NFL Nation: Jamie Winborn
Chris Johnson and the Titans’ run blocking: All sort of explanations are rolling in, and some in Nashville are even asking for more Javon Ringer carries. That’s craziness. But Fisher had said the run game isn’t operating as it should be and with that being the case the Titans really have issues. The line needs to block better and Johnson needs to be decisive. He tweeted a pledge for a big October.
Colts safeties: Antoine Bethea is an excellent player. But he’s like to be stretched thin with the team’s three best options aside from him -- Bob Sanders, Melvin Bullitt and Jamie Silva -- all out now. The Colts are hoping for a late-season return from Sanders. In the meantime, their options on the roster are inexperienced DaJuan Morgan and rookie Brandon King, a converted corner who’s had a hamstring issue. Matt Cassel may not be able to take advantage of that, but I suspect Donovan McNabb and Matt Schaub will.
Jamie Winborn, Titans linebacker: He’s been workmanlike and serviceable as a fill-in, but the dynamic Gerald McRath returns from his four-game suspension this week. The Titans should plug him directly back into the lineup and hash out what they will do when they decide to use nickel personnel. But Jeff Fisher’s already spoken of the expectation of rust on McRath, which might mean Winborn retains a part time role for a bit.
Troy Nolan, Texans safety: The second-year safety had two picks in Oakland in his first action on defense, which prompted Gary Kubiak to pledge more playing time for him. I think Eugene Wilson qualifies as a weak spot for the defense and even if healthy, the team should stick with Nolan and give him a chance to be part of this young defensive backfield that’s trying to grow up quickly together.
Josh Scobee, Jaguars kicker: He doesn’t rank high on the scoring list, but he’s extended a great preseason into the regular season and four games in he hasn’t even attempted a FG from under 44 yards. He’s connected from 45, 44, 48, 51 and 59 for the Jaguars so far this season.
Biggest surprises: Running back Samkon Gado ran ahead of LeGarrette Blount since he was added, but Gado lost out to the unproven rookie. Tight end Sean Ryan seemed like he’d stick as insurance for Craig Stevens, whose role is now quite important and who’s had concussion issues in the past. But the Titans parted ways with Ryan. Veteran cornerback Tye Hill was surprised he was let go, according to The Tennessean. Jeff Fisher says teams need at least four corners. If you count nickelback Vincent Fuller, a safety, in the equation the numbers are OK. But otherwise unproven Ryan Mouton is fourth.
No-brainers: Chris Simms often looked confused and flustered in preseason action, and it became clear that the Titans would stick with Kerry Collins as the veteran backup to Vince Young while looking to develop rookie Rusty Smith for down the road. Collins can run the scout team at practice and step in with no practice work if and when he’s needed, and Smith’s got a lot of good qualities, including a nice arm and swagger.
What’s next: The Titans will probably look for help at linebacker, where Gerald McRath’s four-game suspension is underway, and the primary alternative, Collin Allred, has not been durable lately. Could they pursue Oakland’s Thomas Howard in a trade? The depth right now beyond Stephen Tulloch, Will Witherspoon and Allred is Jamie Winborn, Stanford Keglar and long snapper Ken Amato. With receiver Paul Williams finally gone, Keglar can be the guy fans wonder about still being around.
The second corner: Alterraun Verner challenging Jason McCourty for the second cornerback spot. They should both get extensive action since Cortland Finnegan won’t play. Carolina quarterbacks have been miserable so far, though. The Titans would probably like to see Matt Moore and the backups do more to test the secondary so they have something to judge.
Flashes from Damian Williams: He was reliable but hardly spectacular in his first preseason game Monday night. The Titans need the rookie returner to be more decisive and break off a chunk or two. If he can do it against the Panthers’ front-line coverage teams, it would boost the team's confidence that it has a return man, and he could separate him from Marc Mariani.
Plays from linebackers: It would be good to see a solid effort from a linebacker not named Gerald McRath, Stephen Tulloch or Will Witherspoon. McRath is going to be out the first four games. Now would be a great time for Colin Allred, Jamie Winborn or even Rennie Curran or Mike Rivera to have a big game that shouts “I’m your man” to Tennessee’s coaches.
They started with what seemed like a promising hand. They placed a significant amount of chips toward the center and stuck it out even when the hand appeared less promising. They finally realized there was little sense in folding based on how much they had already invested and how little more they stood to lose.
Quarterback Alex Smith is that once-promising hand. There's little sense in folding at this point. If anything, the odds for success improved after Smith finished last season with 18 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions playing basically half the season.
But what if the 49ers could ditch this hand in favor of a more proven one? What if the price were not prohibitive? What if they could acquire Donovan McNabb from the Eagles for, say, a second-round choice in the 2010 draft?
The 49ers already have two first-round choices. They could draft the offensive tackle they need and still get a potential starter at another position. The Eagles already have an extra third-round choice. An additional second-rounder would leave them with five choices in the first three rounds, tied with the Browns for the most in the league.
Let's look at this deal from an NFC West perspective. Would the Cardinals, Seahawks and Rams rather face the 49ers with McNabb or the 49ers with Smith and whichever player San Francisco drafted in the second round? I think they'd rather take their chances with Smith and the 2010 second-rounder.
Take a look at the last 10 players the 49ers have drafted in the second round: Chilo Rachal, David Baas, Justin Smiley, Shawntae Spencer, Anthony Adams, Jamie Winborn, John Engelberger, Jason Webster, Jeremy Newberry and Marc Edwards.
Some became good players. None could affect games the way good quarterbacks affect games.
Some Eagles fans are tired of McNabb. They think Philadelphia has gotten as far as McNabb can take them. They're ready for a change. The 49ers can have no such complaints. They haven't been a playoff team since 2002. They would gladly "settle" for multiple playoff appearances and a quarterback with a 92-49-1 (.651) regular-season starting record, according to Pro Football Reference.
1. Reggie Nelson, Jaguars FS: Featured here before, he hurt the Jaguars’ chances at being the team to beat Indianapolis on Thursday with his misplay on Reggie Wayne’s 65-yard touchdown catch that put Indy ahead. Nelson was pretty good as a rookie after he was the 21st pick in 2007. But his second and third years have been a disappointment. Perhaps addressing his spot in the offseason will wind up ranking on the priority list.
2. Texans run game: It’s the blocking, it’s the backs, it’s the play calling, it’s everything. Arian Foster, the newest guy to get a chance, fumbled an early catch and saw minimal time. In the second consecutive game against a bad NFC West team, the Texans could not seize control by running with any consistency. A week after AFC South rival Tennessee averaged 5.3 yards a carry in a thrashing of the Rams, Houston managed a 2.2 average.
3. Titans veteran linebackers: The Titans lost both of their outside linebackers for the season. The durable Keith Bulluck tore the ACL in his left knee and will see a starting streak of 127 games end. David Thornton, who’s been dealing with a shoulder injury, was also shelved and will have surgery.
Rookie Gerald McRath can play. But the other spot and a pairing of inexperienced outside backers McRath and Colin Allred or Stanford Keglar or newly signed veteran Jamie Winborn could be a big issue.
1. Daniel Muir, Colts DT: The position was considered a big weakness in 2008, but the top three interior defensive linemen right now were on the team last year. Second-round draft pick Fili Moala was supposed to add size and impact, but Muir has filled that role.
The 312-pounder is averaging over seven tackles a game in his last six, including 10 at Jacksonville. Offenses are averaging 3.9 yards a carry in that span, an improved number for Indy.
2. Justin Gage, Titans WR: Gage’s big leaping catch in San Francisco in Week 9 ended with a crash that broke bones in his lower back. He missed four games and is now playing as the third receiver. He hardly got wide open for his two touchdown catches against the Dolphins, but when Vince Young put up perfect passes for him, he pulled them both in. If Gage plays like that, and Nate Washington holds on to the ball, those two and impressive rookie Kenny Britt could be the team’s best receiving trio in some time.
3. Gerald Alexander, Jaguars SS: Helping offset Nelson’s poor play is a summer trade acquisition. The Jaguars got Alexander from Detroit in exchange for receiver Dennis Northcutt on June 30. In his past three games, he has an interception, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He’s looking like a guy who could be part of a long-term answer.
The Bills already had plenty of needs entering free agency and gave themselves another, cutting left guard Derrick Dockery. The Bills hosted several players but inked just two: Center Geoff Hangartner and backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Among the players they entertained at One Bills Drive were receivers Laveranues Coles and Kelley Washington, so you can see what they're after. Both of those free agents still are in play, as are almost all of their other unsigned interviewees: Guard Kendall Simmons, linebacker Jamie Winborn and cornerback Drayton Florence. Running back Fred Taylor was the only one so far who dropped by but signed elsewhere.
That's quite a variety of positions, every broad category except tight end, defensive line and kicker. So who might the Bills want from the remaining free-agent pool? Drop a name, and if the Bills can work out a bargain contract, then the answer probably is yes.
The Dolphins were busy in the days leading up to free agency. They re-signed right tackle Vernon Carey, linebacker Channing Crowder and strong safety Yeremiah Bell, and welcomed free safety Gibril Wilson. In January they grabbed Canadian Football League phenom Cameron Wake. Not bad.
Once free agency began at 12:01 a.m. Friday, the Dolphins mostly sat back and watched. They entertained one visitor and signed him, reserve interior lineman Joe Berger. It looks like they're intent on spackling with draft picks.
But the Dolphins found another hole to fill Sunday. Their starting right cornerback, Andre' Goodman, jumped to the Denver Broncos. If they wanted to find Goodman's replacement through free agency, the top candidates are Leigh Bodden, Shawn Springs, Chris McAlister, Bryant McFadden and Jabari Greer.
The Patriots made some major moves since the free-agency period opened. They added Taylor and tight end Chris Baker, and re-signed safety James Sanders. Oh, and they cleared about $19 million in salary-cap space by trading quarterback Matt Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs.
But the lingering need is cornerback, same as it has been since Asante Samuel departed around this time last year. Possibilities include the same as the Dolphins: They already have hosted Bodden and will host Springs.
Didn't the Jets do enough over the weekend? They landed one of the top free agents on the market, inside linebacker Bart Scott. They traded for cornerback Lito Sheppard. They seem to have the inside track on safety Jim Leonhard and might have cornerback Corey Ivy in their back pocket.
The Jets do have needs, but maybe nothing left to address in free
agency. Quarterback is the obvious concern, but management has insisted the three already on their roster will compete. They also are down a receiver after Coles negotiated his way off the team a year early.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
The fact that Denver has cut five defensive starters in the past couple of days may appear more drastic than it really is.
|Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images|
|Less than a year after acquiring Dewayne Robertson from the Jets, the Broncos discarded the former first-round draft pick.|
Yes, replacing at least five starters is no easy task. But the truth is the new Denver regime can't wait to do it. The team needs a huge facelift on defense.
It began this week when the team waved goodbye to starters Dre' Bly (cornerback), Dewayne Robertson (defensive tackle), Jamie Winborn (linebacker), Marquand Manuel (safety) and John Engelberger (defensive end). Only Bly and Robertson could have conceivably been part of the makeover, but both were high-priced and neither made much of an impact last season.
So they're out.
There is more change to come. Outside linebacker Boss Bailey, who is injured, could be a candidate to be cut. Starters Ebenezer Ekuban (defensive end), Nate Webster (linebacker) and Marlon McCree (safety) are free agents and are not expected to return.
But again, many of these players were starters in 2008 because the team had no other choice.
Under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan -- the former San Francisco head coach and longtime assistant -- the Broncos are moving toward becoming a 3-4 defense. Few of the above-mentioned players fit in the new scheme.
Pass-rush specialist Elvis Dumervil should have a place on the defense and could be moved to linebacker from defensive end. Young defensive linemen Marcus Thomas and Jarvis Moss (the team's first-round pick in 2007) will likely get a chance to play in the new scheme.
Thomas has been fairly productive the past two years and has a chance to be a good player. Moss has been a major disappointment, but he has natural pass-rush skills so there's hope he could flourish in the new system.
Young linebackers Wesley Woodyard and Spencer Larsen may get a chance to fit in the 3-4 attack. Woodyard, an undrafted free agent signed last season, is a natural playmaker and was a tackling machine last year. Larsen, a sixth-round pick last season, is a hard-nosed, versatile player. Still, there will be new competition for both.
Other than Bailey, the Broncos will likely be looking for help in the secondary.
Expect Denver to try to get at least two defensive linemen, at least one linebacker and three new defensive backs through free agency, trades and the draft. While big names such as defensive end Julius Peppers and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth will be tempting, the Broncos may opt to target several more reasonably priced free agents than one big-ticket item because of their numerous needs on defense.
Whatever happens, the change is going to be drastic. The release of five starters this week only begins the sea change on Denver's defense.
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