Around The AFC East: 5/21

Notes from around the AFC East. The Bills are again hoping their offensive line draft pick isn't a dud. Miami Dolphins new QB Joey Harrington sounds off. New York Jets head coach Eric Mangini talks about some of the challenges facing him and the Jets staff. Get inside to find out more from each of the AFC East teams.

Jets :: Dolphins :: Patriots


One man's trash is another man's treasure.

That axiom is playing itself out when it comes to two very big offensive linemen in the NFL, one now a Buffalo Bill.

In Jacksonville, coaches and fans are hoping Mike Williams, the No. 4 overall pick of Buffalo's in 2001 who was released this off-season, can meet his expectations and be a missing link.

In Buffalo, coaches and fans are hoping Aaron Gibson, the 27th overall pick of Detroit's in 1999 who was out of football last season, can do the same.

Gibson, whose 6-6, 375-pound girth rivals Williams, knows this is likely his last chance to make something of his football life.

While he started as a rookie for the Lions, Gibson never dominated like scouts thought he would and eventually landed with the Chicago Bears.

He started all 16 games in 2003 when Bills coach Dick Jauron was in charge. The next year, however, injuries and weight problems limited Gibson to four games before he was out on the street in 2005.

"It was hard being out of the game," he admitted. "I have a young daughter, so I was keeping busy, but not playing football was something I wasn't ready for. I'm glad to have an opportunity to come back."

He didn't have many. Buffalo was the only team he considered -- or seriously considered him. For Jauron, Gibson's signing isn't a reputation breaker but it could be a maker if he can win a roster spot and contribute.

"I know what kind of coach he is and how he approaches the game," Gibson, 28, said. "I had some success under him before, so hopefully we can have some more."

Gibson was drafted as a tackle but was moved inside to guard because his footwork and technique in space against speed pass rushers was so poor. The Bills have looked at him at right tackle, but prefer him inside where he can use his massive size to dominate opponents in the run game.


Quarterback Joey Harrington, finally acquired by the Dolphins last week from the Lions in exchange for a conditional sixth-round draft choice in 2007, received a $2.2 million signing bonus and will have a base salary of $800,000 in 2006.

In 2007, he is scheduled to receive a roster bonus of $1 million in the spring. His base salary will be $1.75 million with $750,000 guaranteed. His cap number will be $3.483 million.

In 2008, Harrington would receive a $10 million roster bonus, and a $5 million base salary, placing his cap number at $15.733 million, a prohibitive number. Restructuring the contract is the only way to lower the number, so don't count on Harrington being in Miami in 2008.

If Harrington reaches a designated amount of playing time the Dolphins will have to give the Lions a future fifth-round pick instead of a sixth.

Dolphins coach Nick Saban, who could've made Lions general manager Matt Millen sweat it out to June 15 when he had to release Harrington or pay him a $4 million roster bonus, decided that it was worth the pick to get Harrington in for offseason training activities and the upcoming minicamp (June 9-11).

The sense of urgency was prompted by the continued rehabilitation of projected starting quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who does seem ahead of schedule in terms of returning from major reconstruction in November.

Harrington is expected to start during most, if not all, of the preseason games, and possibly the first few games of the regular season.

Culpepper is running straight ahead and sharing snaps with Harrington during OTA days, and linebacker Channing Crowder was more than impressed with the strength of the former Vikings Pro Bowler's arm.

"I hit one of them but it didn't even break the spiral, he darn near broke my finger so I said I'm not doing that anymore," Crowder said.

Meanwhile, Harrington, who is trying to put four years of mostly mediocrity at Detroit behind him, said he chose the Dolphins because they provided him with answers and direction that he rarely received with the Lions. He also said he wasn't content to back up Culpepper, but was prepared to do so for the sake of the team.

"Of course I want to be out there on the field as a competitor, but as a teammate, I am going to do everything I can to be ready for this team and if that means sitting for a season or two, then I'm prepared to do that," he said.

Harrington felt the criticism he received in Detroit for being soft and remaining upbeat even after losing games was unfair (18-37 as starter), and that he was just trying to change a defeatist attitude that had been pervasive throughout the beleaguered franchise for years.

"I was criticized when I came in because I was too positive, I was too upbeat, I was too optimistic. It always really confused me. Why would you criticize somebody for trying to change the way that things have been?"Harrington said.

Harrington was thrilled to finally get the interminable transaction over with and bringing some normalcy back to his life.

"There are a lot of things going on right now that are making it a little confusing. But as far as football goes, I'm feeling good. I feel like I'm throwing it well," he said.


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It appears as if the Jets will not be able to move to their new training facility in Florham Park, N.J. until 2008, not 2007 as they had hoped.

But one thing does appear certain -- the country club at their current facility has been closed forever.

Rookie head coach Eric Mangini arrived late for his first mini-camp post-practice news conference, because he let practice run late so he and his staff could do some more teaching. Former coach Herm Edwards, it seemed, couldn't wait to get into the press room so he could drop his latest collection of bon mots on the media.

Mangini already has made it clear he won't be a media darling when it comes to sound bites. In his first practice, he made it clear how much of a stickler he will be when it comes to on-field performance. Just listen to his assessment of the first day of mini-camp:

"I think any time you get a group of people together that haven't worked together, including the coaching staff on the field, there's going to be some bumps," he said. "That's what it looked like. When you get a group of people that haven't worked together that are now coming to a new level, like all these college guys that are coming to pro football, you can get a few more MEs (mental errors) than normally would be there. That's what we saw.

"But they were working hard," he added. "The tempo was good. The effort was there. It's just I expected some better results."

If his expectations are that high for a group of raw rookies just trying to adjust to the quicker tempo of pro coaches while learning the playbook, you can imagine how much he will expect and demand from the veterans during the full-squad mini-camp in June.

And he'll still demand plenty from the rookies when that day comes, too.

"I think at that point," Mangini said, "the rookies will really understand how different the NFL is, how much faster the game is, how much stronger these guys are, how much more experienced they are. You can tell them, but it takes a little while, and they need to see it and experience that.

"I've explained that to them (and) I continue to explain it to them. They're behind. They need to close the gap and they need to close it quickly. That will really illustrate the point for them."

It likely will be an eye-opening experience for the veterans as well.

Related: Bills Report | Jets Confidential | Dolphin Digest | Patriots Insider


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