AFC South: Reggie Herring

We pick up our series in which ESPN.com’s resident scout, Matt Williamson, ranks the AFC South position-by-position.

Today, we examine coaches.

Williamson’s AFC South coach rankings:
1) Colts (Chuck Pagano)
2) Texans (Gary Kubiak)
3) Titans (Mike Munchak)
4) Jaguars (Gus Bradley)

Kuharsky: I think Kubiak is too conservative and needs to show he can make an offseason stylistic adjustment. I believe Pagano doesn’t get enough credit in some circles for the contributions he made from his sickbed last season. I can see the case either way for No. 1, but I’d go Kubiak based on his ability to manage people -- a quality Pagano seems to have as well.

SportsNation

Matt Williamson's ranking of AFC South coaches is:

  •  
    47%
  •  
    34%
  •  
    19%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,966)

Kubiak’s used it to help win two consecutive division titles, however, and Pagano has more still to prove. I love Bradley’s vibe, but I said the same thing about Munchak when he took over two years ago.

My questions for Williamson based off his list:

Your overall assessment please:

“This is far from a stacked division when talking about coaching overall compared to the rest of the league. There really are not any big dogs and overall, I am not enamored with Munchak while obviously the Jacksonville situation is extremely unproven.

Talk me through Pagano/Colts over Kubiak/Texans?

“Pagano over Kubiak was a tough one and I would put similar grades on these guys overall. Pagano obviously missed some of the season, but I can't get over that I actually thought the Colts would pick first overall for two straight years (after Luck the year before) when the 2012 season started. Clearly the Colts WAY exceeded those expectations.”

Who's the best defensive coordinator?

“I am a big fan of the defensive coaching staff in Houston and would say that coordinator (Wade Phillips) and staff is clearly the top group of assistants on either side of the ball.

Offensive coordinator?

“The top offensive coordinator is pretty hard to pin down right now, but I suppose that too goes to Houston (Rick Dennison, with Kubiak calling plays) somewhat by default. They do clearly have a pretty strict offensive plan in place and implement it well.”

As for me…

This list could change a lot in the next year. Bradley’s initial impression will start to tell us how he is as a head coach. Munchak has his most talented team in his third year. Pagano is in remission and lost the fill-in who won coach of the year in Bruce Arians. We need to see if Kubiak is married to things like conservative red zone play or if he will make changes.

Assistant coaches who have a real chance to help change things for their team: Titans senior assistant/defense Gregg Williams and offensive line coach Bruce Matthews, Jaguars offensive line coach George Yarno and secondary coach DeWayne Walker, Colts offensive line coach Joe Gilbert, Texans linebackers coach Reggie Herring.
After grabbing a strongside linebacker in the third round, the Houston Texans went with another in the fourth: Trevardo Williams from UConn.



I initially figured Williams would be on the weakside, but linebacker coach Reggie Herring said he would be strongside.

The Texans will now have Whitney Mercilus on the weakside, then, with third-rounder Sam Montgomery and Williams on the strongside. Brooks Reed looks to be moving inside with Brian Cushing.

Nothing is set in stone, but the Texans now have more options to move people around.

Williams is an athletic guy who was productive for the Huskies.

Like Montgomery, he will be making the conversion from college end to NFL linebacker under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and Herring.

NFL Draft Scout raves about Williams’ abilities at the snap.
"Explosive athlete with natural edge-rush ability. Extremely quick get-off to go with flexibility that makes him a consistent threat to round the edge on every play. Big-time closing burst in space. Exhibits an impressive lateral quickness when countering back to the inside from the edge. May have the best pure get-off of anyone edge rusher in this year's class. Relentless motor to the whistle. Exhibits acceleration to track down the stretch play from the backside."

 
Sam MontgomeryBrett Davis/USA TODAY Sports"I'm sure with the right coaching I will be fine," Sam Montgomery said of questions about his effort.

During his time at the NFL scouting combine, Sam Montgomery addressed concerns about the consistency of his effort as a college player.

The problem is that he admitted there were concerns about his effort as a college player.

He’s now a member of the Houston Texans, who Friday used their second third-round pick, 95th overall, on Montgomery, the LSU defensive end.

If there is an effort issue, it will fall on defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and linebackers coach Reggie Herring to get week-to-week and snap-to-snap effort from Montgomery. He seems to be a more complex character than they discussed.

At the combine, Montgomery said he didn’t play all-out because weak opponents allowed for some respite.

“You know, some weeks when we didn't have to play the harder teams, there were some times when effort was not needed,” Montgomery said in Indianapolis. “But when we had the big boys coming in, the Bamas or the South Carolinas, I grabbed close to those guys and went all-out.

“Of course, this is a new league, the NFL, and there are no small teams, small divisions. It is all Alabamas and LSUs every week. It's definitely something I have to get adjusted to, but I'm sure with the right coaching I will be fine.”

In a conference call with Houston media, Montgomery said his best quality is his relentlessness -- contradicting the idea that he didn’t give his all against teams like North Texas, Idaho and Towson.

Herring suggested that Montgomery got caught up in entertaining the media, given that he likes to talk, and that his film didn’t show a lack of effort -- something general manager Rick Smith has said he cannot accept from a player.

“If anything, the young man is guilty of being a bit na´ve," Herring said.

A scout I asked about Montgomery didn’t reply with an effort question.

“He plays very hard,” he said. “Good pick.”

The Texans plan to start Montgomery out as a strongside linebacker, so their first four picks have addressed three areas of concern.

DeAndre Hopkins should be the No. 2 receiver, D.J. Swearinger could play a lot as a nickel or dime safety, tackle Brennan Williams could win the right-side job from the recovering Derek Newton and Montgomery should be part of a rotation.

Houston hopes he’ll be part of a three-man gang, along with Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus, that splits up the work at outside linebacker.

Last season, when the Texans drafted Mercilus in the first round, they said the same thing about using him with Connor Barwin and Reed.

But Reed’s playing time only really dipped when he missed four games hurt. Barwin, who’s since gone to Philadelphia as a free agent, played 93.8 percent of the defensive snaps last season. Even with four starts, Mercilus was on the field only 46.6 percent of the time.

The Texans will have to learn how well Montgomery can drop and cover, something he wasn’t doing as a college defensive end in a 4-3 scheme under LSU coordinator John Chavis.

“He’s big, strong, powerful, explosive individual,” Herring said. “The one thing that he will have to learn is that he will have to learn to drop a little bit and things that he hasn’t done as a defensive end at LSU -- understanding that they don’t cultivate OLBs in college, so we have to pull from the defensive end position.

“Basically, you have to give and take with their ability to drop out in space, something they haven’t done. That remains to be seen. That’s something we’ll have to work on. As far as playing the run and having pass rush skills and having the play strength that’s above average in college, he has a foundation to be a good outside backer for us.”

One thing that might have hastened the draft drop by Montgomery, once rated as a first-round prospect, was his inclusion on a list of 10 players by LSU strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt.

Moffitt posted the names for scouts and said they were athletes who “miss workouts and always have an excuse.”

“They lack the self discipline and motivation to take care of their responsibilities,” the sign on an office door in the Tigers' facility said. “I will not answer questions regarding their performance numbers or character, as they care only about themselves.”

ESPN.com scout Matt Williamson said he likes the idea of Montgomery as a strongside linebacker in Phillips’ system.

“They really play a 5-2, so strongside 5-2 defensive end/outside linebacker,” Williamson said. “Supposedly had some awful interviews at combine, though.”

Williamson is the second person in one night who mentioned that to me.

Clearly, Montgomery’s interview with Houston was fine, but a guy who bombed in multiple other opportunities seems concerning.

Perhaps what Montgomery said about playing with Antonio Smith hints that he can qualify as wacky to some, wacko to others.

Montgomery said he knows Smith, the Texans defensive end who calls himself the "ninja assassin."

"I'm willing to take the ninja's teaching," Montgomery said, “and make ninjasonic out of it."
First off, here is my unsolicited idea on the NFL’s desire to provide reliable Wi-Fi for fans at all NFL stadiums: Turn goal posts and pylons into antennas.

Moving along and reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

Punter Brett Hartmann now has league permission to take Ritalin, says Mark Berman of Fox Houston. His suspension was reduced from four games to three. I’m curious about why this case warranted a reduction, when suspensions related to violations of the league’s policies on such matters are usually cut and dried.

Rookie offensive lineman Brandon Brooks is the heaviest Texans player ever, says Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle. They’re asking him to drop 15 of his 346 pounds, and heat he’s not used to may help.

Linebackers coach Reggie Herring says the Texans gained back what they lost with the trade of DeMeco Ryans by adding Bradie James, according to Gregg Rosenthal.

Arian Foster says he can get better at everything and knows things are different for the Texans now that they’ve had success, says Robertson.

Indianapolis Colts

Tight end Dallas Clark signed with Tampa Bay after the Bucs got rid of Kellen Winslow.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Aaron Kampman and Rashean Mathis are enduring solitary roads to recovery from knee injuries, says Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union.

Montell Owens isn’t against the idea of leg pads, says Ganguli.

Martellus Bennett thinks Laurent Robinson proved himself as a No. 1 receiver last year in Dallas, says Ganguli.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans have signed all of their draft picks except for first-rounder Kendall Wright, says John Glennon of The Tennessean.
On the heels of a great day for the Houston Texans comes a scary development.

Per John Clayton, Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will interview Friday for the vacant head-coaching job in Tampa Bay.

Phillips had undergone a spectacular career renaissance in Houston. Fired as head coach in Dallas during the 2010 season, he’s shaped a 3-4 scheme and influenced personnel decisions for Houston and overseen the team’s climb all the way to No. 2 in the NFL defensive rankings.

He’s a leading candidate for any assistant coach of the year award, and got my vote in a Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers of America ballot I submitted on Saturday.

The Texans went two games without him late in the regular season after he had kidney and gallbladder surgery, losing both with linebackers coach Reggie Herring filling Phillips’ post. He’s still not fully recovered, and players spoke after Saturday’s win over Cincinnati of wanting to succeed for him.

“From the scheme to his attitude and just his mindset, that’s really just taken over this defense,” linebacker Brian Cushing said. “To see him there, still not 100 percent, but out there and battling every day, you can tell he’s hurting still. Just how much he misses football and wants to be out there for the guys, we just want to play well for him.”

Phillips has a strong connection to Houston, and this would be a difficult gig for him to walk away from. But he has said his aim is to get a top job again.

Saturday he wasn’t letting on that anything was in the works, he was just reveling in a big day.

“It’s really special for the city,” Phillips said after the 31-10 win over the Bengals that earned the Texans a trip to Baltimore. “I’m a Houstonian and I think it’s great for the city and that’s the way I feel. I mean, I’m a fan, too, and it’s great for all of us.”

Final Word: AFC South

December, 16, 2011
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NFC Final Word: East | West | North | SouthAFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 15:

Blitzing Cam Newton: The Texans have thrived when sending five or more pass-rushers. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Houston blitzes on 52.1 percent of dropbacks, second only to New Orleans. The Texans allow a 48.2 completion percentage, only 5.5 yards per attempt, and have recorded 20 of their 24 sacks in those situations. Newton has thrown seven touchdowns and three interceptions in such circumstances. But he’s also taken 18 sacks, as many as any quarterback in the NFL. Linebacker coach Reggie Herring will work as the defensive coordinator with Wade Phillips recovering from kidney and gallbladder surgery. But Phillips drew up the plan, and the Texans should be doing what they've been doing.

[+] EnlargeNate Washington
Jim Brown/US PresswireTitans receiver Nate Washington had two TD receptions against the Colts on Oct. 30.
Rematch: The Titans beat the Colts in the first matchup 27-10 on Oct. 30 in Nashville. Nate Washington caught two touchdown passes and Patrick Bailey blocked a punt that Jason McCourty recovered for a score. Curtis Painter attempted 49 passes in that game. I think the Titans would be thrilled if Dan Orlovsky dropped back anywhere near that often, as he’s mistake-prone, and the more Indianapolis has to rely on him the better the chance at interceptions, sacks and fumbles. Defensive end Dave Ball and tackle Karl Klug could be primed to force a turnover or two. Tennessee has not swept the Colts since 2002, the first year of realignment.

Serious scoring defense: During their seven-game winning streak the Texans have allowed fewer than 20 points a game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last team with such a streak was the 2005 Bears, who held eight consecutive opponents under 20 points during an eight-game win streak. Carolina has topped 20 points in 10 of its 13 games, and has averaged nearly 31 points a game over its past four.

Rest and recovery: There is not a lot that can happen for the Jaguars to change things in their last two games. But they’ve got a weekend off now after Thursday night’s beatdown in Atlanta. They finish with division games at Tennessee and against Indianapolis. So we’ll see how Mel Tucker can get a battered team ready for familiar opponents and if the Jaguars are able to get Maurice Jones-Drew the yards he needs to secure a rushing title.

Tidbits: Since Washington became a regular in 2006, his 14.9 yards per catch is the seventh-highest average in the NFL. … Arian Foster is 43 yards shy of 1,000 yards rushing, and Ben Tate is 180 yards shy of 1,000. When they both get there, they’ll become just the seventh set of teammates to hit the mark in the same season. … Texans receivers have dropped 11 passes, tied with Minnesota for fewest in the NFL this season. … Newton’s 39.2 red zone completion percentage is the third-worst in the league.

RTC: Anthony Castonzo taking his lumps

December, 15, 2011
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Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

Wade Phillips expects to be back in 10 days after kidney and gallbladder surgery, says John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

The Texans will be in good hands with Reggie Herring running the defense while Wade Phillips is away, says Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle.

Houston’s defensive backs are getting ready to face the unpredictable Cam Newton, McClain writes.

Indianapolis Colts

Rookie left tackle Anthony Castonzo is taking his lumps but forging on, says Mike Chappell of The Indianapolis Star.

Dwight Freeney is proud to have joined an exclusive club, say Phil Richards and Chappell.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Shahid Khan emphasized his commitment to Jacksonville after his ownership of the Jaguars was approved by NFL owners, writes Tania Ganguli of the Times-Union.

It was an emotional day for Wayne Weaver, writes Ganguli.

The patchwork Jaguars look to make a good impression tonight against the Falcons, says Vito Stellino.

A look at iPads as playbooks from Kyle Stack of Wired. The Jaguars are among the users.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans don’t yet know who will be the quarterback Sunday in Indianapolis, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Javon Ringer is out this week after hand surgery and Jamie Harper will be the No. 2 running back, says John Glennon and Wyatt.

The Titans followed concussion protocol with Jason McCourty, writes Wyatt.

Spinning off a Houston Chronicle story this morning, I wrote about the possibility of Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips getting in the mix for another head-coaching job.

The Texans just announced that Phillips is taking a leave of absence from the team “due to a scheduled surgical procedure later this week.”

He’s expected to return later this year.

In that context, the original headline on my earlier post could have read insensitively. I apologize for the unfortunate timing on that.

Hopefully Phillips won’t be out long. He’s been a huge factor in the team’s No. 1 defense. But the Texans have been overcoming key losses all season. They’ve won without Arian Foster, without Mario Williams, without Andre Johnson and without Matt Schaub.

Now we’ll see if they can win without the coach of their defense.

Linebackers coach Reggie Herring will call the defense with Phillips away. Herring coached with the Texans from 2002-03, then rejoined the Texans before this season as a top lieutenant for Phillips.

Phillips is slated to talk to the Houston media after practice and we will look to bring you more then.
At the midpoint of the 2010 season, Wade Phillips was out of work after being forced out as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

At the midpoint of the 2011 season, he’s being touted by virtually everyone as the most influential coordinator/assistant coach in the league.

As the Houston Texans defensive coordinator, Phillips has guided a team that was 30th in defense last season to a 29-spot gain. Through nine games, the revamped Texans defense is first in the league.

[+] EnlargeWade Phillips
Troy Taormina/US PresswireTexans coordinator Wade Phillips gives his players credit for being the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense.
“A year ago about now I didn’t have a job, after eight games I didn’t have a job, he said with a laugh when I asked him to compare head-coaching life to coordinating. “It’s what I do. It’s football coaching and I try to do the best I can wherever I am and I’ve been lucky to be in a lot of good situations …

“It’s head coach of the defense, that’s the way that I’ve always looked at it. I’ve had autonomy most of the time, as far as head coaches letting me run it. The head coach has control and I am a good soldier on whatever he wants done … It never has mattered either way, really. I’m coaching and that’s what I love to do. I’m around the players, I’m hopefully helping them get better. That’s what I’ve always tried to do whether I am head coach or coordinator.”

And Phillips certainly isn’t reading the clips that are naming him assistant of the year at the halfway point. He's deflecting attention and credit.

“It still comes down to them, it’s what kind of players you have,” Phillip said. “Part of it is utilizing the talents that you have, the guys who can play inside linebacker, putting them in the right place and give them opportunities to make plays, playing different techniques with different guys. That’s the coaching part of it. The X's and O's are important, the calls are important and all of that stuff.

“But it comes down to the players. I’ve been lucky to be with a lot of good players over the years and that makes me look good.”

Phillips also praised the work of line coach Bill Kollar, linebacker coach Reggie Herring and defensive backs coach Vance Joseph.

Kollar was the lone position coach holdover from the defensive staff Gary Kubiak had last season with Frank Bush as coordinator.

Herring and Joseph were connected to Phillips and hired on his recommendation. And Phillips had major input into player acquisition as the Texans added veteran defensive backs Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning and drafted heavily on defense, starting with end J.J. Watt and linebacker Brooks Reed.

Those coaches and players have been key elements to the Texans' rise to defensive prominence.

Stay tuned for more out of my conversation with Phillips.

Camp Confidential: Houston Texans

August, 16, 2011
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HOUSTON -- Yes, they brought in a top-flight defensive coordinator, drafted well and signed some good-looking free agents.

Still, the Texans have been the breakout pick so often in recent years and have come up short that it’s completely fair to ask, even with those changes: Why should people believe? Why should they buy this team?

“I couldn’t sell it to anybody,” said Chris Myers, the team’s underrated center. “We’re doing what we do here in camp. If you’re a Texans fan, you’re a Texans fan. Our offense is the same offense that we’ve had and we’re going to try to make it better. Our defense has brought in who we think can change it, take it in the right direction and make us that complete team.

“That’s the pitch. If you’re going to buy it, you’re going to buy it. If not, we’re still rolling.”

To find their way to the playoffs for the first time since the franchise began play in 2002, the Texans need to find the consistency they’ve lacked on many levels -- start to finish in a game, week to week over the course of the season.

That new defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, has a great record of turning defenses around. Gary Kubiak carries questions as a head coach, but not as an offensive mind.

It’s a now or never deal for Kubiak, and he’s got a lot of talent on his roster that knows it.

Receiver Andre Johnson, one of the league’s top players, says the team’s spent the past few preseasons talking about breaking through. This time he wants less talk and more action.

THREE HOT ISSUES

1) How quickly can Phillips shape the defense?

He's coming off a poor term as head coach in Dallas, but his track record as a coordinator is excellent.

[+] EnlargeMario Williams and Wade Phillips
AP Photo/David J. PhillipMario Williams is adjusting to life as a stand-up linebacker in Wade Phillips' scheme.
Players on the Texans' defense say he’s funny, yet pointed. He’s already infused the group with confidence, and he quickly identified things that amounted to easy fixes. Mario Williams’ false step should disappear, for example, and Kareem Jackson is unlikely to be seen in press coverages.

“Wade Phillips and [linebackers coach Reggie Herring] have brought a credibility and a confidence to the system that they run,” said end-turned-outside-linebacker Connor Barwin. “I feel like it carries over to us. You know if you do what you’re coached up to do that it’s going to work.”

The change from a 4-3 to a 3-4 isn’t as extreme as some imagine, because Phillips’ 3-4 doesn’t demand a gigantic space-eating nose tackle, and it doesn’t ask linemen to be responsible for two gaps. The linemen are really playing roles akin to what they did in the previous system, with Williams now standing up as an on-the-line 'backer on the weak side.

Creating that matchup as often as possible is key, and Williams should be the centerpiece of the retooling.

Though Williams didn’t look comfortable in the preseason opener, end Antonio Smith thinks offenses will really struggle with Williams and his bull rush.

“It has not been stopped in camp yet,” Smith said. “Since he decided to do it, I ain’t seem him lose. You know what you need to do to beat a person. I think that throughout this camp, he’s figuring out how to use that. He’s added it into his bag of tricks and he’s going to figure out how to use it along with his other moves.”

Matt Schaub and Johnson have both talked about how many more balls are contested and broken up in a typical practice. That difference suggests the new philosophy’s growing on a unit that’s needed not just players like Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning but also the sort of direction Phillips is providing.

2) Will Arian Foster be able to have another big season on the ground?

It wasn’t long ago that Steve Slaton ran for 1,282 yards. He’s disappeared since the 2008 season, however.

Foster said that what he did over 16 games last season proved him capable and that the notion of a fluke is ridiculous. But for the Texans’ offense to get better, he’ll have to follow up his 1,616-yard season and rushing title with another big showing.

“When you come out and have a season like that, then everybody wants to see what you’re going to do the next season,” Johnson said. “I think that is important for him, to come out and show people that he is the guy that he was last year.

“I think he’ll do it, there is no doubt in my mind. Because he works hard and he plays with a chip on his shoulder.”

Houston’s play-action can be spectacular with Foster running as he did in 2010. His style is perfectly suited for the team’s blocking scheme, which encourages him to cut once and take all he can get.

Another big year will go a long way toward setting the Texans’ course.

3) Do enough guys have killer instinct?

The Texans' slow starts and inability to finish were major issues last season. Better personnel and coaching will need to be accompanied by a killer instinct this franchise has too frequently lacked.

[+] EnlargeDanieal Manning
AP Photo/David J. PhillipThe Texans are counting on Danieal Manning to bring some veteran leadership to the defense.
“You could put it that way,” tight end Owen Daniels said. “There’s definitely never been a lack of effort. I think it’s been missed opportunities at finishing games. ... We need to find something different this year in order to close out those games.”

A guy like Johnson, soft-spoken but intense, certainly has a personality you can win with. But are the Texans, in total, too low-key? I think it’s a fair question.

“You’ve got to have that [killer instinct],” said Manning, one of the key newcomers. “... If you believe, all this other stuff is going to come into play: working together, supporting your man, pushing him, making him work hard, holding him accountable. All that stuff goes hand in hand. I’ve never seen a championship team that didn’t believe, that didn’t finish.”

BIGGEST SURPRISE

When they grabbed him during the 2010 season, I don’t think the Texans expected much from veteran cornerback Jason Allen. But the secondary was better with him than it was without him. Now, with a fresh start, he’s mounting a serious challenge to Jackson, the 2010 first-round draft pick. The team would be well served to go with Allen if things come out roughly even. Jackson’s seasoning would be better for now as a role player.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Antwaun Molden looks the part as a 6-foot-1, 200-pound corner. But the team has finally stopped talking up the fourth-year man from Eastern Kentucky. He’s not sturdy enough and doesn’t show enough gumption to be a factor in a group where he’s had a chance to add some depth. He had an interception in the preseason opener, but only after he committed a penalty that washed it away.

OBSERVATION DECK

  • Joel Dreessen is consistently underrated. Dreessen can block and, while not as dynamic as Daniels, has a knack for finding open spaces and presenting himself to Schaub. The Texans have a lot of quality tight ends. Look for the team to put three tight ends on the field at times, when they can operate as a heavy package or shift Daniels, Dreessen, James Casey or Garrett Graham into space, depending on the defensive personnel. Anthony Hill is the blocker of the bunch.
  • After facing questions about durability, Schaub’s played two full seasons. Now the questions are about play in the clutch. He needs to eliminate moments like the one when he threw an overtime pick-six against Baltimore last season.
  • I expect the Texans to look closely at receivers when the league cuts down rosters. Dorin Dickerson currently looks to be fourth in line, but I saw him fighting some passes in practices and he’s still relatively new to the position. Jeff Maehl heads the undrafted group but didn’t look great, either. Receiver depth is an issue.
  • Inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton could be the best non-starter on the roster come opening day. He’s in a tough spot behind DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing, though injuries are often in play with Cushing.
  • Myers is a key cog in making the Texans’ offensive line work, and he could be taking his place right alongside Jeff Saturday as an indispensable center in the division.
  • The team could be an injury away from trouble at end and safety.
  • Trindon Holliday’s speed is not enough for him to overcome his size as even a situational receiver. Plus, he seems easily hurt. The return jobs are open if the team wants to avoid using Jacoby Jones as the punt returner and Manning as the kick returner.
  • Undrafted rookie Brett Hartmann beating out veteran punter Brad Maynard is a definite possibility.
  • Count me among those not convinced that Matt Leinart can’t play. If this team needs a few spots starts, I bet he can do OK. One of the NFL’s quarterback-needy teams was foolish not to add Leinart to the mix. He’s better than a lot of guys with a chance to start some games this season.
  • Lawrence Vickers is better equipped to work as the fullback than Casey, and he should get far more frequent opportunities to lead the way for Foster.
Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

Reggie Herring says Brian Cushing will be a tackling machine as a 3-4 inside linebacker, writes Nick Scurfield.

Indianapolis Colts

Dan Pompei ranks Reggie Wayne as the league’s best old receiver. I’m very surprised that Randy Moss also makes the list. He wasn’t used correctly, but showed absolutely nothing in Tennessee.

Anthony Castonzo eats until he can’t eat any more, he told Barry Shuck.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Gene Frenette isn’t big on seeing player workouts. If players don’t want media to see workouts, I can live with that. My issue is if they are unwilling to be available to talk after they are finished.

Tennessee Titans

Ken O’Brien has big expectations for Jake Locker, says Jim Wyatt.
The Texans-Jaguars Hail Mary game ranks eighth on Elliot Harrison’s list of the 20 best of 2010.

John Clayton looks at the youth movement at quarterback in the league.

Houston Texans

Linebackers coach Reggie Herring says people shouldn’t overreact to Mario Williams’ position switch, reports Nick Scurfield of the team’s website. The team could have done better spelling it out when it revealed the change, then.

Indianapolis Colts

Bill Polian is not worried about Peyton Manning’s neck. If he was worried, he wouldn’t be saying he was to reporters.

Revisiting Nate Dunlevy’s expectations for Colts rookies last year and this year with significant reader input.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Gene Smith sees this as a crucial year for Eugene Monroe, says John Oehser of the team’s website.

Mentoring by players is an auxiliary activity, says Oehser. I could not agree more. Too many people think veterans should be brought in to coach up kids. Rosters don’t allow room for such things, and coaching staffs are plenty large.

Tennessee Titans

Charges against Kenny Britt were reduced, says Jim Wyatt.

Jake Scott’s recent comments about Kerry Collins were not based on any recent inside info, says Jim Wyatt. Collins is a pretty low-key guy in the offseason, and I don’t think we’re going to hear from him until the lockout is over and free agency arrives.
The Colts got a jab from me for a delayed announcement about their new running backs coach, so to be consistent, the Texans deserve a double jab.

Friday they announced two hires we’ve known about for quite some time: Reggie Herring as linebackers coach and Vance Joseph as defensive backs coach.

Like Indy, Houston did give us something in its news release that actually qualifies as news, the names of the team’s two, new lowest-ranking assistants.

John Butler is a defensive assistant and Jim Ryan is an offensive assistant. They will work with special teams coordinator Joe Marciano in addition to their primary responsibilities.

Butler came from the University of Minnesota. Ryan played and coached with the Denver Broncos and was with the UFL’s Omaha Nighthawks last year.

RTC: Herring a Texan; Shula searching

January, 21, 2011
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Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

Reggie Herring is the Texans new linebackers coach, says John McClain.

Brian Cushing had right knee surgery.

Indianapolis Colts

PSX’s unit-by-unit look at the Colts.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Mike Shula isn’t under contract with the Jaguars and interviewed with the Panthers, says Tania Ganguli.

Tennessee Titans

Jim Washburn says he enjoyed it all, says Jim Wyatt.

Craig Johnson will endorse Vince Young in Minnesota if his new bosses ask, writes Wyatt.

RTC: More staff movement today?

January, 20, 2011
1/20/11
10:54
AM ET
Reading the coverage:

Houston Texans

The Texans could hire Reggie Herring today, but he said he has an offer to remain with the Cowboys, says John McClain.

Indianapolis Colts

Bob Sanders could return with a restructure and six other Colts' issues from John Oehser.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Vito Stellino’s story on Vic Ketchman’s pending move.

NFL fans cheer the game, not the greed, says Gene Frenette.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans offered defensive line coach Jim Washburn a three-year deal, but he went to Philly, says Jim Wyatt. Offering an assistant a long-term deal when the head coach is a lame duck says a lot about how the franchise valued him.

Running back coach Craig Johnson could jump to the Vikings as soon as today.

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