AFC South: Brandon King

Guy Whimper, released Wednesday by the Jaguars, was somewhat of a symbol of stubbornness to me.

Whimper
Whimper
Jacksonville -- with, I believe, deposed general manager Gene Smith at the head of the line -- insisted Whimper was an NFL-caliber player. The evidence screamed otherwise.

The offensive tackle was brought in on Nov. 2, 2010 as offensive line depth. A third tackle at best, he would up starting 22 of a possible 40 games.

That was far more than the Jaguars ever envisioned they would need from him.

In a miserable 2-14 season that got both Smith and coach Mike Mularkey fired, Whimper caught a touchdown pass as a tackle eligible in Green Bay. But he was central in another tackle-eligible moment that might encapsulate the disastrous year more than any other.

In a 24-3 loss at Miami, officials said he botched a crucial play.

What I wrote about it that afternoon:
The worst, most symbolic moment of the game came after Jacksonville sacked (Ryan) Tannehill, forcing and recovering a fumble. Chad Henne threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Justin Blackmon that should have put the Jaguars ahead 10-3. But tackle Guy Whimper, who’d come in the game and lined up as an eligible player running a route, failed to report and was flagged for an illegal substitution. Later, the drive ended without even a field goal as Henne failed to convert a fourth-and-1 run.

Whimper said afterward he reported as he was supposed to.

The Jaguars need to get a lot better on the offensive line. I’m not sure the new brass yet realizes the extent of the deficiencies, though David Caldwell recently acknowledged the team probably has blanks at left guard and right tackle right now.

It was time for Whimper to no longer be in the mix. The Jaguars also released quarterback John Parker Wilson and defensive back Brandon King.
ANDERSON, Ind. -- Quick hits from my first half-day with the Colts, out of a long practice and some interviews afterward.

  • [+] EnlargeColts wide receiver Reggie Wayne
    Paul Kuharsky/ESPN.comColts wide receiver Reggie Wayne works with the pass catching machine at Colts camp. Follow Paul Kuharsky on Instagram at pkuharsky.
    Yes, it’s a snap judgment -- camp practice reports are filled with such snapshots. But everything I’ve read and heard about Andrew Luck was on display. He’s got great command of the offense considering how long he’s been running it. I tweeted that and got hammered by some for anointing him. Of course we need to see him against better defenses that are more unfamiliar. But what we see now is all we have, and all we have is pretty good. I did feel like he sputtered towards the end of a long practice, when he put two balls too low in a red zone period -- one to T.Y. Hilton at the goal post (which rolled to me) and another short one low and behind Reggie Wayne. But after those he made a beautiful throw to Austin Collie in stride as he angled to the front left corner of the end zone with corner Brandon King nearby. It’s easy to say it, but Luck’s mannerisms and execution do remind one a bit of Peyton Manning -- he does the quick pump fake as he drops back, he’s got a little hop, etc.
  • There were a lot of short throws by all the QBs. I don’t know if the coverage dictated it or if it was the stuff they were focusing on today or if there was any big meaning to it. But the ball was out quickly for steady, if small, chunks of yardage. And guys were getting the ball with a chance to turn and look to find additional yards.
  • Wayne working on a Jugs machine is something to behold -- I watched his session after practice and got a couple decent pictures. It’s mesmerizing in a Zamboni-like fashion, but there is obviously a lot more variance. He takes balls from one side, then the other, then straight on. He catches with both hands. He makes sure they are coming at difficult angles that force him to make the sort of tough plays he’ll see in game situations.
  • Early quarterback work I liked: Working on their own with QB coach Clyde Christensen, they took drops into a corridor of the other two QBs, two coaches and a couple equipment guys. They slapped and poked at him while he dropped and as he moved back up in the “pocket” before making a throw.
  • During early special teams, Robert Mathis spent a bit of time on his own working on his drops into coverage. Not long after, linebackers and defensive backs covered tight ends and running backs in a one-on-one period. Mathis covered rookie Coby Fleener on the first snap, stayed on his hip and picked off Drew Stanton’s throw.
  • Rookie running back Vick Ballard made a nice cach in the back left corner of the end zone in the same period, despite tight coverage from linebacker Scott Lutrus, who never turned to find the ball.
  • I planned on my initial bite of the apple here to be on veteran receiver Donnie Avery. He had a big chance with the Titans last year when Kenny Britt went down and couldn’t work his way onto the field. Now he’s drawing a lot of praise and sounds like he could factor into the mix for Luck and the Colts. Alas, he made a sprawling catch for a long TD from Luck (120 yards away from where I was, so it was hard to see) and landed badly. He was taken off the field with a left leg injury. Sounds like he will have an MRI, but coach Chuck Pagano promised “it’s nothing major, I know that.”
  • I spent three and a half days with the Jaguars last week and found it hard to judge the offense , which looked bad, because of the talent on the team’s defense. It may be the opposite here – it may be hard to judge the offense, which looks good, because of the lack of talent on the team’s defense -- especially at corner. Justin King, who’s been running with the ones, has a hip flexor and missed his third day.
  • Antonio Johnson, the team’s front-line nose tackle, said he’s up to 330 pounds from 320 but feels like he’s running around just the same.
  • More to come on this, but tight end Dwayne Allen is very good. Fits right in with what they are trying to do. Looks like a natural for this offense. A bright guy. His play and our chat is worth its own post. Stay tuned.
» AFC camp battles: West | North | South | East » NFC: West | North | South | East

An early look at the biggest training camp position battles:

HOUSTON TEXANS

Right tackle: Rashad Butler versus Derek Newton

Right guard: Antoine Caldwell versus Brandon Brooks

The Texans are reshaping the right side of their offensive line after releasing right tackle Eric Winston to save money and watching right guard Mike Brisiel take a free-agent deal with the Oakland Raiders.

Butler and Caldwell have experience in the system and go into training camp as favorites to win the starting jobs. But it won’t be a giant upset if one of them loses out to the promising kid in position to make a push. The team is high on Newton, who appeared in 14 games as a rookie in 2011, and Brooks, a third-round pick who was listed at 343 pounds when he was drafted and would be the team’s biggest lineman even if he slims down. We won't see Newton and Brooks as starters, but we could see one of them pull an upset.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Cornerback: Kevin Thomas versus all comers at left cornerback

The secondary is the Colts’ biggest issue, and depth beyond starting right cornerback Jerraud Powers is very questionable at corner. Thomas lined up as the second starter during spring and summer work. But the team did a lot to give itself other options for that slot as well as nickel and dime.

The Colts traded for Cassius Vaughn, claimed Korey Lindsey off waivers and signed free agent Justin King, previously of St. Louis. Those three, plus holdovers Chris Rucker, Terrence Johnson and Brandon King will look to earn roles during training camp. The team could continue to seek help at corner, too.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Cornerback: Rashean Mathis versus Aaron Ross

While Derek Cox will man right cornerback, veterans Mathis and Ross will compete for the starting job on the left side.

Mathis is a true pro who’s been a good leader for the Jaguars for nine seasons. He’s made great progress in a comeback from a shredded knee suffered in November. Ross was part of two Super Bowl-winning teams with the New York Giants and also offers leadership. The guy who doesn’t get the starting job still will be an important player on defense, lining up in the slot in the nickel package.

TENNESSEE TITANS

Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck versus Jake Locker

It’s experience versus potential in what will be one of the most-watched training camp battles in the NFL. Don’t believe Hasselbeck can’t lose the job. Coach Mike Munchak wouldn’t be setting it up as a competition for show.

To me, the question is whether Locker can be accurate enough to make his mobility too appealing to pass up. If so, he’s got a chance. If not, then Hasselbeck should retain the job. In the long run, it would be far easier to pull Hasselbeck along the way than it would be to take Locker out of the lineup. That could be a factor in what the Titans say will likely boil down to a gut feeling on whom they are better off with under center.
» AFC Scenarios: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

Yes, the start of training camps is two months away, but it’s never too early to consider the coming season. A look at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for the Colts in 2012.

Dream scenario (8-8): I consider this a pretty optimistic dream, but since we’re dreaming …

This one would require exemplary rookie seasons from quarterback Andrew Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen and at least a few others from the new regime’s first class.

But beyond that, they’ll need several guys from the old regime to play far better in a new system than they did in the old one for which they were better suited.

Donald Brown or Delone Carter will have to run effectively, for example. From a pool of returning cornerbacks, including Chris Rucker, Kevin Thomas, Terrence Johnson and Brandon King, they need to find at least a nickel, and that presumes the guy they just traded for, Cassius Vaughn, will be the second starter. (If I am playing against the Colts, with that collection of defensive backs, I’m trying to get them in dime.)

Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis prove to be pass-rushing demons as outside linebackers in a 3-4 base set in which they are coming from less predictable spots and forcing quarterbacks into all kind of mistakes. Their play offsets the questions at other spots for the defense and helps set up Luck and the offense with good field position.

Nightmare scenario (2-14): Yes, it’s possible the first year of the Ryan Grigson-Chuck Pagano regime matches the last year of the Bill Polian-Jim Caldwell one.

The Colts will face Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler in 2012. But if things go badly, plenty of second- and third-tier quarterbacks will also shred a patchwork secondary that added only safety Tom Zbikowski in free agency and Vaughn in a trade and got no help in the draft.

The defense can prove to have too few quality pieces to run a 3-4 or a 4-3 effectively, and if it’s giving up a lot of points, Luck will be dropping back a lot to try to lead comebacks. If a line of leftovers and castoffs can’t consistently fend off rushers, there will be trouble.

Should Luck get hurt and miss any time, the team will look to Drew Stanton or seventh-round pick Chandler Harnish. Either one is likely to leave fans pining for the halcyon days of Dan Orlovsky.

Also damaging would be the Texans' ability to stay good and improvements from Tennessee and Jacksonville. The Colts got their two wins last season against the Titans and Texans late in the year.

Spots that still need attention

April, 30, 2012
4/30/12
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The draft is over, the rosters are filled up.

But what areas weren’t sufficiently addressed and where can we expect to see the teams of the AFC South continue to seek help?

Some thoughts.

Houston Texans

Veteran corner Jason Allen left as a free agent. He helped the Texans cover for Kareem Jackson, who played just 55.73 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in 2011.

Brandon Harris was a second-round pick out of Miami last year, but didn’t show anything. The Texans look to be counting on him to contribute more. They like Brice McCain, but he's a situational guy.

But corner is a spot where the Texans need some additional depth at the very least.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts loaded their roster with offensive players -- eight of 10 draft picks went on that side of the ball.

The defensive picks were on the defensive line.

Which means the Colts still have a ton of work to do in the defensive backfield.

Jerraud Powers is a quality corner and a good leader. But after him, there are no proven corners on the roster. Is the second starter Chris Rucker? Kevin Thomas? Mike Holmes? Brandon King?

That’s not a great group to be choosing from. Look for team to give some undrafted rookies a chance and grab a veteran or two as guys come free during camp cuts.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars believe a healthy Eben Britton will help fortify their offensive line and he should.

But they don’t have sufficient depth on the offensive line and should create a situation where there is more real competition.

They re-signed Guy Whimper, who is a swing tackle at best and had some bad stretches last season. They like John Estes as a reserve center, but it would be nice to have someone to compete with him for the right to take over for Brad Meester.

Tennessee Titans

The team has sent major mixed signals about its offensive line.

Tennessee courted all the top centers in free agency but did not land one. And then they didn't draft an offensive lineman. Coach Mike Munchak said it wasn’t a dire need and the team can win with what it has.

Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean reports that among the team’s undrafted rookies is William Vlachos. Perhaps the center from Alabama can scramble the mix. But the Titans should still be adding options on the interior.

Colts offer updates on injuries

July, 29, 2011
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The Colts just sent out a pre-camp injury report.

They says Peyton Manning's injury "continues to progress, but there is no timetable for his return to unrestricted activity.”

The one item of note I see here is that while most of the key players get updates that say they have “been cleared for full participation,” Austin Collie’s note on concussion recover is worded differently: He’s “been cleared to return for football activities.”

Their updates:

David Caldwell, DB
  • Injury: Shoulder (Was placed on injured reserve before the start of the regular season)
  • Update: Has been cleared for full participation
Dallas Clark, TE
  • Injury: Wrist (Was placed on injured reserve on October 25, 2010)
  • Update: Has been cleared for full participation and will wear a splint during practices
Austin Collie, WR
  • Injury: Concussion (Was placed on injured reserve on December 22, 2010)
  • Update: All concussion symptoms have cleared and has been cleared to return for football activities
Kavell Conner, LB
  • Injury: Foot
  • Update: Has been cleared for limited participation
Brody Eldridge, TE
  • Injury: Knee
  • Update: Practice status is to be determined
Cody Glenn, LB
  • Injury: Neck (Was placed on injured reserve on November 30, 2010)
  • Update: Has been cleared for limited participation
Anthony Gonzalez, WR
  • Injury: Knee (Was placed on injured reserve on November 6, 2010)
  • Update: Has been cleared for full participation
Kelvin Hayden, DB
  • Injury: Neck (Was placed on injured reserve on January 8, 2011)
  • Update: Has been cleared for full participation
Brandon King, DB
  • Injury: Hamstring (Was placed on injured reserve on October 19, 2010)
  • Update: Has been cleared for full participation

Peyton Manning, QB
  • Injury: Neck (Had surgery in the offseason)
  • Update: Injury continues to progress, but there is no timetable for his return to unrestricted activity
Devin Moore, RB
  • Injury: Shoulder (Was placed on injured reserve on October 5, 2010)
  • Update: Has been cleared for full participation
Jerraud Powers, DB
  • Injury: Foot (Was placed on injured reserve on December 7, 2010)
  • Update: Has been cleared for full participation
Jamey Richard, OG
  • Injury: Hip
  • Update: Has been cleared for full participation
Kevin Thomas, DB
  • Injury: Knee (Was placed on injured reserve on August 28, 2010)
  • Update: Has been cleared for full participation
Chip Vaughn, DB
  • Injury: Ankle and Shoulder (Was placed on injured reserve on November 23, 2010)
  • Update: Has been cleared for full participation

Final Word: AFC South

October, 8, 2010
10/08/10
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» NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 5:

Ninety minutes early: Sunday at 11:30 a.m., we’ll find out just who’s OK to play and who’s not among the Colts. Crucial guys who could miss action include Austin Collie, Antoine Bethea and Jacob Lacey. Bethea, who has a bad hamstring, almost has to play because the Colts will be digging deep to announce a starter at the other safety spot, where Brandon King or DaJuan Morgan look to be the primary possibilities. Whoever lines up at strong safety, look for the Chiefs to try to target him in any way possible.

Watch the tight ends: Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders says the Giants have the league's best defense against tight ends so far this year while the Texans have the league's worst defense against tight ends. Houston’s not looked to Owen Daniels much, though Joel Dreessen’s been effective, averaging 17 yards a catch. Brian Cushing’s return should help the Texans’ defensive deficiency against Kevin Boss, who has 110 yards on just five catches.

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Kim Klement/US PresswireFacing Buffalo's struggling run defense may be just what Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jaguars need.
Packed in Bills: The Jaguars seem to have accepted that they need to keep the passing game focused on short stuff to give David Garrard his best chance to succeed. But by doing so, they might not take defenders deep too often. And by not taking them deep, the run game becomes more difficult for Maurice Jones-Drew and blockers who have to deal with more people. Buffalo’s dead last in run defense, so it may not be much of a factor at Ralph Wilson Stadium

Get creative: Outside of some option plays, it doesn't seem like the Titans have been very creative with Vince Young this season. Even if he lost the coaches' faith for his poor preparation during Pittsburgh week, it’s time to see if they can’t find some things to get and keep him in a rhythm. If Young gets off to a hot start, the Cowboys might feel he warrants more attention. If that happens, Chris Johnson might break something big.

Not so unfamiliar: Teams who haven’t faced Peyton Manning often overestimate what they will be able to do against him. But Chiefs head coach Todd Haley has a defensive coordinator in Romeo Crennel who has gone against the four-time MVP before and I’d expect him to have a reasonable approach. On the other side, the Chiefs have a pair of backs in Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles who might be able to pound away at a defense that’s had trouble slowing Arian Foster and Jones-Drew.

RTC: More coaches were DBs than QBs

October, 6, 2010
10/06/10
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Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

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.

Indianapolis Colts

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.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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.

Tennessee Titans

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.

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

October, 6, 2010
10/06/10
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» NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

Chris Johnson and the Titans’ run blocking: All sort of explanations are rolling in, and some in Nashville are even asking for more Javon Ringer carries. That’s craziness. But Fisher had said the run game isn’t operating as it should be and with that being the case the Titans really have issues. The line needs to block better and Johnson needs to be decisive. He tweeted a pledge for a big October.

  1. Chris Johnson

    ChrisJohnson28 I wnt 2 let all my fantasy ppl & myfans kno not 2 worry ima have a gr8 oct its tkng a little time 2 adjust 2 the 8 n 9 inthe box #NOPRESSURE
Colts safeties: Antoine Bethea is an excellent player. But he’s like to be stretched thin with the team’s three best options aside from him -- Bob Sanders, Melvin Bullitt and Jamie Silva -- all out now. The Colts are hoping for a late-season return from Sanders. In the meantime, their options on the roster are inexperienced DaJuan Morgan and rookie Brandon King, a converted corner who’s had a hamstring issue. Matt Cassel may not be able to take advantage of that, but I suspect Donovan McNabb and Matt Schaub will.

Jamie Winborn, Titans linebacker: He’s been workmanlike and serviceable as a fill-in, but the dynamic Gerald McRath returns from his four-game suspension this week. The Titans should plug him directly back into the lineup and hash out what they will do when they decide to use nickel personnel. But Jeff Fisher’s already spoken of the expectation of rust on McRath, which might mean Winborn retains a part time role for a bit.

RISING

[+] EnlargeMike Thomas
Justin Cooper/Icon SMIJaguars receiver Mike Thomas is averaging 12.2 yards per catch this season.
Mike Thomas, Jaguars receiver: As I mentioned in Tuesday’s High Energy Player of the Week post on Tiquan Underwood, I think the Colts’ game was indicative of where the Jaguars are heading -- to a shorter passing game that won’t ask David Garrard to make the sort of throws that failed him in the losses to San Diego and Philadelphia. Thomas had a solid game against Indianapolis and will be a big beneficiary of this alteration.

Troy Nolan, Texans safety: The second-year safety had two picks in Oakland in his first action on defense, which prompted Gary Kubiak to pledge more playing time for him. I think Eugene Wilson qualifies as a weak spot for the defense and even if healthy, the team should stick with Nolan and give him a chance to be part of this young defensive backfield that’s trying to grow up quickly together.

Josh Scobee, Jaguars kicker: He doesn’t rank high on the scoring list, but he’s extended a great preseason into the regular season and four games in he hasn’t even attempted a FG from under 44 yards. He’s connected from 45, 44, 48, 51 and 59 for the Jaguars so far this season.
Adam Schefter reports that Colts strong safety Melvin Bullitt is out for the season with a broken bone in his right shoulder that will require surgery.

[+] EnlargeMelvin Bullitt
Kim Klement/US PresswireThe Colts were already thin at safety before losing Melvin Bullitt.
The news is a killer for the Colts, as safety was already their thinnest position. Jamie Silva was lost for the season to injury in the preseason and Bob Sanders (biceps) is out until at least the middle of November.

This is a giant loss for a defense that’s been struggling. Bullitt is usually a steady and reliable player and it’ll be tough to replace him.

Here’s what Colts president Bill Polian had to say about depth at safety last week:
"The depth isn’t what we’d like to have there at safety, but hopefully we’ll continue to be OK. That’s probably the area where we have the least depth and that’s simply because of injury. You could never have imagined that both Jamie Silva and Bob [Sanders] would go down for extended periods in the same year, that’s just bad luck but it happens to every team. You can’t change it."
DaJuan Morgan is the top backup with Brandon King, who’s being converted from cornerback, also on the roster.

I don’t know if they consider Michael Lewis a fit, but the recently cut 49er would bring some experience.

Scouts Inc. on Lewis:
"Lewis is a big, powerful safety who is most effective when lining up close to the line of scrimmage. He is an active safety who is quick to diagnose run plays and aggressive when supporting the run. Lewis takes good angles and has the power to take on and shed blockers. He looks to punish when tackling the ball carrier. He is not as effective when tackling in space and can be inconsistent in coverage. Lewis is a bit stiff in the hips and does not break down great for open-field tackles. He can struggle when trying to mirror receivers in their routes. He does do a good job of reading the quarterback's eyes to get a jump on the ball but lacks the quick transition and burst to close on the ball."

Reading the coverage: Game-day edition

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
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Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

It’s time for the Texans to step out of the Cowboys’ shadow, says Richard Justice.

The natural order is upside-down, says Dale Robertson.

Anna-Megan Raley looks at the big matchup. (Video.)

We may not see as good a combo as Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson for a long time, says Richard Justice.

The Cowboys and Texans are heading in different directions, says Rick Gosselin.

Dallas faces a difficult choice on defense as to where to place more of a focus.

Beware of counterfeit tickets, the Texans warn.

Keys to victory for the Texans from John McClain and Tom Orsborn.

Indianapolis Colts

Stability at quarterback is a luxury for the Colts a lot of other teams don’t enjoy, says Mike Chappell.

It’s a bit out of character for the Colts to use a starter like Jerraud Powers as their punt returner, says Mike Chappell.

Pierre Garcon, Clint Session and Brandon King did not travel to Denver and are out with hamstring injuries.

Two running backs are better, says Phil Richards.

Organizers of the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis move forward despite lockout talk.

Jacksonville Jaguars

It’s time for David Garrard to step things up, says Vito Stellino.

What fueled Eugene Monroe’s improvement, asks Tania Ganguli.

Russell Allen is in line for his first start of the year, says Ganguli.

Ganguli’s game breakdown.

The Jaguars trail in media mentions, but they tend to be positive, says Abel Harding.

Observations through two games by Terry O’Brien.

Tennessee Titans

The offensive line wants a big rebound after a poor game, says Wyatt.

Vince Young’s fumbles have prompted a review of the basics, says John Glennon.

Derrick Morgan and Kenny Britt are motivated by being passed over by the Giants, says Jim Wyatt.

Wyatt’s matchup page.

All eyes will be on Young, says Bob McClellan.

Jason McCourty goes home as a starter, says Kyle Allen.
Solutions to the Indianapolis Colts' run defense woes won’t come in the form of any thudding hits from strong safety Bob Sanders. Adam Schefter reports Sanders, hurt in the first half of the loss in Houston, is out indefinitely and perhaps for the season.

Sanders
Sanders
It’s possible we’ve seen the last of him in a Colts uniform.

When he plays, Sanders can be a terror. His 2007 Defensive Player of the Year award attests to that. But his reckless style resulted in multiple injuries and now it seems fair to say he’s simply not put together in a way that allows him to sustain the pounding of an NFL season.

He’s played in 48 games since he was a second-round pick in 2004 out of Iowa, and he’s missed 49 games. If this is a season-ender, those numbers will be 48 and 64.

Melvin Bullitt isn’t the playmaker Sanders can be. But he’s proved to be an above-average and reliable replacement. Safety depth, however, is now an issue. Undrafted rookie Brandon King, a cornerback at Purdue, is the lone healthy reserve safety now.

Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

Gary Kubiak’s got to develop a credible No. 2 quarterback says Jerome Solomon.

Kubiak might resurrect Matt Leinart’s career.

Leinart talked to Mark Berman.

Danny Clark signed with the Saints.

Indianapolis Colts

Anthony Gonzalez doesn’t sound real excited about how preseason promises played out for him, writes Mike Chappell.

Brandon King is now a safety, says Chappell.

Melvin Bullitt’s attitude reveals his value, writes Bob Kravitz.

John Oehser breaks down the 53-man roster.

Jacksonville Jaguars

“For a team that started out 0-2 the last two seasons and is aiming for a fast start to build the confidence of the players and its fickle fan base, it might be the most important opening game in the history of the franchise,” writes Vito Stellino.

The Jaguars will not be blacked out Sunday in Jacksonville, says Tania Ganguli.

Sean Considine is a starter at safety and Justin Smiley is a first-team guard, says Ganguli.

Concern for players' well being has become excessive, says Vic Ketchman.

Tennessee Titans

Mike Reinfeldt won’t address Chris Mortensen’s report that the Titans are talking to the Redskins about Albert Haynesworth, writes Wyatt

The Titans know the Redskins are desperate, says Wyatt.

Chris Johnson insists 2,500 rushing yards can happen, says Jim Wyatt.

Kenny Britt’s putting the preseason behind him, says Wyatt.

Johnson recalls racing in the streets with David Boclair.

Indianapolis Colts cutdown analysis

September, 4, 2010
9/04/10
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Check here for a full list of Indianapolis’ roster moves.


Biggest surprises: Undrafted running back/returner Devin Moore, undrafted offensive tackle Jeff Linkenbach and undrafted cornerback Brandon King all won roster spots. Defensive tackle Mitch King, who also ranked as a long shot when camp started, survived. So did Gijon Robinson, the primary blocking tight end in recent years who figures to lose snaps to rookie Brody Eldridge. John Chick, a CFL star, lost out to Keyunta Dawson in his bid to be the fourth defensive end.

No-brainers: Two out of three of the return candidates were going, and those turned out to be Brandon James and seventh-rounder Ray Fisher.

What’s next: The team traded an undisclosed pick to Washington for defensive back Justin Tryon, so it appears more settled with cornerback depth. Despite fan desires for a change from Curtis Painter, I’d expect he’s locked in as the backup quarterback to Peyton Manning. The team is currently 10 deep on the offensive and defensive lines, but there doesn’t seem to be a spot screaming out for help at the expense of a lineman right now.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Last time I was at Lucas Oil Stadium, it was crackling for the AFC Championship Game.

Saturday, for a public minicamp practice, it was a bit different. And by a bit, I mean a lot. About 4,000 people came out, many focused on the half hour of autograph signing before things kicked off.

It’s what you’d expect for a Saturday in June, with players not in pads, not hitting and opening day more than three months away.

Some observations:

  • People watched the punt returners with special interest as there is new potential at the position. (When they ran two punt drills at once, safety Jamie Silva shockingly failed to measure up to Pat McAfee.) Brandon James was out, while Ray Fisher, Brandon King and Devin Moore fielded balls. It’s a training camp battle likely to be sorted out largely by preseason game performance. Hardly a newsflash here, but McAfee’s leg can be simply electric.
  • On a day like this, I try to spot kids who look lost. The young quarterbacks had some bad moments, and I am sure there were some young players out there who were unsure of themselves. But they were not especially easy to pick out. At least part of that, I think, is testament to the Colts’ way. They tend to draft and bring in smart guys and I am sure their rookie orientation and early days are quite thorough. While a lot of young guys are brought along slowly and benefit from patience, my sense is the Colts don’t give kids a lot of time to be lost over the basics of how things work.
  • I don’t believe Peyton Manning likes quiet time during practice, so even when quarterbacks might have some time to kill the Colts signal-callers do some sort of work. We watched while they were stationed at a 15-yard line and Manning, Curtis Painter, Drew Willy and Tim Hiller threw to the back left corner of the end zone. Austin Collie stood there and worked his feet on the boundary as passes arrived. One set of quarterback drops came with an early shoulder fake, and it appeared Manning was coaching the other three on how to make theirs more believable.
  • Rookie tight end Brody Eldridge figures to be more blocker than pass catcher early on, and I intend to write about him soon. But he appeared a comfortable route runner and pass catcher in the little bit we saw.
  • I only saw one snap of Jerry Hughes’ work during one-on-one pass rush drills. (Remember, no pads, no real hitting; it’s about speed, footwork and hand placement at this point.) Ryan Diem swallowed the first-rounder up.
  • No offense to any of the involved parties, but I’m still amazed at this element of springtime NFL: People came to the stadium and whooped and hollered at a Painter completion to Blair White over Jordan Hemby. Will any of them play a meaningful snap this season?
  • How desensitized am I to ridiculous pricing at professional sports venues? A special that got me a hot pretzel and a decent-sized Diet Coke for $5 felt like larceny.
  • The last three Colts on the field? Jim Caldwell signed autographs and Bill Polian threw passes to his young grandson. But Moore, the first-year running back from Wyoming, outlasted them both. And one set of lights went off just as he ran down the tunnel. Hope he didn't hold up a bus.

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