Every NFL team improved at certain positions during the offseason. Whether it was finding a quarterback of the future or a veteran ready to make an impact, this has led to other players facing a ton of pressure heading into training camp.
Will Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick keep his starting job? There’s a couple of veteran backs in Indianapolis and Baltimore looking to hold off impressive rookies, too.
It’s in this that I look at five NFL players who could lose their starting jobs once training camp gets going in about two weeks.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, quarterback, Miami Dolphins
I previously focused on Fitzpatrick as one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL. That could very well be true while also acknowledging that he’s nothing more than a placeholder starter in South Beach. Prior to selecting him No. 5 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Dolphins had been targeting Tua Tagovailoa for well over a calendar year. They are obviously high on him.
The hip injury Tua suffered late in his final season at Alabama has seemingly healed a lot quicker than anyone anticipated. Sure it’s going to be hard for a rookie quarterback to show much during training camp after all off-season activities were canceled. In no way does that mean Fitzpatrick is a lock to be the Dolphins’ Week 1 starter. Let’s see how Tagovailoa performs in training camp, should he get the opportunity.
Marlon Mack, running back, Indianapolis Colts
Indy did not select former Wisconsin star Jonathan Taylor in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft for the stud running back to sit on the sidelines for too long. Picked No. 41 overall, Taylor was an absolute steal for general manager Chris Ballard. The 5-foot-10, 226-pound back recorded 6,581 total yards with 55 touchdowns during three seasons with the Badgers.
Mack, 24, has shown out to the tune of 1,000-plus total yards in each of the past two seasons. He’s been a reliable back. However, Taylor seems to have the it factor. He can take it the distance each time he touches the ball. With Philip Rivers now under center, there’s a darn good chance the Colts decide on Taylor as their three-down back during camp.
Mitchell Trubisky, quarterback, Chicago Bears
It became clear during the spring that Chicago had no intention of handing Trubisky the starting job without any competition heading into his fourth NFL season. Enter into the equation former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, who the Bears dealt for back in March.
As of right now, it seems that Foles actually has the upper-hand in the quarterback competition. Though, it’s more than likely Trubisky will be given every chance to earn the job during camp. General manager Ryan Pace might very well be risking his future with the organization on Trubisky. The No. 2 overall pick back in 2017, the much-maligned quarterback threw for just 3,138 yards with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 15 starts a season ago.
Mark Ingram, running back, Baltimore Ravens
This three-time Pro Bowler performed well in his first season with Baltimore. The former Heisman winner accounted for 1,265 total yards at a clip of 5.5 yards per touch while scoring a whopping 15 touchdowns. He seemed to be a perfect fit with reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson in the backfield.
But as we already know, the running back position is fickle in today’s NFL. Baltimore exhausted a second-round pick on former Ohio State star J.K. Dobbins in April’s NFL Draft. As legit Super Bowl contenders, they did not make that selection for Dobbins to ride the pine as a rookie. He could very well be the next great NFL running back. Teaming Dobbins up with Jackson would also create some major issues for opposing defenses. And if the youngster performs well during camp, it would not be a shock if he earned more opportunities than Ingram once Week 1 comes calling.
Derek Carr, quarterback, Las Vegas Raiders
Rumors following another mediocre season from Carr suggested that head coach Jon Gruden was done with the quarterback. Las Vegas had been linked to the likes of Tom Brady and Philip Rivers in free agency. The team had extensive trade talks surrounding Carr at the NFL Scouting Combine this past spring. It was also linked to top-end quarterback prospects heading into the draft.
Instead, the Raiders signed former No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota to a team-friendly deal. Said contract suggests Mariota is nothing more than a backup. Though, there’s every reason to believe that he will compete with Carr during camp. Given the nature of the latter’s relationship with Gruden, a strong performance from Mariota this summer could lead to him being the Week 1 starter.