NFL Nation: Attiyah Ellison
Biggest surprises: Three undrafted rookies won spots -- offensive tackle Kevin Haslam, defensive end Aaron Morgan and linebacker Jacob Cutrera. Getting anything for Reggie Nelson was big, and GM Gene Smith managed to send the safety to Cincinnati for David Jones. That’s a surprise. That they also cut another veteran safety, Gerald Alexander, before adding one, also qualifies as a surprise. They seem sure to add someone in the coming days. Right now the starting pairing would come from Anthony Smith, Sean Considine, Tyron Brackenridge and Courtney Greene. I bet Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub endorse that. It’s not clear who the third wide receiver will be with Troy Williamson gone. Atiyyah Ellison was a feel good story a year ago, now he’s gone too. The team has three fullbacks with Greg Jones, Montell Owens and Brock Bolen. Kynan Forney was competing for a starting guard job, lost it and lost his place on the team.
No-brainers: Not a ton. Three linebackers -- Teddy Lehman, Alvin Bowen and Tony Gilbert -- of a weak group of reserves didn’t make it and another (Kyle Bosworth) was placed on IR.
What’s next: Work at safety, first and foremost. The Jaguars will be thorough in their examination and consideration of the waiver wire and free agents. They have room at the back of the roster for upgrades. After safety, look for linebacker to be the spot that gets the most attention as the Jaguars have just five on the roster.
D’Anthony Smith out of Louisiana Tech with the 74th pick, on the heels of Tyson Alualu 10th overall, certainly suggests the end of the John Henderson era in Jacksonville.
Adam Schefter said earlier Friday the Jaguars were willing to listen to offers for Henderson. Over the last two years, he’s not been the guy people used to fear and I’m not sure what kind of value he has now.
But with a young group in Alualu, Smith, Terrance Knighton and Atiyyah Ellison, I am thinking they're not looking to be five deep on the interior.
Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. thinks Henderson could draw a fourth rounder in a trade.
“He is on the downside though,” Williamson said. “Maybe use him in a rotation at his new team.”
Anybody want to play matchmaker?
An early look at the free-agent situation in the AFC South.
Note: These projected lists reflect notable unrestricted free agents for each team. The NFL will not issue an official list of free agents until the signing period begins March 5.
Unrestricted free agents: LB Gary Brackett, K Matt Stover
Key figures: Indianapolis has a long history of letting linebackers walk, but middle linebacker Gary Brackett is a special player and a special case. A great tackler and a great leader, the drop-off without him would be significant. And while the Colts surely will be looking to stick to a budget even in what’s looking like a cap-less environment, they can, and should, find a way to ensure he’s part of the 2010 team.
Unrestricted free agents: DE Reggie Hayward, TE Ernest Wilford
Key figures: Defensive end Reggie Hayward broke his left leg in the 2009 opener and was finished for the season. For a team trying to build a pass rush, maybe he still can be a valuable veteran presence. Three restricted guys are of note: linebacker Clint Ingram, defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison and receiver Troy Williamson.
Unrestricted free agents: CB Dunta Robinson, WR Kevin Walter
Key figures: The lack of a CBA will benefit the Texans more than anyone in the division, because middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans and tight end Owen Daniels will be restricted rather than unrestricted. Cornerback Dunta Robinson was ticked off at being franchised last year. Will they do it again? Receiver Kevin Walter didn’t have a great year, but is a valuable piece who could be attractive to a team looking for a No. 2 wideout.
Unrestricted free agents: Eugene Amano, LB Keith Bulluck, TE Alge Crumpler, CB Nick Harper, P Craig Hentrich, DE Jevon Kearse, C Kevin Mawae, DE Kyle Vanden Bosch
Key figures: Tennessee has more issues than anyone else in the division. Center Kevin Mawae, linebacker Keith Bulluck and end Kyle Vanden Bosch are all unrestricted. Four others will be restricted thanks to the lack of a new CBA -- running back LenDale White, linebacker Stephen Tulloch, defensive tackle Tony Brown and tight end Bo Scaife. Expect a defensive retooling.
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 Mike Sando
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says NFL rules would prevent the 49ers from removing the "interim" label during the season. The 49ers would hold exclusive negotiating writes for an unspecified period of time. I see no advantage in making a hasty decision.
Also from Maiocco: The 49ers signed rookie free agent Carl Stewart, a running back, to their practice squad after losing defensive lineman Attiyah Ellison to the Jaguars.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the short term prognosis for Frank Gore might not be good. The 49ers aren't sure if their running back will be able to play on a bad ankle.
Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says Leroy Hill has a chance to play against the Rams, a departure from previous reports suggesting Hill wasn't recovering quickly. Also, Holmgren singled out Floyd Womack for having the best game of his career against the Patriots. Holmgren also thought Steve Vallos played well despite a late miscue. Finally, Maurice Morris will start at running back once again.
Also from Hughes: Patrick Kerney has again torn the labrum in his left shoulder. This is a huge setback for Kerney.
Dave Mahler of KJR Radio in Seattle interviews Seahawks receiver Nate Burleson, who says he's ahead of schedule in returning from knee surgery. Office warning: This is an audio file, which is why the link is way down here.
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks have signed center Donovan Railoa to their practice squad after losing guard Pat Murray to the Broncos.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will be questionable against the Rams.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals have signed linebacker Kelly Poppinga to their practice squad after losing linebacker Chris Harrington to the Bengals.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com has the latest on Alan Branch. An infected cheek kept the 2007 second-round choice from buckling his chinstrap, preventing Branch from practicing.
Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune thinks the Cardinals would have been a Super Bowl contender had they drafted Adrian Peterson instead of Levi Brown.
Note: Nothing from the Rams so far.