AFC South: Mike Vanderjact
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 4:
Nickel and dime: The Saints fared great when they spread the field and emptied the backfield in their furious comeback against the Texans last week. It really took advantage of Houston’s lack of cornerback depth. Jacksonville will face the same test. Drew Colemanwas signed as a free agent to upgrade the nickel, and he’ll need to play well against a receiving corps that gets Marcus Colston back. Fourth corner William Middleton will be on the field more too, especially if starting corner Derek Cox (doubtful, groin) is out. And linebackers will be tested in coverage against a team with a lot of weapons that likes to throw to running back Darren Sproles.
Steelers blitzes: Pittsburgh’s been great on defense without blitzing. The Steelers are allowing just 5.5 yards per pass attempt when sending four or fewer rushers, third-best in the league. But last year and so far this year, Matt Schaubis connecting on 71.4 percent of his passes when he’s not blitzed, hitting for 8.2 yards per pass attempt. I’d expect Pittsburgh to bring more pressure to try to get Schaub out of rhythm. The Steelers have forced just one turnover this season.
First quarter points: Three teams in the NFL have yet to score a first-quarter point this season. In Tennessee-at-Cleveland, we’ll see two of them. If the Titans or Browns can find some early offensive rhythm, they’ll get a big advantage. The Titans need to show some early intent, I think. While showing a determination to get Chris Johnson running, they would also be well served to call some plays that include tight end Jared Cookin the early part of the progression. He’s got the potential to be a dynamic downfield matchup problem. With Kenny Britt out, it’s time to start seeing it.
Ah, the memories: The Saints’ last trip to Jacksonville, for the last game of the 2003 regular season, was a memorable one. They trailed 20-13 when they completed a 75-yard miracle touchdown with no time left. The play featured a pass from Aaron Brooks and three laterals before Jerome Pathon scored. But John Carney’s extra point went wide right, leaving the Saints with a 20-19 defeat and eliminating them from playoff contention. The Colts' last trip to Tampa Bay was Oct. 6, 2003. Indianapolis scored 21 points in the final 3:37 of the regulation to tie that game 35-35 before winning it on a Mike Vanderjagt field goal in OT.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
In a study of the best and worst all-time seasons for field goal kickers, Chase Stewart hits Cary Blanchard, Mike Vanderjagt, Dean Biasucci, Al Del Greco and Tony Fritch on the good list and Seth Marler on the bad one.
Before I left Houston, I visited the Oilers' old training facility.
- Jerome Solomon likes what he's seen of Arian Foster so far.
- Jeremiah Johnson is trying to catch up, writes John McClain.
- Kris Brown gets an extension and rookie fourth-round pick Anthony Hill signed, says McClain.
- "There's always been a very high sense of duty to protect the integrity of the game, but I think society has softened its moral concerns about gambling, by virtue of the proliferation of it," Bob McNair told Hannah Karp. "The horse is out of the barn on that one." (Hat tip to Battle Red Blog for the link).
- Gary Kubiak spoke at a Touchdown Club event and Alan Burge was there.
- Jim Caldwell expects a fine year from Joseph Addai, says John Oehser.
- An assessment of the running backs and offensive line, from Oehser.
- Stampede Blue picks an all-AFC South team while keeping costs under control. A solid squad, though I'd argue that it's got to include David Stewart or Eric Winston at right tackle no matter their price.
- With Cleo Lemon set free, Todd Bouman is set as the No. 2 quarterback, writes Vito Stellino.
- The Jaguars introduced a new payment plan option for 2010.
- Tony Brown could move to the right side of the interior defensive line, say Jim Wyatt and Gary Estwick.
- Vince Young comments on his comments. He needed to vent, reports Wyatt.
- Keith Bulluck says VY "has my respect as a teammate and a friend," reports Terry McCormick.
- Wyatt wonders about Young's timing.
- DeMarcus Faggins is settling in, says Estwick.
- Kevin Dyson has joined the team as a coaching intern, writes Estwick.
- Bulluck chatted on NFL.com.
- Jerome Solomon says DelJuan Robinson is perfectly happy wearing No. 66.
- The Texans are looking for a mini-advertiser to buy space on their practice jerseys, reports Megan Manfull.
- Cato June's Super Bowl ring sets him apart in the Texans' locker room, writes Jordan Godwin.
- Another look at June, from Alan Burge.
- Peyton Manning is not on Twitter. The Colts want it known so much, they linked to this Sam Farmer story about fake Twitter accounts that allege to belong to big names in sports.
- "To me, you stick with what they've built here." So said defensive coordinator Larry Coyer, writes Mike Chappell.
- Guard Ryan Lilja is participating in a limited basis in the Colts' OTAs, says Chappell.
- Coming off a broken leg, Gary Brackett said he'll be ready for camp, says Chappell.
- An assessment of the offense as minicamp approaches, from John Oehser.
- Mike Vanderjagt speaks, Oehser finds the story.
- Jack Del Rio blasts John Henderson. I was there Tuesday. Here's Michael C. Wright's account.
- Safety Marlon McCree is set to rejoin the Jags, who are thin at the spot, reports Wright.
- The latest edition of Vic Ketchman's mailbag. I've enjoyed chatting with Vic some at practices the past two days.
- Thoughts on where injured guys stand, from Samuel Lloyd.