AFC South: Bryan Anger

Examining the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster:

General manager David Caldwell has said he likes to keep three quarterbacks, which means all three will have to be on the active roster, because Stanzi is ineligible for the practice squad. Stanzi should start the season as the No. 2 because he’s more ready to play than Bortles, but that will likely flip-flop at some point. Stephen Morris is a practice squad candidate.


If the Jags elect to keep only four backs, Todman and Johnson likely would battle for the final spot. That is assuming Robinson continues to be very good in camp. He might end up getting more playing time than any of the other backs after Gerhart if he shows he can be a reliable pass-catcher. Johnson has to prove he can pass block and doesn’t have problems with ball security.


The first four players should be locks, but it will be an interesting competition for the final two spots among Brown, Taylor, free-agent signee Tandon Doss, undrafted rookie Allen Hurns, and former practice-squad player Chad Bumphis. Doss missed most of the organized team activities and minicamp because of a calf injury, allowing Taylor, Bumphis and Hurns to get valuable reps. Doss was not a consistent receiver in his three seasons in Baltimore and has more value as a returner, but Sanders’ strength is as a punt returner and the Jags have other options at kickoff returner. I have Taylor narrowly beating out Hurns because of his experience, but I can easily see that being flipped if the Jags want to add more size. Hurns is 6-foot-3; Taylor is 6-0.


Jensen flashed during OTAs and gets the edge over three other players. He’s a big kid (6-6, 270) who is a raw version of Lewis, one of the league’s best blocking tight ends. Jensen will need a year or two to develop and likely will be used as an extra blocker more than a pass-catcher.


Some of the battles for starting jobs along the line are going to be intriguing during camp. Joeckel and Beadles are safe, but every other spot is up for grabs. Even Pasztor, who started 12 games last season, is uncertain because we don’t know how his surgically repaired shoulder will hold up during camp. If it’s fine, then he will win the starting job at right tackle. McClendon and Linder are battling for the right guard spot, and Brewster is going to have to hold off Bowanko and two others to be the starter at center. Bradfield has value because he can play both tackle spots.


This should be the biggest upgraded position on the roster thanks to the additions of Clemons, Bryant and Hood. Despite public perception, Alualu isn’t on the bubble for two reasons: He played solidly last season, and there really isn’t anyone else on the roster as talented as he is to back up Bryant. The Jags are excited about Smith, who could end up playing more than Davis as the No. 3 LEO (hybrid end/linebacker) by the time the season is over.


Either John Lotulelei or J.T. Thomas, two key special teams players last season, could stick if the Jaguars decide to keep an extra linebacker instead of five cornerbacks, or if Hayes’ surgically repaired knee doesn’t respond well. Reynolds did a solid job subbing for Watson (groin) during OTAs and minicamp at the new OTTO position (replaces strongside linebacker).


The Jags will have to decide whether to keep fourth-year player Mike Harris or Jeremy Harris, a seventh-round pick in 2013 who spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a back injury. The 6-2, 185-pound Jeremy Harris is a better fit for what coach Gus Bradley wants in his cornerbacks than the 5-10, 188-pound Mike Harris, who was a member of former GM Gene Smith’s final draft class. Blackmon has been working inside as well, which also makes Mike Harris expendable. Fourth-round draft pick Aaron Colvin will begin the season on the PUP list and doesn't count against the roster limit.

Chris Prosinski has seemingly been a bubble player since he was drafted in the fourth round in 2011, but there is too much competition for him to survive this time. Martin started 36 games for Carolina in his first five seasons, and that experience gives him the edge. Evans seems to be the name everyone mentions when talking about the first Caldwell draft pick to get cut, but though he might lose his starting job to Guy, he’s likely to stick around at least another year.


These guys should have little or no competition to make the roster.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Each week this season I put together a list of the top 10 playmakers from the previous week's game.

Sometimes it wasn't easy, especially in the first half of the season. With the Jaguars going 0-8 I had to dig deep, and twice I had to use mascot Jaxson DeVille for his dramatic pregame entrances.

Thing were much easier in the second half of the season, though. The Jaguars played significantly better and went 4-4.

At the midway point I gave you a list of the top 10 playmakers for the first half of the season. Now that the season is over, here's the final list.

Remember, this isn't a list of the MVP candidates, but a compilation of the players who made the biggest difference this season.

Following each player's name will be three numbers: their final point total, their first-half point total, and second-half point total. Points were assigned to each spot on the weekly list. The No. 1 playmaker each week got 10 points, the No. 2 got nine, the No. 3 got eight, etc.

[+] EnlargePosluszny
AP Photo/Scott A. MillerPaul Posluszny was the Jaguars' best defensive player and arguably their top player overall.
1. LB Paul Posluszny (83 total, 46 first half, 37 second half): It's no surprise that he tops the list. He was the Jaguars' best defensive player all season and you could argue that he was the team's best overall player. His 161 tackles (121 solo) were second in the NFL. He also had three sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

T2. RB Maurice Jones-Drew (77-41-36): It wasn't his best season, but he still was the Jaguars' leading rusher (803 yards) and was the third-leading receiver (43 receptions for 314 yards). He only scored five touchdowns and his 3.4 yards per carry average was the lowest of his career, but he still was the offense's biggest playmaker. He did that despite being less than a year removed from Lisfranc surgery and battling through ankle, knee and hamstring issues.

T2. QB Chad Henne (77-45-32): He finished with 13 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions, but he threw for nine touchdown passes and five interceptions in the last five games. He also threw for 3,241 yards, making him the first Jaguars quarterback to surpass 3,000 yards since David Garrard in 2009. Though he wasn't spectacular, he made a lot of good plays and rarely put the Jaguars in a bad situation.

4. WR Cecil Shorts (57-44-13): He fought through shoulder and groin injuries to catch a team-high 66 passes for 777 yards and three touchdowns. He missed the final three games because the groin injury became too severe for him to play through. For nine of the 13 games he was the team's No. 1 receiver and struggled with that role in the first month but handled it much better after Justin Blackmon's second suspension.

5. K Josh Scobee (46-30-16): He missed only two of his 25 field goal attempts. One was a 60-yarder and the other was blocked. He scored 94 points, which led the team for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons.

6. P Bryan Anger (45-34-11): He was the team's best offensive player in the first month of the season. His gross average was down 2.1 yards from his rookie season but he equaled his rookie mark of 31 punts inside the 20-yard line.

7. TE Marcedes Lewis (41-6-35): A calf injury kept him out for all but two plays in the first six games and he needed time to get used to the offense and figure out his role. Once he got comfortable, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch made him a significant part of the game plan and Lewis caught 16 passes for 242 yards (15.1 yards per catch) and four touchdowns in the last five games.

8. WR Ace Sanders (40-13-27): He was drafted to be the team's punt returner and because of injuries and Blackmon's suspension ended up playing a key role on offense. His 51 receptions for 484 yards were second on the team. For comparison, Shorts caught only two passes as a rookie and Blackmon caught 64.

9. DT Sen'Derrick Marks (37-15-22): He was the Jaguars' best defensive lineman all season and put together a career year. He set career highs in sacks (four), passes defensed (eight), forced fumbles (two) and fumble recoveries (three) in 2013. He had three sacks, eight passes defensed, three forced fumbles and no fumble recoveries in his first four seasons with Tennessee. He was rewarded with a four-year contract extension last month.

10. WR Justin Blackmon (34-0-34): He played in just four games but he was the Jaguars' best offensive player in those four. He caught 29 passes for 446 yards and one touchdown. His 29 receptions are fifth on the team and the 415 yards are fourth. He will be eligible to apply for reinstatement before the 2014 season begins.

Here are the players who finished 11th-20th:

11. RB/KR Jordan Todman (32-5-27): He finished as the Jaguars' second-leading rusher (256 yards) but made his biggest mark as a kickoff returner. His 27.4 yards per return average was seventh in the NFL. He proved he could be a complementary back as well, rushing for 109 yards against Buffalo when Jones-Drew sat out with a hamstring injury.

12. S Johnathan Cyprien (31-23-9): He finished second on the team with 104 tackles and progressively improved throughout the season.

13. LB Geno Hayes (29-6-23): Played through a knee injury all season and finished third with 78 tackles and two interceptions.

14. WR Mike Brown (26-26-0): He missed four games with a fractured vertebrae but rebounded to finish fourth with 32 catches for 446 yards and two touchdowns.

15. CB Alan Ball (24-3-21): He led the team with 14 pass breakups to go along with 45 tackles and two interceptions.

16. CB Will Blackmon (21-11-10): He was a late-August acquisition who became the leader in the secondary. His strip-sack and return for a touchdown was instrumental in the Jaguars' first victory. He finished with 10 pass breakups, one interception, and 40 tackles.

17. DE Jason Babin (19-6-13): He led the team with 7.5 sacks to go along with 40 tackles.

18. WR Kerry Taylor (18-0-18): He joined the team on Nov. 4 and caught 16 passes for 162 yards in the last three games.

19. LB LaRoy Reynolds (17-0-17): The sight of him assisting on a tackle on a punt return despite losing his helmet will be one of the lasting images of the season.

20. LB J.T. Thomas (15-11-4): He had 17 tackles and a forced fumble. He started the last two games of the season and had seven tackles and a forced fumble against Indianapolis.


Upon Further Review: Jaguars Week 11

November, 18, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A review of four hot issues from the Jacksonville Jaguars' 27-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals:

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesThe Cardinals limited Maurice Jones-Drew to just 23 yards on 14 carries.
Aggressive approach: Coach Gus Bradley wants his team to take some chances. They won't always work, but being conservative doesn't make much sense for a team that entered the game 1-8, either. That's why he went for it on fourth down from his own 38-yard line less than three minutes into the game and allowed kicker Josh Scobee to attempt a 60-yard field goal just before the half. We will see more of those decisions, Bradley said. "No one wants to [lose]," he said. "We'll work hard to avoid it, but what I think what I liked is we weren't afraid to fail. We were bold in our decisions. The fourth-down call, trying the 60-yard field goal, there was many situations where I felt like we were bold and I told our team that we need to take that personality on and reflect it. We'll continue to build in that direction."

Anger management: Punter Bryan Anger kept the Jaguars in the game in the second half while the offense was sputtering by pinning the Cardinals deep in their own territory. Arizona started four consecutive drives at its 9, 10, 2 and 10 in the third and fourth quarters following Anger punts. In all but one case the Cardinals ended up gaining fewer than 7 yards. The only exception came on Michael Floyd's 91-yard catch-and-run that was helped by three missed tackles. Anger averaged 47.8 yards on eight punts and put six inside the 20.

Ground struggles: Running back Maurice Jones-Drew continues to struggle. He ran for 41 yards on 21 carries in last week's game against Tennessee and had 23 yards on 14 carries against Arizona. Part of the issue is the offensive line, which is starting its Nos. 3 and 4 offensive tackles and hasn't had starting left guard Will Rackley since the San Francisco game on Oct. 27. However, the line hasn't played well when it was completely healthy, either. Jones-Drew, who missed the final 10 games last season with a Lisfranc injury and has battled ankle and knee issues this season, looks a half-step slow and doesn't seem to have the burst he did throughout his career. The Cardinals did come into the game with the NFL's No. 3 rush defense, but the Jaguars need a better showing than 23 yards. "They loaded the box and wanted to make sure that we couldn't run the ball," Jones-Drew said. "Sometimes you have to keep fighting that uphill battle and hopefully things will break."

Pressure: The Jaguars didn't have much luck getting to Carson Palmer with a four-man rush, so they went with some different pressure packages that included linebackers or defensive backs rushing. Bradley had challenged the front four to get more pressure because the defense has been vulnerable when blitzing because the secondary hadn't been able to hold the coverage until the pressure got to the quarterback. That's what happened again Sunday. The Cardinals' two biggest pass plays -- the 91-yard touchdown and a 37-yard pass to Floyd -- came when the Jaguars sent extra rushers and the Cardinals picked it up.

Rapid Reaction: Jacksonville Jaguars

November, 17, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars' 27-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

What it means: The Jaguars were trying to achieve something that hasn't happened since 2010: win back-to-back games. They beat Tennessee and Oakland in consecutive weeks in December that season but have won just eight games since. There is a silver lining in the loss, though. Tampa Bay was routing the Falcons, which leaves the Jaguars as the league's only team with a single victory and puts them in the lead for the No. 1 overall selection in the 2014 draft.

Stock watch: Punter Bryan Anger had perhaps his best game of the season, averaging nearly 50 yards per punt and pinning the Cardinals deep in their own territory. In the third quarter alone he forced the Cardinals into starting drives on their 9-, 10- and 2-yard line. Anger kept the Jaguars in the game while the offense sputtered in the second half. Cornerback Alan Ball had a solid game, too, by breaking up four passes in the first half -- three of which were intended for Michael Floyd.

TOs overturned: The Jaguars had what appeared to be two turnovers deep in Arizona territory wiped out. Patrick Peterson fumbled a punt at his own 10-yard line. Three Jaguars pounced on the ball but somehow Peterson came out with it and the Cardinals retained possession. Replays appeared to show long-snapper Carson Tinker coming out of the pile with the ball and the Jaguars challenged the play, but officials upheld the ruling on the field. Two plays later, middle linebacker Russell Allen intercepted Carson Palmer's pass to Larry Fitzgerald, but officials announced after the play that the Cardinals had called timeout before the snap.

Sneaky: The Jaguars scored their first touchdown on an interesting fourth-and-1 call. They lined up at their own 38 with extra tight ends. The Cardinals played run all the way, and the play-action fake allowed recently acquired tight end Danny Noble to get behind the first level of defenders. Chad Henne hit him with a good pass and Noble broke a tackle to score a 62-yard touchdown. What made the play work is the fact that Noble is a blocking tight end who had played in only five games and never had a catch until Sunday.

What's next: The Jaguars will play at Houston on Sunday.

Upon Further Review: Jaguars Week 10

November, 11, 2013
A review of four hot issues from the Jacksonville Jaguars29-27 victory over the Tennessee Titans:

[+] EnlargeWill Blackmon
Frederick Breedon/Getty ImagesThe Jaguars went "back to basics" on defense and forced four turnovers, one of which Will Blackmon returned for a touchdown.
Simple success: Apparently, simpler is better for the Jaguars' defense. Coach Gus Bradley and defensive coordinator Bob Babich spent part of the bye week going over the defensive game plans from the first half of the season and decided that trimming the amount of coverages, blitzes and personnel groups would help. The result was the defense’s best performance of the season. The Jaguars forced four turnovers -- the most they'd had in a game in three years -- and held the Titans to just 83 yards rushing. The Jaguars were last in the NFL in rush defense (161.8 yards per game) entering the game. “We got back to basics,” linebacker Paul Posluszny said. “Early on or even the last couple weeks ... we had games we were trying to do a little too much, and we scaled our package down for this week. I think we had a really good plan going into the game, very basic, not complex. It was stuff that we knew really well and we felt like we could play really fast with.”

Special teams: Kick returner Jordan Todman nearly got benched this week after bobbling three kickoffs against San Francisco, but he responded with a huge game against the Titans. He averaged 33 yards on three returns, including a season-long 46-yarder. That came on his final return and it helped set up another big play on special teams, when LaRoy Reynolds downed Bryan Anger’s punt at the Tennessee 1-yard line. The Jaguars got a safety two plays later on a holding call in the end zone, which ended up being the winning margin. The Jaguars’ special teams have improved markedly since training camp, thanks mainly to an overhaul of the bottom of the roster and the addition of players such as J.T. Thomas and John Lotulelei.

No stupid penalties: Did the Jaguars make mistakes on Sunday? Plenty, such as Chad Henne’s terrible throw to Marcedes Lewis that got intercepted and Brad Meester’s shotgun snap that bounced off receiver Ace Sanders. But the Jaguars didn’t commit the stupid penalties that were a regular occurrence during the team’s first eight games. They were penalized four times for a season-low 19 yards. Meanwhile, the Titans did commit a couple of costly penalties: a holding call in the end zone for a safety and a roughing-the-passer flag on Bernard Pollard that extended a drive that ended with a touchdown.

Commitment to the run: The Jaguars didn’t have a lot of success on the ground, rushing for only 54 yards and averaging just 1.8 yards per carry, but offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch stayed committed to it all day. The Jaguars had only 56 offensive snaps and Fisch called 30 runs, including 21 by Maurice Jones-Drew. That’s the kind of balance Fisch wants in terms of runs and passes. Obviously the production needs to increase on the ground.

Special-teams mistakes doom Jaguars

October, 13, 2013
DENVER -- A lot of the roster moves the Jacksonville Jaguars have made over the past two months have been to improve on special teams.

They really struggled during the first half of the preseason, but those signings helped stabilize the units. But the problems the Jaguars had on special teams during Sunday’s 35-19 loss to the Denver Broncos had nothing to do with personnel.

It was execution and one questionable decision.

[+] EnlargeDavid Bruton
Jerilee Bennett/Colorado Springs Gazette/MCT via Getty ImagesDavid Bruton's 35-yard run on a fake punt was just one of the Jaguars' special-teams miscues.
"We went in with the mindset that we’re going to be aggressive in this game," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "Instead of [how] maybe some thought we would back off, we wanted to be the other way. We wanted to be really aggressive."

That’s why Bradley called for a fake punt on the Jaguars’ first possession. It was a gutsy call because the Jaguars were on their own 26-yard line. But it showed his players that he wasn’t kidding about being aggressive.

It was a sound call, too, because the Jaguars saw something on tape that they believed they could exploit. It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. Not a bad gamble at all, considering the winless Jaguars had been 28-point underdogs.

But the fake itself was questionable at best. It was fourth-and-4 and fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou took a direct snap and tried to run up the middle. There was no room, just a pile of bodies. Not surprisingly, he gained just 1 yard, and the Jaguars gave Denver the ball on their 27-yard line.

"We felt like we had something," Bradley said. "[We] reviewed it and we talked about it and we felt like from the 20 to the 40 in that situation we could maybe steal a series."

Six plays later, the Broncos led 7-0.

The Jaguars’ two other big special-teams mistakes were because of poor execution. Rookie long-snapper Carson Tinker bounced a snap about a foot in front of holder Bryan Anger, who couldn't corral it and ended up being tackled for a 14-yard loss.

"Sometimes rookies make mistakes," Bradley said. "We talk about Josh [Evans] and Cyp [John Cyprien] and some other rookies that do it. You know, he’s a rookie, too. I guess sometimes that can happen at inopportune times."

The Jaguars got burned again late in the third quarter. The Broncos ran a fake punt on fourth-and-2 from their own 48-yard line, with David Bruton taking a direct snap and going around left end for a 35-yard gain.

It was perfect timing. The Jaguars were trailing by only 11 points, had just forced what they thought was a three-and-out and were thinking of possibly making it a one-score game. It was a well-designed play, too. Bruton is a safety, not a fullback. And he ran outside, not into the middle of the line. Nobody even saw him until he blew by the first-down marker.

Being aggressive was a sound plan, and it’s something the Jaguars should continue to do. But it’s not going to work if they continue to make small mistakes.

Power Rankings: No. 32 Jacksonville

September, 17, 2013
A weekly examination of the Jaguars' Power Ranking:

Preseason: 31 | Last Week: 32 | Power Ranking since 2002

To quote Florida coach Will Muschamp: "Church mice."

That's all I heard when I challenged myself to come up with a reason -- any reason -- the Jaguars should not be last in the Power Rankings that were released Tuesday.

There are seven other winless teams (Washington, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and the New York Giants) and surely an argument for one of them being No. 32 could be made. But after looking at the numbers, there wouldn't be any legitimate argument.

The Jaguars are last in the league in total offense (213.0 yards per game), yards per play (3.2) and scoring (5.5 points per game). They're 28th in passing, (160.2 ypg), 30th in rushing (52.5 ypg) and 31st in rush defense (173.5 ypg). The only Jaguars players you can find near the top of any ranking are punter Bryan Anger, who leads the league in punts (19) and yardage (905), and linebacker Paul Posluszny, who is tied for ninth with 19 tackles.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A few thoughts about the Jacksonville Jaguars after their 28-2 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs:

What it means: It was a dismal start for the Jaguars, who couldn’t do anything on offense and managed to score only because of a blocked punt for a safety. Nobody was expecting this team to make a run for the playoffs because new general manager Dave Caldwell and new coach Gus Bradley have made it clear that the roster needs to be rebuilt. However, fans were expecting the team to at least be competitive. Instead, they got one of the worst performances in franchise history. The enthusiasm generated by the new regime is going to evaporate pretty quickly.

Stock watch: This season is all about finding out whether the franchise can build around quarterback Blaine Gabbert. He was not very good against the Chiefs, managing just 121 yards and throwing two interceptions -- including one returned for a touchdown. But it wasn’t all his fault. The offensive line struggled and gave up six sacks. The receivers were not getting any separation and dropped five passes. The Jaguars flirted with setting the franchise record for fewest yards in a game (117 versus Houston last season) until just before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter.

No Shorts-age: Cecil Shorts was the Jaguars’ second-leading receiver in 2012 -- Justin Blackmon had 64 catches and Shorts had 55. But with Blackmon out for the first month, Shorts was going to have to be the top target. He was MIA until the game was already well out of reach. He didn’t catch his first pass until 8:36 remained in the fourth quarter.

MV-Punter: Punter Bryan Anger's leg is sure to be pretty sore on Monday. He punted a franchise-record 11 times against the Chiefs, breaking the old record of 10 (Adam Podlesh versus Tennessee in 2008). Anger, the Jaguars’ third-round draft pick in 2012, averaged 50.5 yards on those 11 punts.

What’s next: The Jaguars play at Oakland next Sunday. The Chiefs host Dallas.
Mel Kiper Jr. looked back on the 2012 NFL draft and his grades and offers a revised mark to every team in this Insider pieceInsider.

Let's look at what he said about the AFC South.


Summary: "Each of the first six players drafted by the Texans managed to contribute in at least some form in 2012, something you can't overlook for a team that went 12-4 and didn't need major personnel additions to get there. … We can't say there's a certain star anywhere in this draft, but the Texans added some immediate help and depth to what was already a pretty solid roster. If one of the wide receivers becomes something more, the draft will look better in the years to come."

Post-draft grade: B

New grade: B

My thoughts: They didn’t need immediate help at many spots, so first-year impression isn’t as significant as it is with the three other teams. There is lots of promise in the class, but we’ll have to wait on receiver DeVier Posey, who tore an Achilles in the playoff loss in New England.


Summary: "I don't know if [Andrew] Luck proved very good earlier than we expected -- he had the second-highest grade I've ever given a quarterback in 34 years -- but it was certainly true that he found some chemistry with all the rookie offensive additions. T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen and even LaVon Brazill played significant roles in the passing game, and Vick Ballard proved he's a capable starter at running back. … [F]actor in all the rookie contributions and the historic leap in performance for a team that was 2-14 in 2011, and you have an incredibly successful weekend to look back on."

Post-draft grade: A-

New grade: A

My thoughts: A group that produced and is a big part of the foundation going forward. It gives Colts fans hope that Ryan Grigson will be able to repeat the winning formula. Can he do as well on defense as he did on offense?


Summary: "Regardless, until the QB situation becomes a positive in Jacksonville, the fact that Russell Wilson was taken by Seattle five picks later (than punter Bryan Anger) will be an ongoing punch line. That said, I can't revise history and say I was banging the desk calling for them to take Wilson. Jacksonville needed to upgrade its pass-catching situation first and then find some help in the pass rush. Justin Blackmon got off to a slow start, but the No. 5 overall pick finished the year leading all rookies in both catches (64) and receiving yards (865), and did that without any sparkling play at QB."

Post-draft grade: C

New grade: C+

My thoughts: No matter how good Anger is, new general manager David Caldwell has an extra hole to fill in a complete rebuild because Gene Smith made that pick. Caldwell would kill to need a punter as opposed to a right tackle, I guarantee it. They needed pass rush help badly and second-rounder Andre Branch provided nothing.


Summary: "…Zach Brown was a solid if unspectacular linebacker who ended up starting 12 games for the Titans. He figures to hold down the starting role heading into 2013. Mike Martin did a pretty good job as a rotational defensive tackle, and showed an ability to penetrate and aid the pass rush. This draft created some early roster help, but after a season looks light on upside. Better QB play might be the difference, as (Kendall) Wright still has a chance to be a major contributor at wide receiver as he develops."

Post-draft grade: C+

New grade: C

My thoughts: They got good contributions out of their top four guys, and they all look ready to take on more in their second seasons. I think this is a draft class that will make contributions for some time.
Was Kendall Wright slighted?

The Titans receiver finished his first season with 64 catches, tied for the rookie lead with Jacksonville’s Justin Blackmon.

Meanwhile in Indianapolis, T.Y. Hilton caught 50 passes but was much more threatening downfield.

Wright was eighth in the league in third-down catches with 22, but Blackmon was tied for 13th with 19.

These are three solid guys from the AFC South for two slots on the All-Rookie Team.

I can’t object to Blackmon and Hilton being the choices.

Also on the All-Rookie Team, selected by members of the Pro Football Writers Association in conjunction with Pro Football Weekly: Colts tight end Dwayne Allen, punter Bryan Anger and Hilton in a second slot -- punt returner.

RTC: Locker has shoulder repaired

January, 10, 2013
Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

If the Texans struggled with Aaron Hernandez, how are they going to stop Rob Gronkowski, too? John McClain of the Chronicle considers the question from Houston, while Tania Ganguli looks at it from New England.

Shayne Graham hasn’t missed a field goal shorter than 46 yards all season, says Dale Robertson of the Chronicle.

The Bears will travel to Houston to interview Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison on Friday, says McClain.

J.J. Watt paid tribute to Craig Biggio, who narrowly missed the baseball hall of fame.

Two looks at how the Texans don’t even give themselves a shot in the red zone. Nate Dunlevy of Bleacher Report picks up on something I wrote and expands on it.

Indianapolis Colts

His inner ear infection is resolved and Bruce Arians is set to interview Sunday with the Bears, says Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star. Jim Irsay’s offered a sizable raise for Arians to stay.

A long and thorough list of things the Star’s Phillip B. Wilson will remember about the 2012 Colts.

If Arians leaves, who will replace him, asks Dunlevy. Andrew Luck will make someone a genius.

Jacksonville Jaguars

David Caldwell will be introduced as Jaguars general manager this afternoon. Perhaps by then a decision will have been made on the coaching staff, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

Justin Blackmon and Bryan Anger are on PFW’s All-Rookie Team, says O’Halloran.

Tennessee Titans

Jake Locker had shoulder surgery Wednesday and if his recovery of his non-throwing shoulder goes well he’ll be throwing in June, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Jordan Babineaux hopes he is with the Titans for the second year of his two-year contract, says Wyatt.

Before Dave Gettleman was hired as GM of the Carolina Panthers, Titans vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson interviewed for the job, says Wyatt.

PFF's All-AFC South team vs. mine

January, 10, 2013
I feel badly for Khaled Elsayed today.

Afterall, he picked Andrew Luck as his All-AFC South quarterback. And we know when a certain AFC South blogger recently made that move how Texans faithful reacted.

I suspect Elsayed has a big day of Twitter activity ahead.

But that’s the price he pays for being right.

Our differences are few, and I don't find any of the spots where he went a different direction to be objectionable.

Here's his team. Here’s mine.

He went two-back while I went two-tight. He went 4-3 while I went 3-4.

He has David Stewart at right tackle, but I know Stewart didn’t play to his standard, and downgraded him because he got hurt and missed four games. Winston Justice of the Colts was hardly great, but got my nod.

He picked Derrick Morgan as his fourth defensive lineman where I had Paul Posluszny as my fourth linebacker, and he gave Zach Brown a spot where I had Robert Mathis. He also has Dwight Lowery as a safety, a pick I very nearly made because Danieal Manning was inconsistent.

Finally, PFF liked Josh Scobee as the place-kicker where I tabbed Rob Bironas. Like me, Elsayed gave the nod at punter to Pat McAfee. The tweets protesting the crime of going that direction over Jags’ rookie Bryan Anger won’t match the Schaub defense, Khaled, but they might come close.

PFF liked Alan Ball as its special teamer. He missed a lot of games, and I had his teammate Bryan Braman.

Dig in and enjoy.
Mel Kiper’s All-Rookie Team is loaded with AFC South skill players on offense.

Kiper likes Colts quarterback Andrew Luck ahead of both Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson as his rookie quarterback.

“He gets the most juice here because no team in history has had this kind of a turnaround after drafting at No. 1, and Luck was the greatest reason the Colts turned it around,” Kiper writes. “Luck wins here based on his body of work over the course of the season, which spearheaded Indy's stunning turnaround. But they're all great.”

Three pass catchers and a punter are also on the team with Luck:

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts

Kiper: “His 17.2 yards per catch was fifth in the NFL, more than bigger-name downfield targets like DeSean Jackson, Demaryius Thomas or Julio Jones. “

Kuharsky: He led rookies receivers with seven touchdowns and had Chuck Pagano thrown a challenge flag Sunday he would have had an eighth.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Jaguars

Kiper: “He answered some questions about whether he's a big-play threat in one of his best games of the season at Houston.”

Kuharsky: Blackmon is one of the few bright spots in Jacksonville where he showed he’s able to be what they envisioned when they drafted him.

Dwayne Allen, TE, Colts

Kiper: “He was by far the most productive rookie tight end, with 45 catches for 521 yards, and should have a great future along with Coby Fleener in Indy.”

Kuharsky: Allen also brings really good leadership qualities to the Colts locker room.

Bryan Anger, P, Jaguars

Kiper: “He averaged 47.8 yards per punt and consistently got good hang time. Only 5.5 percent of his punts went for touchbacks.”

Kuharsky: A very solid season with a lot of good hang time. Should be a top guy in the league for a long time.

The AFC South in Pro Bowl fan voting

December, 12, 2012
Updated Pro Bowl voting results are in. Fan votes count one-third, with player votes and coach votes that come later also counting a third.

You can vote here until Monday night’s game between the Jets and Titans finishes up.

Here’s how AFC South players stand in the top five by position:

Running backs
Wide receivers
Tight ends
Offensive tackles
Defensive ends
Defensive tackles
  • None
Outside linebackers
Inside linebackers
  • None
Strong safeties
Free safeties
  • None
  • None
  • None
Kick returners
  • None
Special teamer

Updated Pro Bowl voting numbers

November, 28, 2012
Updated Pro Bowl voting numbers are in. Fan votes count one-third with player votes and coach votes that come later also counting a third.

My biggest issues here: Titans safety Jordan Babineaux and Texans guard Antoine Caldwell have been demoted and still rank here. Meanwhile, Duane Brown is widely regarded as the best left tackle in the league to this point, and stands just fourth.

Pleasant surprise: Kareem Jackson, a Texans corner, getting some love, which he deserves.

AWOL: Paul Posluszny of the Jaguars is a top-five inside linebacker but nowhere to be found here.

You can vote here. Balloting will conclude on Monday, December 17 following the conclusion of Monday Night Football. The teams will be announced at 7:00 pm ET on Wednesday, Dec. 26.

Here’s how AFC South players stand in the top five by position:

Running backs
Wide receivers
Tight ends
Offensive tackles
  • Duane Brown, Houston, fourth
  • Antoine Caldwell, Houston, third
  • Wade Smith, Houston, fourth
Defensive ends
Defensive tackles
  • None
Outside linebackers
Inside linebackers
  • None
Strong safeties
  • Jordan Babineaux, Tennessee, third
  • Glover Quin, Houston, fourth
Free safeties
  • None