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Around the AFC

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 5, 2000


BENGALS: Ron Dugans and Peter Warrick, rookie receivers from Florida State, are expected to start in the opener Sunday against the Browns. Cincinnati had a bye last weekend. "We're going to make history," Dugans told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "But you can make history in a bad way or a good way. We want to prove you can start two rookies in this league and get the job done."

BILLS: Rob Johnson has not thrown an interception in his past 102 attempts. The team record is 172 by Jim Kelly over six games in 1995. ... Buffalo, which consistently has played a 3-4 defense, changed its scheme, going to a four-man line by inserting Pat Williams as an extra nose tackle on occasional first-down plays.

BRONCOS: With a year as a starter under his belt, quarterback Brian Griese believes he has mastered the intricacies of the offense and can make better decisions than he did in his erratic 1999 season. "I feel a lot more confident than I did at this time last year," he said. "I feel more comfortable with my situation on the team and as a leader of the offense."

BROWNS: Defensive end Courtney Brown, the No. 1 overall draft pick this year, didn't make the official statistics sheet, but he did show blazing speed by chasing down Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell on an incomplete pass.

CHARGERS: Offensive line coach Joe Bugel was head coach of Sunday's foe, the Raiders, in 1997. ... Guard Kevin Gogan played in his 200th career regular-season game.

CHIEFS: Temperatures predicted to exceed 100 were held to the low 90s by unexpected cloud cover.

COLTS: Their only injury was receiver Marvin Harrison's bruised right shoulder.

DOLPHINS: They improved to 34-5 at home in September since 1970. ... Running back J.J. Johnson, who started four games as a rookie last year, was inactive. ... Their last shutout came Nov. 7 in a 17-0 win over Tennessee. ... New punter Matt Turk averaged 40.4 yards on seven kicks and landed three inside the 20-yard line.

JAGUARS: Keenan McCardell exceeded 400 career receptions and had his 14th 100-yard game.

JETS: Dedric Ward, being looked to as the new go-to receiver with Keyshawn Johnson gone, had five catches for 104 yards, including a 61-yarder down the right sideline that set up Vinny Testaverde's 3-yard game-winner to Curtis Martin with 3:28 left. ... John Hall missed field-goal attempts of 52 and 48 yards on a windy day at Lambeau Field.

PATRIOTS: They lost for the first time in six home openers and the second time in 11 September games since the 1997 season. ... Troy Brown led the team with 33 yards rushing, and quarterback Drew Bledsoe, normally immobile, had a career-high 30. Kevin Faulk was the top rusher among the team's running backs with 21 yards, but he had 11 receptions.

RAVENS: Despite getting constant pressure on Steelers quarterback Kent Graham, they had only one sack. ... They didn't allow a 100-yard rusher for the 18th consecutive game. ... They haven't started 2-0 since moving from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996. They host Jacksonville on Sunday.

RAIDERS: They are 12-3 in league openers at home and 5-0 when they play the Chargers in the opener. ... With a game-opening 13-yard pass to Jon Ritchie, Rich Gannon surpassed 15,000 yards passing for his career. He needed 2 yards to reach the milestone. ... Receiver Tim Brown needs one touchdown catch to tie Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff atop the team's all-time list with 76.

SEAHAWKS: Only Carolina (1-5) has a worse record than Seattle (6-19) in openers. ... Rookie kicker Kris Heppner had one chance to score, and he was wide left with a 52-yard field-goal attempt.

STEELERS: They have lost eight of nine and 17 of 22. ... They haven't won a division home game since Nov. 22, 1998, against Jacksonville.

TITANS: Defensive end Jevon Kearse was not credited with a sack, ending an eight-game streak. He had eight tackles and one assist.

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