AFC South: Chris Simms

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Houston Texans

Wade Phillips has started to evaluate the Texans' defense, says John McClain.

Gary Kubiak will take his time hiring the rest of the defensive staff, says Alan Burge.

Examining Rick Smith’s draft record with Battle Red Blog.

Finally, a defensive direction, says Stephanie Stradley.

Indianapolis Colts

Mike Chappell takes questions, mostly about Jim Caldwell.

Jeff Saturday talked about the labor situation, says Phillip B. Wilson.

The defense is the issue, says Nate Dunlevy.

Why so few points, wonders Dunlevy.

A thorough breakdown of the Jets game and thoughts on what should have been different, from Collin McCollough.

How the Colts can fix the offensive line, from Brett Mock.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Deji Karim had surgery on his right hand, says Vito Stellino.

Dirk Koetter is scheduled to interview with the Broncos today, says Stellino.

What’s a Gene Smith scout look like? Vic Ketchman’s answer.

The offseason outlook for the offense, from Alfie Crow.

Jagsonville wants the Jaguars to draft a quarterback first.

Tennessee Titans

Tony Brown had knee surgery, says Jim Wyatt.

Kevin Kolb is not a clear-cut solution, says John Glennon.

Chris Simms is expecting a ruling today in his court case, says Jennifer Peltz.

Music City Miracles talked to Jason McCourty.

Vince Young’s top 10 games as a Titan, according to Andrew Strickert.

Simms will back up Collins vs. Jaguars

December, 5, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Good morning from LP Field, where it’s quite cold but early-morning flurries have ceased.

The biggest pregame development is the Titans’ backup situation: Chris Simms has been back in the league for only two weeks, but he will back up Kerry Collins who’s returning from his calf injury.

That doesn’t say a lot for the team’s impression of Rusty Smith out of his start last week. It could also be partly a function of the offensive coordinator situation. Quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains is expected to call plays for the first time ever. If offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, who began cancer treatment this week, is here, word is he will serve in an assistant capacity.

Here are all the inactives:

Jaguars: WR Mike Sims-Walker, WR Tiquan Underwood, CB Terrence Wheatley, FB Brock Bolen, DE Larry Hart, DT Leger Douzable, OT Kevin Haslam, OT Adam Terry.

Titans: QB Rusty Smith, WR Kenny Britt, CB Ryan Mouton, S Robert Johnson, LB David Thornton, OL Troy Kropog, WR Lavelle Hawkins, DT Sen'Derrick Marks.

Tennessee Titans cutdown analysis

September, 4, 2010
Check here for a full list of Tennessee's roster moves.

Biggest surprises: Running back Samkon Gado ran ahead of LeGarrette Blount since he was added, but Gado lost out to the unproven rookie. Tight end Sean Ryan seemed like he’d stick as insurance for Craig Stevens, whose role is now quite important and who’s had concussion issues in the past. But the Titans parted ways with Ryan. Veteran cornerback Tye Hill was surprised he was let go, according to The Tennessean. Jeff Fisher says teams need at least four corners. If you count nickelback Vincent Fuller, a safety, in the equation the numbers are OK. But otherwise unproven Ryan Mouton is fourth.

No-brainers: Chris Simms often looked confused and flustered in preseason action, and it became clear that the Titans would stick with Kerry Collins as the veteran backup to Vince Young while looking to develop rookie Rusty Smith for down the road. Collins can run the scout team at practice and step in with no practice work if and when he’s needed, and Smith’s got a lot of good qualities, including a nice arm and swagger.

What’s next: The Titans will probably look for help at linebacker, where Gerald McRath’s four-game suspension is underway, and the primary alternative, Collin Allred, has not been durable lately. Could they pursue Oakland’s Thomas Howard in a trade? The depth right now beyond Stephen Tulloch, Will Witherspoon and Allred is Jamie Winborn, Stanford Keglar and long snapper Ken Amato. With receiver Paul Williams finally gone, Keglar can be the guy fans wonder about still being around.

RTC: Good news/bad news reports

September, 1, 2010
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An AFC South preview from Andrew Lawrence.

Houston Texans

David Anderson’s latest column focuses on pressure.

The Texans have hit a record in season-ticket sales, says John McClain.

Dan Orlovsky will start the preseason finale, says McClain.

A replay of McClain’s chat.

On Arian Foster’s emergence as the lead back.

Matt Musil spoke to Owen Daniels, Brian Cushing, DeMeco Ryans and Matt Schaub during Celebrity Server Night at Morton’s Steakhouse.

Good news/bad news on the Texans from Khaled Elsayed.

It’s put-up time for Gary Kubiak, says Alan Burge.

Houston Diehards thinks the Texans showed way too much against the Cowboys.

Indianapolis Colts

The move of the umpire is a good one, says Bob Kravitz. He and Michael Wilbon have made a good point in this debate: rule after rule has protected the quarterback. It’s time for them to give a little on protecting someone else now.

The preseason finale is a biggie for return candidates Devin Moore, Brandon James and Ray Fisher, says Mike Chappell.

Jerry Hughes is likely to get good work against the Bengals, says Phil Richards.

John Oehser covers the umpire, the receivers, Jeff Saturday and the run game.

Good news/bad news on the Colts from Elsayed.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Special teams are expecting big things, says Tania Ganguli.

Injuries thinned out the Jags at center, says Vito Stellino.

Stellino and Ganguli preview the preseason finale against Atlanta.

Good news/bad news on the Jags from Elsayed.

Vic Ketchman discusses leverage and rates Troy Polamalu as the league’s best tackler.

Tennessee Titans

What do the Titans’ skill guys think about wearing leg pads? Jim Wyatt’s story.

Chris Simms sees a 50-50 chance to stick, say Jim Wyatt and John Glennon. I admire Simms’ optimism.

Tony Brown is ready to roll, says Glennon.

Defensive line depth has been revealed in the preseason, says David Boclair.

Greed is good for Chris Johnson, says Mike Silver.

Good news/bad news on the Titans from Elsayed.

The Eugene Amano-Leroy Harris combo is proving a good fit, says Mitch Pulley.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans wrapped camp with two lineup questions lingering. Who replaces Gerald McRath at outside linebacker during his four-game suspension? And who starts at right cornerback?

That corner battle is a big talking point among Titans’ faithful.

Second-year man Jason McCourty’s been in the spot the most, but rookie fourth-rounder Alterraun Verner is putting up a strong challenge. Cortland Finnegan (groin) has missed a lot of practice and hasn’t played in two preseason games, so there has been ample game action high in the lineup.

McCourty is faster than Verner. (Finnegan says McCourty is the second fastest corner on the roster to him, McCourty says he ranks No. 1.) Verner is regarded as more instinctive.

McCourty is steadier, though he gave up a couple plays against Arizona. Verner is more of an instinctive ball hawk and he has one of the Titans’ three preseason interceptions. While a lot of practice observers say Verner picked a ball a day in camp, others played it safer and said he averaged maybe one every two days.

“Jason knows the system, he’s worked hard, athletically he’s everything you want in a corner,” GM Mike Reinfeldt said. “He’s more confident, he’s come so far from last year. He needs more confidence, more experience. Prototypically, he’s what you want in a corner.

“Verner started late because of school, but he came in from Day One and started making plays. He’s an interesting guy because he doesn’t quite have the deep speed you might want or think you have to have in a corner. But he’s very good at making plays, being around the ball and figuring out ways so that his deep speed doesn’t matter.”

Thursday during a seven-on-seven passing period, Verner broke up a Chris Simms pass intended for Kenny Britt up the right sideline that he said he should have picked. Not long later, McCourty tipped a ball meant for Paul Williams and it popped up for Michael Griffin to intercept.

The two said there’s been no revelation about a timetable. It’d be good to have the starter in place opposite a healthy Finnegan for a few series in the preseason finale on Sept. 2 against Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense. But Fisher’s said only that he intends to roll someone out 10 days later for the opener.

My take: “Steady” and “consistent” are long-time buzzwords for Jeff Fisher. He values consistency above a lot of other qualities. While fans see Verner’s interceptions, the coach will see the other side of his ledger -- perhaps some gambles that didn’t produce big results -- more thoroughly.

If Fisher was picking right now, he’d go with steady and start McCourty.
Often during the individual period of NFL practice -- when position groups work with their coaches -- I see a ton of repetition.

Some of it is good. Some of it has to be painfully boring and predictable.

So whenever I see something new, I take note.

In Nashville, Dowell Loggains is the new quarterbacks coach and he’s changed things up.

[+] EnlargeDowell Loggains
AP Photo/Mark HumphreyDowell Loggains tries to implement game-like scenarios in practice.
“I’m trying to do new stuff every day where they don’t get bored with the same old routine,” said Loggains, who moved into the job when Craig Johnson moved to running backs with Kennedy Pola’s abrupt departure from Jeff Fisher’s staff. “And we try to make it close to game-like scenarios and put them in those situations as much as we can.”

Vince Young, Kerry Collins, Chris Simms and Rusty Smith have been throwing at a screen with three pockets. It’s common on a lot of practice fields for accuracy drills.

“They get to compete and they get into it,” Loggains said. “It's 'Twenty bucks says I hit the middle square' and stuff like that. It’s a way to get them to compete but they are really working.”

And when the QBs drop back in a drill where they need to shift away from pressure, instead of simply following hand signals from their coach, they are reacting to giant balls being rolled at them by Loggains from close range.

“With the ball rolling at them, they have to react,” Loggains said. “They’re not sitting there staring at me, their eyes are downfield and when a ball rolls at them they have to react to it. Very seldomly do you get to take a five-step drop, set up and not have to move your feet.

“And that’s what we want, them playing with a base and that helps create that. I want them to feel the sensation -- maybe the three-technique just swam our guard and he’s uncovered and you’ve got to drift and throw and get rid of the ball.”

Loggains said he’s just getting started and there will be plenty more to come to keep things fresh for his guys. The running backs are getting some new drills with Johnson, too.

It’s an example of why even on a stable staff, change can be good.
Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

The Texans and Steve Slaton are working on a cure for his fumble issue, says Jerome Solomon.

Gary Kubiak didn’t like the Texans’ last practice before they left for New Orleans, say John McClain and Jordan Godwin.

Last year’s fights don’t leave the Texans looking for more as they pair up with New Orleans, says McClain.

David Anderson has a flashback.

Jacoby Jones will be playing back in his hometown, says Anna Megan-Raley.

Ben Tate is out for the season.

Indianapolis Colts

John Chick is looking forward to a game back in Canada, says Mike Chappell. More to come on Chick from me shortly.

The final night practice of training camp drew a big crowd, say Chappell.

The Colts play out of the country for the first time since 2005 when they kickoff in Toronto Thursday, says Chappell.

Chappell takes a lot of questions about Curtis Painter.

Painter’s not inspiring much confidence, says Don Banks.

Austin Collie and Fili Moala both look better, says John Oehser.

An AFC down-cycle will help the Colts again, says Nate Dunlevy. I agree and have said the Colts’ fate may have a lot to do with just how much the rest of the conference has done to close the gap on Indy.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Marcedes Lewis may have been the star of camp, says Vito Stellino.

Zach Miller is frustrated after re-aggravating a mid-foot sprain and the Jags continue to look for linebacker depth, says Tania Ganguli.

A ticket update from Ganguli and Stellino. The Jags need to sell 3,000 more per game to avoid blackouts. That still sounds like a lot to me.

It’s make or break for David Garrard, says Jason Cole.

The offensive line will be the key, says Luke Sims.

Wayne Weaver is making sure preseason games aren’t blacked out, says Vic Ketchman.

Tennessee Titans

Jason McCourty holds an edge in the cornerback competition, says John Glennon.

The Titans waived Stafon Johnson and expect him to spend the year on injured reserve, say Jim Wyatt and Glennon.

Johnson remains upbeat, says Terry McCormick.

Glennon’s practice report.

Rusty Smith doesn’t lack confidence, says David Climer.

The Titans got some experience with Samkon Gado, says David Boclair.

The receiver competition is heating up, says Phil Brame.

Kerry Collins vs. Chris Simms isn’t even close, says Drexel Perry.
Some bullet-point thoughts on the Titans’ 20-18 preseason loss at Seattle on Saturday night.

  • Vince Young and the first team offense smoothly moved to a touchdown on the game’s opening possession with a great 28-yard catch and run by fullback Ahmard Hall running behind offensive linemen Jake Scott and Eugene Amano.
  • Jason Babin looked to get off the ball very quickly and was disruptive as a first-team pass rusher.
  • Brett Kern completed a fourth-down pass on a fake punt to Hall for a successful conversion. Jeff Fisher loves to get a preseason fake on film.
  • Jason Jones and Stephen Tulloch both did well to get their hands on passes.

  • Young’s last pass was a rollout against his arm (why?) and then a bad decision to throw what turned into an interception by Josh Wilson.
  • Chris Simms was shaky in relief of Young. He stepped up to change a call and took a shotgun snap off his body, and it turned into a lost fumble. Simms didn’t get good protection, checking down a bunch, dinking all night and underthrowing Kenny Britt open up the left side on one deep chance.
  • On a night when Kerry Collins sat so the Titans could look at Simms and Rusty Smith, Jeff Fisher used veteran Alvin Pearman as the first returner, wasting first-team chances Marc Mariani could have had.

  • Stefan Johnson dislocated his right ankle, creating a poignant scene where Fisher and Pete Carroll, Johnson’s college coach, comforted him.

RTC: Ahmard Hall, media darling

August, 13, 2010
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Houston Texans

Setbacks and injuries were Eugene Wilson’s story last year, but he played well when healthy and is ready to be part of a breakout season, says Jordan Godwin.

Gary Kubiak plans to get a look at all of his running backs against Arizona, says John McClain.

Jeremiah Johnson is showing good toughness, says Godwin.

Antoine Caldwell is being pushed by Wade Smith, says McClain.

Antonio Smith sees the same growth potential in Houston that he did in his early years playing for Arizona.

Indianapolis Colts

My Camp Confidential.

The Colts are well-stocked at safety, says Mike Chappell.

If Peyton Manning goes down, things will be in Curtis Painter’s hands, says Bob Kravitz.

The Colts are looking at three defenders as options for fullback snaps, says Chappell. If short-yardage is such a big concern, why don’t they ever consider a fullback for fullback?

John Oehser looks back at the first two weeks of camp.

New Titan Raheem Brock explains why he asked the Colts to release him.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Five questions about the Jags heading into their game in Philly Friday night, from Vito Stellino.

Two city councilmen skipped out on a meeting after the vote on the EverBank naming rights deal to go to dinner with some Jaguars executives, says Tia Mitchell.

The safeties are a bigger concern than the interior offensive line, says Vic Ketchman.

Tennessee Titans

Alterraun Verner is showing a nose for the ball, says John Glennon.

Brock can’t wait for a chance to hit Manning, say Jim Wyatt and Bryan Mullen. He’ll need to make the team first.

Brock wants to go to the Pro Bowl, says David Boclair.

An injury update heading into the trip to Seattle, from Wyatt.

Could a more mature Vince Young balance out the Titans' offense. Steve Wyche examines the question.

The brothers Simms are reunited in Tennessee, says Beth Rucker.

Ahmard Hall won Bob McClellan’s informal poll for the best Titan for media to deal with. I voted Hall No. 1, Vincent Fuller No. 2 and Stephen Tulloch No. 3, though I expect Will Witherspoon will press them as I get to know him. Perhaps I should have scored Tulloch down for his inability or unwillingness to talk after some tough losses last year.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans defensive backs shined early in the team’s Sunday practice. Go ahead and respond to my tweets about it with commentary, telling me that with that quarterback and those receivers, how could it be different?

But one-on-one and seven-on-seven drills are, by their nature, to the offense’s advantage. While there were drops -- most noticeably four by Justin Gage -- there was a lot of tight coverage and breakups from a group of DBs that is already thinned out.

Tye Hill is out with a hamstring injury and Nick Schommer and Jamar Love are on PUP, so nickelback and safety Vincent Fuller played some outside cornerback in team drills with the twos and threes.

Among the top playmakers in the secondary was Jason McCourty, the corner who was back with the first team after Ryan Mouton was in the spot the first day. A couple of them were not against Jerry Rice, they were against Paul Williams. But with opportunity to make plays he made them, and he doesn’t rank highly enough to be choosing his matchups. On his knees, he also picked off a Kerry Collins pass meant for Lavelle Hawkins in the end zone during red-zone work.

Gage had a lot of trouble pulling in the ball, several times against rookie Alterraun Verner.

But it wasn’t all about the defensive backs. Marc Mariani had a nice afternoon with slithery slot work, including an excellent diving catch down the right sideline over Verner for a gain of more than 40 yards on a throw by Chris Simms.

A couple other notes:
  • Derrick Morgan did very little, aggravated his left calf which was an issue during OTAs. He will be monitored, but sure seems likely to miss at least a couple days. Saturday night, just before the first-round pick signed his contract, he tweeted a picture of himself in the room where he waited at team headquarters. It was filled with boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts. My natural follow-up question to that was did he have any? He said he limited himself to one, original style.
  • I was a bit surprised when Jim Washburn, the notoriously loud and outspoken defensive line coach, got on safety Donnie Nickey about not attempting to get the ball out when an offensive player broke into the secondary. Is there protocol about yelling at a guy who you don’t coach? Nickey said he’s absolutely fine with it and that Washburn had a good point.
  • Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks benched 315 pounds, the measuring standard for a Titans defensive lineman, zero times when he joined the team as a second-round pick out of Auburn last year. “I didn’t even want to get up under it,” he said. Before 2009 training camp, also zero. In recent days, twice. It might not sound like a lot, but he and coaches regard it as a great improvement that shows the strength gains that will pay off for him this year.
  • Nice camp moment: Rookie safety Myron Rolle introduced his mom, Beverley, his dad, Whitney, and his brother, McKinley, to defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil and linebackers coach Dave McGinnis. Minutes later at his locker, Rolle was checking text messages McKinley sent him during practice about particular plays.

RTC: A determined Steve Slaton

August, 1, 2010
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Houston Texans

The Texans have to beat the Colts to beat the Colts, says Chris Mortensen.

Steve Slaton is determined to overcome his sophomore slump, writes Jordan Godwin.

Brian Cushing’s suspension will likely mean a chance for Xavier Adibi to be an X factor, says John McClain.

Trindon Holliday electrified the crowd with some punt returns, says the Chronicle gang.

McClain says there is an early buzz about the Texans.

Indianapolis Colts

Jerry Hughes gives the Colts even more speed off the edge, says Phil Richards.

Indianapolis must resolve these five issues, says Mike Chappell.

Twenty-seven camp storylines from Phillip B. Wilson.

Wilson’s comprehensive camp guide.

The Star’s 2010 Colts primer.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Vince Manuwai knows he’s working to hold onto a starting job, says Tania Ganguli.

A contract for the 11th pick might mean the Jaguars can get closer with Tyson Alualu, says Ganguli.

The Jaguars are searching for a second starting receiver.

A bit on the return games from Ganguli.

It’s time for the Oklahoma drill, and some matchups are set, says Vic Ketchman.

Larry Hart’s been great so far, says Alfie Crow.

The defense looked good, the offense not so much, according to Terry O’Brien.

Tennessee Titans

Chris Johnson’s not satisfied, but he’s ready to play, writes Jim Wyatt.

Stephen Tulloch learned about the business side of football this offseason, says John Glennon.

The Titans’ sellout streak reached 124 games as single-game tickets sold out Saturday, says Bryan Mullen.

Chris Simms talked for the first time about his summer arrest, from Wyatt.

The Titans and Derrick Morgan struck a deal, say Wyatt and Glennon.

David Climer still sees an 8-8 team.

Receivers were the stars of Day 1, says Wyatt.

Tom Gower takes a shot at predicting the Titans’ 53-man roster.

RTC: Tony Dungy still 'coaching'

July, 2, 2010
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Houston Texans

Adam Rank asks which tight end would you rather have on your fantasy football team: Houston's Owen Daniels or Washington's Chris Cooley?

Joel Dreessen will show his creative side when he contributes to the Fort Morgan Mural Project.

Indianapolis Colts

Former Colts coach Tony Dungy is still coaching. His "team" is now more diverse than a 53-man football roster.

Defensive end Keyunta Dawson is adjusting to life as a veteran on the Colts' line.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Big Cat Country doesn't expect the Jaguars to make a play for Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

Former Jaguars lineman Richard Collier, paralyzed from the waist down as a result of a shooting in 2008, is getting married this weekend.

Tennessee Titans

Here's the latest on the case involving Titans quarterback Chris Simms.

Despite reports to the contrary, Chris Johnson says he didn't work out at the Titans' facility earlier this week.

Titans backup QB Chris Simms arrested

July, 1, 2010
PM ET is reporting that Tennessee Titans backup quarterback Chris Simms was arrested Thursday in New York City on charges of driving while on drugs.

Simms, 29, is a six-year veteran of the NFL and son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms. He is now waiting arraignment in Manhattan Criminal court.

Go here for the full story.
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Pete Prisco’s list of the 26th to 50th best players in the NFL.

Houston Texans

Alan Burge looks at what’s become of Seth Wand.

Indianapolis Colts

Five things to like about the Colts' special teams, from John Oehser.

Tony Dungy talks about his top three football memories, and his No. 1 will be one a lot of Colts fans rank high, too.

Jacksonville Jaguars

If all the people who have complained about not being able to go to the scrimmage actually went to the scrimmage, the stadium wouldn’t be big enough to hold them all, says Vic Ketchman.

Amanda Warford joins Jarett Dillard and Jeremy Mincey as they visit with some kids. (Video.)

Tennessee Titans

Derrick Morgan’s been slowed by injuries, says John Glennon.

David Climer looks at Rusty Smith's chances. I think Smith is a lock for the roster, with Chris Simms’ only route to a spot being to beat out Kerry Collins for No. 2.

A sprained wrist has Nate Washington on the sideline, say Jim Wyatt and Glennon.

Paul Williams is also banged-up, says David Boclair.

This could be the best group of receivers the Titans have fielded in more than a decade, says Climer.

Practice notes from Nashville

June, 15, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A couple thoughts out of the Tennessee Titans' organized team activities (OTAs) Tuesday:

  • I think Will Witherspoon is going to be a good player and a settling force for this team. So I was surprised to see that he’s not currently on the field as part of the nickel package, yielding to Gerald McRath and Colin Allred, who’s filling in for Stephen Tulloch. Tulloch is not with the team as a protest over his contract. Both Jeff Fisher and Witherspoon said they expect he will ultimately be part of the nickel package, and that his absence from it now is merely about him getting to know the base component of the system first.
  • Fisher has talked about rotating candidates through the starting cornerback spot opposite Cortland Finnegan. But until Tuesday it’s been all Jason McCourty. Now it’s Ryan Mouton. “Mouton just needs to go out there with the ones and continue to make the plays,” Fisher said. “He’s got a real good feel for what we’re doing, the one-on-one stuff has really improved, his understanding of the concepts is improving. He just needs to go out and make plays. McCourty did a nice job. He was very quiet, very competitive and much better playing the ball this spring, getting his hands on the ball, reacting to things.” Tye Hill, who suffered a hamstring injury Monday, and rookie Alterraun Verner will also get chances at the spot, Fisher said.
  • Kenny Britt is out of the doghouse where he landed for coming to initial OTAs out of shape. Mostly. He’s still not running with the first unit -- lining up only after the likes of Lavelle Hawkins -- and didn’t have a great day. Fisher said Britt’s climb back up the depth chart is about consistency and time. If Britt doesn’t qualify as this team’s top receiver by opening day, it’ll be a huge disappointment.
  • Everyone had a good laugh when Chris Simms scored in a goal line period on a bootleg. Not really his forte.