Let's take a look at which key position battles we should all keep our eyes on for the game on Thursday night. And as always, if you feel I left one out, feel free to tell me.
Chris Liwienski vs Rex Hadnot vs Drew Mormino
It's become very clear that these 3 players are battling for 2 starting spots. It was Hadnot and Mormino getting the starting gigs last week. However, Hadnot clearly struggled, which surprised me because he was very consistent last year. I wonder what changed. Mormino wasn't very good either, but he wasn't terrible. And all camp long, we've heard coaches and media talk about how Drew is improving every day and how he could become a draft day steal. The most interesting thing about this situation, though, is that while the first and second depth charts released by the team had Liwienski as a starter, it was Hadnot and Mormino starting last week. Considering that fact, and the fact that Hadnot struggled, it isn't a reach to say that Rex needs a solid performance this week to stay in the race for a starting spot.
Anthony Alabi vs L.J. Shelton
Alabi has been holding down the starting RT gig for all of camp thus far, which has been a pretty big surprise considering it was assumed Shelton would be starting at RT entering camp. However, something along the way changed this. Could it be his weight? That was one report. Shelton's agent said that he believes his client will regain the starting RT spot once he loses 15 pounds. That could be true. It's no secret that Cameron and Houck like quicker, more athletic tackles and, right now, that isn't exactly a description of Shelton. The thing that puzzles me, though, is that Alabi isn't exactly quick, either. Many in the media said that Alabi looked slow and out of shape early on in camp. Of course, he was coming back from injury. The way I see it, the RT spot is likely Alabi's to lose, as he's getting in better shape every day. I'm interested in seeing how he fares against Kansas City. If he continues to show improvement, I don't think Shelton will have a shot to start regardless of how he performs.
Trent Green vs Cleo Lemon vs John Beck
Now, I know what you are all thinking: Beck isn't battling for a starting spot. True. But he's been the most impressive QB in terms of his physical ability all throughout camp. So who is to say, should Beck shines Thursday night and shows a good understanding of the system, he doesn't deserve to start?
Alright, maybe I'm just grasping at straws here because I'm so excited to see what Beck can do. So let's just talk about the other two. And this is a storyline that is really beginning to draw attention because of how poor Trent has looked so far. He's been inconsistent in camp and he had a terrible performance against Jacksonville. Then Cleo comes in against the 2nd and/or 3rd team Jags defense and goes 5 for 6. Suddenly, Dolphin fans are beginning to clamor for Lemon to get a fair shot. But the bottom line here is that Trent is a veteran with a very good history. And he wasn't brought over here from KC to sit the bench. Now with that said, I'd love to see Cleo make this even more interesting. But for him to do that, he's going to need a good performance against KC.
Kerry Reed vs Az Hakim vs David Sutton
Last week, Reed was the only one of the 3 to have a catch, as he hauled in a 29 yard pass. But throughout camp, both Reed and Sutton have been impressive. Hakim, on the other hand, has been less impressive but is a crafty vet with good speed. I'm very curious to see how this battle plays out from now until the final cutdown date. I love Sutton's size but I think I'm pulling for Reed right now. He's shown the ability in camp to work the middle of the field, get open, and make tough catches. I think this upcoming game is a big one for these 3 guys as they battle for their roster lives.
David Martin vs Courtney Anderson vs Justin Peelle vs Andrew Halterman
All 4 have their pros and cons. And this position battle is certainly of utmost importance as all 3 QBs have shown a tendency to rely at times on their tight end. Martin is the favorite to start, but he's been unimpressive. Not that that's a bad thing. Peelle is likely to make the team as he is the best blocking TE currently on the roster. Anderson is interesting because of his very good size. At 6'6, he'd be just what this team needs inside the red zone. As he becomes more acclimated to the system, he's going to see more opportunities because I feel the coaching staff likes him. But he's behind because he was signed much later than normal. As for Halterman, he's shown the ability to get open and is developing a relationship with the quarterbacks. However, he's probably the furthest down right now on the totem pole. But you never know, which is why I tossed his name in here with the others.
[editor's note, by Matty I] Be sure to get involved in the next stat projection. You can either scroll down to see the post or click here.