While some NFL players may be on cruise control to stay healthy in this final week of preseason, others are going full throttle to nail down a better spot on the depth chart or just to keep their name on the active roster.

With the so-called final cut to 53 active players set for Saturday, 1 p.m. Eastern Time, these next few days, including Thursday's final preseason games, are crucial to the careers of several players on each team.

In the NFC, some of the stronger teams are looking to firm up depth, such as Super Bowl champion Seattle at backup wide receiver and the San Francisco 49ers at No. 3 running back.

Others teams are still trying to solidify their starting lineup, especially the New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys -- all are still sorting through options on the offensive line.

Correspondents covering each team for The Sports Xchange were asked to identify the key duel in this final week of preseason. Here is a closer look at each NFC team's Battle of the Week (listed by division in alphabetical order):



Ron Leary has retaken the lead over Mackenzy Bernardeau for the starting spot at left guard. Bernadeau held down the spot the first two preseason games as Leary missed the first weeks of camp with strained hamstring. But the two have been splitting reps with the starters for much of the last two weeks. Leary went out first against the Dolphins last Sunday. Bernadeau was flagged for holding and gave up a sack during his time in the game.


--BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Offensive line.

The Giants' coaching staff has played around with numerous combinations in an effort to find the best five to start the season. Given the injury suffered by left guard Geoff Schwartz, an injury that could keep him out for a while, the line took a step backwards in terms of any progress made toward a resolution.

Rookie Weston Richburg and third-year man Brandon Mosley appear to be the likely candidates to play left and right guard respectively, though don't be surprised if the team adds a veteran off the waiver wire to shore up the interior.


--BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Place kicker -- Alex Henery vs. Cody Parkey.

Henery, the Eagles' kicker for the last three seasons, is in jeopardy of being released. He missed a 47-yard field-goal attempt in the Eagles' second preseason game against the Patriots and a 31-yarder Thursday against the Steelers. The Eagles released one kicker, Carey Spears, but traded for another, rookie Parkey. Henery must kick well both in practice and the last preseason game against the Jets to keep his job.


--BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Reserve linebackers.

The release of veteran outside linebacker Rob Jackson as well as those of Adrian Robinson and Jeremy Kimbrough left seven candidates for the backup spots behind starters Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo, Perry Riley and Keenan Robinson.

Special teams ace Adam Hayward, top draft pick (second round) Trent Murphy, who recorded his first sack in the Aug. 23 preseason loss at Baltimore, and hard-working Will Compton, a rookie free agent in 2013 who saw action in the season finale, seem to be the leaders.

However, former Philadelphia and Kansas City starter Akeem Jordan led Washington's tacklers with five stops against the Ravens. And Gabe Miller, who signed with the Redskins late last season and had a sack in the Aug. 18 preseason victory over Cleveland, and Everette Brown, who signed on July 28, have both made solid impressions in practices. Darryl Sharpton, who started 13 games for Houston the past two seasons, is also in the mix although he missed the past two preseason games with a sprained ankle he suffered in the summer opener against New England on Aug. 7.

Murphy, Miller and Brown are the outside backups as of now with Hayward, Compton, Jordan and Sharpton the inside reserves. No more than four of these players will still be Redskins a week from now. Murphy and Hayward seem like locks to survive the final cuts, which leaves Miller and Brown battling for one job and Compton, Jordan and Sharpton -- if he can get back on the field -- dueling for another.


--BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Linebacker.

The Bears have continually used Shea McClellin at strong-side linebacker, but have kept getting reps for Jonathan Bostic in the starting nickel and have used D.J. Williams in the base at mike. It's not clear if they're going to keep all of them in these roles, or if Bostic might beat out Williams for starting middle linebacker.

Bostic has used his speed much better this year and hasn't overrun plays as often as he did as a rookie. The coaches believe he's eventually a player who will take Lance Briggs' weak-side spot. For now, though, he may need to be content with playing a role in the nickel. The McClellin experiment -- moving him to linebacker from end -- hasn't paid big dividends yet, but coaches and McClellin repeatedly report steady improvement in his return to playing off the line of scrimmage, which is where he played most of the time in college. His speed was thought to be an asset for blitzing, and the Bears haven't used him much in this regard in preseason. However, he has had a tackle for loss in the run game and has shown better recognition of his lane assignment as the preseason progressed. It would appear they've settled on six linebackers, with Williams playing the middle and Christian Jones and Kaseem Greene in backup roles outside.