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Teams use the word a lot, but what does it really mean in training camp?
You hear this word a lot entering training camp.
“What you always want to do in an NFL building is create competition, just to make sure everyone is putting their best foot forward every single day,” said Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur in the documentary, “Flight 2022.”
That sounds good on paper, but how prevalent is that in NFL training camps?
Let’s be blunt, most roster decisions are made before camp starts.
And this isn’t a Jets-centric comment, but the case in most camps.
Think about the Jets’ defensive end room.
Barring injuries, Carl Lawson, Vinny Curry, Jermaine Johnson, Jacob Martin, John Franklin-Myers and Michael Clemons are locks to make the team.
That is six guys right there. How many more guys are you going to keep at end? So where is the competition? Maybe in relation to whether Bryce Huff stays around on the roster or the practice squad.
You could play this name game at any position, and come up with the same conclusion.
Barring injuries, perhaps 95 percent of the roster spots are decided before camp starts.
Now you could have competitions between two guys who are both going to make the team, to decide who starts.
The Jets say there is a legit competition for the cornerback spots opposite D.J. Reed between Sauce Gardner and Bryce Hall.
“[Gardner] still has to go earn it,” Robert Saleh said. “Bryce has started, he’s taking the one reps and it’s not for show. You have to earn your right to play football. Just because you were drafted in a certain spot it doesn’t mean anything.”
Maybe it does “mean” something at QB.
Why isn’t there a competition between Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco and Mike White?
Has Wilson established himself to a degree where he shouldn’t be in a competition?
Of course not, but we all know darn well that when a QB is picked second overall, he’s starting without a competition.
So all we are really just looking at are a few spots at the end of the roster.
Honestly, barring injuries, the camp competition is mainly for practice squad spots.
How many starting jobs are really up for competition aside from placekicker?
Some might read what Saleh said about Hall-Gardner and say, “C’mon Robert, I know you are trying to motivate Sauce, but he’s not going to start, you picked him fourth overall.”
Now it should be said that Hall will play a lot, and it’s possible the Jets could have him come in on the outside on third down, and Reed can move into the slot, where he’s played very well in the past.
But the point of this column is that competition in camp is very limited, and most decisions have been made already.
Once again, I’m not criticizing the Jets for this. Most teams operate the same way outside of New England.
So excuse me if I’m a little jaded about the word “competition.”
To be honest with you, I didn’t even do a training camp preview issue this year of the magazine. I did an issue in its place, but it wasn’t an issue loaded with position previews. What’s the point?
Most decisions have already been made.