NFC South Camp Battles

Courtesy of the SportsXchange and Bucsblitz.com, here are some of the top position battles going on around the NFC South entering this weekend

Atlanta

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: WRs Laurent Robinson vs. Roddy White. White has had a very, very good training camp and has emerged as the No. 2 wideout in most formations, opposite Joe Horn. Last season's No. 2 wideout, Michael Jenkins, is being utilized more in the slot. As good of a camp as White is having, Robinson, a third-round pick from Illinois State, has really shone. He had five catches in the preseason opener, including a few really tough catches in traffic. Robinson also is a multi-dimensional receiver. Though stretching the field deep is his strength, he's shown to be sturdy enough to deal with crossing routes and make yards after short and mid-range catches. Robinson's inexperience will keep him behind White, for now, but head coach Bobby Petrino is going to find ways to showcase Robinson and possible get him more touches.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS

CBs Chris Houston vs. Lewis Sanders: Sanders has an early edge on the starting job with his experience being the deciding factor. He looks comfortable handling his assignments and is aware of the types of patterns teams typically run based on field position and down and distance. Houston has all the tools to gradually ease his way on to the field among the starters (Sanders could end up playing nickel back). He just needs some experience before his career gains traction.

FSs Chris Crocker vs. Jimmy Williams: It's only one game but Crocker seems to have a sizeable advantage over Williams. The transition from cornerback to free safety seems to be hamstringing Williams, who overran running and passing plays against the Jets. The coaching staff is going to continue to push Williams but it may be some time before Williams unseats Crocker -- if at all.

QBs Chris Redman vs. D.J. Shockley: Redman took the early lead in the battle for the No. 2 quarterback spot. He completed 8 of 13 passes in his first action since a preseason game in 2005. Redman, who played the second quarter and part of the third, was poised on the field and showed a calm presence in the huddle. Shockley (five of 12, one INT) was way too excited when he stepped on the field and tried to force too many plays. He overthrew several passes and rushed a few others.

Carolina

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Drew Carter vs. Dwayne Jarrett for No. 2 WR spot. This continues to be the top battle of training camp. Carter worked primarily with the first team last week in practice, but when the Panthers starters trotted on to the field Saturday night, Carter lined up with Steve Smith at receiver. Neither had a big impact in the game. In fact, Taye Biddle upstaged both of them Saturday night, catching touchdown passes of 23 and 85 yards.

EXPECTED BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Deke Cooper vs. Nate Salley for starting FS. Cooper, a journeyman safety, is healthy and hasn't looked bad in camp. But Salley should be close to coming back from a knee injury. Chris Harris, acquired in a trade with Chicago, is clearly viewed as the team's top safety (Carolina's safeties are fairly interchangeable), but the other spot is up for grabs. The Panthers may still consider bringing in a player from outside the organization to fill that role or at least provide veteran depth.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS

Jon Beason vs. Na'il Diggs for starting WLB.: Diggs is back on the practice field, but few expect him to hold off Beason, who looked good in his debut. With Diggs hurt most of last week, James Anderson got the start at WLB against the Giants. But Anderson isn't the guy they want there. He's their backup strong side linebacker. Expect Beason to get most of the reps with the first team this week and start against Philadelphia now that he's almost caught up on the playbook.

New Orleans

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Jason David vs. Fred Thomas for starting RCB spot. David seemed to have moved ahead of Thomas in practice late last week and got the start in the game with the Buffalo Bills. He finished with three tackles and broke up one pass. Thomas, who may continue to get some reps with the first-team defense, had four tackles.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS

Eric Johnson vs. Mark Campbell for starting TE job. These two have split reps with the first-team offense and Johnson got the start against the Bills after Campbell started the exhibition opener last week. While they're battling for the starting spot, both will see lots of action as Sean Payton uses an extra tight end a lot.

Tyler Palko vs. Jason Fife for third QB. Palko struggled early in training camp, but made some strides last week and played the final three quarters against the Bills. While he threw two interceptions, he has looked more composed and confident than Fife in throwing the ball in camp.

Want the inside scoop on the top competitions at Buccaneers training camp? Bucsblitz.com's Matthew Postins breaks down the most important position battles in this edition of the Observation Deck: Camp Battles 4.0.


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