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Top 25 NFC position battles during training camp

NFL fans can't learn that much from training camp. Preseason results are irrelevant and it's difficult to separate reality from hype in practice reports.

I focus on two things in every team's camp: Which players are getting first-team snaps, and which players are hurt. Since it's too early to know who truly is healthy, this column focuses on the position competitions.

We'll start with our Top 25 position battles to watch in the NFC, and break out the AFC list on Monday. Ahoy:

Floyd, last year's first-round draft pick, takes on Roberts, who quietly put up more fantasy points than Larry Fitzgerald a season ago. The Cardinals have more weapons than you think.

24. Seattle Seahawks backup running back: Christine Michael vs. Robert Turbin

Early reports suggest that Michael could force his way onto the field early. No matter who wins here, the Seahawks could have the best running back group in football.

23. The Carolina Panthers' entire secondary

Charles Godfrey should have one safety spot locked down, but after that it's a mystery. The cornerback candidates include Captain Munnerlyn, Josh Norman, Drayton Florence and D.J. Moore. Translation: The Panthers better have a great pass rush to compensate.

Stocker is the favorite, but basically this is a reminder that the Buccaneers' tight end position is the equivalent to Jets South.

21. Detroit Lions wide receiver: Ryan Broyles vs. his knee

Broyles showed flashes of being a difference-maker last year. If his anterior cruciate ligament recovers quickly, he might pass Nate Burleson on the depth chart.

Chung, the former New England Patriot, and Allen lined up as starters in the offseason. Phillips, the former New York Giant, is a wild card coming off an injury. No one even is guaranteed a roster spot here, but it's a group with some talent.

Both players will get plenty of touches, so perhaps this isn't the most important battle. But it's looking like a Thomas kind of year in New Orleans.

18. Dallas Cowboys strong-side linebacker: Justin Durant vs. Alex Albright vs. Brandon Magee

Durant has to prove he can stay healthy. Albright is popular within the organization and Magee received a lot of money for an undrafted player. This battle is typical of the Cowboys, who have shaky depth at No. 3 receiver (Dwayne Harris vs. Terrance Williams) and backup running back (Joseph Randle vs. Lance Dunbar.) A late free-agent signing at any of these spots wouldn't surprise.

17. St. Louis Rams wide receiver: Brian Quick vs. Austin Pettis

I'm driving the Chris Givensbandwagon and Tavon Austin is going to play most downs. We're still interested to watch if Quick, last year's No. 32 overall draft pick, can bounce back from a shaky rookie season.

16. Philadelphia Eagles backup running back: Bryce Brown vs. Felix Jones

Jones quietly owns a 4.8 yards-per-carry career average; only four active running backs are better. Chip Kelly likes to use his reserves and Brown has a new coaching staff to impress.

Mathieu figures to get snaps in the slot, but he'll have to knock off a veteran to start at safety. Two spots are open here and it's possible Johnson could move to strong safety with Bell hitting the bench.

14. Carolina Panthers No. 3 receiver: Ted Ginn vs. The Field

Ted Ginn wants to be known as a wide receiver rather than just a return man. We have our doubts he'll make much of an impact, but he's the best option out of a shaky group that includes a lot of returner types like Armanti Edwards, Domenik Hixon, Joe Adams and Kealoha Pilares.

Yeah, Drew Brees' blind-side protector seems like an important spot. Brown has been a disappointment since being selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Armstead is a raw rookie, a 2013 third-round draft pick. Also, keep an eye on Junior Galette and Martez Wilson battling for one of the Saints' outside linebacker spots.

12. Arizona Cardinals running back: Rashard Mendenhall vs. The Field

Mendenhall appears to be Bruce Arians' guy, so perhaps this should be Mendenhall vs. staying healthy. If Mendenhall goes down, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor or Andre Ellington could step up.

We like Pead's chances, but plenty of smart people love Richardson despite his lack of inside running skills.

10. Washington Redskins tight end battle royale

Not to be confused with the Redskins' gnarly-looking safety free-for-all, the tight end group features Fred Davis, Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen and rookie Jordan Reed all angling for Mike Shanahan's affection. Don't underestimate Paul.

9. New York Giants middle linebacker: Mark Herzlich vs. Dan Connor

Herzlich only has started four games in two seasons, but he lined up as a starter in organized team activities. Connor hasn't lasted with the Panthers and Cowboys. This looks like a weak spot for the Giants' defense.

8. Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker: Erin Henderson vs. Desmond Bishop

Henderson didn't sound too fired up when the Vikings signed Bishop, promising to keep the starting Mike linebacker job. Bishop showed potential to be a great player with the Green Bay Packers before he tore his hamstring tendon last year.

The Vikings drafted Patterson in the first round to replace Percy Harvin, but they might be wary of putting too much on his plate right away. Simpson leads the league in highlight-reel practice catches.

San Francisco might play Vernon Davis out wide more often, but they still need to find a solution out wide opposite Anquan Boldin. Jenkins should be first in line because he was a first-round draft pick last year.

5. Chicago Bears middle linebacker: D.J. Williams vs. Jon Bostic

This is Bostic's job long term. If his college instincts show up in his rookie season, the Bears could move Williams to strong-side linebacker where James Anderson and rookie Khaseem Greene are battling.

This battle was high on our list before Wright was added to the mix, via a Friday trade. Brown and Culliver should be safe, and would be my favorites to start. (Although it's wide open.) Rogers' big salary might potentially put him at risk of getting cut. Asomugha and Wright also might be fighting for one spot if Perrish Cox or Tramaine Brock make the roster.

This is a fascinating group and we didn't even list Super Bowl XLV hero James Starks or third-year pro Alex Green, who lined up with the starters in OTAs. Lacy, the team's second-round draft pick, is the best bet to lead the team in touches. But Franklin and Harris might be more dynamic.

2. Green Bay Packers cornerback potpourri

The Packers' cornerback group is very talented and very deep. And the coaching staff says that both starting jobs are up for grabs with Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Sam Shields and Davon House in the mix. I'm starting to feel my fourth consecutive Super Bowl prediction for the Packers.

It's No. 1 on the list because it's a starting quarterback job for a team that might make the playoffs. It's easy to forget Vick was getting MVP consideration only three years ago. He's the favorite because of his salary and experience, but Foles has a legitimate chance.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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