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Shutdown Corner

As preseason enters Week 3, here are 10 significant position battles still up in the air

Anwar S. Richardson
Shutdown Corner


NFL players have competed for roster spots during voluntary workouts, organized team activities, minicamp, training camp, and throughout this preseason. So far, the majority of roster spots up for grabs have been won.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick earned the right to start this week, while Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert, Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden and St. Louis running back Daryl Richardson solidified starting roles heading into the 2014 season.

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There are still a few spots that could be won or lost headed into the all-important third week of the preseason.

In the fourth preseason game, starters generally don't play, so this is pretty much last call for the candidates to start at quarterback for the Jets, running back for the Steelers and receiver for the Patriots, as well as many other competitions that still haven't been settled.

Check out the top 10 position battles to watch during Week 3 of the preseason:

Jets QB
Geno Smith vs. Mark Sanchez

Smith was given the starting nod by Rex Ryan today, and has a chance to win this job with a strong performance this weekend. Sanchez is still in the mix, but it appears to be Smith’s job to lose.

Pittsburgh RB
Jonathan Dwyer vs. Isaac Redman
Le’Veon Bell’s recent injury has reopened this running back competition. Dwyer is coming off a strong performance, but Redman rushed for 147 yards and one touchdown against the Giants last season.

Miami RB
Lamar Miller vs. Daniel Thomas

After two games, neither player has made an impact this preseason. Miller was supposed to be a breakout candidate, but this competition may result in a time share if somebody does not claim this position.

Patriots WR
Kenbrell Thompkins vs. Aaron Dobson

Thompkins has gone from undrafted free agent to potential starter. Even if Dobson loses this job, Tom Brady’s ability to spread around the ball will benefit both players this season.

Bears MLB
Jon Bostic vs. D.J. Williams
Williams has been out for weeks with a calf injury, so maybe this competition is over already. Bostic has made some big plays, and he could end the competition to replace Brian Urlacher with one more solid performance this week.

Browns CB
Buster Skrine vs. Chris Owens

Whoever wins this job has an important role, opposite the talented Joe Haden. The competition between two has been very close, with Skrine coming on lately. Whoever doesn't start will still play a lot as the third cornerback.

Packers PK
Mason Crosby vs. Giorgio Tavecchio

Crosby's yips in 2012 mean that he's not guaranteed a roster spot. He made three field goals against the Rams last week, but missed three in a row in practice this week. If Crosby fails again, Green Bay could look at free agent kickers.

Ravens WR
Jacoby Jones vs. Tandon Doss

Neither player has been impressive – as a receiver – this preseason, and the hunt for Torrey Smith’s complementary receiver continues. Jones is a standout out special teams, but Baltimore needs that production on the line of scrimmage.

Giants MLB
Dan Connor vs. Mark Herzlich

Herzlich seemingly had the lead, but Conner has stepped up the past couple of weeks. Conner received the majority of reps in the previous preseason game, but both will play against the Jets this weekend.

Detroit RT
Jason Fox vs. Corey Hilliard

Gosder Cherilus signed with Indianapolis this offseason, giving both young players a chance to start. Matthew Stafford sustained major injuries in his first two seasons, and protecting him is the key to Detroit’s success.

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