Three NFL teams will try to solve quarterback competitions when training camps open around the NFL in two weeks.
Kansas City, Cleveland and Oakland are the teams with the most uncertain situation under center.
Cleveland has a wide-open, three-way battle that looks like a recipe for disaster in the short term. The Browns are learning a new system under first-time NFL offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. They also will try to spread the training camp snaps among their three QB candidates -- first-round pick Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson and Charlie Frye. The Bills were in a similar position last year.
Quinn, of course, gives the Browns great hope for the long term -- they believe. But if he misses any significant time in a contract holdout, it's hard to see him winning the starting job to open the season. The 6-foot-6 Anderson was 0-3 as a starter last year but engineered one exciting win over Kansas City in relief of Frye. He's a former sixth-round pick who's in his third year. Don't count him out. But don't expect the Browns' offense to start fast, either.
The Chiefs decided to turn the page on Trent Green's career and seem intent on entering a building mode this year with Brodie Croyle calling the signals. Croyle, a third-round pick out of Alabama last year, will compete against Damon Huard, the former Miami journeyman who has started significant parts of only two seasons in his 11-year career. Huard was 5-3 with 11 TD passes and just one interception for the Chiefs last year. But it's Croyle's job to lose.
The one other uncertain QB job (unless Daunte Culpepper lands in Jacksonville) is in Oakland, where No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell competes with Josh McCown. Russell's first task will be to show up for camp in shape (he wasn't in shape at the combine). The ideal scenario would have Russell watching and learning from the sideline for the first half of the season. But there will be pressure to get Russell on the field, especially if McCown doesn't impress.
Most teams enter camp these days with only a handful of starting jobs truly up for grabs. Some of the most interesting around the league this year are at running back. Here's a look at them:
Minnesota RB: The Vikings drafted Adrian Peterson seventh overall, and he joins a backfield with Chester Taylor, who gained 1,200 yards last year. Just how will the carries be split?
Carolina RB: DeShaun Foster vs. DeAngelo Williams. It appears this will be a two-man committee. But Williams may have more familiarity with the new system of coordinator Jeff Davidson.
Detroit RB: Tatum Bell, acquired from Denver, is the favorite to start. He may have a hard time beating out Kevin Jones -- if Jones is recovered from a serious foot injury.
Tennessee RB: It's a three-way race among LenDale White, rookie Chris Henry and Chris Brown. White, the second-round pick from Southern Cal last year, will win the job if he's in shape and playing his best. Henry, the workout warrior with low production in college at Arizona, was a second-round pick.
Green Bay RB: Vernand Morency vs. rookie Brandon Jackson. Morency is the favorite.
Philadelphia's defense: Three of the Eagles' veterans face challenges in camp. Middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, 30, is being pushed hard by Omar Gaither, who started five games last year. Cornerback Sheldon Brown, a three-year starter, faces ex-Giant William James. The Eagles probably can't afford to sit defensive end Darren Howard. But he had a subpar season last year and has a decent speed rusher in Trent Cole behind him.
Carolina WR: Drew Carter, Keary Colbert and rookie Dwayne Jarrett vie to start opposite Steve Smith. Carter is the slight favorite.
Minnesota WRs: Bobby Wade, Troy Williamson, Billy McMullen and rookie Sidney Rice vie for two starting jobs. Wade, a former Titan, is in line to be the new No. 1 target but he was No. 3 in Tennessee.
San Diego WR: Eric Parker vs. rookie Craig Davis.
Falcons WRs: Atlanta should have a receiver-friendly offense -- if Michael Vick can improve and if the wideouts can live up to their potential. Michael Jenkins and veteran Joe Horn rank ahead of Roddy White and rookie Laurent Robinson.
Chiefs running back Larry Johnson might hold out from training camp in an effort to get a new contract. Johnson is due to earn $1.7 million this year. He rushed for at least 1,750 yards each of the past two years and set a league-record with 416 carries last year. He's underpaid, and he has the option of voiding the final two years of his original contract after this season. The problem for Johnson is he's 27. He doesn't want to wait another year to be a free agent, and the Chiefs could hit him with the franchise tag next year, anyway. There's speculation he wants a contract in excess of the one LaDainian Tomlinson signed (with $21 million in guarantees) before the new CBA deal.
The Chiefs are in a tough spot. Running back is not one of the "pay positions" in the NFL. They could consider trading Johnson if they could get a great return, like two No. 1s. But they're trying to find out if Croyle is a quality pro quarterback. It will be hard to do that with poor running-game support. That tips the issue in Johnson's favor. The Chiefs have to spend their money on somebody. They should do their best to work out a new deal. But they probably won't. There's talk Green Bay may be interested in acquiring LJ.
No Darwin motion
There still was no movement this week in the Darwin Walker situation, according to Walker's agent. With the Bills apparently unwilling to give Walker a big pay raise, it continues to look like Walker's rights are going to revert back to the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 5. The Eagles almost surely would cut him at that point. Walker is due to make $1.3 million this year, and he would much rather become a free agent and see what he could get on the market than play for that total.
Big Pat talk
Good quotes from ex-Bill Pat Williams in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
On saving money: "I see a lot of guys waste their money, and then have nothing when they leave the game. I'm on a budget. I have a lawyer who handles my money. All I get is $5,000 a month to spend. If I ask for more, he won't give it to me."
On Bears Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz: "Ever since Buffalo, I've been playing against him since he was a rookie. I've always been whipping his . . . He can't win. It doesn't matter what he does. Hey, I tell it like it is."
On leaving the Bills "I was mad. They took everything from me. It was home for me. My kids were in school there. They loved it there. And now Buffalo is back to Phase 1. They're trying to find a good d-tackle, and they can't."
Pacman Jones got three citations in a traffic stop in suburban Nashville on June 10, it was revealed this week. His Nashville lawyer says (surprise) the citing officer was out to get him. Jones had a Georgia license and was cited for not having a Tennessee license since he has been here more than 30 days. He was also cited for not having proof of registration or proof of insurance for his orange Lamborghini.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder bought Dick Clark Productions for a reported $175 million. Snyder already has a partnership with Tom Cruise and owns Six Flags amusement parks and the Johnny Rockets hamburger chain.
For a good laugh (and absolutely no perspective on the history of the NFL), fans could check out a recent ranking of owners on Sports Illustrated's Web site. Ralph Wilson was 30th, and among those ahead of him were Bill Bidwill, Bud Adams and Bob McNair.