AFC South: Brandon Barden

Free-agency series: Tight ends

February, 27, 2014
Feb 27
12:00
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Here is the fourth of a 10-part series breaking down the Jacksonville Jaguars' free-agency needs, position by position:

Tight ends

Lewis
Who’s on the roster: Brandon Barden, Clay Harbor, Marcedes Lewis, Danny Noble and Allen Reisner.

Analysis: Lewis was pretty much MIA the first half of the season because of a calf injury and trying to find his spot in the offense, but he came on late in the season and caught 16 passes for 242 yards and four touchdowns in the last five games. If he's used the same way in 2014, he should have a 50-catch season. He is by far the team's best blocker, and Harbor and Reisner are flex tight ends who combined for 29 catches in 2013. Noble is a young, raw player with good size (6-foot-5, 248 pounds) and seems to be OK as a blocker, but he needs refinement. He flashed his potential with his 62-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown against Arizona. Barden signed a futures contract with the team in late December.

NFL free agents of interest: Ed Dickson, Garrett Graham, Dustin Keller and Andrew Quarless.

Need meter: 3. Lewis is among the league's best blocking tight ends and is a weapon in the passing game. He's not as much of a threat up the seam as some of the league's elite tight ends, but as long as he stays healthy the Jaguars are in pretty good shape. Harbor is an unrestricted free agent and he could be the Jaguars' best option. The tight end market is pretty thin after the top two or three, and the Jaguars are unlikely to invest a lot of money in this spot since Lewis already has such a high cap number ($8.25 million). Expect the Jaguars to draft a tight end.

Tennessee Titans cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
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Most significant move: Marc Mariani came back from a vicious broken leg suffered in the preseason in 2012. A shoulder injury suffered in the preseason opener cost him the rest of camp and the preseason, and the Titans put him in injured-reserve Saturday, ending his season. He might have been ready as soon as Week 3, but the Titans clearly didn't like the uncertainty. They could have waived him injured, exposing him to a claim. In that scenario, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who was instrumental in the Titans drafting the receiver/returner out of Montana in 2010, might have wanted him. But the Rams or anyone else would have had to have added him without getting to examine the injury, and Mariani's not under contract beyond this year so a new team could have been at risk for picking up a year's salary and getting nothing out of him. If he wasn’t claimed, he would have reverted to Tennessee’s IR. By putting Mariani directly on IR, he is assured of his $575,000 base salary this season but won’t play anywhere. The move means Darius Reynaud is the returner. He showed himself to be only the team’s fifth-best running back during camp, but sticks to handle punts and kickoffs.

Wildcard: If Rusty Smith clears waivers, the Titans will want the fourth-year quarterback back on their practice squad. He’s not been on the active roster for nine games in any of his first three seasons, so he retains his practice squad eligibility. If Smith is claimed, the Titans will need to find a young quarterback for the spot, who they can work to develop as insurance and who will be able to offer an option as the No. 2 if Jake Locker or Ryan Fitzpatrick suffers an injury that results in any missed time. One team that won't claim Smith -- his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars.

What's next: I could see the Titans shopping for a veteran safety as they sift through cuts. Seventh-round pick Daimion Stafford is on the roster now, but the Titans are heavy with strong safeties and light at free safety. They’d probably like better balance and Stafford could ultimately land on the practice squad. With 10 defensive linemen plus strongside linebacker Akeem Ayers in line to play a good share of end, the last pure end -- Keyunta Dawson -- is hardly a lock at this point. Only one injured Titan, rookie linebacker Zaviar Gooden, is likely to miss the season opener at Pittsburgh.

Tennessee Titans cuts: S Al Afalava, T Daniel Baldridge, TE Brandon Barden (injured), DT Stefan Charles, DT Zach Clayton, TE Jack Doyle, LB Gary Guyton, DT DaJohn Harris, S Corey Lynch, FB Collin Mooney, DE Nigel Nicholas, RB Jalen Parmele, WR Rashad Ross, LB Tim Shaw, QB Rusty Smith, LB-DE Scott Solomon, G Kasey Studdard, WR Dontel Watkins, LB Jonathan Willard, CB Khalid Wooten, C-G Fernando Velasco

Placed on Injured-reserve: WR/returner Marc Mariani.

Titans confirm 10 cuts

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
5:39
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NASHVILLE, Tenn -- The Tennessee Titans announced in a news release their first 10 cuts, eight of which had previously been reported by The Tennessean's Jim Wyatt.

The 10:

S Al Afalava
T Daniel Baldridge
TE Brandon Barden (injured)
DT Zach Clayton
LB Gary Guyton
DT DaJohn Harris
DE Nigel Nicholas
RB Jalen Parmele
G Kasey Studdard
WR Dontel Watkins

All of these moves were predictable.

Clayton was a seventh-rounder in 2011. Harris made last year's team as an undrafted free agent, and Afalafa was a veteran backup.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The game book from Week 3 told us quite a bit.

While the "did not play" list isn’t ironclad -- even professional stat crews miss guys when there are 90 a side -- it tends to be pretty telling.

Of healthy guys who didn’t play, four of the six were part of the cuts that got the Titans from 90 to 75. Defensive end Nigel Nicholas was listed a not having played, but he actually played five snaps.

The Tennessee-Minnesota game book doesn’t offer such hints, though plenty of the coming cuts to get the Titans down to 53 are obvious.

The Titans sat a slew of veterans, both dinged and healthy. The team granted preseason action to plenty of guys who won’t be on their team, and a number who won’t be on any team.

Here’s the list of guys who didn't play:

WR Kendall Wright
WR Kenny Britt
RB Shonn Greene
RB Chris Johnson
CB Jason McCourty
S Bernard Pollard
FB Quinn Johnson
LB Zaviar Gooden
LB Zach Brown
LB Akeem Ayers
TE Brandon Barden
WR Marc Mariani
WR Nate Washington
DE Derrick Morgan
DE Ropati Pitoitua
DT Sammie Lee Hill
DT Jurrell Casey

Barden is the only guy on that list who is a likely cut, and he tweaked a knee during the preparation week. The injured Johnson could lose out to Collin Mooney. Mariani (shoulder) is in a fight for the return job.

Otherwise, everyone on that list is on the team. Ten of them will be starters. Wright is the third receiver. Greene is the second running back.

So we get no hints.

One more game book note: It’s preseason for the stat guys, too. They gave credit for Daimion Stafford's third interception to Al Afalava.

AFC South links: Luck at ease with offense

May, 24, 2013
5/24/13
9:48
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Houston Texans

Texans owner Bob McNair and his wife Janice donated $100,000 to the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma Disaster Relief Fund, writes Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle. The donation will aid relief efforts after Monday’s deadly tornado struck Moore, Okla.

Randy Bullock is the only kicker listed on Houston's roster, writes Ganguli. However, coach Gary Kubiak says rookie Andrew Shapiro, listed as a punter, can do both. The plan is for Shapiro to push punter Shane Lechler and Bullock.

Texans director of college scouting Mike Maccagnan shares his thoughts on outside linebacker Sam Montgomery, a third-round pick out of LSU. Nick Scurfield of the team's website has the story.

Indianapolis Colts

Craig Kelley of the team's website has the first in a two-part series about how quarterback Andrew Luck will prepare for his second season in Indianapolis. Luck will be learning a new offense, but it's one he is familiar with from his days at Stanford.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Defensive linemen Jeremy Mincey and Andre Branch are hoping for bounce-back seasons, writes Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union.

John Oehser of the team's website has a notebook wrapping up Jacksonville's second week of OTAs. It includes an update on veteran defensive tackle Roy Miller, who worked out Thursday after missing the first five OTA practices with a sore knee.

Tennessee Titans

Charges stemming from Titans tight end Brandon Barden’s DUI arrest in February have been dismissed after the arresting officer failed to appear in a Georgia courtroom, writes Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean.

AFC South links: Stop asking Watt to prom

March, 1, 2013
3/01/13
10:19
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Houston Texans

Texans TV's Drew Dougherty interviewed general manager Rick Smith, discussing the combine, free agency and more. Here is the transcript.

Defensive end J.J. Watt has received an overwhelming amount of personal requests from fans, writes USA Today's Chris Chase.

Indianapolis Colts

A tweet by Vontae Davis about former Miami Dolphins teammate Sean Smith is causing a stir, writes Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars have several important decisions to make as free agency nears, writes Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union.

Quarterback Blaine Gabbert deserves a shot to alter the negative perception surrounding him, writes Gene Frenette of the Times-Union (subscription required).

Tennessee Titans

Titans tight end Brandon Barden was charged with traffic violations that include DUI on refusal after a single-car accident in Georgia over the weekend, writes Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean.

The Titans' practice squad

September, 1, 2012
9/01/12
4:05
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The Titans signed the following seven players to their practice squad:

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