Indispensable: Manning, Haynesworth, Williams, Jones-Drew

July, 22, 2008
7/22/08
2:54
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

ManningHaynesworth

Jeffri Chadiha has written an interesting piece, just the sort of list we love to mull over and debate, especially as training camps start to open. He has picked the league's 10 most indispensable players.

Two are from the AFC South: Colts quarterback Peyton Manning at No. 2 and Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth at No. 6, the lone defender on the list.

I like his thinking on both.

When I spoke with Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley, a former Colt, after Manning's recent knee surgery, he spoke emphatically about how the Colts' offense simply cannot be the Colts' offense without Manning running it. Jim Sorgi will get a ton of work early in camp and through the preseason and I'm sure he'd like to turn the volume down a notch on the Manning-is-absolutely-indispensable-talk with a good showing. I'm also confident he'd share Stokley's assessment, at least to a degree.

As for Haynesworth, I believe he turned a corner after the five-game, six-week suspension in 2006 for the head stomp of Andre Gurode. He reacted as well as the team could have hoped, with contrition in the locker room after the game in question (when most guys would have disappeared), with hard work to improve his temper and his play and with an eagerness to rebuild his name. His dominant performances keyed the Titans' defensive turnaround in 2007 when they jumped to fifth overall from 32nd the year before. He missed three games in the middle of the season and Tennessee lost them all.

Currently he and the Titans are haggling over incentives that might allow him to earn the right not to be franchised again next season. Hopefully he reports to camp on time or not too late. A motivated and healthy Haynesworth is imperative for the Titans' success.

How about the Texans and Jaguars?

I'd vote for Mario Williams in Houston -- heat on Manning, David Garrard and Vince Young is a necessity if the Texans are going to move out of the basement of the AFC South. And Williams is well on his way to justifying being the No. 1 overall pick in 2006.

In Jacksonville you can make a case for John Henderson, Garrard or Fred Taylor (.567 winning percentage with him, .515 without). But Maurice Jones-Drew makes too many of the team's big plays on offense and special teams not to edge them out.

Disagree? Maybe you can sway me. Hit my mailbag.

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