NFL Nation: Bryant Johnson

A look at the 16th, 17th pick

February, 5, 2014
Feb 5
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys will not know until a coin flip at the NFL scouting combine if they or the Baltimore Ravens will pick 16th or 17th in the first round of the May draft.

The only time the Cowboys used the 16th pick in the draft came in 1961 when they selected E.J. Holub in the second round. They have not taken a player with the 17th overall pick since cornerback Kevin Smith in 1992. Before that? In 1990 they took Emmitt Smith, who is now the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.

What type of player has been available at Nos. 16 and 17? Here’s a look at the past 10 years.

2013 – EJ Manuel, Buffalo; Jarvis Jones, Pittsburgh
2012 – Quinton Coples, New York Jets; Dre Kirkpatrick, Cincinnati
2011 – Ryan Kerrigan, Washington; Nate Solder, New England
2010 – Derrick Morgan, Tennessee; Mike Iupati, San Francisco
2009 – Larry English, San Diego; Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay
2008 – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Arizona; Gosder Cherilus, Detroit
2007 – Justin Harrell, Green Bay; Jarvis Moss, Denver
2006 – Jason Allen, Miami; Chad Greenway, Minnesota
2005 – Travis Johnson, Houston; David Pollack, Cincinnati
2004 – Shawn Andrews, Philadelphia; D.J. Williams, Denver
2003 – Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh; Bryant Johnson, Arizona.

Polamalu is by far the best player selected in either spot. He will be in the Hall of Fame. There are quality players in there like Williams, Greenway, Rodgers-Cromartie, Iupati, Solder and Kerrigan. Andrews had a pretty good short run as well. Kerrigan is solid and has done some good things versus the Cowboys. Coples has showed some pass rush his first two seasons. I expected more from Kirkpatrick, who was on the Cowboys’ radar in 2012.

The Cowboys held the No. 18 pick in 2013 and traded down to No. 31 with the Niners where they took Travis Frederick. They felt they were in a position to trade down and still pick up a quality player. When they saw Eric Reid, Justin Pugh, Kyle Long and Tyler Eifert go off the board in the next four picks they were left sweating it out until they got Frederick.
NEW ORLEANS -- A mere 3,565 days have passed since the 2003 NFL draft. That's not nearly long enough for Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs to forget about a certain team passing over him in the first round.

Fans of the Arizona Cardinals know what's coming next. They know the Cardinals traded out of the sixth overall slot in 2003, when Suggs was coming out of Arizona State as the top pass-rusher in the draft. They know Arizona used its first-round choices for receiver Bryant Johnson and pass-rusher Calvin Pace instead.

Suggs, speaking Tuesday from the Ravens' hotel at Super Bowl XLVII, thanked the Cardinals for letting him slip in the draft.

This thank you note was delivered unsolicited and with the back of the hand. Suggs was answering a question about his first contact with Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. The two had taped a commercial together before that 2003 draft. The Ravens were picking 10th overall. Lewis told Suggs the two could wind up being teammates. Suggs, admittedly naive at that early stage of his career, figured he'd be long gone by then. He figured the Cardinals wouldn't let him get past that sixth pick.

"Lo and behold, the Arizona Cardinals traded out of the pick," Suggs said. "Thank you all for that. I appreciate that with all my heart. Thank you."

The Cardinals found longtime starters Anquan Boldin, Gerald Hayes and Reggie Wellis later in that 2003 draft. Boldin, traded to Baltimore in 2010, will join Suggs in the Ravens' starting lineup against San Francisco on Sunday.

A look at what makes Fitzgerald so great

October, 11, 2012
Halloween 2004 still haunts Larry Fitzgerald. That day marked the only time Arizona's all-world receiver played an NFL game without catching even one pass.

Buffalo was the Cardinals' opponent that day. With the Bills scheduled to visit Arizona in Week 6, the memory of that 2004 game has been revived.

Fitzgerald could see the question coming during a conference call with Buffalo-area media. This call was different from most in that only one reporter called in for the interview. The one-on-one opportunity produced exchanges revealing just how competitive and driven Fitzgerald can be.

The interview began with the reporter pressing Fitzgerald to discuss the Bills' problems following successive embarrassing defeats. Fitzgerald deflected the questions until finally explaining why the subject wasn't for him. He said discussing the Bills problems would be like analyzing another person's marriage when his own was also troubled. He called the Cardinals' three-point showing at St. Louis in Week 5 an embarrassment. The game was notable for the pass Fitzgerald dropped, his first drop in more than 150 targets. But that 2004 game, played in the wind and rain, was also central on his mind.

Reporter: "It’s funny, I would not have known this, if not for Twitter, which I am not --"

Fitzgerald, interrupting: "Oh, no, no, don’t remind me, please don’t remind me."

Reporter: "I have to."

Fitzgerald: "No, no, I already know. It was the worst day professionally of my career, up there at Ralph Wilson Stadium. We don’t even need to talk about it."

Reporter: [laughing]

Fitzgerald: "We know already what you’re going to ask me, so let’s just -- you know how you were in trouble when you come home with your dad and you already know what you did wrong, he knows what you did wrong? 'Dad, look, I messed up, I apologize, I am going to apologize before you even say it.' "

Reporter: "Larry, it was eight years ago. Come on."

Fitzgerald: "It still eats at me."

Reporter: "Does it really?"

Fitzgerald: "It still bothers the heck out of me. Absolutely. I’m a professional. It would be like you going out and writing a bad column. You take pride in what you do, right?"

Reporter: "Sure I do."

Fitzgerald: "I take a lot of pride in what I do. I worked nine years tirelessly to make sure that never happens again."

Reporter: "Well you’ve done a pretty good job. To whip out another stat, what was it, 159 balls that came your way without a drop? That is --"

Fitzgerald, interrupting: "Oh, man, you see, you’re bringing up another sore subject with me."

Reporter: "No, that’s a compliment."

Fitzgerald: "That is not. That is a lack of concentration, a lack of focus and a lack of execution on my part. I’m better than that. I need to play at a high level, especially if I want this offense to be as good as I know we’re capable of being. Me as the leader of this offense, I have to perform at the highest level in practice, in the game, in my preparation. I have to be a leader by example."

Reporter: "Larry --"

Fitzgerald, continuing: "I take a lot of pride in that."

Reporter: "That was one play. Well, I guess that explains a little bit about why you are successful."

The reporter then asked Fitzgerald if he recalled the most productive day the receiver had ever enjoyed in high school or college. Athletes tend to remember such things, and Fitzgerald recalled three 200-yard games he had while at Pitt. He couldn't recall his exact stats for an Oct. 18, 2003 game against Rutgers, but a little Googling produced the following numbers: eight receptions for 207 yards and two scores -- in the first half.

What did Fitzgerald remember about that day? The fact that he went without a catch after halftime, of course.

Reporter: "And that is still bothering you, I assume?"

Fitzgerald: "Absolutely. Absolutely. That was in 2003. If I would have taken care of business in the second half, I probably would have won the Heisman Trophy that year. So I cost myself."

Fitzgerald went on to explain how his greatest gift -- a consuming drive to be the best -- is his greatest weakness. The failures hurt to a greater degree than he can enjoy the successes.

"This is a make-or-break game for us realistically," Fitzgerald said. "We are sitting there at 4-1. We control our own destiny. We have a tough schedule coming ahead with you guys (Buffalo) and Minnesota and San Francisco, and then we have to go to Green Bay. This is one of the toughest stretches of our season and it's going to define us as a ball club."
The Texans' first unofficial depth chart, released in advance of their preseason opener at Carolina on Saturday, contains no huge surprises.

Teams generally defer, at this stage, to the veteran over the rookie -- if not in the rotation or play time, at least on paper.

Here are a few items of note:
Wide receivers Vincent Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Reggie Wayne, Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal, Laurent Robinson, Josh Morgan, Eric Weems and Harry Douglas have found new homes after hitting the NFL's free-agent market.

Franchise tags essentially removed from consideration Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker and DeSean Jackson.

Others, such as Marques Colston, re-signed before free agency.

Teams still searching for help at the position -- that would be pretty much everyone but Seattle in the NFC West -- are left with a picked-over group of free agents.

Jerome Simpson, Burress, Brandon Lloyd, Legedu Naanee, Devin Aromashodu, Roy Williams, Mario Manningham and Early Doucet are the only ones remaining to have played at least half of their team's offensive snaps during the 2011 season.

As the chart shows, Burress was particularly effective in the red zone for the New York Jets. He converted first downs 38 times in 45 receptions for the third-highest percentage among wide receivers with at least 40 receptions, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Burress is also up there in age. He's among 12 available wideouts already in their 30s: Hines Ward (36), Burress (34), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (34), Kevin Curtis (33), Patrick Crayton (32), Deion Branch (32), Rashied Davis (32), Donte Stallworth (31), Jerheme Urban (31), Bryant Johnson (31), Lloyd (30) and Williams (30).

Of them, Lloyd has visited the San Francisco 49ers.

Nine more are 29 years old: Greg Camarillo, Keary Colbert, Mark Clayton, Jerricho Cotchery, Roscoe Parrish, Michael Clayton, Courtney Roby, Michael Spurlock and Braylon Edwards.

Still interested?

OK, let's check out 18 others, all younger than 29: David Anderson, Legedu Naanee, Devin Aroshamodu, Donnie Avery, Anthony Gonzalez, Maurice Stovall, Derek Hagan, Mike Sims-Walker, Ted Ginn Jr., Andre Caldwell, Steve Smith, Doucet, Brett Swain, Chaz Schilens, Simpson, Manningham, Devin Thomas and Kevin Ogletree.

Schilens visited Arizona and San Francisco. Manningham visited the 49ers and the St. Louis Rams.

I've also broken down the available wideouts by drafted round:
  • First: Williams, Burress, Ginn, Stallworth, both Claytons, Johnson, Gonzalez and Edwards
  • Second: Avery, Thomas, Simpson, Smith, Parrish, Branch, Colbert
  • Third: Roby, Doucet, Hagan, Stovall, Manningham, Caldwell, Curtis, Sims-Walker, Ward
  • Fourth: Cotchery, Lloyd
  • Fifth: Legedu Naanee
  • Sixth: none
  • Seventh: Houshmandzadeh, Crayton, Schilens, Aromashodu, Anderson, Swain
  • Undrafted: Davis, Urban, Camarillo, Spurlock, Ogletree

Only a handful of the available receivers project as starters. None would qualify as an outright game-breaker.

The Rams in particular need playmakers, but in looking at what is available, how many would qualify as dramatically better than what they already have? Austin Pettis, Brandon Gibson, Danario Alexander, Dominique Curry, Greg Salas and restricted free agent Danny Amendola are their current wideouts.
Early thoughts on the Texans scheduled to become unrestricted free agents come March 13, with thanks to Mac’s Football Blog, where you can find complete team-by-team lists that include exclusive rights and restricted free agents.

Running back Derrick Ward -- A third-stringer who has good experience and could be important if Arian Foster is lured away with an offer sheet as a restricted free agent.

Tight end Joel Dreessen -- Though largely underrated from the outside, he’s been a nice contributor and certainly has value for the Texans.

OG Mike Brisiel -- A solid starter they’d surely like to keep in order for their very good offensive line to remain intact.

C Chris Myers -- A very valuable cog in the machine and a great system fit, he may have been the best center in the NFL in 2011.

Wide receiver Bryant Johnson -- He was a non-factor as the team’s fourth receiver and they need to upgrade the spot.

Linebacker Tim Dobbins -- Played well when he got on the field, but may find better opportunity elsewhere.

Outside linebacker/defensive end Mario Williams -- If the Texans can’t lock him up before March 13, he will become the biggest prize of the free-agent class. It would be a huge accomplishment to find a way to re-sign him.

Cornerback Jason Allen -- He’s been a virtual “co-starter” with Kareem Jackson and has typically outplayed him. But based on this list, he’s not close to a priority.

Kicker Neil Rackers -- Rackers has been a steady guy for the Texans, who surely would like to keep him rather than shopping for a replacement.

Also UFAs:
James CaseyThomas B. Shea/Getty ImagesVersatile James Casey, left, and the Texans showed off their depth Sunday against the Titans.
HOUSTON -- The Texans sought to restore order and momentum in their season finale, while avoiding any more of the injury misfortune that’s beset them all season long.

Despite suffering a 23-22 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Reliant Stadium, the team seemed to achieve those goals and is now ready to turn to its first postseason. As the No. 3 seed, the Texans will host the Cincinnati Bengals.

“Nobody’s disappointed,” said receiver Andre Johnson, who estimated he played 15 snaps as he worked back from a hamstring injury. “Of course we wanted to win the game. We didn’t come out on top, but there is next week. Some teams don’t have next week. We have next week.”

“Those first couple drives, we kind of had that swagger back a little bit,” said quarterback T.J. Yates, who left the game with a bruise of his non-throwing shoulder in the first quarter. “Everybody was aggressive, flying around, very talkative on the sideline. It felt like we were back to normal out there.”

A postseason appearance is definitely not normal for the Texans. Houston has an NFL playoff game for the first time since 1993.

Here are some things we learned along the way on Week 17’s game between the division’s two best teams:

Texans fullback James Casey remains a weapon: He’s not your standard fullback. The converted tight end started the Texans' first five games, then missed a couple with a chest injury and never got back ahead of the more traditional Lawrence Vickers.

But Casey’s really more of a pass-catcher than a blocker by nature, and the Titans did poorly in figuring out how to stop him from getting free for seven receptions on seven targets for a team-high 91 yards.

Casey helped get the Texans in range for one of Neil Rackers’ field goals with a brilliant catch, keeping the ball in the air with a left-handed tip before diving to collect it.

“We were lining up in different formations with different personnel, and as a defense it’s kind of hard to understand exactly what we’re going to do,” Casey said. “Because we’re not just doing base things. We’re motioning all over the place. They don’t know if I’m fullback or tight end. It’s tough sometimes for them to set their blitzes or their coverage. Hopefully you can get guys out of spots, out of gaps in the run game and out of their zones in the pass game and try to take advantage of that.”

Next week, with Johnson playing full time and Owen Daniels and Arian Foster back in the lineup, odds are Casey qualifies as only the fourth- or fifth-best receiving option when he’s on the field.

“James has some crazy hands,” Johnson said. “He’s probably the guy I’ve seen make the most one-handed catches. His hands are very, very good, I think he has the best hands on this team. I don’t know who has the best in the league, but I think he’s right up there.”

The Texans are quite deep: Typically a team that scratches key starters like Foster, Daniels and cornerback Johnathan Joseph for a game that doesn’t have great meaning, is willing to yield some. Especially if it doesn’t jump out to a lead.

And the Texans have proven all season they have quality depth, as they’ve replaced defensive end Mario Williams, quarterbacks Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart, punter Brett Hartmann and linebacker Daryl Sharpton, and played stretches without Johnson, safety Danieal Manning and guard Mike Brisiel.

Sunday as they rested some guys and pulled others early, they called on even more depth.

Beyond Casey, the Texans got solid contributions from a lot of role players like receiver Bryant Johnson, running back Derrick Ward and linebackers Tim Dobbins and Bryan Braman, along with quarterback Jake Delhomme.

“It says we have quality players all across this locker room,” Foster said. “We have guys that can play.”

Said Titans receiver Nate Washington: “This is a new Texans team that they take pride in. Even their backups come in there and they are playing hard. They’re going to make plays. We have to find a better way to close out those games.”

One piece of depth they were missing: a center behind Chris Myers who could make a quality shotgun snap in the clutch. The Texans could have won it with a 2-point conversion at the end, but guard Thomas Austin put the shotgun snap over Delhomme’s head at the end of the game. Kubiak said Austin had snapped enough that it shouldn’t have been an issue.

Kubiak understands a “meaningless” game: He’s never been a playoff head coach before, but he’s been part of a lot of good teams. That’s why he didn’t hesitate after Bryant Johnson’s 5-yard touchdown reception with 14 second left to keep his offense on the field for a 2-point try.

Even after Joel Dreessen’s false start, Kubiak stuck with it.

He wanted a win, sure, but he wanted overtime even less.

It was a smart call and the right call, even if Tennessee defensive end Derrick Morgan didn’t agree.

“I understand they want to get the game over with, but after they false started and they still went for 2, I was like, ‘Wow,’” he said. “That’s a slap in the face. But they botched the snap, so whatever.”

Considering Avery versus Mason

October, 12, 2011
Let’s stop this before the volume gets too high.

Many Titans fans are pouting this morning, suggesting that their team should have traded for receiver Derrick Mason, who was acquired by the Texans last night in a trade with the Jets that could send a seventh-round draft pick to New York.

The Titans signed Donnie Avery after Kenny Britt went down and have used him very little so far.

Look, these are different teams with different needs who sought different things.

The Titans lost Britt for the year. Their intention was to move their young players up, so they can finally get a verdict on Damian Williams and Lavelle Hawkins. They were looking for a fourth guy who might challenge for time after he got comfortable, and a guy with speed.

That’s Avery.

The Texans lost Andre Johnson, probably for three games, and decided they could use an additional veteran presence.

While the Titans have young guys they like and want to give a chance, the Texans started off thin at receiver. They don't have guys who've been waiting who they think have promise.

They know exactly what they do have in Kevin Walter (a reliable guy who can’t always separate), Jacoby Jones (an unreliable guy who can separate), Bryant Johnson (a late addition who's not a big answer) and David Anderson (a guy they were willing to part with at cut time.)

Adding Mason makes a lot more sense for the Texans than for the Titans.

Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. says Mason and Avery “couldn’t be any more extreme” in the possession versus speed regard.

“Mason is very reliable, but only a short-to-intermediate player,” he said. “Avery is extremely hit or miss, but when he hits, he hits big with blazing speed.”

The Titans want to be younger and faster. Mason wouldn’t have helped in either regard. They are riding with their kids and hoping they ultimately get more hit than miss with Avery.

The Texans need depth, and they got a reliable veteran.
With Andre Johnson expected to miss three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury against the Steelers, will the balance of power shift atop the AFC South?

The three-game stretch the Texans will play without him would be tough even with him: against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, at the Baltimore Ravens Oct. 16 and at the Tennessee Titans Oct. 23.

Houston has weapons even without the top receiver in the game. But defenses are likely to devote more resources to stopping running back Arian Foster. Jacoby Jones needs to be the big-play threat. Kevin Walter is the other starter, while Bryant Johnson will be third.

The primary threat in the passing game should be tight end Owen Daniels. Fullback James Casey, a tight end at heart, and tight end Joel Dreessen are also threats in the passing game.

So quarterback Matt Schaub will have plenty of options. It’s just that none of them bring the combination of size, speed and strength of Johnson, who went down untouched against the Steelers, clutching the back of his leg.

If the Texans could have picked a three-game stretch to be without Johnson, this wouldn’t be it.

How many games do you think they’ll win without him?
HOUSTON -- Andre Johnson will have an MRI Sunday night, but the tone of the Houston Texans after their win over the Steelers seemed to be one of relief.

“All I can tell you right now is we think it’s hamstring-related,” coach Gary Kubiak said of the non-contact injury suffered in the second quarter. “It’s in the lower leg. We will go and get an MRI and stuff this evening… Obviously we have to find out what’s going on with Andre.”

Kubiak said the way Johnson went down scared him.

If the Texans are without Johnson for a time, the guy in the locker room echoed the message of their coach: Everyone else will have to do a bit more.

“We lost the big guy right now, hopefully he’ll be back soon,” right tackle Eric Winston said. “But things don’t change. We run the ball, we play-action pass, we go put up points and that’s all that matters.”

The Texans have Jacoby Jones and Kevin Walter as their top wide receiver options after Johnson, and veteran Bryant Johnson is likely to become involved in the rotation.

“Bryant Johnson, there is a reason we brought him in here,” Winston said. “He looks the part, he’s played the part a little bit when he’s gotten in and now’s the time for him to step up…

"Obviously we’re going to see some bigger fronts, more eight-man fronts [to stop Arian Foster]. But that’s all right. That’s going to give Jacoby Jones some more chances to make big plays down the field. Everyone’s got to do a little bit more now.”

The Texans have played 13 games without Johnson since he was their first-round draft pick in 2003. They are 5-8 without him.
HOUSTON -- Andre Johnson went down untouched after a second-quarter reception for the Texans against the Steelers, writhing in pain and holding the back of his right knee.

After trainers attended to him, he got up and left the field under his own power.

He paused briefly in the bench area, then walked with team personnel to the locker room, moving slowly and with the injured leg staying stiff.

Jacoby Jones and Kevin Walter are now working as the top two Texans’ receivers and Houston throws a bunch to tight end Owen Daniels.

Bryant Johnson is the only other active wide receiver. David Anderson was a pregame scratch.

The Texans have a 10-0 lead on Pittsburgh.

Houston Texans cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
Click here for a complete list of Houston Texans’ roster moves.

Surprise moves: After cutting rookie punter Brett Hartmann last week, the team cut veteran Brad Maynard. The Texans do not have a punter. One fan quickly joked that a high-powered offense doesn’t intend to punt. But the Texans clearly have their eye on someone and will be adding a punter in the next couple of days. They've left a roster spot open for him. Fifth-round safety Shiloh Keo, a Wade Phillips favorite who was supposed to be a special teams demon, didn’t make it. Raw, undrafted outside linebacker Bryan Braman did make it.

No-brainers: Deciding Steve Slaton was one of their best 53 players and keeping four running backs seemed prudent to me. Deciding Trindon Holliday wasn’t going to help as a return man or receiver makes sense too.

What’s next: The team has only Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones and newcomer Bryant Johnson at receiver and could be looking for a fifth option, thought their pass catching tight ends ease the concern. Houston is thin on the offensive line, too.

Not much to take out of Texans' loss

September, 2, 2011
We could pretend a lot of things about the Texans during Thursday night’s 28-0 preseason loss in Minnesota.

Like, for example, that Christian Ponder's eight carries for 61 yards indicates some deficiency in Houston’s ability to defend a running quarterback.

But who are we kidding? Of the 22 starters listed in the NFL’s official game book, none should be in the starting lineup on Sept. 11 against the Colts.

On a night when everyone in the division played, no one put less into it than the Texans.

There is little to interpret here, except maybe jostling by guys looking to solidify backup roles and late impressions by third-stringers on the fringe.

It was good that Matt Leinart had an efficient outing, though Matt Schaub's backup was with backups against backups. Three completions to newly added receiver Bryant Johnson were nice, as he looks like he could upgrade the team at No. 4 receiver.

Other than that, let’s say the Texans had a very impressive three-game preseason and a nice night off for their starters.

Preseason finale storylines

September, 1, 2011
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.

Scramble'11: Day 1 thoughts

July, 26, 2011
I'm continuing to get my head around the Minnesota Vikings' reported pursuit of quarterback Donovan McNabb, which to this point qualifies as the biggest NFC North development on Day 1 of the 2011 free agent market. We've also discussed issues from Matthew Stafford's swagger to Aaron Rodgers' free agent wish list, and I'm sure there will be much more to come.

For now, let's review in rapid-fire fashion a number of other developments that merit comment but maybe not their own blog post:

Item: Former Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson agreed to terms with the Seattle Seahawks, where he will reunite with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
Comment: Someone in the Seahawks' building clearly wants someone else to win the starting job, be it Charlie Whitehurst or Matt Leinart. As much as I respect Jackson as a person, I don't see him as an NFL starter -- and neither do many other people in the league.

Item: The Vikings agreed to terms receiver Devin Aromashodu, formerly of the Chicago Bears, to a one-year contract.
Comment: Aromashodu isn't a possible replacement for Sidney Rice or even Bernard Berrian, should he be released. Aromashodu remains an intriguing big target who had a career game against the Vikings in 2009, catching seven passes for 150 yards and a game-winning touchdown. Opponents don't forget games like that.

Item: Free agent receiver Santana Moss agreed to terms with the Washington Redskins.
Comment: Send your condolences to Bears receiver Devin Hester, who publicly lobbied the team to sign Moss.

Item: The Bears have interest in free agent receiver Brad Smith, according to's Michael C. Wright.
Comment: Smith offers a bigger look than the rest of the Bears' receivers and could also return kickoffs following the expected departure of Danieal Manning. Bring him on.

Item: The Bears want free agent linebacker Nick Roach to return as a backup, according to's Jeff Dickerson.
Comment: That means the Bears still need a starter at strong-side linebacker. They are interested in Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Justin Durant, according to

Item: The Detroit Lions will release receiver Bryant Johnson, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Comment: It wouldn't have made sense to bring Johnson to training camp after drafting Titus Young as the likely No. 3 receiver. That gives a player many of you have asked about, Derrick Williams, a fighting chance to make the team as a No. 4 receiver.

Item: The Vikings have told defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy he won't return in 2011, according to Kennedy's Twitter feed.
Comment: Cross off another candidate to start at defensive tackle if free agent Pat Williams signs elsewhere and during Kevin Williams' expected four-game suspension.

Item: The Bears are the only NFC North team to release a list of undrafted free agents they have signed.
Comment: All 26 names are published over at for your enjoyment.

Item: And today will be better than yesterday.
Comment: That's my friend Buster Olney's signature blog sign-off. I like it.