Training camp battles: Part Three
Colts Second WR: T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey
At some point, you just kind of have to accept certain trends, no matter if you think they shouldn't continue. Case in point: The Colts continuing to start Heyward-Bey over Hilton. It happened again on Sunday versus the Giants. He caught four passes for 42 yards, while Hilton had three receptions for 36 yards -- including a touchdown catch that took fantastic body control. Hilton is clearly the better player, make no mistake about that. But for the purposes of this article, I have to realize that the Colts don't seem to be moving away from DHB as their No. 2 WR.
Week 1 Leader: Hilton
Week 2 Leader: Hilton
Week 3 Leader: Heyward-Bey
49ers Second WR: Jon Baldwin, Kyle Williams, Quinton Patton, Austin Collie and Marlon Moore
Nothing much happened in preseason game No. 2 to help clear this situation. But it got a little interesting off the field as the 49ers and Chiefs, who played each other Friday, swapped former first-round picks. Baldwin is now in San Fran; A.J. Jenkins was shipped to K.C. It's worth noting that Moore has started both preseason games, but he has one total catch to show for it. Sunday's game against the Vikings should be very interesting. Someone has to win this job at some point.
Week 1 Leader: Nobody yet
Week 2 Leader: Nobody yet
Week 3 Leader: Nobody yet
Eagles Second WR: Riley Cooper, Russell Shepard and Damaris Johnson
That Shepard buzz sure did die quickly. He didn't do anything in Thursday's game. Cooper hasn't been spectacular, but he has the easy advantage in this competition.
Week 1 Leader: Cooper
Week 2 Leader: Cooper
Week 3 Leader: Cooper, definitely
Ravens Second WR: Jacoby Jones and Deonte Thompson
Jones is basically uncontested in this battle, with Thompson nursing a sprained foot. However, Jones has almost been an afterthought in preseason games. The Ravens have one good wide receiver in Torrey Smith. After that, it looks like a huge committee approach. Jones is the leader of that committee.
Week 1 Leader: Jones
Week 2 Leader: Jones, definitely
Week 3 Leader: Jones, definitely
Patriots Second WR: Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Julian Edelman and Josh Boyce
Thompkins recorded just one catch on Friday, but he played 29 snaps with Tom Brady, trailing only Danny Amendola's 32 snaps. Dobson and Edelman were more productive, but the Patriots consider Thompkins their second wideout right now *. All of the candidates here could get even more playing time during the final preseason games if the Patriots don't rush the injured Amendola back.
Week 1 Leader: Dobson, barely
Week 2 Leader: Thompkins, barely
Week 3 Leader: Thompkins
*Certainly no change in thinking by the Patriots after Thompkins caught eight passes for 116 yards against the Lions
Eagles Second RB: Bryce Brown and Chris Polk
Brown didn't play in last week's game because of a quad injury. Polk averaged close to five yards per carry, but he lost a fumble (which probably offsets all of his production and then some). The burden is on Polk to prove he deserves to be the Eagles' No. 2 running back ahead of the incumbent, the supremely talented Brown. He hasn't come close to doing that yet. Brown should be back on the field Saturday versus the Jaguars. Philadelphia clearly likes these two options behind LeSean McCoy as evidenced by the trade of Felix Jones to the Steelers.
Week 1 Leader: Brown
Week 2 Leader: Brown
Week 3 Leader: Brown
Cowboys Second RB: Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle and Phillip Tanner
Dunbar was well on his way to cementing his role as DeMarco Murray's backup, but he suffered a sprained foot at the end of a 43-yard reception Saturday. He is now in a walking boot and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks, which makes him doubtful for the season opener. Randle gained just 16 yards on eight carries, but considering Tanner didn't even touch the ball this past weekend, the rookie appears to be taking Dunbar's spot for the time being.
Week 1 Leader: Dunbar
Week 2 Leader: Dunbar
Week 3 Leader: Randle, barely
Raiders Second RB: Rashad Jennings and Latavius Murray
Murray underwent arthroscopic ankle surgery on Tuesday. No official announcement has been made yet, but Murray is at least doubtful for Week 1, so this battle is pretty much over. Jennings will open the year as Darren McFadden's handcuff.
Week 1 Leader: Jennings
Week 2 Leader: Jennings