5 Intriguing NFL Training Camp Battles To Monitor

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Training camps around the NFL got underway as teams are preparing for the 2022 regular season. It will be here before we know it, as the Hall of Fame preseason game to kick things off is scheduled for next week, August 4th.

While the league has put rules in to lessen the physicality of offseason practices, they are still very important.

Guys at the end of the roster are fighting for spots and this is a good way for the coaching staff to evaluate players to keep on the practice squads during the season.

There are also a number of teams that have starting spots up for grabs. Training camp battles occur around the league and this year there are plenty as well.

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Whether it is a veteran trying to hold onto a spot against an up-and-coming youngster, or offseason acquisitions trying to cement their spot in the lineup, playing time is up for grabs.

Who is taking part in some of the more noticeable training camp battles? Here are five to keep an eye on around the league.

5. Seahawks Cornerback Spots

There isn’t much expected from the Seattle Seahawks this upcoming season as they are in a bit of a rebuilding stage. The organization said goodbye to two legends as Russell Wilson was traded to the Denver Broncos and Bobby Wagner was released and signed with the Los Angeles Rams. Running back Chris Carson was forced to retire with a neck injury as well.

But, when you have a head coach as good as Pete Carroll, the team will always have a fighting chance. Coming into training camp, a lot of focus will be on the quarterback position. Geno Smith and Drew Lock will be battling it out for a starting spot, but the defensive side of the ball has an intriguing training camp battle as well.

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Right now, the Seahawks may not have a single player cemented as a starter at the cornerback position. This will be a competition to keep an eye on as Seattle relies heavily on their secondary with their defensive schemes.

Sidney Jones IV is the closest thing Seattle has to a player being locked into a role. Rookie Coby Bryant, a fourth-round pick, is someone to keep an eye on as he could force his way into the lineup with his excellent ball skills and vast collegiate experience.

With no qualms about throwing youngsters into the fire, Tariq Woolen, a fifth-round pick, could also be in the mix. Former first-round pick Artie Burns and Tre Brown will also be competing for playing time in what will be a hotly contested battle.

4. Chase Edmonds vs. Dolphins RB Depth

The Miami Dolphins revamped their offense this offseason. They upgraded their weapons in a major way, bringing in a ton of talent. Tyreek Hill drew the most attention, as he was acquired in a trade from the Kansas City Chiefs. Cedrick Wilson Jr. was signed away from the Dallas Cowboys in free agency as well.

But, the running back position underwent an even bigger facelift. Three veterans were signed in Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel. Rookie ZaQuandre White was also brought in as Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed and Gerrid Doaks were held over from last season.

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That is a loaded running back room and there will be some difficult decisions to make when it comes to roster cuts. Right now, Edmonds is likely considered the starter, as the Dolphins made him a priority in free agency and he signed for the most money.

This will be a situation worth monitoring, as at least five of the players can make a strong case to receive playing time. Mostert has been excellent when given the opportunity, but he cannot stay healthy. He likely poses the biggest threat to Edmonds. Gaskin and Ahmed have tenure with the team, but with a new coaching staff in place, no one has a leg up when it comes to experience in a system.

3. Mitchell Trubisky vs. Mason Rudolph vs. Kenny Pickett

This offseason was an end of an era for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Long-time starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger retired after spending 18 seasons with the franchise. Pittsburgh hasn’t even thought about the quarterback position since 2004 when they used a first-round pick on Big Ben.

This offseason, they did jump into free agency, signing Mitchell Trubisky away from the Buffalo Bills. But, they doubled down in the 2022 NFL Draft, selecting Kenny Pickett with their first-round pick. Pickett ended up being the only quarterback selected in the first round, as another didn’t come off the board until Round 3.

This quarterback battle is going to grab a lot of attention. Right now Trubisky looks to have the leg up, but all eyes will be on Pickett as he attempts to ascend the depth chart. His draft pedigree will have people wondering when he will get on the field at the first sign of struggles.

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However, he may still have to jump Mason Rudolph on the depth chart. Rudolph has been with Pittsburgh for three seasons and is having a solid offseason. There is a chance he opens the season as the backup, making Pickett the third-stringer.

Having two veterans on the roster will enable the Steelers to bring Pickett along at his own pace. Even if he doesn’t win the job out of the gates, he is the long-term option for the franchise.

2. Colts Left Tackle

The Indianapolis Colts look like potential Super Bowl contenders heading into the 2022 season. They made some necessary upgrades to the roster, such as acquiring Matt Ryan from the Atlanta Falcons. He will be replacing Carson Wentz, who was traded to the Washington Commanders.

Ryan has a solid assortment of weapons to get the ball to. Jonathan Taylor has emerged as one of the best running backs in the NFL and Michael Pittman Jr. is an ascending wide receiver. There are some question marks behind Pittman, but the upside is there in the players on the depth chart.

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Arguably the most important thing when it comes to the team is making sure Ryan is protected. At 37 years old, he isn’t running away from many pass rushes, so the protection needs to be on point. Right now, it looks like an open competition for the left tackle spot.

Veterans Matt Pryor, Dennis Kelly and Jason Spriggs offer some solid insurance. The wild card in this battle will be third-round rookie Bernhard Raimann out of Central Michigan. Raimann is a mountain of a human, standing 6’6” and weighing 303 pounds. He will certainly factor into the decision, which could go down to the wire.

1. Baker Mayfield vs. Sam Darnold

The 2018 NFL Draft featured four quarterbacks being selected in the top 10 and five overall in the first round. Now, two of them will be facing off with each other to earn the starting job with the Carolina Panthers.

Last offseason, the Panthers acquired Sam Darnold, who was the No. 3 overall pick by the New York Jets. While he started hot, he reverted to the struggling ways he showcased with the Jets. Unhappy with his performance, Carolina brought in some competition in the form of No. 1 overall pick, Baker Mayfield.

Mayfield struggled last season as well, as he battled through a shoulder injury to his non-throwing arm. The Cleveland Browns acquired Deshaun Watson this offseason despite his legal troubles, spelling the end of the Mayfield era.

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Matt Rhule is on one of the hotter coaching seats in the NFL, so this decision will be extremely important. He needs to win as much as possible and figuring out who can help him achieve that between Darnold and Mayfield could take all offseason.

Both will have their opportunities, as Darnold likely has a leg up given he knows the scheme. Will facing the least pressure of his career unlock some of the potential he flashed at USC? Or will Mayfield recapture the form he had in 2020 when he led the Browns to the postseason and a Wild Card Weekend victory over the rival Steelers? Carolina is hoping at least one occurs to help get the team back on track and win some games.