AFC Notes: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Patriots

     

Bills

Dolphins

  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald notes that with RB Malcolm Perry expected to be used as a slot receiver, the battle for the No. 3 running back job will be between Kalen Ballage, Myles Gaskin, and Patrick Laird.
  • Jackson mentions that the right guard job is being contested by rookie guards Solomon Kindley and Robert Hunt. Other options include G Danny Isidora, C Michael Deiter, and G Shaq Calhoun.
  • According to Jackson, Hunt also is expected to split reps at right tackle with Jesse Davis as speculated.
  • Jackson notes that rookie T Austin Jackson and T Julie’n Davenport will both get first-team reps and that the first-round pick is under strong consideration to be starting at left tackle.
  • Undrafted WR Matt Cole could be in the mix for the returner job, as WR Preston Williams was injured on a punt return last season and could now be considered too valuable to fill that role.
  • Dolphins HC Brian Flores said the team has to prepare as if CB Xavien Howard won’t be ready by Week 1. Howard is still on the PUP list recovering from offseason knee surgery and is also on the COVID-19 list. (Cameron Wolfe)
  • Dolphins WR DeVante Parker said his only goal for 2020 is to stay healthy and play all 16 games after accomplishing that for the first time in 2019. (Wolfe)
  • The Dolphins hired Joyce Harrell and Olivia Passy to the front office as personnel scouts. (Lindsay Jones)

Jets

When the Jets offense takes the field in Week 1, it will sport five new starters along the offensive line — first-round LT Mekhi Becton, LG Alex Lewis, C Connor McGovern, RG Greg Van Roten and RT George Fant. Building chemistry together would already have been the group’s most important task, and with this offseason’s practice restrictions veteran OL coach Bill Muir said it would be “damn near impossible” for the Jets to get where they need to be in terms of chemistry by the start of the season. 

“Thankfully, we’re all veterans and we’ve played football before, so it’s not our first time on the field,” Van Roten said via ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “It’s just going to be our first time next to each other. We all speak football, but we might call things by different names. We just have to get on the same page if we want to be effective and hit the ground running. So there’s going to be a learning curve, but I don’t think it will be this insurmountable obstacle that we can’t figure out.”

  • Becton currently weighs 370 pounds, which is a bit heavy. Jets OL Frank Pollack said they’re figuring out what Becton’s ideal playing weight is: “Is 370 too high? Yeah. Is there a magic number? We’re working on that.… Bottom line is production on the field and what’s the healthiest for him as well. Right now we’re all trying to get to that exact number.” (Manish Mehta)
  • Jets HC Adam Gase says fifth-round CB Bryce Hall is still recovering from a college ankle injury and likely wouldn’t be cleared for practice even if he was ready to come off the COVID-19 list. (Brian Costello)

Patriots

It flew under the radar because of the big departure on the other side of the ball, but the Patriots linebacking corps took a big hit this offseason — and that was before veteran LB Dont’a Hightower opted out. However, Patriots 2019 second-round LB Chase Winovich is optimistic New England has the players to stay productive in 2020. 

“I know that we’ve got a great room now. There’s a lot of great leadership between Derek Rivers and John Simon. All the guys coming along. Couple that with the rookies,” Winovich said via Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. “They’re young and they’re trying to get after it the best they can. This is football. The game we all love and sign up for. We’re just trying to get after it every single day. You can’t control the fact that we lost some players because this is the National Football League. That’s bound to happen. I’m just excited about the future.”

  • Per ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Patriots 2019 first-round WR N’Keal Harry said he focused on slimming down this offseason: “I just felt like I was a little big. I felt like being a little more thin would help me getting off the top of my routes, getting in and out of my breaks, and my releases.”
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