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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:23 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:41 am
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Location: Raleigh, NC
Tim Graham wrote:
How'd they look? AFC East camp musings

As I made my rounds to the AFC East training camps over the past two and a half weeks, the most common questions are "Where else have you been?" and "How do the [insert name of team here] look compared to other teams?"

Since folks have been curious, I decided to break out some superlatives of what I saw.

My tour, which began with the Buffalo Bills at St. John Fisher College, ended after a few days with the New York Jets at SUNY Cortland. In between, I spent time with the Miami Dolphins and watched the New England Patriots practice against the New Orleans Saints.

Most focused: Patriots. Bill Belichick is in his 11th season as head coach. Everybody knows what's expected. Patriots training camp is a very businesslike atmosphere, even when outside elements such as the Saints or a visit from Jon Bon Jovi infiltrate.

Most unfocused: Jets. Of all the AFC East camps, the Jets were the least conscientious during my visit. This could be chalked up to the timing. I got to them last, and players had reached that antsy point where they needed a game. But the blithe atmosphere stood out to me nonetheless.

Most energetic: Dolphins. Tony Sparano is as animated and forceful as they come, and his coaching staff can crack the whip. Players seemed to be particularly mindful of the tempo. There's very little standing around. And with football operations czar Bill Parcells observing from the sideline, there's nowhere to hide.

Most elementary: Bills. The combination of no playoffs for a decade, a new general manager, a new coaching staff and a new 3-4 defense mean more teaching moments at St. John Fisher than at any other camp I attended. A lot of work on fundamentals.

Most physical: Bills. Head coach Chan Gailey went with pads from the first air horn, a stark contrast from predecessor Dick Jauron. I could have picked the Patriots here because I saw their joint practices with the Saints and witnessed a lot of lively action, but over the course of camp, the Bills have done more hitting than anybody.

Most modest: Dolphins. They've assembled one of the best teams people aren't talking about. As one club official joked with me, "That's the way we like it." Perhaps the sexiest storyline to come out of camp so far is Brandon Marshall's declaration he wants to play in the NBA if there's a lockout next year.

Most entertaining: Jets. They have so many star players and a fun-loving staff that no matter where you look, you're going to see -- or hear -- something noteworthy. Trash talking might be mandatory under Rex Ryan. Conversely, an esteemed Patriots reporter and I remarked after two practices against the Saints, nothing compelling really stood out to either of us despite the fact two teams were on the field.

Most competitive: Patriots. Having another team on the practice fields, even when they were drilling separately, created a distinct edginess compared to other camps. The Patriots will hold similar sessions with the Atlanta Falcons, quality work that will make the Patriots that much more prepared.

Most talented: Jets. The collection of players crackled at times. Maybe all the "Hard Knocks" cameras are bringing it out, but I saw more highlight-reel plays at SUNY Cortland than anywhere else. ... mp-musings



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