The third week of the pre-season is when the starters get the majority of the work and it starts to become clear who will probably stick with the team and who is on the outs. If you play mainly in re-draft leagues where depth and keepers do not matter, than this column probably does not apply to you. Some of these battles are for backup and third or fourth string spots. I don't want to waste your time, so I'll just put that out there.
1. Baltimore Ravens tight end
Ed Dickson vs. Dennis Pitta - For quite a while Todd Heap has been the stalwart tight end for Baltimore. With Heap moving on to Arizona, the battle for his spot has heated up. Dickson played well in the limited time he filled in for Heap last season and is comparable to Jermichael Finley. He is big and well built. Pitta has great hands and good straight-line speed. It looks like Dickson has the edge right now. Baltimore takes on Washington tonight.
2. Chicago Bears tight end
Kellen Davis vs. Matt Spaeth - Another case of last season's starter leaving town, as Greg Olsen was sent to Carolina. That leaves Davis and Spaeth to fight it out. Davis used to be a defensive lineman and brings a fierce personality to the position. Spaeth came over from Pittsburgh as a free agent and is almost as big as Davis. They are both still very young and whoever wins the job could have a breakout season. Chicago plays Tennessee on Saturday.
3. Cincinnati Bengals third string quarterback
Jordan Palmer vs. Dan LeFevour - The Bengals quarterback position has really been in flux. It seems as though Andy Dalton and Bruce Gradkowski have the top two spots locked up but as we know the one who starts the season may not end the season. If the Bengals have it out for anyone with the last name Palmer than Jordan may be in trouble but he does have experience. LeFevour is built like a running back and is pretty athletic. Cincinnati is at home against Carolina tonight.
4. Denver Broncos backup quarterback
Brady Quinn vs. Tim Tebow - A few weeks back, all the talk was about whether the Broncos would be keeping Kyle Orton and how Tebow was probably their 2011 starting quarterback. How quickly things change, as it seems Tebow may be on the verge of getting bumped behind Brady Quinn. Quinn has been performing well in practice and preseason games, which has caused him to perhaps move up the depth chart. Denver takes on Seattle Saturday night.
5. Houston Texans backup running back
Ben Tate vs. Derrick Ward - Tate seems to be really moving up the depth chart and could be the handcuff for Arian Foster this season. Tate has the quickness to hit the hole and the toughness to run between the tackles. He had 95 yards and a touchdown is his last preseason game. Ward had a great season with the NY Giants in 2008 but hasn't been as productive since. This competition may last into the fourth preseason game. Houston will travel to San Francisco for their game Saturday.