AFC South: Collin Klein

While I took some time away from the blog, the fine people who edit and format our work posted links for me.

I’ve looked over what they pointed you to, and as I return to action, I thought I’d share some thoughts on things that unfolded in the last 10 days or so.

Houston Texans

Gary Kubiak pumped up the idea that Case Keenum will challenge T.J. Yates for the No. 2 quarterback spot behind Matt Schaub. I’ll believe it when I see it. Kubiak tends to rave about everyone, especially quarterbacks. He said Collin Klein was really good in his tryout with the Texans, and then they didn’t sign him.

Houston and Reliant Stadium wound up being an easy choice for NFL owners for Super Bowl LI in 2017. The city needed only to beat out Miami, and given the issues with financing for renovations to Sun Life Stadium, it was highly unlikely South Florida was going to get the game.

Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck wasn’t allowed to be part of the team’s OTAs a year ago because his Stanford class hadn’t completed its semester yet. This time, though, he’s at the controls, “troubleshooting” some stuff and getting comfortable in the offense of new coordinator Pep Hamilton, who coached Luck at Stanford.

Dwight Freeney found work with the pass-rush-needy San Diego Chargers. I’m happy for him. But the issue in Indianapolis was that he didn’t fit the new 3-4, and he’s now joining a 3-4 – even as the Chargers are talking of revising how they’ll operate to fit him as best as they can. New Chargers GM Tom Telesco knows Freeney well, as he too worked for the Colts for a long time.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Maurice Jones-Drew offered solid rationale for rehabilitating his foot and training in Miami, as he’s done regularly in the offseason. He has no limitations on how much time he can put in in South Florida, and if he were with the team the rules dictate how much work he could do at team headquarters. In 2011, when he was coming off serious knee surgery and wound up leading the league in rushing, he said he didn’t get his speed back. He’s feeling better about that at this stage this time around.

Defensive ends Jeremy Mincey and Andre Branch both are looking for big bounce-back seasons. Mincey is a veteran who got a $20 million contract with $8 million guaranteed a year ago. Branch cost the previous regime a second-round pick. Each will have to be more productive than he was a year ago to assure himself a future with the team beyond 2013. Branch is working at the Leo position with Jason Babin, while Mincey is at the more crowded base end spot, per Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union.

Tennessee Titans

Middle linebacker Colin McCarthy rated himself as 80 percent as he recovers from offseason ankle surgery. He feels certain he will be 100 percent for camp. But I wonder if during OTAs, which kick off this week in Nashville, Moise Fokou and Greg Jones will wind up getting the bulk of the work at middle linebacker while the Titans are careful with McCarthy.

Receiver Kendall Wright is looking to make more big plays and add to his yards per catch in his second season. If Kenny Britt is healthy and Justin Hunter can contribute as a rookie, Wright will have to increase his contribution with more yards after the catch, as Britt and Hunter will more often run the deep routes.

RTC: Titans look to Canada

May, 14, 2013
Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

Texans rookie safety D.J. Swearinger moonlights as a rapper, says John Brannen of the Houston Chronicle.

The war of words over an engagement ring that Mario Williams wants back has escalated, says David Barron of the Chronicle.

Despite the rave reviews they offered about him during his rookie camp audition, the Texans didn’t offer Collin Klein a contract, says Tania Ganguli.

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas thinks the Colts are going to take a step back, says the Indy Star.

At least publicly, Chuck Pagano and Pep Hamilton don’t appear to be on the same page about Andrew Luck running some read-option, says Brad Wells of Stampede Blue.

To which I say: I’ll believe they intend to use any when I see it. I think Hamilton’s getting it out there so defenses put it on their lists of things they have to consider when preparing for Indianapolis.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars found iPads in their lockers Monday when they started OTAs, writes Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. It’s the way the league is moving, and the team will be able to get information like film and notes about practice to players more quickly.

“(Jimmy) Smith is one of the top three players in team history, but there was plenty of legitimate suspicion that he spent his last NFL years in denial about his addictions. His post-football life certainly confirms that. What (Justin) Blackmon needs to see is a mug shot of Smith, with a stern reminder that that can be him in 10 years if he's not careful.” Gene Frenette’s column from the Times-Union.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans have two Canadians -- offensive tackle Matt Sewell and defensive tackle Stefan Charles -- on their roster fighting for a chance, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

A familiar face is back in Nashville, and Antonio Johnson is now part of the Titans’ roster makeover, says Wyatt.

Texans rookie minicamp review

May, 13, 2013
Three of the four teams in the AFC South are coming off weekend minicamps for their rookies. It's a time of year when virtually everything that comes out is positive. The teams had different levels of media availability. But as best we can, we’ll review the primary players and themes out of those camps today, starting with the Houston Texans.

The top pick:

Coach Gary Kubiak thought receiver DeAndre Hopkins made a great first impression and that Hopkins and sixth-round receiver Alan Bonner give the Texans a chance to improve yards after the catch, writes Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle. “Right now, it’s really a matter of settling him down mentally and learning what he’s doing so all the skill keeps taking over where it’s not a bog-down process,” Gary Kubiak said. “It’s going to be a big six weeks for him.”

The No. 2 pick:

D.J. Swearinger had a “savvy pick-six” at a Saturday practice, per Nick Scurfield of the team’s website. Out of his main observations from rookie camp he wrote, “The South Carolina safety plays with a ton of confidence and clearly enjoys himself on the field, and it says something about his overall skill set that a player known for big hits shined in a non-contact setting." Additional talk of Swearinger via Scurfield here.

Quarterback review:

Kubiak always heaps praise on his quarterbacks, and second-year man Case Keenum was the lead dog at this camp and got that treatment from his coach, says John McClain. Kubiak and Keenum both liked what they saw from Collin Klein who was at camp on a tryout basis, says Ganguli.

Running back opportunity:

Behind Arian Foster and Ben Tate, there is room for a third running back. Four undrafted backs know there is a chance. In addition to Dennis Johnson, George Winn, Cierre Wood and Ray Graham, the Texans also brought in Deji Karim, who scored a return touchdown against them for the Colts last year, for a tryout over the weekend, says Ganguli.

Small schools, big hopes:

Tackle David Quessenberry and Bonner arrived in Houston from small schools with the same chance as everyone else, says Dave Zangaro of CSN Houston.

Defensive lineman Chris Jones is starting off at nose tackle but will learn all the line spots, says Zangaro.


Klein is not the only former Kansas State quarterback among the team’s undrafted rookies, says Ganguli. Justin Tuggle was behind Klein and moved to linebacker. Now he’s trying to earn a spot with the Texans.


Sam Montgomery had some lower back tightness after bad weather forced the first workout inside the practice bubble on artificial turf, said Dale Robertson. Hopkins and Bonner dealt with some cramps Friday at their first outdoor practice but returned the next day. Third-round tackle Brennan Williams suffered a knee injury but an MRI showed it to be not surgical and he should be back to work in a week, says Ganguli.


Brett Coomer of the Chronicle has a slideshow from the camp.

Outside the mainstream:

At State of the Texans, Patrick Starr had observations from Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.
Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

Former Texans defensive end Mario Williams is suing to get a pricey engagement ring back, says David Barron of the Houston Chronicle.

Gary Kubiak wants to see Collin Klein’s progress at quarterback, says Ganguli.

Texans first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins told Ganguli the idea of all he has overcome is blown out of proportion, but she’s not so sure he’s right about that.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts' Bjoern Werner is proof that American football isn’t just for Americans anymore, says Phillip B. Wilson of the Indianapolis Star. Werner was one of a record 10 foreign-born players drafted.

Is there another Gary Brackett or Melvin Bullitt in the Colts' crop of 10 undrafted rookies? Mike Chappell of the Star looks at the new guys.

The Colts will return to Anderson, Ind. for training camp, writes Chappell.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Twenty-nine players from last year’s roster are already gone as part of the Jaguars’ roster reshaping, says Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union.

The Jaguars are meeting with veteran free-agent cornerback Marcus Trufant, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Times-Union.

The Jaguars signed two rookies out of their rookie tryouts. O’Halloran says running back De’Leon Eskridge of San Jose State and defensive end J.J. Griggs of Akron are now on the roster.

Tennessee Titans

Robert Johnson is still recovering from midfoot surgery, but thinks he will be back in action by mid-June, says John Glennon of The Tennessean.

A deeper look at third-round linebacker Zaviar Gooden, from Tom Gower of Total Titans.

A deeper look at fourth-rounder Brian Schwenke, from Gower.

AFC South links: Bradley 'trusts' Blackmon

May, 3, 2013
In case you missed it, here's a transcript of Paul's chat from Thursday.

Houston Texans

The Texans will give former Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein a look during their rookie minicamp, writes Nick Scurfield for the team's website. “We’re gonna bring him in here for the minicamp and take a look at how far he’s come,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “One thing about this guy is he’s been an overachiever his whole life, been very successful. We’re gonna give him a quick look here to see how much progress he’s made, and we’ll go from there.”

Former Texans safety Glover Quin sees a lot of similarities between his old team and his new team, the Lions, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

Broncos linebacker Von Miller draws inspiration from Houston's J.J. Watt, writes Mike Klis of the Denver Post.

Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Star has been profiling the Colts' best undrafted free agents through the years. Next up on the list: defensive tackle Tony Siragusa.

NFL Network evaluates the Colts' 2013 draft class.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Undrafted rookie quarterback Jordan Rodgers, the younger brother of the Packers' Aaron Rodgers, said about 10 teams expressed interest in signing him as a free agent, but he chose the Jaguars because he felt it was his best opportunity, writes Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union.

Coach Gus Bradley is standing behind troubled receiver Justin Blackmon, who was recently suspended by the NFL for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. “I told Justin I do trust him,” Bradley told the Times-Union. “We both have to earn each other's trust and I don’t want trust to be mistaken for being naive."

Tennessee Titans

NFL Network's Charlie Casserly looks at how Titans draft picks Chance Warmack and Justin Hunter will help Jake Locker's play next season.

The Titans will bring in former Colt Dwight Freeney for a visit, writes's Chris Wesseling.

RTC: Texans, Jaguars add speed

April, 28, 2013
Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

Quarterback Collin Klein is among the undrafted rookies the Texans have secured, says John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

The Texans addressed their need for speed on the final day of the draft, says Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts' draft lacked skill players until the very end, but general manager Ryan Grigson said the class left him feeling complete, says Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.

The October game between his Broncos and the Colts in Indianapolis isn’t on Peyton Manning’s mind yet, writes Terry Hutchens of the Star.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Ace Sanders and Denard Robinson give the Jaguars play-making speedsters they were lacking, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

“The Jaguars had too many gaping holes to expect a quarterback from this draft class to pull an Andrew Luck,” writes Gene Frenette of the Times-Union.

Tennessee Titans

With their draft class, the Titans have ensured the most competitive training camp in years, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Day 3 started with center Brian Schwenke and addressed several needs, including defensive end, says Wyatt.
When the Jaguars' new quarterbacks coach, Frank Scelfo, recently talked of how Blaine Gabbert would rank in the 2013 draft, some shrugged it off as spin.

But Mike Tanier of Sports on Earth considers the idea that Gabbert’s age means he could actually be part of this draft class. Instead the Jaguars quarterback heads into 2013 with two seasons of NFL lumps already in his pocket.

“For Scelfo and the Jaguars, this means that a clear-thinking appraisal of the bird in hand should keep the team from rushing too quickly into the bush,” Tanier writes. “… [T]here are several quarterbacks older than Gabbert in this draft class: Landry Jones, Tyler Wilson, Collin Klein, Jordan Rodgers and a few others hanging around the fringe of prospect status. When we are appraising a player's ‘potential,’ shouldn't we at least acknowledge that there are players knocking around the NFL who are the same age or younger, guys who may taken some lumps in the pros, but at least took those lumps in the pros?”

It’s a good point. Any team would rather have a quick-impact draft pick quarterback -- Robert Griffin, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick.

But there are guys who take longer and turn out to be pretty good. Gabbert’s environment has been closer to Alex Smith’s than any of those guys. He’s 23, and still has time.

To me, Gabbert’s arrow is pointing down. But I still urge people to remember it’s been only two years, and a ton of quarterbacks were bad in their first two years and wound up good players. Gabbert is not going to be Steve Young, but how was Young’s early career?

Tanier also isn’t saying Gabbert’s going to be a quality NFL quarterback. He’s merely examining the circumstances.
Gabbert is now perceived as a flop who needs his quarterback coach to stand up for him. Wilson will be a lower draft choice (and get less guaranteed money) but is getting high marks in NFL circles for battling through the Arkansas mess and proving that he can throw passes under fire and stand up for himself and teammates during a crisis.

Most observers would consider Wilson a much better prospect than Gabbert right now. Don't lie: If you heard that your team drafted Wilson in the third round, you would be pleased, but if you heard that your team traded a third-round pick for Gabbert, you would howl about trading for a retread. That's despite the fact that both are coming off losing seasons for nightmare teams, and despite the fact that Wilson is actually two months older.