AFC East Preseason Primer

With preseason action already underway, GWR previews what to watch for in the AFC East.

New York Jets

Schedule:

At Bengals (8/10), vs. Giants (8/18), vs. Panthers (8/26), at Eagles (8/30).

Something to watch:

Second-year tailback Bilal Powell is challenging third-year back Joe McKnight for the No. 2 running back gig behind Shonn Greene. Despite the general assumption that it's McKnight's job to lose, coach Rex Ryan has been praising Powell all throughout training camp, so keep an eye on both players throughout the entire preseason as they jockey for position as Gang Green's designated third-down back.

New England Patriots

Schedule:

Vs. Saints (8/9), vs. Eagles (8/20), at Buccaneers (8/24), at Giants (8/29).

Something to watch:

The Patriots selected two linebackers in the first round of the 2012 draft. With New England's dismal defensive play in recent years and the positions at which Dont'a Hightower and Chandler Jones were taken, the Patriots will want to get them involved as soon as possible. Jones looks to be more of a true pass-rusher from the outside, and Hightower is a good tackler whose versatility allows him to play in different spots. Monitor their progress.

Miami Dolphins

Schedule:

Vs. Buccaneers (8/10), at Panthers (8/17), vs. Falcons (8/24), at Cowboys (8/29).

Something to watch:

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who the Dolphins took in the top 10 of the 2012 draft, is an obvious long-shot to win the team's starting job for Week 1. However, the Dolphins need to give him as much playing time as possible in preseason to gauge his progress as a professional. He'll likely be under center for Miami by the second half of the regular season, and a good showing in preseason could get him there sooner than later.

Buffalo Bills

Schedule:

Vs. Redskins (8/9), at Vikings (8/17), vs. Steelers (8/25), at Lions (8/30).

Something to watch:

The Bills certainly got better this offseason in acquiring veteran defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson while shoring up some deficiencies on the offensive line, at cornerback and at receiver via the draft. But many of Buffalo's key players, including Williams and running back Fred Jackson, are coming off of season-ending injuries from a year ago. Because of that, the preseason will be just as important for Buffalo's veterans as it will be for the rookies.


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