AFC South: Tyjuan Hagler

After he read this post Tuesday, alert reader @thezachlyons asked me via Twitter if I could flip the numbers inside-out.

So in following up an entry about how quarterbacks benefited from dropped interceptions in 2010, we look at the guys from the division who did their best to help out quarterbacks.

Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders was kind enough to share. As with the flip sides of the stat, Football Outsiders judges a drop only when a very catchable ball hits a defender in the hands or the chest.

The division didn’t boast a primary offender -- Miami’s Sean Smith, Tampa Bay’s Aqib Talib and Kansas City’s Derrick Johnson each had five. No AFC South defender had more than two.

Team-by-team here are the muffed turnover chances:
They need to be caught, of course. But they all counted as passes defensed. And while they could have been huge plays, at least they weren’t huge plays against, right?

I mean it’s bad the Texans and Colts had a lot, because they shouldn’t be dropped. But the Titans probably wouldn’t have minded a few more.

Final Word: AFC South

December, 31, 2010
12/31/10
4:01
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NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 17:

[+] EnlargeArian Foster
Justin Edmonds/Getty ImagesArian Foster is the NFL's leading rusher heading into Week 17.
Will Arian Foster win the rushing title? He’s got as 56-yard lead on Jamaal Charles heading into Sunday, and Gary Kubiak has said it’s important for the team to keep Foster on top. But Kubiak hasn't always done well at getting Foster sufficient carries, and the Jaguars are capable of stopping a back. Foster only got 15 carries for 56 yards in the first game against Jacksonville, which the Jaguars won with a Hail Mary.

How do the run games unfold for the Colts and Titans? The Colts have been great the last two weeks at stopping the run and at getting their running backs going. The Titans will surely try to get Chris Johnson the ball, and a lightning fast back against Indianapolis’ speedy defense will be interesting. If the Titans have any pride at the end, they won’t want to give up yards to Joseph Addai, Donald Brown or Dominic Rhodes. In a game pitting pride against a playoff berth, the advantage is with the Colts, the better team with more at stake.

Can the Jaguars score? Trent Edwards is a major question mark, but he couldn’t have drawn a better matchup than the Texans’ pass defense. It will be difficult for Edwards to match David Garrard's red zone work. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the injured starter has 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions inside the 20 this season with the fourth-best passer rating, 113.8, in the NFL. Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew, who is out, have combined for seven of Jacksonville’s eight rushing touchdowns in goal-to-go situations.

Can Indianapolis sort out its linebackers? Clint Session is expected to be active after missing the past eight games. The Colts have settled in with Gary Brackett flanked by rookies Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner, with Tyjuan Hagler mixed into to the nickel. How will they mix in Session against the Titans as he returns from a serious elbow injury? And if the Colts win the AFC South with a win or a Jaguars loss, do they gain a handle on what to do at linebacker in a playoff game?

Is this anyone’s swan song? Three of the four coaches in the division will head into the offseason as question marks, though things should be resolved quickly. Kubiak, Jeff Fisher and Jack Del Rio may all survive, and I don’t believe even a terrible result Sunday will have a big bearing on their futures. But in the day or two to follow, each will have an important meeting with his team's owner.

Wrap-up: Colts 31, Raiders 26

December, 26, 2010
12/26/10
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Thoughts on the Colts’ win the Raiders at Oakland Coliseum.

What it means: The Colts are 9-6 and will win the AFC South next week with a win against the Titans at home or a Jacksonville loss at Houston.

What I liked: I doubted if the Colts would be able to play quality run defense against a physical run team for a second week in a row, but they did. Oakland managed only 80 ground yards. The Colts might now qualify as a better run defense that we thought based on their work earlier in the season. They’re a better run team too -- they’ve rushed for more than 150 yards in consecutive games for the first time since 2006, according to CBS.

What I didn’t like: Special teams saw the Raiders' Jacoby Ford return the opening kickoff for a 99-yard touchdown. Also, Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski kicked three field goals of 45-yards or longer and Shane Lechler boomed his punts. That’s a path to holding an opponent without an offensive touchdown for more than 58 minutes and allowing it to stay in the game.

Injury watch: Joseph Addai returned to action after eight games out with a shoulder/neck injury. He took 12 carries 45 yards. But Dominic Rhodes got 17 carries and went 98 yards. Antoine Bethea was hurt late, but returned after just one play.

Brilliant: Peyton Manning's 27-yard naked bootleg got the Colts a big first down near the end that allowed them to run out the clock, but he slid short of a touchdown with a defender closing in on him to be safe.

Unconventional: Jim Caldwell hasn’t been icing kickers on field goals, he’s been icing them on onside kicks. For the second week in a row a late timeout washed away an onside attempt. Last week Tyjuan Hagler recovered the kick after the timeout and returned it for a touchdown. This week the Colts simply recovered the second kick.

What’s next: The Colts host the Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium in a game that could determine the AFC South winner and Indianapolis’ playoff fate. The only scenario where the Colts do not win the division is if they lose to the Titans and the Jaguars beat the Texans in Houston.

Rapid Reaction: Colts 34, Jaguars 24

December, 19, 2010
12/19/10
4:11
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Thoughts on the Colts’ win over the Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium.

What it means: The Colts have caught the Jaguars at 8-6 and have gained control of their own destiny. If Indianapolis wins its final two games, it’s assured of the AFC South crown. Jacksonville had such control but lost it late in the season for the fourth time in seven years.

What I liked: Indianapolis ran it with a good deal of success against a run defense that’s been quite stout. The Colts found the Jaguars’ weakness and abused it, making plays against the Jaguars’ safeties, particularly Sean Considine, who struggled against both the run and the pass. Tyjuan Hagler did great work to ice it, snatching a weak onside kick with 1:47 remaining and sprinting to a 41-yard touchdown.

What I didn’t like: Far too many confusing calls by referee Mike Carey and his crew. Two of them in the first half benefited the Jaguars.

Decisive moment: Marcedes Lewis made a great play to pull in a high David Garrard pass on a big touchdown drive late in the third quarter. But Garrard’s next too-high pass couldn’t be saved. It sailed over Jason Hill and was intercepted by Antoine Bethea. The Colts drove to a field goal that gave them a two-score lead.

Injury concern: Austin Collie provided a huge boost to the Colts' offense while catching two touchdown passes, but Daryl Smith delivered a hard hit in the second quarter. Smith’s arm banged Collie’s helmet. The team announced the receiver had a concussion. It’s his second of the season and he had just made it back from the first.

What’s next: The Colts head to Oakland to face the Raiders. The Jaguars host the Washington Redskins.

Halftime thoughts on Colts-Titans

December, 9, 2010
12/09/10
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Halftime thoughts from LP Field where it’s 21-7 Colts over Titans.
  • Donald Brown is not the guy to solve the rushing problems for Indianapolis. Spins in the backfield provide time for defenders to tackle him in the backfield. That’s especially ineffective when it’s losing yards inside the 5-yard line. Javarris James is simple better in the red zone.
  • My understanding of the Titans use of Randy Moss gets worse and worse. He played minimally in that half, and I don’t think he and Kenny Britt were on the field together for a snap. Meanwhile, a drop for Nate Washington and a good bit of action for Justin Gage.
  • Kerry Collins can’t get nearly enough on the ball if he can’t step into it and the pocket rarely holds up. There are quarterbacks in the league who can make quality throws as they retreat. He’s not one of them.
  • Rookie linebackers Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner were in the starting lineup, but the Colts are mixing and matching at linebacker beyond Gary Brackett. Tyjuan Hagler has played a lot. Philip Wheeler’s been out there some too.
  • Two Tennessee giveaways led to two Colts touchdowns -- Dwight Freeney stripped Britt for one, Brett Kern couldn’t pull in a high snap from Ken Amato for a punt and Taj Smith recovered it for the other.
  • Ryan Diem, two false starts. Not good. Manning, no picks, good. Still a couple more bad throws than you’d expect -- one where he missed an open Reggie Wayne on a scramble, one where he had James at the goal line.
Peyton ManningJim Rogash/Getty ImagesPeyton Manning passed for 396 yards, but also three interceptions, including one his final throw.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Devin McCourty had just intercepted a pass intended for Pierre Garcon. The Colts were down 14 points in the third quarter. Peyton Manning was understandably unhappy.

He wore that Manning grimace and repeated that Manning head shake as he walked to the sideline, settling near offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen. Hands on hips the two talked, side by side, facing the Patriots' offense on the field. Soon the pictures arrived, and the dissection started.

Manning and the Colts rebounded in a big way from there at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The quarterback found Blair White for two touchdowns in a span of 3 minutes, 11 seconds and Indianapolis was improbably back in it, with the ball and a chance to win or tie at the end.

But when it came time for that score, the Colts couldn’t find it. Manning’s deep ball up the right side for Garcon wasn’t deep enough. James Sanders went up and grabbed New England’s third interception, sealing a 31-28 win.

Manning’s perturbed meter was well beyond grimace or head shake level after the game.

“If you’re asking if I’m stewing about it right now, the answer would be yes,” Manning said not long after it was over, and not long before he sat in front of his locker in his suit, head down, angry.

His Colts have lost four games or fewer eight times in his 13 seasons, including the last seven. Now they’re 6-4 with six more left to play.

A team built on meticulousness was simply too imprecise on the road against a top team to pull it off, just like two weeks ago in Philadelphia when a field goal could have won it but Manning threw a late pick.

If the 14th head-to-head game of the Manning-Tom Brady era is played this postseason, it will almost certainly be played in frigid Foxborough, not inside Lucas Oil Stadium.

“They’ve won numerous Super Bowls,” wide receiver Reggie Wayne said. “We’re trying to win numerous. Me personally, I kind of feel like we’re kind of chasing them a little bit. And to catch them you’ve got to beat them. Each time we play them it’s always tough. We almost got it done. But that’s the way it goes. Hopefully we do what we’ve got to do and we see them later.”

The play that ended the Colts’ hopes was a first-and-10 from the New England 24-yard line that started with 37 seconds on the clock and Indy still holding two timeouts.

Manning said he looked to Garcon because he was one-on-one with McCourty in press coverage. But rushing linebacker Jermaine Cunningham closed on Manning and if he didn’t graze or bump him he at least affected his throwing motion. There wasn’t enough on the ball to beat Sanders.

“It was a bad throw, I certainly didn’t get everything on it that I wanted,” Manning said. “… I’m just sick about not extending the game, there’s just no excuse not to extend the game there, give [Adam] Vinatieri a chance at a field goal. We were going for the win, we had some time, we had some timeouts and felt like we had a good play called.

“It was just a poor throw and it’s just really, really sickening.”

The Colts allowed New England six third-down conversions in six first-half chances. Through three quarters, they allowed 5.2 yards a carry while gaining only 1.3 yards a carry themselves. And they failed to do anything to offset Manning’s three interceptions with no takeaways.

Tyjuan Hagler had the best chance, but an errant Brady pass around the New England 40-yard line with about 2:32 left bounced right off the nickel linebacker.

The Colts are built to play from ahead, which allows two of their best defenders, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, to rush a passer trying to forge a comeback. But against the Eagles and Patriots the Colts have played from behind.

Manning with possession and time at the end of the game is still typically a pretty good formula. But it hasn't been working.

“Usually that’s one of our strong suits, we’re able to move the ball,” Colts coach Jim Caldwell said. “I think you saw it in the previous drives. But we just didn’t finish it like we typically do.”

Manning said the Patriots managed to disguise things and confuse him, creating the two earlier interceptions. He absolved Garcon on plays where it seemed there was miscommunication and the receiver might have gone to the wrong spot.

“New England was really mixing them up, moving around,” Manning said. “So I had a couple misreads on the coverages.”

Tied with Jacksonville at 6-4 atop the AFC South, the Colts are actually down a tiebreaker to the Jaguars because of a loss in Jacksonville on Oct. 3.

Six other AFC teams have a record as good as or better than the Colts, who play host to San Diego next Sunday night. They’ve lost four of their past five games against the Chargers.

Before the team boarded their bus and headed for the airport, cornerback Kelvin Hayden mentioned how Tennessee and Houston had lost too.

The Colts, 10 games into the season, monitoring the results of the rest of the division? Given their record this decade, it seems unnatural. For those who’ve endured heartbreak by Manning’s hands, it’s surely enjoyable.

“We have high expectations,” safety Antoine Bethea said. “So four losses before Thanksgiving is awkward. But if you look at it, we’re still first in the AFC South. If we win, if we take care of what we need to take care of, we get to the playoffs, and once you’re in the playoffs it’s a new season.”

Wrap-up: Colts 23, Bengals 17

November, 14, 2010
11/14/10
6:25
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Thoughts on the Colts’ 23-17 win over the Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium.

What it means: The Colts moved to 6-3 and stand alone atop the AFC South thanks to Tennessee’s loss in Miami.

Turnover festival: Indianapolis scored 17 points off turnovers. Kelvin Hayden had his second pick-6 in three games. Tyjuan Hagler and Aaron Francisco also had interceptions, while Kavell Conner and Dwight Freeney forced fumbles that were recovered by Antonio Johnson and Mike Newton. Meanwhile, the offense didn’t turn it over. That’s an easy way to survive being outgained 341-256 in total net yards.

What I liked: A start for Jeff Linkenbach at right guard over Mike Pollak that appeared to be merit-based.

What I didn’t like: Pierre Garcon’s inability to secure an onsides kick late that would let the Colts’ worry less. A 42-yard run by Brian Leonard on a fourth-and 1 for Cincinnati. It was his only carry of the game.

The next newcomer: Brandon James did little as the punt returner, but he did chip in with four catches for 36 yards. For those keeping track he qualifies as the team’s sixth wide receiver.

What’s next: A trip to New England for the always intriguing matchup with the Patriots.
PHILADELPHIA -- There was no suspense at all pertaining to the Colts' inactives today. Every one of them is hurt.

There was a bit of suspense about the lineup.

Donald Brown is sill starting at running back, where Joseph Addai and Mike Hart are out. Gijon Robinson starts at tight end with Brody Eldridge out. Tyjuan Hagler will play weakside linebacker for the injured Clint Session and Jacob Lacey will play right cornerback in place of the ailing Jerraud Powers.

Pat Angerer stays at strongside linebacker, ahead of Philip Wheeler, and Kyle DeVan remains at left guard.

The inactives for Indy: CB Justin Tryon, S Bob Sanders, CB Jerraud Powers, RB Joseph Addai, RB Mike Hart, LB Clint Session, TE Brody Eldridge, DT Antonio Johnson.

The inactives for Philly: QB Mike Kafka, WR Chad Hall, RB Joique Bell, CB Ellis Hobbs, DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, T King Dunlap, G Reggie Wells, TE Clay Harbor.

Final Word: AFC South

November, 5, 2010
11/05/10
4:03
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NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 9:

[+] EnlargeMatt Schaub
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesMatt Schaub will have to match Philip Rivers' performance if the Texans hope to take down the Chargers.
Canceling out Rivers: The odds are good that San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who’s got record passing yardage through eight games, will be able to move the ball against Houston’s porous pass defense. Rivers should succeed even with injuries at receiver and to Antonio Gates, who's doubtful. The Texans' best defense might just be a big offensive day for Houston, too. Matt Schaub was shaky last week, especially in the first half. He needs to carry the Texans and match Rivers.

New venue: The Colts’ game in Philadelphia is their first in the city since 2002 and their first visit to Lincoln Financial Field. In two games in the city with Peyton Manning at quarterback, he’s thrown six touchdown passes and the team has two wins and 79 points. Mike Tanier thinks the Colts’ defensive scheme, with lots of defenders in short zones, is perfect for containing a scrambling quarterback like Michael Vick. But this version of the defense will be missing two or three key pieces, depending on the status of cornerback Jerraud Powers.

Watch first down: San Diego’s offense is the second best in the league this season on first down, while Houston’s is dead last, Aaron Schatz tells us. The Texans have to fare better on first down, and Gary Kubiak has to do better with the play calling there. Last week’s failure in Indy was pinned largely on third-down ineffectiveness. But more yards on first and second down produce more manageable third downs and presto. Well, I guess you can fail to give the ball to Arian Foster enough there, too.

More shuffling: The Colts pulled Philip Wheeler for Pat Angerer at strongside linebacker last week, but they’ll probably shuffle linebackers again this week. This time it wouldn't be by choice, it would be because of Clint Session's elbow/arm injury. It’s a guess as to how he’s replaced if he's out, but the candidates to be the third linebacker include Wheeler, Cody Glenn, Tyjuan Hagler and Kavell Conner. We’re also expecting receiver Anthony Gonzalez to be out, which means Blair White could get work if Austin Collie isn’t ready or is limited.

Hurry up and wait: The arrival of Randy Moss in Tennessee ranks as one of the biggest stories in the division this season. But the Titans are closed up for the weekend and his head start might not begin until Monday or Tuesday. As far as the potential to hear from him about being released in Minnesota and claimed by the Titans, we may not hear from him until Wednesday. We don’t know if he’ll provide both the questions and the answers as he said he would when he last talked as a Viking. The Jaguars, who also have a bye, will have a quieter return.
Philip Wheeler's demotion may have only lasted one week.

With Clint Session's agent, Harold Lewis, confirming his client finished the Monday night win over the Texans after dislocating his elbow and breaking his arm, it’s hard to imagine we’ll see the feisty linebacker in the lineup against the Eagles in Philadelphia on Sunday.

Wheeler
Wheeler
Session
Session
I asked a couple of medical people about the outlook for Session, and while they couldn’t make a real prediction due to the lack of details, they said most injuries like the one Lewis described would require surgery and several months to recover. But they cautioned that the agent could have overstated the injury. Mike Chappell said an MRI was scheduled.

The Colts have announced surgeries and been quick to declare when players with big injuries would sit out games this season. They’ve said nothing so far about Session except listing him on the injury report with an elbow issue and saying he did not practice Wednesday or Thursday.

Against Houston, rookie Pat Angerer replaced a healthy Wheeler on the strong side while Gary Brackett was in the middle after missing a game. Session manned his usual weakside spot.

Brackett is a certainty to remain in the middle, and Angerer got good reviews. The candidates for the other outside spot, presuming Session is out, are Wheeler, Cody Glenn, Tyjuan Hagler and rookie Kavell Conner, who just resumed practicing after a long layoff following foot surgery.
A fourth-string running back signing isn’t big news. But the addition of Javarris James to the Colts may tell us a bit.

First, the corresponding cut was Tyjuan Hagler. He was brought in as emergency help for a dinged up linebacker corps. The Colts clearly feel better about that situation with Clint Session back in the lineup after a couple missed games with a hamstring injury.

Second, Donald Brown’s injury appears a concern. He was out last week and didn’t practice Wednesday with a hamstring. Dan Dakich of 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis suggested last week that Brown’s injury was a lot more than minor. James could rank behind Joseph Addai and Mike Hart with Brown hurt and Devin Moore, a returner first and foremost, finished for the year.

Third, maybe they just liked the kid. They had to cut him a while back, and have seen him with the Patriots and on the Redskins practice squad since. Bill Polian doesn't sign a lot of players off of other team's practice squads. He feels a bit as if it's poaching. When he does it, it's usually a big combination of need and like.

RTC: Barber in for Wilson for Texans

September, 30, 2010
9/30/10
9:56
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Reading the coverage …

Houston Texans

Dominique Barber will replace the injured Eugene Wilson (hamstring) at free safety, says John McClain. I’d rather see Troy Nolan.

One week after limiting Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald to one catch, Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha's next assignment will be covering Andre Johnson, says John McClain.

Should the Texans sit Johnson, asks Battle Red Blog.

Indianapolis Colts

Despite change around him, Peyton Manning gets better, says Mike Chappell.

Linebacker injuries prompted the Colts to bring back Tyjuan Hagler, who could play right away, says Chappell.

Bill Polian adjusted his comments on the 18-game season.

The Colts have to stay low to deal with Maurice Jones-Drew, says John Oehser.

A drive breakdown from Colts-Broncos from Kasey Klipsch.

A deep roster has the Colts ready for their trip to Jacksonville.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jack Del Rio is tight-lipped about Derek Cox, says Tania Ganguli.

It’s a fresh start for Trent Edwards, says Vito Stellino.

David Garrard isn’t worried about Edwards’ arrival.

Kassim Osgood had to leap out a second-floor window late Monday to escape a gun-wielding man who had attacked him and a woman he was visiting, says Dan Scanlan.

This Pete Prisco-Clark Judge debate includes a piece about Del Rio’s job security.

The team’s ticket chart was updated Tuesday. A few to go to avoid a Sunday blackout.

Tennessee Titans

Alterraun Verner is ready to step in for the injured Jason McCourty, says John Glennon.

Vince Young insists he was prepared for the Pittsburgh game, says Jim Wyatt.

Cortland Finnegan and Jason Babin were fined for plays in the Giants game, says Wyatt.

Mike Otto returned to practice action, says Glennon.

Chris Johnson is fine with the workload.

A look at the state of the Titans’ offense, from Darren McFarland.

Pat Angerer fits Colts' LB mold

April, 23, 2010
4/23/10
8:51
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The Colts tend to cycle through linebackers, though they locked up Gary Brackett long-term and found a gem in Clint Session.

Second-round choice Pat Angerer could be a candidate to play on the strong side, where Philip Wheeler finished the year after Tyjuan Hagler had beat him out in camp but got hurt.

At Iowa, Angerer played his final three seasons in the middle. Jon Gruden just compared him to Zach Thomas. But Matt Williamson of Scouts is a little surprised about his 4.73 speed: “Angerer makes a lot of plays, but his lack of speed doesn't fit the Colts LB mold.”

He does, however, fit their size mold. He’s just over 6 feet and weighs in around 235 -- numbers right in line with Brackett and Session. Write-ups make him sound like a playmaker who might not have all the measurables, which are just the sort of things Bill Polian isn’t generally concerned with.

The Colts have five picks remaining -- 94th in the third, 129th in the fourth, 162nd in the fifth, 238th and 240th in the seventh -- and the lingering question is about the offensive line.

It’s perceived as a need after Bill Polian complained about the group's play in the Super Bowl and told Ryan Lilja’s agent upon the guard’s release that they were looking to get better. Adam Terry and Andy Alleman have been added, but many expected they’d address the offensive line high in the draft too.

Comments at his pre-draft press conference should have signaled for us to ease up on those expectations.

Instead they’ve gone with edge rusher Jerry Hughes in the first and Angerer in the second.

Draft Watch: AFC South

March, 26, 2010
3/26/10
1:01
PM ET
Each week leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Under the radar needs.

Houston Texans

While DeMeco Ryans in the middle and Brian Cushing on the strongside are fixtures, the weakside and linebacker depth rate as a secondary issue for the Texans. They could use a pick on the right guy. Gary Kubiak said early this week that Kris Brown can expect competition as the team’s placekicker starting in OTAs. That allows for the possibility the team could use a late pick on a kicker.

Indianapolis Colts

While the team was pleased with the progress of Antonio Johnson and Daniel Muir and expect a second-year jump from Fili Moala, it could still look to add another bigger defensive tackle. Tyjuan Hagler was the starting strongside linebacker at the start of the season, but when an injury ended his season Philip Wheeler took over. That could be a spot Bill Polian addresses. As the team looks for better run-blocking linemen, is Gijon Robinson judged as a sufficient run-blocking H-back/tight end or might there be a better option available than Robinson or injury-prone Tom Santi?

Jacksonville Jaguars

Linebacker hasn’t gotten as much attention as defensive end and the secondary in pre-draft talk so far, but only Daryl Smith is safe from competition. The Jaguars loaded up with three wide receivers in Gene Smith’s first draft, but they lack playmakers and can use a solid guy opposite Mike Sims-Walker if they smack into one during the draft. Indications are the Jaguars will stick with a David Garrard-Luke McCown starter-backup tandem, but Jacksonville needs to develop another quarterback.

Tennessee Titans

Even presuming Michael Griffin bounces back from a very poor third season, Chris Hope will turn 30 early in the fall and the Titans primary depth at safety is Vincent Fuller, who they need playing nickel. Tony Brown, Jason Jones, Jovan Haye, Sen’Derrick Marks and Kevin Vickerson look like a reasonably talented and deep group, but Haye and Marks underwhelmed in their first seasons. Drafting a tackle wouldn’t be a surprise. If Kevin Mawae doesn’t return as a backup center, the Titans will need an interior offensive lineman to back up the three starters.

AFC South: Free-agency primer

March, 4, 2010
3/04/10
9:16
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Houston Texans

Potential unrestricted free agents: CB Dunta Robinson, WR Kevin Walter, RB Chris Brown, DT Jeff Zgonina, G Chester Pitts, S Brian Russell, S Nick Ferguson, LS Bryan Pittman, LB Chaun Thompson, QB Rex Grossman, LB Khary Campbell, G Tutan Reyes, T Ephraim Salaam, P Matt Turk.

Potential restricted free agents: DL Tim Bulman, S John Busing, OT Rashad Butler, TE Owen Daniels, RB Ryan Moats, S Bernard Pollard, LB DeMeco Ryans, G Chris White.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: I don’t think the Texans will jump out and make any monumental moves. But by deciding not to tag Robinson they created another hole and saved themselves big dollars. With needs at corner, running back, free safety, interior offensive line and defensive tackle they may have more than they can address in one draft. That means they could jump out for one significant free agent – like they did last year with defensive lineman Antonio Smith -- and maybe another less expensive one or two.

Indianapolis Colts

Potential unrestricted free agents: MLB Gary Brackett, K Matt Stover.

Potential restricted free agents: WR Hank Baskett, S Antoine Bethea, S Melvin Bullitt, OL Dan Federkeil, CB Aaron Francisco, LB Tyjuan Hagler, CB Marlin Jackson, CB Tim Jennings, DT Antonio Johnson, OT Charlie Johnson, LB Freddy Keiaho, DT Dan Muir, CBPR T.J. Rushing.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: Brackett is priority one and the team has indicated a plan to pay him as an upper-echelon guy. The restricted list includes a lot of key guys who will remain big factors next year. Indy is not a team that looks to bring in many outsiders for big roles and it won’t start now. Bill Polian’s said the Colts will sit back and see how things unfold in the new capless landscape.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Potential unrestricted free agents: DE Reggie Hayward, G Kynan Forney.

Potential restricted free agents: DT Atiyyah Ellison, LB Clint Ingram, DL Greg Peterson.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Jaguars are draft-reliant, but will also shop for bargains in free agency, hoping to plug a couple holes with high-character guys with upside who fit what they are doing. As for a big splash, it’s unlikely based on their recent busts with big-name free agents like Jerry Porter and Drayton Florence and the direction they’ve moved since.

Tennessee Titans

Potential unrestricted free agents: DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, C Kevin Mawae, LB Keith Bulluck, TE Alge Crumpler, CB Nick Harper, CB Rod Hood, DE Jevon Kearse, S Kevin Kaesviharn.

Potential restricted free agents: DE Dave Ball, DT Tony Brown, TE Bo Scaife, LB Stephen Tulloch, DT Kevin Vickerson, RB LenDale White.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Titans will undergo a youth movement, especially on defense where Vanden Bosch and Bulluck, who’s recovering from ACL repair, are going to be allowed to walk. Mawae been told his only chance to return is as a backup at a backup price. Brown, Scaife and Tulloch are important guys they’ll want to retain. Beyond that, expect mostly bargain shopping.

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