What You Need to Know About Position Battles, Injuries, and More

ten) Good to see 2021 Titans No. 1 pick Caleb Farley healthy and playing football again. The amount of football he’s played in pre-season indicates he’s trailing rookie Roger McCreary, putting Farley fourth on the depth chart. He looks a bit stiff. The Titans’ young corners — their top four players at the position have all been drafted in the first three rounds since 2020 — could make or break their defense.

11) Former Eagle Matt Pryor is expected to take over as the Colts’ starting left tackle. With questions at right guard and a general lack of depth, this group is clearly inferior to what Philip Rivers was able to play behind two years ago.

12) I will admit to not being familiar with undrafted Steelers rookie Jaylen Warren a month ago. Now he appears to be the favorite for the backup job behind Najee Harris, according to Mark Kaboly of Athleticism. The man is 5ft 8in and is the cousin of “Fast” Willie Parker. What’s not to like?

13) Mack Hollins became the Raiders’ third wide receiver. He’s not quite a fantastic sleeper, but it’s impressive how Hollins has grabbed a job in a deep band.

14) Antonio Gibson didn’t play a special teams role in Ron Rivera’s first two seasons as Washington coach. Gibson returned the opening kickoff on Saturday, moments before rookie Brian Robinson started the game at running back. Gibson had two runs and three catches in the game, mostly playing with saves. While I don’t think the two runners have reversed roles, Rivera flatly said last week that he was going to play running back and that Gibson needed to “run harder.” After Gibson received 206 touches as a rookie and 300 last season, it’s safe to expect a reduced workload from the 24-year-old.

15) Before Malcolm Rodriguez stole America’s heart hard knocks, he got a crucial stamp of approval in this column two weeks ago. This is not a fabricated scenario, but a real-time documented surprise positional battle result. Rodrigo’s rise could also say a lot about the still-missing Lions linebacker depth chart, where Derrick Barnes and Jarrad Davis also vie for snaps. I love the defensive coaching staff at the Lions, but there are a lot of questions for this group at linebacker and cornerback.

16) In a modest surprise, 2020 No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah tends to land a starting job opposite Amani Oruwariye, according to MLive.com’s Kyle Meinke. While this is at least partly based on Will Harris’ top-down play, it should be a welcome development for the Lions.

17) It’s cool to see a young player achieve a lifelong dream in real time. USFL MVP KaVontae Turpin returned a punt and kickoff for touchdowns in the Cowboys’ win on Saturday night. In the second half of the game, he was asked to remove his shoulder pads and Dallas coach Mike McCarthy confirmed that Turpin would be theirs to start the season. Considering how thin the Cowboys are on the outside, don’t be surprised to see Turpin work into the mix as a gimmicky player.

(The Chargers’ special teams, meanwhile, are clearly in fine form midway through the season, giving up two touchdowns in one half.)

18) According to Nick Eastman on the Cowboys team website, 2021 second-round pick Kelvin Joseph is not a lock to make the final roster. It would come as a surprise, but he clearly hasn’t broken into the Cowboys’ top rotation of corners: Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis. With Lewis (hamstring) possibly out for Week 1, fifth-round rookie DaRon Bland could be next in line after being loved throughout camp.

19) A Sunday headline from the OG Pewter Report site: “Bucs’ (Kyle) Trask experiment almost over.” While that sounds tough, Trask likely lost his chance to be the Bucs’ backup QB this season with a tough outing against the Titans. Tom Brady, who resumed training on Monday, should again be supported by Blaine Gabbert.

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