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New England Patriots: Have They Improved on Defense?

The New England Patriots struggled on defense for stretches of the 2017 regular season and again in Super Bowl LII. During the regular season, New England ranked 29th in total defense, allowing an average of 366.0 yards per game.

Heading into OTAs, defense is thus the Patriots’ biggest question.

While the Patriots parted with offensive pieces like Dion Lewis, Nate Solder, Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks this offseason, that side of the ball should be OK so long as Tom Brady is healthy and playing at his usual level. Things are less certain on defense, as the Pats lost starting corner Malcolm Butler to the Tennessee Titans.

New England spent a second-round pick on cornerback Duke Dawson and added linebackers Ja’Whaun Bentley and Christian Sam on Day 3. It also traded for cornerback Jason McCourty, added pass-rusher Adrian Clayborne and should have 2017 draft pick Derek Rivers back from injury.

To get back to the Super Bowl and have a shot at winning it, the Patriots need their new-look defense to be better than last year’s group. They’ll begin forging that unit in OTAs.

The New Orleans Saints have one of the most complete rosters in the NFL.

They have a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees and a rushing attack that ranked fifth in the NFL last season (129.4 yards per game). The Saints also have a defense that allowed only 20.4 points per game (10th in the NFL) last season and features the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, Marshon Lattimore.

By trading up for former Texas-San Antonio edge-rusher Marcus Davenport, the Saints hope they now feature one of the league’s best pass-rushing duos, too.

New Orleans has a premier sack-artist in Cameron Jordan, who amassed 13.0 sacks in 2017. However, they didn’t have a high-end complement for him before Davenport. No one else on the defense logged more than 4.5 sacks last season.

If Davenport can rack up sacks as a rookie, the Saints should have one of the NFL’s best edge-rushing combos. That would improve their already rising defense and help prevent big plays like the one that ended New Orleans’ playoff hopes.

Is Davenport the missing piece of the Saints’ championship puzzle? New Orleans will start to find out in OTAs.

Miami Dophins: Can Ryan Tannehill Do Enough to Renew Their Faith?

At one point, there was no question that the Miami Dolphins considered Ryan Tannehill their franchise quarterback.

Miami gave the 2012 first-round pick a four-year, $77 million extension back in 2015, and it brought in an offensive-minded head coach in Adam Gase a year later. However, Tannehill’s inconsistent play and injury history led the Dolphins to consider selecting his replacement in this year’s draft.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“At the end of the day, if one of those guys was there, we would have talked about it, but we just didn’t think anybody would be there,” general manager Chris Grier said, per Chris Perkins of the Sun-Sentinel.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the Dolphins did consider trading up for a quarterback, but they also told Tannehill that they were sold on him as the starter for 2018.

Tannehill missed all of 2017 with an ACL injury that dated back to December 2016. He’s going to have a long road back after the injury and after a full year away from the game.

Heading into the season, the Dolphins have to wonder whether Tannehill can perform well enough to renew their faith in him. If he doesn’t, there’s a strong chance he and Gase will both be gone after the season.

While the Vikings got a lot out of Case Keenum last season, they believed they could do better at quarterback. As a result, they inked Kirk Cousins to a three-year, $84 million deal that was fully guaranteed.

It’s now up to Cousins to prove he’s worth that kind of money, as the Vikings likely could have re-signed Keenum for around half of it.

Cousins has a bevy of weapons at his disposal, including Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph and Dalvin Cook. It’s more than what Cousins had in Washington last year, and he racked up 4,093 yards and 27 touchdowns with that group.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Integrating Cousins into the Minnesota offense won’t be a cakewalk, though. Not only is he a new member of the team, but the Vikings will be working with a new offensive coordinator in John DeFilippo.

Will Cousins be a significant upgrade over Keenum? The Vikings will start finding out during OTAs.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Los Angeles Rams: What Will the Linebacker Corps Look Like?

The Los Angeles Rams made headlines early in the offseason by adding big names in free agency and through trades. Additions such as Ndamukong Suh, Peters and Aqib Talib could boost the defense.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Here’s the problem with that assumption: Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips runs a lot of 3-4 looks, and three of last year’s four starting linebackers—Alec Ogletree, Connor Barwin and Robert Quinn—are gone. Mark Barron remains, but the Rams have to figure out who their other three starters will be.

Los Angeles added four linebackers—Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Micah Kiser, Trevon Young and Travin Howard—in the draft. It also has veterans like Cory Littleton, Ramik Wilson and Bryce Hager on the roster.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Head coach Sean McVay recently praised some of the veteran linebackers, but he also cautioned that veteran status would not guarantee a starting job.

“By no means are they ahead of anybody else,” McVay told Myles Simmons of the team’s official website. “Those guys have kind of earned the right to be the ones that are taking those first few reps and then we’ll see based on how they accelerate or how they perform.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

The linebacker competition in Los Angeles will go a long way toward determining whether or not the Rams improve their 28th-ranked run defense (122.4 yards per game allowed).