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What we learned: QBs battle in Buffalo, Houston

The start of training camp practices ignites position battles.

With quarterback being the most vital job in all of sports, signal-caller battles remain the most intriguing. Two heated up Saturday in Buffalo and Houston.

First we begin with the Bills where Rex Ryan continues his perpetual search for a signal-caller.

The three-headed competition between Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor has been painful to watch so far.

Manuel and Cassel split first team reps and went a combined 1-for-8 during one period of 11-on-11 drills, per ESPN's Mike Rodak. Yuk.

Particularly disheartening is the difficulty Bills quarterbacks have with the downfield passes.

We weep for Sammy Watkins.

Cassel and Taylor took first-team reps on Friday. With Manuel and Cassel taking them Saturday, we assume the Taylor-Manuel combo will be next in the rotation.

At this stage, it looks like the shaky Bills quarterback battle could come down to the wire before the regular season starts.

Over in Houston, Ryan Mallett isn't ready to concede anything to Brian Hoyer.

"Are you counting me out?" he bristled at a reporter Saturday.

The prevailing assumption among beat writers is that Hoyer will eventually be named the starter.

Texans coach Bill O'Brien declined to say Saturday whether he has a better sense of who will win the job or when he would like to make such an announcement.

In the end it will come down to whether O'Brien is comfortable with the steadier, but physically limited Hoyer or the upside of the bigger-armed Mallett.

Some other nuggets from Saturday's training camps:

  1. The Steelersnabbed a good starting cornerback when they gave up a conditional fifth-round pick to the Eagles for Brandon Boykin. The Steelers secondary was one of the worst units in the NFL entering training camp.
  1. The Raiders got some great news with Sio Moore hitting the practice field after dealing with a hip injury. He and phenom Khalil Mack should provide Oakland's defense with some pop this season.
  1. It's been a while since we'd heard anything about free agent guard Evan Mathis. Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said he had talks with Mathis' agent. It's unclear how deep those talks went. Maccagnan alluded to money being an issue.
  1. The Redskins plan to run the ball "a lot more" in 2015, says NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. Redskins fans rejoice!
  1. Not only is Carson Palmer's knee doing swell, but the Arizona Cardinals' quarterback said he rehabbed his right shoulder and his arm is stronger this year. It's all looking up for the Cards this year.
  1. Rex Ryan said he'd be comfortable starting second-round cornerback Ronald Darby. Darby has flashed during practices while Leodis McKelvin is on the NFI list.
  1. Overhyping early training camp performances is folly, but we'd like to note that Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert stood out on Saturday. After playing just one game in 2014, a healthy Eifert would provide another playmaker for Andy Dalton in a somehow overlooked, studly offense.
  1. Marc Trestman insists he won't change the Ravens' offensive philosophy to match his pass-happy tendencies.
  1. LeGarrette Blount returned to the field after reportedly failing his conditioning test this week. He was Patriot-like in his mum responses about why he missed practices.

Some quick injury updates:

  1. Steelers second-year receiver Martavis Bryant will reportedly undergo a minor procedure for an elbow infection, per Fox Sports. It's not a long-term issue, but the wideout is expected to miss 7-10 days of training camp.
  1. Panthers receiver Stephen Hill was carted off the field with a right leg injury. It didn't look good. He will have an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.
  1. Browns defensive lineman Billy Winn was also carted off with an apparent right leg injury.
  1. Cleveland running backs Terrance West (calf) and Duke Johnson (tweaked hamstring) went down. Both said the injuries aren't serious.
  1. Jets rookie receiver Devin Smith will miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs and a punctured lung, NFL Media's Albert Breer reports. Since Jets fans flew a banner taunting the Patriots over Foxborough, Gang Green's former Defensive Rookie of the Year got charged with going 140 mph and their second round pick landed in the hospital. No bueno.
  1. Poor Kyle Williams (the receiver, not the defensive lineman) got hurt for the fourth straight year.
  1. HBO sent out a teaser of an Andrea Kremer interview with Rex Ryan. A summary of the video below from Around The NFL's Conor Orr read: "Rex cried, and some other stuff."
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