AFC South: C.J. Mosley
He started 12 games for Jacksonville last season ahead of Terrance Knighton, who was unable to effectively serve as a run stopper on early downs. Knighton left as a free agent and signed with Denver.
Mosley played 54 percent of the snaps on defense and 20 percent of the plays on special teams.
The Jaguars added free-agent Roy Miller from Tampa Bay, who figured to start alongside Tyson Alualu on the interior of the defensive line.
Jacksonville has three other interior defensive linemen on the roster: often-injured D'Anthony Smith and two guys who were rookies in 2012, Jeris Pendleton and Jerome Long.
Coach Gus Bradley has ties to veteran defensive tackle Alan Branch, a Seattle free agent. But I've seen nothing tying the team to the player and didn't get an immediate response from Branch's agent.
Per The Tennessean, the veteran the Jaguars will consider is Titans free agent Sen'Derrick Marks. The market for Marks, a second-round choice in 2009, has been super quiet. I imagine he'd be an affordable option at this point and perhaps a change of scenery and scheme will spark his game.
Of the first four players they've brought in, I love one: Roy Miller. He is a solid, run-stuffing defensive tackle I suggested might have fit nicely in Houston to replace Shaun Cody. The Texans run a 3-4 front, and it doesn’t take much to adapt to Wade Phillips’ scheme.
With the Jaguars, Miller stays in a 4-3 and figures to help on early downs. I think he’s a rising player and a good addition.
“Miller is a powerful wide body with good short-area quickness and above-average agility but limited lateral range and very limited pass rush skills. He plays with natural leverage and does a good job of using his hands to defeat and shed blockers. He feels pressure and works his way back through the block to squeeze the play down. He does a good job of holding his ground and tying up blockers to keep the linebackers free to make plays. He shows marginal explosive quickness and burst as he escapes blocks and often ends up just missing the tackle on runs.”
He helps offset the loss of Terrance Knighton, who left as a free agent to sign with the Denver Broncos. Knighton lost his early down job last season to C.J. Mosley. Knighton was listed at 6-foot-3, 330 pounds but was surely bigger than that. Miller was listed by Tampa Bay at 6-foot-2, 310 pounds.
Following their first addition, linebacker Geno Hayes, the Jaguars have added two other guys. Both were with the Texans last year.
Running back Justin Forsett is a good complementary back who should fare better working with Maurice Jones-Drew than last year’s backs, who wound up having to replace MJD when he got hurt.
Alan Ball has one thing Gus Bradley really likes in his cornerbacks: size. He’s 6-foot-2, 191 pounds. Unfortunately, that size didn’t factor into his play last year, which was poor for the Texans when they called on him to help out after Johnathan Joseph was injured.
The Jaguars also re-signed Antwaun Molden, a corner who has bounced around a lot and was with Jacksonville for the last five games last season.
The former Jaguars general manager went too far in steering away from big conferences. He liked guys from off the beaten path with nice stories.
He missed on a lot of guys who fit that.
He didn’t miss on Cox of William & Mary and Knighton of Temple, though Cox was hurt too much and Knighton didn’t play well at the end of his rookie contract.
The two were seen as valuable by other teams, and won’t be part of the David Caldwell-Gus Bradley regime.
Despite his injury history, Cox signed with San Diego for four years and $20 million, with a $5.2 million signing bonus and $10.25 million fully guaranteed in the first two years, per Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Knighton, despite questions about a season in which he was demoted from the starting lineup, got two years and $4.5 million from Denver, per Mike Klis of the Denver Post.
C.J. Mosely overtook Knighton and could start again for Bradley’s Jaguars. Cox’s replacement is not on the roster. The Jaguars like second-year cornerback Mike Harris, but three veteran corners from last season -- Cox, Rashean Mathis (not offered new deal) and Aaron Ross (released) -- are now gone.
Jacksonville needs corners, badly. Two guys who seemed to fit the sort of defense Bradley oversaw as coordinator in Seattle have already disappeared. Greg Toler signed with the Colts and Bradley Fletcher signed with the Eagles.
Alan Ball played poorly for the Texans last season, but was scheduled to visit the Jaguars. So were Washington right Tyler Polumbus and Houston running back Justin Forsett, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.
Other Jaguars free agents have not been tied to any suitors yet in free agency.
Linebacker Daryl Smith is the best of the lot, but the lone addition the Jaguars have made so far is an outside linebacker, Geno Hayes. Does that tell us anything about the Jaguars' interest in retaining Smith?
Greg Jones is an aging fullback, and aging fullbacks aren’t generally going to be talked about early in free agency.
The team apparently wants center Brad Meester back, but he’s not yet happy with the money available. He turns 36 on March 23.
“Running back Arian Foster is on an impressive roll when it comes to games played on the road and games that are nationally televised,” says John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. The Texans need to make sure he’s fed the ball on Thanksgiving.
If Johnathan Joseph is out with a hamstring injury, everyone in the secondary will have a hand in trying to slow Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson, says McClain.
The game against the Jaguars was the worst performance by the Texans’ safeties in two years, says Lance Zierlein.
The Buffalo Bills bring one of the worst defenses in the NFL to Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, says Phillip B. Wilson.
Like with Peyton Manning, the Colts see value in rookie quarterback Andrew Luck playing start-to-finish even in a terrible blowout, says Wilson.
Chad Henne made five throws in Houston that really mattered and that made Mike Mularkey’s decision for him, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.
Out of a bad defensive day, the Jaguars still saw good things from Paul Posluszny and C.J. Mosley, says Vito Stellino of the Times-Union.
Jacksonville added receiver Jordan Shipley, says O’Halloran.
Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean selects five surging Titans, including rookie linebacker Zach Brown.
Mike Munchak believes sometimes it’s a disadvantage to have too much time to get ready for an opponent, says David Boclair of the Nashville City Paper. So the Titans didn’t over-prepare for Jacksonville during their bye.
Thoughts on the Texans’ 43-37 win over the Jaguars at Reliant Stadium:
What it means: The Texans posted a remarkable rally from a late two-touchdown deficit and pulled to 9-1 with an improbable overtime victory. It took everything they had to beat the 1-9 Jaguars, who played what ranked as their best game of the season, setting the tone early and fighting like crazy but ultimately coming up short against a team with an awful lot of firepower.
Back in form: Questions about the age and leg condition of Andre Johnson should be about gone by now. He’s been playing better and better and finished this one with 14 catches for a career-high 273 yards. His 35-yard catch on the last possession was crucial for setting up Shayne Graham’s field goal attempt at the end of regulation, but Graham missed it badly. So Johnson took a bubble screen 48 yards for the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
What I liked, Texans: Matt Schaub hit on 43 of 55 passes for 527 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. He had a stretch of 17 consecutive completions end on the second play from scrimmage in overtime. The yardage was the second most in NFL history.
What I liked, Jaguars: Chad Henne stepped in for Blaine Gabbert early after the starting quarterback hurt his throwing elbow when his arm was hit by Danieal Manning on a blitz that forced a fumble. Henne was an excellent reliever, finishing 16-of-33 for 354 yards and four touchdowns. No other quarterback since Sage Rosenfels for Houston in 2007 has come off the bench to throw four touchdowns.
What I didn’t like, Texans: There were all sorts of problems defensively. But as the Jaguars connected on a bunch of big pass plays, Houston’s safeties had plays made on them, had receivers bounce off them and generally had a bad day. Manning had a big game last week in Chicago against his old team and Glover Quin has also been steady this season. But whether they just had a bad day or Jacksonville had a sense they were guys who could be attacked, they hurt Houston today.
Overtime: The Texans marched to a field goal on the opening possession of OT. The Jaguars converted a fourth-and-10 with a 15-yard Henne-to-Justin Blackmon pass and managed to get a field goal of their own to extend the game and set up a next-score-wins scenario. That next score was Johnson.
Breakout games: Blackmon was fantastic with seven catches for 236 yards and a touchdown. The rookie receiver showed the combination of physical presence and speed that prompted the Jaguars to trade up for him back in April. On the other side, Keshawn Martin was very productive in the return game, an area where Houston has struggled this season. He had a 71-yard kickoff return and a 54-yard punt return. He also had a 9-yard touchdown catch.
Silly stat: It was just the second game in NFL history with two 200-yard receivers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The only other game in NFL history in which multiple receivers had 200 or more yards was Sept. 23, 2007, when Detroit's Roy Williams (204) and Philadelphia's Kevin Curtis (221) pulled it off in an Eagles win over the Lions.
Defensive standouts: Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny got that blood running from the bridge of his nose dripping down his face from delivering some big hits, and defensive tackle C.J. Mosley was frequently disruptive.
Mixed results: In his first game after roughly a year missed with injuries, Texans inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton had mixed results. He broke through the line for a great tackle for a loss on running back Rashad Jennings but also bit on a run fake and left Marcedes Lewis open for a touchdown pass from Henne.
What’s next: The Texans have a quick turnaround, heading to Detroit for a game on Thanksgiving Day. The Jaguars host Tennessee at EverBank Field.
The Texans played down to the competition, timid on offense and confused on defense, says John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
The only thing that matters is that the Texans won, says Randy Harvey of the Chronicle.
On the big stage, the Texans rediscovered their running game as Arian Foster had a giant night, writes Tania Ganguli of the Chronicle.
Clark Judge of CBS Sports wrote about the Texans without Brian Cushing as I did, but took a different tact.
“Days like Sunday are why (Bruce) Arians decided to hold off on a life of perpetual golf. Days like Sunday, when a team of brothers comes together and plays above its talent level, a day when a team becomes a family and dedicates its heart and efforts to a fallen leader.” Bob Kravitz’s column from the Indianapolis Star.
Five positives Phillip B. Wilson of the Indianapolis Star pulled out of the win over the Packers.
Mike Mularkey’s team can’t produce and lacks talent, but he’s not at a point where he’s discounting the playoffs, says Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union.
Austen Lane and C.J. Mosley started on the defensive line against the Bears and fared well enough that they will stay in those spots, writes Ryan O’Halloran of the T-U.
The Titans are in need of a spark, but it is not going to come from any sort of shakeup, writes Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.
Matt Hasselbeck will start Thursday night against the Steelers as the Titans look for a possible return for Jake Locker on Oct. 21 in Buffalo, say Wyatt and John Glennon of The Tennessean.
Blaine Gabbert under fire: Poor pass protection has been blamed for a good degree of Gabbert’s problems. Although Eugene Monroe reportedly made the trip, the left tackle may not play after getting hit in the head in practice this week. It’s an injury-weakened line with him, and a super-weak line without him. Maybe the group will do better than we’d expect. If it doesn’t, then instead of seeing how Gabbert works with better protection, we’ll see if he’s gotten better playing with poor protection. It’s a less-than ideal scenario.
Justin Blackmon: The rookie receiver is a strong and physical player. Will he show that off in his preseason debut? An offseason DUI arrest and a lengthy contract dispute meant negative storylines for Blackmon this offseason. Against the Saints, he'll get the chance to change things. A solid showing can energize the offense, the team and the fan base. It would be awfully helpful. An average night would be fine and is what we should probably expect. A dud would obviously hurt.
The pass rush: The Jaguars dragged down Giants quarterbacks five times last week. It was an encouraging sign for a defense that can be really good if the pass pressure is consistent. But four of those sacks came after halftime. When the Saints have front-line players in the game tonight, can the Jaguars' top rushers be disruptive and get their hands on Drew Brees? Ideally, tackles Tyson Alualu, C.J. Mosley and Terrance Knighton get some push up the middle and move Brees off his spot, aiding ends Jeremy Mincey and rookie Andre Branch as they pursue.
Some quick thoughts on the Jaguars 32-31 preseason win over the New York Giants at EverBank Field Friday night:
- Quarterback Blaine Gabbert showed good command and made good throws on the Jaguars’ first series, converting several third downs and leading a touchdown drive. He got time, stepped up and found Laurent Robinson, Mike Thomas and Cecil Shorts, hitting Shorts for a short TD that produced a 7-0 lead. It was an encouraging showing from the second-year quarterback. Gabbert did lose a fumble later when he got swarmed. He simply needs to go down and be sure to hold on.
- Shorts offset his TD catch with a fumble of an end around that started a long stretch of super starting field position for the Giants. The receiver was holding the ball with his inside hand and was too easily stripped. It’s the sort of mistake the receivers have been making in camp.
- Other errors the Jaguars probably won’t be able to withstand against premium competition in meaningful games: a dropped interception by safety Dwight Lowery right at the start; a big kickoff return allowed following the touchdown pass that put the Giants near midfield; William Middleton holding down an arm of receiver Jerrel Jernigan in the end zone (that went uncalled); end Jason Pierre-Paul's too-easy rush inside left tackle Eugene Monroe en route to a tackle for a loss; punt fielding issues by undrafted rookie Mike Brown.
- Rashad Jennings ran just fine: 12 carries for 56 yards including a 17-yarder around the right corner. Jaguars’ brass will not wake up Saturday morning feeling any differently with regard to Maurice Jones-Drew as a result of anything that happened here.
- Tyson Alualu didn’t play, and the Jaguars started D'Anthony Smith and C.J. Mosley at defensive tackle. Terrance Knighton was in with the twos, and on several snaps he looked like a player a notch above the guys he was on the field with and against.
- Rookie defensive end Andre Branch's speed off the edge was apparent a couple times. Once his presence prompted David Carr to step up into a sack by Knighton. Encouraging.
- Bryan Anger's big, second-quarter punt tied up Jayron Hosley, who fumbled it. The big hang time meant Antwon Blake had time to get in position to pounce and recover the loose ball, setting up a quick Chad Henne-to-Brian Robiskie TD that cut the Giants lead to 24-14. Anger prompted Jernigan to botch a punt as well, and Blake recovered that one too.
- Thomas and Robiskie made plays for third-string QB Jordan Palmer in the third quarter. More baby steps -- the Jaguars have receivers who can have success against second- and third-team guys in coverage.
- Good consistency by the replacement officials. They consistently failed to give signals to declare what happened on plays that begged for such authority. It’s not that they failed to convey the message. It’s that they didn’t know what to convey.
- C.J. Mosley is the second starting defensive tackle, ahead of Terrance Knighton, who missed offseason work and the first few days of training camp while recovering from an eye injury but returned to action at a light 330 pounds.
- Rookie Andre Branch is listed as the starter at left end, opposite Jeremy Mincey. Austen Lane is listed behind Mincey, with Aaron Morgan behind Branch.
- Brian Robiskie is listed as the second guy at the X receiver spot, behind Laurent Robinson, and ahead of Taylor Price and Kevin Elliott.
- The chart doesn’t include Justin Blackmon, who just agreed to terms on Monday. Cecil Shorts heads the Z receivers, ahead of Mike Thomas and Lee Evans. We’ll have to see if Thomas is first in line in the slot when the Jaguars go to three-wide.
- Rashean Mathis is the starter at left corner ahead of Aaron Ross. That’s not a surprise as he’s the longtime Jaguars veteran and Ross is a newly added free agent. The competition between the two is far from over. The guy who doesn’t win will be the nickel.
- Thomas is the first punt returner, Shorts the second. Running backs are at kick returner: Rashad Jennings first and Jalen Parmele second.
QB Luke McCown -- I would think they will look to upgrade the backup so they have a fallback plan and better mentor for Blaine Gabbert.
OT Guy Whimper -- He was banged up and streaky in 2011. He’s OK as a third tackle, but doesn’t rate as a priority.
DE Jeremy Mincey -- Had a breakout year and is a high-energy pass-rusher who will be better as they add a big-time end. Probably wants more than they’ll pay.
DE Matt Roth -- They got him cheaply on a one-year deal. As they look to add a premier guy at the spot, it seems they'd like him back as part of the rotation at the right price.
S Dwight Lowery -- The No. 1 priority among their free agents. He transitioned very well from corner to safety and fixed a problem they don’t want to have to address again.
CB Rashean Mathis -- Combination of torn ACL and age (31) means they will be looking to replace him. Though he could be back late if he’s cheap.
K Josh Scobee -- A very solid kicker I feel sure they’d love to retain.
As Leinart steps in for the injured Matt Schaub today at EverBank Field, I’m with writers from The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and Yahoo.
Andre Johnson is back in Houston’s lineup. He’s averaged 102 receiving yards in his first game back from missed time because of injuries in his career. Arian Foster is averaging 161 yards from scrimmage against AFC South teams over the last two seasons. No player comes close against division opponents. LeSean McCoy is at 137 yards against the NFC East over the same stretch.
And Houston’s defense is allowing just 186 yards to division opponents this season. That doesn’t bode well for the Jaguars and their terrible offense.
The inactive lists for both teams:
Texans: QB Kellen Clemens, CB Brandon Harris, FB Lawrence Vickers, G Thomas Austin, T Andrew Gardner, TE Garrett Graham, DE Tim Bulman.
Jaguars: WR Brian Robiskie, C John Estes, DE Aaron Kampman, TE Fendi Onobun, DE Matt Roth, DT Terrance Knighton, QB Dan LeFevour.
For the Jaguars, Leger Douzable starts at left defensive end, C.J. Mosley starts at defensive tackle and Ashton Youboty starts at left cornerback.
C.J. Mosley will start next to Tyson Alualu in Knighton’s place.
Running back Joseph Addai is out for the Colts, and Donald Brown will start. In Carolina, rookie Colin McCarthy gets the start at middle linebacker for Barrett Ruud, who’s a scratch.
Here at Raymond James Stadium, the Buccaneers are jumping right in with Albert Haynesworth, who will start. Quinton Demps will work as the kick returner for Houston with Sherrick McManis out.
The full inactives list from Tampa:
- QB T.J. Yates
- CB Sherrick McManis
- FS Danieal Manning
- G Thomas Austin
- T Andrew Gardner
- WR Andre Johnson
- TE Garrett Graham
Still, they are teams putting players and slots on the record.
The Jaguars' release for their preseason debut is out, and a depth chart is a required part of it.
No major surprises, but here’s stuff of note:
- Jason Spitz is the starting left guard ahead of rookie third-rounder Will Rackley.
- Aaron Kampman is at right end with Austen Lane at left end.
- Dawan Landry is at free safety, with Courtney Greene at strong safety. Rookie fourth-rounder Chris Prosinski is Landry’s backup, and Mike Hamlin is behind Greene, ahead of Don Carey.
- D’Anthony Smith is a third-string defensive tackle behind Leger Douzable and C.J. Mosley.
- Fifth-round draft pick Rod Issac ranks as a fourth-string cornerback.
- Mike Thomas is the top punt returner with Deji Karim the top kick returner. Scotty McGee is behind both.
Kiper mentioned seven other players, and only one plays for an AFC South team.
Of the Colts first-round pick from 2010, Kiper says: “I was shocked at how little [defensive end] Jerry Hughes saw the field. Will he rise to the challenge? The innate pass-rushing skills are there if he responds to the coaching.”
Who’s got the combination of promise and opportunity to make that second year jump?
Here’s a name for each team from me:
We wrote recently about Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell (a third-rounder out of Arizona in 2010) as the guys expected to fill the nose guard role in the Texans new 3-4 deployed by new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Mitchell’s got a great outlook and will have great opportunity. While Cody will be first in line, with the new coordinator, seniority should mean less and Mitchell may have more upside once he catches on to what the Texans ask him to do. But it could take some time. He’s only been a tackle for four seasons, having played as a fullback prior to that.
I was big on fifth-round tight end Brody Eldridge heading into his rookie season and thought he’d have a big influence on the rushing game. He didn’t really. Injuries allowed for the emergence of Jacob Tamme, a pass catcher, and more guys involved in a three-receiver set as the team sorted through receiver injuries. I’ll say Eldridge again. With two big rookie additions to the offensive line (Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana), a new goal line style back (Delone Carter) and a healthier stable of Peyton Manning targets, he’ll have more chances to have an impact.
The Jaguars feel like their interior defensive line has turned into a strength because of the past two drafts, with 2009 third-rounder Terrance Knighton and 2010 first-rounder Tyson Alualu playing side by side. But the depth wasn’t what they’d planned on having because they lost third-rounder D'Anthony Smith early in training camp with a right Achilles injury. We don’t know what kind of pro Smith will be yet, but he stands to be an upgrade over guys like Leger Douzable, C.J. Mosley and Nate Collins, who finished last season as the interior depth.
Mike Munchak and his offensive coordinator, Chris Palmer, simply have to find ways to get young receivers like Damian Williams to contribute earlier than their predecessors did. As a rookie third-rounder out of USC he didn’t win the return job and he didn’t get many chances at receiver, even late in the season when the Titans were foolish not to give him a thorough look. Justin Gage shouldn’t be around any longer and Williams should rank behind only Kenny Britt and Nate Washington in the Titans order, ahead of Lavelle Hawkins and Marc Mariani. Williams had a clear connection with Kerry Collins when the two played, a result of their team working on the scout team together. Whether Collins is the veteran QB ahead of Jake Locker or not, Williams should have opportunity.
Cedric Benson talks about a visit with the Texans Monday that didn't produce a deal, writes John McClain.
Richard Justice says he'd like Benson in Houston but offers a reminder of the downsides.
In his new mock draft, Lance Zierlein has the Texans taking Brian Cushing.
Nothing Tuesday morning.
The Jaguars are now looking closely at Philadelphia free agent tackle Tra Thomas and Jets defensive lineman C.J. Mosley. The team has also laid off eight employees, reports Michael C. Wright.
Punter Craig Hentrich has told the Titans he wants to return and the team's indicated it will sign him, says McCormick.
A look at the free agent plans for Chris Carr and Daniel Loper from McCormick.