10 teams with missing parts and how to fill them

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Alex Marvez

Alex Marvez is a Senior NFL Writer for He has covered the NFL for the past 18 seasons as a beat writer and is the former president of the Pro Football Writers of America. He also is a frequent host on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

Think of it like tortilla chips without salsa or apple pie sans ice cream. They're good. There's just something missing. It's the same for some NFL teams as they prepare to enter training camp later this month. Even after an offseason of roster moves, there are still holes that need filling. Here's a look at 10 franchises with question areas heading into the preseason and some potential solutions to address them:

Baltimore: Wide receiver

With shaky depth behind a 35-year-old starter (Derrick Mason) and Mark Clayton, Baltimore surprisingly did little to address the position this offseason. Deep threat Demetrius Williams has battled injuries the past two seasons, while Yamon Figurs and offseason pickup Kelley Washington are expected to contribute more on special teams than offense. Possible solution: Brandon Marshall. The Ravens have internally discussed making a trade offer to Denver for the disgruntled wideout. Marshall is one of the league's top young players but also among its most troubled with a long history of police incidents related to domestic violence. A change of scenery and off-field tutelage from Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis may do Marshall a world of good.

New England: Outside linebacker

Julius Peppers. Jason Taylor. Derrick Burgess. None of the names linked with the Patriots in media reports earlier this offseason landed in Foxboro. New England is likely to enter training camp with a rotation of the returning Tully Banta-Cain (back after two disappointing seasons in San Francisco), 2008 third-round pick Shawn Crable and four-year veteran Pierre Woods playing opposite strong-side OLB Adalius Thomas. Possible solution: Willie McGinest. Patriots coach Bill Belichick loves veterans, so a reunion with McGinest isn't out of the question. McGinest, 37, wants to play for one more year with the team where he spent his first 12 NFL seasons. McGinest doesn't have much left in the tank but he knows Belichick's defensive system well.

New York Jets: Outside linebacker

Calvin Pace will miss the first four games because of a PED suspension, leaving New York without its best OLB. There's also no guarantee that disappointing 2008 first-round pick Vernon Gholston will be ready to start in Pace's place. Possible solution: Marcus Washington. The Redskins saved $4 million this offseason by releasing the 31-year-old Washington following two injury-plagued campaigns. With 37.5 career sacks, Washington has better pass-rush skills than other free-agent outside linebackers like Jerome McDougle and Shantee Orr.

Detroit: Defensive tackle

After an 0-16 season, the Lions couldn't upgrade every unit in one offseason. Defensive tackle remains problematic after Detroit lost Shawn Cody to Houston in free agency and traded Cory Redding to Seattle. Ex-Atlanta starter Grady Jackson was signed but the 36-year-old is coming off knee surgery and may face a four-game suspension for taking a banned diuretic. Possible solution: John Thornton. A Cincinnati starter the past six years, the Bengals didn't re-sign Thornton after adding Tank Johnson earlier this offseason. Thornton, 32, is the best of a free-agent group of defensive tackles that includes DeWayne Robertson and Hollis Thomas.

Buffalo Bills: Left tackle

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The Bills never pursued a replacement for Jason Peters, who was traded in April to Philadelphia. Langston Walker is shifting from right to left tackle as part of a revamped offensive line expected to feature two rookie starters (guards Eric Wood and Andy Levitre). Adding some veteran insurance in case these moves don't work out would be wise. Possible solution: Levi Jones. The Bengals cut Jones after using a first-round pick on Alabama tackle Andre Smith. Jones, 29, has struggled with injuries the past three seasons but is a bona fide NFL starter if he can stay healthy.

St. Louis: Running back

The Rams plan to make Steven Jackson the focus of their new West Coast-style offense. Jackson, though, has missed eight games with injuries the past two seasons and the Rams have suspect depth with Ken Darby, Antonio Pittman and Samkon Gado. Possible solution: DeShaun Foster. Foster's days as a full-time starter are over but the 29-year-old can be productive in spots.

New Orleans: Running back

The Saints feel comfortable enough with the Pierre Thomas-Reggie Bush tandem that the team didn't move to replace the departed Deuce McAllister. The Saints, though, could use a more conventional rusher to back up Thomas than the multi-purpose Bush. Possible solution: Edgerrin James. The Saints have flirted with the idea of signing James since his April release by Arizona. Edge's receiving and blitz pick-up skills would make him an excellent fit as a role player in New Orleans' pass-happy offense. However, James would have to be willing to accept a backup spot -- something that didn't sit well with him last season in Arizona.

Tampa Bay: Wide receiver

Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard are gone, leaving the Bucs with iffy veteran depth behind starters Michael Clayton and Antonio Bryant. 2008 second-round pick Dexter Jackson also may not be ready to contribute much yet. Possible solution: Matt Jones. As evidenced by their recent interest in Plaxico Burress, the Bucs remain willing to take chances on talented-but-troubled players. Jones led Jacksonville in receiving last season but was released in March after violating his probation on a drug charge. Jones, 26, also would fit into Tampa Bay's offseason youth movement that led to the release of such veterans as Derrick Brooks and Warrick Dunn.

Kansas City: Cornerback

Depth remains a concern following the offseason release of Patrick Surtain. Possible solution: Chris McAlister. He is no longer a Pro Bowl-caliber player like in 2006, but McAlister is the best cornerback still available in free agency. If he can fully recover from last year's knee surgery, McAlister could be a steal.

Oakland: Wide receiver

The Raiders hope that youngsters like Chaz Schilens, Johnnie Lee Higgins and 2009 first-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey can carry a unit that had just one player with more than 20 receptions in 2008. Javon Walker and Samie Parker are the only veteran options on the roster. Possible solution: Amani Toomer. A return to Northern California where he grew up would be good for Toomer and the Raiders. Toomer could serve as a one-season stopgap while Heyward-Bey and Schilens continue their development. The Raiders also would gain a class act who could help mentor their young wideouts.
Tagged: Bills, Bengals, Broncos, Lions, Raiders, Rams, Dolphins, Patriots, Saints, Giants, Jets, Eagles, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Redskins, Jaguars, Ravens, Chad Johnson, Edgerrin James, Grady Jackson, Jason Taylor, Deuce McAllister, Ike Hilliard, Amani Toomer, Derrick Burgess, Plaxico Burress, Derrick Brooks, Chris McAlister, Ray Lewis, Levi Jones, Langston Walker, Javon Walker, Antonio Bryant, Kelley Washington, Cory Redding, Tully Banta-Cain, Tank Johnson, Michael Clayton, Samie Parker, Jason Peters, Matt Jones, Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams, Brandon Marshall, Pierre Woods, Yamon Figurs, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Antonio Pittman, Pierre Thomas, Vernon Gholston, Chaz Schilens, Shawn Crable, Andre Smith, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Eric Wood, Andy Levitre

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