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NFL training camp: AFC East team-by-team preview

Rex Ryan addresses the media at an NFL

Rex Ryan addresses the media at an NFL news conference after he was introduced as the new head coach of the Buffalo Bills, Jan. 14, 2015, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Credit: AP / Bill Wippert


OPEN CAMP: July 29, Foxborough, Massachusetts.

LAST YEAR: Easily won AFC East for 11th time in 12 seasons, then beat Baltimore 35-31 and Indianapolis 45-7 to reach Super Bowl for sixth time in Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era. Beat Seattle 28-24 when Malcolm Butler intercepted pass at goal line with 20 seconds left. Offseason was dominated by "Deflategate" controversy involving improperly inflated footballs in AFC championship game.

IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: CB Chimdi Chekwa; DE Jabaal Sheard; QB Matt Flynn; WR Brandon Gibson; TE Scott Chandler.

IMPORTANT LOSSES: CBs Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner; DT Vince Wilfork; RBs Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley; OL Dan Connolly; equipment managers Jim McNally and John Jastremski.

CAMP NEEDS: Develop backup quarterback in case Brady's four-game suspension is upheld. Candidates are Jimmy Garoppolo, in his second season, and veteran Matt Flynn. Patriots will also need to revamp defense to account for losing Revis and Browner, as well as Wilfork.

EXPECTATIONS: Even with Brady's suspension looming, Patriots should be able to claim another division title. Problem arises if his absence costs them chance at first-round bye; none of team's four Super Bowl titles has come after it played in wild-card round. But look for team to use cheating allegations as motivation; last time Patriots were punished for breaking rules, in 2007 after being caught videotaping opponents' signals, they went 16-0 in regular season, ultimately losing Super Bowl to Giants.


OPEN CAMP: July 31, St. John Fisher College, Pittsford, New York.

LAST YEAR: Despite posting first winning record in a decade, Bills missed playoffs for 15th consecutive season -- NFL's longest active drought -- because of sputtering offense and questions at quarterback. In October, NHL Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula infused stability by vowing to keep Bills in western New York after purchasing team for NFL-record $1.4 billion following Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson's death in March. Coach Doug Marrone stepped down abruptly on Dec. 31, leading Pegulas to hire former Jets coach Rex Ryan.

IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: Ryan; offensive coordinator Greg Roman; RB LeSean McCoy; WR Percy Harvin; QBs Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor; TE Charles Clay; OG Richie Incognito; FB Jerome Felton.

IMPORTANT LOSSES: LBs Kiko Alonso and Brandon Spikes; RB C.J. Spiller; QB Kyle Orton; S Da'Norris Searcy; TE Scott Chandler.

CAMP NEEDS: Identifying starting quarterback amid three-player competition between Cassel, Taylor and EJ Manuel, Bills' 2013 first-round pick who lost job to Kyle Orton one month into last season. Settling offensive line concerns on and off field. Guards Incognito and rookie third-round pick John Miller are counted on to take over as starters. O-line coach Aaron Kromer's status is uncertain after being placed on indefinite paid leave for allegedly punching boy and threatening to kill his family.

EXPECTATIONS: They're sky high. Ryan's brash approach, combined with McCoy's acquisition to lead "ground-and-pound" running attack and talent-laden, attacking defense that returns mostly intact puts Buffalo in position to improve on 2014 win total. Playoff contender? It'll be clearer after opening month that features games against Indianapolis, New England, Miami and Giants.


OPEN CAMP: July 30, Florham Park, New Jersey.

LAST YEAR: Coach Rex Ryan and GM John Idzik both fired after team missed playoffs for fourth straight year, longest postseason drought under owner Woody Johnson. Jets were done in by eight-game losing streak after winning opener, setting tone for season marked by inconsistent play from quarterback Geno Smith and struggles in injury-filled and inexperienced secondary. Defensive line, led by Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison, emerged as one of league's best.

IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: Coach Todd Bowles; GM Mike Maccagnan; offensive coordinator Chan Gailey; CBs Darrelle Revis, CB Antonio Cromartie, and Buster Skrine; WRs Brandon Marshall and Devin Smith; S Marcus Gilchrist; QB Ryan Fitzpatrick; G James Carpenter; DL Leonard Williams; RB Zac Stacy.

IMPORTANT LOSSES: Ryan; offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg; defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman; WR Percy Harvin; RB Chris Johnson; QB Michael Vick; CB Kyle Wilson; NT Kenrick Ellis.

CAMP NEEDS: Bowles tasked with reviving franchise that struggled to win in last few seasons under brash and popular Ryan. First order of business: Bowles and Gailey need to see if Smith can show marked improvement in third NFL season. Otherwise, well-traveled veteran Fitzpatrick could eventually find himself under center. Several other positions need sorting, particularly at running back, right guard and depth at wide receiver and linebacker.

EXPECTATIONS: Returns of Revis and Cromartie, and additions of Skrine and Gilchrist instantly improve defense that's expected to be one of league's best. Smith's development is key to any potential playoff run. Presence of motivated and healthy Marshall could have enormous positive ripple effect -- on Smith, as well as opening offense for fellow WRs Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley, and pass-catching TEs Jeff Cumberland and Jace Amaro.


OPEN CAMP: July 30, Davie, Florida.

LAST YEAR: Dolphins finished at or near .500 for third consecutive year under coach Joe Philbin, extending long playoff drought. Aging defense ranked 20th in points allowed, compared with seventh and 11th in first two seasons under Philbin; in final four games Miami gave up 28, 41, 35 and 37 points. Most encouraging development was improvement of third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who set franchise record for completions and became Miami's first 4,000-yard passer since Dan Marino.

IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: DTs Ndamukong Suh, Jordan Phillips and C.J. Mosley; WRs DeVante Parker, Greg Jennings and Kenny Stills; TE Jordan Cameron;, CB Zack Bowman; G-T Jeff Linkenbach; C J.D. Walton; Gs Jamil Douglas and G Jacques McClendon; DB Brice McCain; LB Spencer Paysinger.

IMPORTANT LOSSES: WRs Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and Brian Hartline; TE Charles Clay; DL Jared Odrick; DT Randy Starks; DE Dion Jordan; LBs Dannell Ellerbe, Jason Trusnik and Philip Wheeler; RBs Knowshon Moreno and Daniel Thomas; Gs Shelley Smith and Daryn Colledge; C Samson Satele; CB Cortland Finnegan; S Jimmy Wilson.

CAMP NEEDS: Philbin must sort out revamped receiving corps, secondary and offensive line desperately in need of upgrade. In his first three seasons, Tannehill has been sacked NFL-high 139 times. Team remains thin at guard, and it's unclear whether LT Braden Albert will return from knee injury in time for opener.

EXPECTATIONS: This is Dolphins' 50th season, and past few have been disappointing. Optimism is highest in four years under Philbin, whose job is on the line. New receivers are expected to be better match for Tannehill's skills, and with 1,000-yard rusher Lamar Miller returning, offense could be formidable. Suh should make defense better, although there are issues with linebackers and secondary. Even if Dolphins start strong, they'll need to shake habit of late-season collapses to reach playoffs for first time since 2008, and perhaps even win postseason game for first time since 2000.


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