Position battles are off and running in NFL training camp but already there have been some significant developments.
Hunter injury blows San Francisco 49ers running back race wide open
For the past three seasons Kendall Hunter has remained firmly entrenched as the backup running back to veteran star Frank Gore. That will change in 2014. News dropped recently that Hunter tore his ACL during practice. This makes the backup spot wide open with a wealth of possible candidates vying for it such as rookie Carlos Hyde, favorite comeback story Marcus Lattimore and the often shunned LaMichael James. Considering the age of Gore at this point, the backup job figures to see a lot of action, making it ever more valuable.
Brian Hoyer pouncing on Johnny Manziel antics
As expected, the Johnny Manziel circus is in full throat for NFL training camp. Already his off-the-field actions are drawing unwanted and bothersome attention to the Cleveland Browns. Nevermind the fact he’s having the typically rookie problems on it. Not that veteran Brian Hoyer is complaining. While Manziel continues to be himself, Hoyer has taken a much quieter, crafted approach. Apparently the Browns have taken notice, giving him every meaningful snap with the 1st team offense in practice. If things keep up as they are Manziel will be out of the race before preseason ends.
Jordan Palmer all over the map while Jimmy Clausen steady in Chicago
Cleveland isn’t the only site of an intriguing quarterback derby. For the Chicago Bears, their big duel comes at the backup spot, which has gotten its share of action the past couple seasons due to the shaky health of Jay Cutler. As it stands the job is a tossup between veterans Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen. Palmer was tabbed as the favorite given his experience in the system. Then again, it hasn’t played out that way in camp.
Through two days of non-padded practice Palmer has looked wildly inconsistent. At times he is efficient and precise, throwing deep touchdowns. At others he throws bad interceptions. At the same time Clausen, while not immune to his own mistakes has remained largely steady. Even head coach Marc Trestman acknowledged his good start. It isn’t the best sign for Palmer.
Christine Michael is front row, center in Seattle with Marshawn Lynch out
Before training camp began, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and his staff lauded the progress made by reserve running back Christine Michael during the off-season. It made them feel that he was ready to strip some carries off the load of star Marshawn Lynch. That process got accelerated in a hurry when Lynch decided to hold out of camp. Suddenly Michael is no longer looking at backup carries. He could be seeing serious starter work, which would give fans a clear view of exactly what the team has behind Beast Mode.