AFC South: Daniel Baldridge

Tennessee Titans cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
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Most significant move: Marc Mariani came back from a vicious broken leg suffered in the preseason in 2012. A shoulder injury suffered in the preseason opener cost him the rest of camp and the preseason, and the Titans put him in injured-reserve Saturday, ending his season. He might have been ready as soon as Week 3, but the Titans clearly didn't like the uncertainty. They could have waived him injured, exposing him to a claim. In that scenario, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who was instrumental in the Titans drafting the receiver/returner out of Montana in 2010, might have wanted him. But the Rams or anyone else would have had to have added him without getting to examine the injury, and Mariani's not under contract beyond this year so a new team could have been at risk for picking up a year's salary and getting nothing out of him. If he wasn’t claimed, he would have reverted to Tennessee’s IR. By putting Mariani directly on IR, he is assured of his $575,000 base salary this season but won’t play anywhere. The move means Darius Reynaud is the returner. He showed himself to be only the team’s fifth-best running back during camp, but sticks to handle punts and kickoffs.

Wildcard: If Rusty Smith clears waivers, the Titans will want the fourth-year quarterback back on their practice squad. He’s not been on the active roster for nine games in any of his first three seasons, so he retains his practice squad eligibility. If Smith is claimed, the Titans will need to find a young quarterback for the spot, who they can work to develop as insurance and who will be able to offer an option as the No. 2 if Jake Locker or Ryan Fitzpatrick suffers an injury that results in any missed time. One team that won't claim Smith -- his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars.

What's next: I could see the Titans shopping for a veteran safety as they sift through cuts. Seventh-round pick Daimion Stafford is on the roster now, but the Titans are heavy with strong safeties and light at free safety. They’d probably like better balance and Stafford could ultimately land on the practice squad. With 10 defensive linemen plus strongside linebacker Akeem Ayers in line to play a good share of end, the last pure end -- Keyunta Dawson -- is hardly a lock at this point. Only one injured Titan, rookie linebacker Zaviar Gooden, is likely to miss the season opener at Pittsburgh.

Tennessee Titans cuts: S Al Afalava, T Daniel Baldridge, TE Brandon Barden (injured), DT Stefan Charles, DT Zach Clayton, TE Jack Doyle, LB Gary Guyton, DT DaJohn Harris, S Corey Lynch, FB Collin Mooney, DE Nigel Nicholas, RB Jalen Parmele, WR Rashad Ross, LB Tim Shaw, QB Rusty Smith, LB-DE Scott Solomon, G Kasey Studdard, WR Dontel Watkins, LB Jonathan Willard, CB Khalid Wooten, C-G Fernando Velasco

Placed on Injured-reserve: WR/returner Marc Mariani.

Titans confirm 10 cuts

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
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NASHVILLE, Tenn -- The Tennessee Titans announced in a news release their first 10 cuts, eight of which had previously been reported by The Tennessean's Jim Wyatt.

The 10:

S Al Afalava
T Daniel Baldridge
TE Brandon Barden (injured)
DT Zach Clayton
LB Gary Guyton
DT DaJohn Harris
DE Nigel Nicholas
RB Jalen Parmele
G Kasey Studdard
WR Dontel Watkins

All of these moves were predictable.

Clayton was a seventh-rounder in 2011. Harris made last year's team as an undrafted free agent, and Afalafa was a veteran backup.

RTC: Blackmon, Cyprien cleared

August, 12, 2013
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Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

A comprehensive look at Reliant Stadium’s retractable roof from Houston Chronicle science writer Eric Berger.

To which I say: It’s the biggest illustration of wasted taxpayer money in the AFC South.

Every team has to sort through character issues and guys with problems, says Dale Robertson of the Chronicle.

Brian Cushing missed practice because he was sick, says John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

Indianapolis Colts

T.Y. Hilton’s game “continues to glitter like a gold bauble,” writes Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star. “He is continuing to emerge as Andrew Luck’s go-to guy opposite Reggie Wayne.”

Among what Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star learned from the Colts preseason opener: Young receivers failed to step up and the emphasis on special teams didn’t pay off immediately.

The loss to Buffalo was ugly, but Chappell offers a reminder that we shouldn’t make too much of it.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Justin Blackmon and Johnathan Cyprien passed physicals and moved off PUP, the team announced.

Things the Jaguars have to work on and build on, from Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. Among the good -- linebacker Geno Hayes has solidified his hold on a starting spot.

Breaking down Jordan Todman’s 26-yard run on a third-and-1 against the Dolphins.

The Jaguars downplayed the incident between Jason Babin and Blackmon during the preseason opener, says Hays Carlyon.

Tennessee Titans

Titans rookies are getting their lesson on just how fast the NFL is, says David Climer of The Tennessean.

The Titans soundtrack before Sunday’s practice included a song offensive tackle Daniel Baldridge has recorded, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

While he was in Nashville for the Redskins-Titans game last week, Peter King of MMQB shared thoughts on Chance Warmack. (Video.)

RTC: What ifs for the Titans

December, 5, 2012
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Reading the coverage…

Create the playoff field by playing out the remaining games with our playoff machine.

Reviewing the Texans’ win against the Titans with Khaled Elsayed of Pro Football Focus.

Houston Texans

Veteran cornerback Stanford Routt has been added to help a depleted Texans secondary, says Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle.

To which I say: It would be great if he’s able to contribute. But I’d be cautious about expecting a savior, considering he’s been cut by two teams and has been floating around, available, for a while.

They aren’t as disrespected as the Falcons, but there is an air of boredom among the national media regarding the Texans, says Nate Dunlevy of Bleacher Report in his progress report.

Indianapolis Colts

Storylines for Titans-Colts starting with Jake Locker at quarterback for Tennessee this time instead of Matt Hasselbeck, from Phillip B. Wilson.

Five Colts finishes Wilson will never forget.

Dwight Freeney was disruptive in Detroit, according to Pro Football Focus’ Gordon McGuinness.

The latest accusations of misbehavior by Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will not result in NFL punishment, a league source told ESPN’s Ed Werder.

To which I say: What Mike McGlynn accused Suh and the Lions of apparently didn’t show on film.

The Colts defend tight ends very poorly, so it could be a big week for Jared Cook, says Dunlevy.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville is going to face Mark Sanchez at quarterback for the Jets, according to Twitter reports collected by Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

To which I say: The Jaguars need to put Rex Ryan in position to need to make a change again.

The Jaguars still have an open roster spot, says O’Halloran, who predicts a tight end will be added.

Daryl Smith had surgery on his groin in October and hasn’t played all season, but he’s stayed involved behind the scenes, says O’Halloran.

Cecil Shorts was good again before he was hurt, says John Castellane of Pro Football Focus.

The Jaguars have less to build on than any team in the league, says Dunlevy.

Tennessee Titans

John Glennon of The Tennessean looks at five plays that might have changed a lot for the Titans this season.

To which I say: Change these and they might be 6-6 instead of 4-8. The losses to the Colts and at Jacksonville could haunt these Titans for awhile.

Kevin Matthews is an easy mark for fans after a poor game in relief on the offensive line, says David Climer of The Tennessean.

David Stewart and Robert Johnson are on IR and Kyle DeVan and Daniel Baldridge are on the roster to help with offensive line depth, says Glennon.

The Titans have run well in short-yardage situations, says Dunlevy.

How did depth charts hold up to cuts?

September, 2, 2012
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Rosters have already been shuffled a bit, but before we get too far removed from the initial cutdown to 53, I wanted to look at them as they pertained to the unofficial depth charts of our four AFC South teams.

No one listed as an offensive or defensive starter on the Colts, Jaguars, Texans or Titans was let go.

I set out to gauge how many second-teamers disappeared and how many third stringers remained. (To be clear, I didn’t count a fourth-stringer. If you were listed lower than a third-stringer, you counted as a third-stringer. So there were more than 22 third-stringers.)

My thinking was the smaller the first number (cut twos), the more accurate the depth chart was and the bigger the second number (kept threes), the less accurate.

It’s hardly scientific, as injuries factor in, and a draft pick destined for a chance -- who might nevertheless be listed as a third-teamer based on seniority -- probably had a good chance of sticking.

Nonetheless, here are results based on my count:


Some exploration of the numbers...

The Texans have a pretty set starting lineup with a lot of secure backups. It was no surprise that it took a surprise -- the release of safety Troy Nolan --to dent the listed second team. The other cut was fullback Moran Norris, and the team traded to upgrade at No. 2 fullback. This was a pretty accurate depth chart.

The Colts kept a third quarterback, a fourth running back and a sixth receiver, growing the third-string number. That three of the second-stringers now gone were second stringers at all served was a testament to the Colts’ lack of depth: tackle George Foster is finished, guard Mike Tepper is probably not an NFL player and Greg Lloyd was too cheaply included as a piece of a trade for a guy that was cut in Philadelphia.

Jacksonville is thin on the offensive line, and had two unworthy/unready guys listed as backups in D.J. Hall and Daniel Baldridge. Same with backup middle linebacker J.K. Schaffer, an undrafted rookie not as good as the other linebacker backups. Second-team safety Courtney Greene lost out to third-string undrafted rookie Antwon Blake.

The Titans, meanwhile, had first-round draft pick Kendall Wright listed as a third-teamer though he’s been starting preseason games and is expected to start the opener with Kenny Britt suspended. Keeping four running backs and putting two second-team defensive ends on injured reserve boosted threes onto the roster. Tennessee can reward veterans on paper where they might hold down a rising kid with or without no draft status. See concussed end Dave Ball, who wound up on IR, and Pannel Egboh.

The Jaguars' practice squad

September, 1, 2012
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The Jaguars have signed the following eight players to their practice squad:
If left tackle Eugene Monroe has a concussion and can’t play Friday night at New Orleans, it’s going to be awfully hard to afford Blaine Gabbert the brand of protection he needs to be measured.

We may get to see how much better the second-year QB is under pressure instead of how good he can be if the line is better at protecting him.

With starting left guard Will Rackley (ankle), backup guard Jason Spitz (foot) and backup center John Estes (knee) all out, the Jaguars have already shuffled right tackle Eben Britton to left guard, inserting Cameron Bradfield at right tackle.

Bradfield is listed on the team’s unofficial depth chart as the backup at left tackle too.

So if the Jaguars are without Monroe…

Mike Mularkey could move Britton back to right tackle, put Bradfield at left tackle and elevate Daniel Baldridge, rookie center Mike Brewster or rookie D.J. Hall to left guard.

Or the coach could leave Britton and left guard, put Bradfield at left tackle and play Guy Whimper at right tackle.

Whatever the construction, if the team is without Monroe, it’ll be missing two-fifth of its starting group and be without arguably four of its best seven linemen.

If the Saints second unit rushes well, that could mean a worse outlook for Chad Henne than it does for Gabbert.

New Orleans had just one sack against New England in Week 1 of the preseason, but had three in the Hall of Fame Game against Arizona.
One of my arguments against the Jaguars selection of punter Bryan Anger in the third round of the draft was that it was an area of the draft where the team could likely have upgraded its depth on the offensive line.

See the previous year, when the Jaguars found Will Rackley, the starting left guard when healthy, in the third round.

It has not taken long for the Jaguars depth on the line to come into play.

Rackley’s recovering quickly from a high ankle sprain, but is out at least another week.

Rackley’s backup, Jason Spitz, is now out for about six weeks with a foot injury.

Backup center John Estes (knee) is a having surgery, which means right guard Uche Nwaneri is the emergency third option at the spot.

The Jaguars moved right tackle Eben Britton to left guard and inserted Cameron Bradfield at right guard for their preseason opener, and that construct remains in place on the revised, unofficial depth chart released Monday in advance of preseason game No. 2 on Friday in New Orleans.

"That’s a difficult thing when you get (multiple injuries at) the same position," coach Mike Mularkey told Jaguars reporters. "We’ve got some guys that can move around though, and not totally put you in a bind. It’s not the same as having the guys.”

Drew Nowak played defensive tackle at Western Michigan and was on the team's first depth chart as a defensive tackle. He's now a backup guard.

"He played fifty plays the other night," Mularkey said Sunday. "He’s been a guard for five days. He wasn’t perfect. He had five mental errors. But you talk about a guy that has a chance to be a player. He’s smart, he’s tough, it’s just amazing what he did. There’s another one. And he can work at center.”

While Britton is versatile, the team is looking to play better on the line, and his return from a back injury that cost him most of last season was the most significant change. Now he’s not where they had planned for him to be.

The Giants might be the best defensive front the Jaguars see, but they got pushed backwards a lot.

Jacksonville’s line is a better run blocking group than it is in pass protection, and pass protection has got to be better for quarterback Blaine Gabbert to be better. Gabbert has to be better for the Jaguars to be better.

General manager Gene Smith believes in foundation building, and his early high picks were left tackle Eugene Monroe and Britton in 2009, and defensive tackles Tyson Alualu and D'Anthony Smith in 2010.

He took Rackley in the third round last year, and Rackley quickly moved into the starting lineup.

But the Jaguars started out camp with Bradfield, Spitz, Estes, Daniel Baldridge and Guy Whimper as their primary backup linemen.

Spitz was originally a third-round pick in Green Bay in 2006, and Whimper originally a fourth-rounder by the Giants in 2006. The rest were undrafted.

Did Smith give the Jaguars enough depth and enough options to get better at protecting Gabbert if their first five aren’t all in place?

It’s an early second-guess, but it sure would have been nice if they’d found one more lineman to have in the mix back in the draft.
Outside of a guy who’s hurt or who gets in trouble, it’s hard to find anything that’s not thoroughly sugar-coated at this time of year.

As the NFL has turned itself into a year-round deal, I don’t think it calculated that OTA and minicamp season would be such a happy time. But the league and its teams certainly enjoy it.

How, then, can this cynic, find something to pick at?

Here’s how:

Our look at the most unreasonable causes for optimism around the division.

Houston: The young receivers

It’s great the Texans have replenished the unit, and it was time to move on from Jacoby Jones, who was released after the draft and is now in Baltimore.

But receiver might be the position that it’s easiest to look good at in June and be lost at in August. Lestar Jean was undrafted out of Florida Atlantic last year, then missed the season with a shoulder injury. He’s currently is drawing raves. Draft picks DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin will get a lot of opportunity now with Andre Johnson watching from the side rehabbing.

No matter how good any of those guys look now, I’m going to need to see them on the field with Matt Schaub (also out now) throwing to them before I become a believer on any level surpassing the usual for guys who have yet to play in real games.

Indianapolis: The offensive line

I was going to say the cornerbacks -- but I don’t know that there has been any great optimism about the group, which really says something at this time of year.

General manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano want to be bigger and more physical up front. Reshaping the line so far has meant the addition of right tackle Winston Justice, guard Mike McGlynn, center Samson Satele and, most recently, tackle George Foster.

As the Indianapolis Star recently wrote, there were reasons these guys were all available and affordable. Right now it seems holdovers Anthony Castonzo (left tackle) and Joe Reitz (left guard) will be joined on the starting line by Justice, McGlynn and Satele.

It’s a bit of a patchwork group, but for a team with financial restrictions and needs all over the place, it might not be bad. Grigson is leaning heavily on two guys he knew from his time with the Eagles in Justice and McGlynn. We’ll need to see if these guys are good enough and how they jell.

Jacksonville: The pass protection

I like right tackle Eben Britton a lot. And I understand why the team is optimistic about what his return from a back injury can mean for a group that run-blocked great, but didn’t fare nearly as well as pass protectors.

Still, is getting one guy back and changing scheme a guaranteed route for keeping Blaine Gabbert upright? I can be convinced, but I am not yet.

And they didn’t even add outside depth. Tackle Guy Whimper was very inconsistent last season and got a new deal. Cameron Bradfield, John Estes, Daniel Baldridge and Mike Brewster are an unproven lot as reserves.

Guard Uche Nwaneri said the running backs will be more involved in protecting the edges. When the top running back, Maurice Jones-Drew, is your best player, is that a good thing or a bad one?

Tennessee: The interior offensive line

It’s clear the Titans were not satisfied with the way center Eugene Amano played last season. They brought a parade of centers through Nashville during free agency, but failed to land any of them.

Now they appear content to go forward with Amano as the favorite to win the job over Kevin Matthews and, perhaps, Fernando Velasco. Amano is recovering from knee and ankle surgeries. He will be playing next to free agent addition Steve Hutchinson, who the team expects to have a very positive influence on him.

But Amano has never faced this kind of scrutiny and heat before, and I wonder if he will rise to meet it or melt. Leroy Harris, also out right now while he recovers from shoulder surgery, will move from left guard to right guard. Harris wasn’t great in 2011 either, and will have to hold off Velasco.

Jaguars practice squad

September, 4, 2011
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The Jacksonville Jaguars announced the signed seven players to their practice squad:
All but Beiler were with the team in training camp. Beiler spent camp with the 49ers. He played a Division III Bridgewater College.
A running list of Saturday cuts around the AFC South so far, per reports from people in the know…

Houston
Indianapolis
Jacksonville
Tennessee

Three things: Falcons-Jaguars

August, 19, 2011
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Three things to look for in tonight’s preseason game for the Jaguars against Atlanta at EverBank Field, where kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. ET.

1. QB competition: David Garrard is set for his first preseason action, and it’s become clear that he is in a competition for the starting job with rookie Blaine Gabbert. The Falcons have an established cornerback in Dunta Robinson, but he will be out with a knee injury. Atlanta will deploy the very good up-and-comer Brent Grimes and, probably, Chris Owens. Can Garrard make some plays to Mike Thomas and Jason Hill against them? What the veteran quarterback does here won’t make or break him, but a solid performance could go a long way toward quieting demands for Gabbert.

2. What’s the pass defense look like? Aaron Kampman won’t play, but can they get a rush on Matt Ryan without him? And can the secondary, particularly corners Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox, hold up against receivers including Roddy White and rookie Julio Jones? We’ve been wondering about Courtney Greene and Dawan Landry both being more strong safeties than free safeties. It would be good if they were challenged in coverage so we could see their skills in space.

3. Offensive line depth. It is a question mark. Right tackle Eben Britton is out. Will we see Guy Whimper or Daniel Baldridge in his place? Whoever is there may be spared going against Ray Edwards (knee) as he will be a game-time decision. Can Britton’s fill-in show himself a capable backup, or will Jacksonville come away with concerns and take a look at some veteran free agent help?
General manager Gene Smith and the Jaguars have been about foundation building the past couple years.

Britton
Britton
The offensive line foundation isn’t in great shape right now.

Right guard Uche Nwaneri has received mediocre reviews, at best, so far in camp, and right tackle Eben Britton has even worse buzz. And, according to Tania Ganguli, Britton had a minor procedure done on his back during the last week that will keep him out for the remainder of the preseason.

He’s expected to be ready to return for the season opener Sept. 11 against Tennessee.

Undrafted free-agent Daniel Baldridge out of Marshall is listed as Britton’s backup. Veteran backup Guy Whimper, who played a bit for the Jaguars last year, is backing up Eugene Monroe on the left side and can flip over.

The team has the salary cap flexibility to seek a better veteran option as insurance. New Orleans just released Jon Stinchcomb, who’s played nine years.

Meanwhile, as Pete Prisco pointed out on Jacksonville radio today, the left side of the line, which was not supposed to be as strong as the right, appears in good shape with a very fit Monroe at tackle and rookie Will Rackley at guard.
Britton
Britton
Lane
Lane
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Right tackle Eben Britton and end Austen Lane scrapped last year in camp and fought again Saturday night.

That’s just the scenario the team is looking for when pairing players in the annual Oklahoma drill, which will unfold at the EverBank Field practice fields this evening.

The drill is basically a one-on-one battle in a tight alley, as the offensive lineman looks to hold off the defensive lineman and create room for a running back to get by.

The media are involved in helping select match-ups.

My request wasn’t for a specific match-up, but for an impartial coach to serve as judge, declaring a winner or a tie, as it’s not always as easy to judge as you might think. Whether we get such verdicts remains to be seen.

“Here’s the thing, sometimes it’s a tie when you’re seeing it from the stands,” Lane said. “But if you’re in it, you’re going to know if you won or not. Definitely, you are going to know.”

The remainder of the match-ups:
Roster and practice-squad news so far Sunday:

Houston Texans

Were awarded linebakcer David Nixon from the Oakland Raiders and cornerback Jamar Wall from the Dallas Cowboys of waivers. Released linebacker Danny Clark.

Indianapolis Colts

Signed quarterback Tom Brandstater, defensive end John Chick, receiver Brandon James, defensive back Mike Newton and receiver Blair White to the practice squad.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Were awarded defensive tackle Landon Cohen off waivers from the Detroit Lions. Released offensive lineman Paul McQuistan.

Signed offensive tackle Daniel Baldridge, tight end Mike Caussin, receiver John Matthews, and defensive tackle Kommonyan Quaye to the practice squad.

Tennessee Titans

Were awarded linebacker Tim Shaw from the Chicago Bears and linebacker Patrick Bailey from the Pittsburgh Steelers off waivers. Released linebackers Stanford Keglar and running back LeGarrette Blount.

Signed defensive lineman Hall Davis, receiver Dominique Edison, cornerback Pete Ittersagen, center Kevin Matthews, safety Myron Rolle and linebacker Patrick Trahan to the practice squad.

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