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Cutdown Day not a legal holiday, so here's your AFC East mailbag

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Here's your Cutdown Day edition of the AFC East mailbag.

May you make it through the afternoon without hearing the words "Coach wants to see you. Bring your playbook."

Mr. Anonymous in Vienna, Va., writes: Eric Mangini's offense was a modified West Coast offense based on the weak-yet-accurate arm of Chad Pennington. Do you think this will change or be modified a little bit because of the arrival of a gunslinger like Brett Favre? Or do you think that the offense will remain like Green Bay's strict West Coast offense?

Tim Graham: The Jets went into training camp preparing for the possibility Kellen Clemens would be the starter, so the offense wasn't geared for Pennington. In fact, there was a strong sense the Jets wanted Clemens to win the job. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer surely will rely more heavily on different parts of the playbook now that Favre's around, but any drastic overhaul would force 11 guys to adjust as opposed to one.


Rob in Miami writes: What's the word on Wes Welker?

Tim Graham: We would have a better chance of finding out Welker's status if he were involved in Black Ops. You know how the FBI will declassify documents about a person only once they're dead? That might be when we find out how bad Welker's rib injury is.


Jesper in Copenhagen, Denmark, writes: How well do you think the RB duo of Laurence Maroney and LaMont Jordan in New England will do? Should one fear a meltdown in the secondary?

Tim Graham: I think Maroney and Jordan will be a formidable tandem for the Patriots. They're more than talented enough to give the Patriots an effective ground game week in, week out.

There are reasons to be worried about the Patriots' secondary. CB Fernando Bryant is respectable but not as good as Pro Bowler Asante Samuel, who left via free agency. Bryant also has a sketchy past when it comes to injuries. Rookie CB Terrence Wheatley will be a good one eventually, but he's not ready for an every-down role yet. FS John Lynch will be a steadying factor in some ways, but he can't be used in pass coverage anymore, especially not at the same time as SS Rodney Harrison.


Jonesy in Philadelphia writes: How close are the Bills to signing Lee Evans? Do you think Jason Peters will play this season? Will we turn some heads this year? Bills forever!

Tim Graham: My sources tell me Evans misspoke when he said early in training camp he was close to signing his extension. But I don't know if anything is imminent. Things can happen quickly, and if both sides are determined to get the deal done before the regular season begins, they will.

I'm not sure how the Peters situation is going to unfold because nobody can get a good enough read on what's going through his head. My hunch is that he'll play, but when he reports is anyone's guess.

The Bills are a dangerous team this year and a playoff contender. Until I see proof otherwise, I'm picking the New York Jets to edge them out for a Wild Card berth, but I'm not totally convinced it won't be the other way around.


Matt in Rochester, N.Y., writes: Any chance that Jason Peters' no-show at any Bills activities has anything to do with his offseason surgery? Since nobody has seen him since last season, it is very possible he may not even be physically ready to play.

Tim Graham: Nobody can say with 100 percent certainty why Peters is holding out. The Bills feel highly confident in their assumption it's about money alone, but the lack of communication keeps the whole situation shrouded in ambiguity. Who knows? He might show up Monday. He might remain in his cave until October.


Tony in New Canaan, Conn., writes: How has the Pats backup QB situation been any different than it has been the last few years? Answer: It hasn't been. If Tom Brady goes down the Pats are in trouble. Same ol', same ol'.

Tim Graham: I'll tell you how it's different this year. Brady actually looks somewhat vulnerable. This year, they might actually need to start somebody else. Nobody bothered to entertain such thoughts in seasons past.


Greg in Carmi, Ill., writes: Where do you find your analyst? NBC? They aren't too bright. Where can I apply? Their love of the Patriots reeks of NBC's love for Obama. What a brave prediction: picking the Patriots to roll through the East. My 11 year old daughter made the same prediction. Come on! The East, thanks to the Jet's aquisition of Favre, will be one, if not the most competetive division in football. And NO team will be more exciting than the New York "FOOTBALL" Jets! And YES exciting turns into victories when Brett is involved. The Jets have talent. As for this Jets group, "not being able to pull talent and experience together" to be succesfull? Many of your "Analyst" spoke the same non-sence about a certain other New York team last year.Oh! How did their season end? HMMM? Hope you don't pay those guys too much.

Tim Graham: I will pay $10 out of my own pocket if someone can explain to me what this guy's talking about.


Daryl in Alberta: I asked you about CB Ashton Youboty after the Steelers-Bills game, and I think a return to the subject is required. ... He has gotten his hands on the ball in every game and been disruptive. That's what you want from a cornerback. Most teams keep five corners, and Youboty is most certainly in the top five on that roster. Oh by the way, I'm still waiting to hear your comments on D'Brickashaw Ferguson!

Tim Graham: I had to edit your question because another game had been played, but your astute premise remains. Youboty has acquitted himself after a shaky start to the preseason. He looks has a decent shot to make the team. We'll find out later today.

Not only did I answer your D'Brickashaw Ferguson question in last week's mailbag, I got nine-time Pro Bowl G Ruben Brown to comment on it for you.


Ryan in Johnstown, Pa., writes: If anyone is going to respect your ability to rate the Raiders, you better get their st
adium name correct. IT'S MCAFEE COLISEUM! And fourth place in the AFC West? Really? Come on.

Tim Graham: Congratulations, Ryan. You're the first person to be incensed over a corporation not getting proper credit for stadium naming rights. Who had August 2008 in the pool? In all seriousness, thanks for being one of the only people on the planet who follow these things and for taking the time to let us know. My error has been corrected in our NFL preview package.

My fourth-place AFC West prediction for the Raiders remains the same, although I did submit my forecast before catching a first-hand glimpse of the Kansas City Chiefs in the preseason. Yikes. But Sports Illustrated picked your team finish fourth, too. So at least I'm not alone.


Ben in Rochester, N.Y., writes: I have been a Denver Broncos fan since 1996, when I was 6 years old. But living in Upstate N.Y. and finding myself excited when the Bills are even mentioned by ESPN reminds me that I care as much about the Bills as if they were my No. 1 team. It worries me to think that they may leave town. I also know that history repeats itself. This isn't the first time a Buffalo franchise was in fear of leaving. *cough* Sabres *cough* However, Rochester can to the rescue, when Tom Golisano stepped in and bought the Sabres. Do you see any possibility of Tom buying the Bills and becoming the most popular person in all of Upstate N.Y.?

Tim Graham: I think Golisano might be interested in getting involved in a group of prospective buyers. Although he's one of the richest people in America, he doesn't have enough money to do it himself.


Jon in Fitchburg, Mass., writes: I'm a huge Pats fan, and not that I would ever want to see this happen, but why has no team tried to obtain DE Jarvis Green? He is situational for us, and I believe he could be a starter for many teams out there. What do you think?

Tim Graham: You're absolutely correct. He's a tremendous pass rusher who's stuck behind one of the most talented defensive lines in recent years. He probably would be a starter on all but a handful of other teams.


Steve from Parts Unknown writes: I read ESPN.com and your blogs as well as others' daily and have just one question, well, rather, gripe. How do these players sign on the dotted line, saying "I will play for you for this many years for this amount of money," then go out and say "I'm not playing until you redo my contract for more money"? Is it something in the union that allows these players to just go and not hold up their end of the signed agreement they have with the team? Is fining the only thing the team can do other than release the player if they can't come to terms? It seems every single player in the NFL that is highly valuable has the team with its pants down, so to say, in this aspect. I just find it hard to believe these guys can do whatever they want when they signed an agreement. What triggered my question was seeing Bills LT Jason Peters still holding out on a contract he signed just two years ago.

Tim Graham: It's actually the other way around, Steve. The only leverage a player has in most cases is to withhold his services, a.k.a. hold out. The teams can fine them for missing minicamp and for each day missed of training camp. Then the player simply doesn't get paid if he doesn't show for the regular season.

But your disgust with these situations is shared by a multitude.


Dallas from Parts Unknown, or Mr. Anonymous from Dallas writes: Hey, Tim. You took a question of mine earlier, and the Bills won. So you're stuck. You must now accept a Bills question from me as long as the streak lives. The weak link in the Bills O-line was supposed to be right up the middle. Melvin Fowler does not have the muscle to control big tackles. I've been pleasantly surprised by Duke Preston's play. He is a former whipping boy, but I think he has really shown something this preseason. Any chance he unseats Fowler?

Tim Graham: You didn't factor in the Bills finished their preseason on Thursday, and my mailbag responses get delivered on Saturday. At least this won't be a problem in the regular season.

Fowler is a tad undersized for an NFL center at 6-foot-3, 295 pounds, while Preston is two inches taller and 311 pounds. Fowler does have trouble in some run blocking situations, but he does have the experience of 72 NFL games and has started 32 straight games for the Bills. It looks like he'll keep the job.


David in Fort Myers, Fla., writes: About S Keith Davis getting released ... The Fins' front office has been very tricky this offseason. I betcha they have something cooked up that will make them look fairly smart. What do you think of the Tuna's work? Think they could pull out 6 W's this year and help me win my $20 bet?

Tim Graham: The Dolphins don't need to do anything more to save face on their decision to cut Davis. He wasn't going to be the significant of a performer outside of special teams and they didn't overly commit to him financially.

I do think you're going to win your bet. By the end of the season you'll be able to buy three gallons of gas with it.