By Steve Silverman
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Pity the Buffalo Bills.
After Rex Ryan decided to part company with Mario Williams at the start of the offseason, it was clear that the Bills would make a big-time pass rusher their top selection in draft.
The choice of Shaq Lawson from Clemson with the 19th overall pick seemed to be just what Dr. Rex ordered, because Lawson came to play on every snap in college and appeared to be the kind of player who would give the Bills everything he had on every play.
That was one of the big issues Ryan and others had with Williams, who seemed to play when he wanted to a year ago. Lawson had 25.5 tackles for loss with Clemson last year, and the Bills figured they would instantly able to slot Lawson into the starting lineup.
But that’s not going to happen because Lawson needs shoulder surgery. The Bills found out during their rookie minicamp.
The Bills and other teams reportedly knew about the shoulder problem, but Rex & Co. had him work out anyway. Ryan has done a little back-pedaling, as he said that the shoulder problem was not going to keep Lawson out of the lineup, but that the Bills wanted Lawson to be “100 percent,” and that’s why they opted for surgery.
That does not seem likely or believable. Lawson could miss up to half the season as he recovers from his bout with the surgeon.
— The Jacksonville Jaguars could have suffered a devastating blow when defensive back Jalen Ramsey suffered a meniscus tear during his on-field workouts with the team. But a further examination revealed that it was a minor tear and that Ramsey will be able to return to the practice field in six weeks.
The Jaguars suffered a huge blow a year ago when first-round draft pick Dante Fowler suffered a knee injury that kept the defensive end out for all of the 2015 season. Luckily, they avoided that situation with the Ramsey injury.
— Jared Goff was the No. 1 pick in the draft for the Los Angeles Rams, so that means he will be starting from Day 1, right?
That’s not necessarily the case. While Jeff Fisher would like to see him as the team’s starting quarterback, Case Keenum is the team’s starter right now. Goff has the tools to dominate the competition and run away from Keenum, but he has to show he can operate over the long haul.
Goff operated primarily from the shotgun while he played quarterback for California in the Pac-10, so he has to get used to taking snaps from under center, read NFL defenses quickly and make the proper adjustments. That may take longer than expected for the potential superstar.
— Carson Wentz was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the No. 2 pick, but he does not face the same pressure as Goff since the Eagles already have veteran Sam Bradford.
As a result, Wentz came into the Eagles’ OTA and played free and easy football. He did not look like a player who was under pressure. He just went out and threw the ball with accuracy and velocity, read the defensive fronts and performed at a very high level.
Wentz played at least as well as Bradford, and he may have looked a little bit better than the veteran. As a result, Wentz appears to have put himself in a serious position to compete for the Eagles’ starting job.
— Over in Denver, Paxton Lynch has an excellent chance to emerge as the starting quarterback for the Super Bowl champion Broncos.
Head coach Gary Kubiak knows his team is going through a major transition at the position with the retirement of Peyton Manning and the departure of Brock Osweiler to Houston. If Lynch is going to start the season, all he has to do is beat out former Jet and Eagle Mark Sanchez.
Lynch demonstrated a quick release in the Broncos’ OTA, something that has not often been the case with Sanchez.
— Running back Ezekiel Elliott would seem to be an obvious choice to start for the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1 following his brilliant career at Ohio State. The Cowboys have veteran Darren McFadden, but at this point in his career he does not have the explosiveness or ability to run after contact the way Elliott can right now.
The Dallas coaching staff has made a point of telling Elliott that nothing will be given to him and he has to earn the starting position, but that appears to be little more than blather. It would be a shock if Elliott does not open the season as the team’s bread-and-butter back.
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