BENGALS WR: When the receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson isn't kicking, he's the dean of the Cincinnati receiving corps. He's looking for a running mate this season, and so far Chris Henry is outplaying new acquisition Laveranues Coles. Henry is likely to be the No. 3 receiver, but if Coles continues to struggle, Henry could steal the job from him.
BRONCOS RB: With Knowshon Moreno out, it seemed as if Correll Buckhalter and LaMont Jordan would get more playing time in the preseason, but each carried the ball just four times on August 22. Jordan looks like he's out of the running to start at this point. Buckhalter will win it by default if Moreno doesn't get back on the field soon.
BROWNS QB: Derek Anderson was better than Brady Quinn Saturday, indicating that Anderson will not go down without a fight. Not only has a starter not been named for the regular-season opener - a starter hasn't even been named for this week's game. We still think it be Quinn (for both games), but Anderson will be waiting for Quinn to slip up.
BUCCANEERS QB: Byron Leftwich will start this week, but after coach Raheem Morris teased us last week by saying he was about the name the starter for the regular season, he's still mum. Luke McCown outplayed Leftwich on August 22, throwing two touchdowns, which keeps him in the running for the job.
CARDINALS QB: Brian St. Pierre has been disappointing so far in the preseason, and now he has a bad back. Any time off will almost assure that Matt Leinart will be Kurt Warner's caddy this year. Warner is dealing with some health issues of his own - he hasn't looked good this summer returning from his March hip surgery. If his pain lingers into the regular season, it could be Leinart, of all people, throwing the ball to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin this year.
CARDINALS RB: With Chris Wells continuing to be nicked up, Tim Hightower is putting some distance between the two. On the other hand, Wells looked "explosive and fast" in Monday's practice and should make his preseason debut against the Packers Friday. Hightower has played well, and will probably be the starter when the regular season starts, but Wells will probably be the first Arizona running back off the board in most leagues.
DOLPHINS WR: No one seems to be stepping up at No. 2 in Miami. The only sure thing is Ted Ginn, and he's not exactly Jerry Rice. Brian Hartline started in the last preseason game, but he's not expected to start again soon. The Dolphins would probably like for Greg Camarillo to take the job, but he's coming along slowly in his return from a torn ACL. Patrick Turner, once thought to be a sleeper, has been a disappointment. That leaves Davone Bess, who makes Ginn look like, well, Jerry Rice.
49ERS QB: Coach Mike Singletary officially announced that Shaun Hill has beaten out Alex Smith. Hill played pretty well in the second half of the season last year, and he should put up solid-but-unspectacular numbers for the Niners.
GIANTS WR: Nobody in of the cast of thousands trying out for the receiving jobs has managed to distinguish themselves so far, but Mario Manningham suffered a hip pointer against the Bears on August 22. Any little injury might be enough to push someone to the bottom of the depth chart, so if this lingers at all, we can cross Manningham off the list. Steven Smith is probably the safest name in the bunch, but Hakeem Nicks caught a 55-yard pass and could start ahead of Domenik Hixon. And of course, don't forget Sinorice Moss, Ramses Barden, David Tyree, and Derek Hagan.
JAGUARS WR: Troy Williamson had three catches for 147 yards, including a 74-yard score, against the Bucs Saturday. Is it possible that he's finally turned the corner? Many are dubious. However, with Mike Walker and Mike Thomas still hobbled, Williamson has shot up to the No. 2 spot (opposite Torry Holt) on the depth chart.
JETS WR: David Clowney has become the favorite to land the starting job opposite Jerricho Cotchery. Considering that he was competing with Chansi Stuckey, Brad Smith, and Wallace Wright, it wasn't much of a battle once he caught three passes for 103 yards and a TD in the preseason opener. The Jets should lean heavily on the run this year, so Clowney's fantasy value will be limited.
LIONS QB: Rookie Matthew Stafford struggled in his first start, completing five passes in 13 attempts and throwing an interception on his very first attempt. Daunte Culpepper was nothing special in relief of Stafford, but he looked much better. Expect the third preseason game to give us more insight into who will win this one.
PATRIOTS RB: Fred Taylor started the last game and gained 26 yards on seven carries, but this battle still looks like Laurence Maroney's job to lose. Maroney had just three carries, but he also caught a pass. Sammy Morris is out with an undisclosed injury, and Kevin Faulk's job as a backup seems to be secure, so whoever gets the lion's share of the carries in New England is anybody's guess.
RAIDERS RB: All of the Oakland running backs struggled in Saturday's game, but with only three carries so far in the preseason, Justin Fargas may have fallen behind Darren McFadden and Michael Bush in the pecking order. McFadden still figures to lead the way this year, but Bush might be an interesting late-round flier.
RAIDERS WR: Javon Walker finally returned to practice Monday, and although he still needs to prove he's 100 percent, he should be the top receiver in Oakland. Meanwhile, Louis Murphy has moved up the depth chart after catching a touchdown pass Saturday. Murphy may even be ahead of talented rookie Darrius Heyward-Bey at this point. The Raiders probably won't have a big-time passing attack, but Murphy is the kind of guy who could surprise this year.
RAMS WR: Laurent Robinson is pulling away from the pack and looks to be the starter opposite Donnie Avery. With Avery out the past few weeks, Robinson has easily been the best receiver in camp. Keenan Burton, Ronald Curry, Derrick Stanley and Tim Carter will fight for scraps behind Avery and Robinson.
SAINTS K: In general it's good to draft indoor kickers, but they have to have the job first. Garrett Hartley has struggled all summer, and when you consider that he's already been suspended for the first four games of the season, the Saints may just go with the veteran John Carney.
SEAHAWKS RB: Seattle picked up Edgerrin James, perhaps an indication that Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett aren't enough to get it done. Neither Jones nor Duckett strike fear into opposing defenses anymore, but then again, neither does James. Before the signing, Jones looked like the feature back and Duckett the goal-line specialist. Jones probably has more to fear from James than Duckett does.
VIKINGS WR: OK, quarterbacks? Check. Running backs? Check. Wide receivers? Um… Bernard Berrian, the only sure thing here, suffered a hamstring injury on August 14 and his status the next few weeks is in doubt. That leaves Sidney Rice, Bobby Wade, and Percy Harvin to man the other spots. Harvin made a nice catch in traffic in his professional debut August 21, and he was used extensively with the first-team offense in that game. If he can excel in the next couple of weeks, he could be the starter on Opening Day.
Article first appeared 8/25/09