AFC South: Jeris Pendleton

Examining the Indianapolis Colts' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
This is the safest position on the roster for the Colts. They plan to always keep a veteran backup if Luck ever goes down with an injury.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

The Colts will have a solid running combination if -- and we’re saying if until proven wrong -- Richardson can bounce back from a poor first season in Indianapolis and Bradshaw and Ballard can stay injury-free. Havili, a fullback, gets the edge over Mario Harvey, who switched from linebacker to fullback during offseason workouts.

RECEIVERS (5)

The final receiver spot will come down to Rogers and Griff Whalen. If the Colts want to play it safe, Whalen is the guy because he’s familiar with Luck and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, but Rogers has the size and speed the team likes. There’s also the possibility of the Colts keeping six receivers.

TIGHT ENDS (4)

Allen, who missed all but one game in 2013, and Fleener have the potential to be one of the top tight end duos in the league. Doyle and Saunders are both familiar with the system after backing up Fleener in Allen’s absence last season.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

There are plenty of questions surrounding the offensive line outside of tackles Castonzo and Cherilus. The one thing general manager Ryan Grigson wanted with this group is depth. The Colts have plenty of it.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)

Like the offensive line, the Colts want depth on the defensive line so they can constantly rotate in players, so come the fourth quarter they still have fresh legs to get after the opponent. Jones was the key offseason acquisition for the Colts. Chapman showed flashes last season; now he needs to do it every snap that he’s on the field.

LINEBACKERS (10)

All eyes will be on outside linebacker as the Colts look to find a replacement for Mathis, who is suspended for the first four games of the season. Werner gets the first crack at starting in Mathis’ spot. McNary is a player for whom Grigson has high expectations. It’ll be up to defensive coordinator Greg Manusky on how he uses McNary.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (10)

It’s anybody’s guess how the secondary will perform. It’s anybody’s guess who will start alongside Landry at safety. It looked like it would be Howell for most of the offseason, but the Colts signed the veteran Adams in June. Can Toler finally remain healthy? Can Davis live up to his contract? So many questions with no answers at the moment.

SPECIALIST

This only changes if an injury occurs.
INDIANAPOLIS – New Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman Arthur Jones didn’t want to reveal too much when asked about if he would be playing more defensive tackle than end next season.

Jones
Jones
Colts coach Chuck Pagano answered the question during the NFL owners meetings earlier this week.

Well, sort of.

“I’m not going to pigeonhole by saying he’s an inside guy or an outside guy,” Pagano said. “He brings position flexibility to our front. He’s a sub-rusher on third down. He can give you inside push, he can beat guys one-on-one. He has sack numbers for an inside guy.”

Pagano was Jones’ defensive coordinator during his rookie season with the Baltimore Ravens in 2011. Jones went from having 20 tackles and zero sacks his rookie season to having 53 tackles and four sacks last season, and now he’ll try to be just as effective in Indianapolis.

“He’s really matured as a young man,” Pagano said. “He knows our scheme. Terminology won’t be an issue. It’ll be a seamless transition for us.”

Pagano’s goal is to have a defensive front that has players who can play multiple positions so that they can constantly rotate them in so in the fourth quarter they’ll still be relatively fresh. Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, who missed part of last season with a foot injury, can play on the end.

The Colts were abysmal at stopping the run last season, finishing 26th in the league in that category, and linebacker Robert Mathis had 19.5 of their 42 sacks.

“You can never have enough defensive linemen,” Pagano said. “We roll those guys all the time and try to keep them fresh. If you can play with six, seven guys in the defensive front by the time fourth quarter comes around and everybody is still fresh, it’s going to play to your advantage.”

The Colts currently have seven defensive linemen on the roster: Montori Hughes, Ricky Jean Francois, Arthur Jones, Fili Moala, Jeris Pendleton, Cory Redding, and Josh Chapman.

AFC South links: Luck likes OTAs

May, 23, 2013
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Houston Texans

Free safety Ed Reed has not been at OTAs while recovering from hip surgery, but the Texans expect him to be ready for the start of the regular season, writes Nick Scurfield of the team's website. Reed had minor surgery in late April, about a month after signing with the Texans. The nine-time Pro Bowler is expected to leave Colorado, where he had the surgery, this week.

Other NFL owners say Houston was an easy choice to host Super Bowl LI in 2017, writes John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

Coach Gary Kubiak expects Case Keenum to push T.J. Yates for the backup quarterback job behind Matt Schaub, writes Dale Robertson of the Chronicle.

Indianapolis Colts

Because academic requirements at Stanford forced him to miss OTAs before his rookie season, quarterback Andrew Luck is getting his first taste this offseason and finds the workouts productive, writes Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars were busy Wednesday, writes Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union. They signed wide receiver Jeremy Ebert, a seventh-round pick of the New England Patriots last year; cut defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton, their seventh-round pick last year; and signed one of their seventh-round picks this year, cornerback Demetrius McCray.

The Jags took a flier on Pendleton’s raw talent last year even though he was 28 and didn’t play football for several years after high school while trying to support his family on the south side of Chicago.

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew, participating sparingly in the team's offseason program as he recovers from offseason foot surgery, talks about his decision to rehabilitate his injury in Miami. John Oehser of jaguars.com has the story.

Tennessee Titans

Undrafted tight end Jack Doyle of Western Kentucky faces stiff competition for a roster spot, but the 6-foot-6, 253 pounder looks the part, writes Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. Doyle, who had 162 career catches for 1,769 yards with the Hilltoppers, was first-team All-Sun Belt Conference in 2012.

Titans middle linebacker Colin McCarthy isn’t back to full health following his offseason ankle surgery, but he’s encouraged with his progress. McCarthy has been participating in organized team activities, and says he's "about 80 percent," writes John Glennon of the Tennessean.
At his best, defensive tackle Tyson Alualu has been a solid player.

Alualu
Alualu
The Jacksonville Jaguars haven't seen his best often enough, partly because he has dealt with a bad knee for much of his time since they drafted him out of Cal 10th overall in 2010.

Gus Bradley and the new defensive staff are making a big change with Alualu for his fourth season. Per John Oehser, Alualu is moving to end.

From Oehser:
Alualu said he mostly will either play on the tight end side of the defense, or the back side of the defense head up over the offensive tackle on that side. He said believes playing outside works more to his strengths -- taking on double teams with the tight end and stopping the run -- than playing inside.

That leaves the Jaguars with newcomers Roy Miller and Sen'Derrick Marks as the top tackles, and injury-prone D'Anthony Smith and second-year man Jeris Pendleton as the top candidates for depth.

If the new Jaguars coaches think Alualu can be more effective outside, then it's a good move. But it reflects poorly on the pick by former GM Gene Smith back in 2010. A stout, penetrating defensive tackle can be worth the 10th pick in the draft. A run-stopping end? Not so much.

Alualu told Oehser playing end should also mean less wear and tear on his knee, so that could be a factor in the move as well.

The move also expands the question about Jeremy Mincey. Jason Babin is expected to be the Leo, rush end and Andre Branch should wind up working there, too. Mincey could wind up playing behind Alualu, at best.

Reassessing the Jaguars' needs

April, 4, 2013
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The Jacksonville Jaguars have not been afraid to say they are in a rebuild. It’s a rebuild that will be centered on drafts and be quiet in free agency.

Still, some of their additions have adjusted their needs. Understanding they need just about everything, let’s look at the big question mark positions and how free agency has affected them.

[+] EnlargeRoy MIller
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsNew Jaguars defensive tackle Roy Miller should help solidfy Jacksonville's defensive line.
Offensive line -- This remains a giant need. General manager David Caldwell indicated early in the offseason that the Jaguars didn’t have people they thought could start at left guard and right tackle. And they’ve added nothing to address the issue. A tackle is certainly in play with the No. 2 overall pick, and it will be a surprise if the Jaguars don’t draft two offensive linemen.

Cornerback -- Alan Ball didn’t play well for the Texans last year, but perhaps another change of scenery and Gus Bradley’s system will resurrect him. Still, the Jaguars are quite thin at corner, with well-regarded second-year man Mike Harris joined by young Kevin Rutland and journeyman Antwaun Molden. It’s hard to look at this group and feel like it can slow Andre Johnson or Reggie Wayne. Corner is a major need.

Safety -- They cut the expensive Dawan Landry. So aside from Dwight Lowery, they are very thin. Strong safety is a blank spot that needs filling and ranks right there with offensive line and corner in the desperate need category.

Quarterback -- No, I don’t think Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne is a long-term answer. So if the new regime loves a guy in this draft, it certainly can add a quarterback. But given the holes on this team, it would make perfect sense to build up the infrastructure that would make Jacksonville a better landing spot for a quarterback in a year.

Defensive end -- The Jaguars had fewer sacks as a team last season than Houston defensive lineman J.J. Watt had on his own. They haven’t added an end and absolutely need a dynamic pass-rusher.

Running back -- Justin Forsett was a nice addition as Maurice Jones-Drew's primary relief. But MJD could be in his last year with the team, so a running back of the future could arrive in the draft.

Linebacker -- Geno Hayes could be a starter on the outside as it doesn’t appear Daryl Smith is going to be back. Russell Allen is serviceable, so maybe the team has its two starting OLBs. Not as pressing in the draft as some other areas, but if they see one they like they won’t steer away.

Fullback -- Greg Jones is gone to Houston and indications are the team plans on using a fullback. Maybe a late draft pick. But it’s a niche spot that a lot of teams may fill with an undrafted guy.

Defensive tackle -- They’ve added Roy Miller and Sen'Derrick Marks. Those two and a healthy Tyson Alualu could be sufficient along with competition for a back-end spot between D'Anthony Smith, Jeris Pendleton and an undrafted guy or two. I could see the Jaguars leaving this spot alone now.
C.J. Mosley will be 30 in August and he’s been somewhat of a journeyman in his eight NFL seasons. The Jacksonville Jaguars cut him Monday per John Oehser of the team’s website (hat tip to PFT). So Mosley will seek a fifth team if his career is to continue.

He started 12 games for Jacksonville last season ahead of Terrance Knighton, who was unable to effectively serve as a run stopper on early downs. Knighton left as a free agent and signed with Denver.

Mosley played 54 percent of the snaps on defense and 20 percent of the plays on special teams.

The Jaguars added free-agent Roy Miller from Tampa Bay, who figured to start alongside Tyson Alualu on the interior of the defensive line.

Jacksonville has three other interior defensive linemen on the roster: often-injured D'Anthony Smith and two guys who were rookies in 2012, Jeris Pendleton and Jerome Long.

Coach Gus Bradley has ties to veteran defensive tackle Alan Branch, a Seattle free agent. But I've seen nothing tying the team to the player and didn't get an immediate response from Branch's agent.

Per The Tennessean, the veteran the Jaguars will consider is Titans free agent Sen'Derrick Marks. The market for Marks, a second-round choice in 2009, has been super quiet. I imagine he'd be an affordable option at this point and perhaps a change of scenery and scheme will spark his game.

RTC: Andre Johnson tops WR list

July, 16, 2012
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Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

Andre Johnson ranks as the best receiver in the NFL in the eyes of Greg Cosell of NFL Films.

In this Q&A with Barry Byers of Herald Online, Johnathan Joseph spells out some of the differences between Houston and Cincinnati. (Hat tip to Stephanie Stradley through Nate Dunlevy.)

Previewing the Texans' quarterbacks with Nick Scurfield of the team’s website.

Indianapolis Colts

New offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is big on accountability, and meetings will start with a review of busted assignments, says Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star. "It's not my offense, it's theirs," Arians said.

Assessing the Colts' cap situation with Brian McIntyre of NFL.com.

Mark Sessler of NFL.com makes the case for Andrew Luck in a debate about Luck and Robert Griffin III. (Hat tip to Mark Alesia of the Star, who does great roundups.)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Deadline day has arrived for the Jaguars and kicker Josh Scobee, says Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union.

Jeris Pendleton is fighting to show that “too late” and “too old” are labels he can shatter. Ganguli looks at the Jaguars' 28-year old rookie defensive tackle.

Defensive end Odrick Ray was arrested in Tulsa, Okla., on traffic a warrant, says Ganguli.

The Jaguars are thinking they could lift the tarps at EverBank Field for a game or two this season, writes Gene Frenette of the T-U. They will not lower their blackout number, says Ganguli.

Tennessee Titans

The quarterback decision won’t be made quickly, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

The Titans aren’t changing their blackout policy, says Wyatt.

The Titans are committing to a passing offense and the new reality of the NFL, says Nate Dunlevy of Bleacher Report. The personnel says that. I'll need to see the play calling.
We haven’t touched on it this season. But it’s a pet peeve of mine: Too many people attach too much significance to pre-draft visits.

The Jaguars had fifth-rounder linebacker Brandon Marshall and seventh-round defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton to Jacksonville. That’s two of six picks.

The Titans had first-round receiver Kendall Wright, second-round linebacker Zach Brown, third-round defensive tackle Mike Martin, and fifth-round tight end Taylor Thompson to Nashville. That’s four of seven.

I didn’t get details directly from the other two teams, but I did some fishing around.

From reports I’ve sifted though, the Texans had visits with guard Brandon Brooks, kicker Randy Bullock and offensive tackle Nick Mondek. That’s three of eight.

Also from reports, indications are the Colts spent time in Indianapolis with Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton and Tim Frugger. That’s three of 10.

We could be missing a couple Houston or Indianapolis visits.

But based on what we know, the AFC South visit rate of draft picks this year was 38.7 percent.

We shall recall this next year when someone notes a visit before the draft as a telling sign of something.
A piece I linked to earlier today calls for more comment.

Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union wrote about how the Jaguars intend to experiment with a Wildcat package in camp and the preseason with Mike Harris, their sixth-round pick out of Florida State in position to throw.

SportsNation

What do you think of the Jaguars' intent to experiment with the Wildcat?

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Discuss (Total votes: 1,864)

I’ve been saying I think the Jaguars can close the gap on Tennessee if Blaine Gabbert can up his game to average and if the coaching staff lives up to its billing.

Two picks into the draft I was excited about what they’d done with receiver Justin Blackmon and defensive end Andre Branch.

Then they made the controversial third-round punter pick. And now they are talking Wildcat.

Seriously?

You lean on a gimmick when your base stuff won’t work, so looking at Harris’ good arm as potentially providing a change-up doesn’t serve as a great endorsement of Blaine Gabbert.

Harris was a spread option quarterback at South Miami (Florida) High School. I wouldn't bank on that for much beyond an occasional trick play.

My understanding about why Tim Tebow ultimately decided to steer the Broncos to trade him to the Jets instead of the Jaguars -- who made a similar offer -- was because he’d get more chances to play on offense in New York.

Great, I said, no gimmicky stuff for the Jaguars. They want to play and excel largely as a conventional offense.

Now I am wondering why they are pumping up the Wildcat, which is largely dead around the league.

Here’s a piece of Ganguli’s story with Mularkey talking.
“It’s not really the college Wildcat scheme but it is a way to attack defenses with somebody other than your quarterback,’’ he said.

He said his scheme sometimes doesn’t have the quarterback on the field. In some Wildcat formations, the quarterback is spread out as a wide receiver.

He said he always asks players if they’ve played quarterback at some point and how well they throw. Besides Harris, the other player he has identified as a candidate is wide receiver Cecil Shorts, who was a high school quarterback.

“We’re going to see how it looks in camp and maybe experiment a little bit in the preseason,’’ he said.

With anything they run that’s Wildcat-like this season, they are begging more Tebow questions, especially if he has any success in the system with the Jets.

The Jaguars, of course, are upbeat and confident they’ve made the right choices, with the selection of punter Bryan Anger in the third-round, outside linebacker Brandon Marshall at a spot where the roster is well stocked, and Harris and seventh-round defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton out of Ashland.

Every team in the league feels confident now. I just hope Terry McDonough, the team’s director of player personnel, doesn’t wind up regretting this enthusiastic comment:

“The bottom line is that we will win, we will fill the stadium and we are going to talk about the punter at the end of the year.’’

AFC South draft notes

April, 28, 2012
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The big draft review file will arrive shortly, but a few quick thoughts in the meantime:

Houston Texans

Three offensive linemen should help the team sort through options at right guard and right tackle. Antoine Caldwell and Rashad Butler are the guys moving up the depth chart, but now their challengers will include Brandon Brooks and Ben Jones at guard and Nick Mondek at tackle.

Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck will come in at the head of a class that also includes two tight ends, two receivers, a running back and an offensive tackle. That change to a 3-4 defense will be in hybrid mode a lot in its first season, as only defensive tackle Josh Chapman and defensive end/outside linebacker Tim Fugger arrived to help. The Colts still get the draft’s final pick.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars stayed with big school guys most of the way. Their first five selections came from Oklahoma State, Clemson, Cal, Nevada and Florida State. But Gene Smith got his small school guy in the seventh round, with defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton from Ashland.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans didn’t have a pass rusher and were out of picks, but traded a sixth rounder in 2013 to Minnesota in order to select Rice defensive end Scott Solomon. The team sees a relentless pass rusher who fits in their mix and thought it could afford to sacrifice a sixth next year since it expects a compensatory pick or two.

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