AFC South: Kevin Kaesviharn

AFC South: Free-agency primer

March, 4, 2010
Houston Texans

Potential unrestricted free agents: CB Dunta Robinson, WR Kevin Walter, RB Chris Brown, DT Jeff Zgonina, G Chester Pitts, S Brian Russell, S Nick Ferguson, LS Bryan Pittman, LB Chaun Thompson, QB Rex Grossman, LB Khary Campbell, G Tutan Reyes, T Ephraim Salaam, P Matt Turk.

Potential restricted free agents: DL Tim Bulman, S John Busing, OT Rashad Butler, TE Owen Daniels, RB Ryan Moats, S Bernard Pollard, LB DeMeco Ryans, G Chris White.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: I don’t think the Texans will jump out and make any monumental moves. But by deciding not to tag Robinson they created another hole and saved themselves big dollars. With needs at corner, running back, free safety, interior offensive line and defensive tackle they may have more than they can address in one draft. That means they could jump out for one significant free agent – like they did last year with defensive lineman Antonio Smith -- and maybe another less expensive one or two.

Indianapolis Colts

Potential unrestricted free agents: MLB Gary Brackett, K Matt Stover.

Potential restricted free agents: WR Hank Baskett, S Antoine Bethea, S Melvin Bullitt, OL Dan Federkeil, CB Aaron Francisco, LB Tyjuan Hagler, CB Marlin Jackson, CB Tim Jennings, DT Antonio Johnson, OT Charlie Johnson, LB Freddy Keiaho, DT Dan Muir, CBPR T.J. Rushing.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: Brackett is priority one and the team has indicated a plan to pay him as an upper-echelon guy. The restricted list includes a lot of key guys who will remain big factors next year. Indy is not a team that looks to bring in many outsiders for big roles and it won’t start now. Bill Polian’s said the Colts will sit back and see how things unfold in the new capless landscape.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Potential unrestricted free agents: DE Reggie Hayward, G Kynan Forney.

Potential restricted free agents: DT Atiyyah Ellison, LB Clint Ingram, DL Greg Peterson.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Jaguars are draft-reliant, but will also shop for bargains in free agency, hoping to plug a couple holes with high-character guys with upside who fit what they are doing. As for a big splash, it’s unlikely based on their recent busts with big-name free agents like Jerry Porter and Drayton Florence and the direction they’ve moved since.

Tennessee Titans

Potential unrestricted free agents: DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, C Kevin Mawae, LB Keith Bulluck, TE Alge Crumpler, CB Nick Harper, CB Rod Hood, DE Jevon Kearse, S Kevin Kaesviharn.

Potential restricted free agents: DE Dave Ball, DT Tony Brown, TE Bo Scaife, LB Stephen Tulloch, DT Kevin Vickerson, RB LenDale White.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Titans will undergo a youth movement, especially on defense where Vanden Bosch and Bulluck, who’s recovering from ACL repair, are going to be allowed to walk. Mawae been told his only chance to return is as a backup at a backup price. Brown, Scaife and Tulloch are important guys they’ll want to retain. Beyond that, expect mostly bargain shopping.
 AP/Wade Payne
 Vince Young did not post big numbers, but he did enough to get the Titans a victory.
Posted by’s Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- How can a 125-yard passing day transform a team?

Well, it took a lot more than Vince Young for the Tennessee Titans to break into the win column and pull to 1-6 with a 30-13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at LP Field.

But certainly the new starting quarterback helped changed the vibe Sunday for a team desperate for an injection of something different and fresh.

Team owner Bud Adams, who famously proclaimed “VY is my guy” when the team drafted Young in 2006, beamed in the locker room after the game while dodging a question about whether he was responsible for the swap of Young for former starter Kerry Collins. (He was.)

“He kind of proved today he can do it,” Adams said.

Teammates pointed to the boost Young provided against the Jaguars (3-4).

“He managed the game well,” guard Jake Scott said. “He did a great job, he was poised and collected and he made the plays when he had to and when the plays weren’t there to make he just got rid of the ball or scrambled and got down.”

Week 8 Coverage
Walker: Ravens D is angry
Mosley: Eagles win in laugher
Williamson: Merriman finds groove
Graham: Ginn provides happy returns
Seifert: Favre sweeps Packers away
Kuharsky: Young key in Titans' win
Sando: Cards missing Fitz
Pasquarelli: Surprise TD lifts Colts
Clayton: Denver goes down
Greenberg: Cutler tough in win
Watkins: Cowboys youth shows off
MacMahon: Austin, Crayton shine
Zoom Gallery: Images from Lambeau
• NFL Nation: Reactions | Wrap-ups | Live

Monday Night Football HQ

Yaskinskas: Atlanta CBs facing test
Said nickelback Vincent Fuller: “He brought a new energy back there in the backfield. He played fast, he played to his strengths. He’s a mobile quarterback who can get to different places in the pocket and he always adds that extra threat.”

Players and a scout I prodded said things were not simplified or stripped down, but they seemed that way. I felt like Young’s insertion into the lineup necessitated a simplicity that was good for a team that needed to get back to basics.

It also seemed like on some key throws, Young’s targets found more space than they had in previous weeks for Collins.

But when I threw that idea at Jaguars linebacker Justin Durant after the game, wondering if linebackers were possibly accounting for Young’s mobility, he looked at me quizzically and asked: “Did they throw the ball?”

It was a fair question. Playing from behind, Collins threw for 284 yards in the 20-point Jaguars’ victory on Oct. 4. Though Young threw only 18 times, he hit on 15. Though none of those connections were longer than 18 yards, there were no turnovers. There was a nice touchdown connection with Nate Washington on a well-thrown 6-yard fade.

Young felt good about what he did. He got a hug and a pat on the head from offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger in the game’s final minutes and another chat as they walked off the field.

“He pretty much saw me grow up a little bit tonight,” Young said. “He sees me making the right throws and the right reads, calling the plays in the huddle and getting the guys out of the huddle on time for the play clock and things like that. He basically has seen me grow up a little bit and he wanted to show his love to me."

Other keys to the result for Tennessee:

Offensive line play: Young wasn’t sacked and was able to turn 12 rushes into 30 yards. The run blocking matched the protection, and we’ll get to Chris Johnson’s record day in a minute.

New blood: Young was in the lineup, cornerback Cortland Finnegan was back from a hamstring injury and Fuller was back from a broken arm. But three relative newcomers -- defensive back/ punt returner Kevin Kaesviharn, cornerback Rod Hood and punter Brett Kern all made nice contributions.

Kaesvihard fielded one punt horribly, backtracking after a bounce, but handled four others reliably, no small feat for this team this year. Hood had an interception as the new fill in for the injured Nick Harper. Kern drew praise from Fuller, who sheepishly admitted he didn’t remember the new guy's name.

A return to formula: This year’s Titans expected to be like last year’s -- a run-driven offense spurred by a big-play defense. The defense got shredded on touchdown runs of 80- and 79-yards by Maurice Jones-Drew on two clinics of how not to tackle. But otherwise it found plays and prevented points. The Titans sacked David Garrard four times and recorded interceptions by Hood and Finnegan. The special teams contributed a blocked extra point from Michael Griffin. The Titans had at least two turnovers in each loss and none in their first victory.

CJ: When the defense is giving up huge touchdowns runs, it’s rare a team simply can cancel them out. That’s what Johnson did with 52- and 89-yard touchdown runs and a franchise record 228 rushing yards.

“I just know they were running it, whatever they wanted to, however they wanted to,” Durant said. “We just didn’t have an answer for them. …Those are plays that we’ve got to make.”

Put together the four long touchdowns and you have the first game in NFL history with four rushing touchdowns of more than 50 yards.

A little luck: The Jags' Derek Cox floated under a bad Young pass in the game early in the first quarter on the left side of the end zone. It was practically a fair-catch situation. But he booted it. “Who knows what kind of momentum that would have gave the team,” Cox said. “I had to speed up a little bit to get to it, I didn’t look the ball in, I was kind of worried about my feet being in because I felt myself drifting to the sideline.”

On Hood’s interception, Garrard’s intended target, Torry Holt, bumped into umpire Rich Hall and fell down.

The Titans surely felt due for something like that to go their way.

“This is the team I’d hoped for all year,” Jeff Fisher said. “We’re going to going to maintain this. I think we have a chance to maintain this.”

Titans, Nashville close to exhaling

November, 1, 2009
Posted by’s Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- There is a sense of relief among Titans players and running through LP Field.

Eight minutes remain but a 30-13 lead feels both unfamiliar and safe. Jacksonville was moving the ball well when David Garrard overthrew Mike Sims-Walker and Cortland Finnegan ended up with a pick. The Titans punted it back pretty quickly, but the Jags faced a long field and got nowhere. Now can Tennessee burn some clock.

Can the Titans and Nashville exhale?

Soon, barring something crazy.

They are fortunate that the Jaguars have tackled Chris Johnson as poorly as they've tackled Maurice Jones-Drew.

One other element that’s been big here: New blood beyond Vince Young.

Cornerback Rod Hood, punt returner Kevin Kaesviharn and punter Brett Kern have all had a positive influence for the Titans. More to come on them.

Jags-Titans inactives and changes

November, 1, 2009
Posted by’s Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans promised changes beyond Vince Young for Kerry Collins.

But Jeff Fisher indicated they’d be minor and they are: Jason Jones is starting at left defensive tackle for Jovan Haye, who’s inactive, and Rod Hood is starting at left cornerback for Jason McCourty.

Who's returning for Tennessee? Not Alvin Pearman, signed after Mark Jones suffered a hamstring injury. Pearman's inactive. Look for some combination of Kevin Kaesviharn and Ryan Mouton on punts -- they are fielding them now in warmups -- and either Michael Griffin or McCourty on kickoffs.

For the Jaguars, Reggie Nelson shifts to corner to start at corner for the injured Rashean Mathis and Brian Russell replaces Nelson at free safety. (Sean Considine was in line to replace Nelson, but is sick and inactive.)

Tra Thomas is starting at left tackle for Eugene Monroe.

The list of inactives:

  • Receiver Tiquan Underwood
  • Mathis
  • Considine
  • CB Brian Witherspoon
  • LB Brian Smith
  • OL Maurice Williams
  • OT Jordan Black
  • DT Greg Peterson
  • CB Nick Harper
  • RB Javon Ringer
  • CB Cary Williams
  • OT Mike Otto
  • Haye
  • TE Craig Stevens
  • DE Jevon Kearse
  • PR-KR Alvin Pearman

Posted by’s Paul Kuharsky

Houston Texans
  • Nnamdi Asomugha against Andre Johnson is as good a matchup as you can get, says John McClain.
  • Richard Justice: Time for someone on defense to step up.
  • Jacques Reeves’ hand injury could keep him out Sunday.
  • The Raiders are a mess, but Texans fans should be worried, said Alan Burge.
  • Roster moves following Chaun Thompson’s injury, from Mark Berman.
Indianapolis Colts
  • Dwight Freeney claims he’s a fast healer, says Mike Chappell.
  • Michael Lombardi wonders what Peyton Manning is worth now.
  • The Colts can blow you out or win a close one, says Phil Richards.
  • John Oehser considers Reggie Wayne, the possibility of the Colts leading the division wire to wire and Kyle DeVan’s push for the right guard job.
  • The Seahawks are likely to be without Matt Hasselbeck and Walter Jones.
  • Philip Wheeler could be part of the plan to fill in for Freeney, says Oehser.
  • Peyton Manning discusses how important Edgerrin James was to the Colts as the running back prepares to return as a member of the Seahawks, writes Oehser.
Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Wayne Weaver on the possibility of playing some in Orlando: "I still believe [the Jacksonville] market is a great NFL market and will be a great NFL market. I don't see this as an opportunity to go play half our games somewhere else. Absolutely not. I see it as an opportunity to play some out-of-market games and develop a market that's close by if the opportunity is right.” Vito Stellino’s story.
  • Mike Thomas is a small guy capable of big plays, writes Stellino.
  • Maurice Jones-Drew is the AFC offensive player of the week, says Michael C. Wright.
  • Vic Ketchman thinks the Titans are a good team that’s found ways to lose.
Tennessee Titans

Titans admit mistakes, make moves

September, 29, 2009

Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

In one day of roster moves the Titans admitted two mistakes.

Tuesday they signed veteran return man Mark Jones and defensive back Kevin Kaesviharn. They made room by cutting running back Chris Henry and putting punter Craig Hentrich on IR.

Bringing Jones back is a huge admission of culpability for Jeff Fisher. Such a reversal is rare during his tenure with the franchise, which dates back to 1994, especially when not prompted by injury.

Jones, a middling receiver who’s been a reliable returner, was cut to get the Titans' roster down to 53 at the end of the preseason. Fisher was determined to use rookie running back Javon Ringer as the kick returner and rookie corner Ryan Mouton as the punt returner (after Cortland Finnegan filled in for one game).

Ringer lost his job after two games, and Mouton started Sunday in New York against the Jets in both roles. But he fumbled a kickoff and a punt, which both led directly to Jets scores and the Titans fell to 0-3.

Fisher and the Titans have also been stubborn with Henry, who survived cuts when Quinton Ganther was hurt in the preseason finale but who was clearly not one of the team’s best 53 players and certainly was not worthy of being among the active 45 the last two weeks.

Henry was a second-round choice out of Arizona, 50th overall, in 2007. The Titans got wowed by his combine performance but forgot to give sufficient weight to his football instincts.

If a fourth running back is in the game-day mix, he’ll have to be a better special-teamer than Henry was.

Mouton may be the nickel while Vincent Fuller is out a month or more to recover from a broken arm. But Mouton or another rookie corner, Jason McCourty, could be in the mix to start with Finnegan potentially out of the lineup with a hamstring injury.

Kaesviharn gives the Titans a veteran defensive back to have in the mix as they explore alternatives and wait on key people to get healthy.