NFL Nation: Clifton Dawson
|Bill Baptist/Getty Images|
|A healthy Chris Brown could be a big plus for Houston.|
Training camp site: Houston, Texas
Campfires: Weakside linebacker appears to be the biggest battle for a starting spot. Xavier Adibi has bulked up in an effort to become more rugged and withstand the 16-game pounding. Zach Diles appears to be an underdog here, as does veteran Cato June, who signed up after spending time in Indianapolis and Tampa Bay.
Finding a back to complement Steve Slaton is a big priority, but the Texans didn't spend much to increase their options. A healthy Chris Brown could do well in the role, but Houston is living on the edge if it's counting on 16 games from him. Undrafted rookies Jeremiah Johnson and Arian Foster are in the mix along with Ryan Moats and Clifton Dawson
Camp will be a downer if: Anything bad happens to Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson or Slaton. This is an offensive team keyed around that trio, and the loss of any of them for any extended time will be a huge setback.
Schaub's been labeled as injury prone, but it's really been more about being unlucky. It's not as if other quarterbacks would have played through some of the things he's faced. Still, Gary Kubiak's talked about how players can learn how to stay on the field, and he needs his signal-caller to do that.
Camp will be a success if: A defensive identity develops under new coordinator Frank Bush, who's pledged to be more aggressive.
The Texans need some preseason success on both sides of the ball to carry into the regular season, because another shaky start will be cause for concern based on the team's history. If Houston is to plot a course to its first playoff berth, it needs to avoid a poor start.
Second time around: Slaton was a revelation as a rookie, and while there is uncertainty about who else will get carries, the line should be better. It's the second year for the group under Alex Gibbs running his scheme, which should mean better and more consistent play.
Additionally, not only does the unit have Gibbs and John Benton as coaching resources, but can look to assistant Bruce Matthews, the Hall of Famer who's now part of the staff.
Training camp site: Terre Haute, Ind.
|Donald Miralle/Getty Images|
|Peyton Manning's receiving corps will be without Marvin Harrison this year.|
icamp, with Hall not generating much buzz.
Returning defensive tackles Keyunta Dawson, Eric Foster, Raheem Brock (an end on early downs) and Antonio Johnson will be fighting for roles at a position that welcomed back Ed Johnson and has two young, thick additions from the draft in Fili Moala and Terrance Taylor. Getting bigger inside while maintaining athleticism was a priority for the Colts.
The plan at linebacker is for Clint Session to play on the weakside and Philip Wheeler to replace him on the strongside. But guys with starting experience like Freddy Keiaho and Tyjuan Hagler will be looking to take the team away from that blueprint.
Camp will be a downer if: Left guard Ryan Lilja, perhaps the team's best run blocker, can't make it back after the knee injury that cost him all of 2008. Trouble on the return path for cornerback Marlin Jackson (knee) would also be a bad thing.
With those injuries, the two surgeries on Manning's knee, a dinged Joseph Addai and a bunch of additional problems for the offensive line, the Colts got to show that they could survive. It's not anything they want to be in position to prove again.
Camp will be a success if: New head coach Jim Caldwell sets an early tone that gives the team no room for doubt about the transfer of power from his mentor, Tony Dungy. The players also must take to the thinking of new defensive coordinator Larry Coyer (a bit more aggressive) and new, fiery special teams coach Ray Rychleski.
It also would be great if Manning develops increased rapport with Anthony Gonzalez, who's graduated to No. 2 receiver with Marvin Harrison gone. Manning also needs to gain a real feel for the guy who wins the battle for No. 3 as well as the young tight ends, Jacob Tamme and Tom Santi.
Off the record: Even with a new coach and changes on his staff, it's unlikely there will be any different emphasis on preseason results. Indianapolis is 3-15 in the preseason over the last four years and 51-13 in the regular seasons that followed.
The Colts have a good feel for how to get ready and don't have to worry about building fan enthusiasm with preseason wins. Everyone knows to look at smaller things early in the game to gauge the team's readiness.
John McClain ponders the finances of the NFL owners' meetings amid an economic downturn.
Alan Burge looks at his top two pictures in Texans' history.
Mario Williams shops Armani, says Clifford Pugh.
Clifton Dawson was let go as the Colts signed Adam Seward, says John Oehser. Indy now has Joseph Addai, Chad Simpson, Lance Ball and Mike Hart as its running backs.
Mike Chappell takes questions.
The Jaguars are taking a close look at Mark Sanchez. Vito Stellino says they don't want to repeat their mistake of 2004, when they passed on Ben Roethlisberger.
Who's the most indispensible Titan? Terry McCormick ponders.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Let's see what's been written around the division this morning.
It's chat day -- here's where to go at 3 p.m. ET.
- Zac Diles is out for the season with a broken leg, writes John McClain.
- The Texans signed snapper Clark Harris to be ready in case Bryan Pittman's suspended, reports McClain.
- Jerome Solomon says the election was a moving experience for the Texans.
- N.D. Kalu leaves the Texans with a lot of respect, from McClain.
- Diles did a lot to help prevent big plays, blogs Megan Manfull.
- Minnesota's Jared Allen denies he went after Matt Schaub's knees.
- The Colts are on pace for the fourth-lowest per-game rushing average in the league since 1970, writes Mike Chappell.
- Kelvin Hayden is expected to miss the Steelers game, but Freddy Keiaho and Dante Hughes should be back, according to Phil Richards.
- Clifton Dawson went on IR and the Colts signed Titans practice squad defensive tackle Antonio Johnson, says Chappell.
- Tony Dungy's got ties to the Steelers, writes Tom James.
- Jack Del Rio sent a bunch of messages Wednesday, according to Vito Stellino.
- Gene Frenette's take on Del Rio's shakeup.
- Matt Jones still hasn't heard anything about his suspension appeal, writes Michael C. Wright.
- Miami linebacker Joey Porter rips Matt Jones, says Wright.
- Kerry Collins is one of this season's feel-good stories, according to Pete Prisco.
- Middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch is making good progress and models himself after Mike Singletary, says Jim Wyatt.
- The Bears are confident in Rex Grossman, writes Gary Estwick.
- A rib injury has Keith Bulluck uncomfortable, according to Wyatt.
- Bulluck and Kyle Vanden Bosch sit out practice, says Terry McCormick.
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