AFC South: Bryan Pride

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

You ask, I answer. I'd like to make mailbags a regular Saturday feature during the offseason, but can only do so if I get a steady flow of entries in the mailbag. Especially good questions, of course, often result in a blog entry all their own.

And away we go...

Kevin from Portland writes: Paul- In my haste to write you after the Bush signing, I failed to recognize that Marinelli had signed on to coach for the Bears. Is there any other candidates who would be a good for this posistion for the Texans? Also, there is talk of hiring Alex Gibbs' son as our devensive backs coach. What knowledge do you have of his performance as a coach in the past?

Paul Kuharsky: The son, David Gibbs, could be great. I've heard good things from some people who know him. But I do think there is a great, big football world out there beyond one's staff, people tied to the place one used to work and relatives of people on one's staff. I touched on a lot of that in this column.


Colby in Augusta writes: Hey Paul, Love the blog this year, good stuff. My question revolves around the growing concern about the upcoming "uncapped" year in 2010. Are the owners going to be able to agree on a new CBA before 2010, and if not, can we expect them to try to make sure that 2010 is the only uncapped year and reach a new agreement after 2010?? And how exactly does this effect the smaller market teams (ie. Titans), will they still be able to put forth the money necessary to sign who they need?

Paul Kuharsky: I appreciate the kind words.

The uncapped year is a poison pill intended to make the sides reach a new agreement before it comes into play. The prevailing opinion is that if it ever gets to an uncapped year, the players will never sign on to a return to a cap. That's not good for anybody, but certainly not for small-market teams like the Titans.

I don't expect the league or the union will let it get to that point.


Jeff in Jacksonville writes: Paul I was talking to a friend of mine about Jacksonville's Huge Drop off from 07 and we starting talking about what teams next year have the possibility of being the Jags 08. Our two teams where the Bucs (Old Defense, Lost of DC, Firing of HC/GM), and Baltimore (Old Defense,Possible Lost of DC). Do you think our choices are legitimate, and if no what other teams do you see going from a Playoff team in 08 to having a losing season in 09, It happens every year so who are your candidates.

Paul Kuharsky: I think you make two good choices, though if Joe Flacco makes a nice second-year jump that could set the Ravens up for good things on offense if they draft well.

I don't assume a new coach and GM will be a bad thing in Tampa.

Two more I see as possibilities -- the Vikings could easily be a third-place team in my eyes. I just don't love anyone in that division. The Peppers stuff with the Panthers could be divisive and Delhomme's future is iffy.

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Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Remember Bryan Pride, the inspirational but exceptionally quiet, lowest-ranking and roundest member of the Titans offensive line?

(If you don't, here's the Dec. 4 the blog entry.)

He's up to 179 pounds, which, incidentally, is about what those silly charts in doctors' offices say I should weigh. Aren't those things due for an update?

Anyway, to my point: Pride visited with ESPN's Greg Garber a while back, and the network so loved his story it held onto it for the playoff.

Inside sources tell me you can expect the Pride story at around 11:28 a.m. ET (that's 10:28 a.m. in Titansland) on Saturday morning's edition of "NFL Countdown." (That's subject to change at the whim of a number of very important people, so just watch the whole show to be safe.)

It will probably be wise to have the tissue box in the same room as the TV -- I'm expecting a real tear-jerker.

Titans' O-line revels in faux friend

December, 4, 2008
12/04/08
10:42
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- He's a good listener who doesn't talk back. He's reliable and steady. He's always good for a laugh.

He probably ranks as the offensive linemen's favorite teammate.

So popular is Bryan Pride, his offensive linemates got a special nameplate installed above his locker. They track his weight gains like proud parents. They sometimes put a "Monday Night Football" hat on him and drape a towel around his midsection when reporters visit the locker room.

 
 Paul Kuharsky/ESPN.com
 He started as an empty Gatorade bottle wrapped in tape. Bryan Pride has grown into a running joke for the Titans' offensive line, complete with his own locker stall and a name plate.
It's not a bad life for a giant ball of tape the position group has been nurturing for months, a symbol on a larger scale of the light-hearted mood and style of the team with the AFC's best record. The defensive line has Dave Ball, the offensive line has Pride.

This morning he weighed in with the rest of the fellas, and he's up to 122.4 pounds. He's on the last line of the official report strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson passes on to general manager Mike Reinfeldt and coach Jeff Fisher.

"So far, he's been a model guy for the locker room," Watterson said. "He's there, he's steady. It's amazing. I don't know that he sleeps at all. He's there before the first guy gets there, and I swear to you, sometimes I've been here late, 11, 11:30 at night, and he's still here. He's dedicated. I don't think he has much of a life outside of here."

That doesn't mean the Titans don't have to monitor him closely.

"If you don't keep him on track and keep him balanced, he will drift away," Watterson said. "If he gets on a slippery slope, you're in trouble."

Pride started as a time-killer for reserve lineman Daniel Loper, who wound athletic tape around a Gatorade bottle. He took the shape of a football or rugby ball, and the group would toss him around.

"He was very oval shaped and football like," Loper said. "And we were throwing him around to people. It was fun when he was like six or seven pounds. Once he got to 20, it stopped being fun and we quit doing it."

The name is homage to Jacob Bell, the guard who jumped to St. Louis as a free agent who called everybody Bryan. Loper said it was left tackle Michael Roos who had the ingenious idea of making Pride round. Someone found an old Christmas tree stand, sat him on it in front of an empty locker and an imaginary teammate, an honorary mascot and running joke was born.

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Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

This will be an abbreviated week for me as I need to disappear for a few days.

Apologies that there will be no chat today. There won't be one next week either, as I'll be at Titans-Lions on Thanksgiving. We will resume on Dec. 4.

The remainder of the week will bring you:

  • A back-and-forth between me and Tim Graham, who calls me Brocephus, on Jets-Titans.
  • A column on Chris Johnson and Steve Slaton from me later today.
  • The weekly Friday Audibles post previewing the weekend's games.
  • Scouts Inc. will hit you with several posts in my absence.
  • Kevin Seifert has signed up to do a substitute "Reading the coverage" Saturday.

I'll be back and at full speed Sunday from LP Field.

Feel free to fill up the mailbox between now and then.

Onto morning links from around the division.

Houston Texans

  • The Texans take an eight-game road losing streak with them to Cleveland, says Megan Manfull.
  • Defensive end Earl Cochran was put on IR with a toe injury, writes John McClain.
  • The most recent installment of guard Chester Pitts' blog.
  • An overdue acknowledgement of Stephanie Stradley, a fan blogger at Chron.com who consistently provides me with quality feedback. Here, she ties into Football Outsiders and assesses the Texans' defense.

Indianapolis Colts

  • Phillip B. Wilson's preview page.
  • The Colts are joining the NFL's effort to crack down on bad fan behavior, says Steve Ballard.
  • With the same starting five for six straight weeks, the Colts' offensive line is on track, writes Mike Chappell.
  • A look at how the Colts are doing in their efforts to position themselves for the playoffs, from Phil Richards.
  • Not long ago, new Colts tight end Jamie Petrowski was playing the part of Dallas Clark for the Titans as they got ready to play Indy, says Tom James.
  • The transcript of Bill Polian's radio show from Colts.com.
  • Indy is third in Dr. Z's power rankings.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Jack Del Rio and David Garrard understand they are targets for fans' anger, according to Vito Stellino.
  • Troy Williamson has fighting words for his former coach, says Michael C. Wright.
  • Brad Meester honored for off-the-field efforts, writes Wright.

Tennessee Titans

  • Albert Haynesworth has a lot of quality competition for Defensive Player of the Year, according to Clark Judge.
  • A giant ball of tape the offensive line named Bryan Pride continues to grow in stature and reputation, reports Jim Wyatt.
  • Kyle Vanden Bosch is ready to get back to work, writes Terry McCormick.
  • Brett Favre's moxie has Jets fans excited, says Gary Estwick.

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