AFC East: Final Word
September, 11, 2009
By Tim Graham | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Five nuggets of knowledge about this weekend's games:
|Doug Benc/Getty Images|
|Jake Long will have his hands full with All-Pro defensive end John Abraham.|
Miami Dolphins left tackle Jake Long will have his hands full against the Atlanta Falcons. Long, last year's No. 1 draft pick, was a Pro Bowl rookie. His preseason performances, however, haven't been up to par. Now he gets to rumble with All-Pro right defensive end John Abraham in the Georgia Dome. Long gave up only a couple of sacks last year, but Abraham set a Falcons record with 16.5 sacks and has the ability to make linemen look foolish on any play.
Can Shawn Springs and Jonathan Wilhite contain Terrell Owens? With the Buffalo Bills' offensive line in tatters, the only fathomable way they can outscore the New England Patriots on Monday night is through the air.
Owens, making his Bills debut, will be a chief concern. Springs has missed significant preseason time with an undisclosed injury, but he and Owens have engaged in some great battles over the years. (Owens' infamous Sharpie touchdown came against Springs.) They've been in the same division since 2002. If Springs isn't ready, then the job will fall on Wilhite, who started four games as a rookie last year. Wilhite would be overmatched.
Mark Sanchez will have a better performance than Trent Edwards. While Edwards has the receivers for the bigger stats, Sanchez has two significant edges: a cement wall in front of him and Brian Schottenheimer talking into his headset. Schottenheimer will be an NFL coach within the next couple of years. Bills offensive coordinatorAlex Van Pelt hasn't called a play since 2005 for the Frankfurt Galaxy. The Jets probably won't win in Reliant Stadium, but I'm predicting the rookie will look better than Edwards.
Don't expect Jon Runyan to play for the Bills on Monday -- and probably not ever. The veteran right tackle visited the Bills for a workout Friday. But there's a belief his interest in playing for them is limited, that he's making the rounds in hopes of motivating his old team, the Philadelphia Eagles, to bring him back in light of right tackle Shawn Andrews' injury. Runyan has started 144 straight games for Philly, not counting playoffs, and could play in Andy Reid's offense without much adjustment.
Runyan is said to be in great shape, but even if he does sign with the Bills, inserting him in their no-huddle offense Monday night with one practice to prepare would be too much to ask. Plus, the Bills would be wise to wait until after Week 1 to sign him. Players on the active roster for opening day have their contracts guaranteed. Those signed after do not.