AFC South: Amon Gordon
Vince Young looked gimpy in his warm-up with strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson and will be the No. 2 quarterback.
Two other changes for Tennessee: With defensive tackle Tony Brown (knee) out, Sen’Derrick Marks will start and Amon Gordon is active. And with receiver Justin Gage (hamstring) out and Kenny Britt not starting for disciplinary reasons, Damian Williams will start.
The Titans inactive list:
QB Rusty Smith, WR Justin Gage, CB Jason McCourty, S Robert Johnson, LB Rennie Curran, OL Troy Kropog, G Ryan Durand, DT Tony Brown.
The Eagles inactive list:
QB Michael Vick, WR DeSean Jackson, RB Jerome Harrison, CB Trevard Lindley, LB Keenan Clayton, T Jason Peters, TE Clay Harbor, DT Brodrick Bunkley.
Troy Nolan is on the rise, says Jeffrey Martin.
David Anderson is excited about Brian Cushing’s return.
The Texans are expected to add defensive end Mark Anderson, says Adam Schefter.
The Texans will get better with Cushing back, says Steve Wyche.
Alan Burge thinks Anderson may be able to help fill the Connor Barwin hole.
Houston Diehards looks at some numbers a quarter into the season.
With Melvin Bullitt out for the season, Brandon King and/or DaJuan Morgan will be thrown into the fire against the Chiefs, says Phillip B. Wilson.
The Colts made several moves to jiggle the roster, including adding defensive back Aaron Francisco, says Wilson.
Wilson breaks down the matchup against Kansas City.
Kansas City coordinators Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weiss have some background in facing the Colts, says John Oehser.
Why the loss of Bullitt doesn’t spell the end for the Colts, from Nate Dunlevy.
Considering Joseph Addai’s future with Dunlevy.
A quarter-season review from Greg Cowan.
Matthew Berry considers Pierre Garcon as a fantasy receiver.
Josh Scobee’s new swing feels like a sure thing, writes Tania Ganguli.
Todd Bouman was released, making Trent Edwards the No. 2 quarterback.
Details on the man charged in the attack on Kassim Osgood.
Tickets distributed on Sunday were 63,111. The actual attendance was 58,212. From Vic Ketchman.
Will Derrick Harvey be around in 2011, asks Adam Stites.
Five things Jim Wyatt knows about the Titans.
The Titans added defensive lineman Amon Gordon, says Wyatt.
More NFL coaches were defensive backs than quarterbacks, says David Boclair.
The Cowboys won’t expect a lot of Vince Young throwing, says Rick Gosselin.
Jason Babin is renewed, refreshed and reeling in quarterbacks, says Bob McClellan.
The Cowboys are preparing to see some option plays, says Tom Orsborn.
Breaking down the personnel by down and the play-calling against Denver with Terry McCormick.
Recounting what’s changed for Chris Johnson with Darren McFarland.
A quarter report on the defense from Andrew Strickert.
The Titans won 13 games this season largely because of their ability to harass the passer with their front four. While they did well without their two best linemen in a win over Pittsburgh, their chances against the Ravens on Saturday would increase greatly with the return of tackle Albert Haynesworth (knee) and end Kyle Vanden Bosch (lower abdomen) who composed the starting right side of the line.
"We said we expect them to practice this week and I haven't moved off of that course," coach Jeff Fisher said. "I fully expect both of them to be on the practice field, they are doing well."
The Titans had what Fisher called a "brief session" indoors Monday and will have full practices Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Tennessee had to shave its roster after a week-long exemption for Kevin Vickerson.
The defensive tackle was reinstated by the NFL last week after a four-week suspension for a violation of the league's policy against steroids and related substances.
His replacement, Amon Gordon, was let go. League rules dictate that the Titans will not be able to bring back Gordon during the playoffs.
Though Fisher indicated it would be a stretch to read into it, I think the Titans would have made a move in another area and gone heavy on the interior defensive line if they were uncertain about Haynesworth.
Meanwhile, Fisher said center Kevin Mawae, who suffered a left elbow injury in the Week 16 win over Pittsburgh, is day-to-day but that backup Leroy Harris "is equipped to play and play well if Kevin can't play."
|Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images|
|Tennessee's running backs will have to deal with a defensive lineman on a mission -- Antonio Johnson -- who was let go by the Titans and is now playing for the Colts.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
The Titans proved themselves to be nine players deep on their defensive line in an excellent performance against the Steelers.
Sunday in Indianapolis, Tennessee's running backs will try to get past a player the Titans did not judge to be worthy of a spot in that group, who's now starting for the rival Colts.
When Indianapolis wanted to sign Antonio Johnson off the Titans' practice squad on Nov. 4, Tennessee deemed him expendable rather than doing what was necessary to create a roster spot to promote him.
Since then, Johnson has played in seven games, starting the last three, while averaging four tackles and playing a part in an improved Colts defense.
"He's been good," said Colts president Bill Polian.
"We went through a couple before we got him, but he's a great fit," Colts strongside linebacker Clint Session said. "I love playing behind him. He keeps me free. I run sideline to sideline without getting touched. That comes from his play. They're double-teaming him and he's been filling in for us great. He probably wasn't their guy there, but he's our guy here."
The Colts were thinned out on the interior defensive line very early, losing their best, biggest players against the run when Quinn Pitcock retired before training camp and Ed Johnson was cut for disciplinary reasons after Week 1.
So if Antonio Johnson was a solution sitting on the Titans' practice squad, why wasn't he en route to Indianapolis until the Colts were preparing for Week 10 in Pittsburgh?
"I don't like to poach, I really don't," Polian said. "I wish there were some other way that we could deal with that and my hat's off to them, they've done a great job. We probably should have got him earlier -- it was the idea of the poach and that he had been hurt the previous year so we really weren't sure. But if we were smart, we would have got him six weeks earlier."
Sign a player to your 53-man roster off someone else's practice squad, though, and you've got to keep him for three weeks. With his roster in flux because of injuries, Polian said he worried that he might be handcuffed with Johnson. When things settled down and the Colts still needed help, they made the call.
Johnson said he was glad to get the chance.
"I'm with the Colts now, I've got to play Colts football and I'm just happy to have this opportunity, I'm happy to be back out on the field playing football," Johnson said. "It's been good. I've come in and just tried to do my role, help out on the run, that's what they got me here for. That's what I do, every play I just try to make something happen."
Johnson was rated as a late-bloomer with enormous upside by the Titans when they spent a fifth-rounder on him, the 152nd pick overall, when he came out of Mississippi State in 2007. But he blew out a knee early in training camp as a rookie and after a year of rehab, couldn't beat out Kevin Vickerson, a run-stopper the Titans added during the year Johnson was on IR.
The Titans stashed Johnson on the practice squad and still hoped he'd blossom. But when the Colts came calling, Tennessee chose to keep three non-contributors on offense -- receivers Paul Williams and Chris Davis and running back Chris Henry -- ahead of him.
"We were disappointed we lost a draft choice that we felt had potential to eventually play for us, but at that point we did not have a spot roster-wise for him," coach Jeff Fisher said. "He'll get off the ball and play hard and fly around. We thought he was just going to take a bit more time."
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz knows there aren't many people who could name the four defensive linemen the Titans sent out as their starting unit Sunday.
Minus the injured Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch, the Titans showed off depth and development they hammered Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, hitting him eight times, sacking him five times, forcing four fumbles, recovering two and helping prompt two interceptions.
Jones was exceptional, with 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and three tackles for a loss. The second-round rookie out of Eastern Michigan had been working, when healthy, as the third tackle behind Haynesworth and Tony Brown.
He was Haynesworth-esque on Sunday.
"There were a lot of people who kind of looked sideways at us when we drafted not only Chris Johnson, but Jason Jones and William Hayes," Schwartz said. "Well, that's why we drafted them."
"Kyle and Albert, we need those guys back, those are big-time players for us... This is a really, really good group of guys, it's a diverse group. We know what we are, we have a system, we try to have guys with an eye toward it... We've been able to overcome a lot of injury situations this year. A lot of the credit there goes to [general manager] Mike Reinfeldt, because this team is not built to say, 'Hey, we're good as long as we don't get any injuries.' This team was built by Mike to say, 'When we get injuries, we're still going to be good.' And I think that's a huge, huge difference for us."
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
With Steelers-Titans just over 24 hours away, here's some reading to help you pass the time.
- Jerome Solomon says the Texans are relaxed, perhaps too relaxed, and confident, perhaps overconfident.
- The Texans offensive line hopes to stick together beyond 16 games, writes Megan Manfull.
- Linebacker DeMeco Ryans and tight end Owen Daniels are first alternates for the Pro Bowl, the Chronicle reports.
- The Colts are the first team in NFL history to win three games on the road in one season after trailing by at least 14 points and joined the 1983 Dallas Cowboys as the only teams to win four road games after trailing by at least 10 points, reports Mike Chappell.
- Tony Dungy will rest anyone who's nicked against Tennessee, says Chappell.
- Bob Kravitz's report card for Thursday night's game.
- Another remarkable milestone for Tony Dungy, writes Michael Marot.
- The strength and conditioning staff is being fired, reports Michael C. Wright.
- Playing less conservatively on offense the last two weeks has helped the Jags, says Wright.
- Mike Peterson paid tribute to his longtime home field in what was his last game there as a Jaguar, writes Jim Nasella.
- How will the Titans run against the Steelers' smothering defense, asks Jessica Bliss.
- A Steelers-Titans preview from Jim Wyatt.
- Joe Biddle says the intensity level should be off the charts.
- Chris Hope has fond memories of being a Steeler, says Gary Estwick.
- Albert Haynesworth echoes his coach and says he'll be back for the playoffs, writes Estwick.
- Jacob Ford's recent play has matched his loud wardrobe, says Jim Wyatt.
- The Titans promoted defensive tackle Amon Gordon from the practice squad and put cornerback Cary Williams on injured reserve, reports Wyatt.
Earlier this season, the Colts endured plenty of injuries on the offensive line and in the defensive backfield.
Part of what stamps them as a good team is that they patched holes and held together through such difficult circumstances.
Now the Titans face similar adversity on their defensive line. For Sunday's monster matchup with Pittsburgh and next week's finale in Indianapolis, they will be without their top two defensive linemen -- tackle Albert Haynesworth and end Kyle Vanden Bosch -- who have both played in the Pro Bowl.
I asked Jeff Fisher about good teams dealing with injuries in bunches at one position.
"I wouldn't say good teams face it, I would say it's one of the more difficult things to overcome," he said. "And if you can overcome it, then in all likelihood, you're a pretty good team."
Amon Gordon, who's been on the practice squad since Nov. 5 when the Titans filled a hole created by the Colts signing Antonio Johnson to their 53-man roster, will likely be in action as the third tackle behind Tony Brown and rookie Jason Jones.
In three games without Haynesworth last season, the Titans went 0-3. In those games, I thought Brown went from a very good complementary player to an average primary one. But he's gotten better and gets a chance to change that impression.
The Titans believe they can rush the passer against anyone. In their biggest game of the year, they'll get as big a chance as ever to prove it.
Barring a new injury at the position this week, Williams will sit for the 11th time and Davis for the ninth.
Meanwhile, Antonio Johnson, known by friends as "Mookie," will be enjoying a Sunday off after having participated in Thursday night's Colts-Jaguars game in Jacksonville.
Johnson, a fifth-round choice by the Titans in 2007, blew out a knee that preseason and then didn't make the team's roster coming out of camp this season as the team judged him to be too raw. He landed on the practice squad until Indianapolis, in need of interior line help, signed him away in early November.
The Titans had a chance to keep him by signing him to their own 53-man roster, but declined, instead continuing to dedicate roster spots to Williams and Davis.
With Albert Haynesworth out until the playoffs with a sprain of the MCL in his left knee and Kevin Vickerson serving a suspension that runs through the regular season, the Titans have two healthy and available defensive tackles, Tony Brown and Jason Jones. End Dave Ball is capable of playing some snaps inside.
But they'll have to add someone this week, perhaps Amon Gordon, off their practice squad. He was a fifth-rounder out of Stanford by the Browns in 2004 and has also spent time in Denver and Baltimore.
I was told by someone with the Titans when Gordon was signed to replace Johnson that he was just as good or better.
Johnson has been contributing in Indianapolis. We'll find out in the next couple weeks if preserving two receivers who've shown no signs they are going to be deserving of roster spots next year was the right move for Tennessee.
If the Colts viewed Antonio Johnson as a defensive tackle who could help cure their problems up front, they would have signed him a long time ago.
Johnson was a Titans fifth-round draft pick out of Mississippi State in 2005, but he blew out his knee in training camp and missed his rookie year. Heading into his second season, many of us presumed he would develop into a run stuffer who would amount to an upgrade over Randy Starks, who showed little interest after his rookie year and moved to Miami as a free agent.
But Tennessee judged Johnson too raw, cut him and signed him to the practice squad, viewing him as a guy they might still be able to develop.
He lost out on the 53-man roster to Kevin Vickerson, a Miami seventh-rounder in 2005 who missed his first year with a knee injury, was inactive for every game in 2006 and then spent four games on the 2007 Titans practice squad and four more on the 53-man roster. He's only played in three games this season.
At 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds, Johnson will be just the second Colts defensive lineman over 300 pounds. The other, Daniel Muir, has played in only two games this season.
I suspect if he makes much of an impact for the Colts, it will be in 2009.
Tony Dungy is sure to speak today about Johnson, who goes by "Mookie." I will try to check back and add what he says.
UPDATE 4:09: Dungy's comments from his news conference today:
On the roster move: "A guy named Antonio Johnson who we liked coming out of school and had some pretty good grades on. We're at a point where we're looking for defensive interior linemen, and he was a guy that we liked that was available. We had a chance to sign him, and we'll see how he does."
On how easy the transition will be for Johnson: "He should be able to acclimate pretty quickly. Matter of fact, he was on Tennessee's practice squad so he got to play this defense for a whole week before he got here."
The Titans replaced Johnson on the practice squad with Amon Gordon, who was with Baltimore in training camp. He was originally drafted out of Stanford by the Cleveland Browns with a fifth-round pick in 2004. Drafted in 2004 and still practice squad eligible! That's tough to do.