AFC South: Troy Kropog

A rebuilding team is going to churn its roster and cut more players than a stable franchise. That’s been the case for Seattle as the Seahawks have posted a 25-23 record over the past three seasons.

When it lets players go, an established team that’s consistently successful is going to see them snatched up by the competition. That’s been the case for New England, as the Patriots have gone 39-9 over the same time span.

NFC West blogger Mike Sando offered this splendid post this week on the number of cut players by every team in the league who have been picked up off waivers.

Seattle is tops in the NFL with 25 players claimed, and New England is second with 23.

Here is the AFC South:
8th) Texans, 15 (28-20)
9t) Colts, 14 (23-25)
9t) Jaguars, 14 (15-33)
32nd) Titans, 3 (21-27)

The Texans have been a pretty good team over the past three seasons, and they have drafted well. It makes sense that other teams would look to bring in guys they cut, thinking, in part, that Houston’s good scouting might offer an assist.

I’m surprised where the Colts and Jaguars rank. Through 2011, Indianapolis played a system featuring small defenders and small offensive linemen -- players that won’t necessarily appeal to the bulk of the league. Jacksonville has not drafted well, but perhaps all the draft picks who have been cut have intrigued the rest of the league because they had some status.

The Titans have had just three players claimed off waivers in this span -- the league low.

The three, for trivia buffs, were running back LeGarrette Blount by Tampa Bay, fullback Quinn Johnson (who’s back) by Denver, and offensive lineman Troy Kropog by Jacksonville.

It’s too simple just to say a team with limited talent hasn’t had players passing through that are of interest to other franchises. Because Baltimore (34-14) has only had five players claimed, and Atlanta (36-12) has only had four.

We don’t know what teams have had the most roster moves and the least in that span.

But here are a couple other factors at play:
  • Six of the top seven teams have changed coaches in the past three years, and a new coach usually means a lot of turnover. (Though the Titans are an obvious outlier there.)
  • The Seahawks, Patriots and Eagles don’t hesitate to bring in guys, and they don’t hesitate to let go of them if things don't work out. With more transactions come more opportunity to have guys picked up. Contrast that with the Titans. Granted it was an abnormal season, but in 2011, they waived just one player after Week 2, and had him picked up. Johnson, a fullback, ultimately returned to the Titans and is now their starter.
UPDATE, Tuesday evening: The Titans' number is now up to four. Defensive end Thaddeus Gibson was claimed by the Cowboys Tuesday.

Assessing the injury reports

September, 14, 2012
9/14/12
6:42
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What we know about Sunday’s lineups based on Friday’s injury reports:
  • Jacksonville will be without outside linebacker Daryl Smith, right tackle Cameron Bradfield, running back Rashad Jennings, defensive ends Austen Lane and George Selvie. Smith is a big absence, especially considering the way the Jaguars struggled to tackle. Corner Derek Cox (hamstring) is questionable and could help in that department as well. Left guard Eben Britton (ankle) is also questionable. With Bradfield out, we’ll see Guy Whimper (or, if they surprise us, waiver claim Troy Kropog) on the right side. Undrafted rookie interior lineman Mike Brewster wasn’t bad last week when called into duty.
  • The Texans have 12 players listed as probable and are in pretty good shape. Outside linebacker Bryan Braman (hamstring) is questionable. His absence could affect special teams, but barring injuries to front-liners it won’t affect the defense.
  • The Titans will be without play-making middle linebacker Colin McCarthy (ankle), with Will Witherspoon shifting to the middle and Zach Brown and/or Zac Diles on the weakside. They should get much-improved defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks back from a knee injury. San Diego won’t have nickel corner Shareece Wright and will use Mike Harris at left tackle with Jared Gaither (back) out. Harris should mean a favorable matchup for pass-rusher Kamerion Wimbley.
  • Dwight Freeney is out for the Colts, which means Jerry Hughes and perhaps Mario Addison will work as the rush linebacker in the 3-4. Major drop off. Left guard Joe Reitz (knee) is out again, so we could see Seth Olsen again or newcomer Trai Essex. T.Y. Hilton is probable and should get some return work as well as receiver snaps. Austin Collie, still coming back from a concussion, had a setback and is doubtful. The Vikings don’t have anyone listed as a starter categorized as worse than probable.

Final Word: AFC South

September, 14, 2012
9/14/12
1:30
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 2:

[+] EnlargeAnthony Castonzo
AP Photo/Tom GannamThe Colts' Anthony Castonzo has a rather tough assignment on Sunday -- contain the Vikings' Jared Allen.
Line makeup: We came into the week thinking Colts newcomer Trai Essex could take over for Winston Justice at right tackle, but Justice seems to have bounced back from the concussion he suffered Sunday in Chicago. He’s practicing and it’s left guard Joe Reitz who remains a question. Seth Olsen is not a quality replacement, and Essex is versatile enough to play either guard or tackle spot. Perhaps he replaces Olsen rather than Justice? The No. 1 question on the offensive line will be how left tackle Anthony Castonzo can do against end Jared Allen, who was largely held in check last week by Jacksonville’s Eugene Monroe.

Line makeup, II: The Jaguars are banged up in a big way on the offensive line. Starting right tackle Cameron Bradfield and starting left guard Eben Britton could both miss the game with ankle injuries, which would mean Guy Whimper or waiver claim Troy Kropog at right tackle and undrafted rookie Mike Brewster at left guard. That’s hardly an ideal scenario against the Texans’ swarming front. It looks like a big mismatch. But often what looks like a big mismatch in a divisional game during the preparation week doesn’t turn out to be the major issue.

Struggling in Cali: The Titans have lost eight in a row against the Chargers, dating all the way to 1993. San Diego’s 3-4 front has given Tennessee problems in recent years, and first-round draft pick Melvin Ingram, an outside linebacker, is a part of packages that will be another complicated thing for Jake Locker to sort through. The quarterback will be playing with a banged-up left (non-throwing) shoulder. But he will be throwing against a banged-up secondary too, so if he can get protection he may be able to find plays downfield with Kenny Britt back in the lineup.

Playing stout: The Colts allowed 3.5 yards a carry in their season-opening loss to the Bears. That wasn’t as bad as some of us anticipated it could be. But Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson will be a different level of challenge. He found the end zone twice in his first game back with a reconstructed knee in the Vikings' win over Jacksonville. The Colts remains susceptible to the run and are going to get tested. If and when they can get the Vikings into tough passing downs, will Dwight Freeney be available to chase Christian Ponder? If his ankle injury holds him out, the Colts are then deficient in that area as well, which would be bad news.

Improvement: Good teams respond to week-to-week problems. Texans coach Gary Kubiak wasn’t pleased with the way his team ran the ball and the way it performed on special teams, even though it posted a 20-point win over Miami in the opener. His players should respond to points of emphasis and show improvement in those areas. Jacksonville’s big point of emphasis has been better tackling, and it will need to wrap up the likes of Arian Foster and Andre Johnson to have a chance in this game. Outside linebacker Daryl Smith would be a boon, but he looks unlikely to make it back from a groin/abdomen injury. If corner Derek Cox is back from his hamstring problem, coverage should be a strong suit.

Preseason finale storylines

September, 1, 2011
9/01/11
5:16
PM ET
The big storyline or two for the AFC South preseason finales, all of which will be played tonight…

Colts at Bengals

It would be silly for Kerry Collins not to start, and Jim Caldwell has said the new quarterback will play “a lot.” They should give him a reasonable amount of time with the starting line and the weapons he needs to sync up with if he’s starting on Sept. 11 in Houston. That would stray from the typical philosophy in the fourth game, but the change of circumstances dictates a change in approach. Unfortunately, Collins won’t have a chance to work with Austin Collie (foot) or Anthony Gonzalez (hamstring).

Titans at Saints

Depth decisions are the big story for Tennessee at this point. It’s a big night for wideouts Lavelle Hawkins and Kevin Curtis, defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, offensive tackles Mike Otto, Troy Kropog and Pat McQuistan, linebackers Rennie Curran and Patrick Bailey and safeties Vincent Fuller, Robert Johnson and Anthony Smith. Jake Locker should see significant time and it would be nice to see him cap the preseason with a performance that shows his growth since the starts of camp.

Rams at Jaguars

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew and defensive end Aaron Kampman are both coming back from knee injuries and they will see their first action of the preseason. Odds are we don’t get great reads on either, but it’s a significant thing for them to be involved in a bit of live action. A sack, at any time, by anyone, would really help in dealing with pass rush concerns. David Garrard will only get a series or two. He can do a lot for himself and the team but putting together an effort that helps create confidence.

Texans at Vikings

We’ll see some kids play a lot, a whole game in some instances. Matt Leinart will have a big chance to show why Gary Kubiak is so high on him, and it would be good if he could connect some with newcomer Bryant Johnson. Like the Texans, the Vikings are expected to have a bunch of guys in street clothes. So while I’d like to see guys who’ve shined for Houston in a great preseason -- like Xavier Adibi, Jesse Nading, Troy Nolan -- fare well early in this game, it won't mean much more than them faring well a bit later in previous games.

My plan

From AFC South blog HQ, I expect to watch the first hour of the Colts and the first hour of the Titans and post something on those two games when they are over. The Jaguars and Texans may need to wait until morning depending on how things unfold. Odds are against me seeing all four games start-to-finish by the time I post some thoughts on them. And by "odds are against," I mean it can't happen.
Reading the coverage …

Houston Texans

Gary Kubiak reviewed Mario Williams’ play, writes John McClain.

The Texans are very banged up at running back, says McClain.

James Casey has the Texans talking, says Richard Justice.

Andre Johnson is mentioned in the Yahoo report on rule-breaking at Miami.

Daryl Sharpton is mentioned in the Yahoo report on rule-breaking at Miami.

Indianapolis Colts

The next Polian can be as good as the first Polian, writes Bob Kravitz.

Ryan Diem was at left guard in Tuesday’s practice, says Mike Chappell.

Joe Reitz is known for a missed dunk, says Phillip B. Wilson.

How soon is too soon to judge Jerry Hughes, asks Nate Dunlevy.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Eben Britton’s grandmother won an Oscar for her role in “Bonnie and Clyde” and is a big influence on the Jaguars’ lineman, writes Tania Ganguli.

Will Rackley is in the starting mix on the offensive line, says Vito Stellino.

Mayor Alvin Brown is pushing tickets, says Stellino.

Eugene Monroe is having his best camp, says John Oehser.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans aren’t such a hot ticket right now, says Duane Marsteller.

Financial context for Chris Johnson’s desire come from Charles Johnson, Tamba Hali and Brandon Marshall, says Jim Wyatt.

Wyatt sees a new energy from the Titans.

A Chris Johnson holdout tracker from Wyatt.

The case against paying Johnson, from Ryan Wilson.

Troy Kropog is going to miss time after a knee scope, says John Glennon.

Yamon Figurs is looking to stay in one place for a while, says David Boclair.

Colin McCarthy is mentioned in the Yahoo report on rule-breaking at Miami.
Bruce Matthews and Kevin MatthewsAP Photo/Mark HumphreyTitans offensive line coach Bruce Matthews tries to stay objective about his son, Kevin Matthews.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The default answer for a father coaching his son is that he won’t treat his boy any differently than any of his other players.

And surely Titans offensive line coach Bruce Matthews will treat Titans center Kevin Matthews the same as the rest of his group.

At least until it comes time to cut that group down.

“It definitely harder on dad, I will never shed the dad mantle,” Bruce Matthews said. “As much as I want to be objective, I can’t be. I love the kid. I say that in all honesty, that’s just how it is. So I don’t know yet that I will abstain from giving an opinion on him. But he’s doing well and I am excited by that.”

Kevin Matthews came in last year as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M and played in the final three games, with one start, after time on the practice squad. He said he was amazed by the calm of his linemates in an eye-opening experience.

After the season his position coach and dad’s best friend, Mike Munchak, got promoted to the top job, and hired his father to take his place.

“I’m not getting any special treatment or anything which should be obvious as this level,” Kevin Matthews said. “We joke around a lot and have a lot of fun in the meeting rooms and on the practice field. Being able to work with him every day, I really enjoy it and I think he’s enjoying it a lot too.”

“To get to work with him at the highest level is like a dream come true.”

The Titans have a set starting line and a backup pool of tackles Mike Otto, Troy Kropog and rookie Byron Stingily, swingman Ryan Durand and interior guys Fernando Velasco and Matthews.

Father has urged son to make it an easy decision for the team.

Son said there is a second level of pressure to make it to stick with dad.

“I’m making as little as you can make, so I don’t think they’ve got a problem with the money,” he joked. “Being undrafted there is that extra little chip that I carry around. Obviously I am fighting to make this team. If it goes the other direction, we’ll handle it. Hopefully we won’t have to.”

The guys joke sometimes about what they can say in front of Kevin for fear it would make it to their coach, but it’s all in good fun.

“That’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal,” starting left guard Leroy Harris said. “That’s pretty cool.”

Thoughts on Panthers 15, Titans 7

August, 29, 2010
8/29/10
12:08
AM ET
Some bullet-point thoughts on the Titans’ 15-7 preseason loss at Carolina on Saturday night.

Impressive:
Unimpressive:
  • Chris Johnson found virtually no room with 10 yards on eight carries. The Titans have zero doubt that he will be himself once the games have meaning and they are game planning. But a better performance would still be a bit reassuring.
  • Vince Young fumbled early when he got hit after a pump fake. Guard Jake Scott saved him with a recovery. This comes after he dribbled the ball off his chest -- which he recovered -- after a pump fake in the Titans win over the Arizona Cardinals last week.
  • Carolina rushed the passer very well and the Titans were ineffective at getting in the way. Young was sacked four times and took a couple other note-worthy hits.
  • Damian Williams did not do much on three return chances and fumbled as he took a big hit at the end of the final one. The Titans have played three games, he’s played two and I am sure they’d like to have a better feeling about him in game action to this point.
  • One third-down conversion for the first team offense in the first half.
Unfortunate:
  • Left tackle Michael Roos left ahead of schedule with what the team said was a mild right knee strain. With Mike Otto recovering from a knee scope, Troy Kropog replaced Roos.
Quality read

Mike Tanier shares thoughts on the toughest college programs to evaluate.

Houston Texans

John McClain thinks the Texans will go running back in Round 1.

An offensive value board from a Texans perspective courtesy of Lance Zierlein.

Indianapolis Colts

Melvin Bullitt and Dan Muir signed their tenders, says Phil Richards.

Assessing the defensive line with John Oehser.

Ryan Lilja didn’t love the way the Colts line was talked about but is moving on, writes Oehser.

Stampede Blue found an interesting NFL venue ranking that put Lucas Oil Stadium at the top of the list. I agree it’s a great venue, but if you factor in the bad food and limited dining options I think No. 1 is a bit of a stretch.

A quality Q&A with Mike Chappell.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are being proactive in trying to trade out of No. 10, says Vito Stellino.

Vic Ketchman contemplates the need for buzz.

The Jaguars are looking for more draft-day steals, says Chris Harry.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans see a lot to like in Gerald McRath, writes Jim Wyatt.

LenDale White signed his tender, says Wyatt.

Wyatt thinks the Titans will look to bring back Daniel Loper. I think Loper’s chances hinge on what the team thinks of Mike Otto and Troy Kropog.

Cortland Finnegan makes Andy Benoit’s list of the league’s top 10 corners.

Voice of the Titans' Mike Keith is impressed with how Vince Young is carrying himself.
SEATTLE -- At a 20-yard line, above a CBS banner, a fan has a sign with a counter on it. It’s set at 1,872.

Based on how well and how quickly the fan in control of it computes Chris Johnson’s rushing yards, it could be a very handy tool helping CJ and the Titans and those of us in the press box track a potentially record day.

No surprises on the inactive list at Qwest Field, as beautiful a building as I expected in my first visit.

Here are the guys not suiting up:

Titans

Seahawks

Is Kern kosher with pregame pants?

December, 25, 2009
12/25/09
6:31
PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Christmas night callout for illegal procedure: Titans punter Brett Kern is wearing gray sweatpants either over, or instead of, his uniform pants while holding for Rob Bironas’ pregame field goals.

Brett, buddy, everyone is cold out there. Am I wrong in saying he needs to tough it out? Nashville sportswriter David Boclair points out Kern’s legs are his livelihood and maybe it’s akin to a pitcher wearing a jacket when he runs the bases.

I am told Kern even wears them during the game and takes them off when it’s time to punt or hold.

Do we think Ray Guy did that?

Anyway…

Only one lineup change from the pre-printed flip cards -- Nick Hardwick is starting at center for the Chargers.

Inactives are in, I know you’ve been waiting anxiously all day, so without further delay:

Titans
Chargers

Dolphins-Titans inactives

December, 20, 2009
12/20/09
11:50
AM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Lineup alterations in Nashville:

Kenny Britt starts ahead of Justin Gage for the Titans, while Gerald McRath starts for David Thornton, out with a shoulder injury.

Joe Berger starts at center for Jake Grove and Nate Garner starts at right guard for Donald Thomas for the Dolphins.

The full list of inactives:

Titans

Dolphins

Ugoh starting; Hood scratched again

December, 6, 2009
12/06/09
11:58
AM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Titans will be rushing against Tony Ugoh at left tackle instead of Charlie Johnson, who’s out with a foot injury.

We’ll see if Ugoh’s been making progress. He’s been inactive for five games this season, and otherwise worked only on special teams while in place as a backup except for a spot start against Tennessee in the first matchup.

For the Titans, Rod Hood is a healthy scratch for the second week in a row. Looks like a bad move to me. If the Titans get hurt in the secondary, rookies Ryan Mouton and Jason McCourty are in line to work as subs at cornerback. Hood was far better than either of them when he played.

The entire inactive lists for both teams:

Colts

Titans

Inactives for Titans-Texans

November, 23, 2009
11/23/09
7:19
PM ET
HOUSTON – Inactives for Monday Night Football between the Titans and Texans.

Tennessee
Kenny Britt starts for Gage, Gerald McRath starts for Thornton.

Houston
Glenn Martinez will return punts for Jones. He won AFC special teams player of the week honors as a member of the Denver Broncos for an 80-yard punt return for a TD against the Titans in 2007.

Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Colts safety Bob Sanders and Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan are among the inactive for Colts-Titans Sunday night.

Rookie Jason McCourty will start for Finnegan and another rookie, Ryan Mouton, is already slated to play nickel.

Meanwhile, Tony Ugoh starts at left tackle for the Colts for the injured Charlie Johnson.

Less expected is the Titans’ shake-up move: defensive end Jevon Kearse is a healthy scratch, replaced in the starting lineup at left end by William Hayes.

Colts’ inactives:

QB Curtis Painter
WR Anthony Gonzalez
Sanders
CB Kelvin Hayden
CB Marlin Jackson
RB Mike Hart
Johnson
DT Fili Moala

Titans’ inactives:

WR Dominique Edison
DB Vincent Fuller
Finnegan
LB Colin Allred
OL Troy Kropog
WR Lavelle Hawkins
Kearse
DT Jason Jones

Titans-Jets inactives

September, 27, 2009
9/27/09
11:53
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Inactives and what they mean for Titans-Jets.

Titans

Tight end Bo Scaife -- Jared Cook is up and they hope they'll be able to get more out of him than last week.

Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks

Punter Craig Hentrich -- The Titans signed Reggie Hodges to fill in.

Linebacker Stanford Keglar

Receiver Lavelle Hawkins

Quarterback Vince Young -- He was sick during the week and so the Titans put Patrick Ramsey ahead of him.

Tackle Troy Kropog

Defensive end Dave Ball

Left guard Eugene Amano is active. But he was also sick this week. Leroy Harris will start in his spot.

Jets

Cornerback Lito Sheppard

Cornerback Donald Strickland

Quarterback Eric Ainge (third)

Quarterback Kevin O’Connell

Linebacker Jamaal Westerman

Guard Matt Slauson

Defensive end Ropati Pitoitua

Receiver David Clowney

With Shepparad and Strickland out, Dwight Lowery starts at right cornerback and Drew Coleman, a short guy not rated as a high-quality corner, will be the nickel.

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