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AFC Whispers

Bengals rookie Green better than advertised

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Posted Aug. 28, 2011 @ 1:28 p.m. ET
By PFW staff

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

• We're told the Bengals believe rookie WR A.J. Green is even better than they believed him to be when they selected him No. 4 overall in April. Green had a very good training camp and hauled in a 40-yard TD from QB Andy Dalton in Cincinnati's third preseason game.

• Dalton, for his part, has impressed the Bengals with his poise, we're told. He has also been resilient early in his NFL career. He shook off a bad beginning vs. Detroit and settled down, and a shaky outing vs. the Jets in the second week of the preseason was followed by his best game of the summer four days later vs. the Panthers.

• Former 49ers S Taylor Mays will try to rekindle his career with Cincinnati, which traded for him with an eye on bolstering its safety depth. A personnel man familiar with Mays told PFW that Mays' size and "great range" were assets but that he lacked instincts when it came to taking proper angles.

• The Ravens' acquisition of ex-Viking Bryant McKinnie spoke to their need at tackle. McKinnie will play on the left side, with Michael Oher sliding back to right tackle, where he showed such promise in 2009. McKinnie, who's listed at 345 pounds, was out of shape at the beginning of camp in Minnesota and was released. An evaluator who watched McKinnie a season ago told PFW the veteran tackle's play had fallen off somewhat from past seasons. However, the 6-foot-8 McKinnie, a former Pro Bowler, can still be effective if he can get his hands on his opponent, the evaluator noted.

• A foot injury, as well as the addition of ex-Jets WR Jerricho Cotchery and the rise of Antonio Brown, could essentially put promising Emmanuel Sanders fifth in the pecking order at wide receiver, at least early in the season, the way we hear it.

• Once rosters are trimmed to 53 players and there are a few more veterans on the open market, expect the Raiders to sign a linebacker. The team was thin at the position when camp began, and the season-ending knee tear for reserve Travis Goethel makes matters even worse. If they had their preference, the Raiders would find a player who can step in and play both on the weak and strong sides in the 4-3. Former Seahawk Lofa Tatupu may be an option, though he is primarily a middle linebacker and still hopes to find a team for which he can be a starter.

• A player turning heads in Broncos camp is RB Jeremiah Johnson, who has been called "explosive" and "the real deal" by observers. Johnson was a candidate to make the Texans' roster last season as an undrafted free agent, but a preseason toe injury forced him to injured reserve. He's making the most of a second chance in Denver, with an ability to run hard out of the backfield and make an impact on multiple special-teams units. If he continues his strong play, expect Johnson to make the Broncos as the team's No. 3 running back and for Lance Ball to be released.

• Jets QB Mark Brunell has been out with a calf injury, but rookie Greg McElroy has impressed enough to keep the staff at ease with the situation behind Mark Sanchez. So far this preseason, McElroy has completed 29-of-48 passes for 267 yards and two scores. When asked about his concern regarding Brunell's injury, Rex Ryan responded, "I like the way our young guy, Greg, is coming around. I am not too concerned about that." McElroy's future in the NFL likely is as a backup, and he has already shown he has the attributes to remain on rosters as a team's No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback.

• Bills fans may have lamented the fact that the team, once again, did not spend very much in free agency. When free agency began, we heard one of the reasons the Bills would be reluctant to throw money at free agents was a preference to keep their top talent in Buffalo. The Bills started that effort on Friday, locking up DT Kyle Williams with a six-year extension. Williams was the MVP of the defense last season and has earned respect around the league as being one of the better and more underrated defensive tackles. The Bills have big decisions still to make, as WR Stevie Johnson is set to be a free agent in 2012, as is QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

• The signing of veteran QB Kerry Collins puts added pressure on the Colts' offensive line, which is still finding its footing during the preseason. While QB Peyton Manning isn't exactly fleet of foot, he is a master at moving within the pocket to avoid pressure. Collins can be a statue in the pocket, which could necessitate the Colts using a lot more max protection in order to keep Collins upright.

• Jaguars MLB Paul Posluszny is an upgrade over former Jaguar Kirk Morrison, and he should be a factor in Jacksonville's run defense improving. But "Poz" can be a liability in coverage, as evidenced by opponents isolating him in the first two preseason games.

• Jaguars ORT Eben Britton's health is a major concern for the club. Britton is coming off back surgery to repair a herniated disk and has not participated in the preseason. After missing the second half of the 2010 season with a torn labrum, it has been almost a full year since Britton has been in live game action. With blitz-heavy teams like the Jets and Saints on the docket in the first four weeks of the season, Britton will be tested early.

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