We're moving through the spring and toward the summer, and in the NFL, that means shorts and shells, baby.
It's time for organized team activities—and no, that doesn't mean everyone goes out for pizza.
Well, usually it doesn't.
Quite a few veteran players will take a pass on OTAs—at least until mandatory minicamps in June. And there won't be a lot of physicality in these workouts—the pads won't go on until later in the summer.
But that doesn't mean OTAs don't have value. For rookies and newcomers alike, this is an opportunity to gain valuable practice reps. To learn a new system. Master the playbook.
And perhaps even stake an early claim to a prominent role in 2023.
Now, many of these camp battles won't be decided until well into training camp and the preseason. But getting an early leg up on the competition certainly can't hurt.
And neither can making an early prediction as to who will eventually come out on top of these competitions.
Commanders QB: Sam Howell vs. Jacoby Brissett
Make no mistake, the Washington Commanders want Sam Howell to be the team's starting quarterback when they face the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1. Washington has been talking up the second-year pro ever since he started last season's finale against the Dallas Cowboys.
Per ESPN's John Keim, head coach Ron Rivera said that even before that start it was evident that the Commanders had something in the former North Carolina standout.
"The first thing you'd hear from the defensive guys was, 'I was trying to make that play, I just couldn't get to the ball,'" Rivera said. "The old saying is that players know players. As you listen to them talk about it, [receivers would say], 'His ball was so catchable; he threw that to the only spot [open]."
The Commanders eschewed taking a quarterback in the 2023 draft, but this could still become a battle that's a little too close for Rivera's comfort—because while the Commanders passed on a rookie quarterback, they added a highly capable and experienced backup in Jacoby Brissett.
Brissett made 11 starts for the Cleveland Browns last year, completing 64 percent of his passes and throwing twice as many touchdowns as interceptions. If Howell falters and starts making poor decisions with the ball on the practice field, Brissett will quickly be nipping at his heels.
But it's become evident that the Commanders want Howell to be the guy. So, unless he's a complete flop, this "battle" isn't taking place on a level playing field.
Winner: Sam Howell
Buccaneers QB: Baker Mayfield vs. Kyle Trask
This is a battle that no one will really "win." Whether it's veteran Baker Mayfield or youngster Kyle Trask, being tasked with replacing the greatest quarterback to ever play the game is a rather tall task.
Trask is a completely unproven commodity—in two seasons since being drafted in the second round out of Florida, he has attempted all of nine passes. Mayfield, on the other hand, has much more experience—the first overall pick in the 2018 draft has started 69 games for the Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers and the Los Angeles Rams.
However, while appearing on The Rich Eisen Show, Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles indicated that Mayfield's experience doesn't guarantee him anything.