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AFC East Whispers

Whitner keys Bills' defensive improvement

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Posted Nov. 27, 2010 @ 3:54 p.m. ET
By PFW staff

Here are several whispers we've been hearing from around the AFC East:

Donte Whitner hasn't produced the big plays the team would like out of their starting strong safety, with no sacks or interceptions on the year. But the fifth-year pro has emerged as the team's defensive leader. A vocal player who can pump up his teammates and intimidate opponents, Whitner has been a key to the Bills' defensive improvement over the past few weeks, as the "D" produced a fumble return for a touchdown in Week 11.

Despite having the best record in the NFL, Jets coaches are worried about the rising number of penalties by the team. Head coach Rex Ryan wants his players to be aggressive, but the team is averaging 7.6 penalties for 68.2 yards a game, with both figures among the 10 highest in the league. As the games become more important as the season progresses, the Jets will have to show better discipline or it could really cost them.

While the Dolphins' offensive line issues were front and center on national TV in Week 11, they have been a problem all season. We hear that when Chad Henne was starting at quarterback, he would often audible to add more protection. The Dolphins actually were one of the better teams in the league in protecting the QB before the Bears debacle, but it's possible that Henne's decision to add more protection slowed down an offense that has yet to get rolling this season.

An injury to nickel corner Jonathan Wilhite has given Patriots second-year CB Darius Butler more playing time. Butler, who was demoted from the starting lineup after Week Two and was even a healthy scratch earlier this season, needed to work on his fundamentals. An athletic player who was supposed to be the team's top corner when Leigh Bodden landed on I.R., Butler seems to have responded to his benching and could even resume a battle with the struggling Kyle Arrington to get more snaps.

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