Friday, April 18, 2014

Wilkerson on Jets' D-line: 'We feel like our time is now'

BY NICK ST. DENIS

The New York Jets boasted arguably the NFL best defensive line last year, and according to the unit's leader, things will only get better.

"We're real young up front, we're very talented," defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson told the team's website recently. "We're pretty much in our prime now, and hopefully we'll get to play together for a long time.

"We feel like our time is now."

Moeaki on Camp Manuel: 'It was E.J.'s show out there'

BY DAN BEGNOCHE

Buffalo Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel had anything but a normal rookie campaign. Marred by injury, the first-round pick appeared in 10 games and eventually underwent knee surgery following the conclusion of the season.

Drafted as the team's quarterback for the future, the 24-year-old's opportunity to grab the reins of the offense in his first year was hindered by his absence and rehabilitation.

For his sophomore year, however, it looks like Manuel's taking full advantage of the time he has now, particularly while he's healthy.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dolphins eyeing University of Miami basketball player

BY SEAN DONOVAN

In the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins passed on a raw tight end prospect from the University of Miami that had mostly played basketball during his college career.

The Dolphins had interest, but ultimately went with offensive lineman John Jerry with their pick.

The player they passed up was Jimmy Graham, who, after getting drafted by the New Orleans Saints, blossomed into one of the most dominating offensive forces in the league.

Mankins: Scarnecchia-less Patriots 'will be a big change'

BY SCOTT BAINES

Guard Logan Mankins has had just one positional coach since being drafted by the New England Patriots in 2005.

That streak, however, has come to an end given the recent departure of longtime assistant Dante Scarnecchia, who retired after three decades with the organization.

“It’s going to be a big change," Mankins said Thursday, via Patriots.com. "I was lucky enough to have him for nine seasons. I wish that could have continued, but he put in his time and he earned the right to retire."

Sort of former AFC East wideout Johnson CFL-bound

BY DAN BEGNOCHE

Chad Johnson's last pro game was as a New England Patriot back in 2011. His next may be as a Montreal Alouette.

The formerly named Ochocinco signed a two-year deal with the Canadian Football League organization Tuesday, a little less than two years after getting the boot from the Miami Dolphins, where he didn't make it out of training camp.

Johnson's tryout went well, according to Montreal general manager Jim Popp, who worked out the six-time Pro Bowler in Florida before the signing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

For Ty Law, accolades take a back seat to 'the journey'

BY NICK ST. DENIS

Ty Law has five Pro Bowls trips, three Super Bowl rings and two All-Pro honors to his name. All that was good enough to make the former star cornerback a finalist for the New England Patriots' Hall of Fame this week.

Those accolades are nice, as were his 53 career interceptions and seven touchdowns. But it's more than just the milestones and numbers that made Law's career so fulfilling.

"It’s a great feeling but it’s all about the journey to this point right now," Law told reporters Wednesday on a conference call, via Patriots.com. "I’ve had some great moments and some great games individually and from a team perspective but the journey along the way.

At 33, Fred Jackson replacing speed with brute force

BY DAN BEGNOCHE

Whether it's Barry Sanders or Walter Payton, every running back loses a step or two as they breach their 30th birthday.

Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson has been preparing accordingly.

The 33-year-old veteran doesn't deny his lack of breakaway speed in this, his eighth year in the league. He's suffered through a season-ending leg fracture, among other less serious injuries, that have at times kept him off the field and in the training room.

Chris Johnson likes how he fits with Jets, Mornhinweg

BY NICK ST. DENIS

When the New York Jets acquired Marty Morhinweg to lead their offense last year, they didn't have much need for running back Shonn Greene's services. So that offseason, Greene signed on with the Tennessee Titans to give the elusive Chris Johnson some support.

This offseason, the Titans decided they didn't have much use for Johnson anymore. And less than two weeks after Johnson hit the open market, the Jets completed the swap.

Gang Green signed the veteran tailback Wednesday after meeting with him the evening before, an unsurprising move given increasing reports over the past week connecting the two.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dolphins' new GM 'excited' about Dion Jordan's future

BY NICK ST. DENIS

The Miami Dolphins traded up to the No. 3 overall pick in last year's draft to take defensive end Dion Jordan, only to watch Jordan play in spot duty for much of the 2013 season.

This year, the general manager that didn't draft him is set on making the Oregon product a success.

"He’s a very talented player and this is a big offseason for him," Dolphins first-year GM Dennis Hickey told WQAM radio Tuesday, via The Palm Beach Post. "Last year with his shoulder he didn’t have an opportunity to have a full offseason.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hall of Fame O-linemen lobby for former foe Klecko

BY NICK ST. DENIS

Most New York Jets fans believe former defensive lineman Joe Klecko's Hall of Fame consideration is long overdue.

Many of Klecko's Hall of Fame opponents from back in the day agree.

"Joe was as good as anybody I played against," former Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns offensive lineman recently told NewYorkJets.com's Randy Lange. "He was in the same league with the Steelers' Joe Greene. And he was in a league of his own as far as strength."

Trump willing to give Bills purchase a 'heavy shot'

BY DAN BEGNOCHE

When Donald Trump was asked two weeks ago whether he'd be interested in buying the Buffalo Bills, he told reporters he'd "take a look at it."

Looks as if he liked what he saw.

In speaking with Tim Graham of The Buffalo News Monday, Trump's chances toward a potential bid on the team seem to be on the rise. The multibillionaire said he'd sell off any remaining interests he has in the casino business to make the deal go through, and he reiterated his desire to keep the team in Western New York.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bills CEO on big-screen debut: 'I didn't get yelled at'

BY DAN BEGNOCHE

Can't wait until May 8 for some draft action? The movie Draft Day, starring Kevin Costner, opens Friday, and Buffalo Bills fans may catch a few familiar faces among the Hollywood elite.

CEO Russ Brandon makes a small appearance in the film, starring as himself and acting next to Costner during pre-draft negotiations. Costner's character, Browns general manager Sonny Weaver, is talking on the phone with Max Stone, the movie version of the Bills' own Doug Whaley.

According to Brandon, his debut on the silver screen wasn't a complete disaster.

End-of-week leftovers: Some depths signings in division

BY SEAN DONOVAN

Teams across the league have begun the process of filling their rosters up to 90 players, the number each team will bring to training camp.

Next month's draft will provide an infusion of young prospects, but here are a few free agent additions teams in the AFC East made this week:

The Miami Dolphins, clearly in the market for a veteran receiver, missed out on former Detroit Lion Nate Burleson last week, who opted for a better playing time opportunity with the Cleveland Browns.

Wilkerson confident in Idzik: 'He's a man with a plan'

BY NICK ST. DENIS

Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is the kind of guy the New York Jets would be best served keeping around for the long haul.

If Wilkerson has his way, that's exactly what will happen.

"I told them at the end of the year last year that I want to be a Jet — a Jet for life," Wilkerson told The NY Post Thursday. "I’m from the area [Linden, N.J.], I’m a local guy, so I would love to be here and finish my career here."

Patriots team doctor Thomas Gill stepping down

BY SCOTT BAINES

The New England Patriots have made a rather significant change to their medical department.

Thomas Gill, who served the team's head doctor for the last decade, has stepped down as chief of sports medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, and with that, is no longer the head of the Patriots' medical staff.

"We have always had the chief of sports medicine at MGH serve as the team’s medical director and will continue to work with MGH to provide those services," the Patriots said Thursday in a statement. "We greatly appreciate the many years of dedicated service and innovation that Dr. Gill provided our team and wish him well in the future.