The most exciting football training camps are invariably the ones that feature a quarterback duel - two strong-armed, strong-willed field generals wrestling for control of the offense.
For instance, before the summer is over, the Washington Redskins' camp in Carlisle, Pa., could feature shootouts between Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams and disgruntled former starter Jay Schroeder. Likewise, the Minnesota Vikings have a hot battle ahead between Tommy Kramer and Wade Wilson. But Washington and Minnesota aren't the only teams with quarterback decisions to make.
In at least a half-dozen other training camps, quarterback duels are shaping up, although the cast of characters isn't exactly of "Top Gun" caliber.
INDIANAPOLIS _ The Colts have a quartet of suspects. Gary Hogeboom has been coach Ron Meyer's favorite, but since going to Indianapolis from Dallas, Hogeboom has been healthy enough to start only 11 of 32 games. On top of that, he spent an acrimonious off-season insisting that his contract be renegotiated. Neck and neck with Hogeboom is backup Jack Trudeau, who piloted the Colts down the home stretch of last year's playoff run. The Colts picked up hometowner Mark Herrmann from San Diego, and with an eye to the future, they may have drafted the best of a mediocre quarterback bunch in third-rounder Chris Chandler.
LOS ANGELES RAIDERS _ What has owner Al Davis been thinking about? After releasing quarterback-non grata Marc Wilson, Davis maintained the QB status quo for the third straight year. The candidates: Steve Beuerlein, Vince Evans, Jim Plunkett and Dave Webber. Plunkett's arm is shot, Evans (a former Bear) struggled in replacement games last season, and Webber is an 11th-round rookie. Does that leave Beuerlein, a fourth-rounder from the 1987 draft?
SAN DIEGO _ It is hard to believe this could happen to the franchise of past quarterbacks John Hadl and Dan Fouts. The Chargers traded for the signal caller with the league's worst quarterback rating last year, Mark Malone. And there might not even be a quarterback battle here. Herrmann was a possible challenger, but the Chargers were so fed up with him, they sent him packing to Indianapolis. Plan B in San Diego is to go with either Mark Vlasic, who threw six passes last year, or cult hero Babe Laufenberg.
PITTSBURGH _ The Steelers finally gave up on Malone and traded for somebody else's problem, former Chief Todd Blackledge.