AFC South: Aaron Curry

SEATTLE -- At a 20-yard line, above a CBS banner, a fan has a sign with a counter on it. It’s set at 1,872.

Based on how well and how quickly the fan in control of it computes Chris Johnson’s rushing yards, it could be a very handy tool helping CJ and the Titans and those of us in the press box track a potentially record day.

No surprises on the inactive list at Qwest Field, as beautiful a building as I expected in my first visit.

Here are the guys not suiting up:



Houston Texans

Dominique Barber will start at free safety, says John McClain.

Expect a slimmer Steve Slaton next year, says Jerome Solomon.

The top two linebackers from the 2009 draft, Brian Cushing and Aaron Curry, will be on opposite sidelines Sunday, says McClain.

Who blocks the best has a lot to do with who plays running back for the Texans, says Alan Burge.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are masters of the two-minute drill, says Phil Richards.

Joseph Addai says desire is a key in those two-minutes situations, writes Richards.

Darrell Reid’s found a home on the Denver defense, says Phillip B. Wilson.

Home field is the ultimate regular-season objective, says John Oehser.

If asked, Reggie Wayne would tell the Colts they should go for 16-0, says Chappell.

Wayne understands some weeks he will not get big numbers, writes Oehser.

Charlie Johnson and Tony Ugoh returned to practice, but Ryan Diem was out, says Oehser.

The Colts post-Marvin Harrison have been just fine, says Thomas George.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville’s veterans know what’s at stake, writes Vito Stellino.

Chad Henne’s development makes it tough to prepare for Miami’s mix on offense, says Michael C. Wright.

“Jacksonville City Hall will spend about $150,000 to throw a four-hour party outside of Jacksonville Municipal Stadium next week for a game that civic backers now admit might not sell out,” says Larry Hannan.

Wright looks back on Gene Smith’s emphasis on drafting character. (My Thursday column on Smith is here.)

If the Jaguars get in, they would be the worst playoff team in recent memory, says Dan Graziano.

It’s best for the Jaguars if the Colts win this weekend, says Vic Ketchman.

Tennessee Titans

Vince Young aggravated his right knee injury and couldn’t finish practice, says Jim Wyatt.

The Titans remember how improbable the playoffs were in 2006 and how close they came anyway, says Gary Estwick.

Tony Brown was fined $10,000 for his incident with Kyle DeVan, reports Jim Wyatt. Brown, usually a stand-up guy, still hasn’t answered for it.

What Chris Johnson needs to reach some big milestones, from Terry McCormick.

McGinnis on McRath: Needs more bulk

November, 6, 2009
Posted by’s Paul Kuharsky

There is a youth movement coming in the Titans’ future.

Knowing this, I wanted to check in on one of the guys who figures to be a piece of it. Might we see Gerald McRath as an outside linebacker for the team next year in a spot that’s been occupied by longtime staple Keith Bulluck, who’s heading for free agency, or David Thornton?

I went to linebacker coach Dave McGinnis for an assessment of McRath -- a fourth-round pick out of Southern Mississippi. McRath would actually be in line to start Sunday in San Francisco if Thornton, who missed two practices and was limited in another this week with a hip injury, can’t play.

Here’s what McGinnis said:

“Those first-rounders that came out this year -- Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews, Aaron Curry -- those are exceptional players already with NFL bodies. I still love everything about Gerald McRath. What he needs is more bulk. He needs more strength. He’s got the mind for it. He’s got the GPS to the ball for it. What he needs is an offseason of [strength and conditioning coach] Steve Watterson so that he can get his body up to speed with what is required in this league. The rest of it, I’ve got no doubts about.”

“I’m not ready to canonize him. He’s a good prospect. He’s a smart kid. I love everything about him. But I’m real cautious about canonizing first-year players in this league especially at that position. You’ve got three real special guys that came out this year, really four with Maualuga, that you could put in and say, ‘OK, these guys are ready to fit in just because of their physical stature.’”

McRath is becoming a core special-teams guy and McGinnis said he’d be perfectly willing to insert him on defense if he was needed.

The biggest adjustment for a rookie linebacker is learning how to use his hands, McGinnis said. In college with so much spread stuff, McRath could dip a shoulder or run through people. Now he will get grabbed, slammed, or thrown down and he needs to strike people in a way he’s never done before. He's getting to do some of that working on special teams.
Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

A couple notes out of the Jaguars' press conference today with GM Gene Smith, coach Jack Del Rio and director of player personnel Terry McDonough. Thanks to the PR staff for sharing transcripts.

Reduced pressure: The team's three free agent signings from the outside, most recently receiver Torry Holt on Monday, has eased the pressures of the draft.

"I think one of the things that we had hoped to be able to do is to be able to acquire a guy like Tra Thomas who's a consummate professional [who] we know can play and start in this league and has for a long time," Del Rio said. "Torry Holt, the same thing, consummate professional, can come in and play for us right now; a Sean Considine. So all three of these guys fit that where you're not just totally void at the position and now you can really let the draft come to you. And I think that's so important.

"In each of those three cases those are positions that had we not been able to fill them prior to the draft, we would have been feeling some pressure and that can cause you to make bad decisions. So I feel good about the fact that we were able to address those things knowing that long term, yeah, we still have a desire to add players at those positions, but I think it doesn't force you into this feeling like you've got to do it early or anything like that. We'll be able to let the best player available come off the board."

Juggling 20 or 30: McDonough thinks there is very little consensus in how teams are stacking players through the first round.

"Not consensus, but I think a lot of teams probably have Aaron Curry as their top player," he said. "After that there are 20 or 30 players that you can juggle in any order. In past years it has been six, seven or eight players where everyone says, 'These are surefire guys.' In this draft there just might be a couple."

He views the second tier of players as very deep, and specifically mentioned depth at receiver and offensive linemen, two positions of need for the Jaguars even with Thomas and Holt in the fold.

"We look at the 20th pick and the 40th pick and there are a lot of similarities between those players," he said.

Asked how many top eight players there are in this draft, McDonough said: "One draft I don't know what year it was [2004] -- the year Shawn Andrews, Sean Taylor, Kellen Winslow, DeAngelo Hall, Roy Williams -- that draft, those were the guys. Everybody knew. Everybody knew those seven guys were going to go there. This draft, you don't have that. That is why there is so much speculation in the top 10. I think there is going to be some offensive tackles picked because of need up there. There's going to be some quarterbacks picked because of need up there. There isn't a defined, 'OK, these are the seven guys.'"

Quarterback in play: According to Smith, it's possible the Jaguars could take a quarterback at No. 8 if that's where their best-player-available draft strategy leads them. But if it happened that way it wouldn't be an indictment of David Garrard, it would be a stockpiling of talent.

"You're trying to get the best available player and if that's who it is, if it is a quarterback, it's obvious that you're going to have some financial ramifications," Smith said. "That position is paid differently than other positions, especially that high in the draft. But you have a good young player that we feel will be an eventual starter in this league. And we feel very good about David; it would make us very strong at that position. But again, quarterbacks have good trade value and I think that's the key that you have to understand."

The Jaguars could probably get more from a trade partner if the team looking to get to No. 8 is doing so for a quarterback, Smith said.

That sure seems to be an ideal scenario of the Jags.

Versatile Raji: Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji is in the mold of Pittsburgh's Casey Hampton, a true 3-4 nose tackle, Smith said. But he also said Raji could fit into any team and system.

Final prep: Smith and his staff will conduct a mock draft Wednesday and look to cover as many scenarios that could unfold in the seven picks ahead of them.