AFC South: John Matthews

RTC: Texans face test of maturity

September, 15, 2010
9/15/10
12:02
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Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

Houston added two veteran defensive ends in Adewale Ogunleye and Ryan Denney, says John McClain.

The trip to Washington will test the Texans’ maturity, says John McClain.

Vonta Leach is a hefty hole puncher, says Jeffrey Martin.

LaVar Arrington looks at Arian Foster against the Redskins' run defense. (Hat tip to Alan Burge.)

Players have the high moral ground in the labor debate, says Richard Justice.

The Texans also worked out some offensive linemen, says Adam Kaplan. (Hat tip to Toro Times.)

David Anderson appreciated the fans.

Indianapolis Colts

Poor protection meant the Colts’ offense was too hurried, says Phillip B. Wilson.

Bob Sanders visits Dr. James Andrews Wednesday.

Has Sanders reached the end, asks Bob Kravitz.

The Colts are very good in national television games, says Rick Gosselin.

John Oehser wonders about the venomous reaction to Sanders’ injury.

Brett Mock’s breakdown looks closely at the roles of Fili Moala and Philip Wheeler, among others, in the loss at Houston.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kirk Morrison, Kassim Osgood, Russell Allen and John Matthews all have San Diego connections, says Tania Ganguli.

Daryl Smith was named defensive player of the week, says Rich Jones.

Simon Evans with a thoughtful look at the Jaguars’ situation. (Hat tip to Alfie Crow.)

Greg Jones should have played in the 1970s, says Vic Ketchman of the team’s website.

Three things to look for as the Jaguars prepare for San Diego, from Mike Corrao.

Tennessee Titans

Five things John Glennon knows about the Titans.

Vince Young is back in the Heisman Trophy talk.

The Titans worked out four players Tuesday, says Jim Wyatt.

Limited passing meant limited pain for Justin Gage and Nate Washington, who are dealing with injuries, says David Boclair.

The Titans will face Dennis Dixon at quarterback, says Jonathan Hutton.

RTC: Titans' D seeking respect

September, 12, 2010
9/12/10
10:21
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Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

The Texans have to find a way to finish the deal against the Colts, says Dale Robertson.

Faith and Bible study are important elements in Rick Smith’s life, says Richard Justice.

The Texans and Colts want to mimic the show of player solidarity from Thursday night’s opener, says John McClain.

For Owen Daniels, the issue is conditioning, says McClain.

The Texans need to keep Neil Rackers off the field.

Houston’s gotten a lot closer in games against the Colts, says Richard Justice.

It’s put up or shut up time for the Texans, says Barry Wilner.

Charles Robinson doesn’t think the Texans will be ready.

Fans are not standing as one with the players, says Alan Burge.

Indianapolis Colts

Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne almost have telepathy, says Mike Chappell.

Can the Colts win it all? The “yes” side of the debate.

Can the Colts win it all? The “no” side of the debate.

The Colts will not be hung-over, says Bob Kravitz.

Wayne won’t let his issues with his contract affect his play, says Chappell.

Eighteen things to watch for in Colts-Texans, from Nate Dunlevy.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Times-Union’s game breakdown from Tania Ganguli.

Jarett Dillard is on IR, John Matthews is on the roster, says Tania Ganguli.

Tim Tebow expects to have some supporters in Jacksonville, says Ganguli.

There are ticket-sale issues in Southern California, says Gene Frenette.

Insightful Player looks at Aaron Kampman. (Hat tip to Matt Loede.)

Tennessee Titans

The Titans are expecting a lot from Derrick Morgan, says John Glennon.

Tennessee’s defense is looking to earn respect, says Jim Wyatt.

Donnie Nickey’s versatility is the key to his long career, says Wyatt.

Wyatt looks at Raiders-Titans matchups.

Wyatt asks two voters if Kevin Mawae is a Hall of Famer.

If you missed this, Jim Trotter broke down the Titans’ game-winning drive against Arizona last season.
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.

Three things: Falcons at Jaguars

September, 2, 2010
9/02/10
3:30
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Three things I’ll be looking for in Falcons at Jaguars:

A clue at guard: If Jack Del Rio rolls out starters for a token appearance, and he should, we will get a look at what should be the starting offensive line. One starting guard spot is not known publicly. It appears it’s either Vince Manuwai at right guard or Kynan Forney at left guard with Uche Nwaneri filling the other side in either scenario.

Long shot bids: First impressions are ancient. Last impressions can’t do anything but help a guy’s cause as decision-makers sit down to make cuts. Players like fullback Brock Bolen, receiver John Matthews, offensive tackle Kevin Haslam and defensive tackle Leger Douzable each will have enough time on the field to make that solid final bid.

Linebacker depth: The Jaguars have been dinged up at linebacker, and it’s tested their depth. Russell Allen is a definite part of this team, but what’s after that? Teddy Lehman, Alvin Bowen, Tony Gilbert, Kyle Bosworth and even Rod Wilson have one final chance to make a good showing, move up the stack and improve the chance of sticking. However it shakes out, I still think the Jaguars will be shopping for linebacker depth on the waiver wire.
Some bullet-point thoughts on the Jaguars’ 19-13 preseason win at Tampa Bay on Saturday night.

Impressive:
  • Josh Scobee hit on four of four field-goal tries – from 35, 43, 26 and 48 yards.
  • John Matthews made a wonderful 27-yard diving touchdown catch of a well-placed Luke McCown pass.
  • The third-down defense allowed the Buccaneers to convert just twice in 11 attempts.
  • The Jaguars held the ball for 39 minutes.
  • Scotty McGee had an electric 47-yard kickoff return to open the game.
Unimpressive:
  • Jacksonville was 0-for-4 in the red zone, an area that still needs major work. David Garrard threw an interception to Barrett Ruud at the goal line.
  • Garrard’s longest pass play was 26 yards (and that was his first pass, to Marcedes Lewis), McCown’s was 27 (the touchdown to Matthews) and the long run was 18 yards by Mike Thomas, a receiver.
  • Nine penalties for 62 yards.
  • When Derek Cox fell down and allowed a long pass from Josh Johnson to Mike Williams up the right side, Reggie Nelson was next on the scene. He failed to slow Williams and looked lackadaisical in pursuit from there.

Thoughts from Eagles 28, Jaguars 27

August, 14, 2010
8/14/10
12:14
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Some bullet-point thoughts on the Jaguars’ 28-27 preseason loss at Philadelphia on Friday night.

Impressive:
  • Luke McCown made some big throws as he completed 11 of 15 for 244 yards and three touchdowns -- a 73-yard touchdown to Troy Williamson, a 55-yaerder to Tiquan Underwood and a 30-yarder to John Matthews. It was good for a near-perfect 154.9 passer rating. But it wasn’t against the Eagles starters, and out of one game it shouldn’t fuel a quarterback debate.
  • Scoring defense by the frontliners. While Philly had huge advantages in yardage and time of possession with its starting offense, it managed only six points with them.
  • Deji Karim had a 68-yard kickoff return. More importantly, on his first couple against better players in coverage, he looked poised and got the Jags reasonably good field position.
  • Two take-aways.
Unimpressive:
  • Fourteen total rushing yards.
  • Six penalties for 121 yards.
  • Derek Cox flailing on a couple tackle attempts, including one on DeSean Jackson’s end-around.
  • Philly quarterback Kevin Kolb finding enough time to allow Jackson and Jeremy Maclin to break free. The rush was without Aaron Kampman, Tyson Alualu and Austen Lane, who did not play. But still, Joe Cullen surely would have liked to see more from his rush men early.

Mailbag: Surfing the division

September, 19, 2009
9/19/09
11:12
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky


Richard in Ann Arbor, MI writes: The shadows at the old Cowboys Stadium were at least as annoying as the shadows as Lucas Oil field. This should fall under the Jerry Jones rule: If it's ok for the Cowboys to do something, it's ok for any team to do it. The Colts have nothing to apologize for.

Paul Kuharsky: I didn't suggest they had anything to apologize for. I am sure they'd like for their games to look good on TV for the fans who are not at Lucas Oil Stadium.




Matt in Murray, KY writes: In response to "Further Review: MJD's 2-pt try," The Wildcat is a great change of pace set, but why would you run it at such a critical junction of the game? Had they just handed the ball off, there was a high percentage chance that he gets in. They could have run the EXACT same play they ran on the touchdown (which by the way was a beautiful display of patience by MJD) and as a Colts fan I can say, I feel like they would have gotten in. Fortunately for myself, they did not. But had the Jaguars pulled even with 11 minutes to go, the whole dynamic of how the Colts handled their next possessions would have been different. Did the Jaguars really think that the Colts would be more concerned with Nate Hughes (who?) than Jones-Drew who just burned them on a simple outside give?

Paul Kuharsky: I agree all around. It wasn't the best play-calling moment of the game.




Jahon in San Diego, CA writes: Let's just say that Dunta's shoe stunt and his comments afterwards have ticked off most if not all of the Texan fans. Speaking for myself, it makes me worried about what type of mentality is in the locker room. Instead of the other players laughing about his stunt and his comments, someone should have gotten in his face and told him to be professional and it is not all about him, this is a team. A team is supposed to be there to win.

Paul Kuharsky: Yes, I agree that a leader should have worked to set things straight. Maybe one did so behind the scenes. But once Robinson said what he did about it, someone else should have worked to drown it out with some volume.



Greg in Houston, TX writes: I was getting rather ill with the Dunta Robinson contractual issues and his hold out to prove his point. When he returned, I, like many others, thought that he would put his love of the game above everything else when the season started. His words and his preparation to return caused me to give him the benefit of a doubt. But now with the "Pay Me Rick" message written on his shoe causes me to believe that he can't get past this. I was wondering what possibilities were out there for trade considerations. What is his trade value for a draft pick? Is there another team that is need for a starting corner, such as DR, and would it be a player/player trade or a draft pick trade?

Paul Kuharsky: No one.

No one is trading anything for a guy whose contract worth nearly $10 million is guaranteed and who’s not under contract beyond this year.

I understand a lot of people are upset with him, but you'll have to come to terms that he’s going to be around. He can't be dealt or cut with that price. Also, more importantly he still rates as their best defensive back.



Roger in Nashville writes: Paul, Why is it that the Titans are soooo cheap. We were hoping they will go after Torry Holt or Hank Baskett but they rather settle for Paul Williams and Edison. We know is not a matter of money since they have the cap space but they just keep trying to get by with less. Have somebody explained to Bud Adams that these are his last years to get to a Super Bowl ring and that it is worth the investment.

Paul Kuharsky: I think you are wrong to assume it's about cost. They liked Holt a little bit at a certain value. The Jags liked him much more and at a higher value. I can't see that he'd rank ahead of Justin Gage, Nate Washington or Kenny Britt right now. They spent big dollars, by the way, on Washington, and a valuable first-round pick on Britt and a first-round contract on him.

With those three and Scaife and Cook, I don't believe they feel like they need Baskett and I tend to agree.

If they didn't play Edison in the opener even with Washington limited and if Paul Williams is on the practice squad, not on the 53-man roster, I'm not sure I understand the complaint about having them around. Edison is promising, and they should continue to try to develop young guys despite their failures doing so with receivers. Williams' time is up, in my opinion. But at least he is not taking up a roster spot any longer.

Also what makes you certain Baskett is getting any sort of significant money? It's a one-year deal, likely for the minimum, maybe with some incentives. The Colts were looking for a guy who could fill in as high on the depth chart as second, the Titans weren't. So what makes you certain Baskett would have preferred Nashville to Indy, anyway?



Fred Scheppele in Colorado Springs, Colorado writes: Who do you think would play more effectively for the Colts, or provide more game day value: 1) a veteran signed three days before the game that does not know the play book and has not practiced much with the QB (Hank Baskett), or 2) a rookie who was not talented enough to make the final 53 man roster, but was on the practice squad, knows the playbook, and went through the preseason working with the QB (Taj Smith or maybe John Matthews).

Paul Kuharsky: I think you're missing a third option, where they lean more heavily on Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon and Jacob Tamme and Hank Baskett maybe plays only in specific situations -- maybe in the red zone. Then his role can increase as he gets up to speed.

I think that's what they are doing. Bill Polian doesn't look outside often, so when he does I think it tells us where they stand on in-house alternatives -- in this case Smith and Matthews.



Peter in Nashville writes: Hey Paul, So my roommate and I were talking and had a question so I decided I would forward it to you. We both seem to remember there being some reason why LP Field is not eligible to hold the Super Bowl but neither of us could remember why. It is certainly big enough as it hold more than Tampa's field so I just wanted to see if I could steal from your bank of knowledge. Thanks.

Paul Kuharsky: Because it's cold and potentially wet in Nashville in January and February. Warm-weather cities or indoor venues only for the Super Bowl.



Weller Ross in Knoxville, TN writes: Hey Paul, I was just wondering if you know of anywhere out there where I can find the statistics for number of times a receiver was targeted. I've read multiple times now that Reggie Wayne was targeted 14 times, and I was curious as to how that compared to other receivers in the league. Thanks.

Paul Kuharsky: Click on a score at NFL.com to get to the Game Center page. from there, look for the red link to the official "game book." That's the stat package from the game, and if you find the section that details catches, it starts with "targets." (Click here for the game book from Jaguars-Colts. Scroll to "Final Individual Stats" on the second page.)

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky


The Colts made a couple of roster moves Wednesday. At least one more is coming -- perhaps in time for Thursday, which marks the start of their practice week in preparation for Monday night's game at Miami.

The team waived kicker Shane Andrus, who worked as a kickoff specialist in the season-opening win against Jacksonville, and linebacker Cody Glenn, who was inactive against the Jaguars.

Adam Vinatieri said Monday he envisioned ultimately taking back the kickoff duties, though he didn’t offer a hint that it would be soon.

One of the two open roster spots will be taken by Ed Johnson. The veteran defensive tackle was suspended by the league for Week 1 and the team’s roster exemption for him is up.

The second spot is yet to be filled.

Team president Bill Polian has indicated the team may look for a veteran wide receiver to help while Anthony Gonzalez (knee) is out. The team is only three deep at receiver without Gonzalez (Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon).

If the Colts don't find a veteran they like, they could opt to promote Taj Smith or John Matthews from the practice squad.

UPDATE: Adam Schefter reported Tuesday evening that the Colts worked out three free agent veterans -- D.J. Hackett, David Patten, and Chad Jackson.

AFC South practice squads

September, 7, 2009
9/07/09
9:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky


Houston
Indianapolis (one spot to fill)

Jacksonville

(Early version was courtesy of Michael C. Wright)

Tennessee

Colts' cuts

September, 5, 2009
9/05/09
9:19
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Here are the roster moves just announced by the Colts:

Waived:

RB Lance Ball

WR Sam Giguere

DT John Gill

DT Adrian Grady

RB Mike Hart

DE Marcus Howard

DB Dante Hughes

C Steve Justice

WR John Matthews

WR Brett McDermott

RB Walter Mendenhall

OG Tom Pestock

WR Taj Smith

LB Michael Tauiliili

DT Terrance Taylor

OT Jaimie Thomas

DE Josh Thomas

OT Michael Toudouze

Waived Injured:

DB Nick Graham

DB Travis Key

TE Jamie Petrowski

Does Not Count on Active Roster:

DT Ed Johnson (suspended Week 1)

A look at some long shots

August, 25, 2009
8/25/09
3:19
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

A quick trip around the division to consider some long shots who've looked good. Rosters get cut from 80 to 75 on Sept. 1, then to 53 on Sept. 5.


Houston

Free safety John Busing is a big hitter and a solid special teamer. Does he have enough upside at a questionable position for the Texans to keep him over a veteran like Nick Ferguson or Brandon Harrison, a fifth-rounder from 2007?

I also heard good things about defensive end Tim Jamison, who's got some likeable rush skills.

Two receivers have created a little bit of a buzz. And it wouldn't be a big surprise if Glenn Martinez or Darnell Jenkins make the team, especially if the Texans find another punt returner and decide they're done with Jacoby Jones.



Indianapolis

Cornerback Jacob Lacey has gotten his hands on a lot of balls and could prompt the Colts to keep him at the back end of their cornerback group. Might he stick ahead of Dante Hughes or prompt them to go heavy at the spot?

Linebacker Ramon Humbler has shown promise and can be a good special teamer.

The last receiver could be one of two relative unknowns. Both Brett McDermott and John Matthews are quiet and go unnoticed until the ball comes their way, then they catch it. Both are more quick than fast and they are roughly the same size at about 6-0, 200.

Chad Simpson and Lance Ball are likely going head to head for the final running back slot, but neither qualifies as a long shot.



Jacksonville

Word is that receiver Nate Hughes has moved beyond long shot and is early assured of a spot. He could rank as high as fourth now, and could make the team at the expense of one of the three draft picks. Or maybe that means Mike Thomas (groin) to IR?

Linebacker Russell Allen was the team's primary target among undrafteds and looks to have a great shot of making the roster.

Longer shots? Michael Desormeaux could oust Marlon McCree as a reserve safety or Pete Ittersagen could overtake Scott Starks as a reserve corner.



Tennessee

A deep roster with a draft class of 11 doesn't leave room for many street free agents or undrafted to emerge. So a late-round draft picks making it could qualify as a bit of an upset.

Cornerback Jason McCourty's been far better than Cary Williams and Dominique Edison looks to rank fourth at wide receiver right now.

With Leroy Harris heading back to a backup role as Kevin Mawae comes off PUP, Fernando Velasco's chance is probably gone.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

BRISTOL, Conn. -- Greetings from ESPN home base, where all of us in the blog networks gathered for our annual summit Monday. We're now about to head home.

A quick point of clarification before we dive into headlines: There is a vicious rumor being spread over at the AFC East Blog by Tim Graham that he and I ran our long anticipated 40-yard dash. (It's a popular topic in our chats.)

This was news to me. So I thought I'd share this account of what I saw as I didn't run:

After our day of meetings, we were heading out for a social get together when Graham took off in what I guess would have to be identified as a sloppy sprint. Before I knew it, he pulled up to his own personal "finish line:" a case of Zima he had spotted that a colleague was about to be put in his trunk and take to the party. Graham started jumping up and down, popping the cap off a bottle and pouring it over his head while celebrating "victory."

Weird, I know.

Houston Texans

Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson are energized at the start of the Texans' OTAs, says Meghan Manfull.

Undrafted rookie signee Brandon Walker was charged with drunk driving.

A review of John McClain's Monday chat.

Brooke Bentley's Monday chat recap from houstontexans.com.

Indianapolis Colts

Jeff Saturday is holding out hope that Tom Moore and Howard Mudd will change their minds, writes Mike Chappell.

John Oehser assesses the Colts' offensive tackles.

Donald Brown chimes in on the idea of limiting rookie salaries in this story from Sam Farmer.

Chris Harry revists Clyde Christensen as offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay.

(Thanks to Oehser's Indianapolis Football Report for pointing us to those LA Times and Orlando Sentinel stories.)

Oehser contemplates what the Colts will do with the salary cap boost the league recently announced.

Chappell takes questions relating to the departures of Moore and Mudd.

Sportsradiointerviews.com provides us with a link to the recent on-air portion of the Bob-Kravitz-vs.-bloggers debate.

Colts.com looks at rookie free agent wide receiver John Matthews.

Rookie punter Pat McAfee is eager to learn from Adam Vinatieri, says Colts.com.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jack Del Rio is more hands on with the defense, writes Vito Stellino.

Reggie Hayward saw a lot of older guys depart, but doesn't feel like he is near the end, says Stellino.

Tennessee Titans

Gary Eswick ponders the Titans' depth.

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