AFC South: Jeff Lageman

Houston Texans

Arian Foster could start at running back against New England, says John McClain.

Bill Belichick hasn’t offered up any info on his plans for playing starters, says McClain.

Rating Houston’s young linebacker corps with Mike Kerns.

Indianapolis Colts

Jim Irsay was intrigued by the idea of 19-0 but signed off on the Colts’ plan, says Mike Chappell. I think the owner could have done better in soothing angry fans and I imagine just about everyone can find better examples of courage.

Colts' reserves are looking forward to more playing time in Buffalo, says Phillip B. Wilson.

Robert Mathis is savoring his second Pro Bowl selection as much as the first, says Richards.

Dwight Freeney says the Pro Bowl never gets old, says Oehser.

The Buffalo game will resemble a preseason finale, say Chappell.

The Colts don’t do damage control, says John Oehser.

History snub could forever taint the ’09 Colts, says Charles Robinson.

Wilson: “I hope the Colts' braintrusts have learned something from the experience. I hope they go forward with a new appreciation of those who care about this team.”

They botched the way they pulled starters, but it’s not the end of the world, says Deshawn Zombie.

Fourteen players missed practice, says Oehser.

Comparing Peyton Manning’s reaction to sitting to Brett Favre’s reaction to being asked to sit, from Lou DeLoureiro.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The short story of the Jaguars-Browns game will be about short running backs Maurice Jones-Drew and Jerome Harrison, says Vito Stellino.

The Jaguars have no lack of motivation, says Michael C. Wright.

Jeff Lageman subs for another edition of Ask Vic.

Even a middle of the road pass rush would have a big impact for the Jaguars, says Adam Stites.

Tennessee Titans

Chris Johnson is having fun while trying to rewrite a section of the record book, says Terry McCormick.

Kerry Collins wants to play but doesn’t know what the Titans’ plans are, say Jim Wyatt and Gary Estwick.

The Titans signed cornerback Jamar Love, says Wyatt.

Jevon Kearse details his knee issues and says he intends to play somewhere next year, says Estwick.

Keith Bulluck was fined $7,500 for a horse-collar tackle before he got hurt.

Five misconceptions about Jeff Fisher, from August West.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Want to alter a team's culture without changing the head coach?

The best avenue might just be through the team's strength coach, the one assistant who deals with everyone on the roster with some regularity throughout the NFL year.

In Jacksonville, Jack Del Rio recently hired a new man for the job, Luke Richesson. In Houston, Gary Kubiak still has an opening at the spot.

 
  Denny Medley/US Presswire
  Jack Del Rio hopes a new strength and conditioning coach will help turn things around for the Jags.

Gone from the Jaguars' staff is Mark Asanovich, said to be a steady and uncompromising personality. Gone from the Texans' staff is Dan Riley, a stronger presence some categorize as cantankerous.

With open offices, Del Rio and Kubiak had a chance to be sold on a different kind of training regimen and decide what sort of approach might work best for their rosters. But they also had a chance to gauge personalities and the ability of a new assistant to buy into the team's philosophy and to be an effective disciple of it.

"Those guys probably spend as much time, if not more time, with your players than you do," Kubiak said. "I know they are with players a great deal of time from the standpoint of being in the weight room doing their work. Then when they are not with us in meetings or in practice, that's usually the first place players go. The mentality of your football team and a lot of those work habits are developed down there in that atmosphere."

In Richesson and the Houston hire -- which rumblings suggest could be Ray Wright, a Riley assistant who remains on staff -- the Jags and Texans hope they'll have a coach who players come to consider both a resource and a model.

Richesson joined the Jaguars from Athletes' Performance, a company that trains college players looking to post great workout numbers at the league's annual scouting combine. Indications are he may not have been the Jaguars first choice, but Del Rio is confident he will be a difference maker. (When teams don't get their first choice, I'm always compelled to remind people how far basketball coach Roy Williams was down the list before he got the job at Kansas and how well that turned out.)

Richesson's biggest challenge may be broadening his repertoire in a way that embraces a more diverse pool of athletes. At Athletes' Performance, his focus was narrow -- elite college athletes were sent to him by agents looking to boost draft status. In the Jaguars' locker room, he'll deal with veterans and rookies with more established routines, some of whom are emboldened by status or paychecks.

(Read full post)

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