Monday, April 30, 2012

AFC East Daily's grading of the Jets' 2012 draft

The Jets drafted four defensive players and four offensives player in 2012. Here's their final draft list and our grades:

1st round (16th overall) – Quinton Coples (DE), North Carolina
2nd round (43rd overall) – Stephen Hill (WR), Georgia Tech
3rd round (77th overall) – Demario Davis (OLB), Arkansas State
6th round (187th overall) – Josh Bush (S), Wake Forest
6th round (202nd overall) – Terrance Ganaway (RB), Baylor
6th round (203rd overall) – Robert T. Griffin (G), Baylor
7th round (242nd overall) – Antonio Allen (SS), South Carolina
7th round (244th overall) – Jordan White (WR), Western Michigan

Nick's grade: B

The Jets will never defer from a high-risk, high-reward approach to anything and everything as long as coach Rex Ryan, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson are working together, so their drafting defensive end Quinton Coples and receiver Stephen Hill shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

Ryan knows defensive line, so he certainly has a very vivid idea of how Coples fits into his scheme. Hill is one of the better downfield-blocking receivers in the 2012 class, so acquiring him, in addition to 240-pound running back Terrance Ganaway, spells ground-and-pound. Hill can also make the tough catch, and linebacker Demario Davis and safety Josh Bush were solid additions to the defense.

AFC East Daily's grading of the Patriots' 2012 draft

The Patriots drafted six defensive players and one offensive player in 2012. Here's their final draft list and our grades:

1st round (21st overall) – Chandler Jones (DE), Syracuse
2nd round (25th overall) – Dont'a Hightower (ILB), Alabama
3rd round (48th overall) – Tavon Wilson (FS), Illinois
3rd round (90th overall) – Jake Bequette (DE), Arkansas
6th round (197th overall) – Nate Ebner (DB), Ohio State
7th round (224th overall) – Alfonzo Dennard (CB), Nebraska
7th round (235th overall) – Jeremy Ebert (WR), Northwestern Univ.

Nick's grade: B

The Patriots put their early-offseason focus on solidifying the offense during free agency, as that is New England's bread and butter. Once the draft hit, however, it was all about the defense. New England didn't draft an offensive player until its very last pick in the seventh round, as it built more than half a D before that. Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower and Jake Bequette are versatile defenders who could find roles in the Patriots' multiple scheme as soon as this coming season.

Nate Ebner is a prototypical Patriot special-teamer who could make an instant impact, though safety Tavon Wilson and defensive back Alfonzo Dennard are certainly wait-and-see (and maybe hold-your-breath) players.

AFC East Daily's grading of the Dolphins' 2012 draft

The Dolphins drafted six offensive players and three defensive players in 2012. Here's their final draft list and our grades:

1st round (8th overall)  Ryan Tannehill (QB), Texas A&M
2nd round (42nd overall) – Jonathan Martin (OT), Stanford
3rd round (72nd overall) – Olivier Vernon (DE), Miami
3rd round (78th overall)  Michael Egnew (TE), Missouri
4th round (97th overall)  Lamar Miller (RB), Miami
5th round (155th overall)  Josh Kaddu (LB), Oregon
6th round (183rd overall)  B.J. Cunningham (WR), Michican State
7th round (215th overall)  Kheeston Randall (DT), Texas 
7th round (227th overall)  Rishard Matthews (WR), Nevada

Nick's grade: C

The rapid rise of Ryan Tannehill's stock just before the draft combined with the Dolphins' pressing need for a prospective franchise quarterback made Miami's drafting of the Texas A&M signal-caller almost as inevitable as the Colts and Redskins taking Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, respectively. The Dolphins were par, otherwise, though their failure to take a receiver early on couldn't have sat well with the Dolphins faithful, as they are severely lacking in that department having gotten rid of Brandon Marshall.

Take Tannehill, second-round offensive tackle Jonathan Martin and third-round defensive end Olivier Vernon out of the equation, and whether Miami's draft was a positive one will take a few years to materialize. Tannehill, Martin and Vernon are the likely immediate-impact players of the group.

AFC East Daily's grading of the Bills' 2012 draft

The Bills drafted four offensive players, four defensive players and a kicker in 2012. Here's their final draft list and our grades:

1st round (10th overall) – Stephon Gilmore (DB), South Carolina
2nd round (41st overall) – Cordy Glenn (T), Georgia
3rd round (69th overall) – T.J. Graham (WR), North Carolina State
4th round (105th overall) – Nigel Bradham (LB), Florida State
4th round (124th overall) – Ron Brooks (DB), Louisiana State
5th round (144th overall) – Zebrie Sanders (T), Florida State
5th round (147th overall) – Tank Carder (LB), Texas Christian Univ.
6th round (178th overall) – Mark Asper (OL), Oregon
7th round (251st overall) – John Potter (K), Western Michigan

Nick's grade: A

The Bills' top three needs, in my opinion, were an upgrade in pass defense, offensive line depth and speed at receiver. They accomplished all three in the first three rounds. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore has an opportunity to make an immediate impact in Buffalo's secondary, tackle Cordy Glenn provides another option for an offensive line that seems to always be shifting, and receiver T.J. Graham, while small, will keep defenses honest and provides some help in the return game while easing the loss of all-purpose guy Roscoe Parrish.

Bills WR Johnson to receive groin surgery this week


Bills receiver Stevie Johnson will be undergoing groin surgery this week, albeit minor surgery.

Johnson is currently in Philadelphia, where he will receiving "extremely minor surgery," according to his agent, C.J. Laboy.

Laboy added that the operation "won't keep (Johnson) out long at all," and that "he will be at (the Bills) facility for all activities."

"La Guardia Airport on My Way to Philly for a couple Days for This Groin Surgery," Johnson tweeted Sunday night. "(I Need to be 100 for Y'all this Year)."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pats draft rugby star in 6th round, troubled DB in 7th


The Patriots entered the last day of the draft with just one pick. Of course, they left with more.

New England traded its fifth-rounder to the Packers for Green Bay's sixth-rounder and pair of seventh-rounders.

At No. 197 overall, New England selected Ohio State special teams ace Nate Ebner. Ebner walked on to the Buckeye football team in 2009 after not playing football in high school. Instead, Ebner played rugby as a teenager, starring on the 2007 and 2008 U.S. national rugby teams, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

"Nate [Ebner] is a guy that is a big, fast safety that has been very productive in the kicking game, relatively inexperienced player that we think has a lot of good football in front of him," Patriots coach Bill Belichick told reporters Saturday night.

The Patriots then snatched up Nebraska defensive back Alfonzo Dennard and Northwestern receiver Jeremy Ebert in the seventh round.

Bills continue to bolster defense on 3rd day of draft


As the smoke settled on the final day of the draft, the Bills bolstered their depth on both sides of the ball, highlighted by a pair of talented linebackers.

With the 105th pick, Buffalo selected Nigel Bradham, outside linebacker out of Florida State. A speed back with good situational pass blitzing, Bradham was a three-year starter and team captain with the Seminoles. He appeared in all 52 games of his college career and led the team in tackles all three years. At 6-foot-2 and 242 pounds, Bradham should be a physical presence in Buffalo's scheme.

"In spread formations, a lot of the linebackers are smaller now, but he’s got size," Bills National Scout Darrell Moody told the media. "He’s got a chance to play at any one of the two outside positions. He’s got straight line speed. He played in their subpackages. I think he’s got good cover skills.”

At pick No. 147, Buffalo took Tank Carder, a 6-foot-2, 236-pound outside linebacker out of TCU. Carder was a two-time Mountain West player of the year (2010-11), the 2011 Rose Bowl Defensive MVP and a 2011 All-American. He started 39 consecutive games at one point TCU, the defensive juggernauts who led the NCAA in defensive three consecutive years (2008-10). He, like Bradham, is strong against the rush, and his ability create interceptions may place him in plenty of third-down passing situations.

Dolphins trade up in 4th for another hometown 'Cane


The Dolphins kicked off the third day of the 2012 NFL Draft by making a move to pick another Miami Hurricane.

Miami traded its No. 103 overall pick, a sixth-round pick (No. 196) and next year's sixth-round pick to San Francisco for the No. 97 overall pick. At No. 97, The Dolphins selected running back Lamar Miller out of the University of Miami.

Miller, who turned 21-years-old Wednesday, was a second-team All-ACC selection as a sophomore in 2011. With 1,272 yards rushing last season, he became the first Hurricane to rush for 1,000 yards since former first round pick Willis McGahee in 2002. Miller is a fast, elusive runner who has burst when he hits the hole and can catch the ball out of the backfield. Though considered a second-round talent, Miller fell to the fourth, likely because he had only one season as a starter.

Miller joins Dolphins third-round choice Olivier Vernon as a pair of players who were born in Miami, played college football in Miami and will now play professionally in Miami. The Dolphins had not drafted a Hurricane since Vernon Carey in 2004, who was also born and raised in Miami.

After swapping fifth-round picks with the Titans, the Dolphins selected Oregon linebacker Josh Kaddu at No. 155 overall. Kaddu recorded 6.5 sacks as a senior in 2011 and earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors. His scouting report characterizes him as a raw, yet gifted athlete who will need to put on bulk and refine his craft. Kaddu's combination of size and athletic ability could give him the versatility to cover a top tight end or rush the passer on the edge.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Jets go safety, ground-and-pound in 3rd day of draft


The Jets waited around for a while Saturday, with no fourth- or fifth-round picks. But they had three picks in the sixth round, the second two in consecutive fashion, and two more in the seventh.

New York took Wake Forest safety Josh Bush at No. 187. Bush is an under-the-radar prospect, as he wasn't invited to the NFL Combine and didn't appear in any draft magazines, according to ESPN New York. However, he could very well fit right into the Jets' defense.

The Jets' experience at safety ends after former Redskin LaRon Landry and career Jet Eric Smith. Bush played cornerback for the first part of his college career, so his coverage skills are pretty good for a safety. That should help him in finding a role in a league with pass-happy offenses.

After taking Bush, Gang Green used consecutive picks (202 and 203) on a pair of Baylor players -- running back Terrance Ganaway and guard Robert Griffin.

Pats go with two more defenders in 2nd day of draft


The Patriots focused on offense, offense, and offense during the first portion of free agency. So far in the 2012 NFL draft, however, it's been defense, defense, defense... and defense.

After taking defenders Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower in the first round Thursday, New England picked up two more rookie defensive players Friday evening in Illinois defensive back Tavon Wilson (second round, 48th overall) and Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette (third round, 90th overall).

Wilson was widely considered a late-round pick on the verge of not being drafted, but the Patriots threw a major wrench into that thinking.

“I didn’t really know. I was hearing a lot of different things as far as what round and all that stuff,” Wilson told the media via conference call Friday night. “I just tried to focus, keep my head down and just keep on working. I never knew where I was going to be taken, but I just knew it was all over the place. It was out of my hands."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick noted Wilson's "leadership and character" as important factors that swayed New England's thinking.

Jets' 2nd-rounder Hill feels 'home' with Gang Green


The Jets filled another important void Friday night, adding a much-needed offensive weapon in Georgia Tech receiver Stephen Hill.

New York traded up to the 11th pick in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft to take Hill at No. 43 overall.

"Oh, man, I was happy," Hill told Jets reporters via conference call, according to "We actually had a lot of conversation and I felt really home there. ... Just the coaches and the way they coach and what type of attitude they have toward football."

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver is a solid downfield blocker who has the speed to stretch the field opposite Santonio Holmes. He also has the size and hands to go up for the tough ball. He'll likely face a challenging transition period in adapting to an NFL system, as Georgia ran a ground-first offense.

Hill said he's excited to work with quarterback Mark Sanchez in an offense in which he should see more opportunities than he did in college, and the Jets think Hill will be able to make an immediate impact.

Bills go with small but speedy receiver in 3rd round


After shoring up their offensive line in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft, the Bills took North Carolina State receiver T.J. Graham in the third.

Graham, who the Bills ended up trading up for, is the speedster receiver they have been looking for to perhaps line up opposite Steve Johnson and to fill the loss of returner Roscoe Parrish.

Coach Chan Gailey told reporters that “he can run by most everybody,” and general manager Buddy Nix said that teams will “have to cover deep” when he’s on the field.

Graham amassed nearly 800 yards and had seven touchdowns last year with N.C. State and ran a ridiculous 4.39 at the Combine and an even faster 4.35 at N.C. State’s 2011 Junior Day.

Dolphins add local defensive end, receiving TE in 3rd


With the first of their two third-round choices in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Dolphins took defensive end Olivier Vernon from the University of Miami at No. 72 overall.

The Dolphins hope that Vernon can develop into a pass rusher than can complement star linebacker Cameron Wake. At 6-foot-2, 260 pounds, Vernon is an athletic, physical end who didn't produce to his expected potential as a Hurricane, partly due to an improper benefits suspension that took the first six games of his 2011 season.

Vernon is the first Miami player selected by the Dolphins since offensive tackle Vernon Carey in 2004.

With the second of their two third-round draft picks, the Dolphins went with Missouri tight end Michael Egnew at No. 78 overall. Miami traded its No. 73 pick to the Chargers for their No. 78 and No. 183 picks.

Egnew is a tall, fast, extremely athletic tight end who saw time at receiver at Missouri. In 2010, he was a consensus All American after he had 90 receptions for 762 yards and five touchdowns.

'Phins go offensive lineman in 2nd round, take Martin


After drafting the player they hope will be their much-needed long term solution at quarterback in the first round, the Dolphins used their second round pick to protect him. With the No. 42 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Dolphins selected Stanford offensive tackle Jonathon Martin.

"It's amazing. I'm so excited to be a Miami Dolphin. It's a dream come true," Martin said, according to "I'm excited to get down there at work."

The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Martin was a three-year starter at Stanford, where he protected the 2012 No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck. New Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is looking for athletic, intelligent lineman to play in his zone blocking scheme, and Martin fits that bill perfectly.

Martin will likely compete to replace 2011 starting right tackle Marc Columbo, who was very ineffective and a large reason that Philbin felt offensive line was such a high priority this offseason. In a division that has two teams that drafted pass rushers in the first round of this draft and another that signed free agent defensive ends Mark Anderson and Mario Williams, the Dolphins can't afford to have a weak link on the offensive line.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bills take huge offensive tackle Glenn in 2nd round


Bills general manager Buddy Nix said earlier this month that the Bills needed offensive tackles. Friday, they added one. A big one.

With the ninth pick in the second round of the 2012 draft (No. 41 overall), Buffalo selected Georgia tackle Cordy Glenn.

The 6-foot-5 (almost 6), 345-pound offensive lineman expected to be drafted sooner, but he says he's happy to be a Bill.

“One, I am happy I get to play left tackle, two Buffalo is one of my favorite teams,” Glenn (pictured) told reporters, according to “I am just happy that I get to play football and I know where I am playing it now. It is just a big relief.”

Glenn started his last 18 games at left tackle after playing guard early in his college career.

"You know, we saw him play guard prior to this year and then this year he played left tackle," Bills scout Darrell Moody said. "As you watched the season progress, he got better and better at left tackle.

Tannehill: 'I have a lot to learn' ... 'I want to compete'

Photo: Dirk Hansen, Flickr 


When Roger Goodell read Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill's name off the card for Miami's No. 8 overall pick Thursday evening, hopes and frustrations of a QB-starved Dolphins' fanbase fell on the shoulders of the 22-year-old former Aggie.

Tannehill is eager to take on the challenge.

“I’m so excited to get down there to Miami. I can’t put it in words," Tannehill told the Miami media in his first teleconference as a Dolphin. "It’s a moment I’ve dreamed about all my life, so to finally have the opportunity and go to a great organization like the Miami Dolphins. I can’t wait to get down there and join the team.”

The Dolphins relied on new offensive coordinator Mike Sherman to provide inside information on whether Tannehill should be chosen to be the quarterback of the future. Sherman, who also has years of NFL coaching experience, was Tannehill's head coach at Texas A&M for the past four seasons.

“I definitely think it will help," said Tannehill, when asked how reuniting with Sherman will ease his transition. "Playing under him for four year in College Station at A&M and learning the game. He’s a great coach and a great teacher. Also, Coach Philbin did a great job in Green Bay and looking forward in working with both of them.”

Gilmore on Buffalo: 'It's a town like where I'm from'


The city of Buffalo will be a little cooler than where Stephon Gilmore is from, but Gilmore is apparently cool with it.

Gilmore, who was selected by the Bills Thursday in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, sounded like he was comfortable with his new place of business when asked Thursday about his pre-draft visit to Buffalo.

“A lot of stuff stood out," the cornerback out of South Carolina told reporters. "It’s a town like where I’m from, more of a laid back town."

Gilmore hails from Rock Hill, S.C., a city roughly four times smaller than the city of Buffalo alone. Additionally, Rock Hill's average low temperatures throughout the winter are roughly the same, maybe a bit higher, than Buffalo's average high temperatures, according to

But we know what he meant.

"They’ve got great fans," Gilmore elaborated. "Fans stick to their football team no matter what and I’m looking forward to coming in and making my fans happy.”

Jets stick to word, draft UNC's Coples in first round


Rex Ryan promised North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples that if Coples was still on the board at No. 16, the Jets would draft him.

He was, and they did.

New York took a defensive lineman in the first round of the NFL Draft for the second straight year, selecting the 6-foot-6, 284-pound pass rusher Thursday night. The Jets made Temple defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson their first pick in 2011.

Coples told SNY's Brian Custer that Ryan said Coples would be a Jet if he fell to No. 16, adding that he felt New York's interest in him rise when he worked out for Ryan at Coples' Pro Day.

Many scouting reports have Coples' consistency as a question mark, as he has a reputation of taking a play or two off every now and then. However, his physicality and talent, which ranks among the top of all 2012 prospects regardless of position, was enough for Gang Green to take a chance on him.

Bills continue to bolster defense in drafting Gilmore


The Bills hammered another nail into their defensive improvement project in round one of the draft Thursday night.

With the 10th overall pick, Buffalo chose South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore, the widely-regarded No. 2-rated cornerback on the draft board.

Gilmore led the Gamecocks in interceptions in 2011 with four and amassed 46 tackles. Starting every game during his three years with South Carolina, he was chosen as first-team All-SEC in 2011 and third-team AP All-American in 2010.

Gilmore impressed scouts at the combine, especially for his size, running 4.40 in the 40-yard dash and a 3.94 in the 20-yard short shuttle. At 6-foot-1 and nearly 200 pounds, Gilmore is a rare breed of size and speed at the position and should be proficient playing both man-to-man and zone.

With inconsistency and aging corners abound in the backfield, it's no wonder the Bills were looking for some young talent that could step in and instantly start.

Dolphins take quarterback Tannehill in first round

Photo: Dirk Hansen, Flickr 


For the first time since 1983 (Dan Marino), the Dolphins went quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft when they selected Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill at No. 8 overall Thursday night.

Tannehill is a converted wide receiver who has started only 20 games under center. He has career totals of 5,450 passing yards, 42 touchdowns and 21 interceptions with a 62.5 career completion percentage. In his first and only full year as the Aggies' starting signal caller in 2011, Tannehill led his team to a 6-6 regular season record and a victory over Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Tannehill's attributes, which include good arm strength, touch and footwork, fit well into the west coast offense new Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is installing. He is an intelligent, albeit inexperienced passer who can also make plays with his legs.

While most draft experts liked Tannehill's tangibles, few believed he was worth a top-10 overall pick due to lack of experience and a pedestrian record. The Dolphins are in dire need of a quarterback of the future, with only career backup Matt Moore and 34-year-old David Garrard as candidates to start in 2012. Tannehill is expected to be a developmental project early on but has plenty of upside.

Patriots trade up twice to acquire pair of defenders


The Patriots had been stocking up on offense since finishing a season in which they were ranked second-worst on defense. They were just saving up for the draft.

New England traded up twice Thursday night, selecting two defensive players in the first round of the NFL Draft in Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones and Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower.

The Patriots traded their No. 27 (originally from the Saints) and third-rounder to the Bengals in order to get to No. 21 and snatch up Jones. New England then dealt its 31st-overall pick and a fourth-rounder to the Broncos for their No 25 pick in an effort to obtain Hightower.

"I thought we had a good day today," Patriots coach Bill Belichick told the media late Thursday night. "As usual, the draft always takes some interesting twists and turns. You just never know how it's going to go."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Jets' much-improved Maybin looks to build on 2011

Photo: PennStateLive, Flickr 

Aaron Maybin had the efficiency part down in his debut season with the Jets. The next step, however, is consistency.

A first-round bust for the Bills turned free-agent treat for the Jets, Maybin tallied just four solo tackles in 2011 -- except three of those tackles were sacks. That, and three were also forced fumbles.

No big deal.

Maybin went on to play in the Jets' nine remaining games, tallying three more sacks and a forced fumble. The 24-year-old out of Penn State was used strictly as a situational pass-rusher in 2011, though he has high hopes for 2012 after re-signing with Gang Green.

"I’m just trying to make sure that through this offseason, our coaching staff sees exactly what I see," Maybin told the Star-Ledger. "And that they’re confident putting me out there on first and second down."

Ex-Pat doesn't like Welker's 'diva attitude', WR reacts


Another retired Patriot is speaking out about his displeasure with a current, active Patriots player.

Willie McGinest, a three-time Super Bowl champion with New England turned NFL Network analyst, voiced his opinion on NFL Network recently regarding current Patriots receiver Wes Welker not signing his franchise tag and openly considering skipping out on mandatory minicamp.

“I just don’t like the diva attitude,” McGinest said on the NFL Network’s Total Access. “Let’s keep it real: prior to the Patriots, (Welker) is a guy who played three years, had 96 receptions and never had a 1,000-yard season.

“Due to a big part of the Patriots' offensive system and Tom Brady, he’s had five years where he’s had over 100 catches. Of those five years until he got hurt (in 2010), he had over 1,000 yards receiving (each year). Let’s just keep everything in perspective: a big part of that is due to the Patriots.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bills' national scout has high praise for safety Barron


With less than 36 hours before Day One of the draft kicks off, Alabama safety Mark Barron’s draft stock is rising.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirmed rumors late Tuesday that Buffalo was seriously considering taking Barron with the No. 10 pick, and he went one step further Wednesday, essentially guaranteeing that Barron wouldn’t be around when Dallas picks at No. 14.

Schefter said via Twitter that a number of teams remain interested in Barron, namely the Bills, Panthers, Chiefs and Cowboys. He said that there’s a possibility that Barron could go as a top-6 player or to Carolina at No. 9.’s Chris Brown chose Barron for the Bills’ No. 1 pick in his mock draft released Wednesday, stating, “the Bills take the top player on the board and select the best safety to come out since Sean Taylor.”

Barron in the backfield could easily give the Bills’ defense the best grade in terms of improvement in the off-season. Greg Cosell of NFL Films said that Barron “offers tremendous scheme and position versatility,” and that Barron’s tight end coverage is his best talent. Bills National Scout Darrell Moody went a bit further Wednesday.

Jet WR: 'No dis, Tebow throws harder than Sanchez'


If one thing is certain about the Jets' quarterback situation, it's that they have two very different types of passers on their roster.

One of the people who will be at the other end of the equation is already seeing a stark difference between incumbent starter Mark Sanchez and new acquisition Tim Tebow.

Backup receiver Jeremy Kerley (pictured right) said, according to Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger, that "(Tebow's) ball comes out a little bit stronger, but he's accurate, he's more accurate than what I thought he was going to be. But he's a good dude, he has a great personality, he'll bring a lot of personality to the team."

He elaborated that Tebow's passes have "a lot, a lot more velocity. No dis to Mark, he brings it, man."

Sanchez is fortified in the starting quarterback position, but Kerley is clearly excited to have Tebow on his team.

Kerley said he was "shocked" that his team made the trade for the polarizing former first round pick, but that "It was a good shocked. We got a winner on our team. Obviously, that's what he is. I was shocked but I was happy."

Dolphin QBs Moore, Garrard get even share of snaps


As well as quarterback Matt Moore played down the stretch last season, he will still have to earn his stripes with the new Dolphins coaching staff.

In the Dolphins' first practice of this month's voluntary minicamp on Tuesday, Moore split first team snaps with newly-signed veteran David Garrard, according to the Miami Herald. The two are in a battle that will likely determine who goes into training camp as the starting quarterback.

Luckily for Miami, both players are ready to learn Joe Philbin's west coast offense and are excited for the opportunity to compete.

"We're learning the basics. We're crawling before we walk," Moore told reporters. "By the definition of the offense it really spreads the ball around a lot. There are a lot of quick throws."

"I'm trying to get the playbook down. Whenever you are a half second off it makes the pass look bad," added Garrard of the west coast system, which he experienced briefly when he backed up Byron Leftwich on the Jaguars early in his career.

Veteran defensive end Carter yet to hear from Pats


Free agent defensive end Andre Carter hasn't so much heard from the Patriots, much less begun negotiating a deal to return to the team for a second year.

"Your guess is as good as mine," Carter said about his future with the Patriots, according to a report by Comcast Sports Network New England. "They kind of just said, 'Thanks for everything,' at the end of the year and I haven't heard from them since. But I'm optimistic everything works out."

Carter and defensive end Mark Anderson represented a huge portion of the Patriots' pass rush last season, and Anderson was allowed to leave to sign a lucrative deal with the rival Bills.

As a team, the Patriots recorded 40 quarterback sacks in 2011. Anderson and Carter combined for exactly half that total with 10 quarterback takedowns apiece.

Patriots' second-year tackle Solder poised to step up

Photo: Beth Hart, Flickr 


Despite the departure of now-retired offensive tackle Matt Light, a five-time Pro Bowler, the Patriots are going on as business as usual.

Insert second-year tackle Nate Solder.

Solder, who played in all 19 games in the 2011 season (including postseason), proved himself in more ways than one throughout his rookie year. When starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer was unable to go, Solder filled in for him — and impressively. He let up only three sacks and four quarterback pressures throughout his first regular season, and he’s gravely committed to improving. And when Vollmer and Light were both healthy, Solder was often used as an eligible tackle/tight end.

The 6-foot-8 Solder is also committed to gaining weight.

“I’d like to get bigger, stronger, maybe taller," Solder told, joking about his height. “I've been trying to gain weight since I was a freshman in college. I can tell you that has been a struggle for me. So, I continue to try to gain weight.”

Currently, Solder weighs in at 310 pounds — 80 more than he was listed at during his redshirt-freshman season at Colorado. And he’s eating five meals a day in hopes to increase that number by another 20 pounds this offseason.

Report: Bills 'extremely interested' in safety Barron


After weeks of back-and-forth over whether the Bills’ No. 1 pick would be better spent on an offensive lineman or wide receiver, there’s a chance the team may not go in either direction, after all.

WGR 550 Buffalo’s Joe Buscaglia reported Tuesday that the Bills are “extremely interested” in Alabama safety Mark Barron, as well as South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore, for potential top draft choices, according to a league source.

The source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Buffalo sees Barron as a “playmaker” and a “day-one starter” in its current scheme. Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly also has the Bills' attention, according to the source, but most of the focus has fallen on Barron.

The 6-foot-2, 218-pound Barron has drawn interest from a number of teams, namely the Chargers, Cowboys, Patriots and Jets. Nearly every mock draft and scouting report out there currently has Barron as a top 15 pick. Gilmore is not far behind, even going as high as No. 7 to the Jags in some projections. And Kuechly as the top-rated linebacker could easily go top 10.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Patriots' longtime left tackle Light officially retires


After 11 years, 153 starts, three Pro Bowls and three Super Bowl rings, Patriots’ veteran left tackle Matt Light has officially hung ’em up.

The 33-year-old declined to specify last week on whether or not he would leave the game, but according to ESPN Boston, New England placed the lineman on the reserve/retired list Tuesday, making his retirement official.

A second-round pick out of the 2001 draft, Light played his entire career with the Pats. His departure frees up $5 million worth of cap room for New England and a roster spot on the newly expanded 90-man limit.

Welker 'probably not' attending mandatory workouts

Photo: Karen Cardoza, Flickr 


Wes Welker seems to be a little torn between loyalty to his team and his quest for a long-term deal.

The four-time Pro Bowl wideout told ESPN Radio Boston that he's "probably not going to show up" to the Patriots' mandatory June minicamp. The Patriots have placed the franchise tag on Welker, who will make $9.4 million in 2012.

The two sides have until July 16 to work out a multi-year contract.

Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network previously reported that Welker would play out the season under the franchise tag if no deal was reached, but it looks like the All Pro may be willing to play hard ball to get a long term contract. Welker has not yet participated in any of the team's voluntary workouts this offseason.

Wake a no-show at Dolphins' voluntary workouts


Cameron Wake showed up to voluntary workouts last week "out of respect" for new Dolphins coach Joe Philbin.

Now that he got that out of the way, Wake is a no-show at the Dolphins' latest get-together, according to Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post.

Wake is currently in pursuit of a new contract, as the standout defensive end is owed just $615,000 in 2012. Since joining the NFL in 2009 after a stint in the CFL, Wake has amassed 28 sacks in 48 games.

The 30-year-old initially planned on holding out for an undecided amount of time, but things seemed to appear on the up-and-up when Wake showed for voluntary workouts last week. However, his latest no-show suggests the sides may be further apart on a new deal than Wake originally thought.

Jets' All-Pro Revis hints at another potential holdout

Photo: Marianne O'Leary, Flickr 

In Darrelle Revis time, the last two years went by very quickly. Maybe too quickly for the Jets' liking.

Gang Green's All-Pro cornerback Revis, who partook in a holdout during the 2010 offseason before signing a front-loaded, four-year holdover deal with New York, might be back up to his old antics.

"I just don't know," Revis told the New York Daily News Monday. "I'm not saying I am going to hold out. I'm not saying I'm not."

Revis, who is widely considered the NFL's best cornerback, made $32.5 million over the past two seasons but is slated to make $4.5 million in base salary and another $3 million in bonuses in 2012, according to the Daily News. He's owed a total of $13.5 million over the next two years.

"Darrelle is under contract," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum told reporters last week. "Darrelle is obviously a really important part of our team. We look forward to the 2012 season and hopefully accomplishing a lot of great things together."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dolphins host pair of linebackers in Sims, Gaither


Veteran free agent linebackers Ernie Sims and Omar Gaither visited the Dolphins Monday, according to Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The Dolphins have hosted a number free agent linebackers this offseason, and it appears they are not done adding depth even after signing former Patriot Gary Guyton and former Jet Jamaal Westerman. The team also retained restricted free agents Austin Spitler and Jason Trusnik.

Sims, 27, has split his last two seasons playing for the Eagles and Colts after four years with the Lions, who drafted him ninth overall in the 2006 draft. The former Florida State Seminole has only recorded 4.5 sacks and one interception in 75 career starts and has been a disappointment as a top-ten draft pick.

Gaither spent last season as a backup for Carolina after five seasons in Philadelphia. He has six sacks and two interceptions in his career and has always been known as a strong run defender. Gaither was drafted in the fifth round of the 2006 draft out of the University of Tennessee.

Look at AFC East's 2012 2nd-round pick announcers


For the second consecutive year, select retired NFL players will announce their respective former teams' second round 2012 draft picks next Friday.

Here's a look at the AFC East's representatives:

Bills - Phil Hansen: A participant of three of the Bills' four straight Super Bowl appearances, Hansen amassed 61.5 sacks. The defensive end was drafted in the second round of the 1991 draft and was named to the league's all-rookie team. He is currently running for a Minnesota Senate seat.

Dolphins - Dwight Stephenson: The lone AFC East Hall of Fame representative in the event, Stephenson was named to five Pro Bowls and five All Pro teams from 1983-87. Stephenson, who started 87 games on Miami's offensive line, was named Walter Payton Man of the Year in 1985 and included on the 1980 All-Decade Team.

Jets - Wesley Walker: A two-time Pro Bowler, Walker caught 71 touchdowns despite being legally blind in one eye. He was selected in the second round of the 1977 draft and is recognized as one of the faster wideouts of his time, having recorded a yards-per-reception average of 19 over the course of his 13-year career.

Patriots - Troy Brown: The three-time Super Bowl-winning Brown did it all during his time in New England. Brown was drafted in the eighth round of the 1993 draft and was the team's all-time receptions leader. He spent time as a receiver, cornerback and punt returner and was named an All Pro and Pro Bowler in 2001.

Bills re-sign RFA offensive linemen Urbik, Rinehart


The interior of the Bills' ever-shifting offensive line from a season ago will look familiar in 2012.

Buffalo announced Monday it re-signed restricted free agents Kraig Urbik and Chad Rinehart to their respective tenders, as neither player was signed to an offer sheet by another team prior to Friday's deadline.

Urbik, who was claimed off waivers in 2010, started 13 games last season. He originally held the starting right guard position because Eric Wood moved to center, but Urbik himself had to assume snapping duties for six games when Wood's season ended due to an ACL injury.

Ireland: Ross doesn't pressure me into draft choices


A league source told ProFootballTalk that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was pushing general manager Jeff Ireland to draft Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Armando Salguero refuted the report, saying a source of his own told him it was false, but Sports Illustrated's Peter King had a source tell him the original report was in fact accurate.

Either way, Ireland himself denied that Ross holds a heavy hand over Ireland in terms of the draft.

"Steve is very engaged, but he's also very supportive in leaving the decisions to the draft up to me, and coach (Joe) Philbin, and our scouts and football staff," Ireland told PFT Live Monday, according to "... I don't feel at all any pressure to draft a need position or anything like that ... and I don't feel pressure from the owner, and he's not pressuring me for that matter.

"I don't know where that's coming from. He allows me to make the football decisions, he's always allowed me to make the football decisions, along with my head coach and our staff. He understands the process, he understands the thought process, he stands by our draft analysis, and he knows the kind of preparation that goes into it -- and he's fully supportive of us making the best pick that improves our football team the best.

Bills' Merriman 'absolutely going to be 100 percent'


Not much has been a sure thing with Shawne Merriman since he joined the Bills, except maybe seeing his name on the injury list week after week. But according to him, that's about to change.

Following surgery in late October of last year to repair a tear in his Achilles tendon, an injury that has been plaguing him since 2009, Merriman told that he is “absolutely going to be 100 percent,” and at this point it's just about not overexerting himself.

“Now I get a chance to have a full offseason,” Merriman said. “I had all kinds of restrictions and limitations with things I couldn’t do last year because of my Achilles. Now it’s a different scenario. Now by the time May comes around and runs into June I’ll be at full stride and be able to do everything and work out with my teammates. Starting today and going all the way up to the season it’s a completely different story than I’ve had the past three years.”

Merriman has only played five games with the Bills since his acquisition in 2010, struggling through both his Achilles issues and knee problems. And despite being medically cleared to play, Merriman said he's not quite where he would like to be and knows he still has a ways to go to get back to the player that amassed nearly 40 sacks in his first three years in the league.

Dolphins release Merling month after re-signing DE


The Dolphins will release former second round pick Phillip Merling, according to Jeff Darlington of the NFL Network. Miami had re-signed Merling just last month to a one-year, $1.26 million deal.

Merling has been a disappointment since being picked No. 32 overall in the 2008 draft. Miami essentially had a second first round choice because it had the top pick in the draft that year, and the Patriots forfeited their first round pick in the Spygate scandal.

Merling's career has been plagued by injuries, and he has struggled to earn playing time when healthy. He has recorded only 3.5 sacks in 47 games. The Dolphins were likely disappointed with his work ethic, as he reportedly skipped voluntary workouts after signing the deal, which wasn't guaranteed.

Bills' Fred Jackson 'not concerned' about extension


Fred Jackson has poise on and off the football field.

Jackson, who is still waiting on the contract extension the Bills promised him this offseason, told reporters Monday that he's "not concerned" about the progress, or lack thereof, between his camp and the Bills.

“It’s just not the time,” the veteran running back said, according to's Chris Brown. "This week they have the draft coming up. That’s what they’re focusing on. I’ll just continue to be patient and see what happens."

Jackson's showing up to voluntary workouts is telling not only of his commitment, but that he's fairly certain the extension is essentially a lock and that it's just a matter of time. Bills general manager Buddy Nix has repeatedly stated that Buffalo wants to make Jackson a Bill for life by adding to the one year Jackson has remaining on his contract.

Report: Dolphins owner pushing GM to pick Tannehill


ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio reported Sunday that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is pushing for general manager Jeff Ireland to take Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with their first round choice.

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald shot down the report, but Sports Illustrated's Peter King backed it.

Ross, who closely monitors his team's public image, is perhaps motivated by a crisis in confidence from his fanbase and a crisis in his season ticket sales. Recent failures to sign big-name free agents and coaches have disillusioned the fans and further tarnished his team's suffering brand. Ross desperately wants to bring hope, and ultimately winning, to the team he purchased in 2008.

Season ticket sales have sunk down to 30,000 in a stadium that holds 75,000. The franchise needs a shot in the arm to excite the fans, and apparently Ross thinks Tannehill is the guy to do that. Tannehill would be the first quarterback drafted by the Dolphins in the first round since Miami selected Dan Marino in 1983. Marino, of course, had a legendary career that cast a shadow over the Dolphins that still looms to this day. Sixteen different quarterbacks have started games for the Dolphins since Marino retired following the 1999 season.

Report: Former Dolphin safety Bell meets with Jets


The Jets had reportedly been interested in safety Yeremiah Bell after the Dolphins released him in mid-March, and apparently those reports were accurate.

Bell visited with Gang Green Monday, as first reported by ProFootballTalk.

New York signed former Redskins safety LaRon Landry in March to bolster a position in need, as Jim Leonhard's future with the team is in limbo and Eric Smith was the only other experienced safety on the roster.

Bell, 34, could battle with Smith for a starting job if the Jets were to sign him. In 16 starts in 2011, Bell tallied two sacks, an interception and four passes defensed to go with his team-leading 107 combined tackles.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Report: Former Raiders CB Johnson to visit Jets


Rex Ryan is fan of cornerbacks, and the Jets have one stopping by Monday.

Free agent cornerback Chris Johnson, formerly of the Raiders, is scheduled to visit with the Jets, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Johnson, 32, saw time in just four games last season due to a hamstring injury and a family tragedy.

The eighth-year defensive back recorded eight interceptions from 2008-10 when he started 26 games. He has 49 career passes defensed and three forced fumbles.

Johnson didn't play a game his first two years in the league (2003-04) on the Packers' roster. Johnson played in 13 games with the Rams in 2005, starting in just one, before spending 2006 off the field and signing with the Raiders in 2007.

Even with Brady, Pats still make most of backup QBs


Being a backup quarterback for the Patriots is a dirty job.

Sure, there's the rare, Matt Cassel-type opportunity which took place in 2008. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady went down following a low hit behind the line of scrimmage, thrashing his ACL, and missed every remaining snap of the season.

Subsequently, second-stringer Cassel, who backed up eventual top-10, first-round draft picks Carson Palmer and Matt Lienhart at USC and hadn't actually started a game since high school, was now the guy. Cassel went on to not only finish off — and win — the first game of the season, but he won 11 games with the Patriots that year and achieved some big accomplishments along the way (back-to-back 400-yard games, two-time AFC Player of the Week).

Unfortunately, New England's 11 wins weren't good enough to make the playoffs (an NFL first), but it did score Cassel a big-time contract and starting job with the Chiefs. It also scored the Patriots a second-round draft pick (34th overall). And, since veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel was also sent out to play at Arrowhead Stadium, a lot of outsiders were wondering how the Pats could offer so much and get so little in return.

We now know why. The Patriots turned that 34th pick into safety Patrick Chung, a key component to the Patriots' secondary for the past two seasons. The Chiefs continue to be mediocre, with Cassel missing much of last season on injured reserve and Vrabel retiring in 2011 before the season began.

But what about the rest of the Patriots' backup field generals? What's it like with a healthy Brady around? All we have to do is look at the current QB situation in New England to get an idea.

Faulk awaits Pats' decision, RB likely not returning

Photo: Karen Cardoza, Flickr 


Veteran running back Kevin Faulk will patiently wait for the Patriots' decision on whether to bring him back.

The 35-year-old might not want to hold his breath.

Faulk told ESPN Boston Saturday that he doesn't expect New England to make a decision soon regarding the unrestricted free agent. And with New England hosting three free agent running backs last week in Tim Hightower, Joseph Addai and Ryan Grant coupled with the fact that the Patriots drafted two tailbacks last year in Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley to join Danny Woodhead, chances are Faulk's days as a Patriot are over.

Faulk, who has played in just nine games over the last two seasons, recently expressed his desire to play for one more season but is expected to retire if New England doesn't retain his services.