AFC South: Jason Campbell

Matt Hasselbeck’s been a more valuable influence on Jake Locker and a more important leader for the Tennessee Titans than most people know.

[+] EnlargeMatt Hasselbeck
Don McPeak/USA TODAY SportsWith the Titans for two seasons, veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is now in search of a new team to play for this season.
But the Titans parted ways with him Monday, unable to find common ground that would drive down the quarterback's cap number of $7.5 million.

The move saves the Titans $5.5 million cap dollars but also puts them in the market for a veteran backup behind a starter who’s hardly established.

Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean reported that the team spoke to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, recently released by Buffalo, at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix.

Hasselbeck joined the team in 2011 and brought veteran leadership from the quarterback position as the franchise tried to recover from Vince Young.

He was the starter that year ahead of Locker, but the Titans judged Locker to have won the job in 2012. Hasselbeck started five games while Locker dealt with a shoulder injury and played in eight.

I believe both sides agreed the cap number of $7.5 million and a base salary of $5.5 million were too high in the third year of a three-year deal.

The team could not find something with which both sides could be happy -- including, I believe, at least one scenario that meant adding an additional year to the contract.

Will Hasselbeck find a better situation?

The Indianapolis Colts need a backup to replace Drew Stanton, and Hasselbeck probably has a skill set that could fit in Pep Hamilton’s new system featuring West Coast principles. But Hasselbeck would get no work in Indianapolis barring an injury to Andrew Luck.

Buffalo, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Arizona are all unsettled at the quarterback position. But the Eagles and Cardinals may have their candidates for the job already assembled, and I’m not sure the Jaguars will skew older.

Maybe Hasselback gets a look from the Bills or Browns, or maybe he’s a veteran backup solution in a spot like San Francisco.

Other veteran options beyond Fitzpatrick are limited. Jason Campbell and Kevin Kolb are other possibilities. If you don’t like those, the list takes a substantial dip from there.

Tennessee still has third-stringer Rusty Smith, but he’s played in one terrible game and wouldn’t amount to someone Locker could lean on or an alternative the the Titans could count on.
Drew Stanton knows Bruce Arians’ system quite well from working as Andrew Luck’s backup, and could have a chance for some playing time in Arizona.

His departure to the Cardinals means the Indianapolis Colts have a new need: A No. 2 behind Luck. It's hard to envision Chandler Harnish, the last pick of last year's draft, seizing the job. He'll be learning a second offense in his second year.

The list of free-agent quarterbacks is a poor one.

Ryan Fitzpatrick was just cut in Buffalo. Jason Campbell could be a functional spot starter.

The Colts might need to pounce on one of them given the other options: Josh Johnson, Charlie Batch, Rex Grossman, Kellen Clemens, Byron Leftwich, Tyler Thigpen, David Carr, Josh McCown, Brady Quinn, Luke McCown, Caleb Hanie, Matt Leinart or Jordan Palmer.

I’m thinking the same thing you’re thinking: I sure hope Gosder Cherilus and Donald Thomas upgrade Luck’s protection, because the Colts can’t afford for him to be hurt.
Michael BushNuccio DiNuzzo/Getty ImagesThe Texans forced four turnovers from a Bears team that hadn't given up the ball much all season.
CHICAGO -- The Houston Texans beat up the Tennessee Titans when they played, just like the Chicago Bears did.

But when Chicago did it, it had more amplitude -- four turnovers forced by Charles Tillman punching balls loose followed by a presidential endorsement by a Bears fan of the cornerback as defensive player of the year.

In the buildup to Sunday night’s Texans-Bears matchup here at Soldier Field, the Bears-as-a-turnover machine was very much the lead story.

In a league full of imagined slights, that was taken as a real one by the Texans. So they really relished winning the game, between teams that started the night with 7-1 records, and announcing with the 13-6 result in high winds and heavy rain that they’re equipped to travel whatever route necessary to victory.

“You know in every defensive category the Texans are in the top five,” outside linebacker Connor Barwin said. “Obviously, they deserve credit for all those turnovers they get. I think people kind of overlooked our defense as a whole and kind of focused in on what they do as far as turning the ball over. I think we were conscious of that and wanted to show everybody.”

While defensive coordinator Wade Phillips downplayed things in his traditional aw-shucks manner after the game, Barwin was echoing Phillips' Saturday night message.

On this night, it was the Texans with four takeaways to Chicago’s two, it was the Texans who allowed only two third-down conversions and it was the Texans who knocked a starting quarterback out of the game.

“They made more big plays than we did,” Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said.

Houston coach Gary Kubiak said he was exceptionally proud of the overall effort given the weather conditions, environment and caliber of competition.

“We were able to win the way we had to tonight,” he said.

Compare their ability to win in a low-scoring slugfest with the much different kind of victory they notched in Denver in a 31-25 game on Sept. 23. It’s yet another display of balance for a team that can win with offense or defense, by running or passing, with pass rush or secondary play.

Plays came from all over the defense against the Bears, with former Chicago safety Danieal Manning leading the way with a forced fumble and an interception. Glover Quin forced a fumble, too, while inside linebackers Tim Dobbins and Bradie James took care of the recoveries. Kareem Jackson chipped in with an interception as well.

The Bears' often maligned offensive line didn’t yield a sack and did solid work against the usually dominant lineman J.J. Watt, but Dobbins dealt a big blow to the home team with a shot to Jay Cutler toward the end of the first half.

Cutler was flagged for throwing the ball beyond the line of scrimmage, a call that stood up to a challenge, while Dobbins was whistled for hitting Cutler “above the shoulders.” It was a play that left Cutler sprawled on the turf for a bit and with a concussion, though he remained in the game until intermission.

“I was wondering what happened to him, a lot of us were,” said Dobbins, who replaced Brian Cushing in the lineup after Cushing sustained a torn ACL against the Jets on Oct. 8.

“I felt like [the hit] was on time,” Dobbins said.

[+] EnlargeArian Foster
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastArian Foster had 102 yards on 29 carries and scored the only the touchdown of the game on a diving catch in the second quarter.
He wasn’t sure if it was his blow or one delivered by Jackson at the end of a Cutler scramble on the very next play that ultimately meant Jason Campbell would play the second half.

“I have no idea, I have no clue,” he said, before touching on the increasingly taboo topic of knocking a player from the game. “But it was good that he was out, though. I mean you always want to take the quarterback out of the game. I hit him in his chest. I did not hit him in his head. Nowhere near it. I did not touch his helmet.”

Typically Dobbins said he would look to hit a quarterback hip-high, but as Cutler was still trying to make a play, he felt going higher gave him more of a chance to “mess up the throw as well.”

Multiple Texans said that once Campbell was in the game, the Bears simplified what they were trying to do and became easier to defend. Chicago got just as many first downs with Campbell playing as it did with Cutler (four) and more yards, thanks mostly to a 45-yard Campbell-to-Brandon Marshall connection.

Never playing from behind, Houston relied on running back Arian Foster to help eat up the clock. With about eight minutes left he approached Kubiak and asked him for the ball. Foster finished with 29 carries for 102 yards and five catches for 15 yards, including a diving catch on the goal line of a 2-yard throw from Matt Schaub for the game's only touchdown. (Marshall dropped Chicago's best chance.)

Yes, they’re able to do anything and win a game of any shape. But the Texans are built around their ability to run and that defense.

In the buildup to the Texans’ next game, feeling somewhat slighted won’t be an issue.

Jacksonville will bring one of the NFL’s two worst teams to Houston for a game that won’t be played anywhere near prime time.

As for how we all discuss the Texans between now and then, defensive lineman Antonio Smith would like to sing us all a lullaby.

“They can keep sleeping on Bulls on Parade, man,” Smith said, invoking a defensive nickname known more locally that nationally. “Chicago this, Chicago that. I don’t know what the stats were, but it sure looked like we played a better defensive game than they did.

“We knew it was going to be a defensive battle. It’s like a competition. Every time they made a play it just got us more amped up to go out there and make a play on our end. So it worked against them, making good plays.”

The Jaguars went into free agency in 2012 determined to get an upgrade at backup quarterback.

Luke McCown simply didn’t give them a good enough alternative to Blaine Gabbert last season.

Henne
Their choice was former Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne.

Some outsiders projected that Henne would challenge Gabbert for the starting job in training camp, but that never materialized. Gabbert was better, and I believe Henne was worse, than the Jaguars' new coaching staff expected.

Sunday in Oakland, Gabbert was off to a very good start when he was crunched into the turf and ultimately knocked out of the game with a left shoulder injury in the second quarter.

The Jaguars led 14-3 when Henne replaced Gabbert, and the offense was significantly worse under the leadership of the backup.

Per ESPN Stats & Info, here’s the breakdown of quarterback play.
  • Gabbert: 26 plays, 5.5 yards per play, two negative plays.
  • Henne: 35 plays, 1.9 yards per play, seven negative plays.

Gabbert posted a passer rating of 123.6; Henne was at 54.4.

Jason Campbell and Kyle Orton were probably the two best free-agent options as backup quarterbacks. I thought Campbell would have been a good choice for Jacksonville.

He landed in Chicago and Orton landed in Dallas.

The Jaguars landed in the loss column in Oakland in large part because Henne landed in Jacksonville.

Maybe he gets another chance or two and is heroic for the Jaguars this season.

The discussion regarding this team right now centers on its lack of talent. Four years into his term, general manager Gene Smith has picked a good share of the roster.

He picked Henne. Today, it looks like the latest example of a bad assessment.
One player I think will be outgoing, one player I think should be incoming, for the Jacksonville Jaguars once free agency opens Tuesday afternoon.

I’m steering clear of the huge guys on the incoming category, as it’s easy to say a team should covet the best/most expensive player at a position of need.

Outgoing: Jeremy Mincey, defensive end. I think he’s a good player and I think the Jaguars would like to keep him. But after Mario Williams, who will command a fortune, and Dwight Freeney, who could be released if he’s not traded, and John Abraham, Mincey’s the best end who will hit the market. I think someone will offer him a contract that’s on the wrong side of what the Jaguars deem him to be worth.

Incoming: Jason Campbell, quarterback. Sure, they need a defensive end and a couple of receivers, and I am hopeful they will shop in those departments. But they also need a quality backup to Blaine Gabbert who’s helpful to him but also a better fallback plan than Luke McCown was. And there are slim pickings at quarterback, so they should be aggressive with Campbell.
The money isn’t mine. I’m not certain about what you can afford and what the market will pay when free agency opens on March 13. I’m not positive about your plans and schemes.

But I’ve got a good sense of your team. We've looked at the free-agent list.

And here’s what I’d try to do with your major issues:

1) Land at least one premium free-agent wide receiver. I’d stack them something like this: San Diego’s Vincent Jackson, Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe, Buffalo’s Steve Johnson, New Orleans’ Marques Colston. If you’re bold and will take two, I like Indianapolis’s Pierre Garcon or New Orleans’ Robert Meachem.

2) Re-sign safety Dwight Lowery. Just a year ago, you were a mess at safety. You did fine work signing Dawan Landry and trading for Lowery and shifting him from corner to fix it. You have to keep it fixed. Hopefully he realizes what a great fit he is in a top-flight defense. But there are a lot of safety-needy teams out there, including your AFC South rival Titans. Lowery needs to be in your lineup in 2012.

3) Be a player for Mario Williams. If Houston’s outside linebacker/defensive end becomes a free agent as I expect, you can afford to make a huge splash with him. And you’re a premier pass-rushing defensive end and a cornerback away from being a premier defense. If Williams goes elsewhere and the Colts’ Robert Mathis comes free, he should be the second target.

4) Shop free-agent quarterbacks to upgrade the backup plan for Blaine Gabbert. Chad Henne probably finds a better situation. Kyle Orton too. How about Jason Campbell? The new backup needs to have the right disposition -- sit back, offer guidance, run a good scout team. But he also needs to be able to play, because if Gabbert is bad again, you can’t just sacrifice the season. You have to have a better backup than Luke McCown.

5) Let defensive end Jeremy Mincey explore the market. He’s a supreme effort guy you’d like to have back. But he’s not worth the kind of money I imagine he’s looking for. If the rest of the league agrees, you’ll have a chance at him later. If he gets swept up, then someone likely overpaid.

6) Monitor your defensive tackles closely. Tyson Alualu's knee surgery wasn't said to be major, but the knee kept him from peak performance last season and they need to get it right. And Terrance Knighton's weight cannot continue to be an issue going forward. Ultimately it's on him, of course, but the new staff needs to find the best, most helpful approach.

7) Wait on Rashean Mathis unless he's cheap right away. The corner will be an unrestricted free agent but is coming off a torn ACL. He's a great team guy and can still play, but the end is in sight. You want him on a cheap, short deal and hopefully you draft the guy in April who replaces him in 2013.

8) While you have plenty of cap room, you still want to be conscious of paying reasonable prices. You can wait to decide on them later. But even a healthy Aaron Kampman isn’t worth a $4.97 million base. And fullback Greg Jones played only 38.7 percent of the team’s snaps last season but is schedule to make $3.4 million. Too much.

Source: Mario Williams out indefinitely

October, 10, 2011
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Houston Texans linebacker Mario Williams has a torn pectoral muscle that will sideline him indefinitely, if not for the remainder of the season, a person familiar with the injury told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Williams is having more tests Monday to see if there's any hope the Texans could get him back later this season.

Williams appeared to be hurt while sacking Jason Campbell with about five minutes left in the first quarter of Houston's 25-20 loss to Oakland on Sunday.

Wrap-up: Raiders 25, Texans 20

October, 9, 2011
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Thoughts on the Houston Texans' 25-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders at Reliant Stadium:

What it means: We gave the Texans leeway when they failed to put away the Saints and lost late in New Orleans. They don’t get that benefit out of this home game, in which they did more than enough to beat Oakland and could have finished the day alone atop the AFC South. Instead they fell to 3-2 and gave life to all the same old questions about their ability to finish someone off when they have the chance. Matt Schaub threw a horrific interception to Michael Huff in the end zone on the last play of the game when he could have thrown the ball away and had one more play.

What I didn’t like: It’s hard for me to get beyond that pick. Did I make it clear just how bad it was? Schaub was flushed to his left, and Jacoby Jones tried to shift direction to move with him instead of against him. But Schaub tried to sneak it to him going right, and Huff was right there. Awful. If Schaub hadn't decided to throw it away, he would have had a better chance to run it in.

What I liked: They talked all week about needing to spread the ball around and find alternatives with Andre Johnson out. And they got 100-yard receiving days from running back Arian Foster and tight end Joel Dreessen and touchdown catches from receiver Kevin Walter and Dreessen.

Huge injury concern: Mario Williams suffered a pectoral injury as he sacked Jason Campbell and didn’t return to action. If he’s lost for games or, in the worst scenario, for the season, the Texans would be in huge trouble. Brooks Reed can do well, but Williams is a singular pass-rushing force.

Struggled: The Texans' inability to run was a big issue. They turned 25 carries into only 70 yards, which put the game on Schaub. He threw for 416 yards and two touchdowns but also had two picks, one of which you may have heard about.

What’s next: The Texans head to Baltimore to face the Ravens. They’ll likely be without their best player on offense, Johnson, and their best player on defense, Williams.
Is there less buzz about the upcoming NFL draft than usual?

I certainly think so. The lockout and labor impasse are putting a damper on everything. There has been no free-agency build up. And there won’t be trades involving veteran players.

ESPN Stats & Info’s Mark Malzewski sifted through the past 11 drafts to find all the draft-day trades involving players.

There have been 37 such trades, or 3.4 per draft. That included two deals involving drafted players, and those aren’t allowed this time either. (Think Eli Manning and Philip Rivers in 2004.)

These trades included significant names such as Jason Campbell, Pacman Jones, Randy Moss, Trent Green and Ahman Green.

Last year the Jaguars gave up a fourth-round pick to Oakland for linebacker Kirk Morrison and a fifth-rounder.

We’ll see no such movement in this draft and it certainly takes away one layer of intrigue. Allow trades for veterans in this draft and it could be way more interesting considering all the quarterback uncertainty around the league.

Quarterbacks Kevin Kolb, Carson Palmer, Kyle Orton and Matt Flynn, who could eventually be traded, will not go anywhere.

Here’s the year-by-year review of the sort of trades we won’t be seeing.

NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 16.

The supporting cast around Indianapolis' defensive stars has been playing better, and it’s spurred the team’s surge.

[+] EnlargeRobert Mathis
AP Photo/Greg TrottThe season may be winding down, but Robert Mathis seemed as fresh as ever against the Raiders.
But in a 31-26 victory at Oakland, one of those stars provided a major spark as the Raiders struggled to find any points on offense.

Robert Mathis forced two incomplete passes by hitting Jason Campbell's arm as he threw. He had 1.5 sacks. He tracked fullback Marcel Reece down on a screen pass and tackled him for no gain at the sideline. He chased Campbell down from behind on a third down to stop a scramble short of a first down. He made a tackle for no gain.

In a division where several high-quality pass-rushers haven’t been able to make it to the end -- Mario Williams (sports hernia), Aaron Kampman (knee) and Dave Ball (concussion) are all on injured reserve -- Mathis looked like he was as fresh as he was on opening day.

His energy was excellent and his ability to not only get to the quarterback, but to disrupt his passes when he gets there is uncanny.

Dominic Rhodes was a solid candidate on a weekend in which the Colts were the AFC South’s lone winner, but Mathis is our High Energy Player of the Week.

Mathis and Indianapolis are now in a win-and-in game against the Titans Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Final Word: AFC South

December, 24, 2010
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NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 16:

Can Maurice Jones-Drew play through it? He didn’t practice all week with a knee injury and he’s listed as doubtful for the game Sunday against the Washington Redskins. If he doesn’t play, it might not be the death blow many imagine, however. Rashad Jennings has shown he’s got some excellent run skills. I’ll bet the Jaguars are quite confident in Jennings as a lead back. This game is crucial to keeping Jacksonville’s playoff chances alive.

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
AP Photo/Michael ConroyThe Indianapolis defense bottled up Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
Will the Colts stack the box? In Week 15, the Colts limited Jones-Drew to 46 rushing yards and beat Jacksonville. The success came largely out of Indianapolis’ willingness to bring extra defenders to the line of scrimmage. ESPN Stats & Info says the Colts stacked the box more frequently than usual. Will they do the same to stop Oakland's Darren McFadden? I’d think they’d be less wary of Jason Campbell than they were of David Garrard. But the Raiders saw what the Colts did a week ago and should have some countermoves ready if they see it themselves.

Will Kerry Collins have to throw on the move? He’s significantly better when he has time to set and step into his throws, but Kansas City's Tamba Hali and Wallace Gilberry have been quite effective as pass-rushers. If they can force Collins to shift, look for plays from Kansas City’s secondary. How much time will Collins even get on the field? The Titans have had defensive issues on third down and in time of possession, and the Chiefs’ top-ranked run game is equipped to take advantage.

Is there still life in the Texans? It didn’t look like it last week in Nashville, but division games can be different. They are more talented than the Broncos. So in many ways their game in Denver could boil down to desire. Are they fired up for another shot at a rookie quarterback (Tim Tebow)? Is their pulse barely detectable with the playoff dream dead and a game on the road in the cold a day after Christmas? It’s the first time Gary Kubiak works the sidelines as a head coach in Denver. He was a Broncos quarterback from 1983 to 1991 and was their offensive coordinator for 11 seasons.

Will the Titans spread out for Chris Johnson? They should. ESPN Stats & Information says over the past two seasons, Johnson averages 7.6 yards when three or more receivers are on the field, versus 4.0 yards with two or more tight ends and 4.5 out of two-back formations. Kansas City counterpart Jamaal Charles actually has better production balance rushing the ball -- he averages 5.8 yards in three wide, 7.0 in two tight and 5.9 in two-back.

Wrap-up: Jaguars 38, Raiders 31

December, 12, 2010
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Thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ win against the Oakland Raiders at EverBank Field.

What it means: The Jaguars improved to 8-5 and will win the AFC South with a win at Indianapolis next week if Houston loses to Baltimore on Monday night. The Jags are assured of a better record than last season’s 7-9.

What I liked: Jacksonville had plenty of chances to give up in this one, but kept pushing and took a 28-24 lead with 3:44 remaining in the third quarter. When the Raiders tied it at 31-31, the Jaguars easily retook the lead, with a 65-yard kick return by Deji Karim and a 30-yard touchdown run by Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jaguars missed some tackles and allowed some big plays, but continued to rebound and recover. That sort of resiliency is becoming more and more of a consistent characteristic.

What I didn’t like: The personal foul call against Jacksonville for a hit to the quarterback’s helmet early in the fourth quarter. I thought it was against William Middleton. The official game book says it was against Terrance Knighton. It undid a 16-yard fumble recovery touchdown return for Knighton, and who doesn’t love to see an enormous defensive tackle rumble into the end zone? While Jason Campbell got decked and hurt, I don’t know that there was a hit to his helmet.

Breaking out: While Jones-Drew churned out 101 yards on 23 carries, backup running back Rashad Jennings continued to provide an excellent changeup out of the backfield. He looked especially fresh as he went 109 yards with five carries -- taking one third-and-4 touch 74 yards for a touchdown.

What’s next: The Jaguars play in Indianapolis Sunday and can win their first division title since 1999, three years before realignment with a win. If they win at Lucas Oil Stadium, the worst they can finish is 9-7 and the best the Colts will be able to finish is 9-7. But Jacksonville will have swept the season series with Indy, thus winning the tiebreaker for the crown. The Jags also need one other ingredient: One more loss for Houston.
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Michael Griffin was a mess last season. He let off-the-field stuff distract him, he dealt with a shoulder injury and that contributed to an awful season of bad angles, missed tackles and biting on play-action fakes.

[+] EnlargeMichael Griffin
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesTitans safety Michael Griffin had a team-high 11 tackles Sunday against Oakland.
To contend in the AFC South, where Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub reside, a reliable free safety seems an utter necessity. I’ve said a return to form by Griffin is a crucial storyline for Tennessee. And out of the Titans’ opening day win over the Oakland Raiders, it appeared Griffin was more the 2008 Pro Bowl version than the 2009 disaster.

“He was very productive all over the field, just focused and his rededication over the offseason paid off,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “I expect it to continue.”

Griffin was a sure tackler who was tight in coverage and a help in run support for the Titans. He dished out several big hits. Titans coaches credited him with a team-high 11 tackles. He recovered an early fumble and he added a pass defensed.

He was blitzing from the left on a first-quarter first-and-10, when Jacob Ford forced a Jason Campbell fumble. Griffin shed the block of Oakland running back Darren McFadden and was in prime position to pounce on the loose ball.

The Titans got a complete effort and showed themselves as superior to the Raiders. Among all the good signs, the quality showing by Griffin was one of the most encouraging.

What I think they're thinking

September, 6, 2010
9/06/10
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What I think they’re thinking at the four team headquarters in the AFC South ...

Houston Texans

We’re going to be pretty good.

Our guys will hear a lot of talk about how we can’t beat the Indianapolis Colts this weekend. We need to strike a delicate balance. Our guys need to know we can beat them and they have to see the confidence of the coaches in the plan to do so. But they also can’t put too much on it. If this is our Super Bowl and we should lose it, we can’t leave ourselves in position where it’s too difficult to say afterward that it was just one of 16. The bandwagon adds passengers with a win, loses many with a loss. If we lose, let’s just make sure we don’t give it to them.

Indianapolis Colts

We’re going to be pretty good.

Sure, a game in Houston to start isn’t an easy task. But if we do our thing and worry very little about them, it should turn out fine. There is a major psychological upper hand here, and we don’t intend to surrender even a morsel of it. We’ve got three beat-up guys on the offensive line in Jeff Saturday, Charlie Johnson and Tony Ugoh, so we won’t know who’s going to be blocking for Peyton Manning and Joseph Addai until just before kickoff. No matter for us. The big plays at the big moments will come from our guys.

Jacksonville Jaguars

We’re going to be pretty good.

There will be a lot of hype about Tim Tebow’s homecoming this week and we expect to see him in the game in a few touchdown-scoring situations. If that storyline angers us, so be it. We just have to be sure to channel that anger in a way that will benefit us. Our defensive front is rebuilt, their line is overrated. Let’s hit Kyle Orton the way we failed to hit quarterbacks last year. Let’s hit him in a way where he won’t have the time to try to go after our weak safeties. And after all the concern about Maurice Jones-Drew, let’s do all we can for him to have a big day.

Tennessee Titans

We’re going to be pretty good.

The Raiders are no soft spot. Their defense is better; good enough to cause us problems. And who knows how their offense has transformed with Jason Campbell, a semi-capable quarterback, taking snaps? We’ll look to do our thing, which means a steady diet of Chris Johnson on offense and a big effort from the defensive front to get Campbell out of sync. If we get those two things, and we always think we will, we'll be in good shape. While Colts at Texans gets the division’s biggest billing and Tebow is a story in Jacksonville, we’ll quietly move to 1-0.
Houston Texans

The Texans signed kicker Neil Rackers to a two-year deal. He'll compete with Kris Brown for the starting job.

John McClain expects an interesting battle to take place between Brown and Rackers.

Indianapolis Colts

Colts.com continues its draft preview with a look at the top wide receivers in this year's class.

Stampede Blue examines what the Donovan McNabb trade means for the Colts and their fans.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville started its offseason training program on Monday.

Could the Jaguars be a beneficiary of the Redskins acquiring McNabb?

Early indications are the Jaguars aren't interested in making a move for Jason Campbell.

Tennessee Titans

Tony Brown and the Titans are still working on a long-term contract.

Texas safety Earl Thomas and Cincinnati receiver Mardy Gilyard are scheduled to visit the Titans this week.

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