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AFC Whispers

Bowe's play encourages passing-challenged Chiefs

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By PFW staff

Here are the whispers we're hearing from around the AFC:

• Although not a lot of players excelled during Chiefs training camp, we hear that WR Dwayne Bowe was one of the standouts. Entering a critical fourth season, Bowe routinely made impressive plays, drawing praise from his coaches and teammates. He still was up to a few of the usual antics that rub some people in K.C. the wrong way, but for the most part he looked like one of the team's better players. The Chiefs will need major production from him if they hope to improve on their No. 25-ranked passing attack.

• It appears the Broncos will start two rookies on their offensive line. J.D. Walton, a third-round pick, has taken all the first-team reps at center in training camp, and second-round choice Zane Beadles, who played left tackle during his last two seasons in college, will start at left guard. Denver can call on swing backup Russ Hochstein, who started 10 games for the Broncos last season, if either of the rookies isn't up to the task in the regular season, but the team will likely be patient with them.

• The ship has not sailed on OG Logan Mankins playing for the team this year, we hear. Although Mankins is stubborn and the team and his representatives have not had any serious negotiations since May, there is this to consider: Mankins is a football player. And, we hear, the bottom line is that he's not likely to give up $3.27 million this season by choosing not to play this season when all is said and done. So far, the team's lead negotiator in this case has been Floyd Reese, but it's possible that Bill Belichick could act as a closer and get involved late in the process of trying to get Mankins back with the team. Mankins' presence becomes an even greater priority with the report that his potential replacement, Nick Kaczur, may miss the entire season after undergoing back surgery.

• The Patriots could have several tough roster decisions. One team observer thinks FS James Sanders and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis might be squeezed out in a roster crunch but could offer minimal trade value in return from a needy club.

• Steelers rookie WR Antonio Brown stands a very strong chance of making the 53-player roster, the way we hear it. Brown caught a pass from QB Dennis Dixon on a slant pattern and sprinted for a 68-yard TD in Pittsburgh's preseason debut against Detroit.

• The competition for the Browns' ORT job is one to watch as the regular season nears, with John St. Clair, Scott Kooistra and Tony Pashos seemingly all having chances to be the starter. Pashos has missed time in training camp both because of the flu and because of a shoulder injury.

• DT Fili Moala, who looked like he was walking around in a daze as a rookie last season, had a very good training camp. Moala appears confident and is playing at a high level. The light bulb may have finally gone on, which is good news for the interior of the Colts' D-line.

• If first-year RB Devin Moore keeps showing promise in the return game, he has a real shot to make the Colts' roster. The team is very intrigued by Moore, who looked good at running back and as a kick returner in the club's first two preseason games. Moore's success could spell trouble for seventh-round CB Ray Fisher. Fisher fumbled a punt against the Bills and will have to show a lot in the final two preseason games if he wants to make the 53-man roster.

• Texans SS Bernard Pollard had positive things to say about the development of rookie RCB Kareem Jackson. "He's done a great job," Pollard told PFW late last week. Jackson immediately stepped into the starting lineup and replaced Dunta Robinson, who signed with Atlanta in the offseason. Jackson's readiness for the opener vs. Indianapolis is key; as Pollard noted. "Peyton Manning isn't going to hold back because he's a rookie."


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