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AFC East Training Camp Preview: 3 things to watch

Around The League's *Training Camp Preview series will identify three things to watch for the teams in each division this summer.*

Buffalo Bills

  1. It will be interesting to see how the Bills' wide receiver position shakes out. Rookie Sammy Watkins figures to be locked into a starting job, leaving Robert Woods and trade acquisition Mike Williams battling for a spot. Don't be surprised if Woods starts and moves inside on passing downs. There's an outside chance Williams could fall right off the team if guys like T.J. Graham, Marcus Easley and Marquise Goodwin all excel in August.
  1. Preseason results don't matter too much for most players, but quarterback EJ Manuel is an exception. He needs to build some confidence and show signs that he's progressed from his erratic rookie season.
  1. There are plenty of questions on the Bills' defense with Jim Schwartz taking over for Mike Pettine, especially following linebacker Kiko Alonso's season-ending injury. They need to sort out their starters at linebacker and find out if defensive tackle Marcell Dareus will be suspended for the start of the season.

Miami Dolphins

  1. The Dolphins need to figure out what they have in Knowshon Moreno and whether he fits new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor's scheme. Moreno is coming off knee surgery and had a bizarre offseason before that, calling into question his spot on the team. Lamar Miller has a golden opportunity to be a feature back, but we've said that before.
  1. It will be tough to get a feel for Lazor's offense and Ryan Tannehill's progress before September. We're more interested in watching the health of Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace. The Dolphins have a thin group of wideouts behind them if either starter gets hurt.
  1. Signing veteran Cortland Finnegan was a strange offseason gamble considering his price tag coming off a rough year. He's getting paid like a starter, and we'll keep an eye on how he looks in August. The Dolphins would love second-year cornerbacks Will Davis and Jamar Taylor to step up.

New England Patriots

  1. Rob Gronkowski's health is the biggest question among the Patriots' pass-catchers. He's racing to get ready for Week 1, but his status is uncertain. New England's wide receiver group after Julian Edelman is also up in the air. Danny Amendola has to stay healthy. (Or he'll hang up on more people.) Aaron Dobson has to get healthy. Kenbrell Thompkins, Brandon LaFell and Josh Boyce are competing for snaps.
  1. There's no quarterback competition in New England, but it will be interesting to watch and read about rookie Jimmy Garoppolo's development. He could pass Ryan Mallett for the backup job. Mallett has never looked particularly impressive during preseason work, making all the trade speculation about him curious. It's possible Mallett could still get dealt to Houston if Garoppolo looks good.
  1. The Patriots' back seven on defense is mostly settled, thanks to Darrelle Revis. Defensive tackle is the position with the most problems. Vince Wilfork has to show he's the same player after Achilles surgery. Tommy Kelly, first-round pick Dominique Easley and Chris Jones are among the players fighting for a starting job next to Wilfork.

New York Jets

  1. Michael Vick vs. Geno Smith is one of the best genuine quarterback competitions in years. Smith is the favorite heading into camp, but probably by not as much as you think. Geno's development will be breathlessly updated each practice, and he can't afford to have a poor preseason like a year ago. Both quarterbacks can have streaky accuracy, so it wouldn't be a surprise if this battle see-sawed all month.
  1. It's not a good sign for the Jets that David Nelson is a strong candidate to get significant snaps at wide receiver. Stephen Hill and Jacoby Ford will also be battling to get on the field with Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley at receiver.
  1. Rex Ryan has never coached such a weak cornerback group. The Jets' defense could be special if they can improve their cornerback play, so we'll be watching the progress of Dee Milliner, Dimitri Patterson, Kyle Wilson, Ras-I Dowling, Dexter McDougle, Ellis Lankster and others. It's a wide-open battle after Milliner.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" bangs the table for Cordarrelle Patterson and predicts which stars will soon descend.

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