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Sports Then and Now



AFC East Offers More Competition in 2011 8

Posted on September 04, 2011 by Chris Kent

A two-team race between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets for most of the last decade, the AFC East may be more competitive in 2011. Both Buffalo and Miami have key youngsters and new veteran stars to level the playing field in the division.

After being signed by the Bills late last season, linebacker Shawne Merriman will look to make an impact on Buffalo's defense in 2011.

Since 2001, New England has eight division titles and is 3-1 in Super Bowls. The Jets have been the runner-up in the AFC each of the last two seasons. In fact, the division has been won by either the Patriots or Jets every year since 2001 except for 2008 when Miami won it.

The Bills will look to linebacker Shawne Merriman who they acquired off waivers last November as well as Alabama rookie defensive tackle Marcell Dareus to bolster their defense. A first-round pick in 2005 when he was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Merriman has been slowed by injuries in recent years. Dareus, the Defensive Most Valuable Player of the 2010 Citi BCS National Championship game win over Texas, is projected to start. Buffalo finished tied for 27th in the league in 2010 with just 27 sacks.

Merriman is looking to be of the same impact that he was from 2005 through ‘07 when he logged 39.5 of his 43 career sacks.

Reggie Bush brings his quickness, agility, and speed to the Dolphins' new-look rushing attack in 2011.

The Dolphins sport new running backs after signing veterans Reggie Bush and Larry Johnson. Bush is a gamebreaker with his speed and agility running and receiving. Johnson adds toughness.

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Drew Pearson: Mr. Clutch
      August 7, 2021 | 6:59 pm

      Drew Pearson

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former NFL wide receiver know as “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for making big receptions at crucial moments of the game. After waiting for more than 30 years, he is finally earning his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

      During his decade with the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Pearson had a habit of making the big catch at the right moment to help the Cowboys time and again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

      The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

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