Game Date: Oct 1
On the first day of the Jets' three-day full-squad mini-camp, running back Curtis Martin -- who is trying to come back from knee surgery in December -- was somewhat limited in his activity, but participated in most of the drills. He's trying to hold onto his starter's position after finishing with 735 yards rushing during an injury-plagued season last year. It's the first time he failed to surpass the 1,000-yard mark in his career.
"Yeah, it was a frustrating year," Martin said, "but more so because we lost, not because of the yards or anything but because we weren't winning games."
New head coach Eric Mangini is thrilled with Martin's work ethic and progress.
"I wish everybody had Curtis' approach to getting some work," he said, "because he can't get enough work. That's what makes Curtis, Curtis."
What it means for the Colts: The Jets are heavily banking their offensive hopes on Martin, and if he can stay healthy he can help improve their offense enough to raise them above their 4-12 finish of last season. They really don't have another solid back on the roster that can step in if needed, so if Martin isn't doing well heading into October, the Jets offense will be in trouble and won't come close to being able to keep up with the Colts.
Game Date: Nov 12
Formal offseason workouts concluded in Buffalo with the starting quarterback position still up for grabs. J.P. Losman, Kelly Holcomb and Craig Nall will continue to compete for the top slot when the team opens training camp in Rochester on July 28th. And it's likely that new head coach Dick Jauron won't commit to any of the three until he sees them in live action during the preseason.
"We're going to wait and see how it plays out," Jauron said. "I think they've all done pretty well at times, and at times they've looked bad, which quarterbacks will tend to do. We've got time in front of us and we're going to use it, and we're going to use training camp to make any decision on those guys."
What it means for the Colts: The Bills may not have a true starting-quality quarterback to compete against Peyton Manning. Don't be surprised to see Losman and Holcomb bouncing in and out of the role again this year, and that won't help Buffalo's ability to keep pace with a team like Indy.
New England Patriots
Game Date: Nov 5
Veteran running back Corey Dillon, who became disgruntled in Cincinnati after the arrival and ascent of Rudi Johnson, expressed his unhappiness to the media about any assumption that rookie Laurence Maroney will become the starter at some point this season.
"I feel real disrespected," Dillon said. "I feel like I have accomplished zero, not even a grain of salt in this league. And that's terrible for a guy of my status. I've been doing this for a long time."
Dillon's 10,429 career yards is 17th best in NFL history, but he's coming off a season where he rushed for just 733 yards. This fall he'll be 32 years old, and with a rookie coming on board, he switched up his conditioning programming in hopes of gaining an edge.
"To be honest with you, this is the best I've felt at this point in time in the last three years."
What it means for the Colts: Dillon's anger didn't serve him well in Cincy, and it's unlikely to be anything more than an annoying distraction to the team. Maroney will push Dillon, like it or not. The dissension and ego problems won't help a Patriots unit that is already reeling after looking very vulnerable last season and the loss of more talent during the offseason.
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