It's Friday, which means it's time for the latest installment of "Around the AFC East," which features the bloggers from the 3 other AFC East sites giving us their view of various topics. So lets jump right into it:
Buffalo Rumblings: To be honest, I didn't see much of an issue with the Bills' lack of a "true" number two option last season. It seemed like every week a different receiver stepped up to make plays (when the passing game was clicking, that is). Peerless Price made some big plays (a game-winning TD grab at Houston), Josh Reed made some big plays (especially against your Dolphins), and Roscoe Parrish even tossed in some respectable days.
Based on his possession style, ability from the slot and on underneath routes and his rapport with J.P. Losman, I believe that out of our wide receivers, Josh Reed will be our second leading receiver this season (barring injury). But once again Price and Parrish will make their contributions, and the coaching staff is expecting big things out of Robert Royal and Marshawn Lynch as receivers, as well.
Steve Fairchild's offense is based on versatility and trying to beat you in a variety of ways. To that end, I don't think there will be any pressure for one guy to step up and consistently be that #2 guy. But it is important that at least one or two of them show up each week so that defenses can't key too heavily on Evans. I think that Reed and Lynch are the two guys who will most consistently provide plays in the passing game, and Royal could be good in the red zone. We're passing by committee rather than having a #2 receiver, but it has a chance to be very productive - and very unpredictable.
Phinsider: What position worries you the most heading into training camp?
NY Landing Strip: What worries me most heading into training camp are the unsettled positions of a true NT and the LG position of soon to be ex- Pete Kendall, maybe a fish in the near future.
A true NT is essential in the 3-4 defense, and that is something that I don't see fit for Dewayne Robertson. He came on excellent last season, but because of bad knee's in college and is very undersized for a 3-4 NT, I am nervous. He is better suited for a 4-3, where he has the help of a usually big run stuffing DT. If you look back to one of D-rob's best seasons, it came alongside Jason Ferguson, who now plays for the Cowboys. Unless he learns a new technique, or Sione Pouha decides to not get hurt in training camp again, the run D is in for trouble unless a late release from some other team is picked up by the Jets.
As for LG, once Pete Kendall leaves there is really nobody left to fill the void, so it will be very patchworked. Listed behind Kendall is Wade Smith and Adrien Clarke, so I am not comfortable with either of those choices. There always is the rookie Jacob Bender, but I don't know if he is a project or even truly pro ready for at least this season. Either Kendall somehow stays with the club and doesn't get warm in Miami which I don't see, look for some trouble up the middle and see Chad running like an idiot.
Phinsider: Which of the many off-season acquisitions (Randy Moss, Adalius Thomas, Donte' Stallworth, Wes Welker, Brandon Meriweather) do you feel will have the greatest impact on the Patriots this season?
Pats Pulpit: Since you put me on the spot: Thomas. But, heck, that's just a die roll.
I don't think Meriweather will jump immediately into a starting role -- not without another slew of d-back injuries -- so his impact should be less than the others. Welker could have a good season with all the attention Moss and Stallworth will draw, but his impact will likely be a result of theirs. And Moss and Stallworth (if it all works out -- i.e. Moss plays the good soldier) will be a synergistic impact, more than one or the other standing out.
That said, Welker, Moss and Stallworth are a mind-boggling upgrade over Reche Caldwell, Jabar Gaffney and Bam Childress. (And what if Chad Jackson stays healthy and emerges? And what about Kelley Washington? But I digress.)
Thomas is in the position where he can alter the defensive scheme by himself. Sure, Mike Vrabel and Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau are a year older, but they're all returning to the same positions, and the only real change is Thomas replacing Tully Banta-Cain, and that can change the entire defense.
Vrabel and Thomas can play both inside and outside, while you have Rosevelt Colvin outside, and Brushchi and Seau in the middle, and that adds yet another dimension to an already complex and confusing (to opponents) defense. That gives New England a whole bunch of possible configurations with different personnel and those personnel moving inside and out fluidly, including stacking the box with all five of them or moving one up into a 3-point stance.
As long as the team remains healthy, the addition of Thomas to the linebacking corps allows the line to cheat up a bit by pressing even harder, and the potential pressure on opposing QBs could alleviate issues in the secondary (pending the status of Asante Samuel).
I'll add in that Welker is also a special teams returner, and that could boost his value.
Also, if you have any suggestions for questions that you'd like me to ask any of the other 3 AFC East bloggers, e-mail them to me at email@example.com.
Have a good weekend, all!