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Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The Replacements: AFC South


Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

A look at the key loss and his replacement for each team in the division:

Weaver
Smith
Houston Texans

Who's out: Anthony Weaver, defensive end, released

Who's in: Antonio Smith, defensive end, signed as free agent from Arizona

Outlook: Fortifying the line and upgrading opposite Mario Williams were huge priorities for the Texans, and Smith was their prize acquisition.

Not necessarily rated as a great pass-rusher, he's a hard worker who will defend the run well, does good work with his hands, brings leadership and good experience and can shift inside to tackle on rush downs if it will help get the team its best four on the field.

He's a much better player than Weaver, who had 28 tackles, a pick and no sacks in 2008 despite starting all 16 games.

Harrison
Gonzalez
Indianapolis Colts

Who's out: Marvin Harrison, wide receiver, released

Who's in: Anthony Gonzalez, wide receiver, third year

Outlook: A lot of people have stereotyped Gonzalez as a slot receiver since the Colts drafted him in the first round in 2007. But he's shown he can be effective lining up anywhere and is the crafty and dependable sort of route runner who can thrive with Peyton Manning.

Gonzalez is on a lot of lists for potential breakout players, because even though Harrison wasn't himself in his final season, he caught 60 passes for 636 yards and five touchdowns. A good share of that production will go to Gonzalez, who had similar numbers himself. The battle for the third receiver slot Gonzalez is graduating from could be the most interesting of Colts camp with Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Roy Hall slugging it out.

Jones
Holt
Jacksonville Jaguars

Who's out: Matt Jones, wide receiver, released

Who's in: Torry Holt, wide receiver, signed as a free agent after release from St. Louis

Outlook: Holt's lost a bit since his days as a centerpiece in "The Greatest Show on Turf." But the Jaguars have had a terrible run as they searched for a lead wideout, most recently with Reggie Williams, Jones and Jerry Porter. They are all gone now.

Holt's a steady, productive, durable guy who should be able to get open and gain some yards after the catch while leading the way for a young group that includes three draft picks.

Haynesworth
Tennessee Titans

Who's out: Albert Haynesworth, defensive tackle, free agent signed with Washington

Who's in: Jason Jones, defensive tackle, 2008 second-rounder; Jovan Haye, defensive tackle, free agent signed from Tampa Bay

Outlook: Haynesworth was a beast on the interior, and the Titans will miss the automatic double-teams he drew and the way he could crush the pocket.
Jones
Haye
But they drafted Jones and his giant wingspan knowing this was possibly on the horizon and signed Haye after Haynesworth left. Defensive line coach Jim Washburn has effectively replaced key cogs before.

The biggest difference will be that the Titans will go back to being a smaller group on the interior, which it was before the 6-foot-6, 320-pound Haynesworth joined the team as a first-rounder in 2002. Now just two players contending for roles in the tackle rotation top 300 pounds and no one is taller than Jones at 6-5.