Football is three weeks away! Rejoice! Well... Three weeks away from training camp. Then the inevitable disappointment of sitting through awful pre-season games - but we're close enough to football to talk about football, which makes me happy. In a preview to training camp, let's have a look at some of the key battles we can look forward to.

Let's start with the player that most people watching the New England Patriots at training camp will be looking at - Tim Tebow. How much of a shot will he have of taking the backup QB spot from the current #2 Ryan Mallett?

Well, Mallett has been with the team for two years and has experience of beating out backup QB's. After being drafted in 2011, a year later the Patriots released Brian Hoyer, leaving just 2 Quarterbacks on the roster, which gave Mallett more reps, more time to learn from Tom Brady, and more time to establish himself as the back up of the Patriots. However, the arrival of Tebow this offseason has thrown that progress into jeopardy. With Tebow comes a former starting Quarterback, with a playoff win and a legion of fans and press following him wherever he goes.

Tebow is the more experienced QB with the most to prove. Mallett can definitely get another shot at a different team, with rumors flying around all the time about his potential trade, especially to the Cleveland Browns. The same cannot be said for Tebow. After losing out to Peyton Manning in Denver, and a miserable failure with the New York Jets, this could well be the last chance for Tebow, depending on his performance in camp.

The introduction of Tebow should hopefully spur Mallett on to work even harder than he has before. The media certainly won't let him forget that Tebow is there practicing with him and by all accounts, Tebow is a pretty damn hard worker on and off the field. Tebow's work ethic will probably be increased by the presence of Brady too.

I could go on about how this is lining up to be a big QB battle, but in the end - unless something spectacular happens - I don't see the Patriots veering away from Ryan Mallett as their backup. They seemingly got pretty good value for him by picking him up in the 3rd round, and they've been working with him for two years now - he knows the system better, the system suits his talent set better. I only think a very poor training camp from Mallett will see him drop to third on the depth chart and with the extra motivation of a 3rd QB challenging him, I don't see his performance declining.

As for Tebow, I think he'll make the roster. The Patriots don't seem to mind having either 2 or 3 Quarterbacks on the roster, so it'll be down to Tebow to show he knows the playbook, he can throw the ball and read defenses better. His ability to cause mismatches on offense will also help his case - just as Aaron Hernandez would go to RB and Shane Vereen would go to WR last season, Tebow can line up at TE or RB to cause the defense some issues - and that's why he's on the team. To add competition and to give defenses yet more cause for concern when game planning for the Patriots.

Who do you think will win this training camp battle? Let me know on Twitter @BrendanAnnely

Brendan Annely 7/09/2013 11:33:00 AM Edit

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