Around the League

Presented By

Where the running back battles stand: NFC

We've broken down the quarterback battles and the running back battles in the AFC following the majority of minicamps. Now, let's take a look around the NFC backfields.

Arizona Cardinals: We didn't hear a ton about this battle throughout the offseason. The coaching staff spoke highly of third-year pro Ryan Williams, coming off another injury, but actions speak louder than words. The team brought in free agent Rashard Mendenhall and two rookies (Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington) to compete for snaps. Mendenhall reportedly looked healthy and ran as the No. 1 back throughout organized team activites, at least according to one radio report.

Only two years removed from a very productive season, Mendenhall has the highest ceiling of any player here and looks like the leader in the clubhouse.

Carolina Panthers:Jonathan Stewart's recovery from multiple ankle surgeries is par for the course considering his offseason history. The team seems unsure whether he'll be ready for camp. The new contract for DeAngelo Williams makes it more likely he'll stick around after this year and open the season as the starter. For now, there's no reason to believe that Mike Tolbert or rookie Kenjon Barner will get significant snaps if Stewart and Williams are healthy.

Dallas Cowboys: The starting job is all set with DeMarco Murray in place, but the backup spot is a mystery with fifth-round draft pick Joseph Randle having missed all of OTAs after wrist surgery. We wouldn't be surprised if the Cowboyswind up signing a veteran like Willis McGahee for depth, but they could wait to see how the young kids look in training camp.

Detroit Lions: Look for a committee between Reggie Bush, Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell, probably in that order. Leshoure wasn't 100 percent throughout the offseason and must prove he can stay healthy. It sounds like Bush's role with the Lions could be just as big or even better than with the Dolphins.

Green Bay Packers: This might be the most fascinating, wide open and impactful battle in the league. Third-year pro Alex Green took the snaps with the No. 1 offense during the offseason, yet absolutely no one seems to believe he'll stay there. Rookie Eddie Lacy is theoretically the favorite to start. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers lauded his patience as a runner and alluded to Lacy's learning curve in the offense. (This is typical for any rookie.) Rodgers also wondered aloud what DuJuan Harris could do as a feature back; Harris is expected to be ready for camp after having a cyst removed from his lung.

And we haven't even mentioned promising rookie Johnathan Franklin and James Starks yet. In short: Lacy and Harris might have a slight edge in this battle heading into camp, but it's the competition to watch above all others in August.

New Orleans Saints:Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram all are going to get plenty of touches. But there is reason to believe that Thomas' role could be increasing this year, while Ingram takes more of a back seat. No matter who leads the way, look for the Saints to focus on the running game more this season.

New York Giants:David Wilson is fully expected to be the Giants' starter. That much is clear after minicamps, but there is a big question of how big a workload the Giants will give him. Andre Brown reportedly could be a goal-line back, but it's an underwhelming group behind Wilson. A veteran addition would make sense here, too.

St. Louis Rams:Jeff Fisher probably doesn't have a true primary back between Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy. Even Terrance Ganaway could get short-yardage carries. Richardson had the most carries last year, but he looks more like a third-down player. Pead's one-game suspension shouldn't hurt his chances of being a factor. His work ethic is a bigger concern.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content