AFC East Preseason Stock Watch

August, 11, 2012
8/11/12
12:00
PM ET
Week 1 of the preseason is in the books for the AFC East. We learned a little more about all four teams.

Here is a look at whose stock is rising and falling in the division:

Falling

No. 1: David Garrard, Miami Dolphins quarterback: I don't know which is worse: Garrard's luck or his timing? Either way, Garrard virtually took himself out of Miami's three-way quarterback race this weekend with arthroscopic knee surgery. Garrard’s reps say it's just wear and tear on the knee, but the timetable is expected to be as much as four weeks. That happens to be around the time Miami plays its first regular-season game. The Dolphins are now down to two quarterbacks: Matt Moore and Ryan Tannehill. One of these two will start in Week 1 against the Houston Texans. Garrard may not get another chance if Moore or Tannehill plays well.

[+] EnlargeNew York's Tim Tebow
Matthew Emmons/US PRESSWIRETim Tebow completed 4 of 8 passes for 27 yards and threw and interception in his first preseason game with the Jets
No. 2: Tim Tebow, New York Jets quarterback: After much hype and media coverage, Tebow’s New York debut was a disappointment. He completed 4 of 8 passes for just 27 yards and had an interception. Tebow averaged a meager 3.4 yards per attempt and also had a passer rating of 18.2. Tebow ran the football well. He had 34 yards on four carries. But we already knew he could run. I wanted to see how much Tebow has improved as a passer, his biggest weakness. So far, Tebow hasn’t showed much improvement in that department.

No. 3: Buffalo Bills play-calling: Maybe I’m making too much of play-calling for a first preseason game. But 14 passes and zero runs for Buffalo’s first-team offense? That is a bit strange. Yes, the Bills were working on an up-tempo, no-huddle offense in their 7-6 loss to the Washington Redskins. I think it can be a good change of pace if quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is up to the task. But if Fitzpatrick -- and to some degree coach Chan Gailey -- is going to call passing plays at that clip, the no-huddle won’t work. Buffalo has two good running backs in Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.

Rising

No. 1: Patriots running backs: There were questions entering training camp of who will replace New England's 2011 leading rusher in BenJarvus Green-Ellis. It turns out both second-year tailbacks Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen showed they are capable in the preseason opener. Vereen led the Patriots with 64 yards on 11 carries. Ridley started the game and was solid. He rushed for 40 yards on eight carries. The Patriots didn’t do a lot well offensively Thursday night. But the running game looked fine.

No. 2: Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill: Miami's No. 8 overall pick had a successful NFL debut. Tannehill completed 14 of 21 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown in Miami’s 20-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Granted, Tannehill did much better in the second half when Tampa played its third stringers on defense. Many of those defensive players probably won't be in the league in a month. Still, Tannehill made several NFL caliber throws that has him right in the mix with Moore for Miami's starting job.

No. 3: Patriots safeties: New England's two starting safeties both recorded interceptions against New Orleans. That is a great sign for a pass defense that was ranked 31st in the NFL last year. Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory both made solid individual plays to force turnovers. This is their first year playing together, but Gregory, a free-agent signing, seems to be fitting in well.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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