Random thoughts from the AFC East

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- It was a lazy Sunday in the AFC East. Three of the four teams took the day off, with the New England Patriots the only ones on the field. They rested Friday.

So what is there to write about, other than whether Brett Favre sat on the aisle or in a window seat on his flight into Green Bay?

Here are some random notes from my travels:

  • I had an interesting chat with Jets C Nick Mangold after Saturday's scrimmage. I asked if the O-line was under the microscope with the high-profile acquisitions of G Alan Faneca and T Damien Woody.

"None of our skill guys are going to be able to do anything if we don't block," Mangold said. "That's how you really judge yourself -- if your skill guys have a good game. You take a little pride in that because you don't get too many stats as a lineman. So you always feel a little bit of the weight of the offense on you, but that's part of the fun of being an offensive lineman."

  • The Bills' youthful offense has been struggling on installation days, which isn't comforting, but it's understandable. They have a second-year QB (Trent Edwards), a second-year RB (Marshawn Lynch) and a rookie No. 2 WR (James Hardy). The TE position is sorting itself out, and T Langston Walker has been switched to the left side because of Jason Peters' contract dispute.

  • Bill Belichick, the only coach to speak with reporters today, addressed the Patriots' backup QBs.

On Matt Cassel: "Matt has had a good camp. He has had a real good off-season. He did a nice job in the spring. ... I am confident in Matt. This is his fourth year so he has a good understanding of what we are doing and he has done a pretty good job of it when he has had the opportunity to play."

On Matt Gutierrez: He is probably as hard a working player as we have on this team, so he's worked hard to get better and build off of last year. ... It will be interesting to see Gutierrez play with a year under his belt. He played last year at this time. He was obviously a rookie but had very few snaps, very little experience and won a spot on the team so it will be interesting to see how those two guys do."

On Kevin O'Connell: "Kevin has made improvement since the spring. This is kind of the second time around in terms of teaching our plays and all that. We taught them all in the spring and then we go back and re-teach them here in training camp. I think that has really helped him. He seems a lot more comfortable and confident and is playing quicker at the line of scrimmage."

  • Most scouts viewed Dolphins rookie G Donald Thomas a long-range project when the Dolphins took him late in the sixth round. He didn't play organized football until he was discovered playing pickup hoops at Connecticut. He didn't start until he was a senior.

But Thomas has been Miami's starting right guard for about a week. He has outperformed fourth-round pick Shawn Murphy, while veteran free-agent acquisition Steve McKinney has rebounded slowly from knee surgery.

  • Bills rookie LB Alvin Bowen, probably gone for the season after suffering a right knee injury Friday, was looking like a fifth or sixth linebacker. But his biggest value would have been on special teams, where the Bills need bodies.

  • Here's a leftover quote I've been meaning to share from Andre Tippett's pre-Hall of Fame news conference in Foxborough, Mass. He was asked, since he wore both helmets, whether he preferred Pat Patriot or the Flying Elvis logo.

"If I had to pick," Tippett said after hemming and hawing, "I just have love for the old Pat Patriot. He just looks like a rugged dude. I would go down a dark alleyway with him any day."

  • From my room on the 10th floor of the Long Island Marriott, I can see the Jets' facility on the Hofstra University campus in the distance. But just a long kickoff away from my headboard is decrepit Nassau Coliseum. With the Yankees, Mets, Giants and Jets all moving into new digs, can't people find a way to implode the dump where the Islanders play (or at least attempt to) and build something the long-suffering locals can be proud of?