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2009 Preseason Job Battles-Week 3

Kenn Ruby

Kenn has been writing and editing for RotoWire since 2003. Though he attended Northwestern with the co-founders of RotoWire, he is not considered a made member of the RotoWire Northwestern mafia, as he can't trace back all of his ancestors to Dan Okrent.

Preseason Job Battles
By Kenn Ruby
RotoWire Writer

BEARS TE: Greg Olsen has officially passed Desmond Clark on the depth chart and has shown strong chemistry with new QB Jay Cutler. Although Clark will be involved this year, Olsen could be a very significant part of the Chicago offense.

BENGALS TE: Expected starter Reggie Kelly suffered a season-ending Achilles' injury, so Ben Utecht will inherit the role in what may be an interesting Cincinnati offense. Utecht (concussion) and Daniel Coats (ankle) had injuries of their own last week, so rookie Chase Coffman could make some noise in the coming weeks.

BRONCOS RB: Knowshon Moreno missed 12 practices before finally signing, so he has some catching up to do, but there's enough time left for him to win the job. Correll Buckhalter was used extensively during goal-line practice, an indication that he might be used there during the season as well even if Moreno becomes the feature back.

BROWNS QB: Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson have had very similar results in two-minute drills, goal line situations and other situational practice series, but Quinn may have the slight edge given that he's shown a stronger arm than expected. He was able to hit downfield targets on a regular basis during team drills, making the prospect of him becoming the starter even better. It's still a tight race, however.

BUCCANEERS QB: As expected, Luke McCown will start the preseason opener. Tampa Bay still doesn't know what it has in McCown, but if he plays well in the preseason, he'll have a chance to beat out the more experienced Leftwich. At this point, Leftwich is probably still the favorite.

BUCCANEERS RB: Earnest Graham is listed ahead of Derrick Ward on the initial depth chart, which shouldn't be much of a surprise. Ward's a little dinged up in camp and is the new kid in town. Cadillac Williams is reportedly healthy, so there could be a nice three-headed monster in Tampa Bay this season, much to the frustration of fantasy owners. Ward's contract and big 2008 season make him the favorite for now.

CARDINALS BACKUP QB: Matt Leinart and Brian St. Pierre are in a tougher battle than expected, though it's hard to imagine Leinart not winning the job.

CARDINALS RB: Chris Wells (ankle) is back practicing, but isn't running too hard yet. He's likely to sit out the preseason opener and will stay behind Tim Hightower on the depth chart for the time being. Of course, the NFC champion Cardinals drafted Wells in the first round and are likely to feature him if he stays healthy and has a strong camp.

CHIEFS WR: Kansas City signed veteran Amani Toomer last week to push No. 2 candidates Devard Darling and Mark Bradley. Bobby Engram is also in camp. Any of them could start opposite Dwayne Bowe this year, but none have really stood out so far.

DOLPHINS WR: Davone Bess may have moved ahead of Greg Camarillo at slot receiver, while Patrick Turner has also been impressive. With unproven Ted Ginn sitting alone atop the depth chart, a sleeper could emerge in Miami.

FALCONS WR: Now that Roddy White has ended his holdout, the Falcons have one starter in camp, but the candidates for the other spot have been reduced by one Harry Douglas tore his ACL on August 5 and will miss the season. Michael Jenkins is likely to get the nod as the other starter, but Brian Finneran and recent acquisitions Marty Booker and Robert Ferguson may give him a little competition for the role.

GIANTS WR: The Giants' receiving corps is still very unsettled. Hakeem Nicks signed a week ago, and he's expected to compete for the top job, but a tight hamstring kept him out of a few practices over the weekend. Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith are expected to be the starters, but they're not sure things. Sinorice Moss and Mario Manningham will see quite a bit of action during the preseason as well.

JAGUARS RB: Although Maurice Jones-Drew isn't going to face any competition from the other backs in camp, Greg Jones has been seeing some action around the goal-line. If the Jacksonville coaching staff is worried about MJD taking on a full load this year, they may look to protect him in short-yardage situations. If there's going to be a vulture in Jacksonville, Jones is it.

JAGUARS WR: Mike Walker is currently ahead of the numerous receiving candidates in camp, including Troy Williamson, Mike Thomas and Jarrett Dillard, for the No. 2 job. Dillard, a sure-handed rookie, has been anything but so far, dropping a number of easy passes. Walker could win this one by default.

JETS QB: Kellen Clemens and Mark Sanchez will alternate practices with the first-team offense, but Clemens will get the start in the preseason opener. Coach Rex Ryan expects to make a decision by the third preseason game, but so far Sanchez has looked a bit better.

JETS WR: Chansi Stuckey currently has the edge for the No. 2 spot, at least according to Ryan. That's not saying a whole lot, since he's ahead of the likes of Brad Smith, Wallace Wright and David Clowney.

LIONS QB: Daunte Culpepper will earn the starting nod in the preseason opener, but Matthew Stafford will get plenty of opportunities with the first team during the preseason. The coaching staff not to mention members of the Detroit press love Stafford and think he'll beat out Culpepper, but the Lions may not be ready to throw him to the wolves yet.

PANTHERS WR: Steve Smith injured his shoulder August 10, and while X-Rays were negative, he's not likely to play in the preseason, and the injury could linger into the regular season. This could finally be the opportunity Dwayne Jarrett has been waiting for. Currently Jarrett is No. 3 on the depth chart behind Smith and Muhsin Muhammad, but Muhammad isn't getting any younger. It might be time to put Jarrett on your sleeper list.

PATRIOTS BACKUP QB: The Patriots brought in Andrew Walter, late of the Raiders, to back up Tom Brady. He has more experience than Kevin O'Connell, but O'Connell was with New England last season, which gives him a slight edge.

PATRIOTS RB: Laurence Maroney and Fred Taylor have both looked good so far, but with Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris both around to steal carries, things will be pretty crowded in New England this year. Maroney still has the most upside, but that can change in a hurry.

RAIDERS RB: Darren McFadden should be the starter, but Justin Fargas and the talented Michael Bush are both still around. The Raiders may move Fargas or Bush if they're convinced McFadden can carry the load, but any of the three could start for Oakland this year.

RAIDERS WR: Some combination of Javon Walker, Chaz Schilens and Darius Heyward-Bey will be in the starting lineup on Opening Day, but who the lucky two will be is anyone's guess. Walker, who is recovering from April knee surgery, is still a few weeks away from returning and may be a bit rusty. Schilens has so far been more impressive than Heyward-Bey, but Oakland may want to justify its early pick of Heyward-Bey by giving him every opportunity to play with the first team.

RAMS WR: St. Louis was already thin at wide receiver before it learned Monday that Donnie Avery will miss 4-6 weeks with a stress fracture in his left foot. Laurent Robinson and Keenan Burton are working with the first team, while Tim Carter and Ronald Curry could win starting roles if things go their way.

REDSKINS WR: Devin Thomas has an edge over Malcolm Kelly for the No. 2 receiving spot, but this one could come down to who can stay healthier. Both of them suffered minor injuries last week, and they may face competition from newly-acquired D.J. Hackett.

SAINTS WR: Is this the year Robert Meachem lives up to the hype? So far in camp it looks like the answer is a resounding yes. Lance Moore will miss the preseason opener as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery, so Meachem could get an opportunity to earn a permanent starting job.

TITANS BACKUP QB: Patrick Ramsey outplayed Vince Young in the preseason opener, but it's hard to draw many conclusions in such limited playing time. Ramsey seems to be more interested in soaking up Kerry Collins' knowledge, for what it's worth.

VIKINGS QB: Tarvaris Jackson has been limited by minor injuries throughout camp, but he's still ahead of Sage Rosenfels on the depth chart. As the days go by, Brett Favre becomes smaller and smaller in the rear-view mirror.

VIKINGS WR: Bernard Berrian and Bobby Wade are expected to be the starters, but the camp is abuzz about rookie Percy Harvin, who may be the fastest player on the offense. Even if Harvin doesn't start, he could be used in a lot of different formations and is a name to remember on draft day.

Article first appeared 8/10/09