AFC Preseason Quick Hitters

NFL PRESEASON NEWS & NOTES

GOING 'ROUND THE AFC WITH QUICK-HITTER COMMENTS ON ALL FOUR DIVISIONS

By Jim Hurley:

No time to waste here: The NFL Preseason swings into action next Thursday (Aug. 11th) with Five (5) games and remember that it's "everyone in the pool" that first weekend now that the Hall of Fame Game has been shelved. So, we'll take some time in today's Jim Sez column to bang out a quick-hitter comment on someone or something that's key in each/every division in the AFC and next week we'll choose a day to do likewise with the NFC ... so let's get it on!

AFC EAST
The Miami Dolphins bid farewell to RB Ronnie Brown (Philadelphia ... where else!) after acquiring RB Reggie Bush early last week and so that leads to the question of whether or not the Fish will ever be incorporating the "Wildcat" offense again.

Brown - who made the Pro Bowl back in 2008 and who finished his Miami career with 4,815 yards rushing and 184 pass receptions - was the key component while operating that specialized offense and it's not likely that Bush will be asked to take snaps from center or have to throw any passes.

Might the move of Brown to Philly have weakened the Dolphins in terms of the ability to have some offensive spice - let's see how "predictable" Miami is in its first Preseason game at Atlanta next Friday evening inside the Georgia Dome.

AFC NORTH
Last year's Cincinnati Bengals ranked a lowly 27th in the league in rushing yards per game (95.1 ypg) and now folks are wondering if new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden can get this area jump-started.

The Bengals did just ink former Philadelphia G Max Jean-Gillis to a one-year deal to aid the anemic ground game but will this year's Preseason be more a time to straighten out the running attack or get someone in there that can handle the offense should veteran QB Carson Palmer not be a part of this 2011 squad?

The Bengals begin Preseason play next Friday (Aug. 12th) at Detroit and there's plenty of folks wondering if "this" Gruden will be a savior.

AFC SOUTH
The Jacksonville Jaguars will be one of 10 NFL teams to get things kicked off on the first night of Preseason play on Thursday, Aug. 11th but can Jack Del Rio's club mold itself into a respectable squad after last year finishing 8-8 overall with the following rankings: 27th in passing offense (191.6); 28th in passing defense (250.3); and 22nd in rushing defense (121.6)?

The Jags - who play at New England on the first night of the NFL Preseason - figure to allow rookie QB Blaine Gabbert (Missouri) plenty of opportunities to shine this summer although one report claims he threw many high-and-wide passes in a recent Jacksonville evening practice.

Gabbert may not be expected to be the team's here-and-now savior - QB David Garrard still figures to get the starting nod when the regular season begins - but let's pay attention to just how many snaps Gabbert gets in the Preseason opener in Foxboro because it could figure into the Las Vegas betting line in the Jags' following Preseason affairs.

AFC WEST
The Kansas City Chiefs may have won their division last year but that didn't preclude them for making some major changes this past off-season. True, the exodus of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to take the same job at the University of Florida forced KayCee's hand and so they promoted line coach Bill Muir and the Chiefs brought in former Washington Redskins head coach and former Baltimore Ravens QB coach Jim Zorn to be KC's new quarterbacks coach.

What exactly does it mean in the short run (a/k/a the Preseason)?

Well, the truth of the matter is Zorn's worked wonders as a QB coach as he helped Ravens slinger Joe Flacco throw for 3,622 yards and 25 TDs last season and don't forget the work he did in Seattle with then-QB Matt Hasselbeck who threw for a franchise-record 3,966 yards back in 2007.

Still, this summer figures to be a transitional period for starting QB Matt Cassel along with Muir and Zorn and so the Chiefs might stagger a bit early on - keep that under your hat when KC opens up its Preseason slate with a game on Friday, Aug. 12th against Tampa Bay.
  
Extra, extra: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers always - and we mean always - win with Sides & Totals in the NFL Preseason but now we're really ready to rock Las Vegas big-time this Summer. Jim and Company have been closely monitoring all 32 NFL teams and we'll have the head start on everyone else out there once the Preseason games kick off beginning next Thursday.

Plus, make sure to get all the Major-League Baseball Winners too each and every day -- just remember to call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here and make sure you're all aboard for a summer filled with all our NFL Preseason and MLB winners! The calling/check-in times are after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays; anytime after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball action; and than anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the weeknight action in both Football and Baseball. We'll see YOU in the winner's circle!

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