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#pounditTuesday, January 25, 2022

5 most intriguing NFL training camp battles

Drew Lock

NFL training camps are in full swing, and the preseason is officially upon us. Players are fighting for jobs and involved in intriguing position battles.

So which are some of the most intriguing training camp battles? Let’s take a look.

5. Ravens’ clown car of receivers

Baltimore will feature one of the most hotly-contested camp battles in the NFL this season. 11 wide receivers will be vying for a spot on the 53-man roster, and few of them should be considered locks. Marquise Brown and first-round rookie Rashod Bateman were the only sure things. But now Bateman could open the season on IR. Sammy Watkins and Devin Duvernay should be able to hang on to their jobs, but fourth-round rookie Tylan Wallace, James Proche, Miles Boykin, Deon Cain and others are most certainly looming. From WR3 on down, it’s anyone’s guess how things shake out. That’s what makes the battle both exciting and intriguing. The Ravens know they need to support quarterback Lamar Jackson with a quality cast of playmakers, so this is almost like an open audition.

4. Teddy Bridgewater vs. Drew Lock

The Denver Broncos have a wide open competition at quarterback, pitting Teddy Bridgewater against 2019 second-round pick Drew Lock. Many in Denver had hoped they’d somehow end up with Aaron Rodgers, but now that that ship has sailed, the reality is setting in that it will either be Bridgewater or Lock. Neither is a particularly solid fallback option in comparison, but the competition should help raise the game of each player. The potential for both is certainly there, and that has made for an interesting camp storyline. Bridgewater, of course, aims to regain his footing after the Panthers pulled the plug on his Carolina career when they acquired Sam Darnold from the New York Jets. He was subsequently shipped to Denver for a 2022 sixth-round pick. Lock, meanwhile, still looks to live up to his earlier billing after an underwhelming 2020 campaign that saw him toss 16 touchdowns to 15 interceptions en route to a starting record of 4-9 (team went 5-11). So far through the first week of the preseason, they still seem to be even.

3. Tim Tebow vs. other Jags tight ends

Some may see the name “Tim Tebow” and instantly scoff at his inclusion on this list. There’s a belief that his presence in Jacksonville is some sort of favoritism and that he doesn’t deserve the opportunity, nor will it lead anywhere. That may be true but early reports suggest otherwise. Not only does Tebow have a legitimate shot to make the 53-man roster, but even if he didn’t, the mere fact that he’s back in the NFL is intriguing. The 33-year-old quarterback-turned-tight end is a lightning rod. Wherever he goes, ratings (and fans) follow. He also gets extra attention, just like he did for his block attempt.

2. Greedy Williams vs. Greg Newsome II

It may be hard to believe, but the Cleveland Browns actually have Super Bowl potential entering the 2021 season. They’re deep, they’re talented, and they are heavily motivated. Still, there are some questions that need to be answered in camp, including how their depth at cornerback stacks up. Greedy Williams missed the 2020 season due to a shoulder injury, and that had ripple effects across the defense. Accordingly, the Browns went out and selected Greg Newsome II in the first round of the NFL draft with the intent to start him alongside Denzel Ward. But Williams is not going to go quietly into the night; he’s not ready to give up on the role that was supposed to be his. It may be an embarrassment of riches for Cleveland, but the results of this camp battle will go a long way in determining how their defense performs out of the gate.

1. Safeties in Washington

Washington dropped a ton of money on safety Landon Collins in 2019. But in his absence a season ago, they didn’t miss a beat. 2020 seventh-round pick Kam Curl stepped in, and there was no drop-off in play, so that begs the question: is Collins still worth the roster spot and financial investment? Washington would undoubtedly prefer for him to remain involved, but the potential for a trade is brewing. Beyond that, Washington still has Troy Apke, Deshazor Everett, fifth-round Darrick Forrest, Bobby McCain, Chris Miller and Jeremy Reaves on their roster as well. With only four spots potentially available, there is a lot of uncertainty in D.C. Collins will have to step up in order to fend off the younger players coming up behind him, while the seven other players continue to battle it out and jockey for position. So far, it looks like McCain has the edge.

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