AFC South: Mkristo Bruce
Jordan in Austin, TX writes: Should the Jags trade Tra Thomas to another team? I mean it's kind of an underhanded thing to do, to trade a recent free agent signing but he's a very expensive backup offensive tackle especially with Tony Pashos being fourth behind Monroe, Britton, and Thomas.
Paul Kuharsky: I don't think they will or can. ("You're looking to trade who?" the GM on the other end of the phone would say. "You just signed him and he hasn't played for you yet. With that sort of endorsement he sure sounds like someone we'd want.") We have to see how things shake out in camp. But what if Britton plays at guard this year? Then the worst of the three remaining guys is your primary backup tackle. They learned last year there is no such thing as too much depth.
Jason Sims in Indianapolis writes: Paul, you're the man, but you keep dodging my e-mail about the Colts re-signing Ed Johnson. I really believed all along they would. I have been a season ticket holder for 7 years and I believe this defense is going to surprise a lot of people. They have the potential to be the best D we have had in the Peyton Manning era and that include 2005 when Big Ben took one from us in one of the greatest play-off games I can remember. So what do you think.... Loaded secondary-if Jackson is healthy, Pro-Bowl Defensive Ends, Beef and Quickness on the inside, (don't forget depth now), and two hard hitting Linebackers (Sessions and Wheeler). Can this group be very good or am I thinking too much with my heart and not my head? Also, I called the Ed Johnson signing, I also think Keiaho takes over at Middle Linebacker because of the make-up of this defense. Thanks for all your work and time.
PK: If I didn't answer, I apologize. You called it for Ed. I don't know what I'd be dodging you about.
Way too early to say how the linebackers are (I refer to a piece about them this week here) or how much the kid defensive tackles are able to contribute early. But there are certainly plenty of causes for your optimism.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Labor Day? What's that?
Players and writers are laboring, and so we'll tour the work sites and Web sites.
- I mentioned a couple of days ago that Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders liked the Texans to make a big jump. Here's the article from ESPN The Magazine that explains why. It's down near the bottom.
- Dale Robertson says the Texans haven't used enough premium draft choices on defense and looks at why the team could struggle on that side of the ball.
- Courtney Roby is thankful for his chance with the Colts after getting cut by both Tennessee and Cincinnati, writes Phillip B. Wilson. Also, The Colts claimed defensive tackle Daniel Muir, who was waived by Green Bay, according to Packers general manager Ted Thompson. The Colts' move to make room for Muir is still unknown.
- Vito Stellino looks at Mkristo Bruce, whose chance to make the Jaguars' practice squad may never have come if Derrick Harvey signed in time for the start of training camp.
- Gene Frenette likes the Jaguars, but he likes the Chargers better and has them winning the Super Bowl.
- Vic Ketchman of Jaguars.com breaks down the final 53.
- I've been promoting a column on Cortland Finnegan for a while now. Here it is.
- Jeff Fisher explains why Paul Williams is still around in The Tennessean's notebook.
- Jim Wyatt explains in his blog why Williams or Chris Davis could still be at risk.
- David Climer looks at the Titans' glass as half empty, then as half full.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed seven players who were with them in the preseason to their practice squad:
Chris Brown, TE, Tennessee
Mkristo Bruce, DE, Washington State
Andrew Carnahan, OT, Arizona State
Charles Davis, TE, Purdue
Isaiah Gardner, DB, Maryland
Drew Miller, C/G, Florida
Rashod Moulton, DB, Fort Valley State
Bruce is a good story. He was told when he was brought in he'd last only as long as Derrick Harvey went unsigned. But he played well and made a mark. He was hardly the last man on the roster by the time Harvey signed and now gets a chance to continue to work for the Jags.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Preseason stats often don't mean much, but I thought it'd be worth poking through Saturday night's AFC South results to see what stood out. I think I covered Houston sufficiently from Reliant Stadium, so here's a quick thought on each of the other three teams:
By adding two tight ends in the draft, the Colts gave themselves quality options beyond Dallas Clark. While Tom Santi isn't back yet from the same surgery that has sidelined Peyton Manning, Jacob Tamme had a good showing in the overtime loss at Carolina -- five catches for 57 yards and two touchdowns.
"He played really well," Clark said. "The opportunities he had, he took advantage of them. He played awesome and made some big-time plays out there against some good defenders. It's definitely a confidence-builder for him.
"Slowly, it will all come together."
Defensive end Mkristo Bruce didn't even make the team's media guide. An undrafted rookie in 2007, he was originally with Miami. He signed in Jacksonville on July 25. And in the Jaguars' win over Atlanta he notched 2.5 sacks, and sacks at any time and in any way, shape or form are big for the Jags considering a) how determined they are to rush the passer better against premier AFC teams and b) that first-round draft pick Derrick Harvey is still missing.
Jack Del Rio after the game:
"He had 14 sacks one year at Washington State. He's got some natural rush ability. He did some good things. We really signed him in case (Derrick) Harvey held out, we were going to give him a chance and we told him when we signed him that 'look, if Harvey reports tomorrow you're going to be gone after one day, but we'd like to get a look at you.' And he was eager to get into camp and he's done a nice job for himself. He's come in here and worked hard. He's got some decent size and has a frame that he can grow a little bit and he has done a nice job representing himself, taking advantage of the opportunity and given himself a shot to make a favorable impression. So, we'll see. A couple weeks into it, he's done a nice job working at it."
But it was Quinton Ganther who posted the biggest rushing numbers in the Titans win over St. Louis -- eight carries for 115 yards and two TDs.
Vince Young on Ganther:
"Q has been through a whole lot. He wants a chance. He wants to play. He works so hard at practice and it shows up on the football field. He's just a good guy period. Everybody loves him. His daughter is one of the brightest girls I've ever met in my life at her age. Things like that and then just him off the field, he's a great guy. On the field, when he comes to practice, when he's on that practice squad and he's running ball for our defense, he's really running that ball to give Coach Fisher a look at him a whole lot so he did that tonight. I'm definitely proud of him tonight, just like the team is. We're definitely proud of him."
A seventh-rounder out of Utah in 2006 Gather is a hard-working practice player who gives the defense a great look. But he rates behind LenDale White, Chris Johnson and Chris Henry. And it appears unlikely the team keeps a fourth tailback.