Position Battle Recap - Week One Edition

Troy Nolan (33) isn't mentioned in this article, but he definitely deserves praise for his performance on Saturday. Also, this is a great picture.

Now that we have some actual gameplay to analyze, let's look at the updated scoreboard for roster battles. You hate to base things on one pre-season game, but there were some noticeable winners and losers from Saturday night.

Hit the jump for stats, thoughts, and where I think the battles are as we head into week two of the pre-season.

Back-Up Quarterback: Dan Orlovsky versus John David Booty
Game Performance: Orlovsky was 12-21 for 129 yards while Booty went 8-12 for 59 yards including 7-8 for 56 yards on the two-minute drill drive to set up a long field goal if Kubiak had wanted to attempt it.
Thoughts: Dan-O looked slow in his decision making and wasn't that accurate. If the pass-blocking wasn't so good, Dan would've been sacked multiple times. He failed to complete any of his screen pass attempts and couldn't hit anyone that wasn't wide open. People will give Dan-O credit for leading two 15-play drives that consumed 16+ minutes, but he contributed to the red zone struggles with four incompletions down there. Booty struggled at first, but was great in leading the two-minute drill at the end of the game.
Current Standings: There are positives from both, but I'm not sold on the insurance yet. I'd be interested to see how Booty would handle the second-team considering how he performed at the end.

Running Back: Arian Foster versus Steve Slaton versus Ben Tate versus Jeremiah Johnson versus Chris Henry
Game Performance: Foster had 31 yards, averaged 7.8 yards per carry, and every one of his runs were for positive yards. Slaton got 10 carries for 22 yards and a reception for another 21 yards. Oh, there's also the fumble at the one-yard line. Tate is injured. Better luck next time, Ben. JJ2 finished second on the team with 6.6 YPC. Chris Henry had a total of 20 yards in three touches and allowed the sack to end the game.
Thoughts: Arian Foster just won the starting job. He ran hard, ran forward, and held onto the ball. He played well while Slaton struggled. Yes, Steve's speed is back, but his technique resembles 2009 as opposed to 2008. He ran high, didn't attack the hole hard, and there's the fumble. Slaton's great at receiving, but he needs to show improvement in running the ball. As for JJ2 versus Henry, 6.6 YPC show that Jeremiah has the leg up.
Current Standings: Foster's clearly the starter with Slaton and Johnson backing him up at this point.

Wide Receiver 4 & 5: Andre Davis versus David Anderson versus Dorin Dickerson
Game Performance: Davis came up with one 12-yard reception, Dickerson had three receptions for 38 yards, and the Comedian snagged three balls for 15 yards.
Thoughts: Anderson is great in the slot as a safety valve. We all know he's really the fourth WR. Dickerson's progression is further along than I thought. He looked great in blocking and his route-running was solid. I would like to see him out there with the second-stringers some. I liked what I saw from Dorin. There's nothing really to say about Davis as he apparently bruised his tailbone and will miss some time this week.
Current Standings: Anderson and Dickerson should be ahead of Davis on the depth chart now. Anderson's reliable and Dickerson's upside is tantalizing.

Interior Offensive Line: Kasey Studdard versus Chris Myers versus Wade Smith versus Mike Brisiel versus Chris White versus Shelley Smith
Game Performance: Any lineman who pass-blocked did exceptionally well. The QBs had plenty of time to throw the ball. The lone sack allowed was a missed blitz pick up by a RB. In the first half, when most of these guys played, there were only three negative runs. Studdard got beat in two of those plays.
Thoughts: I can't really recall seeing Wade Smith out there. Brisiel was sick and missed the game. Myers did very well against Dan Williams. Studdard with the obvious mistakes. White got beat some. Shelley was surprisingly decent considering the bad reports from camp.
Current Standings: Myers is leading the race for center, but Studdard's position shouldn't be safe whatsoever.

Strong-side Linebacker: Wide-open
Game Performance: Xavier Adibi and Danny Clark missed the game due to injuries. They might have allowed this battle to be blown wide-open. After Cushing left the game, the Texans played Zac Diles out there with Darryl Sharpton. Sharpton led the team with seven tackles, broke up a pass, and even had an interception. Darnell Bing was average in coverage and made some nice tackles. Kevin Bentley was solid as well.
Thoughts: I want to see more Darryl Sharpton. He was everywhere. He has great tackling technique and looked good in coverage. I know the coaches have spoken against moving Diles to SLB for four games, but if they want the best three LBs out there then Sharpton may force their hand. The kid was phenomenal and we know that there's no problem with starting a rookie LB (see: Defensive Rookies of the Year Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans).
Current Standings: I could live with a line-up of Diles, Ryans, and Sharpton. Sharpton earned more snaps this week. Diles looked good in coverage against Arizona, so this line-up is one I want to see in week two. Oh, one more thing: Rick Smith, I apologize for criticizing the Sharpton pick.

Cornerback: Brice McCain versus Antwaun Molden versus Jacques Reeves versus Sherrick McManis versus Mark Parson versus Fred Bennett
Game Performance: McCain did a great job with his work on the 1s and 2s and had three tackles. He definitely is pushing for the third spot on the depth chart. Molden's still healthy and made some tackles. McManis broke up a pass and had some tackles. Reeves didn't do much. Parson and Bennett were the 4th quarter CBs when the Cardinals began their comeback. Bennett committed the big pass interference penalty and constantly got picked on and burned.
Thoughts: I feel a bit better about the pass defense with how the young guys performed. It doesn't hurt that they had help from the defensive line. We'll know more after the New Orleans and Dallas pre-season match-ups. I know this much right now: Fred Bennett needs to be cut. A rookie QB and undrafted WR made him look downright foolish.
Current Standings: At this point, Bennett probably doesn't make the roster, but he'll be a camp body to take the abuse. As for the other corners, the New Orleans game will be a big measuring stick as they prepare for another talented WR corps. Yes, you will probably continue to see Fred get abused by third and fourth teamers.

Kick and Punt Returns: Trindon Holliday
Game Performance: Holliday got every return in the game as Kubiak promised, which is why he's the only name listed. He had a nice 30-yard return to open the game followed up by a heads up play to fall on the ball that had touched a blocker. Trindon was more timid in the second half on his kick-off returns. His sole punt return attempt saw him pick up a dangerous ball at the five-yard line and get immediately tackled.
Thoughts: I need more of the first half and less of the second half. Overall, he averaged 21.5 yards per return on kick-offs. In 2009, Jacoby averaged nearly 27 YPR and Andre' hit 24 YPR.
Current Standings: Holliday needs to pick it up in game two against New Orleans.

Kicker: Kris Brown versus Neil Rackers
Game Performance: Brown went 2-2 on FGs (31 and 26 yarders) and 1-1 on extra points while Rackers nailed his lone FG from 24 yards. Both men looked good in kick-offs in terms of hang time and distance.
Thoughts: The coaches alternated on FGs and kick-offs and would've on XPs if there were more TDs. That was their plan coming into the game. It's a wash really, since they were all chip shot FGs. I would've liked to have seen someone attempt the 50-yard game tying FG though.  
Current Standings: Still even, but that means Brown is a step closer to retaining his job. I could do without the Houston broadcast team's blatant cheering of Kris Brown. Call the competition down the middle.


Did I nail it or am I completely off base? Sound off on how you view the competitions after the first pre-season game.

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