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AFC Whispers

Jets RB McKnight motivated by added competition

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Posted May 08, 2011 @ 11:59 a.m. ET
By PFW staff

Following are whispers we've been hearing from around the AFC:

• At Jets West camp, organized by QB Mark Sanchez, RB Joe McKnight responded to the team's decision to draft RB Bilal Powell in the fourth round. McKnight, who showed flashes in the 2010 regular-season finale and as the No. 3 back, is seemingly LaDainian Tomlinson's eventual replacement to join Shonn Greene in the backfield. But the Jets added Powell to the mix, crowding the situation. "I was pissed and motivated at the same time. It really doesn't make any difference; it's just more fuel to the fire," McKnight told reporters. Said GM Mike Tannenbaum about the pick, "we just thought (Powell) was the best player on the board and we just try to stay to the value of the board."

• The Patriots spent five picks in the 2011 NFL draft on the offensive side of the football, but did not select a wide receiver. Some believe the team needs a Randy Moss-type receiver who can catch passes even when covered. But the Patriots' decision to avoid a receiver shows confidence in Brandon Tate, Taylor Price and Julian Edelman, as well as TE Aaron Hernandez, who plays like a receiver. Tate didn't show the vertical speed last year the team was hoping for, and Price played in only one game. There is also the chance that the team plans to target a veteran receiver when transactions reopen, perhaps as Vincent Jackson. Chad Ochocinco, who has been open about his affinity for Bill Belichick, could also be an option if he parts ways with the Bengals. 

• The Broncos have made no secret about their desire to add a running back through free agency, but we hear that the caliber of the running back the team signs will speak volumes. RB Knowshon Moreno has yet to live up to his first-round potential and the addition of a top-of-the-line back would show the front office's true opinion of the third-year back.

• The Raiders' lease to play at the newly named Coliseum runs through 2013, at which point the team would like to move to a new stadium. It seems unlikely the state of California or the city of Oakland would finance a new facility, and there are rumors the team once again could leave the Bay Area. The team and city will split a total of $7.5 million over the next six years (or until they move out) for the stadium naming rights, providing some much-needed revenue to the team.

Dexter McCluster, the Chiefs' second-round pick in 2010, is expected to be a larger part of the team's offense this coming season. The receiver is attending offseason workouts with QB Matt Cassel and some of the team's other skill-position players during the lockout, hoping to get a better grasp of the playbook and develop an improved chemistry with his quarterback. As a rookie, McCluster had only 39 offensive touches, with 21 catches and 18 carries.

• The way we hear it, free-agent QB Matt Hasselbeck signing with the Titans is a possibility if and when a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached. Tennessee has planned on bringing in a veteran QB all along, and GM Mike Reinfeldt and vice president of player personnel Ruston Webster have strong ties to Seattle.
• The addition of rookie CBs Brandon Harris and Roc Carmichael, plus rookie S Shiloh Keo, does not mean the Texans are done bolstering their secondary. Word is the club expects to sign both a safety and a cornerback once free agency finally begins. Just don't expect Eric Weddle or Nnamdi Asomugha to be likely targets, as we're told their price tags will be too high for the Texans.

• As he enters his sixth season with Cleveland, Browns LB D'Qwell Jackson told PFW he likes the direction of the franchise with president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert making the personnel decisions. He noted the decision to name QB Colt McCoy the starter entering 2011 was a positive. "We all know who's the guy," Jackson said, adding that "Colt's going to work his tail off."
• At some point when player transactions resume, it is widely expected that the Ravens will release RB Willis McGahee, who is reportedly slated to make $6 million in salary in 2011. Should that happen — and should McGahee not return at a lower salary — the competition for carries behind Ray Rice will be one to watch. FB Le'Ron McClain, who could be an unrestricted free agent, would be a candidate for the top backup role if re-signed, but the way we hear it, the Ravens also like reserve RB Jalen Parmele, who's a name to keep in mind, especially if McGahee and McClain are no longer in the picture. The Ravens also added Georgia Tech RB Anthony Allen in the seventh round of the 2011 draft, and veteran Matt Lawrence also could be in the mix.

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