New England Patriots
Tom Brady comes off a record setting year and Randy Moss returns as the two look to repeat last year’s off the charts numbers. Brady will also have Wes Welker working the middle and 6 or 7 RB to carrying the running game.
Trent Edwards seems to have an edge over JP Losman in the battle for the starting QB job. Lee Evans will remain the deep threat and Marshawn Lynch will be the workhorse but the unknown right now is how much the 6-7, 220 lb James Hardy will bring to the offense.
New York Jets
Chad Pennington is trying to fight off Kellen Clemens, but the rumors about Brett Favre continue to swirl. No matter who lines up under center for the J-E-T-S, they could look early and often towards rookie Dustin Keller. The 6-4, 240 lb TE from Purdue will provide a nice safety valve.
Josh McCown seems to be the best bet to make the first start of the season. After that, all bets are off. John Beck and Chad Henne would both like to get their chance to lead the Dolphins this year, but it probably won’t matter who is under center. At least Jake Long will prevent them from taking too much abuse.
There’s no QB controversy in Pittsburgh as Big Ben gears his team up for another year. Roethlisberger was a happy man on draft day as Rashard Mendenhall fell into the Steelers laps. Mendenhall joins Willie Parker to form a potent 1-2 punch. The Steelers also added Limas Sweed to a WR corps. that already includes Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes.
Brady Quinn is used to waiting after his frustrating draft day, but it appears as though he’ll have to continue with his patience, as Derek Anderson became the unquestioned starter last year. Anderson has 2 of the best players in the game at his disposal. It’s scary but Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards should actually improve this year.
The good news is that Carson Palmer’s #1 weapon is in camp. The bad news is that his #1 weapon wants to hit him in his bad knee. It’s not the first time that Palmer hasn’t been on the same page as Chad Johnson, but we’ll see if it affects the two during games.
Joe Flacco is the quarterback of the future, but when is the future? Kyle Boller will most likely be given his chance, but also a short leash. Either QB will have to rely on Willis McGahee and hope that Todd Heap can return to Pro Bowl caliber.
The biggest news regarding Peyton Manning at camp is that Peyton Manning isn’t at camp. He’s somewhere nearby recovering from knee surgery and isn’t expected to see any action until late preseason.
David Garrard enters his 2nd season at the helm with the aging Fred Taylor and the emerging Maurice Jones-Drew behind him. You can put down Troy Williamson and Jerry Porter as additions and Matt Jones as a subtraction/distraction.
Reports out of camp are that Vince Young isn’t looking very sharp and making matters worse, the Titans failed to add any top WR during the draft. He’ll have Chris Johnson added to the backfield along with Craig Stevens at TE and Lavelle Hawkins at WR, but Tennessee passed on guys like Limas Sweed.
Matt Schaub hopes to show what he can do in a full year with Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones could be a sleeper at WR. Ahman Green is another injury concern and West Virginia rookie Steve Slaton could wind up with a decent amount of time in the backfield.
San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers showed up to camp bigger and reportedly throwing the ball very well. Health will play a key role for the Chargers, as Antonio Gates tries to put his toe problems behind him. LT will continue to keep the pressure off of Rivers.
After Jay Cutler lost 35 pounds during his battle with diabetes, he’s slowly regaining his strength. With the departure of Travis Henry, the Broncos next 1000-yard rusher is a mystery, but Cutler will still have emerging superstar Brandon Marshall on the business end of his touchdown passes.
Kansas City Chiefs
Brodie Croyle needs to have a healthy Larry Johnson to help him keep defenses honest, but if he can’t, rookie Jamaal Charles will try to shoulder the load. Branden Albert will solidify the offensive line and 6-8 Brad Cottam will provide depth behind Tony Gonzalez.
For JaMarcus Russell, the time is now. Russell takes over as the starter and he has a lot of question marks around him. Will the improved defense allow him to win games without being in a shootout? Will Javon Walker stay healthy? Will Darren McFadden be the next Adrian Peterson?
Tony Romo doesn’t have Julius Jones behind him anymore, but he still has Marion Barber and newcomer Felix Jones. He also REALLY needs TO and Jason Witten to stay healthy. If TO goes down, they have Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd.
New York Giants
Eli Manning returns this season as a Super Bowl MVP. The Giants fans love him…until his first INT. He should have a healthy Plax this year, which will lead to better numbers, but he’ll also have to rely on Kevin Boss to fill Shockey’s cleats.
Donovan McNabb says that he’s perfectly healthy, but he hasn’t made it through a full season since 2004 and Kevin Kolb has been impressive in camp. DeSean Jackson is the only major offensive addition from the draft and it remains to be seen if he’s going to be a punt return specialist or contribute at WR also.
Jason Campbell has been up and down thus far during training camp. The Redskins are going with the West Coast Offense, so it will take everyone a while to get comfortable. Washington also added Devin Thomas, Fred Davis and Malcolm Kelly via the draft.
Green Bay Packers
What can I say about Green Bay that hasn’t been all over the news already? The Packers remain in a standstill with Brett Favre, but it does appear that Aaron Rodgers will be the starting QB either way. He knows that he’ll have veteran Donald Driver and young star Greg Jennings out wide, but Ryan Grant is in the middle of a contract dispute and hasn’t reported to camp.
Minnesota would love to bring in Brett Favre to replace Tarvaris Jackson, but that’s just not going to happen. Jackson will again lean heavily on Adrian Peterson to give him some breathing room. The Vikings did add Bernard Berrian, which gives them their best receiving threat since parting ways with Randy Moss. Look for Sidney Rice to improve on a solid rookie campaign.
It’s literally a coin toss in Chicago with Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton battling it out for the starting gig. Whoever does win the job, takes over a position that no longer has Berrian to stretch the field or Cedric Benson in the backfield. Greg Olsen should be the go-to guy.
Detroit is the only team in the NFC North not mention with Brett Favre, so they will enter the season with Jon Kitna under center. With Kevin Jones gone, Tatum Bell and rookie Kevin Smith will carry the ground game. Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson return as one of the league’s top tendems. Gosder Cherlius was drafted to provide more time in the pocket for Kitna and room for the backs to run.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jeff Garcia is the starting quarterback. Just ask him. Brett Favre seems less and less likely to be on his way to Tampa, so Garcia would appear to be correct. Garcia will be handing the ball off to Warrick Dunn or Carnell Williams or Ernest Graham or Michael Bennett. His go-to WR will once again be Joey Galloway, but they did draft Dexter Jackson, the speedster from Appalachian State.
Jake Delhomme is ready to take the reigns again and make Steve Smith the feared wide out that he can be. Jonathan Stewart will take the place of DeShaun Foster and join DeAngelo Williams in the backfield. First round pick Jeff Otah will provide the protection.
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees rebounded from a rough start to post very respectable numbers last year. He spent a good chunk of the season without Duece McAllister and Reggie Bush did not embrace the role of starting running back. Brees will now have his full compliment of backs and the addition of Jeremy Shockey will be huge.
One thing is for sure in Atlanta. Joey Harrington, Chris Redman, DJ Shockley or Matt Ryan will be the starting quarterback. Word out of camp is that Matt Ryan looks good, but time will tell if they let the rookie have the job by the opener. The only offensive addition of note is the signing of Michael Turner, who joins Jerious Norwood to form a lethal combo.
The Shaun Alexander era is over. Julius Jones will share the load with Maurice Morris and TJ Duckett will be the backup. Matt Hasselbeck needs a healthy Deion Branch if they want to be successful on offense. Seattle did add TE John Carlson in April.
Matt Leinart feels much more comfortable with the Cardinals offense than he did last year. It remains to be seen if he can play well enough to keep Kurt Warner on the sidelines. With Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, the table is setup for his success.
San Francisco 49ers
Alex Smith will likely be the starter, but Shaun Hill will do his best to win the job. The Niners added DeShaun Foster, Isaac Bruce and Bryant Johnson in the off-season and Frank Gore should thrive under Mike Martz.
St. Louis Rams
Marc Bulger needs Orlando Pace to get healthy. Pace is the key to the Rams offense as he protects Bulger and allows Steven Jackson all the room that he needs. Rookie Donnie Avery hopes to overtake Drew Bennett on the depth chart and start alongside Torry Holt.