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Buccaneers training camp 2016: A new position battle appears

NFL: Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Joe Hawley at the start of last season, it only took him a couple of games (and an injury to Evan Smith) to take over as starting center — much to the delight of many Bucs fans, for whom Smith had become a lightning rod. Hawley wasn’t that much better than Smith, but he did manage to hold him off even when the latter got healthy again.

So far this offseason, Hawley has been the starting center as well — but it seems Evan Smith is mounting a bit of a challenge. While he hasn’t exactly impressed at center since being signed away from the Green Bay Packers two years ago, he’s running with the starting lineup today, ahead of Hawley, according to Greg Auman.

That’s just one day and Hawley still has to be seen as the favorite to take the job of starting center, with Smith likely keeping his roster spot as a swing backup, but it’s a sign that this is indeed a serious competition, and not just a formality.