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AFC East Training Camp Preview

At long last, the moment football fans have waited for is finally here. The NFL is officially back as training camps open this week.

What are the major questions for the four teams in the AFC East division as camps opens?  Let’s preview each team’s biggest questions marks.

 

Buffalo Bills

The Bills made a big splash in the 2014 NFL Draft by trading up to select Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. The former ACC Rookie of the Year is expected to become the team’s go-to receiver after the Bills traded veteran wide out Stevie Johnson to the San Francisco 49ers. So far in training camp, Watkins has gotten rave reviews.

The biggest question Bills fans have is can quarterback E.J. Manuel become the team’s elite franchise quarterback? Manuel missed six games last season, but when he played, the former Florida State Seminole showed promise.  In 10 games, Manuel threw for 1,972 yards, 11 touchdowns and had a completion percentage of 58.8.

On defense, who will replace Kiko Alonso at linebacker? The former Oregon Duck tore his ACL earlier this summer while working out.

Nigel Bradham is expected to replace Alonso at weak-side linebacker. In two seasons with the NFL, the 24-year-old Bradham has a total of 108 tackles, so he doesn’t have a ton of experience. Alonso was the Bills best linebacker, so it will be interesting to see how his season ending injury will affect the team’s defense, who finished 10th in total defense a season ago.

 

Miami Dolphins

For someone coming off the greatest season of his career, Knowshon Moreno certainly didn’t have the greatest of offseason. He had a low market value entering free agency and Moreno signed a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins.

Then Moreno came to Dolphins OTAs out of shape and later injured. The former Denver Bronco had arthroscopic knee surgery last month and it is unknown if he will be on the field when training camp opens on Friday. If he’s 100 percent, he will greatly improve the Dolphins running game, which finished 25th in the NFL in 2013.

The Dolphins will start five new offensive lineman in their Week 1 contest against the New England Patriots. The leader of the offensive line Mike Pouncey had hip surgery last month and could miss the first four to six games this season. Can the reconstructed offensive line of Dolphins play better than line that gave up 58 sacks a season ago?

 

New England Patriots

One thing the Patriots won’t have to worry about it is the health of Rob Gronkowski. Less than eight months after suffering an ACL tear, the Patriots medical staff has cleared the tight end and the team will not place Gronkowski on the  physically unable to perform list.

The Patriots don’t have a lot of questions entering training camp, but the team does have a couple to answer on the defensive side of the ball. Can Jamie Collins handle the grind of an entire 16 game NFL schedule? After Brandon Spikes injury last season, Collins started the remaining eight games, including the playoffs.  The former second round pick showed a lot of promise during the playoffs, so it will be interesting to see if that will carry over in 2014.

The bigger question on the Patriots’ defense is how much can they improved? The team signed Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner to improve their secondary. The Patriots used their first round pick to draft Florida Gators defensive lineman Dominque Easley, who if healthy could prove to be a game changer. New England finished 22nd in total defense last season, but expect the Patriots to finish near the top 10 in total defense in 2014.

New York Jets

Everyone knows the Jets have one of the best defenses in the league, but who’s going to be the team’s starting quarterback in Week 1?

If you believe you what head coach Rex Ryan has said during his offseason interviews, then it’s Geno Smith’s job to lose.  According to Ryan, the Jets plan to give Smith 70 to 75 percent of the first-team practice reps in camp. Michael Vick was less than stellar in the Jets OTAs, but he’s familiar with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s scheme.

If there’s one question in regards to the Jets defense, it’s their secondary. Ryan will field his youngest secondary since becoming the head coach with second-year cornerback Dee Milliner, rookie safety Calvin Pryor, third-year safety Antonio Allen and rookie cornerback Dexter McDougle. There will be a lot of growing pains as it always is with such young players, but nothing helps a young secondary more than a great pass rush. Which is something the Jets certainly have.

 

 

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