AFC East Notes: Patriots, RBs, Bills, Edoga

James White did not make it into last season’s October docket, suffering a hip injury in Week 3. That issue did not deter the Patriots from giving the veteran passing-down back a fourth contract — two years, $5MM — this offseason, but it very well might keep White off the field until October of this year. The ninth-year veteran has not been fully cleared, and Mike Reiss of envisions the Patriots being cautious to start the season by using the reserve/PUP list in this case. New England has Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson back as its primary backfield cogs, and the team doubled up on runners in the draft (Pierre Strong in Round 4 and Kevin Harris in Round 6). White, 30, going over a year without playing would be somewhat concerning, but he is the team’s longest-tenured offensive player and still should be on track to play a significant role in its second Mac Jones-conducted attack.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Upon nontendering fullback Jakob Johnson as an RFA this offseason, the Patriots informed him of a potential stylistic shift. Johnson said recently (via Reiss) the Pats told him they were changing course at the fullback position, indicating it was not in the 2022 plan. Johnson spent three seasons with the Patriots, who had rostered James Develin from 2012-19. Although many teams do not have a fullback on their rosters, the Pats — who have not yet sorted out their play-calling situation post-Josh McDaniels — going without one would be notable.
  • The Bills have been active in bolstering their offensive line group with veterans, signing Rodger Saffold, fellow 2021 Titans starter David Quessenberry and ex-Jet cogĀ Greg Van Roten. Of those three, only Saffold is expected to start. Buffalo’s starting O-line is set ahead of training camp, Alaina Getzenberg of notes. Saffold, 34, is in line to be the team’s left guard, with Ryan Bates at right guard and 2021 third-rounder Spencer Brown back at right tackle. This trio represents three new starters, compared to the Bills’ Week 1 configuration last year. Ike Boettger, who suffered a ruptured Achilles’ tendon in December, could begin the year on the PUP list. Boettger started a career-high 10 games last season. Van Roten not being considered for a spot would be interesting, considering he has 50 starts over the past four seasons. He and Quessenberry, however, would represent improved depth for the AFC East champions’ O-line.
  • Chosen by the Jets‘ previous regime, third-round pick Chuma Edoga has started 12 games as a pro. But the fourth-year tackle appears on his way out this year, per’s Rich Cimini. The Jets drafted tackle Max Mitchell in the fourth round and have veteran backup Conor McDermott returning as well.
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