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Training Camp Battles to Watch

More by Ed Fulda
Other writers' articles
Training camp is open. For a change, all the draft choices are signed. There are even eleven extra bodies in camp competing for spots on the roster, thanks to NFL-Europe exemptions. The biggest question to be answered, of course, is the health of Priest Holmes. However, that’s not the only situation to watch as camp progresses. There are several positions – especially on defense – where competition for roster spots will be fierce. How well Dick Vermeil and his staff fare on their decisions will determine whether the Chiefs return to the playoffs or sit at home again.

At wide receiver, Johnny Morton, Eddie Kennison, Dante Hall, and Marc Boerighter are all assured jobs. That leaves Dameane Douglas, Snoop Minnis, Curtis Jackson, Wilson Thomas, and LaShaun Ward fighting for one or two slots. Unfortunately, Sylvester Morris is injured again and probably has killed any chance he had of sticking with the team (except on the injured reserve list).

Leo Araguz and John Baker get to compete for the right to replace Dan Sryzinski as the team punter. Given that neither one has ever proven himself to be a consistent performer in the past, expect that the team will bring in additional bodies for tryouts before camp is over.

John Browning, Ryan Sims, Vonnie Holliday, Eric Hicks, and Eddie Freeman are already set for defensive line spots. There will be a dog fight, however, for the remaining two or three spots between Jared Tomich, Derrick Ransom, Gary Stills, Eric Downing, R-Kal Truluck, TJ Bingham, Michael Landry, Jimmy Wilkerson, Montique Sharpe, and Daniel Benetka. The winners will be the ones who can demonstrate the ability to consistently rush the passer and/or collapse the pocket.

At Linebacker, Shawn Barber, Mike Maslowski, Scott Fujita, and Kawika Mitchell are locks. Larry Atkins, Fred Jones, Monty Beisel, Quentin Caver, Dustin Cohen, and Tony Newson will fight it out for the remaining three spots. The winners will have to earn their keep as cover guys on the special teams.

Cornerback is another position where competition will be lively. Dexter McCleon, Eric Warfield, and rookie Julian Battle are set. William Bartee is probably assured of a spot unless he totally blows it in camp. Darrius Johnson, Corey Harris, and Willie Ford will compete for the last slot. The real competition will be to see who will be the starters.

There is only one spot open at Safety, since Jerome Woods, Greg Wesley, and Shaunard Harts are locks. Competition for that last spot will be between Lyle West, Clint Finley, Henry baker, and rookie Willie Pyle.

It ought to be an interesting camp.

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