One of most winnable spots on San Diego's roster is the No. 3 running back. Mason, claimed off waivers from the Washington Redskins, will jockey with undrafted rookie McNeal for the right to back up Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Mason is a sturdier back who averaged a respectable 4.0 ypc last season, while McNeal is more of a traditional third-down back.
Like the No. 3 running back position, this spot is wide open. A slew of undrafted rookies -- led by Williams, who was projected by many to be a middle-round pick -- are gunning for the final place on the active roster. However, the No. 5 receiver will play primarily on special teams, which plays right into Banks' wheelhouse.
This is the ultimate contrast between youth and experience. Martin came on strong as a rookie and carved out a role in the short-yardage defense. Nonetheless, his development is far from finished. He will have to hold off a challenge from Boone, a 10-year veteran who exceeded all expectations as a midseason pickup last season, leading the defensive line in sacks (3.0).
Tucker and Applewhite will compete for the No. 4 outside linebacker spot behind Shaun Phillips, Shawne Merriman and Larry English. Tucker was once seen as an ascending player, as evidenced by the five-year extension he earned in 2008, but he was leapfrogged by Applewhite last season until a hamstring injury sidelined the former Aztecs star. This year, the battle starts anew.
Gregory thrived as the nickel back last season, finishing with 71 tackles, six pass breakups, two sacks and an interception. However, he's sliding back to safety this year and finds himself in a fight for his roster spot. He'll look to fend off a charge from Spillman, who is rangier and stronger on special teams.