Will Tyler Thigpen and Johnny White make the team in 2012? (Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE)

Buffalo Bills Training Camp Preview: Offensive Backfield

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Editor’s Note: With training camp starting very soon, we’ll be breaking down the competition at each position on the Bills’ roster. This is the first part of the series.

Quarterback

Roster Locks: Ryan Fitzpatrick

In the Mix: Brad Smith, Vince Young, Tyler Thigpen

Longshots: None

Breakdown: Fitzpatrick is the clear starter, no question. He would need the worst preseason imaginable to lose his hold on the top spot. It will be interesting to see how Fitz looks throwing the ball – he has supposedly made some mechanical improvements this offseason. But let’s be real: it pretty much doesn’t matter how Fitz looks in the preseason games. His test really starts Sept. 9 in the Meadowlands.

I don’t have Smith as a roster lock, but I’d be very surprised if he’s not on the final roster. But there’s no doubt he was a bit of a disappointment in 2011. If Gailey decides he’s not worth installing some special packages for, he’s certainly not worth keeping around as the #3 QB. Something to keep an eye on…but again, Smith is probably on the roster.

The real battle here is at the #2 QB spot, which is sure to be a hot topic among Bills fans this preseason. Thigpen filled this role last season, but the Bills wanted to create some competition here. The team certainly accomplished that by bringing in a former Pro Bowler in Young. Young has a ton of talent and has won a lot of games in the NFL. You have to consider him the favorite to win the job, but don’t count out Thigpen. He knows the offense and has a lot of experience under head coach Chan Gailey. Thigpen has to look better than he did last preseason, though, if he wants to have any chance. Both guys will see the field a lot in all likelihood, so Gailey will get a good look at both before making a decision.

Running Back

Roster Locks: Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller

In the Mix: Tashard Choice, Johnny White

Longshots: Chris Douglas

Breakdown: This is among the clearest-cut positions on the roster. Jackson and Spiller are the unquestioned top dogs. This preseason will likely be about figuring out ways to get them both on the field at the same time. But I wouldn’t expect either to get many carries in the actual preseason games.

Choice and White will battle for the #3 RB job. Unlike most of these competitions, I really care who wins this one. I can’t stand Tashard Choice. He needs to go away. Unfortunatlely, Choice knows Gailey from Georgia Tech and White wasn’t terribly impressive as a rookie. I still think White has upside though, and I’d like to see him stick around.

Douglas, an undrafted rookie from Missouri State, will likely get a ton of carries in the third and fourth quarters of preseason games. Then he will likely get cut. But you can’t rule out him impressing enough to get a shot at that #3 job.

Fullback

Roster Locks: None

In the Mix: Corey McIntyre, Dorin Dickerson

Longshots: None

McIntryre has ably held down this job for several years now, but he’s got some real competition this year in Dickerson. Dickerson came out of nowhere to star at Buffalo’s minicamps this spring. Gailey likes his versatility, as he can line up at tight end, fullback, and play a H-back kind of role. McIntyre is basically strictly a traditional fullback. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out. There’s a slim chance both could make the roster: McIntyre is valuable on special teams and Dickerson could serve as the third tight end, so both have value beyond fullback.

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