|Is this the year we finally see the complete Darren McFadden in Oakland? (US Presswire)|
Edge: Jones. Smith has a lot to learn and Jones knows what it takes.
Opening day starter: Jones. They paid him for a reason -- he will play.
Jones rushed for 1,402 yards for the Jets last season, but he turns 32 this season. That's old for a back. When does he slow down? The Chiefs signed him as a free agent, even though they had Charles on the roster. Then again, all teams want two backs now -- they like cutting down the workload for lead guys. Charles played really well late last season when he took over as the No. 1 back and He ran for 968 yards in the final eight games. He is more elusive than Jones, and can rip off big runs. His 5.9 per-rush average was eye opening.
Edge: Charles. It's his job to lose.
Opening day starter: Charles. This is one position where age matters and the younger player is clearly the better choice.
McFadden was supposed to be a lot like Adrian Peterson. So far, that hasn't been the case. McFadden has the same type of tools that Peterson shows off in Minnesota, but he hasn't put up the numbers yet. He's battled injuries, which has slowed his growth. Entering his third season, it's his time to explode. Or maybe, he never will. Bush, a power back, has seized the slow development of McFadden to show off his hard inside running. He is a difficult back to tackle, although new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson recently said he wants him to run tougher. Jackson likes the power backs, which could help Bush.
Edge: McFadden. He was drafted high for a reason.
Opening day starter: McFadden. I just think he's ready to take the next step. And that explosive speed is so valuable to an offense.
The Chargers let run-stuffing nose tackle Jamal Williams leave via free agency and he's now with Denver. That left a huge void in the middle of their defense. Williams did miss time with a knee injury last season, which forced the Chargers to adjust. Ian Scott, one of the players who saw time there with Williams down, is no longer on the team. San Diego does like Nwagbuo, a 310-pound second-year player, who had 19 tackles and a sack last season in five starts when Williams went down. Thomas was a fifth-round pick in April who has the size and power needed to be a run stopper in the NFL. He was expected to go higher than he was drafted, so the ability is there.
Edge: Nwagbuo. He has the experience and goes in as the top guy.
Opening day starter: Nwagbuo. But this will be a position manned by committee.