NFL pre-season - Big pressure on Sanchez, Vick, and EJ Manuel

Mark Sanchez

The NFL preseason is often a time when results do not matter and all there is riding on it is a number of key positional competitions, who's going to be the New York Jets' starting quarterback, who gets the nod in Philadelphia as the Chip Kelly regime begins?

These are all questions lingering over the NFL world as the preseason games swing fully into action tonight.

Here are a few key battles you need to look out for this August.

New York Jets QB - Mark Sanchez v Geno Smith

What more can be said about the New York Jets, at the moment the pantomime horse of the NFL. Never a week passes without some sort of drama within the camp. After a disastrous campaign last year the Jets are looking to rebuild through the draft; trading away their best player Darrelle Revis was the start of that. Geno Smith, a QB out of West Virginia was chosen in the second round of the draft in April and after impressing coaches in training camp he has been given the chance to win a starting place during the preseason games. Sadly Mark Sanchez has failed to progress as an NFL quarterback over the past two seasons so don't be surprised if you see Smith under centre come week 1 at home to the Buccaneers.

Philadelphia Eagles QB - Michael Vick v Nick Foles

One of the longest running quarterback tussles in the NFL, neither player has been able to stake his claim to a starting spot on the Eagles squad. Vick who has taken most of the starts since joining the team in 2009 but has missed large amount of time due to a string of concussions his strength, the use of his legs, in this case can turn into his weakness. The Eagles have a decision to make between a quarterback in Foles that is very solid and effective and Vick who can be more erratic but has the potential to make game winning plays with his arm and his feet. Add to this newly drafted Matt Barkley and you have yourself a QB royal rumble.

Buffalo Bills QB - E.J Manuel v Kevin Kolb

The Buffalo Bills haven't shown any signs of competing since the early 90s and a big reason for this is the quarterback situation, they haven't had a one of note since Jim Kelly lead them to four straight Super Bowl appearances 20 years ago. Finally it seems they have two quarterbacks who can fight it out to give the Bills a chance to compete in the AFC East where they face up to the great QB Tom Brady. This organisation has threatened to turn the corner a number of times maybe this is finally their chance to get it right.

New Orleans Saints RB - Mark Ingram v Pierre Thomas

The Saints running game has never been top priority when you have Drew Brees at quarterback with offensive weapons like Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Lance Moore at his disposal. But this fight to start in the backfield will be intriguing as Pierre Thomas led the team in rushing the year they won their Super Bowl title. Mark Ingram on the other hand will be coming into preseason with a sense he has to prove something after coming out so highly rated out of Alabama in the 2011 draft  only to have two very average seasons that have not seen him get the playing time he would have wanted. Too excellent players going head-to-head will be facinating.

San Francisco 49ers WR - Carlos Rogers v Tarell Brown v Chris Culliver v Nnamdi Asomugha

Of all the position battles in the NFL this has to be the most complicated, just in terms of depth. There are two starting cornerback spots on the team however each of these four could stake a claim to be a starter come September. You would think that Asomugha will have the most to prove after signing for the Eagles back in the summer of 2011 for a hefty price tag, things didn't work out in Philly and now he finds himself on the west coast with the 49ers looking to prove people wrong. The one weakness last season was the defensive backfield so the 49ers hope they get it right and fulfil their role as Super Bowl favourites.

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