AFC South: Grady Jackson

 
  AP Photo/Phil Coale
  Atiyyah Ellison (99) hopes he's found a home with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

In Atiyyah Ellison's media guide entry, his year-by-year bio has just a two-word edge on this lengthy transaction history:

TRANSACTIONS: Originally a third round (89th pick overall) draft choice by Carolina in 2005 NFL Draft ... Waived by Carolina on 9/3/05 ... Signed by Carolina to the practice squad on 9/5/05 ... Signed by Carolina to the 53-man roster from the practice squad on 9/14/05 ... Waived by Carolina on 9/24/05 ... Signed by Carolina to the practice squad on 9/27/05 ... Signed by Carolina to the 53-man roster from the practice squad on 10/31/05 ... Waived by Carolina on 9/2/06 ... Signed by Houston on 9/3/06 ... Waived by Houston on 9/7/06 ... Signed by Baltimore to the practice squad on 9/12/06 ... Signed by Baltimore to the 53-man roster from the practice squad on 12/4/06 ... Waived by Baltimore on 9/1/07 ... Signed by Baltimore to the practice squad on 9/2/07 ... Signed by San Francisco off the Baltimore practice squad on 9/5/07 ... Waived by San Francisco 8/30/08 ... Signed to San Francisco practice squad 8/31/08 ... Signed by Jacksonville off San Francisco practice squad on 12/10/08.

He shakes his head and grins when he talks about the 18 moves -- "I've been everywhere," he said -- but remains surprisingly upbeat and optimistic that No. 18 will be the big winner, that he's finally found a home with the Jaguars.

"Being a third-round pick and then getting cut and put on the practice squad, people see that and think, 'Something's got to be wrong with him' or 'Something is up with him' or 'He was drafted too high,' I honestly couldn't tell you one specific thing," Ellison said.

"Every place I've been, nobody's flat out told me, 'You're not good enough for this' or 'You're not good enough for that.' It's just I've got to put everything together and just make a run for it."

 
  Joe Robbins/Getty Images
  Tony Brown's skill set brought him to Tennessee.

Ellison is hardly alone. The league features plenty of defensive tackles who've bounced around, tantalizing teams with combinations of height and weight, speed and strength, then not fitting the style of play those clubs seek.

And so they wander, as Ellison and two former teammates in Carolina, Tony Brown and Jovan Haye, have done.

"Really it happens in all positions, but D tackle is kind of a fickle position as far as what exactly you are asking them to do," Titans defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil said. "The body might look the same, but the mind and the feet react differently.

"The biggest thing is that some guys are built to go down the line and take up space and some guys are built to go upfield, be more aggressive and rush. That's two completely and totally different skills sets you are talking about."

ESPN.com's NFC West maven Mike Sando keeps track of starting lineups, and on his list of projected starting defensive tackles he found 21 drafted by one team but playing for another.

They cover a wide range. Baltimore's Kelly Gregg was a sixth-rounder in Cincinnati in 1999, but wasn't an impact guy there or in Philadelphia. Now he's a mainstay in Baltimore. Aubrayo Franklin started only one game in four seasons with the Ravens after they drafted him in the fifth round in 2003, but he is a two-year starter with the 49ers and finished last season on the upswing.

Brown wasn't drafted, but went from Carolina to Miami to San Francisco to a year out of the league to Carolina again to Tennessee.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

An overdue visit to the mailbag:

Tim Hoelscher in Murfreesboro, TN, writes: I'm confused. How is it that the Titans have clinched the AFC South? If we lose our last 3 games and the Colts win their last 3, then we both finish 12-4. First tiebreaker is head-to-head, which would be a split. Second tiebreaker is divisional record, which would be 2 losses for both. Third tiebreaker is conference record, which the Colts would win. What am I missing? Thanks for your time.

Paul Kuharsky: I've gotten this question at least 10 times. It leaves me very encouraged that you're quick to hit the mailbag with a question. It leaves me very discouraged that you're missing the answers to such things right when they come up and I try to address them in blog entries.

Tim, I don't know where you are getting conference record as third tiebreaker. That's not correct. It's common opponents.

Here's the blog entry from last week that spells it out.

While we're on the subject of popular questions we've hit on in the blog:

No, the Titans-Steelers game cannot be moved to the night slot. The game is protected by CBS.

And here's an explanation of why Titans tight end Bo Scaife is not on the Pro Bowl ballot.


Tom in Nashville writes: Paul, You have to respect what D. Williams and J. Stewart are doing in Carolina, but Lendale needs to sue for copyright infringement. "Smash n' Dash"... in Carolina? I saw fan signs the entire Monday night game and Steve Smith even called them that in a post-game interview. I direct you to Item A: "They say they don't have a nickname yet, but concede ?Smash & Dash? seems to be most popular with Carolina fans. If that sticks, Stewart will be ?Smash? because he's has a more physical style. But Williams said Stewart has plenty of ?Dash? in his step, too." November 23, 2008 http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/story/371430.html. Note the date. Now, on to Item B: "But after Sunday?s 34-10 pasting of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Titans were in letting loose with the laughter. The primary reasons for those laughs were the long fourth-quarter touchdown runs by the duo of LenDale White and Chris Johnson, whom White introduced in the post-game press conference as ?Smash and Dash.? October 20, 2008, http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2008/oct/20/tennessee-titans-celebrate-smash-and-dash .This is a travesty. LenDale settled on this almost a month before. CJ and the Big Dale Diesel already have t-shirts printed up and along come these two Chris Landrys, straight up thieving on football's biggest stage. What's the deal, Kuharsky? Where's the justice?

Paul Kuharsky: Do you work for the feds? We'll have to see if White and Johnson view it as infringement when we're back in the locker room Wednesday.


Jim from Jacksonville writes: OK, I'm pretty sure that I speak for everyone here in Jacksonville, FL when I say that I am beyond the point of frustration and disappointment with the Jaguars. I'm just ready for the 2009 season and to see what movements they are going to make as far as plugging in right people in the right spots who are going to actually give a care and give 100% every game FOR 60 MINUTES and not 15 or 30. That goes for the coaching staff as well. I think that they need to start at the DT position because first of all, if they were going to let go of Stroud, there was no was no reason for them to also let go Grady Jackson, who might I say stepped in pretty nicely while stroud was out so there really wasn't a loss at that spot while he was out. Now that a huge hole has been opened at that position, OLineman and running backs are just abusing the line of scrimmage. I think the two draft choices at DE were a bust, I also think (and you may not agree with me on this) that Reggie Nelson and Resheen Mathis need to be switched, and they need someone better than Florence on the other side. Once these areas get cleaned up then start trying to look for a number 1 receiver to go down the field. If you have a number one receiver but still have trouble keeping the other offense off of the field you're still stuck with problems. So to me, start with the DL then DB's, and then offense. What do you think?

Paul Kuharsky: It starts on both lines for sure. Major rebuilding needed unless the Jaguars are convinced they only have to wait for guys on offense to heal. They certainly overestimated what they had to replace Stroud and have not gotten a good season out of John Henderson. There is a lot of work involved in such an overhaul.

Getting a No. 1 receiver is easier said than done, and the Titans have been quite effective without one. The Jags need explosive plays from somewhere, however. The way they are built now, if you stop the run and put the game on David Garrard, you're in good shape. They aren't equipped to win that way with a defense that is nothing special.

I don't understand why you'd want to flip Mathis (not out for the season hurt) and Nelson when they've played where they are all along. They are hardly the problem -- the Jags need to get better people around them and start to rush the passer consistently. We can't call the two rookie ends busts before they've even finished their rookie years, but they need to continue to add to that group.


Brent in Nashville writes: My understanding is that Josh Cribbs was listed as the #3 QB for the Browns. I thought there was a rule that said if a #3 QB took the field before the fourth quarter, the #1 and #2 QB's could not return. Is there such a rule? And if so, why did it not apply in when Cribbs lined up in their "flash package"?

Paul Kuharsky: He wasn't the No. 3 quarterback. He was just an alternative quarterback along with Bruce Gradkowski, who was also active.

They did not designate anyone as a third quarterback, which amounts to making him inactive but for the sort of circumstances you were referring to.

Cribbs is a crucial special-teamer for them, he was going to play his usually role and the "flash package" was in addition to that.


Mike in Chicago writes: During the 06 SB run, the Colts beat the Ravens in Baltimore w/o scoring an offensive touchdown.

Paul Kuharsky: Mike is referring to an element of this post. Postseason doesn't factor into regular season streaks, trends, stats, etc. They stand by themselves. But thanks for pointing that out.


Unknown in Memphis writes: It seems like Tony Brown has at least one offsides penalty every game this year. Many of them occur during critical times during the game too. Do you know if he is leading the league in offsides penalties? Do you have any insight into whether Vince Young wants to be the QB for the Titans anymore, or even if he wants to play professional football? Has anyone given you a reasonable explanation for why he doesn't talk to Collins and the coach when he comes off the field?

Paul Kuharsky: The Titans are willing to accept some of those penalties. The great start the line gets rushing the passer is because they are jumping at the snap, and sometimes attempting to time that up means someone is going to be offsides.

All the Vince Young-doesn't-want-to-play anymore talk is unsubstantiated rumor as far as I am concerned. He's said nothing to indicate that's what he's thinking. He's in the background, talking little or not at all right now. The sideline stuff is a concern, but I think it's reached the point of being overblown. Jeff Fisher has repeatedly said they are not unhappy with what he does or where he is during a game. Read into that what you will. He does have a small earpiece, not a big headset, and is listening more than people may think.


Ray in Miami writes: How far away are the Texans from winning/competing for this AFC South?

Paul Kuharsky: They are getting there but they only have one division win. Sunday against the Titans will be a good measuring stick. The offense can win game, but still has turnover issues to deal with. Their defense needs upgraded personnel at several spots, particularly safety.

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