounds like a very motivated figure, while Gordon is trying to get his career back on track after his disastrous holdout with the Chargers. There’s a lot at stake for both players.

4. Indianapolis Colts RBs: Marlon Mack vs. Jonathan Taylor

Marlon Mack is quickly proving himself to be a steady, dependable player, and he crossed the 1,000-yard threshold for the first time last season. That wasn’t enough to dissuade the Colts from taking Wisconsin standout Jonathan Taylor in the draft, setting up an intriguing standoff. Mack has experience and results on his side, and may well have the edge. Taylor, however, has been touted as a future NFL star after consecutive 2,000-yard seasons in college at Wisconsin. It sure looks like Philip Rivers will have options to help him out of the backfield.

3. Chicago Bears QBs: Mitchell Trubisky vs. Nick Foles

The Bears finally realized that Mitchell Trubisky doesn’t deserve the right to be the team’s unquestioned quarterback and went out to get Nick Foles to compete with him. Foles’ stint in Jacksonville was a short one, but he’s not that far removed from him being a Super Bowl MVP. Foles is coming in with the expectation of winning the starting job, while the Bears’ faith in Trubisky appears to be as low as it’s ever been. That may give the veteran a slight advantage when camp starts.

2. Los Angeles Rams RBs

This position has belonged to Todd Gurley since 2015, but the former mainstay has moved on to Atlanta. That opens things up for an interesting three-way battle between second-year pro Darrell Henderson, veteran Malcolm Brown, and rookie Cam Akers. Neither Henderson nor Brown did a whole lot to inspire confidence in their ability to handle a larger load last year, meaning Akers may have a chance to make an early impact. He comes with a good pedigree from Florida State, and is definitely one to watch.

1. New England Patriots QBs: Jarrett Stidham vs. Brian Hoyer

The battle to replace Tom Brady is likely to be the most-watched battle of camp. Jarrett Stidham is widely regarded as having the clear advantage, but Brian Hoyer has plenty of experience and knows both the organization and the system well. Despite this, Stidham appears to be impressing teammates with his leadership skills. Whether he can quarterback the Patriots to a high enough standard remains to be seen, but whoever wins this job has big shoes to fill.

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