AFC South: Blue

RTC: On Kareem Jackson's improvement

November, 14, 2012
Reading the coverage …

Houston Texans

The Texans have moved to No. 1 in the power rankings of the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain.

Cornerback Kareem Jackson is easily the Texans' most improved player, says McClain.

To which I say: His transformation has really been remarkable. It’s just the sort of thing you hope for from a first-round pick who hasn’t lived up to expectations in his first couple of seasons. He could have accepted his label and status. Instead he’s fought hard to improve.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts face a big test in trying to slow the league’s No. 1 offense when they travel to New England Sunday, says Phillip B. Wilson of the Indianapolis Star.

Chuck Pagano once shaved his head to show support for Butch Davis, while Davis endured chemotherapy, writes Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal. (Hat tip to the Star.)

The Colts' mascot, Blue, has a deal with a team cheerleader: If he raises $10,000 for leukemia research, she’ll shave her head. Meanwhile, season-ticket holder Jess Schriner shaved her head to show support for Pagano, says Amanda Maynard of WISH-TV.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are part of a league trend that shows offenses using a lot more no-huddle, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

Storylines and stuff to watch as the Jaguars prepare for a trip to face the Texans, from John Oehser of the team’s website.

Tennessee Titans

Rookie Taylor Thompson is blossoming as a blocker, so much so that he played more than Jared Cook in Miami, says John Glennon of The Tennessean.

The bye week means healing time for linebacker Colin McCarthy, says Glennon.

Mike Munchak thinks the Titans' run game is as good as anyone’s right now, says David Boclair of the Nashville City Paper.

Best of NFL: AFC South teams

June, 30, 2011
Best of NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

As part of Best of the NFL Week on, here are five bests for the AFC South:

[+] EnlargeFaith Hill and Tim McGraw
Kevin Winter/Getty ImagesFaith Hill and Tim McGraw are two of the Titans' more famous fans.
Best celebrity fans -- Tim McGraw and Faith Hill bring a good deal of star power to LP Field and are the headliners of a large country music contingent that counts the Tennessee Titans as its hometown team. (There is a pretty good stream of musicians who pass through to take on the national anthem.) Hill picked games in print against staffers from The Tennessean last season and rare was the week when she didn’t go with her team despite its struggles.

Best logo -- We hit this in our Power Rankings of helmets. It’s hard not to love that Colts horseshoe. First, it’s a classic with a lot of history in two great cities. Second, it’s a good luck charm so long as it’s pointed the right way. It’s practically stitched onto the image that comes into my head when I think of Johnny Unitas and Peyton Manning. Given the divisional competition -- three cookie-cutter “modern” NFL Properties designs (OK, the Texans’ isn’t too bad), this is a runaway.

Best tailgating -- It’s a Houston claim to fame. I get steady invitations to stop by but have always resisted, because it’s not part of a reporter’s pregame routine. Perhaps my boss will let me alter a game day to test things out for myself. It’s a venue where cars line up well before the gates open and where there were huge complaints from non-ticket-holders because of a new rule forbidding them from taking up coveted parking lot space for pregame partying.

Best shot at HOF, non-QB -- Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney is closer to the end of his career than Andre Johnson, so he gets the vote here. He’s 31 but remains a consistent force who’s a threat on every play. Offensive coordinators, left tackles and quarterbacks have to worry about him all the time, and game plans are built around slowing him. A high percentage of his sacks come with forced fumbles. With a few more good sack totals, his numbers will be at the right level to earn induction.

Best mascot -- Much to rival T-Rac’s chagrin in Nashville, I am going with wise-guy Jaxson De Ville of the Jaguars. Admittedly, it may be because I see him less and absence makes the heart grow fonder. But he’s clever and edgy in a way that extends his appeal beyond people whose age is in single digits. He’s an athlete who’s bungeed onto the field and flipped off a light tower before rip lining, but his softer side is unafraid to dance to Michael Jackson. He's also been on fire and caught a last-second game-winning field goal.