Going into Detroit Lions training camp, we highlighted eight different position battles for spots in the starting lineup or somewhere on the depth chart. A lot has happened with those position battles since camp began, especially now that a preseason game has taken place. Let's examine where each position battle stands following Friday's game against the New York Jets.
Kellen Moore wasn't overly impressive against the Jets, but it's clear he's the strong favorite to win the third quarterback job. I say that simply because he got 26 snaps for the Lions, whereas Thaddeus Lewis was only in for six. Lewis didn't even get to attempt a single pass. This seems like the same situation as last year where R.J. Archer was barely used before being released.
Current favorite: Kellen Moore
No. 4 wide receiver
I think it's safe to say that Patrick Edwards is currently in line to be the Lions' No. 4 wide receiver. He has been getting some No. 1 reps in training camp, and he was listed as the No. 4 wide receiver on the depth chart that came out last week. What's more, he was the first player who got a chance to return punts on Friday, which bodes well for his chances of making the team.
(Bonus: When it comes to the No. 5 wide receiver spot, it appears as though Matt Willis is starting to inch his way up the depth chart. He had 3 catches for 51 yards and a touchdown on Friday, and he played 9 snaps on special teams. Being able to contribute on special teams is huge for the No. 5 receiver, and Willis has made a pretty strong case so far that he deserves to make the team. If I had to name a favorite for the No. 5 spot, I'd probably go with Willis right now.)
Current favorite: Patrick Edwards
Starting right guard
Dylan Gandy is currently the Lions' starting right guard, and at least on the depth chart, his backup is Jake Scott. However, Larry Warford has seemingly been getting more and more No. 1 reps as camp goes on, and he led the Lions with 53 snaps on offense on Friday. The Lions may not be ready to call him a starter just yet, but it's clear that they are grooming him to be one. When the regular season opens, I still expect him to be in the starting lineup over Gandy and Scott.
Current favorite: Larry Warford
Starting right tackle
The Lions listed Jason Fox as the starter at right tackle on the depth chart, but Corey Hilliard actually got the start on Friday. They played nearly an identical number of snaps against the Jets, and there has been a consistent rotation in practice. In other words, nobody has really emerged yet in this particular battle.
Current favorite: There isn't one
Starting left outside linebacker
Barring an injury, Ashlee Palmer is pretty clearly going to start at left outside linebacker. He got the start on Friday, and Tahir Whitehead actually joked this week that Palmer has already won the job. Add that to the fact that Gunther Cunningham feels like Travis Lewis is better suited for middle linebacker and the writing is on the wall, especially after Palmer looked the most impressive of the three players on Friday.
Current favorite: Ashlee Palmer
Starting right cornerback
Ron Bartell's brief absence in training camp because of an injury gave Darius Slay a chance to get reps as the No. 1 right cornerback. That was also the case for Friday's game with Bartell sitting out for precautionary reasons. I still think Bartell is considered the starter here, but the more time he misses, the better the chance Slay has to win this position battle.
Current favorite: Ron Bartell
David Akers and Havard Rugland both went 2-for-2 on field goals on Friday. Akers had a long of 47, while Rugland connected from 50 yards out. The fact that Akers was the kicker in the first half is a pretty good indication that this is still his job to lose.
Current favorite: David Akers
Of all the position battles, this is probably the toughest to judge because the Lions had so few chances to actually use their returners. They didn't have a single kick return on Friday, and only four punts were actually brought back. Patrick Edwards had the most impressive punt return when he went for 24 yards, but a (weak) penalty for a blindside block negated it. I suppose between that return and the fact that he is in good shape to make the team, Edwards should probably be considered the current frontrunner for this job.
Current favorite: Patrick Edwards