Friday, September 10, 2010
Final Word: AFC South
By Paul Kuharksy
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 1:
Big, but not too big: The Texans have been focused on the Colts quite a bit. Teams tend to spend a good deal of time in an offseason thinking about the team they are chasing in the AFC South. Teams tend to spend a lot of time pondering their opening day opponent. On the rare occasion a franchise is 1-15 all-time against an opponent, it probably thinks about it a lot too. Indianapolis is all three for Houston. Here’s hoping Gary Kubiak has managed things inside the building . The Texans need to have the right balance. It’s a giant game, and it’s just one of 16.
The Jaguars brought in Aaron Kampman for leadership but will need some of their younger players to step up as well.
Looking for leadership: The young Jaguars imported Aaron Kampman for production and leadership, but they need young guys to emerge to go with Kampman and Maurice Jones-Drew. The Titans let a lot of veteran leadership walk, and also need leaders to emerge. Opening day is a good time for some of those guys on both teams to do something to indicate who they will be.
Winners: Guys who won real training camp position battles will want to perform well in the opener so as to not leave any doubts. So watch Jaguars left guard Justin Smiley, Texans kicker Neil Rackers and right guard Antoine Caldwell (though he will yield at times to Mike Brisiel), Titans right cornerback Jason McCourty or Alterraun Verner (thought they could share time) and Colts return man Devin Moore. Poor play by any of them is likely to create debate -- premature as it might be --- about whether the right guy won.
Tight ends: The Texans have star power that matches or surpasses the Colts. But a team is usually held together by the next tier of players, and that’s where the Texans have sometimes been lacking while it’s a department in which the Colts typically thrive. An example for this game could come at tight end. The Colts will look to their second guy, Brody Eldridge, to help out as run-blocker, pass-protector and target. The Texans expect to limit Owen Daniels in his first action since suffering a torn ACL halfway through the 2009 season. They will need quality work from Joel Dreessen and/or James Casey.
Rookie impact: There’s been a good deal of debate in Jacksonville this week about media attention on Broncos rookie Tim Tebow's return to his hometown. A backup or third quarterback, Jaguars faithful said, was not worthy of the sort of attention being bestowed on his visit. People saying that don’t have quite the understanding of stardom required of the situation -- and he's a star without having done anything in the NFL. I suspect Tebow gets in the game and has at least one chance to score. But the Jaguars are home favorites in a game that won’t be blacked out. The Jaguars need a good game from the No. 10 pick in the draft, Tyson Alualu. A good result from the Jaguars could mean more than 1-0.