Alain Poupart, Dolphin Digest
Under Center: The Dolphins entered training camp with a major question mark at quarterback, and we haven't seen a sign of an answer yet. On the contrary, all three contestants for the job -- Josh McCown, John Beck and rookie Chad Henne -- have been mediocre at best. Beck, in particular, has been massively unimpressive. Then came the news that Quincy Carter, who hasn't played in the NFL since 2004 and has had his share of off-the-field issues, would be giving a tryout. Sparano, however, insisted that was not a commentary on the state of the quarterback position but rather the team simply doing its "due diligence." Regardless, quarterback was and continues to be the Dolphins' biggest concern.
Rookie Report: While Henne hasn't really shown signs that he'll be ready to make a difference as a rookie, first overall pick Jake Long looks like he'll make an immediate impact. Although the Dolphins have yet to play a preseason game, it's already apparent that Long should be a force in the running game. The one thing he needs to continue to improve on is handling speed rushers to the outside. Fellow rookie Donald Thomas joined Long on the first-team offensive line for several days this week and impressed his coaches and teammates with his strength. Of the team's two defensive ends drafted in the second and third round, Phillip Merling and Kendall Langford, Langford clearly has been the most impressive of the two so far.
Camp Surprises: The play of the rookie Thomas certainly would have to rank near the top of the list, considering he was only a sixth-round selection. Also encouraging has been the play of third-year wide receiver Derek Hagan, who has been the team's best wideout in camp. Hagan was very inconsistent his first two seasons, but he has been making a lot of catches in traffic. On defense, the play of Nathan Jones at cornerback deserves mention. He was brought in from Dallas mainly because of his special teams prowess, but has put himself in the hunt for the job as the dime back.
Tyler Dunne, Buffalo Football Report
Under Center: Trent Edwards is the unquestioned starter. For now, the Bills have no quarterback controversies that have dogged them for the past decade. Edwards has been up-and-down at camp. To his defense, the offensive line hasn't given him time on a consistent basis, which has led to sporadic overthrows and underthrows. Overall though, Edwards is clearly the starter over J.P. Losman, who is back to his old erratic ways. Edwards' poise and presence should persevere. Losman's occasional bomb (he hit Roscoe Parrish on a beauty over Will James) could keep him in the batter's box, though.
Rookie Report: Leodis McKelvin won't be starting at cornerback anytime soon. Jabari Greer has outplayed Buffalo's first-round pick so far. McKelvin has the raw skills to be a game-changer, but isn't as technically sound as Greer. For now, the Bills might try to utilize McKelvin in the return game. James Hardy was hampered by a hamstring injury early on, but appears fine. He isn't starting yet, either, but should crack into the lineup soon. The guy is huge. On one end zone, TD lob from Edwards, the 6-foot-5 wideout showed his immediate potential.
Camp Surprises: Tight end Derek Schouman was the talk of minicamp, and has carried momentum into training camp. The position is wide open. While Robert Royal may have a better grasp of the offense, Schouman's pass-catching skills could land him the job sooner rather than later. He caught a leaping touchdown from Gibran Hamdan in the back of the end zone that was easily the most athletic play a tight end has made for Buffalo in a long, long time. Also, veterans Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney have had strong camps.
New England Patriots
Jon Scott, Patriots Insider
Under Center: the Patriots face a long road back to the Super Bowl, despite being favorites in Vegas. Losing bodies like Asante Samuel, Randall Gay and Eugene Wilson raises concerns about the team's secondary. So far, the players the team had brought in, or drafted, seem to be working out. Fernando Bryant has looked good at Samuel's spot, while it's DB by committee on the other side. Only live action will enable us to get a better look at this group of new faces. So far, they look like they're progressing well.
Rookie Report: It's the Jerod Mayo show in Foxboro. The media has fawned over Mayo's increase in playing time since camp opened. They love his speed and his aggressive streak in practices. Although Bill Belichick has never drafted a rookie linebacker in the first round, let alone start him, that will change with Mayo who seems to be the real deal. The rookie defensive backs (Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite) are seeing plenty of action in camp. LB Shawn Crable has a long road ahead of him and Matt Slater may be the best late round pick the team has made in a long time.
Camp Surprises: Matt Slater. He was drafted in the 5th round as a special teams player. Slater worked at receiver and now with the defense. He has just started on kickoff returns and looks to have already unseated the incumbents Chad Jackson and Ellis Hobbs in just three days. Another camp surprise is Chris Dunlap, a free agent receiver who barely saw time in Pats camp last season. He was out of football in 2007, but is challenging for a roster spot now.
New York Jets
Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential
Under Center: The Jets have a quarterback competition in camp between Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens. So far Pennington is winning, but it's early, and the preseason games will be a factor. Pennington has better pocket presence and field vision, while Clemens has the better arm. Perhaps the Jets aren't thrilled with either one of them since the team has consistently been considered a potential suitor for Green Bay's Brett Favre. But if the Jets don't get #4, Pennington will likely win the job.
Rookie Report: While there is so much focus on the Jets two first round
picks - linebacker Vernon Gholston and tight end Dustin Keller, it's fourth
round pick, cornerback Dwight Lowery, who might be making the biggest splash
in camp. Lowery, a San Jose State product, has outstanding ball skills, and
is constantly getting his hands on passes. He is going to be a big part of the
Jets nickel package, and could end up starting in the future. But Gholston and
Keller have also looked good. Gholston has displayed the ability to rush with
both power and speed, and Keller has used his 4.5 speed to get way down field
Camp Surprises: Aside from Lowery, another camp surprise has been fellow cornerback Ahmad Carroll. He was a bust in Green Bay and Jacksonville, but the former Arkansas Razorback might have finally grown up. He has done some good things in camp. Another surprise has been former New Hampshire receiver David Ball, who catches everything in sight, and is a better athlete than advertised. One more surprise is offensive tackle Wayne Hunter. He had some off-the-field issues in Seattle, but if he finally has his act together, he could land the Jets back-up swing tackle role.