AFC South: Ahman Green

AFC South chat film rewind

March, 15, 2013
3/15/13
7:53
AM ET
A sampling of Thursday's stellar AFC South chat:

Kevin (Portland): Am I crazy to think that [Ed] Reed might not be a long term upgrade/solution for the Texans? I can't imagine he'll take less $ than [Glover] Quin, and he isn't as versatile. It just makes me think of Ahman Green all over again.

Paul Kuharsky: Of course he's not long term. He's old. It would be a couple years at most. Draft his eventual replacement this year and it's fine. Green was nowhere near the player Reed is.

RC (Toronto): Is [Greg] Toler capable of being an everyday starter? Or is he more of a nickle guy and the colts should be targeting another corner to be their starter?

Paul Kuharsky: I like him. If healthy I'd give him every chance to win a starting job. Would like for him to have more competition out of the draft though.

Matt (Jax Beach): What do you think of all the Jags coaches and front office at Geno Smith's/ West Virgina pro day? Genuine interest?

Paul Kuharsky: Just like the interest they'll have in anyone that will go early in the draft.

Norman (H-Town): PK, are we primed to see another CJ2K season?

Paul Kuharsky: They just signed a guy to take carries away from him. No way.

***

For a whole lot more, run, don't walk, here.
I don't buy that Ahman Green (Texans, 2007) was a worse free-agent buy than Larry Brown in Oakland in 1996, a signing I covered for the Oakland Tribune.

But Green certainly didn't pan out in a big way for the Texans.

Brian McIntyre rates Green as the ninth-most disappointing free-agent pickup of the past 25 years.
A perennial Pro Bowler with the Green Bay Packers from 2001-04, Green's 2005 season ended with a torn thigh tendon in Week 5, though Green would bounce back in 2006 to rank ninth among running backs with 116 rushing DYAR in the final season of his 20s. Less than three weeks after he turned 30, the Texans signed Green to a four-year, $23 million contract that included $8 million the first season. Green rushed for 554 yards and five touchdowns in two injury-riddled seasons.

To think not too long later, the team would find a guy who led the league in rushing as an undrafted free agent. A cheap find like Arian Foster helps take the sting out of the money spent on Green.
Is there less buzz about the upcoming NFL draft than usual?

I certainly think so. The lockout and labor impasse are putting a damper on everything. There has been no free-agency build up. And there won’t be trades involving veteran players.

ESPN Stats & Info’s Mark Malzewski sifted through the past 11 drafts to find all the draft-day trades involving players.

There have been 37 such trades, or 3.4 per draft. That included two deals involving drafted players, and those aren’t allowed this time either. (Think Eli Manning and Philip Rivers in 2004.)

These trades included significant names such as Jason Campbell, Pacman Jones, Randy Moss, Trent Green and Ahman Green.

Last year the Jaguars gave up a fourth-round pick to Oakland for linebacker Kirk Morrison and a fifth-rounder.

We’ll see no such movement in this draft and it certainly takes away one layer of intrigue. Allow trades for veterans in this draft and it could be way more interesting considering all the quarterback uncertainty around the league.

Quarterbacks Kevin Kolb, Carson Palmer, Kyle Orton and Matt Flynn, who could eventually be traded, will not go anywhere.

Here’s the year-by-year review of the sort of trades we won’t be seeing.

Mailbag: Everybody's in

March, 15, 2010
3/15/10
12:49
PM ET
Randy Phillips in Mt.Vernon, Ill., writes: Am I the only Titans fan that realizes the Titans will be better this year? I guess many do not get the point of addition by subtraction. Jevon Kearse and Kyle Vanden Bosch had more penalties than sacks last year. I think Jacob Ford and William Hayes paired with Tony Brown and Jason Jones will be the starting front four, and Titans will probably add a stud DE with 16th pick. Would like Jason Pierre-Pail, but he will probably be gone. Carlos Dunlap could be a great steal at 16. What do you think about that, and who do think starts beside Finnegan this year?

Paul Kuharsky: Kearse hardly played and Hayes and Ford have not shown they can handle a full load of snaps. They’ll be younger, that’s for sure. JPP and Dunlap are both intriguing, but I don’t know how you can guarantee they are good out of the gate. I like the first four, but they need more than four.

I hope Finnegan’s counterpart is not on the roster yet. Best current option is now Rod Hood. They’ll hope for jumps from Jason McCourty and Ryan Mouton, and may look at a restricted free agent and will certainly draft one.


Carl from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: Hey Paul, I can't tell you how good it is to have a daily connection to football during the off-season. In terms of the Colts, since Tony Dungy's departure, Jim Caldwell began installing beefier defensive linemen, and it now appears he's looking to do the same on the O-line. Will this affect the high level of protection Manning has come to expect? Also, it seems that since the Super Bowl, the tone from the Colts as an organization is that of a grumpy neighbor. I really think the Colts are still shocked that they lost the Super Bowl, and recovering from losses is not something they're used to dealing with. Do you really think the Colts are past the big loss, or is this something that will linger to the point of being harmful next season?

Paul Kuharsky: Peyton Manning gets rid of the ball so quick, he created a large degree of his own protection. Since that’s the case, they seem to be thinking, "We can find bigger guys who can pass block and also help us when we need a tough 2 yards on the ground."

Recovering from big losses is not something they’re used to dealing with? They’ve suffered big losses in the playoffs every year but one.

I think they’ll always have regrets but have moved on and it’ll have minimal bearing on next season, except serving as some of the inspiration for changes they are making.


Scott Ota in Austin, Texas, writes: With all these veteran free agent running backs on the market, why haven't the Texans shown interest? I know they made mistakes with Ahman Green in the past, but someone who can help develop our youth would be huge -- Arian Foster and Steve Slaton. With a terrific passing game, bringing someone in like Brian Westbrook would create matchup nightmares all over the field, and limit his carries and increase his durability. Or, possibly putting Westbrook and Slaton on the field at the same time is another exciting thought. Anyways, I think if we had those three backs exchanging carries, we could have a much more potent, balanced offense. Your thoughts? And I am also excited about our young defense. I am proud to say that we have drafted well, and next year gives us more opportunities. For my draft, I see us taking safety and cornerback in the first two rounds.

Paul Kuharsky: Thanks, Scott.

I think Thomas Jones would have been a nice fit. Pay Westbrook and he gets a concussion and is that much closer to done. I can understand their determination to go younger. It’s clear they will be drafting the back, and that Slaton will still have a significant role -- I did this column on that recently.

Huge mistake in my opinion to expect much from Foster. That was a very small sampling we got of him, and I don’t think he’s someone they can rely on for much.

I’d love to see a safety in the first -- Earl Thomas would be great. Figure in first three they need FS, CB, RB in some order.


LQ from parts unknown writes: Do you think the Jaguars will add another defensive end or defensive tackle from free agency? Who would be a good fit for their defense? And what of the future of the Quentin Groves and Derrick Harvey?

Paul Kuharsky: Maybe, but not anyone of note. Aaron Kampman and Kassim Osgood are the two big additions. I think they will be mostly focused on the draft from here unless they try to lure an inexpensive unrestricted free agent -- and he probably wouldn’t be a lineman.

Harvey is locked in as the second starting end and is better than people think, just not a great rusher. Groves has a lot of questions to answer.


Jeff Piercey in Goodlettsville, Tenn., writes: Paul, I listen to The Wake Up Zone every morning, and always look forward to when you will be the guest. Your insight to the program is invaluable. My question is this, what do the NFL owners think of LenDale White? It must not be very much. I thought a club would jump at giving a second-round pick for him. How come no club has made him an offer?

Paul Kuharsky: Owners don’t decide the value, their GMs do. Restricted free agency hasn’t really gotten started. I suspect it will pick up after compensatory draft selections are awarded, so teams know exactly what they have.

I don’t know why you would think teams would jump at giving up a second for him. Seconds are considered super-valuable. I know at least one team still has character concerns left from its draft review. A lot of teams are two-deep at running back. Combine all that, and the possible match list is slim, no?
Steve SlatonStephen Dunn/Getty ImagesSteve Slaton is eager to bounce back from a subpar sophomore season, and he's not averse to sharing carries if it helps the team.
The sign on the road Steve Slaton is traveling is a common one in the NFL for a guy coming off a poor season:

Uncertainty ahead.

In a 15-minute chat with him this morning, I sensed he’s got a handle on that, and is fine with it. He’s ready to prove himself again, plug into the Texans' offense in whatever way he’s asked to and wipe the tarnish off his name that came with a shaky sophomore season.

Something his coach, Gary Kubiak, told him after an outstanding 1,282-yard rookie season in 2008 proved prophetic.

“You come out of a rookie year where you gain 1,100-1,200 yards you think, ‘Damn, this is a pretty easy deal,'" Kubiak said. “I teased with him before the season and said 'The next 1,200 you gain will probably be the toughest of your career. It’s not that easy.’”

Slaton’s still got 763 yards to go to get there after a poor 2009, when he gained only 3.3 yards per carry and fumbled seven times before a neck injury ended his season after 11 games.

By the time he went on injured reserve, he said he had a numb right arm from the top of his shoulder to his thumb, all day every day for two months. A pinched nerve led to a C-5 cervical fusion in mid-January.

He felt the difference as soon as he woke up and doctors told him it went as smoothly as possible and rate his recovery, tabbed to take four to six months, as very good. He said he will be ready for training camp, holding the ball high and tight.

He’s been rehabbing since surgery and can now run and lift weights as long as he limits the stress on his neck.

“Everybody wants to come in their second year and never have that slump, and not have an excuse for something you think you can help,” he said. “It was uncharacteristic of myself to fumble that much. I won’t say it was the only thing, but I think it was a big part.”

A revamped run game is the team’s offensive objective this offseason. The Texans were a bad rushing team no matter who carried the ball, Kubiak emphasized. That was on the running backs, the line, the scheme and the coaches.

Guards Chester Pitts and Mike Brisiel were lost for the season early on, and with Kasey Studdard and Chris White in their place, the interior line was a weakness.

“We regressed in there, not by lack of effort, just by young players having to play,” Kubiak said.

As the Texans seek to boost the run game and give a great pass game featuring Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson better balance, Slaton should be part of a new backfield combination.

If the price falls on a veteran free agent such as Chester Taylor or Thomas Jones, maybe one of them could be getting carries. If they don’t see a value there, the Texans will attack the spot in the draft.

After failing with Ahman Green and Chris Brown, the popular thinking and the team’s tenor suggest the Texans will address other areas in free agency and look for the running back in the draft.

“That has been a young man’s position in this business for a while,” Kubiak said.

So the expectation is that Slaton is the team’s quick back and the Texans will attempt to bring in a bigger guy who can be effective in short yardage and goal-line situations.

“I’m not the biggest guy, I’m not the smallest guy,” said Slaton, who was listed as 5-foot-9, 215 at season’s end. “This league spits out running backs, they don’t last too long. So to have somebody to help in certain situations is good. I want to be the guy when the game is on the line, you give me the ball.

“… As a running back, you’re always stingy but you’ve got to be smart. If it helps the team, if I can’t get it done and somebody else can get it done, then I’ll gladly let that person come in and handle that job. But my thing is I want to be that go-to guy, I’ve always been that, that’s what I pride myself on.”

While he’s encouraged by his recovery, ESPN’s resident physical therapist Stephania Bell put up a caution flag. (See sidebar.)

“He will need to work diligently to strengthen the stabilizing muscles around his neck (very deep muscles) as well as all the muscles in the upper back that help support the neck,” she said of going forward with the neck issue. “While he can very well be cleared to return -- and he can indeed go on to have success and not have another major incident -- there is inherently more risk, simply because of what he has been through.”

Kubiak doesn’t sound like he wants to distribute carries by preset formula, just the flexibility to use two different quality options in situations in which they excel. Offensive line/run game guru Alex Gibbs is no longer on the coaching staff, but Kubiak said the team has invested a lot of time in his zone blocking scheme and will stick with it, adding a few things.

One-cut-and-go backs are usually the guys who fit it well, though Kubiak said he’d be fine with two cuts.

Slaton is good with 20 carries in a game, Kubiak said, and actually runs better in the second half than he does at the start.

“But I think like anybody else in this league if you put the whole load on him, you can wear him down pretty damn quick, so we need a complement to him,” he said. “… Obviously there is a place in this league for that guy, there is no doubt. He can make big plays. And then there is a place for a guy who can take a little bit more of a pounding and be a short-yardage and red zone guy. I think there is a place for those two guys in the league.

“The bottom line is we’ve just got to get another good player to go with him.”

Should Texans consider Jones?

March, 1, 2010
3/01/10
4:17
PM ET
LaDainian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook were quick nos for me when I lined them up with the Texans.


Jerome Davis/Icon SMIRecently-released running back Thomas Jones could be a good fit for the Texans.
Tomlinson’s simply worn down and Westbrook’s injury-prone and more of a dual threat than the goal-line short yardage banger the Texans covet.

But Thomas Jones I’m not so sure about.

Yes, everyone is wary of a back over 30 and Jones will be 31 in August. But the guy about to be released by the Jets is a sculpted. He’s coming off a season with the most carries of his career, averaging 4.2 yards a carry, the third best number of his 10-year career. In 148 NFL games over 10 years, he’s averaged 17.4 touches on offense, a significantly smaller number than LT’s 24.2.

“I like him more than Westbrook and a lot more than LT, for anyone,” Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. told me. “Yes, he still has juice left and would be best in a tandem with a dynamic type (like a healthy Slaton). He isn't flashy, but he has a very professional approach to playing the position. He runs hard and doesn't make many bad decisions. It is a different scheme that what he ran in New York, but I do think Jones could be successful against unstacked boxes in Houston. Would say he is an above average goal line runner.”

Ahman Green was a failed attempt at getting a veteran running back for Houston, but they were looking for a primary back then. Chris Brown was a failed attempt as getting a veteran complimentary back, but he was cheap and miscast.

Jones could be a different deal if the price is right.

I believe the Texans would like to draft a back.

But after letting Dunta Robinson walk, their need list is pretty lengthy: corner back, running back, interior offensive lineman, interior defensive lineman, free safety. Go into the draft with five needs, the odds of filling them all sufficiently with first-year players seems slim.

So I’d say they need to fill one or two of them in free agency -- by landing an unrestricted or by luring away a restricted with an offer sheet or through a trade.

Given that, they have to seriously examine Jones, especially if no one else pounces on him when free agency opens Friday.

“He's a beast,” says Tim Graham, my sworn enemy who works this job on the AFC East. “Known for being a freak in terms of his physique. He will be a good complementary back anywhere he doesn't have to shoulder the whole load. Not just goal line, either. He broke some long runs this past season.”
Posted by ESPN.com staff

Houston Texans
  • The Houston Chronicle's Dale Robertson has a look at the rookie season of linebacker Brian Cushing, who was just named the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week.
  • Former Texans running back Ahman Green said family turmoil was the main reason he didn't live up to high expectations in Houston.
Indianapolis Colts
  • Phillip B. Wilson has a story on Melvin Bullitt and Jacob Lacey, former high school teammates who have stuck with the Colts as undrafted free agents.
  • Colts receiver Anthony Gonzalez is nearly ready to return to practice.
  • The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Bill Coats looks at the case Peyton Manning is building to eventually be considered the best quarterback ever.
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans
Posted by ESPN's Darren Lyn

HOUSTON -- The Texans averaged 382 yards per game last season, which ranked third in the NFL. Rookie running back Steve Slaton, who rushed for 1282 yards, was a big part of that offensive output, but with the release of Ahman Green during the offseason, the Texans say they'd like to pair up Slaton's dashing speed with a bigger back who can pound it up the middle.

Even though running baacks Chris "Beanie" Wells from Ohio State or Knowshon Moreno from Georgia fit that description, it is very unlikely the Texans would take either of them even if they are available at the Texans' No. 15 spot because the team is focusing on shoring up its defense with that pick. The team believes it can draft a good running back in the later rounds, and the Texans have a total of eight selections during this draft. Some running back names being thrown around on different mock draft boards include Shonn Green from Iowa, Donald Brown from UConn, and Cedric Peerman from Virginia.

With the offseason departure of quarterback Sage Rosenfels to the Vikings, the Texans picked up Dan Orlovsky from the Lions to be the backup to starter Matt Schaub. But the Texans say it's not far-fetched to consider getting another solid backup quarterback in the later rounds. And they might not even have to leave the state of Texas to find that next quarterback. Among the names being considered: Graham Harrell from Texas Tech; Stephen McGee from Texas A&M; and Rhett Bomar from Sam Houston State.

Lyn is ESPN's bureau reporter in Houston.

Reading the coverage: Green on IR

November, 26, 2008
11/26/08
10:35
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Hope you've got a half day, or better yet, the day off as you get ready for Thanksgiving. The AFC South Blog will be in Detroit for Titans-Lions and bring you everything we can get at Ford Field Thursday.

Here are this morning's headlines...

Houston Texans

  • Ahman Green is on injured reserve and with Steve Slaton and Ryan Moats banged up, the Texans have added Darius Walker.
  • The Texans will look to show they aren't a weakling in their first Monday night game, according to Megan Manfull.
  • A lot of big-time corners have given up more yards, catches and touchdowns than Jacques Reeves, writes John McClain.

Indianapolis Colts

  • Jeff Saturday doesn't know when he will be back from his calf injury, writes Phillip B. Wilson.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Punter Adam Podlesh is finished for the season, while George Wrighster and Jeremy Mincey are finally ready to play, says Vito Stellino.
  • A Q&A with receiver Mike Walker.

Tennessee Titans

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Two wins, two losses and a lot to read. 

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Jack Del Rio says something is missing and David Garrard apologizes to fans, according to Vito Stellino.
  • The Jags had allowed 17 points off turnovers all season. Against the Vikings, they allowed 17 points off turnovers, says Michael C. Wright.
  • Fred Taylor says the Jags are a bad team and figures he may not be around next year, according to Cole Pepper.
  • Several Fs in Gene Frenette's report card.
  • Maurice Jones-Drew's 113 receiving yards were a team record for a running back, says Hays Carlyon.
  • Jacksonville just couldn't recover from the terrible start, says Tania Ganguli.
  • Matt Jones appeal is set for Dec. 4, according to Ganguli. About time.

Tennessee Titans

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

As kickoff nears, a look at who's written what around the AFC South.

I'll be heading to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium early to watch Texans-Colts before taking in Titans-Jaguars.

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Tennessee Titans

Texans hope rested Slaton bounces back

November, 11, 2008
11/11/08
2:42
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Slaton

Through eight games, Houston rookie running back Steve Slaton was averaging 18.8 touches a game and ranked 15th in the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 719.

But in Sunday's loss to Baltimore, he was a non-factor with six touches for 24 yards. The Texans looked more to Ryan Moats and Ahman Green.

Coach Gary Kubiak said the reduced work for Slaton was by design.

"Well, he obviously didn't get all the reps that he has been getting as a starter for us," Kubiak said. "He was really worn down, to be honest with you. He struggled last week in practice, just sharpness, speed, those types of things. He didn't miss any time or anything but we just felt like we were going to do everything we could to split those reps up even more so, if anything a little less for Steve than Ahman or the other young man in Moats.

"So, I would hope that him not playing as many reps this week gets him back to full speed but the kid needed a break. He's played a lot of football in a short period of time. I expect him to bounce right back. So, that was the purpose behind that."

In the Oct. 5 home loss to Indianapolis, Slaton was a key piece of the offense with the second-biggest ground game of his first year -- 16 carries for 93 yards.

To pull an upset at Lucas Oil Stadium, odds are the Texans will need another effort like that.

But the Colts were giving up an average of 199.3 rushing yards per game when they went to Reliant Stadium in early October. They've since chopped 56 yards off that average and have held three of their last five opponents to 88 yards or fewer.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Houston Texans

  • Duane Brown will be dealing with Jared Allen and the Metrodome noise, writes Dale Robertson.
  • Ahman Green has another injury issue and will be a game-time decision, says Robertson.

Indianapolis Colts

  • The Colts run defense has gotten dramatically better in the last three games, writes Phil Richards.
  • Injuries mean the Colts have to sort out who's the nickelback, says Richards.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Simple stats remind the Jaguars how they have to run to win, says Michael C. Wright.

Tennessee Titans

  • The Titans, 27th last season in kickoff return average, are No. 1 now with Chris Carr leading the charge, writes Jim Wyatt.
  • Mike Reinfeldt and Ted Thompson played together and worked together in two front offices. Now they are GMs of teams that square off on Sunday, says Wyatt. This insider also includes the story of the Titans' most consistent offensive lineman, Bryan Pride, who's been steadily gaining weight.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

As you get amped up for the big Colts-Titans Monday Night Football game, here is every look at the game and every story on the Jaguars and Texans I could find.

I'll check in mid-day and be situated at LP Field early to give you any updates I can.

Houston Texans

  • The Texans come up with the most lopsided win in franchise history, writes John McClain.
  • Andre Johnson's mood and the Texans as a team are getting better, says Dale Robertson.
  • Houston didn't allow a touchdown in two Bengals' trips inside the 20, a big development according to Meghan Manfull.
  • Ahman Green left the game with a leg cramp.
  • The Texans are a pretty decent football team, according to Jerome Solomon.

Indianapolis Colts

  • Four keys for the Colts as they face a big challenge to their AFC South supremacy, from Mike Chappell.
  • The Colts throw more than everybody but Detroit while the Titans run more than everybody, making for an interesting contrast, writes Chappell.
  • As expected, Joseph Addai, Bob Sanders and Kelvin Hayden are out Monday night, reports Chappell.
  • Reggie Wayne's moving to the slot in three wide and can cause problems there, writes Chappell.
  • Stopping Albert Haynesworth won't be easy, says Chappell.
  • Freddy Keiaho wants to be the Colts' leading tackler, writes Tom James.
  • Peyton Manning's looking to help the Colts pull things together, writes Jarrett Bell.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • The Jaguars let another one slip away and Jack Del Rio is not happy about it, writes Vito Stellino.
  • Gene Frenette says Del Rio boiled over after this one.
  • Jacksonville's defense tightened up late but it wasn't enough, says Hays Carlyon.
  • Cleveland's Shaun Rogers did a lot to hurt Jacksonville, according to Garry Smits.
  • Michael C. Wright looks at a bad day for special teams.
  • Gene Frenette's report card includes no Fs.
  • Big games from David Garrard and Matt Jones were not enough, writes Wright.
  • The run game did not get on track, says Carlyon.
  • Chris Naeole broke his hand in warm-ups and did not play for the first time as planned, according to Kyle Hightower.
  • The Jaguars are missing "it," says Cole Pepper.

Tennessee Titans

  • Physical play by corners at the line will be a big part of the Titans' defensive plan, writes Jim Wyatt.
  • The Titans are out to prove they are no fluke, says Wyatt.
  • David Climer buys into the Titans-get-no-national-attention thinking.
  • A week-long stretch of stories on Ron Jaworski concludes with a look at the stats he's got access to, by Gary Estwick.
  • Game picks from Indy Star and Tennessean writers.
  • Wyatt's game preview.
  • A win puts Tennessee in complete control of the AFC South standings, says Terry McCormick.
  • A look at LenDale White from a Denver perspective, courtesy of Jeff Legwold.
  • Big national media day for White, as Sam Farmer also takes a look.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

HOUSTON - First-half observations from a tight game in the Texas heat, where Houston came back from 10-0 down to take a 17-10 lead.

-- Let the debate begin. Win or lose there will be a faction of fans who want the Texans to stay with Sage Rosenfels, who started after Matt Schaub spent Saturday night in a hospital with a viral infection.

Rosenfels matched or surpassed Peyton Manning in the first half. Both played with efficiency.

Rosenfels managed a touchdown drive just before the half very well, capping it with a nice five-yard strike to Andre Johnson. Rosenfels rolled hard right and hit Johnson moving left in the back of the end zone.

He was the two things the Texans needs in a game like this - efficient with 11 completions in 14 attempts for 144 yards and a touchdown, and effective at finding Andre Johnson, Who's 98 receiving yards on seven first-half catches were the best first-half total of his career.

-- The aggressive Colts built their 10-0 lead on two drives spurred by fourth-down conversions.

Joseph Addai converted fourth-and-one when Morlon Greenwood missed a tackle and Peyton Manning hit Reggie Wayne off of play action for a 36-yard gain. Cornerback Jacques Reeves was well-positioned, but never looked back. If he'd merely raised his arms he would have deflected the ball that fell perfectly into Wayne's arms.

-- Houston running back Ahman Green has actually looked pretty good cutting most of his carries inside the numbers. He's working as the second back behind Steve Slaton, and getting his first action since the opener. Not hurt yet either, from what we can tell.

-- The Texans are clearly focusing on limiting what Manning can do on the outside, so there has been a lot of room for people to get open in the middle of the field. Dallas Clark has 72 on just four catches working in that territory.

-- Pregame leftovers: Nice move by Colts owner Jim Irsay (Not Bob Irsay, as I originally wrote) to chip in $50,000 to the Texans Helping Texans program for Hurricane Ike recovery in the region.

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