Before training camp started, Around The League broke down the training camp battles to watch in the AFC. Updates on those battles are below, although we left out the quarterbacks after hitting on them earlier this week. We also broke down the biggest battles from both conferences on Wednesday's "Around The League Podcast," if you are into that sort of thing.
Aaron Dobson didn't practice until this week, so he has a lot of ground to make up. Otherwise, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have to be thrilled with the state of their receiving corps compared to a year ago. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola have stayed healthy. Kenbrell Thompkins flashed early in camp, and Brandon LaFell has come on strong of late. Josh Boyce is getting left behind. A year ago, this group was one of the worst in the league. They don't have a No. 1 receiver, but it could be a strength now.
The surprise here thus far is that Robert Woods is not running with the Bills' first team. Despite positive practice reports and two solid preseason games, Woods has been stuck as the No. 4 receiver behind Sammy Watkins, Mike Williams and Chris Hogan. The Bills appear to be trying to motivate Woods. It would be a surprise if Hogan held off Woods, but Williams' spot as a starter looks more secure.
This has gone just how the Browns coaching staff hoped. West is emerging as a strong 1A option who will handle a lot of passing down work. This wasn't a competition where the coaches wanted much separation. Both players will play with the starters.
Bernard Pierce has reportedly looked like the best running back in camp, and he's fully recovered from his injuries last year. Pierce should open the season as the team's starter while Rice serves his two-game suspension. Rice also looks to have some burst back after his disastrous 2013 campaign. This could be partly training camp puffery, but there are reasons for optimism that the league's worst running game can bounce back.
Ballard is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, while Bradshaw is being held out of the preseason thus far. Daniel "Boom" Herron could force his way into a three-man rotation. Richardson looked like his old self in the preseason opener, which isn't a good thing. There are a lot of "Ifs" in this backfield.
Oher is "comfortably entrenched" as the team's starting right tackle, while Lewan looks ticketed for a swing tackle role. Lewan has mostly taken his snaps at left tackle behind starter Michael Roos. That's not an ideal spot for the No. 11 pick in the draft, but Lewan will be a starter next year.