Tuesday, September 15, 2009
How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch
By Paul Kuharsky
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
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1. Matt Schaub, Texans QB: His coach said he wasn’t himself, so maybe a lingering ankle injury from the preseason was a factor. But the quarterback of what’s supposed to be a high-flying offense appeared rattled and failed to get rid of the ball even when the guy coming at him had to be visible.
Schaub needs a big bounce-back effort Sunday against the Titans. They’ve relished rattling him in the past, though his top nemesis is gone now that Albert Haynesworth is in Washington. They will be more physical with him than the Jets were.
2. Rob Bironas, Titans K: Bironas had two poor field goal attempts in Pittsburgh. There was a low snap on the first, but holder Craig Hentrich seemed to get it down fine and it shouldn’t have rattled Bironas’ timing as much as it did. There was interior penetration in the second, which was blocked, but did it come out low?
He’s two for his last six field goal attempts over his last three games, and while misses from 51 yards (in the playoff loss to Baltimore) and 48 (in the meaningless regular-season finale at Indianapolis) were hardly Cardinal sins, it’s fair to wonder if there is a trend emerging.
3. Derrick Harvey, Jaguars DE: He rated between ineffective and invisible in Indianapolis when he was on the field. Then he wasn’t on the field much in the second half. Was that because they played more 3-4? Was he hurt? Was he benched?
Jack Del Rio said there was no issue, that the Colts’ offense didn’t allow for frequent substitutions and kept Harvey out of the flow and that he played fine. He’ll need to make more noise for the Jags' defense to be effective.
1. Reggie Wayne, Colts WR: Wayne technically became the team’s top receiver in 2007, but the real takeover over the past two years as the team adjusted to an injured, less than effective Marvin Harrison took a while. Sunday, with Harrison gone and Anthony Gonzalez out early with a right knee injury, Wayne was practically unstoppable.
Deep, short, in the middle of the field and on the perimeter, he was getting a steady diet of throws from Peyton Manning and making the most of them. He’ll need to continue that production while rookie Austin Collie and second-year man Pierre Garcon work as the second and third wideouts.
2. The Jaguars: They lost and made a lot of mistakes. But they were a two-point conversion away from pulling even with the Colts. They talked about how hard work and commitment were going to make a big difference for them, and I thought they underestimated the hard work and commitment of the teams they will play.
But even out of a loss, they showed a lot of good signs with regard to effort and fight. And if they can duplicate that effort, they could be much more competitive than many of us suspected.
3. Kenny Britt, Titans WR: No, he didn’t do well on a deep ball picked off by Troy Polamalu and was not precise enough with some of his routes. But for the Titans to roll out a rookie receiver in their opener qualifies as a special occasion, and a prime-time opener on the Super Bowl champion’s field was not too big for him.
The Titans typically roll through four or five receivers, keeping people fresh. In the opener they stuck with three, which means they weren’t worried about his ability to handle anything and everything.