The quarterback steel cage match in Minnesota was settled Tuesday when Brett Favre came off the top rope as the third man in. Meanwhile, another set-to might be erupting in Kansas City. Having a hard time keeping track of your training-camp quarterback sword fights? Here’s where they’re at . . .
Contenders: Mark Sanchez vs. Kellen Clemens.
Who’s Ahead: Sanchez
So Far: The rookie out of USC has made up the stagger on veteran Kellen Clemens. In the preseason opener, Clemens started and went 4-for-4 for 24 yards. Sanchez went 3-for-4 for 88.
What’s Next: Sanchez gets the start against the Ravens next Monday night against head coach Rex Ryan’s old team. Tough foe but a crisp performance could seal the deal for Sanchez.
Contenders: Brady Quinn vs. Derek Anderson.
Who’s Ahead: Quinn.
So Far: Eric Mangini won’t give a status report on the competition but Quinn started the preseason opener and played 17 snaps to Anderson’s five. Quinn went 7 for 11 with a pick; Anderson threw no completions and two incompletions — one of which was caught by the other team.
What’s Next: Mangini hasn’t declared a starter for Saturday night’s game against the Lions. Originally, he said he’d flip-flop the starters until the mess was settled.
Contenders: Byron Leftwich vs. Luke McCown.
Who’s Ahead: Leftwich.
So Far: Leftwich has been impressive — or more impressive than McCown — in the eyes of observers throughout camp. In the preseason opener against Tennessee, McCown started and completed four of eight for 19 yards and appeared tentative. Leftwich threw for a 24-yard score on his second attempt, but was just 6 of 14 overall.
What’s Next: Bucs coach Raheem Morris said he will name a starter after Saturday’s preseason game at Jacksonville. L eftwich will have to appear totally incompetent to mess this up.
Contenders: Daunte Culpepper vs. Matthew Stafford.
Who’s Ahead: Dead heat.
So Far: The sense in Detroit is that Stafford has been more impressive. But Culpepper got the first reps over the rookie No. 1 pick in the preseason opener last week and went 5 of 6 for 41 yards. Stafford was 7 of 14 for 114 with a touchdown, and a pick returned for a touchdown.
What’s Next: Head coach Jim Schwartz has set no timetable to name a starter and won’t even use the word “start” when discussing who will get the first reps in preseason games. Stafford is expected to “begin” against the Browns in Cleveland on Saturday, according to Nicholas Costonika of the Detroit Free Press.
Contenders: Jeff Garcia vs. JaMarcus Russell.
Who’s Ahead: Russell.
So Far: With Garcia out of camp with a calf injury and “personal reasons” and not returning until Monday, Russell has a hammerlock on the position. He tightened the grip over the weekend against Dallas, going 6 of 9 for 50 yards in two drives against the Cowboys’ starters.
What’s Next: The Raiders are at the Niners on Saturday. While the race for No. 1 lacks drama, Charlie Frye, Bruce Gradkowski, and Garcia are in a fight for the backup spot.
Contenders: Shaun Hill vs. Alex Smith.
Who’s Ahead: Hill by a nose.
So Far: After last week’s preseason win over the Broncos, Niners coach Mike Singletary declared, “I certainly don’t see any separation.” No separation. But, in general, the first round of snaps with the starters has continued to go to Hill. Both players are looking pretty decent but Singletary says there’s less “mystery” to Hill.
What’s Next: The Niners host the Raiders Saturday night. Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat presumes Smith will get the start Saturday night in the interest of keeping the playing field as level as possible.