NFL Nation: Javarris James

The Arizona Cardinals were pleased when more than 10,000 fans turned out for their 2009 camp scrimmage, held six months after the team's Super Bowl appearance.

Drawing an estimated 14,500 fans on Saturday appears more impressive after two less inspiring seasons.

The trend is heading in the right direction, for sure.

"Back in 2004, we had to pay people to watch us," receiver Larry Fitzgerald said, according to the team.

The Cardinals could joke after getting through practice with no reported injuries to key players, notably second-year running back Ryan Williams, whose 44-yard run signaled a milestone in his return from a torn patella. Backup Javarris James will miss time after injuring an abductor muscle, further depleting the ranks at running back while Beanie Wells rests his surgically repaired knee. But Williams' continued progress is key.

Williams, one of the Cardinals' most exciting players in camp a year ago when the injury struck him down, passed another test Saturday when he absorbed a hit from strong safety Adrian Wilson and came away OK.

The injury Williams suffered during an exhibition game against Green Bay last Aug. 19 was an unusual one.

Cadillac Williams provides the recent precedent for an NFL running back. He suffered a torn patella during a 2007 game. About 14 months -- 420 days, to be precise -- elapsed before he played in another game. If Ryan Williams followed the same timeline, he would return for an Oct. 14 matchup against Buffalo, 422 days following his injury.

The timetable for Ryan Williams appears ahead of that pace.

Cadillac Williams provides the precedent for an accelerated pace as well. He suffered a second torn patella, this one to the other knee, during the final game of the 2008 season. He returned in time to start the 2009 opener, a span of only 259 days. At that pace, Ryan Williams would have been ready for game action in early May. Instead, he continued to rehab all offseason, participating in minicamps on a limited basis.

Williams has said he hopes to return for Week 1. The Cardinals haven't set a date. I'd be surprised if they hurried him onto the field during the first couple exhibition games.

Note: The Cardinals generally hold their scrimmage later in camp, but with the team playing in the Hall of Fame Game next week, that wasn't feasible. Scrimmaging with only a few practices could explain why the offense seemed sloppy, according to initial reports. Kevin Kolb tossed the only touchdown pass. He also threw two interceptions.
A running list of Saturday cuts around the AFC South so far, per reports from people in the know…


Gholston, McKnight among Jets inactives

January, 8, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS -- Most notable among the scratches for Saturday night's wild-card playoff game between the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts in Lucas Oil Stadium are Colts right tackle Ryan Diem and linebacker Clint Session.

The biggest' names for the Jets (but not earth-shaking surprises) are running back Joe McKnight and defensive end Vernon Gholston.

New York Jets
Indianapolis Colts

Rapid Reaction: Colts 30, Titans 28

December, 9, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Thoughts on the Colts' 30-28 win over the Titans at LP Field.

What it means: The Colts are 7-6 and will win the division if they win their final three games. The Titans are 5-8, lost their sixth in a row and can finish .500 at best.

What I liked: While Peyton Manning still made some poor throws, none of them were killer and none of them were intercepted. Against a bad team, he got back to form with 319 yards and two touchdown passes. The Colts showed some determination to run despite missing their two best backs. Javarris James scored on a 1-yard run and converted a fourth-and-4 with an 11-yard run.

Streak-buster: After 14 quarters without an offensive touchdown, the Titans got a 1-yard scoring run from Chris Johnson at the end of the second quarter and a 7-yard catch-and-lunge for a score by Craig Stevens on the opening possession of the third quarter. They went crazy with a couple Bo Scaife TD catches in the fourth.

Injury concern: Colts left tackle Charlie Johnson suffered a shoulder injury and didn’t return to action, with undrafted rookie Jeff Linkenbach taking over.

Hot topic: The Titans showed a lot more life than they did last Sunday in a loss to Jacksonville, but that won’t quiet the chatter in Nashville about Jeff Fisher's future with the franchise.

What’s next: The Colts host the Jaguars in a crucial division rematch. Tennessee hosts Houston, which will be on short rest following a Monday night game against Baltimore.

Halftime thoughts on Colts-Titans

December, 9, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Halftime thoughts from LP Field where it’s 21-7 Colts over Titans.
  • Donald Brown is not the guy to solve the rushing problems for Indianapolis. Spins in the backfield provide time for defenders to tackle him in the backfield. That’s especially ineffective when it’s losing yards inside the 5-yard line. Javarris James is simple better in the red zone.
  • My understanding of the Titans use of Randy Moss gets worse and worse. He played minimally in that half, and I don’t think he and Kenny Britt were on the field together for a snap. Meanwhile, a drop for Nate Washington and a good bit of action for Justin Gage.
  • Kerry Collins can’t get nearly enough on the ball if he can’t step into it and the pocket rarely holds up. There are quarterbacks in the league who can make quality throws as they retreat. He’s not one of them.
  • Rookie linebackers Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner were in the starting lineup, but the Colts are mixing and matching at linebacker beyond Gary Brackett. Tyjuan Hagler has played a lot. Philip Wheeler’s been out there some too.
  • Two Tennessee giveaways led to two Colts touchdowns -- Dwight Freeney stripped Britt for one, Brett Kern couldn’t pull in a high snap from Ken Amato for a punt and Taj Smith recovered it for the other.
  • Ryan Diem, two false starts. Not good. Manning, no picks, good. Still a couple more bad throws than you’d expect -- one where he missed an open Reggie Wayne on a scramble, one where he had James at the goal line.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Donald Brown starts at running back for the Colts tonight with Joseph Addai and Mike Hart both out, though we’re sure to see some Javarris James and maybe Dominic Rhodes in the first game of his third stint with the franchise.

The Colts have three other subs, who are not surprises: Kavell Conner starts for Clint Session at weakside linebacker, Jacob Lacey starts at left corner for Kelvin Hayden and Justin Tryon starts at left corner for Jerraud Powers, who went on IR this week.

For the Titans Dave Ball (concussion/ hip) is inactive and will be replaced at right end by Jacob Ford.

The whole list of inactives:

Titans: QB Rusty Smith, S Robert Johnson, T Troy Kropog, CB Ryan Mouton, LB David Thornton, DT Sen’Derrick Marks.

Colts: WR Austin Collie, CB Kelvin Hayden, RB Joseph Addai, RB Mike Hart, LB Clint Session, OG Jacques McClendon, DT Ricardo Mathews.

Five things to watch: Colts at Titans

December, 9, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Barring a scoreless overtime, the Colts' appearance at LP Field guarantees that one AFC South team will end a losing streak Thursday night.

As they brace for the first of two head-to-head matchups in the final month of the season, the Colts (6-6) and Titans (5-7) have combined to lose eight straight.

Somebody gets to leave the stadium tonight feeling a lot better. Here are five questions to consider before we see who that is.

1. Will Peyton Manning break out of his funk? He has 11 interceptions in his past three games. But the Titans have only three interceptions during their five consecutive losses. Look for corner Cortland Finnegan to draw the difficult Reggie Wayne assignment, but to have plenty of help as the Titans show themselves more willing to take chances with Pierre Garcon, Jacob Tamme and especially Blair White.

Rookie Alterraun Verner is the second starting corner and will face Manning for the first time, and second-year man Jason McCourty will work in the nickel. McCourty started last season in a loss to the Colts when the Titans gave up 309 passing yards and three passing touchdowns to Manning with only one pick.

Tennessee has been getting crushed in time of possession -- it hasn’t held the ball for 21 minutes in its past two losses. Manning will be content to take what’s given and string together long drives if he can.

2. Who’s playing in the Colts' secondary? The Colts' starting cornerbacks are out -- Jerraud Powers is finished for the season after surgery to repair a broken forearm and Kelvin Hayden is not recovered from a neck injury. That means Jacob Lacey and Justin Tryon are in line to work as the top two corners with rookie Cornelius Brown as the nickel.

The Titans have hardly been slinging it. They haven’t scored an offensive touchdown since Nov. 21. But Kerry Collins will have receiver Kenny Britt back after a four-game layoff with a hamstring injury and surely Tennessee will finally throw a jump ball to Randy Moss, right?

A drop-off at corner can mean extra strain on safeties Antoine Bethea and Aaron Francisco. Unless, of course, defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are regularly able to hurry Collins and shorten the clock for all the guys in coverage.

3. How many catches will Tamme have? While the tight end has been productive, he’s not Dallas Clark. But the Titans' defense has given up significant yardage to tight ends far less talented than Clark this season.

I don’t know that anything has changed for the Titans' linebackers, who are most responsible for those issues, and I look for the Colts to be primed to attack the soft underbelly of the Tennessee defense until Stephen Tulloch or Will Witherspoon or Gerald McRath prove things are any different.

Heck, watch the banged-up Brody Eldridge make a couple of key catches.

4. How much will Indy even try to run it? The Colts would like to show some semblance of balance and some effective runs would help keep the play-action believable -- though everyone seems to bite on it even when they can’t run. It will be interesting to see how coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen deploy Donald Brown, Javarris James and Dominic Rhodes.

“They won’t run on us if we play Titans’ defense, to tell you the truth,” defensive tackle Jovan Haye said. “If we have somewhat of a repeat performance from Sunday, then they will. They utilize it in their offense, but they’re not a big run team. If we play like we did [surrendering 258 rushing yards in the loss to Jacksonville], they’ll run the ball.”

5. Can Chris Johnson get something going? He wants more carries and the Titans are desperate to get him going to help elongate drives, keep the defense off the field and alter the time of possession trend. But last year the Colts didn’t allow him a carry longer than 11 yards in two games while holding him to a 4.1-yard average.

Titans fullback Ahmard Hall said tackle Fili Moala, in his first year starting, and rookie linebacker Pat Angerer have been very effective run-stopping pieces on top of what the Colts had previously.

The Titans need to show a willingness to throw deep to Britt and Moss to keep the Colts honest and buy a bit of extra space and time for Johnson.

“He is an outstanding back with outstanding numbers,” Caldwell said. “I think what happens just like anything else, people get spoiled. He is a talented guy and I think he has been performing well. We have to get ready to handle him because he is a heck of a back.”

Wrap-up: Cowboys 38, Colts 35 (OT)

December, 5, 2010
Thoughts on the Cowboys’ win over the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

What it means: The Colts are at 6-6, in second place in the AFC South, a game plus a tie-breaker behind 7-5 Jacksonville.

What I didn’t like: Four picks by Peyton Manning, two were returned for touchdowns, two turned into field goals. With Dallas scoring 20 points off turnovers, the thinned out Colts simply couldn’t overcome things without a takeaway of their own. Tashard Choice had 100 yards rushing for a career day. The Cowboys had a 217-40 advantage in rushing yards and had eight third down conversions in 15 chances.

What I liked: An awful lot of fight to pull even after trailing 17-0 at the start and by 13 entering the fourth quarter. A ridiculous, 14-catch, 200-yards, one-touchdown day from Reggie Wayne. Two rushing touchdowns from Javarris James. A blocked punt and a resulting touchdown from Taj Smith.

Major gaffe: A leverage penalty against Eric Foster on a late Dallas field-goal attempt in regulation gave the Cowboys a first down and allowed them to ultimately score a go-ahead touchdown and 2-point conversion. The Colts offense bailed Foster out with a giant touchdown drive to force overtime. But they could have been in position to win it.

What’s next: The Colts have a quick turnaround and a Thursday night game in Nashville against the Titans in an AFC South matchup.

Was Collie play officiated correctly?

November, 7, 2010
PHILADELPHIA -- Austin Collie was wheeled off the field, eyes open, but apparently motionless after absorbing a tough hit late in the second quarter of the Colts-Eagles game.

The combo hit on him came from strong safety Quintin Mikell and cornerback Kurt Coleman and was called an incomplete pass.

But it appeared that Collie completed the catch and was protecting the ball as he was hit from the right by Mikell, who was called for unnecessary roughness on a defenseless receiver.

Mikell's hit jolted Collie into Coleman, coming from the left, and their helmets collided.

It was a scary scene as medical personnel and coaches surrounded Collie. Many somber teammates watched from a few yards away on the field on a knee. Bill Polian left his seat in the press box, presumably to go check on things. The team said Collie suffered a concussion but was alert, sitting up in the locker room and had motion.

I thought Collie took a big hit to the head a few plays earlier, too.

Peyton Manning ran to Collie as he was being rolled off the field, orange tape or bands affixing him to a backboard, to say something before returning to action.

Manning then connected on a 33-yard pass to Collie’s replacement, Blair White, setting up Javarris James’ short scoring run.

The Colts got the ball back and managed a 37-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal with three seconds left.

Thoroughly outplayed, they’re up 17-16 at the half.

We’ll update you on Twitter and in our Countdown Live chat when we hear anything more on Collie.
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 8.

[+] EnlargeMike Hart
AP Photo/AJ MastMike Hart stepped in for injured starter Joseph Addai and averaged 7.0 yards on 12 carries.
Sure, we hit on Mike Hart in this piece off the Colts' 30-17 win over Houston.

But he gets a second moment here for his fine work as Joseph Addai's primary fill-in. While Houston's Arian Foster averaged 6.8 yards a carry, Hart was even better with a 7.0 average on his 12 runs. He might have gotten over 100 yards had an ankle injury not knocked him out of the game and he also had three catches for 19 yards.

Going into the game without Addai, one big concern was how Hart and Donald Brown would handle the running back pass-protection duties.

Hart said they fared reasonably well in that department.

“I think we did pretty well. I know for a fact I made one mistake,” he said. “Peyton [Manning] threw hot, I'm definitely going to get yelled at for that [Tuesday]. Besides that, Javarris [James] did a great job. Donald did a great job. I picked up the other blitzes beside one -- three maybe. The only one that matters is the one I missed.”

While he may take heat for that, he'll also get a pat on the back for a fine fill-in effort. An MRI on the ankle will help determine if he'll need to be filled in for next.

Final Word: AFC South

October, 29, 2010
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 8:

Joseph Addai
Win McNamee/Getty ImagesJoseph Addai has played a large role in protecting Peyton Manning.
Blitz pick up: If RB Joseph Addai (shoulder) is out for the Colts against the Texans, Indy loses a big piece of its pass protection. Addai is superb at pickups. Donald Brown, also hurt, is not nearly as good. And Mike Hart and Javarris James have not played enough for us to know. It might be a spot for Houston to try to attack, but can the Texans afford to blitz much considering their coverage issues and Peyton Manning’s tendency to find the open guy?

Yes, they’re the Chargers: The Titans spent the week saying how this Chargers team is not the same one they have lost seven straight to, including a 42-17 pounding in a game the Titans needed to stay in playoff contention on Christmas last season. But they are enough of the same team, and San Diego absolutely has Tennessee’s number. The talented Chargers have lost three in a row, seem overdue and match up well.

Filling multiple roles: The absence of Pat McAfee, the punter who’s suspended for the game, goes beyond him being replaced for a game by Jeremy Kapinos. McAfee is also the kickoff man, and Adam Vinatieri won’t hit them as deep. McAfee is the holder too, so Kapinos or Jacob Tamme or Curtis Painter will replace him there. One bad play by a replacement can really shine the spotlight on his absence, and the alleged drunken canal swim that created the suspension scenario.

Talent gap: The Cowboys are largely regarded as a collection of talented players that has been unable to play well together as a team and thus find themselves at 1-5. They certainly view themselves as more talented than the rebuilding Jaguars, who are struggling but have a 3-4 record that the Cowboys would love to call their own. If Aaron Kampman and the young defensive linemen he’s working with can rattle Jon Kitna, Dallas could sink even further.

Concentrating on their jobs: When Arian Foster ran wild against the Colts on opening weekend, Indianapolis defenders got caught out of their lanes. There was a good deal of over-pursuit and a general lack of discipline. Both teams are coming off a bye. The Colts surely spent time discussing those problems and working on them. The Colts' defense has the people to play much better than it has so far. I suspect the Texans will have to balance things out offensively this time around, something Matt Schaub is fully capable of helping them do.

Thoughts on Bengals 30, Colts 28

September, 2, 2010
Some bullet-point thoughts on the Colts’ 30-28 preseason loss to Cincinnati on Thursday night.
  • The Colts sat 32 players.
  • The kick and punt return candidates didn’t seem to do a whole lot to differentiate themselves. Devin Moore took two punts 4 yards and Brandon James took one punt 2 yards. Those two and Ray Fisher all had averages between 17.5 and 25 yards on kickoffs.
  • James and Tom Brandstater certainly had nice statistical nights, linking up for three touchdowns and a 2-point conversion in the final 20 minutes of the game.
  • Indy gave up a 93-yard touchdown run to Cedric Peerman and didn’t get a run longer than Javarris James’ 12-yarder.
  • Even playing a large share of guys who will be cut by Saturday, the Colts played pretty clean. They committed just three penalties worth 30 yards, while Cincinnati had 11 for 99.




Thursday, 9/18
Sunday, 9/21
Monday, 9/22