AFC South: Chauncey Washington
Best: Arian Foster is the best guy they’ve had, but he was undrafted so he doesn’t qualify. It’s not a great list, but the best of the lot was Domanick Davis, who became Domanick Williams, a fourth-rounder in 2003. (I initially had those names flipped, sorry.) In three seasons, he averaged 4.1 yards a carry and scored 28 touchdowns. That’s pretty solid production for a back during a three-year stretch when his team was 14-34.
Worst: Lots of options here. I remember thinking that 2002 fourth-rounder Jonathan Wells was simply not an NFL back. Vernand Morency (2005, third), Wali Lundy (2006, sixth) and Tony Hollings (2003, second in the supplemental draft) were also not good. The Texans got just one season plus one game out of Morency, who couldn’t get ahead of Ron Dayne, Lundy or Samkon Gado. But the least value came from Hollings, who earned just 49 carries in three seasons. Pro Football Reference says his weighted career average ranks him 10,562nd since 1950.
Best: He takes a lot of grief because he’s not necessarily a big producer for fantasy leagues, but Joseph Addai (2006, first) is very effective at doing what’s asked when he’s healthy. He’s got a darting style that’s suited for the team, he’s a great pass-catcher and he’s very reliable in protecting Peyton Manning.
Worst: The team spent late picks on backs in 2002 (Brian Allen), 2005 (Anthony Davis) and 2006 (T.J. Rushing) and none of them did much. Hard to grade hard on such low picks, but it’s too early to talk Donald Brown (2009 first-rounder) here. Allen had one kick return in 2003 and Davis didn’t make the team. We’ll declare it a tie, acknowledging a hit with either would have qualified as a nice surprise.
Best: Maurice Jones-Drew is the centerpiece of the team and was a steal in the second round (60th overall) of the 2006 draft. The Jaguars passed on him at No. 28 in the first round, when they took tight end Marcedes Lewis. MJD qualifies as the face of the franchise.
Worst: LaBrandon Toefield and Alvin Pearman made contributions on a team that was in pretty good shape at the position with Fred Taylor and then Jones-Drew. So while it’s unfair to hit them for a seventh-rounder from 2008, it also means they’ve done pretty well. Three years into his career, Chauncey Washington finished 2010 on the practice squad of the St. Louis Rams.
Best: You’d expect the 24th overall pick to be here and Chris Johnson certainly is the selection. He’s coming off a 1,364-yard, 12-TD season that was largely regarded as a failure because he’d set the bar so high with his 2,006-yard rushing season in 2009. He’s as fast as or faster than any running back in the league.
Worst: The Titans fell in love with Chris Henry at the combine and let his measurable outweigh his unspectacular performance at Arizona. The second-round pick the team spent on Henry in 2007 amounted to a waste. The Titans kept him for three seasons to try to justify spending the 50th overall pick on him, which was longer than the needed to know he was a strikeout. He played in just 10 games.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Here’s a team-by-team look at what happened on waivers that touched the four teams of the AFC South:
Houston Texans: Claimed defensive back Anthony Smith (Syracuse) from Green Bay, but he was awarded to St. Louis.
Indianapolis Colts: Claimed and were awarded linebacker Glenn Cody (Nebraska) from Washington. To make room for him, waived defensive back Matt Giordano.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Claimed defensive back Anthony Smith (Syracuse) from Green Bay, but he was awarded to St. Louis.
Claimed defensive back Marcus McCauley (Fresno State) from Minnesota, but he was awarded to Detroit.
Waived linebacker Tim Shaw was claimed by Dallas, but Dallas was awarded a different player under the priority claim system.
Waived running back Chauncey Washington was claimed by Dallas, but Dallas was awarded a different player under the priority claim system.
Tennessee Titans: Waived defensive lineman LaJuan Ramsey was claimed by and awarded to St. Louis.
Waived punter A.J. Trapasso was claimed by and awarded to the Jets.
Waived tight end Matthew Mulligan was claimed by and awarded to the Jets.
Biggest surprise: The Jaguars continue to be willing to part ways with veterans who disappoint. While their depth is questionable at cornerback, they cut Brian Williams, who’s played corner, safety and nickel for them. Tyron Brackenridge, an offseason waiver claim from the Jets, joins Scott Starks and Brian Witherspoon as the depth with rookie Derek Cox likely to start opposite Rashean Mathis. Two undrafted players made it -- defensive end Julius Williams and linebacker Russell Allen, while expensive veteran offensive lineman Tony Pashos did not.
No-brainers: Nate Hughes was productive all through camp and in his preseason action and on a team that drafted three receivers and brought in Torry Holt, he still had to make it. He stayed and could start, while the third of the drafted wideouts, Tiquan Underwood, was cut. Ernest Wilford, brought back recently when he was let go in Miami, made the team as a tight end ahead of Richard Angulo, who was seen by some as “just a guy.”
What's next: Backup quarterback was going to be one big concern, but the team dealt an undisclosed draft pick to Tampa Bay for Josh McCown. Todd Bouman will likely be gone once McCown passes his physical. With fullback Greg Jones likely to be the top alternative for carries to Maurice Jones-Drew and rookie Rashad Jennings the only other running back on the roster after Alvin Pearman and Chauncey Washington were cut, the team is thin at the spot. Expect a practice squader, or two, at least.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
The Jaguars cuts, just announced by the team:
Tight end Richard Angulo
Safety Marlon McCree
Running back Alvin Pearman
Offensive lineman Tony Pashos
Linebacker Tim Shaw
Running back Chauncey Washington
Punter Steve Weatherford
Defensive back Brian Williams
Linebacker Thomas Williams
Long snapper Joe Zelenka
Wide receiver Tiquan Underwood
Quarterback Todd Boeckman
Fullback Brock Bolen
Safety Michael Desormeaux
Cornerback Pete Ittersagen
Defensive end Jeremy Navarre
Center Cecil Newton
Wide receiver Todd Peterson
Guard Cameron Stephenson
Running back Josh Vaughan
Linebacker Johnny Williams
The team also placed defensive tackle Rob Meier (shoulder) on injured reserve.
Fans in Jacksonville that don't buy a ticket to the Jaguars' game against Tampa Bay Saturday night won't have a chance to see it on TV until the NFL Network rebroadcasts the Tampa telecast at 7 a.m. Sunday morning.
Here are three issues I wonder about as Jacksonville heads into its second preseason game:
1. The quarterback: We've got David Garrard against Byron Leftwich here, but at this time two years ago they were teammates fighting for a job. Garrard won it, but the shock was that the Jaguars then released Leftwich, who collected a Super Bowl ring as Ben Roethlisberger's backup in Pittsburgh last year. It wouldn't be a good scenario for the Jags if Leftwich, battling to be the Buccaneers' starter, plays well and Garrard doesn't. It would be nice to be able to sense some chemistry between Garrard and a couple of his targets.
2. Pass protection and run blocking: The offensive line is supposed to be revitalized, but it didn't fare well in its first chance. The Dolphins put pressure on the quarterbacks and knocked down a couple passes while limiting the Jacksonville run game. Don't expect a heavy dose of Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings is out. But Greg Jones and Chauncey Washington need to fare better, and it starts with their blocking.
3. Pass rush push: Tampa Bay's offensive line didn't fare very well against the Titans defensive line last week. Can the Jaguars' candidates for rotations spots in the defensive tackle mix -- Atiyyah Ellison, Terrance Knighton, Derek Landri -- make some noise and gain some footing that will earn them playing time with John Henderson, a certain starter, and Rob Meier, a certain member of the rotation?
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There is no denying Jack Del Rio has a fondness for Greg Jones. The fullback is one of the coach's guys.
Some people see it and understand. Others are puzzled.
|Fernando Medina/US Presswire|
|Despite just two carries last season, Greg Jones may be in line for more touches in 2009.|
But part of the decision to let Fred Taylor go and move Maurice Jones-Drew to the lead running back position also included some confidence that the team had alternatives for additional carries starting with Jones, who's averaged just less than 4 yards a touch in his four seasons. (He missed 2006 with a knee injury.)
"When we brought Greg in, we knew we got a terrific college runner with size and we thought the makeup to be a Pro Bowl-type fullback and be a little bit like [former Buccaneer Mike] Alstott in that we think late in games he could really wear on people," Del Rio told me in June. "He's physical and can close things out, can become more of a presence. With Maurice and Fred both, there really weren't the carries for him.
"He's a great athlete, he's very unselfish and I believe in him. I just believe he's a good football player and he's the right kind of guy. But he's got to fight to be the best guy, we're not going to hand anything to anybody."
Rookie Rashad Jennings could earn some carries. He's done a lot to win over coaches, teammates and the press since coming in as a seventh-rounder out of Liberty.
Running back Rashad Jennings was rated as highly as a second-rounder by some, but fell far on draft weekend, lasting until the seventh round, when Jacksonville snagged him with the 250th overall pick.
"Rashad Jennings is a big, strong, powerful running back," coach Jack Del Rio said after the draft. "We had him at the Senior Bowl, he had a good week for us. Not sure why he found himself sitting there at the bottom of the seventh round, but he was and we saw an opportunity to add a guy and we think he'll come in and compete for a spot."
Jennings, listed at 6-foot-1 and 231 pounds, impressed some observers at the Jaguars' minicamp last weekend and Maurice Jones-Drew said he already knew the big back out of Liberty from early offseason training at Perfect Competition in Miami.
"He trained at the same facility that I was training at," Jones-Drew said in a transcript from the weekend. "...I lived with him when I was down training so I know a bunch about him. He's a good guy. He's a big guy at that, and I can't call him a kid because I'm only two days older than him. He's a big man so he's definitely going to help us in the running game."
Somewhat remarkably, Jones-Drew, who's heading into his fourth season, just turned 24 on March 23 and Jennings' 24th birthday was actually three days later. While Jones-Drew left UCLA early, Jennings started off at Pitt, transferred to Liberty and played all four years. Still, that's a significant gap and Jennings comes into the league as an old rookie.
Heading into the second day of the draft, I thought Jennings might be a player headed for the AFC South, but tabbed him as a prospect for Houston, not Jacksonville. The Texans didn't draft a big running back to go with Steve Slaton, and will evaluate two rookie free agents and watch the waiver wire, perhaps for a player like Denver's Ryan Torain.
The Texans either didn't think Jennings was a good fit for Alex Gibbs' system, consistently found higher-rated players available or both.
Jacksonville let Fred Taylor go with the intent of featuring Jones-Drew. The Jaguars also plan on giving some carries to fullback Greg Jones. With Taylor and Jones on IR, the Jaguars finished 2008 with four running backs on their roster -- Jones-Drew, Chauncey Washington, Alvin Pearman and backup fullback and special teams ace Montell Owens.
Jones-Drew, Jones and Owens are locks. Jennings will compete with Pearman, who signed with the team on Dec. 11 after the injuries hit, and Washington, a 2008 seventh-rounder, as the team sorts out roster spots and roles.
Pearman seems like an insurance policy for the two youngsters. Washington played in six games as a rookie, getting just four carries he turned into 9 yards.
The Jaguars also have two undrafted fullbacks, Kyle Bell and Brock Bolen, and an undrafted running back, Mike McLendon, currently on their roster.
|Marvin Gentry/US Presswire|
|With Greg Jones taking over for Fred Taylor, the Jaguars lose that changeup dynamic.|
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Titans and Texans are surely pleased they won't be facing Fred Taylor twice a season anymore with the Jaguars.
I've heard from some insiders that Jones rates as a fullback with exceptional run skills.
Here are some quick hits from Jeff Fisher and Gary Kubiak on Jones:
"He's got run skills," Fisher said. "I think Jacksonville probably looked at the Baltimore tape [and saw Ravens fullback Le'Ron McClain] and said, 'We've got the same guy they do. Let's use him.' He's a guy who can do that."
"I know he's a very physical player," Kubiak said. "He's as good a fullback as I've seen in this league in a while and when they've given him the opportunity to carry the ball he's done a great job. So he's a fine football player and they're a physical team, so I am sure he'll fit them well. For a big guy, I would say he's got rare run skills."
Here's the question I'm left with and can't yet answer.
While Taylor was plenty physical, he and Jones-Drew amounted to a yin and yang combo, a slasher and a bruiser. Like Taylor, Jones is listed at 6-foot-1, but at 254 pounds, he's 26 pounds heavier than Taylor. Doesn't that leave the Jags with two physical guys and without the dynamic of the changeup in styles? Might Chauncey Washington qualify as at least an option to be that guy?
That's something I'll do my best to try to explore further.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
We're in the shotgun today, using the whole play clock, scanning the field.
After this series, instead of looking at some pictures on the bench, we'll study some mailbag entries. (We'll try to post some answers Sunday; still time to be considered if you drop a note here.)
Later today you can expect an entry on each teams cuts and what they mean.
Megan Manfull's take on the Texans cuts, which included Rosevelt Colvin, Glenn Earl and Darius Walker.
Richard Justice says cutting Colvin showed the Texans are more concerned with winning than covering their behinds.
Mike Chappell tells us Colts O-line coach Howard Mudd spent a lot of time getting his people ready for a situation like the one they face now and they're prepared to move on without Jeff Saturday. "You want them to be comfortable in that crisis,'' Mudd said. Peyton Manning thinks Jamey Richard will be Saturday's replacement.
Phil Richards says Manning expects he's going to play in the opener.
Phillip B. Wilson shares his list of the final 13 Colts he thinks will stick.
Gene Frenette writes that Khalif Barnes qualifies as a major issue for the Jaguars.
Vito Stellino considers the cases of Chauncey Washington and Troy Williamson.
The AP says Maurice Williams' knee injury is not serious.
Jim Wyatt writes that indications are Vince Young's hand injury is not an issue.
Joe Biddle doesn't want to put much stock in the preseason.
Among the early cuts were a couple of guys with Nashville ties.