Quick Hits From Around The AFC East

If you take a look around most homes or offices, you’ll notice that the calendar hanging on the wall starts in January and ends in December.  Most Americans live their lives this way and let Halmark dictate their outlook on the year.  Much like most of DolphinsTalk.com readers, my calendar starts in August and ends in July.  So, allow me the opportunity to officially congratulate you by saying, “Happy New Year”! 

The first week of training camp has come and gone.  The first week of August has begun, as we inch closer and closer to the regular season.  Before we get ahead of ourselves and start writing “W” or “L” on our pocket sized Miami Dolphin schedules, we must first make it through training camp. 

Buffalo Bills

Doug Marrone has quietly built a young potentially explosive offense in Buffalo.  Much like during training camp in 2013, Marrone has been talking up CJ Spiller once again.  Last year he said they wanted to give Spiller the ball until he throws up.  And he did.  He threw up a high ankle sprain.  Through the first week in training camp Marrone said Spiller “looks more explosive than he did during last season.”  Fred Jackson continues to drink from the fountain of youth as Buffalo has signed the 33 year old back to an extension.  Let’s not forget Bryce Brown, who the Bills robbed from the Eagles.  He is said to be having a very impressive early camp. 

By now I’m sure we’ve all seen the video of Sammy Watkins making an incredible one handed catch.  The Bills are hoping Watkins helps the progression of EJ Manuel as they will force feed a connection between the two.  Miami fans may remember Chris Hogan, AKA 7-11, from 2012 and the Dolphins run on Hard Knocks.  Now Hogan is taking first team reps out of the slot in Buffalo and is said to be having a great outing.  Keep an eye on Robert Woods who Manuel has connected with for a couple of touchdowns since camp opened. 

Scott Chandlar (groin), Tony Moeaki (hamstring) and Lee Smith (lower body) have all sat out with injuries leaving an opening at TE for the Bills preseason game on Sunday. 
The Bills try to find an answer to replace linebacker Kiko Alonso.  Nigel Bradham has been taking first team reps with Keith Rivers and rookie Preston Brown is also battling to earn a spot.  Preston Brown has the most upside and has run with the first team during passing packages.  Bradham hasn’t been able to lock down a starting role in the past and Rivers has proven to be somewhat lackluster.  There are reports that if Brandon Spikes is limited in Sunday’s game, Brown is expected to wear the defensive communication helmet.  This shows some insight to the commitment the Bills have in grooming Brown.

Da’Norris Searcy has remained ahead of Duke Williams and Johnathan Meeks in the safety depth chart.        

The Bills play the New York Giants Sunday August 3rd at 8pm.

New England Patriots

Two Patriots are looking past injury concerns and are focusing on 2014, Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski.  Running back James White has stolen the spotlight and has been the talk of training camp so far.  White is a versatile back and Bill Belichick wants to know exactly what he got in White.  White has been utilized in the running game, passing game, goal line work and kick returns.  Stevan Ridley’s and Shane Vereen’s jobs are safe for now, though both have issues carrying over from 2013.  Vereen has been wearing extra tape on his left hand, which he broke last season.   

There have been mixed reports about Kenbrell Thompkins, who has made several nice catches.  Still, he has shown continued unpredictability in holding onto the ball.  Tom Brady’s downfall last season was poor receiving and inconsistency.  Early in training camp there are signs of repeat issues.  

Julian Edelman has had his hands half full, as Darrelle Revis covered him all of camp.  Revis is having a great camp, as Belichick seems to be testing him on his high possession receivers, Edelman and Gronkowski.  Brandon Browner is also pestering receivers, as he and Revis are bringing toughness to the Patriot Defense. 

Aaron Dobson (foot), Bryan Stork (lower leg) and Chris Martin remain on the PUP list.

New York Jets

Geno Smith has led the first team offense since the opening of training camp.  Coaches have stood strongly behind Smith and have noted the progress he has made since last season.  All signs as of now point to him keeping his starting job.  Chris Johnson was brought in to compete and win the starting running back job from Chris Ivory.  Johnson has been “flying” thus far and is only seven months removed from knee surgery.

The Jets had a very rough training camp according to the media reports.  Then again, when is anything associated with the Jets smooth?  Bilal Powell has missed four straight practices due to a leg injury.  The Jets also brought in Eric Decker, but he has been limited through training camp with a hamstring injury.  Rookie tight end Jace Amaro has missed several practices due to a knee injury and is suffering from a case of the drops early on.  On the bright side Amaro has been running extra routes after practice in an effort to learn the playbook.

Stephen Hill is having an impressive training camp and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has been quoted as calling Hill’s training camp “outstanding.”  Demario Davis, inside linebacker, said he’s putting in the work to become “the best” defensive front.

Last season the Jets were 25th in overall offense and Marty Mornhinweg has said they are building their 2014 offense from “ground zero.”

Miami Dolphins

New offensive coordinator Bill Lazor hopes to bring some aspects of the 2013 Philadelphia offense to Miami.  Throughout press conferences this training camp, Joe Philbin and Brian Hartline have put an emphasis on touchdowns.  The team hopes to convert more in the red zone and has even specialized practices to focus on red zone plays.  Another attribute Lazor is trying to incorporate is tempo.

Lamar Miller is fighting for the starting running back job and is showing more elusiveness than he did during the 2013 season.  Miller has broken off a couple 10 plus yard runs so far and Ryan Tannehill has connected with him for several touchdowns.  Rashard Matthews is having a solid camp, making some nice catches.  He needs to prove that he is reliable to keep his job over Jarvis Landry.  Landry is having a terrific camp and is being utilized in the slot and on returns. 

Miami is trying to figure out the right pieces on the offensive line as they shuffle guys around.  Botched snaps have been a common theme thus far between Shelly Smith, Nate Garner and David Arkin.  Defensive tackles have been rotating, but Philbin believes Ryan Starks is having the best camp he’s had in three years.    

Mike Wallace has missed practice due to hamstring issues and Knowshon Moreno may miss practice until the first preseason game.  Charles Clay left practice early due to a leg injury and Matt Moore has been out with a shoulder injury.    

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