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Top 18 AFC training camp battles

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Click here for Gregg Rosenthal's breakdown of the top NFC training camp battles.

1. Jets quarterback: Geno Smith vs. faceplant


Even with Chan Gailey favorite Ryan Fitzpatrick on board, the Jets have made it clear that this is Smith's job to lose. Barring an epic faceplant in preseason action, Geno will lead a much improved offense into the 2015 season.

2. Bills quarterback: Matt Cassel vs. EJ Manuel vs. Tyrod Taylor


Several Buffalo scribes believe Cassel's roster spot is in jeopardy after a disappointing showing in offseason practices. Manuel and Taylor weren't much better, at one point leading Rex Ryan to pull his first-team defense off the field to give the offense a boost of confidence. A winner is unlikely to be declared before a couple of preseason games are in the books.

3. Texans quarterback: Brian Hoyer vs. Ryan Mallett


Although Mallett has the edge in arm strength and long-term potential, local beat writers unanimously awarded the edge to Hoyer coming out of OTAs and minicamp. This competition should be decided long before Buffalo's.

4. Patriots cornerback potpourri


This position is one of the biggest question marks in the game after the Pats lost their top three cornerbacks during the offseason. Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler figures to carve out a big role, along with Logan Ryan. It will be interesting to see how Bradley Fletcher fares in New England after wearing the goat label in Philly last year. Seventh-round rookie Darryl Roberts is an intriguing wildcard, and the team reached a deal with veteran Tarell Brown to a deal Thursday.

5. Dolphins wide receiver: Jarvis Landry vs. Kenny Stills vs. Greg Jennings vs. DeVante Parker


Landry should be locked in as the slot receiver, leaving Jennings and vertical threat Stills to battle top draft pick Parker for snaps on the outside. The big question is whether we will see Parker in camp after undergoing June foot surgery.

6. Colts No. 3 receiver: Donte Moncrief vs. Phillip Dorsett vs. two-tight end sets


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Moncrief has the physical tools of a No. 1 receiver, but couldn't overtake an injured and ineffective Reggie Wayne last season. Dorsett has inspired a steady stream of hype since offseason practices began. It will be interesting to see how Pep Hamilton feeds so many mouths with T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson entrenched as the top two wideouts and Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen established as a fine tight-end duo.

7. Patriots passing-down back potpourri


The Patriots never signed a high-profile receiving back to replace Shane Vereen on third downs and in the two-minute drill, leaving Travaris Cadet, James White and Dion Lewis to battle for the job. The Boston media appears to be split on the frontrunner, leaving this as a wide-open race.

8. Browns running back: Isaiah Crowell vs. Terrance West vs. Duke Johnson


Although Johnson profiles as a passing-down specialist, one Browns source told Around The NFL's Marc Sessler that the rookie is going to get plenty of playing time. If Cleveland is modeling its backfield on Cincinnati's, Johnson could fill the Giovani Bernard role with Crowell and West battling for Jeremy Hill's early-down carries.

9. Steelers outside linebacker: Experience vs. young talent


The Steelers need recent first-round draft picks Jarvis Jones and Bud Dupree to emerge as impact players, though the latter figures to be eased in early on. Now 37 years old, James Harrison was one of the Steelers' premier defensive players after being pulled off his couch in mid-September. It will be a bad sign if journeyman Arthur Moats plays ahead of Jones and Dupree.

10. Raiders wide receiver: Amari Cooper vs. Michael Crabtree vs. Rod Streater vs. Andre Holmes vs. Kenbrell Thompkins


Cooper is easily the favorite to emerge as Derek Carr's go-to target after a dominant offseason debut. The more interesting battle is between Crabtree and Streater. Crabtree has the name, but Streater might have the edge in game at this point in their respective careers.

11. Titans running back: Bishop Sankey vs. David Cobb


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Sankey was a massive flop as a rookie, ranking with the likes of Trent Richardson in fewest runs over 15 yards. Even with a fifth-round pedigree, Cobb is a legitimate threat to nail down the starting job.

12. Bengals cornerback: Leon Hall vs. Pacman Jones vs. Dre Kirkpatrick vs. Darqueze Dennard


It's time for the Bengals to see what they have in former first-rounders Kirkpatrick and Dennard, who have been brought along slowly. Both will be given long looks in August after Hall's play fell off late last season.

13. Jets running back: Chris Ivory vs. Stevan Ridley vs. Zac Stacy vs. Bilal Powell


Ridley is coming off an ACL tear, Stacy was abandoned by the Rams and Powell is strictly a role player. He won't be handed the job, but Ivory should be viewed as the overwhelming favorite.

14. Ravens No. 2 receiver: Breshad Perriman vs. Kamar Aiken vs. Marlon Brown vs. DeAndre Carter


A career special teamer with interesting measurables, Aiken ran as the starter opposite Steve Smith in offseason practices. As a first-round pick, Perriman will likely be given every opportunity to overtake him throughout August. Carter is more likely to battle for a return specialist job after earning raves for his offseason work.

15. Titans No. 2 receiver: Justin Hunter vs. Hakeem Nicks vs. Dorial Green-Beckham vs. Harry Douglas


Hunter has been one of the NFL's least-efficient receivers, failing to make good on his size/speed gifts. DGB offers plenty of upside, but will need time to develop. Douglas should be limited to slot duties. Don't sleep on Nicks, who rediscovered his playmaking ability down the stretch for the Colts last season.

16. Chiefs No. 2 receiver: Albert Wilson vs. Chris Conley vs. Junior Hemingway vs. Jason Avant vs. De'Anthony Thomas


Undrafted out of Georgia State last year, the undersized Wilson has quickly become a coaching staff favorite. Thomas is strictly a gadget player, Avant has lost too many steps and Hemingway is mediocre. This battle will come down to Wilson versus more talented third-rookie Conley.

17. Broncos tight end: Owen Daniels vs. Virgil Green vs. James Casey


Gary Kubiak's zone-blocking offense features heavy use of two-tight end sets. As Kubiak's security blanket in both Houston and Baltimore, Daniels has the edge to replace Julius Thomas as the primary receiving threat at the position. The Broncos have talked up an increased role for Green throughout the offseason.

18. Chargers inside linebacker: Donald Butler vs. Manti Te'o vs. Denzel Perryman


Inside linebacker didn't seem to be a position of need leading up to the draft until we learned that Butler underwent a pair of offseason surgeries after a disappointing 2014 campaign. If Butler is fully healthy, the Bolts have the luxury of redshirting second-rounder Perryman.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses the eight most intriguing training camp battles heading into the season.

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