AFC South: Tra Thomas
In this post on March 9, we pointed to the nearly fearless (he’d be completely fearless if he used his name) AdamJT13 who said the Titans would get a third and three sevenths and the Jaguars would get a sixth.
Adam Schefter on Monday reported Tennessee officially got a third (97th overall), a sixth (207th), and a seventh (241st). Jacksonville got a sixth (203rd) and Indianapolis got two sevenths (240th and 246th).
These additional picks are awarded based on a formula that factors in free agents lost last year, their contracts and their production in their first year elsewhere.
A third-rounder is the highest possible. Picks in the seventh round basically allow teams to lock in players they would have pursued as undrafted rookies.
The picks cannot be traded.
From the league release that followed, here are the guys who factored in:
Lost: Darrell Reid, Hunter SmithJACKSONVILLE
Lost: Khalif Barnes, Mike Peterson, Gerald SensabaughTENNESSEE
Signed: Sean Considine, Tra Thomas
Lost: Chris Carr, Albert Haynesworth, Brandon Jones, Eric King, Daniel Loper, Chris Simms
Signed: Jovan Haye, Mark Jones, Nate Washington
“After completing our postseason roster evaluation, we’ve made the decision in the best interest of the organization to release three veteran players with tremendous playing history in the league,” GM Gene Smith said in the team’s news release. “All three players have played ten or more years in the NFL and have made a positive impact on the Jaguars organization. These decisions certainly weren’t easy ones, as Torry, Tra and Rob have over 350 starts between them and they still have the ability to contribute for other teams in the league.”
The fact is, they all amounted to insurance and the Jaguars letting them go says they have confidence in the youngsters in the receiving corps and at offensive and defensive tackle.
The Jaguars are going to continue to get younger, and have graduated past the point where Smith and the Jags felt these veterans who’d have minor roles were needed for leadership or tone setting.
Bud Adams was inducted into the Texas sports hall of fame, says John McClain.
The Texans hired Cedric Smith as their new strength coach, says Mark Berman. Smith is Gary Kubiak’s third coach in the post in three years.
Top draft prospects by position from Lance Zierlein.
The Redskins hired another former Texans assistant, says Alan Burge.
Their winning culture will help the Colts rebound, says Mike Chappell.
Bob Kravitz’s Super Bowl report card.
Only 11 people were at the airport to greet the Colts, but the setup was hardly fan friendly.
An Indianapolis plant makes New Orleans championship T-shirts, says Dana Hunsinger.
Disappointment now becomes fuel, says John Oehser.
Missed opportunities will haunt the Colts for a long time, says Tom James.
What the Colts need to do to get better, from Deshawn Zombie.
Matt Snyder looks at how the officials did in Super Bowl XLIV.
Peyton Manning won’t live it down, says Terence Moore.
Joseph Addai’s solid game didn’t get him a second ring, says Nancy Gay.
Manning took a serious hit, says Mike Freeman.
Three cures for the Colts from Clifton Brown.
What’s next for the Saints and Colts? Don Banks looks at the questions.
The Jags have told Tra Thomas and Torry Holt they will be released and Tim Mingey won the scout of the year award, says Michael C. Wright.
Dropping Thomas and Holt is a good sign for the Jaguars, says Gene Frenette.
Vic Ketchman addresses the possibility of eliminating the three-point stance.
Ten years later, Gregg Williams got his ring, says Jim Wyatt.
The Saints showed the Titans how to beat the Colts, says Joe Biddle.
I expect Raheem Brock and Keyunta Dawson will get a lot of early-down action. That would be a smart way to scale back work for their stars, who would benefit from less contact with Maurice Jones-Drew.
Only three inactive Colts were left to be determined after the team declared the status of its injured players on Tuesday. Because five guys were already declared out, there could be guys eligible or dressed tonight who hardly play -- that will be one of the story lines we’ll try to follow for you after kickoff.
For the Jaguars, Russell Allen will start at outside linebacker for Clint Ingram (shoulder) and Attiyah Ellison will move ahead of Quentin Groves for the start at defensive end. As expected, Montell Owens is the starting fullback with Greg Jones (ankle) placed on injured-reserve.
Here’s the full list for both teams.
- Offensive tackle Michael Toudouze
- Tight end Tom Santi
- Defensive end Ervin Baldwin
- Cornerback Jerraud Powers
- Running back Donald Brown
- Receiver Anthony Gonzalez
- Kicker Adam Vinatieri
- Defensive back Aaron Francisco
Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky
A lost fumble early in Buffalo was enough for Gary Kubiak, who promptly decided Slaton could have the rest of the afternoon off because his ball security issues had become too big.
Reliable as a pass protector and a route runner, those qualities won’t mean much if Slaton can’t re-win the coaches’ confidence and earn chances with the ball in his hands.
2. Titans and Jaguars tackling.
Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson are dangerous backs capable of hitting home runs that demoralize a defense. That’s even more the case when MJD chugs out of what appears a sure tackle by Kyle Vanden Bosch or Johnson bounces right off Brian Russell.
The two defenses are sure to hear a lot about sure tackling as they return to work.
The Jaguars offensive line has been inconsistent and some players have been upset about the musical chairs feel to the lineup. Not all the changes have been dictated by injuries.
Jack Del Rio went with Tra Thomas as the starter in Nashville, and Vanden Bosch had his most productive game and first sack. The Jaguars remain high on Monroe, but shouldn’t he be far enough along at this point that they are reluctant not to play him?
Given 23 carries after the early benching of fumble-prone Slaton, Moats was outstanding in Buffalo. He ran for 126 yards and three fourth-quarter touchdowns.
How Gary Kubiak distributes the carries from here is to be determined, but it would be hard for him not to give Moats a significant opportunity in Indianapolis on Sunday in what qualifies as the franchise's biggest game ever.
2. Colts’ third-down defense.
Indianapolis went into the game against San Francisco allowing opponents to convert 43.5 percent of their third down opportunities, which ranked 27th in the league.
But the 49ers often wound up in third-and-long and managed only two conversions in 12 attempts. That’s 16.6 percent. An improvement they hope to build on Sunday against the team hoping to challenge them atop the AFC South, Houston.
3. Titans offensive line.
A group that had an excellent season in 2008 has not been the same in a follow-up campaign. The Titans O-line helped Vince Young make a successful start, and his mobility helped his blocker too, and punched enough holes for Johnson to set a new single-game rushing mark.
No sacks, 228 ground yards for Johnson and 305 rushing yards overall mean Michael Roos, Eugene Amano, Kevin Mawae, Jake Scott and David Stewart had a good day.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans promised changes beyond Vince Young for Kerry Collins.
But Jeff Fisher indicated they’d be minor and they are: Jason Jones is starting at left defensive tackle for Jovan Haye, who’s inactive, and Rod Hood is starting at left cornerback for Jason McCourty.
Who's returning for Tennessee? Not Alvin Pearman, signed after Mark Jones suffered a hamstring injury. Pearman's inactive. Look for some combination of Kevin Kaesviharn and Ryan Mouton on punts -- they are fielding them now in warmups -- and either Michael Griffin or McCourty on kickoffs.
For the Jaguars, Reggie Nelson shifts to corner to start at corner for the injured Rashean Mathis and Brian Russell replaces Nelson at free safety. (Sean Considine was in line to replace Nelson, but is sick and inactive.)
Tra Thomas is starting at left tackle for Eugene Monroe.
The list of inactives:
- Receiver Tiquan Underwood
- CB Brian Witherspoon
- LB Brian Smith
- OL Maurice Williams
- OT Jordan Black
- DT Greg Peterson
- CB Nick Harper
- RB Javon Ringer
- CB Cary Williams
- OT Mike Otto
- TE Craig Stevens
- DE Jevon Kearse
- PR-KR Alvin Pearman
Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky
The suspension of receiver Mike Sims-Walker for a violation of team rules was a setback for the Jaguars.
But even before losing one of their top playmakers, things didn’t figure to go well for the Jaguars Sunday in Seattle: A young team coming off consecutive division wins traveled cross country to play in unfamiliar territory against an unfamiliar opponent getting its starting quarterback back from injury.
Still a 41-0 loss at Seattle was uglier than could have been expected in most any two-steps-forward, one-step-back scenario.
It was the second-worst lose in the franchise’s history, trailing only a 44-point loss to Detroit on Dec. 17, 1995.
Jacksonville’s offensive line was a big issue. Eben Britton returned from injury to start at right tackle and Uche Nwaneri remained at right guard, pushing Mo Williams to the bench. Tra Thomas started at left tackle but Eugene Monroe saw time too.
David Garrard wasn’t good and held the ball far too long at time behind shaky protection. Five sacks (one was of Luke McCown) and two lost fumbles didn’t do much to offset four touchdown passes by Seattle’s Matt Hasselbeck in his return to action.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
The situation: The Jaguars lead the Titans 10-3 with 8:29 on the clock in the second quarter and face a second-and-2 from the Tennessee 38-yard line.
The Jaguars line up with Maurice Jones-Drew alone behind David Garrard who’s under center and has two tight ends on the field. Marcedes Lewis is to the right of right tackle Maurice Williams and Ernest Wilford is in the slot to the left. Receiver Mike Sims-Walker is wide right and Torry Holt is left.
The Titans are in their base defense with rookie corner Jason McCourty across from Holt, Nick Harper on Sims-Walker and Michael Griffin with Wilford, the former receiver. Chris Hope is one deep safety, as least 12 yards off the line of scrimmage, out of the wide screen TV picture at the snap.
Here’s what I saw unfold after the snap:
Garrard takes a three-step drop, looks to his right and makes a shoulder fake as if he’s throwing to Sims-Walker, who’s taken off up the right side.
Left linebacker David Thornton steps to the line between left end Jevon Kearse and left tackle Jovan Haye and comes on a bit of a delayed blitz, but Jones-Drew steps up to meet him. His initial foray stopped, Thornton sees the crowd of people between him and Garrard and bounces back toward the line of scrimmage, beginning to pursue Garrard on a clearer route. But to much time's gone by and the ball is gone by the time he really starts his move.
Williams blocks down on Haye leaving Lewis to single block Jevon Kearse, who gets good push.
Center Brad Meester and right guard Uche Nwaneri double right tackle Tony Brown who starts to his left before pushing the pocket.
Left tackle Tra Thomas rides right end Kyle Vanden Bosch in a loop around Garrard, but Vanden Bosch winds up making a late move back to the quarterback.
Holt moves at an angle off the line, cutting in front of Wilford and taking McCourty with him.
Garrard senses Meester being pushed into him, with Lewis also being pushed back and Vanden Bosch recovering to close some as well and the quarterback shifts up and to his left while throwing for Wilford on the left.
Griffin is about three yards off Wilford at the snap, gets one hand on him briefly and is facing the middle as the routes begin to unfold. Griffin might actually bump or brush Holt as he turns to go with Wilford who separates. Wilford collects the ball placed nicely over his left shoulder at about the 17-yard line with Griffin a few yards ahead of him and towards the middle of the field.
Result: A 29-yard gain that sets up a first-and-goal at the 9-yard line.
Ultimate outcome: Garrard hits Sims-Walker over the middle on the next play for a touchdown and the Jaguars never lead by less than 13 on their way to a 37-17 rout.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
The final injury report for Jaguars-Colts is out, and it brought no surprises.
If Jerraud Powers starts as expected at cornerback for the Colts in the spot of Marlin Jackson who will only work as the nickel, it’s on merit not because of injury. Tim Jennings who was rested early in the week, participated fully in practice and wasn’t categorized at all in the final injury report that designated injured players as probable, questionable, doubtful or out.
Rookie Fili Moala (knee), who clearly doesn’t factor into plans this week at defensive tackle, is questionable while safety Bob Sanders (knee), tight end Tom Santi (ankle) and defensive back Jamie Silva (abdomen) are out.
For the Jaguars, rookie tight end Zach Miller (knee) remained out of action this week and is out. Defensive tackle Derek Landri (knee) made the report as probable despite his protests. He was limited in practice all week but is expecting to play. Tackle Tra Thomas (back), in line to back up Eugene Monroe, was limited Friday and is also probable.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are presumed set at tackle for the long term with first-round pick Eugene Monroe and second-rounder Eben Britton. They started at left and right tackle, respectively, in Thursday night’s preseason finale against Washington.
But earlier in the day the team made a move that may indicate more about its veterans, Tony Pashos and Tra Thomas. The Jaguars signed backup Jordan Black to a deal that runs for three years and is worth $3.65 million with an additional $1.8 million in possible incentives, according to ESPN.com senior write John Clayton.
So something is brewing and the team will be dealing or cutting a name lineman.
Pashos, who started at right guard Thursday night against Washington, or Thomas, the left tackle signed as a free agent this offseason, could be on the way out.
Uche Nwaneri and Maurice Williams are valuable because of their versatility. Nwaneri can play all three inside spots and Williams, who was listed as the starter at right guard before Pashos' shift, can play anywhere on the line if needed.
Pashos signed as a free agent in 2007, getting a five-year, $24 million contract. Thomas’ incentive-laden deal was for three years and from what I can find the financial details were never reported.
Brad Meester is the starting center and Vince Manuwai, the team's best run blocker, is back at left guard after suffering a season-ending knee injury in last year's opening game.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
With three of our four teams playing Thursday night and the fourth preseason game meaning little or no time for starters in many instances, we reduce our previews.
Here’s one thing from each game to be closely monitored.
Washington at Jacksonville
Right tackle Eben Britton and right guard Tony Pashos: Word is this is what the right side of the line will look like against the Redskins. Once the starters are out of this game, the Jags will have all the evidence they can get and have to decide on a starting line. Is Pashos at guard to test his versatility as a potential backup or is he a better option than Maurice Williams or Uche Nwaneri? Will they go with veteran Tra Thomas to start the season at left tackle, or conclude it makes sense to get top pick Eugene Monroe out there ASAP?
Indianapolis at Cincinnati
Lots of chances to look dumb here, talking about someone who doesn’t wind up dressing as the Colts put no real value on starters getting work in their preseason finale. So the guys to watch are the undrafted rookies making a bid for roster spots. Big games for players like linebacker Ramon Humber or Mike Tauiliili, cornerback Jacob Lacey, defensive tackle Adrian Grady or receiver Brett McDermott could have a big bearing on their fates. Yes, it’s hard to measure them against second or third stringers on the Bengals, but coaches and the front office make big dollars to translate such things and find their meaning.
Green Bay at Tennessee
Jeff Fisher talked this week like his plan for the game was a super secret. I think it’s a secret until he knows what it is, at which point we will see it. Mark Jones is sure to get a lot of opportunity against the Packers, and the Titans will be hoping to force a bunch of punts and kickoffs. But they should be looking at Javon Ringer for kickoffs and saying prayers for the health of Ryan Mouton who seems a good punt return candidate but is recovering from a high ankle sprain. It would be good for Jones if he could make something out of chances at receiver too, if he gets them.
I watched the early part of the Jaguars' 12-9 loss in Miami Monday night looking for what jumped out, and one predominant theme wasn't hard to find at the start.
New general manager Gene Smith wants to build inside out and considers the lines the foundation, The Jaguars offensive line has gotten healthy and been reinforced with two high draft picks, tackle Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton. But the initial performance of the starters was not good.
The starting offensive line included Uche Nwaneri at left guard, not the scratched Vince Manuwai, as well as Tra Thomas at left tackle and Tony Pashos at right tackle. The group got pushed back by Miami's top defensive linemen, who also had some blitz help.
Randy Starks beat Nwaneri and hit quarterback David Garrard low on the last play of the Jags' first possession. Garrard limped off after taking the hit. On the second series, fullback Greg Jones stepped over to pick up charging Channing Crowder, but Crowder pushed Jones back into Garrard who threw incomplete before landing hard.
Not long later, under pressure from a blitzing Nate Jones and with Jason Taylor arriving to help bring him down, Garrard tried to flip the ball forward, apparently to Nwaneri, and was lucky it wasn't intercepted by Starks.
In three possessions with Garrard at quarterback, the Jaguars managed just one first down and netted 18 yards. Under fire, he managed just four completions in seven attempts for 22 yards.
The frontline offensive line would appear to have a way to go.
A contract for the Jaguars' top draft pick, tackle Eugene Monroe, has fallen in line quickly on the heels of B.J. Raji's deal with Green Bay Thursday night, reports Michael C. Wright. Monroe's agent is en route to Jacksonville to finalize language on a five-year contract.
|Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images|
|The Jaguars appear to have a deal wrapped up with first-round pick Eugene Monroe.|
I confirmed the report with a source who said Monroe could practice Friday night.
The Jaguars endured an even longer contract dispute with defensive end Derrick Harvey a year ago. Harvey missed all of camp and never caught up.
This time, while dealing with the eighth pick in the draft again, the team had a quality contingency in place.
While Monroe may be in the starting lineup at some point this season, no one with the Jaguars is uncomfortable with the idea of veteran Tra Thomas being in the starting lineup. Thomas and safety Sean Considine, both former Philadelphia Eagles, were the two most notable free-agent additions in the first offseason under general manager Gene Smith.
Thomas was regarded as a better pass protection player than run-blocker in Philly, which led to questions about how he would fit with the Jaguars who will continue to be a run-first team.
"That's what we did," he said of the Eagles' offense. "We would go into a game and pass the ball 50, 60 times. I came from Florida State where we ran no-huddle and I was in a two-point stance the whole game. So I was bred to be a pass-protector, and that's usually what your left tackle is anyway.
"But I'm open to it. I've been working on getting my run game going. [Offensive line coach] Juan Castillo did a lot of work with me in Philly trying to get my run game better so it's good for me to come down here to an actual run team and have a coach that really forces the run."
While Monroe works to catch up, Thomas said he will work on his steps, which can key an improvement in run blocking. He said he doesn't always get his foot down to complete his second step as quickly as he should.
The Jaguars don't open their preseason schedule until Monday night, when they play at Miami.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- We covered a lot in Saturday's Camp Confidential, but we forge ahead with these parting thoughts after four days with the Jaguars:
David Garrard was pretty inconsistent and made some very bad throws. It's early, he's got a lot of new receivers and a lot of new players around him, and it may all be ironed out. But he's not off to a blazing start. He may or may not be the long term answer for this team at quarterback, but if he goes down they are in big trouble. Todd Bouman is unimpressive and looks a lot better than Paul Smith. No, this isn't a landing spot for Michael Vick. Yes, they could use a serious upgrade behind Garrard.
The Jaguars think they can get Maurice Jones-Drew matched up with a linebacker often, by lining him up wide or motioning in out. Deliver the ball to him quickly in or near the flat and let the first guy he has to take on be a linebacker and the second a corner or a safety eight times a game, and that's eight times the first contract won't come from a defensive lineman. It's smart football and it's a smart way to save him from some additional hits. It's not like they haven't done it before, but it seems like with him as the lead guy, they'll do it more now. Look for rookie tight end Zach Miller to spend some time wide too.
Insiders say Eugene Monroe stands to be further behind as the result of a long absence because of a contract dispute than Derrick Harvey was last year in similar circumstances. And that's saying something based on how far behind Harvey was when he finally signed a year ago. It's the second year in a row the Jaguars have picked eighth and not reached a deal in time for camp. Are they worried about developing a reputation? No. They are making a stand that says, "We plan to be fair, but if somebody ahead of us does something foolish contract-wise, it's not going to skew things for us." That stand won't help them win any games, however. If he's absent much longer, it will assure that Tra Thomas is the starter early on.
Counting Saturday night's "scrimmage," the Jaguars have been in pads for just four of 12 training camp practices so far. Jack Del Rio had promised a tougher camp and told me in June he was a "do it right, do it light" coach. Are they doing that much right? (I suspect not, based on some of the shaky offensive periods I witnessed.) Has the weather, which has not been brutal, been a factor? I didn't talk to a guy who said he was spent or hitting the wall. We'll find out if that's good or bad, and we'll monitor whether Del Rio turns up the heat.
No team in the AFC South affords its fans better access to players during camp. Part of it is logistics. To get from the practice fields back to the locker room in the stadium, players have to walk through a long corridor. Fans lean over the portable white picket fences on both sides to plea for autographs and initiate conversations, and plenty of guys stop for a good while or mosey along while interacting. When I walked off the field with Garrard Saturday morning, he kept a good pace but still responded to some kids, grabbing the ball thy asked him to sign, scribbling on the move and passing it back with a smile while continuing our chat. Another thing that sets the Jaguars camp experience apart? Beer for sale.
This means nothing when it comes to their ability to stuff the run or collapse the pocket, but the three young guys vying for defensive tackle time -- Derek Landri, Terrance Knighton and Atiyyah Ellison -- are as nice a three-pack of players at one position on one team as I suspect can be found.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Coming later Sunday: Parting thoughts from Jacksonville, a mailbag, a look at Vince Young heading into the Hall of Fame Game and notes on the Titans' performance against the Bills.
- Receiver David Anderson provides the Texans with comic relief, says Jordan Godwin. I think it's critical for teams to have guys like Anderson who can keep things light at the most stressful moments.
- Richard Justice says Bruce Matthews is back where he belongs.
- Brian Cushing is trying to stay focused, says Dale Robertson.
- McClain was part of the Blackhawk flyover at the Hall of Fame ceremonies.
- A look at Arian Foster from Alan Burge.
- At battleredblog.com, 66 percent of readers think the Texans shouldn't agree to franchise Dunta Robinson again.
- Howard Mudd returned because he has unfinished business, writes Mike Chappell.
- With Jim Sorgi hurt, there is more work for Curtis Painter, says Chappell. And the defense "won" the Colts scrimmage. Look for Indy to grab a third quarterback to help fill in at camp.
- John Oehser's wrap-up of the first week of camp, and a look at how the scrimmage scoring system was weighted to the defense.
- Stampedeblue.com with scrimmage notes.
- The Jaguars intercepted four passes in their scrimmage, says Vito Stellino.
- Greg Jones has worked on his feet, says Michael Wright.
- Tra Thomas is ready to start, writes Stellino.