AFC South: Marshall Faulk

Rapid Reaction: Indianapolis Colts

December, 15, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the Indianapolis Colts' 25-3 victory over the Houston Texans:

What it means: The Colts didn't wait until the second half to get going offensively. They started on their first offensive series of the game. The Colts mixed up the run with the pass to go 80 yards on 11 plays on their opening drive. The drive ended with quarterback Andrew Luck finding receiver Griff Whalen for a 14-yard touchdown. That was the first time the Colts scored a touchdown in the first quarter since doing it against Denver on Oct. 20. Slow starts have been a problem the past seven weeks for the Colts, but they went into the half with a 20-3 lead. They were 5-of-8 on third down in the first half after going 0-for-6 in the first half against Cincinnati on Dec. 8. The one downside about the Colts on offense is that they started the game 5-for-5 on third down but failed to convert on their final 10 attempts.

Whalen steps up: Whalen has been an afterthought this season after having a strong training camp. He was elevated from the practice squad Saturday because of the injury to fellow receiver LaVon Brazill (foot). He took advantage of the opportunity. Whalen, a college teammate of Luck's at Stanford, caught four passes for 45 yards, returned three punts for 67 yards and a kickoff for 22 yards.

Being honored: Former Colts running backs Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk were inducted into the team's Ring of Honor at halftime. Dickerson rushed for 5,194 yards and 32 touchdowns during his five seasons with the Colts. He won the league's rushing title in 1988, when he gained 1,659 yards to go with 14 touchdowns. The Colts traded Dickerson to the Los Angeles Raiders following the 1991 season. Faulk rushed for 5,320 yards and 42 touchdowns to go with 297 receptions and 2,804 yards in his five seasons with the Colts. He was traded to the St. Louis Rams after the 1998 season because he thought he deserved a raise. Dickerson and Faulk join Robert Irsay, Bill Brooks, Chris Hinton, Ted Marchibroda, Jim Harbaugh, the 12th Man, Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James in the team's Ring of Honor.

Injuries: Colts guard Joe Reitz left the game in first half after being tested for a concussion. Starting running back Donald Brown sat out the second half with a stinger. He ran for 38 yards on five carries. Linebacker Daniel Adongo (hamstring) and safety Sergio Brown (groin) also left the game.

What's next: The Colts go on the road to take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The Colts and Chiefs have a chance to face each other in the playoffs in Indianapolis.

Colts will honor Faulk and Dickerson

October, 9, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS – Lost in the news of running back Ahmad Bradshaw deciding to have season-ending knee surgery Tuesday was that the Indianapolis Colts plan to add former running backs Marshall Faulk and Eric Dickerson to the Ring of Honor together during the Dec. 15 game against Houston.

They will be the 10th and 11th members of the Ring of Honor, joining Robert Irsay, Bill Brooks, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison, Tony Dungy, Jim Harbaugh, Chris Hinton and Ted Marchibroda and the 12th Man.

Faulk, the No. 2 overall pick in the 1994 draft, rushed for 5,320 yards during his five-year career with the Colts. Dickerson rushed for 5,194 yards during his time with Indianapolis.

The city of Indianapolis also received some good news Tuesday, as it joins Minneapolis and New Orleans as finalists for the 2018 Super Bowl. Indianapolis hosted a successful Super Bowl in 2012.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew ranks 50th on offense in's #NFLRank project, which ranks the top 100 players on offense and defense in the NFL.

Jones-Drew, 28, probably should be much higher on the list considering he led the NFL in rushing in 2011 (1,606 yards). However, he missed all but six games last season because of a foot injury. He was effective when he played, though, rushing for 414 yards on 86 attempts, which is a very good 4.8 yard per-carry average.

The Jaguars are being careful with Jones-Drew this preseason. He has carried the ball just 10 times for 37 yards in two games and coach Gus Bradley said Monday that Jones-Drew probably won't play against Atlanta on Thursday night.

From ESPN Stats & Info:

Jones-Drew missed 10 games with a foot injury last season but led the NFL with 1,606 rushing yards in 2011. He's one of just seven players in NFL history with 7,000 rushing yards and 2,500 receiving yards in his first seven seasons. LaDainian Tomlinson, Edgerrin James, Thurman Thomas, Marshall Faulk, Steven Jackson and Ricky Watters are the others.

AFC South links: High hopes for MJD

January, 30, 2013
Houston Texans

Former Texans fullback Vonta Leach said it was a call from linebacker Ray Lewis that sold him on the idea of playing for the Ravens in 2011. "I got a call from [Ravens GM] Ozzie Newsome, he said 'Hey, I need you over here,'" Leach says. "My next phone call was five minutes later. It was Ray Lewis. He said, 'Hey, we need you to get your tail over here.' So I came. That sold it. When Ray Lewis calls you, that's gonna' sell you. He said, 'You're one of the missing pieces.' I jumped on here on faith. I didn't know a whole lot about the Ravens except for the defense and [running back] Ray Rice."

Indianapolis Colts takes a look back at the team's top running plays from the 2012 season in this video.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Count Marshall Faulk and LaDainian Tomlinson among those who say they believe Maurice Jones-Drew can return to form after missing most of this past season with an injury. “My experience and talking to Maurice, if you watch his work ethic, he’s a guy that works at it and works hard,” Faulk said. Said Tomlinson: “MJD is determined to come back from this and be as good as he’s ever been. And I think he’ll do that.”

Tennessee Titans

Is wide receiver Kenny Britt more trouble than he's worth?
Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos and Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis ColtsGetty ImagesPeyton Manning and Andrew Luck's rookie seasons as the Colts' starting QB have been eerily similar.
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will always be linked as contemporaries and rivals.

No matter how much longer Brady plays, it’s unlikely he and Andrew Luck will be grouped in the same way.

At this stage, the modest Luck is level-headed when his name comes up with the other two.

“I definitely don’t deserve to be in that sentence or breath as you said,” he told a questioner in a conference call with New England media this week. “If someday I can play at a level that Peyton and Tom play at, then that’d be a quarterback’s dream come true.”

As Luck and the next-generation Colts get ready for their game against New England Sunday at Gillette Stadium, it seems like a reasonable time to compare what Luck is doing as a rookie to what Manning did in his first year, way back in 1998. (You can compare Luck to other quarterbacks at the same stage of their rookie year at this Indianapolis Star page.)

Manning had more experienced skill players, with Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk, receiver Marvin Harrison and tight end Marcus Pollard, and it was run by a veteran GM in Bill Polian. Although coach Jim Mora was in his first season with the Colts, he already had 11 years of experience as an NFL head coach.

Luck’s on a team loaded with young guys at the skill positions after receiver Reggie Wayne, put together by a first-time general manager in Ryan Grigson, run by a first-time head coach in Chuck Pagano and overseen by a first-time interim coach in Bruce Arians.

A snap shot comparison of rookie Luck and rookie Manning ...

Vision: When Luck was coming out of Stanford he was routinely compared to Manning, particularly with regard to football understanding.

“The similarity is they see the field the same exact way,” said Polian, now an ESPN analyst. “They are the same guy in terms of seeing the field, knowing what the progressions are, understanding the defenses. All of that is the same.”

300-yard games: Manning had four 300-yard passing games as a rookie. Luck has four 300-yard passing games as a rookie, including a rookie record 433-yard performance against the Dolphins.

No huddling: Arians was the quarterback coach for Manning at the start and is offensive coordinator (and now interim coach as well) for Luck at the start.

A key element of Arians’ offense is the no-huddle. Luck’s done very well running it.

“We’re asking Andrew to do a whole lot more than we did with Peyton," Arians said a couple weeks ago. "Peyton we gave two or three plays in the huddle, he was great at that phase of it, a lot of check-with-me's, but we didn’t do the no-huddle until his second year. He was great as a two-minute rookie, because coming out of college, those guys play in that shotgun and spread offense pretty good, and that’s usually what you do in two-minute, so it’s natural for him and the field gets a little cleaner. I think he’s a step ahead only because of what we’re asking him to do, and he’s doing it with a bunch of rookies, whereas Peyton had some really good players on that team.”

Arians said he’s caught himself looking to install some things too fast because of Luck’s ability to handle it. The coach has reminded himself he’s game-planning for four or five other rookies who regularly see time on offense, too.

On the move: As a rookie, Manning ran 15 times for 4.1 yards a carry. He didn’t score and was sacked 22 times.

Through nine games, Luck has run 34 times for 4.7 yards a carry. He’s scored five touchdowns and has been sacked 21 times.

“The biggest difference between the two is obviously Andrew’s ability to make plays with his feet,” Polian said. “... He has really good ability to make plays with his feet. He’s not dissimilar to Green Bay’s guy [Aaron Rodgers] in that regard.”

Completion percentages: Luck’s currently stands at .575. Manning finished his rookie season at .567.

Pace: In 1998, a team with a new coach and a rookie quarterback was expected to need some time to build. In 2012, a team with a new coach and a rookie quarterback is expected to need some time to build, but hardly gets the same degree of patience 14 years ago -- externally or internally.

“We don’t have time, we don’t have time,” Wayne said recently. “People like me, I can’t speak for Rob [Mathis], but people like me, I see the light. I see the light, man. So I don’t have the time to sit back and rebuild and say ‘Oh, we’ll be better at that next year or in a couple years, we should be in the hunt.’

“We need to be in the hunt now. We are in the hunt. We’re in a good situation, that’s why we want to continue to win games.”

Manning’s Colts were 1-8 through nine games en route to a 3-13 record and a fifth-place finish in the AFC East. Luck’s Colts are 6-3 through nine games, with a strong hold on second place in the AFC South and a real shot at a playoff spot.

ManningWatch: Marshall Faulk weighs in

January, 31, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS -- Retired St. Louis Rams great Marshall Faulk played with Peyton Manning and for Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay.

Faulk, speaking at Super Bowl media day, said he thought the back-and-forth between Manning and Irsay stemmed from the owner's unwillingness to expose the quarterback to a debilitating injury.

"It's not financial with Jim," Faulk said. "No, he has not told me this, these are not his words, but I am listening to his message. That is my job, listen to what is being said, not what is not being said, and he keeps harping on Peyton's health. That means Peyton's quality of life beyond football, being able to be the father and the husband that he can be by being healthy."

Manning's contract calls for him to receive a $28 million bonus March 8. The scheduled payment has accelerated discussions about Manning's future. As for the money itself?

"I don't think it's financial," Faulk said. "I mean, it made sense last year to not give him that kind of money. I mean, let's be honest. I love Peyton, but that's a lot of money to not play -- even if you knew he wasn't going to play half the season. That is what they were talking about: By Week 8, he'll be back. If that is the case, then I can give you eight games, too."

Faulk suggested delaying the $28 million payment could buy time if Manning decided he wanted to remain with the Colts. But he reiterated his contention that Irsay is most concerned about Manning's health, adding that the ability to draft Stanford's Andrew Luck first overall was also a secondary issue.

"I believe this would be the case if they were drafting 31st," Faulk said. "It just so happens they have an opportunity to do what the 49ers did when Joe Montana left, which was to put Steve Young in there. It's a great situation to be in. At the same time, it's an awful situation to be in."

Marshall Faulk HOF enshrinement speech

August, 6, 2011
Marshall FaulkRick Osentoski/US Presswire"This is football heaven," said first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee Marshall Faulk.
Hall of Fame enshrinement speech of Marshall Faulk, star running back for the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams from 1994-2005:

Boy, this is pretty special. This is big. This right here, these guys, class act. And I'm glad to be a part of it. I want to thank God, and I want to thank God because this is football heaven. When you retire, you may get a chance to go to football heaven, and this is football heaven. Guess what, these guys are on top, because you know what's up above, you know.

Rocky, I want to thank you for your kind introduction. That was some great work. Thank you, too, for being in my corner, Rocky. Thank you for always being honest with me. You've always supported me, recognized when I was right. That part was easy, Rock. It's when I was wrong you would let me know. But you would also explain why, key element there.

You were there to speak with me, with and without judgment. Didn't matter what it was. You've always known me to be the guy that I am. You knew me. There is not another person that I would rather have on this stage with me right now than you. You represented me. You mentored me, but most importantly, thank you for your unwavering friendship that you gave to me.

I also want to acknowledge Rosemary and Joseph Arceneaux Sr., your mom and dad. I know that they are proud of this accomplishment, and they are sitting in the front row seat watching this, Rock. Rock, man, thank you for everything that you contribute to my life. Thank you for being there. Rocky, thank you.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I stand before you a very humble and grateful guy. Before I go any further, I want you to know that I am a football fan just like all of you. I have always, always been a fan and had abiding passion and love and respect for this game of football.

Even when I was a kid selling popcorn in the Superdome because I couldn't afford the ticket to watch the New Orleans Saints. People had bags over their heads then. I wanted to see football. I idolized this game so much. I idolized the professional football player. I actually felt that one day that life could be mine. When that opportunity did come I took it, and literally ran with it.

Now to be standing before you going into the Hall of Fame with this class of athletes, it is a fulfillment of a life's dream. To play this game of football is all I wanted to do. But there wasn't a person that I mimic my game after. There were many guys that I wanted to be like. They didn't compel me to be the best running back that I could be, nor did I push myself to be the best running back that I could be.

Rather, I drove myself to be the best football player that I could be, and that has always been my goal to be the very best football player that I can be.

I pushed myself more than perhaps anyone thought I could because that was the standard that I set for myself. That was my commitment to the game, to myself because I hold such deep respect for this game. In all humility, I could never give it less not than my very best at all times; and because of this, perhaps somewhere down the line, another athlete will be standing here because of how I played the game motivated them to be their very best. So tonight, I dedicate this moment and express my gratitude to those who have inspired me, guided me, and cared for me as I worked diligently to be the very best that I could be.

See, this story is deep. I'm from the Ninth Ward. That is the Desire Projects in New Orleans, Louisiana. Many don't make it out of there. And even though there were drugs and violence, I never wanted to take drugs or die young.

Instead, I channeled every ounce of energy that I had into sports. I played baseball, basketball, football, I ran track. Before whatever reason at George Washington Carver Senior High, I thought basketball was going to be my way out, and ultimately my destiny.

But in making that decision, it didn't stop me. I continued to compete in all sports. Then one day a very special man to me, my high school coach, Wayne Reese, he's here tonight. Where you at, Coach Reese? I know your family's here. You brought a lot of people up from New Orleans. He pulled me aside and asked me a question, a simple question. He asked me, how many 5'9" shooting guards do you see playing in the NBA? You see, I felt like I was a scorer.

Coach Reese had seen me compete in every sport and was aware of my work ethic. Coach was trying to explain to me how other sports would help me, but football could take me places.

Coach, I want to tell you, you taught me responsibility. You taught me that everything in life costs something. It simply depends on what I was willing to spend on it coach, thank you for helping me choose a university. You explained to me the importance of choosing a school that was going to challenge me academically as well as assist and molding me into the best football player that I could be.

You helped me understand how focusing on what was important, it was necessary. It was not necessary the size of the institution, but the quality of men in the program.

People often ask me, why did I choose San Diego State? I tell them San Diego State chose me. The wide receiver coach for the San Diego State Aztecs, now coach for the New Orleans Saints, Curtis Johnson, a New Orleans native. He was in town on a recruiting trip at our game recruiting another player. He saw my tape, took that tape back to Coach Luginbill and Coach Luginbill said, "We need to have this kid."

While going through the recruiting process, they were the first school to offer me an opportunity to play running back. I had been a high school All-American defensive back and just a running back who had not received a lot of attention because I played too many positions on offense.

Coach Luginbill, thank you for giving me the opportunity to develop and hone my skills while playing football at SDSU.

C.J., Curtis Johnson, we call him C.J., thank you for taking the time to watch my tape. Thank you for taking the time to hand that tape to coach. Without those efforts, all of this may not be possible. I may not be standing here before you if I had to go play defensive back somewhere because that was someone else's decision. My decision was to play running back.

Thank you to San Diego State and all my teammates. There's a lot of them out here today.

There is a special thanks that goes out to the guy who hosted me on my recruiting trip to San Diego State, Robert Griffith. Griff, you picked me up from campus and introduced me not just to your friends, but to your family. That was big. From the first time I visited San Diego State, I felt that your teammates were guys just like me who love the game of football and they were down to earth.

To my three roommates, Darnay Scott, Ray Peterson, DeAndre Maxwell, much love goes out to you guys for being the best roommate a little hot head star could ever have. You guys kept me in check. You were there for me. You made sure I stayed humble, and you kept me right.

To the red and black, Aztec Nation. It's plain and simple, Aztec for life. You know.

After leaving San Diego State when I finished my collegiate career, I was drafted by the Colts. I have to give sincere thanks to the guy who drafted Richard Dent. Bill Tobin is the guy who drafted me. Bill, I know you're still here. Thank you. And to Jim Irsay, and the Irsay family. When you take a kid that's 21 and you draft him second overall, we know you're taking a gamble. Thank you for taking that gamble on me. I hope it paid off.

I spent five years with the Colts. The fans there, they were wonderful. The city was a terrific place to start my career. But coming from sunny San Diego to Indianapolis, I had a lot to learn. Those snow days that I thought snow days meant stay home from practice, you guys know when you get that call and you think snow means stay home because you've never been in snow. That's what it was like for me.

You welcomed me. You accepted me. You supported me on and off the field. My teammates and I we enjoyed playing in Indianapolis. Win or lose, you guys were there. I enjoyed Indianapolis because it laid the ground work for the player that I was going to evolve into.

But if there was one person when I was in Indianapolis that I had to say was responsible for the player that I am today, it's Gene Huey. Gene, I know you're here. It's amazing how much your earlier years you can dislike a coach and then learn to love him. Gene, you held me accountable. You introduced me to the film room. You taught me how to break down not just my opponents, but myself. You taught me how to be a professional on and off the field.

Gene, man to man, I thank you for challenging me to be a better man. I'd like to thank my Indianapolis Colts teammates that I played with. I enjoyed you. I learned a lot from you. Sorry if I rubbed you the wrong way.

I have to give a big thanks to Roosevelt Potts. The guy was the starting running back before I got there. Rushed for 1,000 yards. Potts, thanks for sacrificing your body while providing protection for me.

Played with another great guy there, Peyton Manning. I only had the opportunity to play one year with Peyton, but he taught me a lot. It was a sight to watch the maturation process from week 1 to week 16. The leadership, dedication, and the attention to detail that he demonstrated as a rookie first overall pick. Buddy, I'm honored to say that I have played with one of the game's greatest.

Unfortunately, sometimes you move on, and my time was up in Indianapolis after five years. At the end of my time there, it was kind of unclear where I was going to go. But the St. Louis Rams, they had an idea. They acquired me in a trade, and with that trade brought forth the birth of the greatest show on turf.

Ram fans, I considered you guys what Nelly's called his crew the Saint Lunatics, because you were there for us. It was so much fun to play with a group of men who didn't care who won the most accolades. All they wanted to do was win. We were the definition of a team.

To every player that put on a Ram's uniform from '99 to 2005, thank you. Every guy that blocked for me, Big O, Adam Timmerman, touchdown Tommy Nutten, because every time you scored, Tommy was there to help you up. Robert Holdcumbe, James Hodgens, the strongest man I know, Ernie Conwell. Bloody Knuckles himself, Roland Williams. To you guys, because you really don't get noticed for the work that you do. Thank you for all your blood, sweat and tears. It was a pleasure to my skill guys where individual accomplishments meant nothing.

Isaac Bruce, what a pleasure to watch you play. Torry Holt, what a professional. Ricky Proehl, I have to say this: In 1998, Ricky Proehl led the Rams in receptions and touchdowns. In the '99 pro season, Ricky Proehl caught one touchdown, and the whole year you didn't hear about that touchdown, because that touchdown was in an NFC Championship game. Never wavered, never complained, never said anything.

My Aztec little homey, Az Zahir Hakim. It was a pleasure watching you grow up. There was another guy that was a part of the greatest show that you don't hear about. He wore No. 82. Guy to make mention, Tony Horne, because he filled in when somebody went down. He returned kicks for us, and you want to talk about setting a tempo as a kick returner? Normally you set the tempo when you kick off. Tony Horne set the tempo running the ball and taking guys out.

Thank you for your trust and being selfless. No one was above that team. No one. I believe that our greatest strength was that we believed in the team more than our individual accomplishments.

I would give anything right now to be in the huddle one minute, 80 yards down by six with the greatest show on turf. Because that's when we were at our best with our backs against the wall.

Kurt, I didn't leave you out. I didn't.Thank you for being our leader, Kurt. Man, you constantly stood in the pocket, taking every hit to make that offense successful.

Kurt, I look forward to the day that I am sitting here witnessing you and other of my ram teammates at this podium enjoying this experience.

Mike Martz, what a pleasure. Your creative mind and appreciation for doing things that people said can't be done on a football field are what made you unique. People always questioned your love for throwing the football, and your running back. I asked why?

See, before Aaron Rodgers threw the ball 50 times in the Super Bowl against the Steelers defense and his counterpart Ben Roethlisberger threw it 48, and we watched Peyton Manning running play action without a running game, we had Mike Martz, the Mad Scientist is what they called him because it didn't make sense to them. Mike, I love it that you brought out the best in me. I also appreciated that when I had my own ideas, and I had a lot of them, I had a lot of them you took them into consideration. Sometimes you even changed them if you saw fit to help the offense. Your attention to detail and preparation was the best that I have ever seen.

Mike, I truly loved you as a coach, but I more so love you now as a friend. Thank you for all you did for me he and that team.

It's not often you get coached by a guy that you idolized, but Wilbert Montgomery meant so much to me. It was such a pleasure to have him critiquing me it was like we saw the game of football through the same set of eyes, unbelievable.

When I would leave the football field, Wilbert would tell me exactly what I saw, and I felt like I had pretty darn good vision. For him to see it from the sideline made him special. Wilbert, thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for teaching me how to elevate my game beyond where you saw and where I saw I could go. I appreciate everything you did for me, Bert, I love you.

Every great team has a great owner. Georgia Frontiere, she was the best. I have to say to Georgia, thank you for showing us the good life. You treated us like rock stars, but frankly you treated us like we were your stars just shining bright. Ones that you were proud of. It was a pleasure to win a championship for you. Winning that championship for Georgia Frontiere, I got the same feeling that I get when I make my parents proud. That's how I felt when we won that championship in 2000.

John Shaw, Jay Zygmont, Clark Army, that was the front office. Thank you for taking a chance on me. You didn't know what you were getting when I left Indianapolis. You knew I was desperate to win, that was enough. The three of you together made that team special.

Dick Vermeil, I know you're here. Coach, this is going to sound strange because everyone knows you cry a lot. But in doing that, you were our rock. You were the pillar of strength for that team. You were a kind and gentle man, but you challenged me. You challenged me to be a better leader. Your insight on how to make people around me better was the most instinctive and intuitive advice that I received throughout my whole career.

You tried to make people around you better, and that's what I did. Once I learned how to do it and that it meant me doing more stuff than just carrying the football and gaining yards, I became a much better teammate. Thank you for that.

Stan Kroenke, if you've ever been around Stan, you know that his presence and his intelligence is impeccable, and I believe that that is important to the St. Louis Rams and with Stan and his people now in charge, can't wait for the day that we see the Rams back in the promised land.

We talk about promised land, and I believe getting an opportunity to play a professional sport at a high level is a promised land. I wouldn't be here if it was not for my family, especially Cecile Faulk, my mother. Achieving the success that I achieved would have been impossible without having strong family support.

Mom, thank you not only for your love, but your tough love. And you know what I mean by your tough love, mom.
The way you raised us, mom, it wasn't necessarily fair, but you were teaching us that in life sometimes things just are not fair. Thanks for teaching us the skills to take care of ourselves. Every person in my family knows how to cook, knows how to clean, knows how to wash clothes because of you. That's hard work.

Mom, it was also your commitment to get up every day to work two or three jobs, to ensure that we had, and, mom, thank you, because we had.

Cecile Faulk, I know I have your blood, your skin, even your good looks, but the one thing that I'm most proud of is acquiring your work ethic. Thank you for making me the man that I am today.

It was fun growing up in the Faulk household. I was the youngest of six, five older brothers. Kinzie, Ebenezer, Raymond, Rene, Joe, I learned so much from my brothers' experiences. Although they were good athletes, they didn't have athletic careers. They were only dreams to them. They weren't afforded the opportunity to live those dreams. Instead they helped to support, protect, and provide for our family. I learned what and what not to do from the things that they did.

Like we say in New Orleans, bro', you taught me so many life lessons. You guys have always been there for me, contributed greatly to the man that I am today. I thank you.

My whole career in the NFL you hear about my mom. Well, she didn't have me by herself. I rarely mention my late father Roosevelt Marshall who I loved dearly. He was so instrumental in my growth. As a kid, I spent summers working with my father delivery groceries to restaurants and clearing the bar that he partly owned. I watched how hard he worked each and every day from paycheck to paycheck, trying to get ahead in life. But his fun loving demeanor was never affected when he did not by the struggles of trying to get ahead. Working those two jobs made me strive for more out of life, and like my father, to remain unaffected by the circumstances around me.

Lindsay Faulk, thank you for being a great mother and for all the support that you've given me throughout my career. Your ability to deal with my complex demeanor and my crazy life is unparalleled. Thank you for all the times that you nursed me back to health of my many knee surgeries. Thank you for cooking for me. Thank you for waking me up when it was time to take pain medications. Thank you for loving me so hard. I wish that I could love as hard as you do.

I call my kids the Little Faulkers. So to the Little Faulkers, first I want to apologize for missing important activities in your life while chasing my dream of being a professional football player. It didn't always allow me to be there. I can honestly say I was not the best father I probably could have been. I missed many things that were important to you, like school activities, many sporting events, things so simple like just seeing you grow up on a daily basis.

But I want you to understand that those sacrifices I had to make in order to be a successful football player, even though I wasn't physically there every moment, nevertheless, I was always there in heart and spirit.

Just keep in mind that everything that I have done has been an attempt to leave a legacy for you. If you take anything away from this weekend, I would like it to be what you have noticed about the rest of the men on this stage doing what it took to fulfill a calling in life. Chase your dreams. Believe in yourselves. Stand by every decision you make. I am so very proud to be your father. I hope you're proud to call me dad.

I ask you to do one thing. I ask you to be the best that you can be and to live up to no one else's expectations but your own. I love you and I will always be there for you.

To my second family now, the NFL Network. Man, what a great job. What a great job. I have to say thank you to Eric Weinberger, Steve Bornstein for the opportunity to share my insight and knowledge of the game that I love.

I also have to give a very, very big thanks to all the behind the scenes people that make us look good each and every day. My game day morning crew. Warren Sapp, Rick Eisen, Steve Mariucci, Michael Irvin, thank you, guys, man. You guys have made the transition from on the field to behind the desk so much fun. I love working with each and every one of you.

To all my friends that are here. I have so many that are here. To the ones that are watching at home, I want to say thank you for your love, your support, your concern, thank you, thank you, thank you.

In closing I told you I was going to be long I told these guys I was going to be long. It's tough going from the projects to the penthouse.

Just a couple of lessons that I learned throughout my journey. They may apply to you, they may not. My first piece of advice to live life, don't let life live you. Next, my father told me this, if you ever traveled on a road with no speed bumps, you're headed for a dead end. But life's a challenge.

I'm always told how blessed I am to be talented enough to have played football. I say we're all blessed. God blessed everyone on this earth, but what we do with it is the blessing. It's in our hands to put that blessing in motion and living true to life as it is to me. God gave me talent. Football gave me an opportunity. I made the commitment. Thank you all.
Reggie Wayne and Dallas ClarkMark J. Rebilas/US PresswireThe Colts did well drafting the best player in taking Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark over reaching for needs.
Rarely is there a discussion of draft philosophy with an NFL decision-maker in which best-player-available isn’t a key component.

Rarely is there a first round of the NFL draft in which teams stay exclusively true to that thinking.

“I think everybody says that,” Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt said. “But at some point need enters into the equation, too. Earlier for some people than for others.”

If you are truly a BPA drafter, you cast needs aside early on and stock your team with high-quality players. Over the course of time, you hope things balance out naturally or you allow what’s available to sort of steer what you’re built to do.

But if you have three drafts in a row when a defensive lineman is identified as the best player available, can you take him all three times when you go on the clock in the first round? Are you willing to be a defensive-line heavy team? Do you have the patience and resolve to wait on addressing the quarterback and cornerback positions that are gaping holes on your depth chart?

Indianapolis Colts vice chairman Bill Polian hit best-player-available home runs with receiver Reggie Wayne in 2001 (when there were defensive needs) and tight end Dallas Clark in 2003 (defense was the issue again). But he’s also seen quality and need coincide and made the right call with running back Edgerrin James in 1999, when he needed to replace Marshall Faulk, who had been traded.

Polian strives to be a BPA drafter.

Why do people who say they abide from that thinking stray from it?

“I think you face three temptations,” Polian said. “The first is that you overvalue positions, i.e. quarterback, and so you try to create someone. Secondly, and it ties together, if you have a need you tend to overvalue players at that need position. It’s just human nature. And then third, you may try to reach, which is the same as overvaluing a player, because you’re trying to hit a home run. You say, ‘Well, if we hit on this player, boy does he have upside.’ And many times the upside doesn’t pan out.

“This is where draft management comes in. You’ve got manage the process much more than you manage the board. The thought is that there is some magic that goes into managing the board on draft day. There isn’t. The real hard work is managing the process and getting the board up. Once the board is up, you should stay with it.”

Whether they spell out how they operate or not, not everyone believes in an all-out best-player-available strategy.

Staying true to a draft board that was set through weeks of intense discussions is important. But teams take different approaches when setting those boards.

Those approaches don’t fit in tidy little boxes, of course. But as I’ve tried to classify draft strategy, I’ve locked in on three that a smart scout outlined.

  1. This is the best player in the draft, this is the second-best player in the draft, this is the third-best player in the draft all the way through every player they deem worth a draft pick. When it’s your turn, you pick the best player still there.
  2. These are guys who fit our team, guys whom we want when our picks come up. They fit our system and culture. Regardless of talent they are the guys who best suit our football team. These 110 or 101 or 96 players, as we order them, are best for our football team.
  3. We’re going to put these guys at this position, because the position is more valuable, above these guys, who are at a less valuable position. Examples: We want left tackles as opposed to strictly guards. Cornerbacks who can flex into safety or play the slot have more value than a strong safety. We want the pass-rushing outside linebacker who can play inside in a pinch over strictly a downhill inside guy.

This scout said he thinks the Bears typically operate off a board ordered strictly by talent. The Packers have very specific traits they want in their players -- they want corners who are at least 6-feet tall, they might take one who’s 5-11 -- so they often follow the second style. The Patriots often lean to position value.

Any of it can work. The best-player-available mindset is often spoken of in sacred tones, but it’s hard to argue against the track records of the Packers and Patriots if they don’t stick to it.

“You can argue that a position need becomes so great that it might negate or overwhelm drafting just the best player at a position that doesn’t impact the game as much,” Reinfeldt said.

All four talk about best player available, but how have AFC South teams worked?

[+] EnlargeBill Polian
Brian Spurlock/US PresswireBill Polian seeks to draft the best player available."If you pass a blue[-chip] player to take a need, then you've made a mistake," Polian said.
Polian’s gone against the grain with perceived needs pretty regularly. But overall he has been able to devalue some positions in the draft -- offensive line, linebacker -- where the Colts are willing to be smaller than most teams and feel they have position coaches who can help mold effective players.

Reinfeldt’s top picks, Michael Griffin, Chris Johnson, Kenny Britt and Derrick Morgan, have filled need pretty effectively. He allows for a lot of input from assistant coaches and traded up for a second-round pick to get a guy in tight end Jared Cook whom the team loved.

Jacksonville GM Gene Smith’s first two drafts have been top-heavy with offensive and defensive linemen, as he clearly wanted to start with foundation building. It certainly appears that he’s taken the best available players at an area the team is prioritizing and he got four quality starters in Eugene Monroe, Eben Britton, Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu.

Gary Kubiak has the strongest voice among coaches as he works with GM Rick Smith in Houston. The Texans' draft strategy is tough to peg. The top of the last three drafts have certainly addressed needs. The most recent first-rounder, corner Kareem Jackson, struggled badly in his first season.

I think BPA tends to be everyone’s dream. But as with so many dreams, things go off script when it’s time to execute in reality.

Ideally, if the best player available isn’t a guy you need, you can trade back with someone who does need him, and draft in a position where BPA and need line up better. But that presumes two things -- that another team sees the value of the player in question the same way you do, and that it wants him enough to deal up to get him.

If you trade down out of this scenario and do so for less than trade-chart value, I pledge that I will not write that you didn’t get enough in exchange for the pick.

Reinfeldt said it’s important to be conscious of noise.

External pressure in the form of media consensus or a concerted push for a player or position can sway some decision-makers, but shouldn’t. A coach or scout making a super strong case for a guy can’t be given more weight just because he’s pressing the issue.

“You’ve got to be true to the scouts and your own evaluation,” Reinfeldt said, echoing a popular maxim. “Then in the long run you’re going to have success. But it can be a hard thing to do.”

Said Polian: “I’ve always believed that if you pass a blue[-chip] player to take a need, then you’ve made a mistake. We’ve tried not to do that. On occasion we may have. But we work very hard to try to avoid it. It is a temptation, but you need to work hard to try to avoid it.”

However you do it, it’s about your ability to judge and project.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you deem him best available, if you decide his position is more valuable or if you see him as an ideal fit for your operation.

The questions that need to be answered are simple ones.

Does he turn into a productive player for you? And is the method you used for selecting him one you can repeat with success?
Congratulations to running back Marshall Faulk, one of six players and seven people elected Saturday to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

We chronicled his contribution to the Indianapolis Colts in this post on Friday.

His five-season term with the Colts ended after back-to-back 3-13 seasons. In his first season with St. Louis he helped the Rams win Super Bowl XXXIV over the Tennessee Titans.

Once upon a time it was unreasonable to expect a running back to do all that Faulk did. He was a breathtaking runner, a receiver who could line up anywhere and a reliable blocker. Now, while such three-in-one players are rare, personnel folks know they are possible and every team in the league craves a player like Faulk.

Ask his contemporaries about the most difficult player to matchup with in his era, and a lot of them will say it was Faulk.

He’ll be the 12th Hall of Famer to have played for or coached the Colts. The others are Raymond Berry, Eric Dickerson, Art Donovan, Weeb Ewbank, Ted Hendricks, John Mackey, Gino Marchetti, Lenny Moore, Jim Parker, Don Shula and John Unitas.

The media panel that votes is sworn to secrecy about details. But one of them, our NFC West guro Mike Sando, indicated Faulk had more of a case for inclusion made on his behalf than was needed.
It’s a loaded field that gets sorted out for Pro Football Hall of Fame slots Saturday in North Texas.

[+] EnlargeMarshall Faulk
Scott Halleran /Allsport Marshall Faulk ranks No. 4 in NFL history in yards from scrimmage.
I expect Marshall Faulk to make it, and doing so out of this group will make the accomplishment all the more impressive.

While he’ll be remembered more for his work as a member of the St. Louis Rams, the running back from the Greatest Show on Turf who has a Super Bowl ring started out in Indianapolis -- he was the second overall pick in 1994 and went to three Pro Bowls in five seasons while wearing the horseshoe.

Note the chart for a look at how his stats broke down between the Colts and Rams.

After a contract dispute, he was traded for second, and fifth-round picks, and replaced by another first-round pick, Edgerrin James.

Keith Hawkins of ESPN Stats and Information gave me these Faulk nuggets:

  • Faulk’s the only player in NFL history with 12,000 rushing yards and 6,000 receiving yards.
  • The only players with more yards from scrimmage in NFL history than Faulk’s 19,154 are Jerry Rice (23,540), Emmitt Smith (21,579) and Walter Payton (21,264).
  • The only running back with more receptions than Faulk (767) in NFL history is Larry Centers (827)
  • He is one eight players in NFL history with 100 rushing touchdowns, and his 136 career TDs rank 7th all time.
  • Faulk and Earl Campbell are the only players to win the AP offensive player of the year award three times.

When I spoke this week to Derrick Brooks, who was a linebacker on the NFL’s most recent All-Decade Team, he spoke glowingly of Faulk.

“He’s a hall of fame player,” Brooks said. “He was one of my toughest matchups I ever had to face, with the ability to make plays in space, the ability to block -- that third-element of a tailback. His football IQ, his ability to dissect defenses from the running back position was second to none.

“I knew every time I lined up against him I had to bring my A game, and we had some classic battles. Hopefully he’ll get in. I know it’s a crowded field, but as someone who played against him, I do believe he’s a hall of fame talent and someone who’s deserving of it.”

RTC: Bill Romanowski on Brian Cushing

February, 4, 2011
Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

For Arian Foster, attitude is the key, says Nick Scurfield.

John McClain talks Texans and Super Bowl. (Videos.)

Bill Romanowski’s thoughts on how Brian Cushing handled things, found by Alan Burge.

Matt Schaub talked to Battle Red Blog.

Indianapolis Colts

Marshall Faulk could be a Hall of Famer tomorrow, says Mike Chappell. (More from me on Faulk later today.)

The NFL will leave a legacy in Indianapolis, says Bob Kravitz.

Nate Dunlevy loves Pro Football References’ piece on quarterbacks in the playoffs.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Vic Ketchman turns out the lights and we wish him well.

Tennessee Titans

Mike Munchak could make the rare jump from position coach to head coach, says John Glennon.

Mike Mularkey’s approach looks like it would fit Tennessee well, says Jim Wyatt.

Munchak might just be the calm in the center of the Titans’ storm, says David Climer.

Kevin Mawae has high praise for Munchak, says Wyatt.

Tracy Rocker could be a guy the Titans chase to replace Jim Washburn, says Wyatt.
Houston Texans

Andre Johnson’s worth it, so the Texans should pony up, says Jerome Solomon.

Brian Cushing’s happy to be back around his teammates, writes Jordan Godwin.

DeMeco Ryans and Ben Tate were out with hamstring injuries, say Jordan Godwin and Anna-Megan Raley.

Indianapolis Colts

Peyton Manning will get his contract, but what about the bevy of pending free agents on the horizon? Mike Chappell’s story.

A look at the safeties with John Oehser.

Robert Mathis got his degree from Alabama A&M, points out Stampede Blue.

If the Colts wound up with questions about Adam Vinatieri, Chappell thinks they’d look to Matt Stover instead of relying on a rookie.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Rashean Mathis is skipping OTAs over his contract and Don Carey worked in his spot, says Vito Stellino.

The Jaguars are converting their third practice field from artificial turf to grass, says Vito Stellino.

Vic Ketchman’s raving about Tyson Alualu.

Tennessee Titans

Marshall Faulk says Chris Johnson’s got to hold out, writes Jim Wyatt.

Johnson’s football camp will benefit kids impacted by the flood, says Wyatt.

Kenny Britt’s memories of his rookie season extend well beyond the clutch catch that won the Arizona game, says David Boclair.
SEATTLE -- While Chris Johnson became only the sixth runner in league annals to hit the prestigious 2,000-yard mark, he’s the first to do it for a non-winning team.

Tennessee got to 8-8 with the 17-3 win over the Seahawks that lacked the electricity anticipated with so many records and such history a possibility.

Johnson passed Earl Campbell for the franchise single-season rushing record. He passed Marshall Faulk’s record for yards from scrimmage set in 1999. And he’s the first of the six 2,000-yard rushers to also have 500 yards receiving.

And I will bet when we talk to him in a bit he will still say he’s disappointed he didn’t break Eric Dickerson’s mark for the best rushing season in NFL history.

He wound up 99 short of that. He had 36 carries for 134 yards, which landed him at 2,006 for the season.

After a 0-6 start, Tennessee is getting a lot of accolades for its 8-2 finish. But there is so much the Titans could have figured out earlier to get to 9-7 or even 10-6 that a big-picture review has to focus more on the start than the finish.

But Johnson’s accomplishment in the final win gave the offense a huge source of pride. Johnson’s already bought gifts for his linemen, and will likely reveal what they are in a bit down underneath Qwest Field.

The line, fullback Ahmard Hall, tight ends Alge Crumpler and Bo Scaife and even a receiving corps that does fine work blocking all had a big hand in a remarkable season.

They’d all trade it for a playoff spot, don’t you think?
Don McPeak/US PresswireWhile Tennessee's playoff hopes were crushed in convincing fashion Friday night, the Titans are pushing hard to get running back Chris Johnson past the 2,000-yard rushing mark this season.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For weeks, the individual and team goals neatly synchronized. For the Tennessee Titans to give themselves a shot at the playoffs, they needed to ride Chris Johnson. Riding Johnson maximized his chances at reaching 2,000 rushing yards.

After the Titans suffered a 42-17 Christmas night rout at the hands of the San Diego Chargers, the team dream is dead. The 2009 Titans will not be part of the AFC playoff field, and the best they can manage is an 8-8 record.

Talk as they might about the comeback from an 0-6 start, the Titans can take little solace in a .500 season. It won’t soothe the fact they dropped so far after recording a 13-3 mark -- the NFL’s best -- in 2008. This year’s team lost to good teams like San Diego and beat bad teams like St. Louis. It deserves to be called average.

The Titans had done well to focus forward since their bye fell after the 0-6 nightmare start. Even after a Dec. 6 loss at Indianapolis, they managed to keep faint playoff hopes alive. Now pull back and look broadly at what they’ve done, and you have to see the 0-6 start as the story of the season.

“Yeah, it is, that is very fair,” tight end Alge Crumpler said. “…We had a run that hadn’t been done before (after 0-6). We had gotten out of that catch-up mode. We were scrapping, we were fighting, our backs were in a corner, we were getting out of the situation and I didn’t see this coming. I just felt very good going into this ballgame. For it to happen like this is pissing me off.”

“You’ve got to finish, and we didn’t finish,” fullback Ahmard Hall said.

It was Vince Young’s worst game since he took over as the starter on Nov. 1. He threw two picks, lost a fumble and hit on just eight of his 21 passes for 89 yards. His 11.9 passer rating was 18.3 points worse than his previous low.

“Every time we did get in a rhythm, I turned the ball over,” he said.

The game featured hallmarks of a lot of other Tennessee losses: Big plays yielded by the secondary, poor red zone defense, too many penalties.

One of them, sadly, came after William Hayes was flagged 15 yards for roughing Philip Rivers. Defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil was so livid over the call, he doubled the Chargers' reward by drawing a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. Jeff Fisher pledged he’ll “get to the bottom of it,” as if dissecting it afterward will be effective. Why is this allowed to happen in the first place?

Well before the season started in a much calmer moment, Cecil told me about how in studying a college prospect on defense he’d seen then-East Carolina star Johnson play. He chimed in to team brass, certainly already intrigued, that the running back could help the Titans more than anyone on the other side of the ball.

Considering how often the Titans were behind this year, Johnson’s bid for two grand is all the more remarkable -- though Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman said not all of Johnson's 142 rushing yards were hard-earned.

"The game got out of hand and whatever the case is and they want to give him his yards, then that was all right with us," Merriman said.

When the Titans play in Seattle on Jan. 3, just 128 rushing yards can make Johnson the sixth player in history to reach the mark in a single season. He’s averaged 124.8 a game so far.

“That was one of my goals that I set before this year started and a lot of people didn’t even think I would get close or whatever,” Johnson said. “To get that record would mean a lot to me.”

A new all-time single-season rushing record is 234 yards away (the old Los Angeles Rams' Eric Dickerson, 2, 105 yards in 1984). Still, Johnson needs just 75 yards from scrimmage to shoot past Marshall Faulk (who gained 2,429 from scrimmage for the St. Louis Rams in 1999) for the record in that department.

While Johnson’s name goes on the individual records, it’s very much a team goal. Even Titans defenders talked about how much they want it.

Early in the season, Johnson said his offensive linemen were in line for cars if he got 2,000 rushing yards. He backed off that pretty quickly, probably after someone drew him into a discussion about the financial math, saying the storyline grew from the linemen’s plea for such a reward.

Friday night he said he’d already gotten the linemen and Crumpler gifts, but couldn’t reveal what they are.

Told that, Crumpler said: “I don’t want [expletive] unless we get 2,000.”

Earlier I talked with the veteran tight end about the improbability of Johnson even being in range.

“You tell me how you start out 0-6, you have to throw the football and you have 2,000 yards in your sights,” Crumpler said. “That shouldn’t be a part of the equation. I want to make sure when I walk off that field next Sunday that I gave it all I had to help him accomplish a goal that he set.

“I don’t take any yard for granted. But it’s attainable. And I know that coach over there [the Seahawks head coach Jim Mora Jr., who worked with Crumpler when they were Atlanta Falcons] real well and he is going to do every damn thing he can to keep him from getting it.”

Are Young, Johnson most electric duo?

December, 20, 2009
US PresswireChris Johnson and Vince Young have resurrected Tennessee's hope for a playoff berth.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- They have two more games to win and need a heaping portion of assistance to clinch a playoff spot.

Still, the Tennessee Titans’ climb from 0-6 to 7-7 has been an impressive journey engineered by a quarterback-running back tandem that might be the most electric, dynamic duo in the NFL.

“I’ll take our quarterback-running back combination any day,” said Titans defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch after Tennessee’s 27-24 overtime win over Miami at LP Field. “We’ve been doing some good things on defense, today we did some good things on special teams. But VY and CJ have been carrying this team.”

There is no lack of competition for Vince Young and Chris Johnson in any debate on the topic and no clear winner: Solid cases can be made for Brett Favre-Adrian Peterson, Peyton Manning-Joseph Addai, Philip Rivers-LaDainian Tomlinson, Carson Palmer-Cedric Benson, Drew Brees-and whichever running back the Saints have going and Matt Ryan-Michael Turner when they are healthy. All are contenders to me.

But in the case of each of those pairs, we’ve seen the best of at least one of the tandem, haven’t we? Young and Johnson both can, and will, play better. And 14 games into their first season of extensive work together, they both appear freshly topped off with rocket fuel.

“I have great confidence,” Johnson said. “So I feel like we’re the best tandem.”

Sunday’s combined effort was excellent, though the Titans' defense tried to undo it and made for a much more complicated ending than should have been necessary.

Young had the first three-touchdown game of his career, completing 14 of 27 passes for 236 yards. A bobbled ball got intercepted early. He also ran twice for 24 yards, though he has knee and hamstring issues and got out of danger ASAP.

Of all the areas in which he’s showed significant improvement since taking over as the starter on Nov. 1 -- maturity, resiliency, decision-making, defense-reading -- none has impressed or surprised me more than his touch.

It was not long ago that he regularly threw screen passes at his target’s feet or over their heads. Now he is putting balls in small windows, with just the right arc, right pace and to the right effect.

Justin Gage was well covered on his first touchdown catch, a 22-yard ball that dropped neatly over the head of Gibril Wilson and arrived just before Nathan Jones. Gage was covered even better than that on his second scoring reception, a 21-yard pass that beat the tight marking of rookie Vontae Davis.

“I don’t want to play [Young] in darts right now, because he’s putting the ball on the money,” tight end Alge Crumpler said. “…It all started with Vince putting the ball exactly where it needed to be so that only our guys could make a play on the ball.”

Offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger has attributed the heightened accuracy and touch to Young’s feet and to him holding the ball closer to his body as he surveys the field. Young echoed that when asked about it after beating the Dolphins.

“It’s all about knowing where your guy’s at and preparation,” Young said. “It’s not always about the arm, it’s the lower body, the core, something I’ve worked on a lot. That’s something Heimerdinger’s preached to me. Make sure your feet are set, are underneath you.

“…I really feel like that’s how defenses are going to play us, try to take CJ away and make me win the game with my arm.”

Johnson topped 100 yards rushing for the ninth consecutive game, with 29 carries for 104 yards against a physical defense hell-bent on slowing him. He also had two catches for 55 yards.

His 41-yard catch and run on a screen might have been a 71-yard TD if Johnson hadn’t slowed to see if leading offensive lineman Eugene Amano would be able to throw a block on Wilson, who ultimately dragged him down.

The league’s leading running back needs 270 yards for 2,000 and still intends to get there.

“You never know what type of game I’ll have,” he said, emphasizing that wins are more important. “I might have a 200-, 300-yard game.”

“We talk about it,” veteran center Kevin Mawae said. “We’ll know how many more yards we need to get to 2,000. It would be a great accomplishment for him, for this team and for the offensive line.”

Marshall Faulk’s NFL record for scrimmage yards is in even better range. Faulk went for 2,429 yards in 1999. Johnson’s at 2,176 and his current pace would get him to 2,487.

Johnson wasn’t with the team in 2006, but Young put together an offensive rookie of the year campaign after an 0-5 start.

Those Titans went into the final Sunday needing three results elsewhere plus a home win over New England to make the playoffs. The Steelers, Chiefs and Niners all gave them the assists, but they lost to the Patriots 40-23 and finished 8-8.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher has offered reminders of that, as well as some predictions -- forecasts that Young said must remain confidential.

Tennessee hosts San Diego Christmas night and finishes in Seattle. To do their part, the Titans know they’ll have to get vintage Young and Johnson performances as the two continue to create defensive nightmares.

“We’ll focus on winning and I’ll let my mom pray for everybody else to lose,” Crumpler said. “It keeps working that way.”