AFC East: Ellis Lankster
Lankster is an underrated signing. In fact, he was ranked No. 6 on our list of the team's 16 unrestricted free agents. He didn't play much cornerback last season (only 29 snaps), but he was a core special teamer, finishing second on the team with 20 tackles. The Jets were concerned that he'd draw interest on the open market, so they made a preemptive strike.
Walls is coming off a weird year. He played a fair amount of football (three starts and a total of 289 snaps), starting opposite Cromartie whenever rookie Dee Milliner was in the doghouse. But when Milliner was in the lineup, Walls was the forgotten man. The Jets rarely used more than three corners in any package, so it turned into an all-or-nothing situation for Walls, who finished with no interceptions and four pass breakups.
Rex Ryan has plenty of bodies at corner, but he'll have a gaping hole if they cut Cromartie. Aside from Milliner, none of the others are starting-caliber players.
The Jets were also without tight end Kellen Winslow (knee) but that's part of his schedule. Winslow sits out Wednesdays because of chronic pain in his knee, and because of the holiday, Tuesday is serving as a Wednesday for the Jets' practice purposes.
The Jets are otherwise healthy. They didn't suffer any injuries in their 24-13 win against Cleveland on Sunday.
Before the season, I spoke to several personnel experts, and the consensus was that it was a six-win roster. A former Jets player, someone who understands the pulse of the team, told me in the preseason, "They're going to be terrible."
Without further delay, our midseason awards:
Offensive MVP: QB Geno Smith. Not much competition here. Yeah, I know, he cost them a couple of games with turnovers, but he also won games with his deep-throwing ability (Buffalo Bills), poise in the clutch (Atlanta Falcons) and mobility (New England Patriots).
Defensive MVP: DE Muhammad Wilkerson. A no-brainer. He already has a career-high seven sacks, along with one interception and one forced fumble. He's a lock for his first Pro Bowl. If he keeps it up, he could get some votes for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Special-teams MVP: PK Nick Folk. You can't quibble with perfection. The man is 19-for-19 on field goals, including three game winners. Next to Wilkerson, he's the team MVP.
Most Improved: RB Bilal Powell. He began training camp as an afterthought, but he worked his way up to the starting job. He has become a more elusive runner than in past years.
Least Improved: NT Kenrick Ellis. He was expected to make a big jump in Year 3, but he was slowed by a preseason back injury and hasn't come close to being a dominant run stuffer.
Biggest Surprise: NT Damon Harrison. "Big Snacks" came out of nowhere last year and Wally-Pipped Ellis in the preseason. Harrison is one of the reasons why the Jets are No. 1 against the run.
Biggest Disappointment: CB Antonio Cromartie. Coming off a Pro Bowl season, Cromartie already has allowed five completions of at least 46 yards. His uneven play has made it harder for the defense to deal with the Darrelle Revis void.
Best Offseason Acquisition: RG Willie Colon. Plagued by injuries in recent years, Colon hasn't missed a play and has added an element of toughness to the offensive line.
Worst Offseason Acquisition: RB Mike Goodson. Because of his embarrassing arrest and the subsequent suspension, he was a disaster before he stepped foot on the field. Maybe next time the front office will put more stock in its background checks.
Best-kept Secret: CB Ellis Lankster. He's not the leading tackler on special teams (he's second, behind Nick Bellore), but Lankster is the most dynamic player on the coverage units.
Best Coaching Move: Ryan decided before the season to take control of the defense, running it on a day-to-day basis. Ryan is at his best -- ditto, the defense -- when he's in charge.
Worst Coaching Move: The decision to insert Mark Sanchez in the fourth quarter of a preseason game, behind a backup offensive line, was a brainlock for the ages.
Biggest Concern: There's not enough offense. In their four losses, the Jets have managed only two touchdowns. They have to face four top-12 defenses in the second half. Uh oh.
Key to the Second Half: Continued improvement from Smith. His passer rating in Games 5-8 (75.2) was better than Games 1-4 (68.6), meaning he's moving in the right direction, albeit with baby steps. The struggling pass defense is another key, but luckily for the Jets, they face only one top-10 passing offense -- Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
The Jets will make the playoffs if: They win at least five of their remaining eight. Take a look at the AFC standings; a 9-7 record could be good enough for the second wild-card spot.
Player Ready to Emerge: RB Chris Ivory. He showed flashes against the Patriots. With the weather beginning to turn, Ivory's power-running style will be critical down the stretch.
QUARTERBACK ISSUES: With Mark Sanchez resting and Mark Brunell recovering from a pulled calf, the Jets started McElroy -- and he didn't make it past the second quarter. McElroy left the game after injuring the thumb on his throwing hand; he appeared to bang it on the helmet of right guard Matt Kroul on a follow-through. One preliminary report said McElroy dislocated his thumb, which would mean a long-term injury. The team didn't provide an immediate diagnosis.
Rex Ryan has said he expects Brunell to be ready for the opener, but it's still a precarious situation, considering Brunell missed all four preseason games and a lot of practice time. If something were to happen to Sanchez, they'd be in big trouble. One move that makes sense is re-signing Kellen Clemens -- assuming he's released by the Redskins. He knows the Jets' system and would be able to play in an emergency.
PHILLY'S QB ISSUES: Naturally, Michael Vick -- the $100 million man -- didn't play. His backup, Vince Young, pulled a hamstring just before halftime and didn't return. In came third-stringer Mike Kafka, who was drilled by linebacker Mattias Berning in the third quarter and nearly came out of the game. They have no other quarterbacks, so it would've been interesting if Kafka hadn’t been able to return. Andy Reid probably would’ve used the Wing-T before using Vick.
DREW WHO?: McElroy was replaced by fourth-stringer Drew Willy, an NFL journeyman who has bounced around on a few practice squads. He also played in the UFL. Willy did well for himself, throwing a 14-yard touchdown to rookie receiver Scotty McKnight on his first pass. Not bad, huh? Willy showed some mobility, running for his life on a few occasions. Willy was going to be released Friday or Saturday; maybe he earned an extended stay.
WOE-LINE: The Jets started their second-team offensive line and it was ugly. McElroy was under heavy pressure from the outset, suffering two sacks in the first quarter. That he got hurt on a freakish play was stunning, considering the pounding he took. Right tackle Vladimir Ducasse was a mess, committing three penalties -- two false starts and one holding (declined).
Clearly, the depth is a problem on the offensive line, with backup center/guard Rob Turner (leg) is down for at least two months. GM Mike Tannenbaum needs to get on the horn and bring in an experienced backup.
RUNNING IN PLACE: The coaching staff was hoping to see some big things from backup running backs Joe McKnight and rookie Bilal Powell, but they did virtually nothing -- a combined total of 10 rushing yards. Worse, McKnight lost a fumble, conjuring up memories of his mistake-prone preseason in 2010. So much for McKnight’s positive momentum.
POSITIVE AUDITIONS: Rex Ryan said they went into the game with three roster spots still up for grabs. Three defensive players helped their chances -- cornerback Ellis Lankster (67-yard interception return for a TD), outside linebacker Aaron Maybin (1.5 sacks) and rookie linebacker Nick Bellore. Outside linebacker Eddie Jones also flashed some potential. Ryan will have some difficult decisions to make at linebacker.
No one on offense really stood out, but rookie tight end Josh Baker showed some pass-catching ability and versatility. Baker, an H-Back in college, also lined up as a fullback. The Jets have only one fullback on the roster, John Conner, who is nursing a sprained ankle.
- If there was any doubt before -- or if Bills fans were in denial and still clinging to hope Brian Brohm would win the gig -- Trent Edwards is Buffalo's quarterback.
- On the first possession, Buffalo had minus-12 yards aside from a pass interference penalty. The Bengals sacked Edwards the only time he tried to pass. But Edwards rebounded on the second drive, methodically taking the Bills down the field. He completed all five of his passes for 48 yards and connected with Roscoe Parrish for a 12-yard touchdown.
- Edwards' stat line: 13-of-17 for 153 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. He had a 122.9 quarterback rating.
- C.J. Spiller had another brilliant game. He ran 12 times for 52 yards and two touchdowns and two receptions for 33 yards in a half of work. He had a 20-yard run and a 26-yard reception.
- As mentioned in my notes column following the Bills' victory over the Indianapolis Colts last week, Spiller is going to have a lot of negative-yardage runs because of his style and the Bills' offensive line. He had runs of minus-7 and minus-11 yards. But he's a threat to break away every single time.
- The Bills showed off a little Wildcat. Spiller took a direct snap and ran 6 yards for a first down. In case you were wondering, Edwards remained on the field, split wide right. In the fourth quarter, rookie running back Joique Bell also took a direct snap and ran for 4 yards.
- Parrish is one of those players fans always want to see more of, but size always seemed to be an impediment to increased involvement. Think Leon Washington with the New York Jets. Maybe new Bills head coach Chan Gailey has been able to figure something out. Parrish caught all four balls thrown to him for 56 yards and a touchdown.
- Maybe the Bills were showcasing Ryan Fitzpatrick for a potential trade (hello, Arizona?). Otherwise, Brohm can't like the fact he quarterbacked only two series late in the fourth quarter. Brohm threw one pass, an incompletion.
- Buffalo's secondary didn't have the same success against Carson Palmer that it did against Peyton Manning. Palmer completed all but two of his 11 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns for a 142.2 rating.
- Second-year outside linebacker Aaron Maybin, the 11th overall draft choice last year, may have gotten some traction. He didn't start even though Reggie Torbor was out with an undisclosed injury. Chris Ellis started instead. But Maybin did force J.T. O'Sullivan into an intentional grounding call with some heavy pressure in the third quarter and sacked Jordan Palmer twice in the fourth quarter.
- James Hardy, a second-round draft pick in 2008, didn't make much of an impression in his bid to stay on the roster. He had one catch for 30 yards (great pass from Fitzpatrick) and a drop. That was all.
- Undrafted rookie receiver David Nelson had another strong game: two receptions for 34 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown.
- Third-year cornerback Reggie Corner looked like he might be on the roster bubble in a deep defensive backfield. He helped himself in the fourth quarter by intercepting Jordan Palmer and dashing 20 yards for a touchdown.
- Reserve cornerback Ellis Lankster, meanwhile, had another rough night. Quan Crosby beat him for a 44 yard pass play one series after Corner's touchdown. Lankster broke up a pass on fourth-and-goal from the 6, but he got away with pulling on Dezmon Briscoe's collar. Lankster was called for illegal hands to the face to wipe out an Arthur Moats 9-yard sack.
- The Bills strength in recent years has been their special-teams play. Special teams coordinator Bobby April bolted for Philadelphia, and the transition to Bruce DeHaven has not been smooth. Their kickoff coverage unit has been awful. The Bengals averaged 32.7 yards per return and rarely started a drive inside their own 30-yard line.
Some notes and observations from the game:
- Trent Edwards might have won the starting quarterback job with how he responded to one specific play. On a third-and-10 play in the first quarter, Colts defensive end Robert Mathis crushed Edwards while throwing. The hit knocked off Edwards' helmet and chipped a tooth. Two possessions and five plays later, Edwards hooked up with Lee Evans for a 70-yard touchdown bomb.
- Bills coach Chan Gailey said of the sequence: "I never thought anything less would happen to be honest with you. All of our guys have moxie. You've got to have moxie to play quarterback in this league. I was impressed with that, really impressed with it. I asked after he got hit 'Are you OK?' He didn't even flinch. ... I think he's a tough guy."
- If the Bills can count on three home-run plays a week, they'll be fine. Their touchdowns were a 31-yard C.J. Spiller run, a 78-yard Terrence McGee interception return and a 70-yard bomb to Evans.
- Spiller's run snapped a string of 20 straight preseason possessions without a touchdown for the first-team offense. He's going to be fun to watch, one of those players who has a legitimate shot to score every time he touches the ball because he makes tacklers miss.
- Backup quarterback Brian Brohm didn't get the most glorious opportunity to make an impression or gain ground on Edwards. Brohm could have gotten a series against the Colts' first-team defense, but Gailey sent Edwards out for a fifth possession with 11:49 left in the second quarter. Brohm entered the game with 6:05 left in the half.
- Brohm's performance was OK against the Colts' backups. He threw a lot of high-percentage short stuff, completing 14 of 21 attempts for 125 yards with no touchdowns or no interceptions. He had a wonderful chance to throw for his first NFL touchdown right before halftime. The Bills had second-and-goal from the 5, but Brohm misfired on two passes. The Bills kicked a field goal.
- Brohm set up the goal-to-go situation with a gorgeous pass and catch by Chad Jackson along the right sideline for a 26-yard gain.
- Would have been nice to see Brohm air it out on third and long. In the third quarter, Brohm dumped off to Chad Simpson for 4 yards on a third-and-13 play. On a third-and-12 play two series later, the Bills ran.
- Spiller was busy without Fred Jackson (broken hand) and Marshawn Lynch (sprained ankle). Spiller averaged only 14 carries his senior season at Clemson. He ran 10 times for 54 yards in a quarter and a half of work.
- Spiller looked scintillating on his touchdown scamper, but his jitters and jukes didn't fool the Colts all the time. He averaged 2.6 yards on his other nine carries. He had runs that went for minus-6, minus-2, zero and 1 yards.
- Overshadowed by Spiller was undrafted rookie running back Joique Bell, who ran 11 times for 80 yards and a touchdown. He's making a statement. Simpson, conversely, ran eight times for 8 yards.
- The Bills' defense gave Peyton Manning some problems. He completed 8 of 15 passes for 91 yards and one touchdown with one interception. His 66.3 passer rating was less than half of Edwards'.
- After an ugly opener against the Washington Redskins six days earlier, the defense rebounded with a great first series. Defensive lineman Marcus Stroud batted down Manning's first attempt. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin nearly intercepted a long ball to Reggie Wayne. Nose tackle Kyle Williams stuff Joseph Addai for a 3-yard loss on a screen pass.
- Gailey said he was just wanted to give him more time in pass-rushing situations, but it's disconcerting to see last year's 11th overall draft choice, Aaron Maybin, on the field at the end of a preseason game.
- Bills cornerback Ellis Lankster had another rough game. Taj Smith got behind him for a 43-yard touchdown strike from Curtis Painter in the second quarter.
- Despite 35 points in the first quarter, the Rogers Centre was rather sterile again, just like the previous three Bills games played here. The announced crowd was 39,853 fans.
- The crowd, however, got interesting in the final minutes. Perhaps the best play of the night: A Rogers Centre security guard chasing down a fan who sprinted onto the field with 1:55 left in the game. The fan had about a 20-yard head start, but the guard caught up to him and slammed his head to the turf. As the guard walked back past the Colts sideline, Wayne went out of his way to give him a high-five.
- You can see why the Bills hotly pursued Mike Shanahan to be their overlord. The Redskins went 4-12 last season, but looked like a far more polished team under Shanahan than the Bills did under their new coach, Chan Gailey.
- Buffalo was sharp on its opening drive, despite losing running backs Fred Jackson (hand) and Marshawn Lynch (ankle) to injuries. Trent Edwards completed all but one of his five passes for 44 yards. Every throw was to a different target. A 20-yard Lynch run was wiped out by a penalty.
- That was about all that went right for the Bills' starters or second-stringers. It seemed unfair to watch veteran quarterback Rex Grossman hook up with prospect Devin Thomas on a 44-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The Bills don't nearly have that kind of depth.
- This is how Buffalo ended a span of seven straight possessions, beginning with its second and lasting deep into the third quarter: interception, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt.
- Of those seven series, only one began inside the Bills' own 20-yard line. None went farther than their own 38. Five of those six punts were of the three-and-out variety. They had another in the fourth quarter.
- It didn't matter what Redskins offensive unit was on the field when it came to figuring out the Bills' new 3-4 defense. Not helping was inside linebacker Paul Posluszny being scratched. He missed the first part of training camp while recovering from groin surgery and should be OK.
- The Bills were destroyed in every phase. The first game without special teams coordinator Bobby April, and Bruce DeHaven's return to Buffalo, was ugly. The Bills allowed a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown. Ellis Lankster fumbled away a punt return.
- Outside linebacker Aaron Maybin played deep into the fourth quarter and appeared to get pushed around. He finished with two tackles and was called for roughing the passer on what should have been an incomplete pass on third-and-6 in the first quarter. The Redskins eventually scored a touchdown.
- But Maybin did record his third sack in an NFL uniform, getting to Miami Dolphins castoff John Beck in the fourth quarter. All three of Maybin's sacks have been in preseason games.
- For you Dolfans out there, Beck struggled with his third team. He completed two of seven attempts for 27 yards, fumbled once and was sacked twice.
- On a positive Bills note, backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick closed out a drive late in the third quarter with a 5-yard touchdown pass to David Nelson. The score capitalized on a 43-yard Chad Simpson run two snaps earlier.
- Nelson finished with a game-high five catches for 47 yards.
- With Jackson and Lynch sidelined, Simpson and undrafted rookie Joique Bell had their moments. Bell ran five times for 52 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown.
- Brian Brohm didn't play. Many Bills fans hoped Brohm would win the starting job, because he presents unknown possibilities that Edwards and Fitzpatrick don't. Seventh-round draft choice Levi Brown completed three of seven passes for 28 yards and an interception.
- Gailey said Brohm will play Thursday night against the Indianapolis Colts, while Fitzpatrick sits out.
Upon closer inspection, several items are amiss -- and one notable person is a-missing.
Before Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins, the Bills gave away team photos as fans passed through the turnstiles at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Former head coach Dick Jauron, fired two weeks ago, was removed from the team photo as though he never existed.
Jauron evidently was seated to owner Ralph Wilson's right when the photo was snapped in mid-September, but Jauron was erased and the rest of the row altered to fill in the vacancy. Interim head coach Perry Fewell is stationed on a back row with the rest of the assistants.
Bills fan Matt Irving grabbed a few of the freebies Sunday. Friend and fellow Bills loyalist Joshua Fitzgerald scanned a copy and posted it on the fan message board at TwoBillsDrive.com.
The Bills' team photo was taken between Weeks 1 and 2. Terrell Owens posted personal pictures from the shoot on his Twitter page Sept. 19.
Besides, there are several lapses of logic to indicate the rubout.
Players acquired before Jauron was fired (tackle Jamon Meredith, linebacker Chris Draft, defensive back Todd Johnson) aren't in the photo. Players cut before Jauron was fired (running back Xavier Omon, linebacker Alvin Bowen) are present.
More telling is the visual evidence Jauron was erased like he was Leon Trotsky.
Other players seemingly were jockeyed around to keep the numerical-order motif, with the player on the left in the first row wearing the lowest uniform number and running through the highest number to the right of the fifth row.
The sequence was interrupted only by Wilson in the center and chief operating officer Russ Brandon to his left in the second row.
So who was depicted in the prominent spot to Wilson's right? Rookie cornerback Jairus Byrd, a fine player. He's tied for the NFL interceptions lead and could be defensive rookie of the year. But he didn't start a game until Week 3.
Furthermore, there's a phantom khaki pant and sneaker underneath Byrd in the team photo. The players are in jerseys and game pants. Coaches are in khakis.
And there's more. Defensive backs Terrence McGee and Ellis Lankster, on the left of the second row, have the same torso. The shadows and wrinkles on their jerseys are identical. The only difference is a doctored digit.
At the right end of the second row is defensive back Cary Harris, who looks like he has been amputated from the left knee down. It appears McGee was sitting in front of him, but was moved up to the second row so everyone could slide toward center and fill in the big blank.
Various body parts have been copied and pasted to fill in spaces that had been covered. Cornerbacks Ashton Youboty and Leodis McKelvin have the same left arm, noticeable by the six-fingered hand dangling from it. Their hands are resting on imaginary legs.
The Bills declined to comment on the photo.
If only Bills fans could wipe Jauron from their brains as easily as he was removed from the picture.
New York Jets will try to get back to their winning ways against the reeling Buffalo Bills at 4:15 p.m.
The Jets have lost two straight and are tied for last in the NFL with four sacks. The Bills are 1-4 and going with a starting offensive line that has a combined 47 NFL starts.
The inactive list was just released. Jets receiver Jerricho Cotchery and cornerback Donald Strickland will not dress.
Erstwhile running back Danny Woodhead was summoned from the practice squad and will play at receiver. Woodhead also has been named one of Rex Ryan's revolving captains for the game along with center Nick Mangold, receiver David Clowney, cornerback Darrelle Revis and former Bills safety Jim Leonhard.
The most notable inactive player for the Bills is punt returner Roscoe Parrish. Running back Fred Jackson will handle the return duties.
Here are all of the scratches:
- Quarterback Gibran Hamdan
- Running back Xavier Omon
- Receiver Roscoe Parrish
- Tackle Jonathan Scott
- Defensive end Chris Ellis
- Defensive back Todd Johnson
- Cornerback Ellis Lankster
- Safety Bryan Scott
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The flags are flapping at Ralph Wilson Stadium, but the rain has held off since the grounds crew peeled tarps off the field around noon.
Conditions shouldn't hamper New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees much at all for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills. Skies are overcast, and temperatures will be in the low 70s.
The locals were hoping the steady rain that fell Saturday night and early Sunday morning might bog down the Saints' aerial assault, but the only detriment appears on the inactive list. Out are receiver Lance Moore and running back Mike Bell.
No major surprises on the Bills' inactive list.
New Orleans Saints
- Quarterback Chase Daniel
- Running back Mike Bell
- Receiver Lance Moore
- Receiver Rod Harper
- Tight end Darnell Dinkins
- Tackle Jammal Brown
- Defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy
- Linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Inactives for the Monday night opener between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium:
- Quarterback Gibran Hamdan
- Receiver Steve Johnson
- Tight end Derek Fine
- Offensive lineman Kirk Chambers
- Linebacker Ashlee Palmer
- Defensive end Chris Ellis
- Cornerback Drayton Florence
- Cornerback Ellis Lankster
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Some random thoughts from Thursday night's preseason finale in Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the Detroit Lions beat the Buffalo Bills 17-6.
The Bills' first-team offense didn't play, ensuring it finishes the preseason without a touchdown. The first-unit offensive line went a few series, but none of the skill players did. Trent Edwards, Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson, Terrell Owens and Lee Evans all got the night off.
For the record, the Bills' first unit played 16 series. It ran 78 plays for 269 net yards. The possessions ended in nine punts, three interceptions, two fumbles, one field goal and halftime.
Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson looked like Montana and Rice. Of course, it must be noted the Bills opened with their second-string defense. But it sure was fun to watch Johnson perform. He had two catches for 46 yards and had a 34-yard touchdown nullified by a holding call.
The Bills' second-team defense showed flashes against the Lions' first-team offense. Rookie pass-rusher Aaron Maybin got to Stafford for a strip sack the Bills recovered. Defensive tackle John McCargo also notched a sack in the first quarter. Reggie Corner intercepted Stafford on the opening play of the second quarter.
Rookie guards Eric Wood and Andy Levitre played the entire first half. The rest of the starting line came out a few series earlier, but head coach Dick Jauron wanted the newbies to get as many game reps as possible. Before they exited, left tackle Langston Walker was flagged for holding and center Geoff Hangartner committed a false start.
Steve Johnson shook off a rough start to make a couple of sensational plays. Johnson dropped a pass and was whistled for a false start in the first half. But he played most of the game and became Gibran Hamdan's favorite target in the second half. Johnson made a pair of phenomenal catches for 27 and 33 yards despite tight coverage in the third quarter.
Rough night for tight ends Derek Schouman and Jonathan Stupar. Schouman fumbled the ball on consecutive receptions in the first quarter. He gathered the first one himself, but lost the second. Stupar dropped two passes in the first half.
Rookie defensive back Ellis Lankster is fun to watch. The seventh-round draft pick keeps standing out. He made some mental mistakes, but there's a crackle about him. The stat team credited Lankster with three tackles, including one for a 1-yard loss. He had a 23-yard punt return.
The Bills' punt return team burnt by another fake. In the Hall of Fame Game, the Tennessee Titans ran a brilliant fake that sprung punter A.J. Trapasso for a 40-yard touchdown. The Lions ripped off a 20-yarder at the end of the third quarter Thursday night.
- Palm Beach Post reporter Brian Biggane lays out to the top storylines for Monday night's preseason opener.
- South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Ethan J. Skolnick writes the Dolphins defense intends to make the leap from good to great in 2009.
- Miami Herald reporter David J. Neal writes coach Tony Sparano is more interested in consistency than stellar practice play.
- Sun-Sentinel reporter Mike Berardino catches up with rookie linebacker J.D. Folsom, a late-round pick who's starting to feel comfortable.
- How do we know rookie cornerback Ellis Lankster had a big game Saturday night? Three local publications decided it was time to tell us who he is: Buffalo News, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle and Niagara Gazette.
- Buffalo News columnist Bob DiCesare wonders if the Bills will open the season with Roscoe Parrish on their roster.
- Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun writes the Bills' postseason hopes hinge on Trent Edwards proving this season there's no doubt he's the franchise quarterback.
- Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com reports the Patriots received a fifth-round draft choice from the Denver Broncos for defensive lineman Le Kevin Smith and a seventh-round pick.
- Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe breaks down the deal.
- Boston Globe reporter Christopher L. Gasper writes linebacker Tedy Bruschi's "absence from training camp is a reminder that he won't be the heart and soul of the Patriots' defense much longer."
- Boston Herald reporter Karen Guregian takes a look at how Joey Galloway is assimilating the Patriots' offense.
- Benjamin Watson's role as the top tight end is in jeopardy, Dan Darcy writes for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
New York Jets
- Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times compares the atmospheric change at Jets camp from Eric Mangini to Rex Ryan.
- Newark Star-Ledger reporter Dave Hutchinson checks in with outside linebacker Calvin Pace about making the most of preseason snaps.
- Bergen Record reporter J.P. Pelzman writes about David Clowney's progression as an NFL receiver.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim GrahamAs of Tuesday morning, here's the rundown of which AFC East draft choices are under contract and when training camp opens for each club:
Buffalo Bills (opened Saturday)
- Unsigned: First-round (11th overall) defensive end Aaron Maybin; first-round (28th overall) guard Eric Wood; second-round defensive back Jairus Byrd.
- Signed: Second-round guard Andy Levitre; fourth-round tight end Shawn Nelson; Fifth-round linebacker Nic Harris; Sixth-round cornerback Cary Harris; seventh-round defensive back Ellis Lankster.
New England Patriots (opens Thursday)
- Unsigned: Third-round outside linebacker Tyrone McKenzie; sixth-round long-snapper Jake Ingram.
- Signed: Second-round safety Pat Chung, second-round defensive tackle Ron Brace; second-round cornerback Darius Butler; second-round tackle Sebastian Vollmer; third-round receiver Brandon Tate; fourth-round guard Rich Ohrnberger; fifth-round offensive tackle George Bussey; sixth-round defensive lineman Myron Pryor; seventh-round receiver Julian Edelman; seventh-round defensive tackle Darryl Richard.
New York Jets (opens Friday)
- Unsigned: None.
- Signed: First-round (fifth overall) quarterback Mark Sanchez; third-round running back Shonn Greene; sixth-round guard Matt Slauson.
Miami Dolphins (opens Sunday)
- Unsigned: First-round (25th overall) cornerback Vontae Davis; second-round quarterback Pat White; fifth-round safety Chris Clemons.
- Signed: Second-round cornerback Sean Smith; third-round receiver Patrick Turner; fourth-round receiver Brian Hartline; fifth-round tight end John Nalbone; sixth-round tackle Andrew Gardner; seventh-round outside linebacker J.D. Folsom.
Posted by ESPN.com staff
- Bills rookie cornerback Ellis Lankster's impressive practice sessions led the team to sign the seventh-round pick to a non-guaranteed contract on Monday, reports the Charleston Daily Mail's Mike Casazza.
- Former Bills star Bruce Smith is scheduled to appear in court this morning over a drunken driving charge.
- The Sun-Sentinel's Mike Berardino asks Fins' fans not to forget about tight end Anthony Fasano. "Anthony Fasano isn't Mark Bavaro. Not yet anyway. But of all the talented tight ends under contract to the Miami Dolphins, Fasano is the one who seems best-positioned to make the leap to the upper echelon at his position."
- Also from Berardino: What should athletes, such as Davone Bess, do about their Twitter imitators?
New England Patriots
- Retired safety Rodney Harrison doesn't think he'll get a fair shake from Hall of Fame voters, writes NFL FanHouse's Nancy Gay. Says Harrison: "... because just look how the NFL has looked at me all these years. Ignoring my stats and my impact as a player and a teammate. Focusing on the negative. Do I believe I'm a Hall of Fame player? Absolutely. Will I make it in there? That's up to you guys. But I know that I did all I could do."
- NESN.com's Jeff Howe writes that this is Tom Brady's first "McDaniels-less" season as a starter.
New York Jets
- The grounds staff at SUNY Cortland, where the Jets will hold minicamp this summer, says the work is similar to "planning a wedding."