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Sports Then and Now



NFL Teams Prepare for Positional Attrition 15

Posted on May 21, 2012 by John Ogalbe

The addition of Brandon Jacobs gives the San Francisco 49ers multiple options at running back.

Every day in the NFL players are playing for their careers and almost interviewing for their jobs, they don’t only have to worry about the opposition as much as competition from within their own team.

All the various positions have battles over them each year and they tend to pop up across the league during every off-season; some with little furor, and others which make back page headlines on a daily basis. These fights for the starting or backup jobs lend some intrigue to an otherwise dull part of the NFL calendar year.

With that thought in mind where do we think that some of these internal clashes will be happening this year? The first to come under the microscope is in San Francisco who staged one of the more remarkable turnarounds last year, much of their success due to their defense.

However, they have managed to keep all of their offensive starters from last year and have through free-agency been able to boost their offense, prompting a flurry of online bets and interest.

But with the boost comes conflict and the 49ers added to that attrition by using their second round draft pick to select Oregon running back LaMichael James adding to a very crowded backfield that already contains Brandon Jacobs, Kendall Hunter, Anthony Dixon and the incumbent Frank Gore.

It should go without saying that the starting job belongs to Gore, but that leaves four running backs to battle for what essentially amounts to two spots and that could well create some sparks over the summer in San Francisco.

There are likely to be plenty of QB head-to-head battles over the summer.

Unless you have an elite QB you need to have plenty of depth but that can cause its own problems and we can see some fun-and-games coming in Arizona where the Cardinals have spent a lot of money on Kevin Kolb.

Kolb then got injured and his replacement John Skelton, who played well down the stretch.

Kolb’s contract is expensive, and his first season was marred by injuries and the NFL lockout. He probably deserves another chance but this could be a close run thing.

In Chicago the Bears are collecting wide receivers like stamps and they will have an interesting summer deciding what to do with them all.

It goes without saying that Brandon Marshall owns the number one spot, and with Earl Bennett having been given a long contract extension it probably leaves one spot to be decided, with Devin Hester, free agent Eric Weems and rookie Alshon Jeffrey all in the running.

That gives the Bears an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver but at least one man will be happy, and that’s Chicago QB Jay Cutler, who must be excited by having that much ammunition.

Many more of these situations of attrition will occur throughout the off-season and should give us plenty to write and talk about – and will undoubtedly lead to many NFL bets being placed – before we start the real action later in the year.

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