Training Camp Battles, Part I - Right Tackle

A year ago in training camp we saw players like Tamba Hali beat out veterans such as Eric Hicks for starting jobs. We also witnessed backups like Jarrad Page ousting others completely from the roster. Similar position battles will take place again in 2007.

With a little over a week before Warpaint Illustrated hits training camp and brings you the real news, here's a preview. Over the next week we'll give you three training camp battles to watch closely in River Falls.

Right Tackle – Chris Terry vs. Will Svitek

Most people have penciled in eight-year veteran Chris Terry as the starter here, and rightfully so. The Chiefs picked him up in October last season and began grooming him for this responsibility. But he won't be handed the job.

After a disappointing return from NFL Europe last offseason – he was injured early in the season – Will Svitek is back, and hopefully rested. The Chiefs didn't give up on him, so hopefully the fans haven't, either.

Terry might have the edge in experience, but I don't think he can match Svitek's power and attitude. In Europe, Svitek was a dominant left tackle who cleared the way for the league's top running game. Obviously that's not going to translate directly to the NFL, but at only 295 pounds I doubt Terry is going to be mauling many defensive ends.

Either way, Svitek figures to be KC's right (or perhaps left) tackle of the future. Terry will be 32 in a month and is no stranger to injury.

If Svitek ends up winning this battle, the Chiefs could be in great shape on the offensive line, because Terry was no slouch in limited duty last year, and has a history with good offensive line play in Carolina and Seattle.

Regardless of who starts, the Chiefs won't have to suffer through another season like last year – in which five different players spent time at right tackle. They haven't had a legitimate tackle start the season on the right side since John Tait left for Chicago. John Welbourn and Jordan Black were both converted guards. Terry and Svitek, on the other hand, both have the quick feet necessary to play outside.

I'd look for the Chiefs to split reps between the two players until midway through preseason, when a clear starter will be identified. Both parties will be served well by practicing against Tamba Hali, of course.

As far as predicting a winner, it'd be nice to see Svitek win the job outright, but it may be a year early for that. He's never started an NFL game and I doubt the Chiefs want to trust the protection of first-year starter Brodie Croyle to an equally green player.

In other news – Friday's signing of offensive tackle Kyle Turley might shake this battle up, depending on where the Chiefs place him on the depth chart. Svitek and Turley have both spent time in Kansas City at left tackle, but Turley's history is generally on the opposite site.

Coming Tuesday: Training Camp Battles, Part II – Wide Receiver Top Stories