AFC News & Notes from the NFL:

The defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers will kick off the NFL season this Thursday night when they host the Tennessee Titans (NBC, 8:30 PM ET).  And as always in the NFL, much of the attention will be on the men under center.  
Titans quarterback KERRY COLLINS, who attended Wilson High School in West Lawn, Pa., hopes to extend a perfect 3-0 career record against Pittsburgh.  The 15-year veteran led Tennessee to an NFL-best 13-3 record in 2008. 
Steelers quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER, who last year became the second-youngest quarterback (26 years, 336 days) to win two Super Bowls (TOM BRADY, 26 years, 182 days), says the Steelers' expectations are even higher as defending champions in 2009.  
"We're setting our goals high," says Roethlisberger, who aims to lead the Steelers to their seventh consecutive win on Kickoff Weekend.  "We need to be better.  We just can't rely on our defense to win every game for us."
Below is a team-by-team look at the quarterback position in the AFC in 2009:

BALTIMORE:  A year removed from leading the Ravens to the AFC Championship Game and becoming the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to win two playoff games, JOE FLACCO is focused on surpassing his accomplishments from last season.  The strong-armed 24-year-old will depend on veteran wide receiver DERRICK MASON, who led the Ravens with 1,037 receiving yards a season ago, and a rushing attack that helped the Ravens finish first in the AFC with 2,376 yards featuring fullback LE' RON MC CLAIN, and running backs WILLIS MC GAHEE, and RAY RICE.
BUFFALO:  Three-year veteran TRENT EDWARDS enters his second season as Buffalo's Kickoff Weekend starter.  In 2008, Edwards ranked second in the AFC with a 106.3 fourth quarter passer rating.  In the offseason, Edwards gained a new target when the Bills signed All-Star wide receiver TERRELL OWENS.  Edwards will rely on Owens and wide receiver LEE EVANS as his top two pass-catching options.     
CINCINNATIPlaying in only four games in 2008 due to a right elbow injury, Bengals quarterback CARSON PALMER enters his seventh NFL season focused on returning Cincinnati to the playoffs for the first time since 2005.  Palmer, who tossed a career and franchise-high 4,131 passing yards in 2007, aims to reach 4,000 passing yards for the third time in the past four seasons.  The 6-5 quarterback will look to spread the ball around to wide receivers LAVERANUES COLES, CHRIS HENRY and CHAD OCHOCINCO

CLEVELANDBrowns first-year head coach ERIC MANGINI has two options at quarterback.  Veteran DEREK ANDERSON has a 13-11 (.542) record as a starter the past two seasons for the Browns.  In 2007, Anderson tied FRANK RYAN (1966) for the second-most touchdown passes in a single season in franchise history with 29 (BRIAN SIPE, 30 in 1980) and earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl.  Third-year veteran BRADY QUINN is building off the valuable experience he gained last season.  The Ohio native started three games in 2008. 

DENVERAcquired by the Broncos from the Bears in April, KYLE ORTON is ready to kick off a new era in Denver.  Orton set career-highs with 272 completions, 2,972 yards and 18 touchdowns with Chicago in 2008.  The fifth-year pro has a 21-12 (.636) record as a starter and aims to continue his progression under the guidance of rookie head coach JOSH MC DANIELS.  

HOUSTONExpectations in Houston are heating up and quarterback MATT SCHAUB will play a huge role as the Texans challenge for their first playoff bid in franchise history.  Schaub, who led the NFL's third-ranked offense in 2008, passed for a career-high 3,043 passing yards.  The 6-5, 234-pound QB enters his third season as a starter and will look to utilize All-Star wide receiver ANDRE JOHNSON, who led the NFL with 115 receptions last season. 

INDIANAPOLISThree-time MVP PEYTON MANNING welcomes in rookie head coach JIM CALDWELL, who spent six seasons as his quarterbacks coach (2002-07).  The 12-year veteran will find comfort in reliable targets REGGIE WAYNE, who aims for his sixth consecutive season with 1,000 receiving yards, and tight end DALLAS CLARK, who posted career-bests in receptions (77) and yards (848) in 2008.  

JACKSONVILLEShedding nearly 20 pounds this offseason, DAVID GARRARD plans to be more elusive in his quest to help the Jaguars return to postseason play.  The former fourth-round pick set career highs in completions (335), passing yards (3,620) and rushing yards (322) in 2008.  Entering his third season as a starter, Garrard will be supported by All-Star wide receiver TORRY HOLT and running back MAURICE JONES-DREW.
KANSAS CITYAcquired via trade in February, MATT CASSEL will enter his first season as a starter on Kickoff Weekend.  The fifth-year quarterback looks forward to a smooth transition under the direction of rookie head coach TODD HALEY, who joins the Chiefs after a two-year stint as offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals.  In 2008, Cassel registered a 10-5 (.667) record as a starter with New England.  

MIAMILeading the Dolphins to their first AFC East title since 2000, CHAD PENNINGTON enters his second season in Miami.  The savvy veteran totaled a career-high 3,653 passing yards in 2008 and became the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 3,500 yards and record seven or fewer interceptions.  Pennington can become first Dolphins QB since DAN MARINO (1994-95) to total 3,500-plus passing yards in consecutive seasons.
NEW ENGLANDRecovered from a knee injury that sidelined him for 15 games last season, TOM BRADY is determined to regain his 2007 form when he set a league record with 50 touchdown passes in a single-season.  Brady's top two receiving options RANDY MOSS and WES WELKER return, while wide receiver JOEY GALLOWAY and running back FRED TAYLOR will be new additions to the Patriots' offense.  Entering his 10th season, Brady has a 101-27 (.789) record (including postseason) -- the best win percentage of any NFL quarterback in the Super Bowl era with at least 100 starts.  

NEW YORK JETSSelected at No. 5 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft, MARK SANCHEZ will become the first Jets rookie quarterback to start since MATT ROBINSON in 1977.  The University of Southern California product will be surrounded by All-Star running backs THOMAS JONES and LEON WASHINGTON and JERRICHO COTCHERY as a go-to receiver.
OAKLANDA former No. 1 overall pick, JA MARCUS RUSSELL continued his development as an NFL quarterback this offseason by spending the majority of his time in the classroom watching film and studying the playbook.  Russell will look to stretch the field vertically with rookie wide receiver DARRIUS HEYWARD-BEY (1st round, No. 7) and ZACH MILLER, who became the first Raiders tight end to lead the team in receptions (56) and yards (778) since TODD CHRISTENSEN in 1986. 

PITTSBURGHA proven winner since entering the league in 2004, BEN ROETHLISBERGER has won 51 games, the most wins in NFL history for a quarterback in his first five seasons and ranks second in the NFL among active quarterbacks with a .718 (51-20) win percentage.  Roethlisberger has 14,974 career passing yards entering Kickoff Weekend and needs 26 yards to become only the second quarterback in Steelers history to surpass 15,000 (TERRY BRADSHAW; 27,989).
SAN DIEGO:  PHILIP RIVERS set a franchise single-season record with 34 touchdowns in 2008, but still aims to improve.  The six-year veteran has led the Chargers to three AFC West titles in his three seasons as the starter and aims for a fourth in 2009.  Rivers totaled a career-high 4,009 passing yards last season and can become the first Chargers QB to record 4,000-plus yards in back-to-back seasons since DAN FOUTS (4,715 in 1980; 4,802 in 1981). 
TENNESSEEPro Bowl quarterback KERRY COLLINS returns for his 15th season.  In 2008, Collins finished with an 80.2 passer rating, the third-best mark of his career.  Collins will have newly-acquired wide receiver NATE WASHINGTON at his disposal to stretch the field and will be protected by an offensive line that tied for first in the NFL with 12 sacks allowed last season (Denver).  The 36-year-old ranks third among active quarterbacks with 37,393 passing yards and needs 2,607 passing yards to become the 12th quarterback in NFL history with 40,000 career passing yards.