Posted Tue Jul 29th by Jonathan Douglas
As we continue our daily coverage of Training Camp 2008, I wanted to mention a few things that I’m personally looking for this year as we prepare for the season.
1. Niko – Is he for real?
I have no doubts about D.J. Williams at WILL or Boss Bailey at SAM. My concern is for the middle. Niko is said to have loads of talent and the drive to lead, but I’m keeping my eyes open and ears tuned for little things that might give us an early indication about what we truly have in the middle. I also think that watching Nate Webster is important. If Webster stands out and Niko has a slow start, I think Shanahan will give Nate a shot at the top spot.
2. Full-on Fight at Fullback?
With Converted RB Cecil Sapp and incoming FB Peyton Hillis we might have a pretty good position fight to watch this camp. Unfortunately, we can’t count so much on the mainstream media on this one, as this position is just not a glamorous as running back, wideout or QB. So, I’m really watching the blog coverage and reports from on-hand fans to see if we can get a feel for how this battle is unfolding.
3. Awesome Depth at Wideout, but who wins the #2 spot?
We have more depth (read: talent) at WR this year than most seasons I can remember. We currently have Brandon Marshall, Brandon Stokley, Darrell Jackson, Glenn Martinez, Eddie Royal, Taylor Jacobs, Keary Colbert, Marquay McDaniel, Samie Parker, Lorne Sam, Clifford Russell and Edell Shepherd. That’s 12 guys fighting for 7-8 spots. We all know Marshall is our number one guy. I would put Darrell Jackson, Martinez and Royal on the second tier level with the best chance to win that second spot. I see Stokley remaining in the slot (with Royal giving him a run for his money if Eddie doesn’t win the #2 spot). That leaves us with 7 other guys scrapping for the last 2-3 roster places.
However, it’s that fight for the #2 spot that has my attention. I like ALL three of these guys and with the issue of Brandon Marshall’s possible suspension looming it will make this position battle that much more intense.
4. The O-line… Aging men, Young rookies and backups?
I love Ryan Clady… but he isn’t going to single-handedly going to fix all the issue we have this year along the O-line. We’re going to have good fights all along the line. It should be fun! :)
On example of this is our backup Center… I know we all have mad respect for Tom Nalen, but he’s not a young pup any more. And Hamilton is coming off a serious concussion injury last year, so he’s one good lick away from leaving the game entirely. Since Ben Hamilton has traditionally been Nalen’s backup, if he was to go down with another head bump in camp or the preseason what would that leave us behind Nalen at Center? Another old guy and a rookie. So I am very interested in what veteran Casey Wiegmann and rookie Kory Lichtensteiger can bring this camp. Like many of the other O-line position battles, the backup Center job is not going to garner much mainstream media attention, so we’ll all need to keep a close eye on those first hand accounts from camp.
5. Safeties… Is this Lynch’s Swan Song?
Watch closely folks, this might be John Lynch‘s last training camp. We saw Nick Ferguson supplanted by Hamza Abdullah last year. So, what will our young rookies bring to this year’s camp? Can any of them prove to the coaches that it would be better to split time between Run Defense and Pass Defense with Lynch in on running plays and a faster youth in on obvious passing plays? It’s possible… and early in camp we might get a feel for this (things like Roderick Roger‘s INT for example)
Mark my words, if Lynch thinks his playing time will be reduced this season he’s going to walk way.
I’m also looking forward to see how Jay Cutler is doing (seems very good to me so far), who will impress the coaches at Running Back (go Andre Hall!) and what rotation in the middle of the D-line will finally fix our run defense.