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Changing of the Guard


Leave it to Mike Smith to put his most important position battles into just a few words that pretty much say it all.

"All precincts have not reported," Smith said while meeting with the media Sunday in reference to the battle over the nickelback spot before adding that the right guard position is still open.

All eyes have been on the nickelback competition between Chris Owens and Dominique Franks, and it's probably fair to say that is has overshadowed a battle that is just as important on the other side of the ball.

Garrett Reynolds and Mike Johnson have been competing to earn a starting position on the offensive line at right guard next to tackle Tyson Clabo. At this point in the preseason, it looks like Reynolds may hold a slight edge due to some missed time by Johnson for a concussion during camp.

Still, that didn't slow down the competition or push Reynolds way out ahead of Johnson. The two are still in the middle of an exciting battle where every single rep during practice and snap during the preseason is under the highest scrutiny.

"I've got plenty of stuff I need to keep working on in the run and pass game," Reynolds said Monday. "That's something I try to do every day. I come out here and pick one or two things — let's work on those things today. I try to minimize it a little bit, work on it, get it better and then go to the next thing on the list."

Because of Johnson's missed practices and sitting out vs. Miami during the first week of the preseason, Reynolds has gotten plenty of opportunities to not only continue to improve but to show that he can be as versatile as the team would like him to be.

He spent his college days at North Carolina in the tackle position, and at 6-foot-7, 317 pounds, it's easy to see why. But switching over to guard hasn't seemed to cause too many problems for the third-year player as he continues to learn the right way to do things in the NFL.

"Obviously, when you're a rookie and when you're young, everything is just really, really fast, so you feel like you have to be really, really fast," Clabo said of Reynolds. "A lot of times, you're going too fast to try to compensate for the speed of the game. He has slowed down and he's concentrating on what he needs to do and doing it right as opposed to doing it fast, and that's just a world of difference for him so far."

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