Training camp battles: Part Three
Another week closer to the regular season means a number of these position battles are reaching their conclusion, some unfortunately due to injury. At the end of each graph, you will see who I thought was each competition's leader in previous articles followed by whom I consider to be the current leader – or winner.
Eagles Starting QB: Michael Vick and Nick Foles
Once again, Foles played pretty well, but Vick was simply better in a preseason game. Vick completed all of his 10 passes except for one, which was a meaningless end-of-the-half Hail Mary attempt. Foles completed six of eight passes, but for just 53 yards. And this battle probably ended as soon as Foles chucked a ball into double coverage to be picked off in the end zone. Head coach Chip Kelly announced Tuesday that Vick will be his Week 1 starter at Washington. I'd much rather draft him as a high-quality backup than as my starter, but Vick's upside is undeniable.
Week 1 Leader: Vick, barely
Week 2 Leader: Vick
Denver Broncos Starting RB: Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman
Neither player has really made a move through two preseason games. Hillman got another start and handled 13 carries to Ball's six, but he gained just 34 yards. Ball gained 28. The play of the game, as far as this competition is concerned, came when Hillman fumbled at the goal line, which the Seahawks returned 106 yards for a touchdown. Hillman remains atop the depth chart and at the head of this backfield, but it is still very much up for grabs. Saturday's dress rehearsal versus the Rams is must-see TV.
Week 1 Leader: Hillman, barely
Week 2 Leader: Hillman, barely
Week 3 Leader: Hillman, barely
Giants Starting RB: David Wilson and Andre Brown
The Giants haven't officially named Wilson as their opening-day starter, but that's an inevitability at this point. He gained 34 yards on eight carries Sunday against the Colts, including a 21-yard burst through the middle. He ran with much more commitment this week and got three carries in the red zone. He also caught two passes and embarrassed Colts linebacker Kelvin Sheppard in space. Brown dominated the playing time on third downs and during a two-minute drill, but we understand Wilson has a long way to go to be a true three-down back. He is ready to start now.
Week 1 Leader: Wilson
Week 2 Leader: Wilson
Week 3 Leader: Wilson, definitely
(Editor's note: The Giants announced Wilson as the Week 1 starter on Friday)
Packers Starting RB: Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, James Starks, Alex Green and DuJuan Harris
Lacy was as advertised in his preseason debut, absolutely plowing over Rams defenders and never coming down on first contact. He gained 51 yards on nine touches. He is pretty much locked in as the Packers' early-down runner. Meanwhile, Johnathan Franklin turned in another uninspiring effort and appears to be losing ground to DuJuan Harris in his battle to be the team's third-down back.
Week 1 Leader: Lacy
Week 2 Leader: Lacy
Week 3 Leader: Lacy, definitely
Rams Starting RB: Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy
Richardson had only one recorded touch against the Packers – a 24-yard reception – but he had two more plays worth 22 yards called back due to penalties. Pead started, but gained just 19 yards on 11 carries. Head coach Jeff Fisher didn't need to see any more. He said Monday that Richardson will be his Week 1 starter. He's a low-end RB2 or very solid RB3.
Week 1 Leader: Richardson
Week 2 Leader: Richardson, definitely
Steelers Starting RB: Le'Veon Bell, Isaac Redman, LaRod Stephens-Howling Jonathan Dwyer, Felix Jones
All Bell had to do was stay healthy, and the starting job would have been his. Well, about that ….
Bell injured his right foot after just four carries on Monday, and the Steelers believe he has suffered the dreadful Lisfranc injury. As of this writing, we don't know if Bell will need surgery, which would end his rookie year before it begins. But he will be missing a good chunk of the season in any case. Redman, who is considered Bell's backup, didn't play in the game because of a shoulder stinger, but is expected back at practice this week. How this running game will shake out is unclear right now, but I would just avoid all of the marginal talents in this group for now.
Week 1 Leader: Bell, definitely
Week 2 Leader: Bell, definitely
Week 3 Leader: Redman, barely