Three-way battle for starting center job looms for Rams

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- With the St. Louis Rams set to open training camp at the end of the month, we'll spend the rest of this week taking a look at four of the position battles worth watching as camp approaches.

The Rams report for training camp on July 29.

The position: Center

The contenders: Tim Barnes, Barrett Jones, Demetrius Rhaney

Outlook: None of the other primary training camp battles offer as much uncertainty as this one. Barnes, Jones and Rhaney are almost wholly unproven in the NFL as starters and Rams coach Jeff Fisher has been very open with the idea of these three battling it out throughout camp and the preseason. Organized team activities didn't really offer many clues as to which player might have an edge as the Rams rotated all three contenders with the first team throughout the spring. Barnes would seem to be a logical choice because he's the only one with starting experience though he's only started four games. Jones has limited experience in games and Rhaney sat out his rookie season because of a knee injury. Jones is considered the most intelligent of the three, which is an important attribute for the pivot man. Rhaney has earned positive reviews for his athleticism and toughness. Barnes is something of a mix of the two and knows the offense as well as any lineman on the team.

Projection: All three players are legitimate contenders making this the most difficult position battle to project heading toward camp. Fisher has said the Rams will continue to rotate the trio throughout camp and hopes to settle in to a starter a couple of weeks in. The guess here is that the Rams would like to see Jones win the job given the investment they've made in him in terms of time and draft capital. Assuming he can stay healthy and has added the strength necessary to hold up in the middle, he's the presumptive favorite. But we won't rule out any of the possibilities and it's worth reiterating once again that Rhaney should not be discounted in this. While the Rams have a habit of talking up all of their players, the discussion of Rhaney's potential seems to be much more than just lip service. Don't be surprised if this comes down to Jones and Rhaney with Jones narrowly winning the job.