Normally, training camps are used to sort out position battles.
Quarterbacks are usually the headliners. But this year, many of the decisions at that position have already been made. Matt Cassel is expected to beat out Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota. Ryan Fitzpatrick will start in Houston. Brian Hoyer is expected to get the opening-day nod over Johnny Manziel in Cleveland. Matt Schaub has already won the Oakland Raiders' job. Geno Smith is expected to start for the New York Jets over Michael Vick.
With few quarterback battles expected to move the needle, it's time to see what position competitions are being played out under the radar. These decisions could affect the short- and long-term futures of the franchises involved. Here are the top 10.
1. Tennessee Titans offensive tackles: Teams usually don't go wrong when they draft the best player. The Titans did that when they took Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan in the first round. But his selection creates one of the most interesting roster battles in the league. Michael Roos is the left tackle. The Titans invested $20 million over four years for former Ravens tackle Michael Oher. Something has to give. In situations like this, the simple solution is to move the loser of the tackle battle to guard, but that's not an option. Left guard Andy Levitre is making $7.8 million a year. Chance Warmack is a first-round pick from last year and could be a rising star. Roos might be heading toward the end of his great career, but he is only 31. That could make him trade bait for a team looking for a left tackle. Roos allowed only three sacks in 16 games and ranks among the better left tackles in football.
2. Philadelphia Eagles outside linebackers: Coaches always say you can never have enough pass-rushers. The Eagles have at least four pass-rushing outside linebackers: Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham and first-round pick Marcus Smith. With Smith being a first-round pick under Chip Kelly's reign, he is going to play. During camp, Kelly has to sort out playing time and whether the Eagles wish to keep four outside linebackers. Cole is on a four-year, $48.5 million contract, so he's going to stay. Barwin got a $6 million a year deal last year. Graham is a former first-round pick from the Andy Reid days. He was drafted as a defensive end and could be the one sacrificed.
3. Seattle Seahawks wide receivers: A year ago, the Seahawks were concerned about their receiver depth. Not anymore. Pete Carroll won a Super Bowl despite Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice missing a combined 23 games because of injuries last year. Golden Tate left for Detroit, but the Seahawks have more receivers than roster spots. Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and second-round pick Paul Richardson are locks. The Seahawks usually keep only five receivers, but they might have to keep six. Rice, fourth-round pick Kevin Norwood, speedy Ricardo Lockette and 6-foot-5 CFL import Chris Matthews will compete for those spots. Lockette offers special-teams option. Matthews could be a big target in the back of the end zone.