AFC South: Josh Chapman

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.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson is not playing around when it comes to trying to improve the front seven of their defense.

Jones
Jones
It started with the signing of former Cleveland linebacker D'Qwell Jackson last week, and it continued when the Colts announced the signing of defensive lineman Arthur Jones less than 45 minutes into the start of the free-agency period Tuesday.

“He is an outstanding producer down after down versus the run and pass,” Grigson said. “He's a guy who plays at a championship level week after week and lays it on the line every time he steps out on the field. He is a great fit for our team.”

The Colts had to do something with their defense. While they had their moments last season, they lacked the consistency needed to make a deep run in the AFC playoffs. They were 20th in the league on defense and even worse when it came to stopping the run (26th).

Here's what former Colts GM Bill Polian said about Jones.

“A power player with great size, he proved difficult to move in the run game. He's well-suited to play end in a 3-4 or tackle in the an even front, but Jones should be taken off the field in clear throwing downs.”

Colts coach Chuck Pagano is familiar with Jones. Pagano was the Baltimore Ravens' defensive coordinator during Jones' rookie season in 2011.

Jones can play defensive end and defensive tackle. The Colts need help at defensive tackle after Aubrayo Franklin and Josh Chapman combined for only 44 tackles and no sacks last season. Jones finished with 53 tackles and four sacks last season.

The Colts continue to improve in the front seven, but they're in need of a new starting safety, as Antoine Bethea, who started every game he played in during his eight-year career with Indianapolis, signed with the 49ers Tuesday.
INDIANAPOLIS -- To no one's surprise, the Indianapolis Colts weren't interested in hearing that the NFL admitted it made a mistake late in the second quarter of Sunday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

“No, no,” coach Chuck Pagano said when asked if he had a reaction to it. "We're still 8-5. And we've got the [Houston] Texans coming to town. And we won the division. So we got a lot of good things going on. Now we've got to catch the momentum, now we've got to catch fire. As Robert [Mathis] just said, we've got to 'strike the match' and catch fire and get the mojo going.”

[+] EnlargeBenJarvus Green-Ellis
AP Photo/David KohlAfter review, officials ruled that BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored right before the half against the Colts.
It was fourth-and-goal for the Bengals at the Colts' 1-yard line, when Indianapolis defensive tackle Josh Chapman tripped running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis stumbled to the ground and the officials ruled that he was down short of the goal line.

The play was reviewed and referee Jeff Triplette reversed the call, giving the Bengals a touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 74 seconds left in the first half.

"It wasn't a correct call," Dean Blandino, the NFL's head of officiating, said on the NFL Network's "Total Access" on Tuesday night. "We made a mistake here."

An apology now doesn't do anything for the Colts. It's still a touchdown and more importantly, it's still a loss for them.

“Awesome,” Mathis said. “Too little too late, but we're not crying over spilled milk. We lost the game. Move on. It's Houston.”

Colts: No word from NFL on reversed call

December, 9, 2013
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Not that it'll do anything to change the outcome of the game, but Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano still had yet to hear from the NFL on Monday afternoon about the reversed call late in the second quarter of Sunday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Colts thought they had stuffed Bengals running BenJarvus Green-Ellis when defensive tackle Josh Chapman tripped him up on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line.

That's what the officials originally ruled at least.

But after reviewing the play, referee Jeff Triplette reversed the call and said Green-Ellis wasn't touched before crossing the goal line. The touchdown gave the Bengals a 14-0 lead at halftime, and they scored on their first possession of the third quarter to take a 21-0 lead.

"I just trust our guys and (Chapman's) reaction to the play was the runner fell down," Pagano said. "And we saw video, saw the jumbotron just like everybody else and his reaction. During the time (he was) saying, 'I made the play, I made the play.' I trust our guys and it is what is."

Chapman knows he tripped Green-Ellis up, but he also acknowledged that they wouldn't have been in that position if they played better defense.

"I look at it this way: the guy should have never been down there," Chapman said. "We should've handled our business from the beginning. But when they get in the red zone, our job is to keep them out of the red zone."

Triplette gave a vague explanation on the reversal of the call to a pool reporter after the game that said they "reviewed the video at the goal line, there was nobody touching him there, and then he bounced into the end zone."

An NFL spokesman told USA TODAY in an email that the reversal was a "judgment call."

"Jeff determined in the review that the runner was not down by contact," league spokesman Greg Aiello wrote the newspaper.

Rapid Reaction: Indianapolis Colts

December, 8, 2013
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CINCINNATI -- A few thoughts on the Indianapolis Colts' 42-28 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

What it means: The game started to change for the Colts when Adam Vinatieri missed a 44-yard field goal following their best drive of the first half. It really changed for them in the final 74 seconds of the first half. Indianapolis thought it stopped the Bengals on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line when defensive tackle Josh Chapman appeared to trip running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The officials originally ruled that it was the Colts' ball. But they went to the review booth and Jeff Triplette reversed the call to put the Bengals up 14-0. Cincinnati received the ball at the start of the third quarter and drove down the field with ease to score again and go up 21-0. The Colts got to as close as 21-14 before the Bengals pulled away. The loss dropped the Colts to the No. 4 seed in the AFC playoff standings.

Still no ground game: I know it's surprising, but quarterback Andrew Luck was the Colts' best rusher. He led Indianapolis with 32 yards on only two carries. Donald Brown and Trent Richardson combined to rush for 31 yards on 10 carries. The Colts finished with 63 yards, marking the fifth time in the past eight games that they failed to gain at least 100 yards in a game.

Play at receiver: Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who has been a disappointment this season, finally had his snaps reduced. Da'Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill were happy to step up for him. Rogers caught his first touchdown pass of the season when he bounced off two Cincinnati defenders and scored on a 69-yard catch and run. Brazill topped Rogers on their next possession when he shook off six -- yes, six -- Bengals defenders on a 19-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Brazill and Rogers both added a second touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. Rogers had a drop on third down that would have been a first down when the Colts were trying to get back in the game in the fourth quarter. Rogers had six catches for 107 yards. Brazill added three catches for 53 yards. And for those wondering about Heyward-Bey, he had two catches for 23 yards and a dropped pass that would have given the Colts a first down.

What's next: The Colts return to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on the Houston Texans, who fired coach Gary Kubiak last week, on Dec. 15.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Any suspense about whether Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson will be in the lineup for Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams ended at about 11 a.m. on Friday when he took the practice field.

Richardson
Richardson didn't practice Wednesday and Thursday because of a swollen ankle. The Colts have him listed as questionable on the injury report, but you can expect him to play against the Rams barring any setbacks with his ankle.

“Oh yeah, I’m always game-ready,” Richardson said. “Took precaution on it and coach (Chuck Pagano) is going to make the best decision. You see me out there running around and you see me moving like I used to move. You know I’m ready.”

The goal -- other than having him find his rhythm rushing the ball -- is to find ways to get Richardson, who is only averaging 3.0 yards a carry in six games with the Colts, involved in the passing game. He had a 24-yard reception in the Nov. 3 game at Houston.

"I just have to find ways to creatively get the ball to Trent," offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said. "A lot of different ways, not just out in space, but do a better job with run schemes that feature his instincts. But he’s gotten better each week, and we expect that he’ll continue to make big plays for us.”

Offensive guard Hugh Thornton also practiced Friday after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday with a calf problem. He's listed as questionable.

Pagano said defensive tackle Josh Chapman (knee), cornerbacks Josh Gordy (groin) and Greg Toler (groin), and safety Delano Howell (neck) will miss Sunday’s game.

Reggie Wayne takes up coaching

November, 7, 2013
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INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Colts injured receiver Reggie Wayne didn’t go to Houston just to surprise his teammates the night before their game against the Texans.

Bush
Wayne
Wayne also provided an extra set of eyes for offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.

“In between series, I would pass over the pictures and ask his opinion,” Hamilton said. “And, of course, during the series he had a job. His job was to watch their slot coverage and give myself and [quarterback] Andrew [Luck] feedback.”

Wayne’s season – his 13th – ended when he tore his ACL in the fourth quarter of their victory over Denver on Oct. 20.

Sunday was the first time Wayne had been around his teammates since he had his surgery. The plan is for him to be around the team and take part in meetings as much as possible during his rehabilitation. Coach Chuck Pagano said last week that they anticipate Wayne to be ready for the start of the 2014 season.

“Reggie, he loves this game,” Hamilton said. “He loves the horseshoe and it’s awesome that he’ll still be around even under the circumstances.”

Here’s Thursday’s injury report:

Running back Trent Richardson (ankle) missed his second straight practice. Guard Hugh Thornton (calf), cornerback Greg Toler (groin), safety Delano Howell (neck), cornerback Josh Gordy (groin) and defensive tackle Josh Chapman (knee) also did not practice.

Linebacker Robert Mathis (shoulder) did return practice after sitting out Wednesday.

Predicting the Colts' 53-man roster

August, 30, 2013
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Here’s my projection at what the Colts' 53-man roster will look like:

Quarterback

Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck

Comment: The Colts are in good hands with Luck and Hasselbeck.

Running back

Ahmad Bradshaw, Vick Ballard, Donald Brown, Kerwynn Williams

Comment: Williams locked in his spot as the fourth running back by rushing for 92 yards against Cincinnati. He’ll also likely return kicks.

Fullback

Stanley Havili, Dominique Jones

Comment: Havili proved that he can be another option for Luck to throw to out of the backfield against Cleveland last weekend.

Wide receiver

Reggie Wayne, Darrius Heyward-Bey, TY Hilton, LaVon Brazill, Griff Whalen, David Reed

Comment: Colts are set with Wayne, Heyward-Bey and Hilton, but depth is still a concern at receiver.

Tight end

Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, Justice Cunningham

Comment: You have to cross your fingers that Fleener’s preseason problems were just that and they won’t linger into the regular season.

Offensive line

Anthony Castonzo, Donald Thomas, Samson Satele, Mike McGlynn, Gosder Cherilus, Hugh Thornton, Joe Reitz, Khaled Holmes, Jeff Linkenbach

Comment: The Colts’ scoring success depends heavily on how well this unit protects Luck

Defense

Defensive line

Cory Redding, Josh Chapman, Ricky Jean Francois, Aubrayo Franklin, Montori Hughes, Lawrence Guy, Drake Nevis

Comment: The defensive line has to prove it can stop the run.

Linebackers

Robert Mathis, Erik Walden, Bjoern Werner, Caesar Rayford, Pat Angerer, Jerrell Freeman, Kavell Conner, Mario Harvey, Kelvin Sheppard

Comment: Rayford is the surprise name on this list, but the 27-year-old former Canadian and Arena League player earned a roster spot by having a very strong training camp.

Cornerbacks

Greg Toler, Vontae Davis, Darius Butler, Cassius Vaughn, Josh Gordy

Comment: The Colts are in good hands if Davis and Butler play like they did during the preseason.

Safeties

LaRon Landry, Antoine Bethea, Joe Lefeged, Larry Asante

Comment: Asante made a strong case to make the roster with an interception against Cleveland and 13 tackles against Cincinnati. Don’t count out Sergio Brown, though.

Special teams

Adam Vinatieri, Pat McAfee, Matt Overton

Comment: No comment necessary

Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star made his 53-man roster projection earlier this week.

Conrad Brunner of 1070 The Fan did the same.

Wednesday's Colts camp observations

August, 14, 2013
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ANDERSON, Ind. -- Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Josh Chapman waited almost two years for last Sunday.

The second-year defensive tackle hadn't played in a game since he helped the University of Alabama win the national title in January 2012.

Chapman was finally on the field during the Colts' preseason loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

"It felt pretty good," Chapman said. "I got a little nervous about it but at the same time, when I got the first pop it was back to normal. ... Every day it feels better and better, more punch on it and just cutting on it, it feels great."

Chapman was the Colts' fifth-round draft choice in 2012, but missed all of last season with a torn ACL, which he played with most of his senior season at Alabama.

Chapman's numbers weren't eye-popping against the Bills -- four tackles -- but all that matters is the "900-pound safe in the middle of the line of scrimmage" is back playing again. Chapman has the size -- 340 pounds -- to clog the middle of the line and draw multiple blockers to him, which will open things up for his teammates. Chapman is behind Aubrayo Franklin on the depth chart.

"I think Josh is a bigger-bodied guy," Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. "He's got a great amount of weight behind him. ... He's a little sore, which is expected, but he did a fabulous job for us."

Other camp highlights Wednesday:
  • A day after dropping at least four balls, receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey made up for it Wednesday when had he one of his best practices at camp, catching two touchdown passes from quarterback Andrew Luck. The Colts need Heyward-Bey to produce like that on a regular basis.
  • Manusky said he'd like for the starters on defense to play about 15 plays in Sunday's game against the New York Giants. "It depends on how old they are, too," he said. "You get the 30-plus guys like Cory [Redding] and Aubrayo and Robert [Mathis], it's a little bit different. You kind of want to take care of them a little bit."
  • In a move that had the defensive players pumped up during a pass-rush drill, Mathis had tackle Anthony Castonzo convinced he was making a high outside move, but then he suddenly spun in the opposite direction to get to the quarterback dummy. Fellow defensive lineman Cory Redding ran over to Mathis and started dumping water on him to cool him off.
Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

Four running backs are vying for the No. 3 job with the Texans. Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle looks at Deji Karim, Dennis Johnson, Cierre Wood and Ray Graham.

To which I say: Experience won’t be the deciding factor here, but Karim has a big edge there as he’s played for the Jaguars and Colts.

Duane Brown means a great deal to the Texans as the anchor of the offensive line, writes Kristie Rieken of the Associated Press.

The plan for quarterback play Friday night at Minnesota, per John McClain of the Chronicle.

“I believe in Matt Schaub. And I think this is the season in which he eliminates doubt,” writes Adam Schein of NFL.com.

Indianapolis Colts

At Tuesday's practice, Andrew Luck completed 26-of-35 passes with three touchdowns each to receivers Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton, says Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.

There were few surprises on the Colts' initial, unofficial, depth chart, says Phillip B. Wilson of the Star.

Nose tackle Josh Chapman and receiver Griff Whalen are having breakout camps, says Michael Marot of the Associated Press.

To which I say: Aubrayo Franklin was still the starting nose tackle on the team’s first, unofficial depth chart. Part of that is seniority. Part of that is Franklin is a run-stopper, and first-and-10 is still regarded as a run down, so if they are dividing up the work, he could be on the field first, but not necessarily most.

The Manning brothers made an epic rap video for DirecTV.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jason Babin hopes to show skeptics he can still be a top pass-rusher at 33 coming off groin surgery, says Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union.

To which I say: If Babin can't be an effective rusher, the Jaguars are in trouble, because they don't have many other guys who have proven they can find the quarterback.

Cecil Shorts might miss the preseason opener with a left calf strain, says Hay Carlyon of the Times-Union.

Dwayne Gratz pulled in an interception even though he had fallen to the ground, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Times-Union in his practice report.

"Offensive weapon" Denard Robinson shifted from uniform No. 29 to his college No. 16, says the AP.

Tennessee Titans

Five things the Titans are hoping to accomplish in their four preseason games, from Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

To which I say: Staying healthy is No. 1, which tells you a lot about the preseason.

It was bad haircut day for the Titans' rookie offensive linemen, including Chance Warmack, says Wyatt.

Wyatt’s video practice report.

Alterraun Verner versus Tommie Campbell for right cornerback is a competition that will get hotter with preseason games starting, writes Teresa Walker of the Associated Press.

RTC: Colts talking run offense

August, 1, 2013
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Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

DeAndre Hopkins is emulating Andre Johnson to the point where he’s beating the veteran to the hot tub for a morning soak, says Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle.

Joe Mays hopes fans forgive him for last year’s hit on Matt Schaub, says Tania Ganguli of the Chronicle.

Rookie right tackle Brennan Williams needed to have fluid drained from his recently scoped knee, says Robertson.

Hopkins was well covered by Jonathan Joseph on two one-on-one red zone snaps but the rookie receiver still managed to win both, says Lance Zierlein of Z Report.

Indianapolis Colts

Among five Wednesday observations from Chappell, John Chapman’s penetration from nose tackle.

Greg Toler was on the sideline at the end of practice with a concussion, according to The Associated Press.

Owner Jim Irsay and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton are both talking about the importance of running the ball, which kind of makes Andrew Mishler of Stampede Blue wary.

Ryan Lilja signed with Denver, where he’s reuniting with Peyton Manning, says the AP. The two had great success as teammates with the Colts.

Coby Fleener is generating buzz, says Marcus Dugan of Colts Authority.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are preaching that “it’s all about the ball” as the defense searches for takeaways, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

Luke Joeckel’s avoided looking like a rookie in the early days of Jaguars training camp, says Hays Carlyon of the Times-Union.

Denard Robinson was out to practice to catch passes 20 minutes early, says O’Halloran’s in the T-U’s daily camp report.

Blaine Gabbert said he’ll be all the way back in practice today with his sprained right ankle "unless something magical pops up," says AP’s Mark Long.

Gus Bradley said eight or nine reps in a row for the defense might have been too much, from Wednesday’s “Inside the Jaguars” episode from Jaguars.com.

Geno Hayes is looking at his first year with the Jaguars as a reinvention, says John Oehser of the team's website.

Tennessee Titans

With running backs reliant on instincts, how much do running back coaches influence what their guys do? John Glennon of The Tennessean considers the question.

Kenny Britt tied something new this offseason and mostly stayed out of New Jersey, says Glennon.

Ryan Fitzpatrick swallowed his pride a little to sign for a backup job with the Titans, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Former Titans running back Jamie Harper is asking for support after an arrest, says Wyatt.

Colin McCarthy was back working as the starting middle linebacker on Wednesday, says Glennon.

David Stewart’s had a picture of him and Bernard Pollard ready to fight each other in a Titans-Chiefs game from 2009, for some time. The Titans right tackle asked the team’s new strong safety to sign it, says Teresa Walker of the AP.
Training camp competitions for the Indianapolis Colts are not shaping up the way general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano likely imagined them.

As Phillip B. Wilson points out in his blog at the Indianapolis Star, injuries are already having an impact.

Brandon McKinney is on IR with a continuing knee problem, so nose tackle looks like it’ll belong to Aubrayo Franklin and Josh Chapman, with Ricky Jean Francois able to help. What we thought could be a pretty good battle might be sorted out already.

Rookie right guard Hugh Thornton was expected to challenge incumbent Mike McGlynn, but Thornton has a boot on his right foot and has not practiced yet.

Pat Angerer is on PUP, meaning the second inside linebacker spot isn’t as much of a competition as it might be later, with Kelvin Sheppard apparently outranking Kavell Conner by so much that Wilson doesn't even mention Conner.

Rookie center Khaled Holmes might still give Samson Satele a fight at center, but Holmes had an ankle issue at USC and injured the same ankle on Tuesday.

Running back is still very interesting. Provided Ahmad Bradshaw is back to himself in time for the regular season, I’m not sure his presence on PUP with a still-healing foot hurts the competition at the spot. It might actually help. We know Vick Ballard will be second at worst, and it seems likely Kerwynn Williams will be fourth. The extra snaps could allow the staff maximum opportunity to gauge Donald Brown and Delone Carter.

While having virtually everyone good to go the first week of camp is ideal, camp injuries are inevitable. Maybe Thornton and Holmes don't miss much at all. Perhaps some of these guys will emerge in relative short order and still get into position battles the way we envisioned.

But if guys who are on the field now like McGlynn, Sheppard and Satele perform consistently well, they’ve got a chance to get a tight grip on jobs before their competition even takes the field.
When the Colts activated linebacker Josh McNary from their reserve/military list to the 90-man active roster, they waived linebacker C.O. Prime to make room.

But later Tuesday they rescinded the waiver request on Prime, keeping him on their 90-man roster and instead put defensive tackle Brandon McKinney on injured-reserve.

It’s not yet clear if this is a result of the same knee injury suffered in camp last year, when he suffered a torn ACL. [UPDATE at 9:55 p.m.: I'm told it's the same knee.]

McKinney has not practiced since the team started camp on Sunday.

McKinney got a two-year, $2 million contract from the Colts in 2012. He was one of two defensive veterans the Colts brought over from the defense Chuck Pagano coordinated in Baltimore before he was hired to replace Jim Caldwell. Safety Tom Zbikowski was released after the team signed LaRon Landry in free agency. Now McKinney is also gone, and it appears unlikely he will ever play a game for Indianapolis.

The team is reasonably deep in the interior line now, and will miss him less than it did last season, when he could have been the primary nose tackle. Now Josh Chapman looks to be the leaders for the most time, and veteran Aubrayo Franklin can be a run-stuffer. Martin Tevaseu is also listed as a nose tackle.

Ricky Jean Francois and rookie Montori Hughes will also be equipped to play inside in certain situations.
We pick up our series in which ESPN.com’s resident scout, Matt Williamson, ranks the AFC South position-by-position.

Today, we examine defensive lines.

Williamson’s AFC South defensive line rankings:
1) Texans (J.J. Watt, Earl Mitchell, Antonio Smith, Jared Crick, Chris Jones)
2) Titans (Ropati Pitoitua, Sammie Hill, Jurrell Casey, Derrick Morgan, Kamerion Wimbley, Mike Martin, Lavar Edwards, Antonio Johnson)
3) Jaguars (Jason Babin, Sen’Derrick Marks, Roy Miller, Tyson Alualu, Kyle Love, Brandon Deaderick, Andre Branch, Jeremy Mincey)
4) Colts (Cory Redding, Josh Chapman, Ricky Jean-Francois, Drake Nevis, Fili Moala, Aubrayo Franklin, Montori Hughes, Brandon McKinney)

I struggled a bit as I sort through that and consider how my own list should look. Ultimately I co-sign what Williamson has done here, and will explain it a bit after we talk with him.

SportsNation

Matt Williamson's ranking of AFC South defensive line units is:

  •  
    60%
  •  
    26%
  •  
    14%

Discuss (Total votes: 616)

My questions for Williamson based off of his list:

Your overall assessment of the AFC South defensive lines:

“Overall, I wouldn't say this is a fantastic division for defensive line, but I think the Jags' defensive line is a little underrated since they produced so few sacks. With Watt in the picture, Houston is pretty strong with their 3-man front.”

Does judging a couple 3-4s vs. a couple 4-3s complicate things here?

“Judging varying schemes isn't difficult, but it is hard to overlook that teams that run a 4-3 have more starting caliber linemen and of course the opposite is true when evaluating linebackers in a 3-4, but I just look at it as to how well these players do their respective jobs”

Can you rank them in order of depth?

“Just in terms of depth, I would go: Tennessee, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Houston.”

Can you name a potential breakout player?

“Morgan could break out, he pressured the quarterback well last year but didn't get home quite enough. I also think Babin is still a very good player and while he has already ‘broken out,’ he could be perfect in this new Jacksonville D.”

How big a gap do you see between Houston and Tennessee?

“As I noted, I see Tennessee as deeper than Houston, but the Texans have the star power. Watt just might be the best defensive player in football and Smith is no slouch either. Like the entire Titans' D, their defensive line is solid, but they lack a true star or difference maker.”

Are you not a believer in the Colts new additions and newfound health with Chapman and McKinney?

“It’s hard to say on the Colts. They have a lot of bodies, but who will step up? Better health of course is important, but I have a tough time handicapping their defensive line overall right now.”

As for me…

The Texans should get the biggest production and have the best player in Watt and a candidate for the second-best player in Smith. The Titans and Colts seem certain to be equipped to slow the run far better. With the change of scheme and personnel additions in Jacksonville things will improve against the run and pass.

It’s difficult for me to put the Colts last as they’ve added a lot and get Chapman and McKinney back healthy. Their crop of defensive linemen are now all 3-4 guys.

I want to bump the Titans down as I like their depth but not their lack of proven sack guys, but look behind them and it’s not as if the Jaguars or Colts do, either.
In early March, I outlined a five-category plan for offseason moves for each team in the AFC South.

I considered finances, continuity, turnover, additions and the draft.

Today we’ll look back to see how my plan and the team’s offseason lined up and how they didn’t.

Next up are the Colts. Here’s the original post.

What I got right:

Turnover: “Nose tackle Antonio Johnson did good work but isn’t ideal for a 3-4. Josh Chapman and Brandon McKinney are on the roster, rebounding from injuries and better suited to do what the role requires. Receiver Donnie Avery was a nice reclamation project, but the Colts can and should be looking for an upgrade beyond Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton.”

The team made no effort to re-sign Johnson, who wound up with the Titans. Avery moved on to Kansas City and the Colts brought in Darrius Heyward-Bey, who looks to be an upgrade.

What I got part right, part wrong:

Draft: "What was missed in free agency? The emphasis should fall on that, be it outside linebacker, corner, safety or offensive line. …Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins would be a very nice fit if he’s there at No. 24. Also: at least one offensive lineman, a 3-4 end (or two), outside linebacker depth and additional corners.”

While they signed Erik Walden in free agency, they went pass-rushing outside linebacker with Bjoern Werner in the first round and picked two offensive linemen. But the Colts didn’t draft a receiver, a corner or an end.

What I got wrong:

Finances: “The team has more than $43 million of cap room, which means there's no need to search for savings. Still, one contract appears to be too big. Center Samson Satele needs to be a lot better in his second year to prove he's worth the free-agent deal he got in 2012 that calls for a $2.8 million base salary in 2013. Cutting him would save only $668,000, however, and at least until the line is restocked, the team should keep options alive, not kill one off.”

Not only did the Colts keep Satele, once they drafted center Khaled Holmes in the fourth round, they traded A.Q. Shipley to Baltimore. Shipley played better than Satele when he was in the lineup for the Colts last season.

Continuity: "They already held onto defensive end Fili Moala with a new contract. I’d re-sign Jerraud Powers to a one-year, incentive-laden deal, but that requires that no one else gives him something better. If he stays healthy, he can be a productive contributor. If he doesn’t, the Colts will have given him every chance.”

Powers went to Arizona for a three-year, $10.5 million contract with $3 million guaranteed.

Additions: “I’d target these four players, hoping to land three. Ravens outside linebacker/end Paul Kruger played for Chuck Pagano in Baltimore and is coming off a Super Bowl win. He could fill out a nice linebacking corps and boost the pass rush. Provided that Atlanta’s Brent Grimes is on the right path to recovery from a torn Achilles, he could be great opposite Vontae Davis as a second starting cornerback. Houston safety Glover Quin could be a nice takeaway from the team the Colts are chasing in the AFC South and has enough versatility to fit with Antoine Bethea and ultimately take over his role. On offense, San Diego’s Louis Vasquez is the sort of guard who could help settle a line that has to be far better.”

Right positions, wrong names. The additions were Walden, cornerback Greg Toler, safety LaRon Landry and guard Donald Thomas.

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