- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter
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1. Matt Turk, Jacksonville Jaguars punter: The Jaguars pride themselves on having a good special-teams unit. They were without one of their premier special-teamers, Kassim Osgood, in Carolina; another standout, Montell Owens, probably will be on the injury report this week. The thinking was they’d help Turk look good. But through three games he has a 33.4-yard net punt average and has given up touchbacks on four of his 10 punts. Coach Jack Del Rio said it hasn't been good enough, and if it doesn’t get better, the Jaguars could ponder an alternative.
2. Red zone offense, Houston Texans: That killer instinct I’ve written about repeatedly always comes into question when the Texans settle for field goals. They moved the ball great in New Orleans but stalled when they got close, and then called on Neil Rackers too often. The good news is, no team has been inside the 20 more than Houston (16 trips). But five touchdowns for a .313 percentage in the red zone puts them 30th in the NFL. With their offense, that’s just not sufficient. (It could be worse, though. The Jaguars are dead last in red zone efficiency. They’ve been in the red zone a grand total of one time, when they kicked a field goal.)
3. Quarterback accuracy, Indianapolis Colts: Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter combined to hit on just 18 of 40 passes in the Colts’ loss to Pittsburgh. Each missed open guys at crucial moments. The stat sheet says Reggie Wayne was targeted 13 times, which is as it should be. But he caught only three passes for 24 yards, which is something we can really second-guess. Painter missed a wide open Pierre Garcon on a play that could have changed the game. We’re not going to get anything close to Peyton Manning out of these guys. But whoever is under center needs to get the ball in the hands of Wayne, Austin Collie, Dallas Clark and Garcon.
1. Pat Angerer, Indianapolis Colts linebacker: In a game in which the Colts' defense really woke up and made things work, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis led the line and harassed Ben Roethlisberger. Angerer keyed the second level. Game statisticians credited him with 21 tackles, twice as many as anyone else in the game. And he added one on special teams for good measure. He was constantly around the ball, and he wasn’t collecting “cheap” tackles by jumping in late or from behind.
2. James Casey, Houston Texans fullback: It’s still early to rate the tight end-turned-fullback as a run-blocker. But getting him on the field gives the Texans another high-quality pass-catcher. The Saints struggled to cover him, leaving him alone on a 62-yard reception. And his diving 26-yard touchdown catch was just beautiful. Casey finished with five catches for 126 yards, just two fewer than the best receiver in the NFL, Andre Johnson. Casey is a matchup issue for everyone the Texans will face. Treat him like a fullback and opponents may suffer for it when he motions out and runs routes like a receiver.
3. Jurrell Casey, Tennessee Titans defensive tackle: He can rush the passer better, but the rookie is a big piece of a defense that currently holds the No. 1 ranking in the NFL. He was one of the guys who stopped Willis McGahee in a fourth-quarter goal-line stand against Denver. As a run-stopper, he’s an influential guy who has potential to get even better as he gets more comfortable and confident.
FALLING1. Matt Turk, Jacksonville Jaguars punter: The Jaguars pride themselves on having a good special-teams unit. They were without one of their premier special-teamers, Kassim Osgood, in Carolina; another standout, Montell Owens, probably will be on the injury report this week.