AFC East accumulating sidelinebackers
September, 16, 2009
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
One week into the season, all four AFC East clubs are missing an important linebacker.
The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets opened the season each knowing they would be without a starting outside linebacker.
The New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills lost their best inside linebackers for a few weeks because of injuries suffered Monday night in Gillette Stadium.
Let's take a look at each void and who is filling it.
New England Patriots
- Who's down? Inside linebacker Jerod Mayo.
- Why? Injured right knee.
- How long? Reportedly six to eight weeks.
- Who steps in? Gary Guyton or Adalius Thomas.
The Boston Globe's Monique Walker and Christopher L. Gasper, citing two unnamed sources, report Mayo suffered a sprained medial-collateral ligament. Sources differed on the length of Mayo's recovery time, with eight weeks the longest estimate.
The Patriots turned over the defense, losing four significant leaders to retirement or trades. Mayo's importance in the transition was underscored by the fact his teammates elected him a defensive captain.
Mayo is the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year for amassing 139 tackles.
Guyton and Thomas filled in for Mayo on Monday night but were shaky.
- Who's down? Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny.
- Why? Broken left arm.
- How long? Indefinitely.
- Who steps in? Marcus Buggs.
The injury Posluszny suffered in the second quarter Monday night is similar to the one that ended his rookie season after three games in 2007. But this occurrence, while it will require surgery, isn't believed to be as serious. Posluszny expressed optimism it wasn't a season-ending injury.
Posluszny, the Butkus Award winner at Penn State four years ago, is a Bills captain. He led them with 129 tackles last year. He also had an interception, a forced fumble and a recovery.
It's a potentially season-changing blow to the lineup.
New York Jets
- Who's down? Outside linebacker Calvin Pace.
- Why? Suspension.
- How long? Four weeks.
- Who's in? Vernon Gholston.
Considering how they manhandled the Houston Texans on Sunday, the Jets did just fine without Pace and defensive end Shaun Ellis, who served a one-game suspension for getting busted with marijuana.
Gholston made four tackles, including one for a loss, but he's not even close to the player Pace is. Pace was a hellion last year, recording seven sacks, 12 tackles for losses and five forced fumbles.
The Jets proved they can make so without him, but they'll be even scarier when he returns.
- Who's down? Outside linebacker Matt Roth.
- Why? Groin -- we think.
- How long? Six weeks.
- Who's in? Jason Taylor.
Roth, last year's starter on the strong side, arrived at training camp with what was first called an illness but was later classified a groin injury. He also wanted a new contract. Regardless, he didn't practice with the team. The Dolphins placed Roth on the injured list, meaning the soonest he must sit out the first six games.
The intention when Taylor signed with Miami was to use him on passing downs. Now the 35-year-old is playing almost every down. He recorded a sack in the season opener.
End 3rd Qtr Carolina 34 Atlanta 3 1:09 3rd Qtr Detroit 14 Green Bay 21 End 3rd Qtr Oakland 14 Denver 30 0:25 3rd Qtr Arizona 17 San Francisco 20 14:51 4th Qtr St. Louis 6 Seattle 6 8:30 PM ET Cincinnati Pittsburgh Final Cleveland 10 Baltimore 20 Final Dallas 44 Washington 17 Final Indianapolis 27 Tennessee 10 Final Jacksonville 17 Houston 23 Final San Diego 7 Kansas City 19 Final New York 37 Miami 24 Final Chicago 9 Minnesota 13 Final Buffalo 17 New England 9 Final Philadelphia 34 New York 26 Final New Orleans 23 Tampa Bay 20