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.
4. St. Louis Rams wide receivers: Since 2011, the Rams have invested five draft choices in the fourth round or higher on wide receivers. They also added Kenny Britt, who looked decent in organized team activities and at minicamp. Tavon Austin offers Harvin-type speed and versatility. Starters Austin Pettis and Chris Givens have to compete against Britt, Brian Quick and Stedman Bailey, who will miss the first four games because of a suspension. The Rams have to sort out the playing time for these pass-catchers.
5. Denver Broncos tight ends: Julius Thomas is emerging as a star. He caught 65 passes in 14 games last season with 12 touchdowns. The plan is for him to be used in creative plays. What makes this competition so interesting is how deep the team is at tight end. Virgil Green, a seventh-round pick in 2011, is also a player whose talents are on the rise. The Broncos also have two other proven tight ends -- Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme. The Broncos kept all four tight ends on the roster last year, but are they willing to keep Dreessen and Tamme at nearly $3 million a year if Green emerges?
6. San Francisco 49ers backup halfback: The early word out of San Francisco is that Frank Gore might get 50 fewer carries this year. He had 276 last year. The debate is which back can claim a good portion of those opportunities as the backup. Jim Harbaugh drafted Marcus Lattimore and gave him last season to recover from a devastating knee surgery in college. The 49ers couldn't resist using a second-round pick on Carlos Hyde this year when he fell to them. The Hyde-Lattimore battle may be under the radar, but the winner could tip off what the future looks like in the backfield. Gore is 31 and in the final year of his contract.
7. Buffalo Bills backfield: The Bills have a nice one-two punch with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. In this year's draft, the Bills surprised everyone by trading for Bryce Brown. While Brown might be projected for only 50 carries this season, how he does in camp might reflect on the future of the Bills' backfield. Spiller and Jackson are both free agents at the end of the season. Plus, Jackson is 33. Brown is under contract for one more year. If the Bills don't re-sign Spiller, Brown could end up being a starter next season.
8. New England Patriots wide receivers: Tom Brady started camp last year with Julian Edelman being the only carryover from the receiver corps of the past. Brady staked his fortunes on Edelman, oft-injured Danny Amendola and three rookies -- Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce. This year's camp will be easier and more competitive. Bill Belichick brought in veteran Brandon LaFell to give the offense one more option. Dobson is considered to be a leader for one of the outside starting jobs, but everything is up for grabs in this camp.
9. Miami Dolphins offensive line: Center Mike Pouncey is the only certain starter returning from last year, and he is trying to recover in time from hip surgery. Having this line come together fast will be the challenge. Branden Albert is a lock at left tackle, as is Shelley Smith at right guard. The hope is that Ja'Wuan James starts at right tackle, but the Dolphins brought in veteran Jason Fox for insurance. Third-round choice Billy Turner will battle Nate Garner at left guard. Veteran Daryn Colledge received a $2 million contract to be insurance at guard and center.
10. Carolina Panthers wide receivers: The Panthers parted ways with their top four wide receivers from 2013, a list headed by Steve Smith. Quarterback Cam Newton has to see if Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, Tiquan Underwood and first-round choice Kelvin Benjamin are good enough to upgrade the unit. Cotchery is expected to be the No. 1 receiver, but every spot after that is open.