NFL Nation: Tim Bulman

It appears the New England Patriots have confidence in second-year tailbacks Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. The team proved it Wednesday by cutting veteran running back Joseph Addai.

The Patriots signed Addai this offseason to add veteran stability to a young group. Ridley and Vereen will be joined back backup Danny Woodhead in New England's backfield this season. Ridley and Vereen will compete for the starting job.

Releasing Addai was one of three roster moves the Patriots made before training camp. They also signed defensive lineman Tim Bulman and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe.
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:

Turner, Jones will play against Texans

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
11:58
AM ET
HOUSTON -- The Texans’ defense won’t get any major help from injuries today.

Atlanta running back Michael Turner and receiver Julio Jones, who both came into the game as questionable, will play Sunday at Reliant Stadium.

Houston will need to slow both and have a solid defensive effort to maximize the chances for rookie quarterback T.J. Yates to guide the Texans to their sixth consecutive win.

Turner is a load, and sure tackling with quick-arriving support will be a necessity.

The Falcons are without two of their top four cornerbacks in Brent Grimes and Kelvin Hayden, which could mean increased opportunity for Yates to connect with Andre Johnson. Dominique Franks will start at left corner for Grimes.

The full inactives lists:

Texans
Falcons
HOUSTON -- Arrived at Texans practice about halfway through. I thought I’d start out with some straight observational sharing.

1) I watched the offensive and defensive line one-on-ones from a tough angle.
And the highlight for me: Brooks Reed vs. Eric Winston. Reed quickly got inside Winston on the first snap. Then he did it again though he had to go wider. And against Newton, he got steered out real wide, wide enough that he probably couldn’t have recovered to make a play.

Reed’s clearly super-fast off the edge. (Sidenote: He’s got relatively skinny legs. Calves anyway.) On the second snap against Winston, I wondered if he went wide enough that even a clean run might take him too long to get to the quarterback, allowing for the ball to come out. Still, forcing a quick pass with such pressure is a victory.

2) Brian Cushing, who’s been out of action for most of camp as he recovered from knee surgery, was part of team drills. In the very first snap of 11 vs. 11 work I saw, he edged up to the line and weaved his way through the middle very quickly and cleanly, slicing through the line in a way he would have had a pretty good shot at Matt Schaub in a live situation.

3) Schaub found Kevin Walter with a bomb up the right side that fell incomplete only because Kareem Jackson had a handful of Walter’s jersey to prevent him from catching up to it. Jackson made no real effort to hide the foul or recover from it.

4) Owen Daniels slipped open against what had to be a busted coverage for a big play. Reed let him go near the line of scrimmage and Glover Quin wasn’t in range. The culprit is likely unidentified.

5) Trindon Holliday had a nice little catch-and-run, but limped back and found a trainer.

6) Sherrick McManis intercepted Matt Leinart.

7) When I talked to the sidelined Ben Tate after the practice, he indicated that Steve Slaton now has a hamstring issue as well.

AFC South: Free-agency primer

March, 4, 2010
3/04/10
9:12
AM ET
Houston Texans

Potential unrestricted free agents: CB Dunta Robinson, WR Kevin Walter, RB Chris Brown, DT Jeff Zgonina, G Chester Pitts, S Brian Russell, S Nick Ferguson, LS Bryan Pittman, LB Chaun Thompson, QB Rex Grossman, LB Khary Campbell, G Tutan Reyes, T Ephraim Salaam, P Matt Turk.

Potential restricted free agents: DL Tim Bulman, S John Busing, OT Rashad Butler, TE Owen Daniels, RB Ryan Moats, S Bernard Pollard, LB DeMeco Ryans, G Chris White.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: I don’t think the Texans will jump out and make any monumental moves. But by deciding not to tag Robinson they created another hole and saved themselves big dollars. With needs at corner, running back, free safety, interior offensive line and defensive tackle they may have more than they can address in one draft. That means they could jump out for one significant free agent – like they did last year with defensive lineman Antonio Smith -- and maybe another less expensive one or two.

Indianapolis Colts

Potential unrestricted free agents: MLB Gary Brackett, K Matt Stover.

Potential restricted free agents: WR Hank Baskett, S Antoine Bethea, S Melvin Bullitt, OL Dan Federkeil, CB Aaron Francisco, LB Tyjuan Hagler, CB Marlin Jackson, CB Tim Jennings, DT Antonio Johnson, OT Charlie Johnson, LB Freddy Keiaho, DT Dan Muir, CBPR T.J. Rushing.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: Brackett is priority one and the team has indicated a plan to pay him as an upper-echelon guy. The restricted list includes a lot of key guys who will remain big factors next year. Indy is not a team that looks to bring in many outsiders for big roles and it won’t start now. Bill Polian’s said the Colts will sit back and see how things unfold in the new capless landscape.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Potential unrestricted free agents: DE Reggie Hayward, G Kynan Forney.

Potential restricted free agents: DT Atiyyah Ellison, LB Clint Ingram, DL Greg Peterson.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Jaguars are draft-reliant, but will also shop for bargains in free agency, hoping to plug a couple holes with high-character guys with upside who fit what they are doing. As for a big splash, it’s unlikely based on their recent busts with big-name free agents like Jerry Porter and Drayton Florence and the direction they’ve moved since.

Tennessee Titans

Potential unrestricted free agents: DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, C Kevin Mawae, LB Keith Bulluck, TE Alge Crumpler, CB Nick Harper, CB Rod Hood, DE Jevon Kearse, S Kevin Kaesviharn.

Potential restricted free agents: DE Dave Ball, DT Tony Brown, TE Bo Scaife, LB Stephen Tulloch, DT Kevin Vickerson, RB LenDale White.

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Titans will undergo a youth movement, especially on defense where Vanden Bosch and Bulluck, who’s recovering from ACL repair, are going to be allowed to walk. Mawae been told his only chance to return is as a backup at a backup price. Brown, Scaife and Tulloch are important guys they’ll want to retain. Beyond that, expect mostly bargain shopping.

RFA tender update

March, 4, 2010
3/04/10
9:08
AM ET
Restricted free-agent tenders have to be done before midnight ET. Here's what's out so far:

Houston

From John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

Indianapolis

Bethea info from Adam Schefter.

Jacksonville

Tennessee

From Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Let's play some post-holiday weekend catch up...

Houston Texans

  • With Antonio Smith out with a hamstring issue, Tim Bulman manned right defensive end like he owned it last week, writes Megan Manfull.
  • Several former Texans remain unsigned free agents, writes Alan Burge. You can always take that as a sign -- the rest of the league didn't place much value on your guys.
  • What sort of impact can Brian Cushing have? Jim McCurdy wonders.
  • Rashad Butler needs to be ready to back up both offensive tackles, says Burge.
  • A look at Houston's late-round draft picks, from Jesse Rios.

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Tennessee Titans

 
  Diamond Images/Getty Images
  New defensive line coach Bill Kollar vows to get more out of Houston's defensive line this season.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Bill Kollar plans to scream, cajole, irritate and pester.

The Texans' new defensive line coach casts himself not just as a coach, but as a button-pusher. He says his style is similar to that of a friend he once crossed coaching paths with briefly at Purdue -- Jim Washburn.

Washburn has coached the Tennessee Titans defensive line with great success -- and at high volume -- since 1999. As the Texans looked to start reinventing their defense, they lured Kollar from Buffalo.

Kollar pledges to do what he needs to squeeze all he can out of a group that features 2006 No. 1 overall draft pick Mario Williams. The Texans didn't produce enough good play around the Pro Bowl defensive end last season. Houston's linemen, then, can expect constant reminders that they are to run to the ball on all occasions and never take a play off.

Kollar will rotate his people. With the free-agent additions of defensive end Antonio Smith (from the Arizona Cardinals) and tackle Shaun Cody (from the Detroit Lions), he should have better depth than his predecessor, Jethro Franklin, did. The Texans are sure to also draft at least one defensive lineman.

"Obviously we're teachers, but we're also motivators," Kollar said. "If you had a whole group of players that were self motivated, that went nuts, you wouldn't have to worry about it. That would be fine. But I've never had a group like that and I don't know how many guys do or if there is a group like that. So I think everybody now and then can be helped to keep going by a little kick in the rear."

Kollar, a 1974-first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals who played eight seasons as a defensive lineman in the NFL, is still getting to know the Texans. Much of his sense of them still comes more off tape than from his own interaction and experiences.

In a phone chat with the AFC South Blog this week, he was willing to frame each of his linemen, providing his general feelings about each of them -- feelings that can obviously change significantly between now and opening day.

Smith: "A guy who works his butt off, gives you 100 percent all the time. We think he will end up definitely helping us. He's got good technique and knows how to use his hands and stuff. He's not the most agile guy out there that's going to run a 4.5 or something like that. But he really uses his hands well, watching him over the last few years he does a really good job."

Williams: "A heck of a guy, a heck of a player. I've really been impressed with the guy... He works his butt off out there and I think he just wants to keep getting better and better and take the team to the playoffs. And the better your team is, the better accolades your players end up getting.

"People know about the sacks, but he's a hell of a run player too. As long and as strong as he is, he does a heck of a job in both aspects."

 
  AP/Gene J. Puskar
  The Texans lured Bill Kollar from the Bills and hope Kollar's motivational style is what the defensive line needs to take the next step.

Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye: "I know he had that high ankle sprain [last year] and it's tough to play with. We're obviously hoping that's all past him now and with a young guy like that hopefully by the third year they hopefully kick in and become the player that they are going to be. We're hoping that happens this year...

"He's 22 [in June] and you look at it and sort of feel like the first two years in the league were his junior and senior year of college and he's just sort of had a jump on the guys coming out this year because he's already been playing with the big boys instead of still playing in college. Now you're hoping he's able to take it to the next level, stay healthy, that's always a big factor in anybody's career."

Defensive tackle Travis Johnson: "The guy plays hard, he's more of a run-down player, he's sort of trying to anchor down in the middle compared to a pass rusher. What happens when you end up taking a defensive tackle or a defensive end in the first round, you expect production in both the run and the pass. [The Texans selected Johnson in the first round in 2005.]

"The funny thing is, if you go back over years, very seldom do your nose men turn out to be pass rushers. They are the guys in there getting doubled all the time and anchoring down and then usually -- I won't say all the time, but usually - when it becomes third down, you might take another guy, you might take one of your outside guys and move him inside. And those [nose] guys sort of end up getting their break in passing situations. You can look at it quite a few different ways, but that's how I sort of view it and it really happens that way for a lot of guys."

Cody: "He's been unable to do anything so far here. I remember watching him and liking him coming out of USC. He had some injury problems there in Detroit, we're hoping that all those are past him now and we see him as able to play either spot inside which turns out to be a big plus for him, it turns out to give you more playing time and for us it helps depth-wise."

"We see him probably a little more as a solid player in the run game than he is a pass rush guy. Anytime you get a pass rush guy who can get up the field and go, we'd love to have it. When he was in college and so far at Detroit, he's a little more of a run down player than a pass rusher."

End Tim Bulman: "A real hard worker, a real tough kid when you watch him. I've sort of been impressed so far with what I have seen of him... I know he was down at Arizona when Kyle Vanden Bosch was down there and Vanden Bosch didn't have a lot of success down there, I know he was injured, he blew a couple of knees out and stuff. But I think Tim has seen
what Vanden Bosch was able to do on a new team and I am sure he's hoping that's a possibility that it could happen for him."

Defensive tackle Frank Okam: "He's more of an anchor guy, we're hoping he can end up getting in there and plug up the gap and help with short-line pursuit and stuff... A lot of second-year guys that really didn't play that much their first year, sometimes they make a big step. We'll just sort of see how it ends up going with him."

End Stanley McClover, who spent almost all of 2008 on IR with a right knee injury: "He's still probably not at 100 percent. I really saw no film on him, he got hurt in the first game I think. I really don't know much about him at all."

End Jesse Nading: "Played a little bit last year, mainly in passing situations. Showed a little quickness here and there. Maybe a little undersized but has some good mobility, has pretty good feet."

Defensive tackle DelJuan Robinson: "He's a big stop guy, too, in there."

A final thought:

Prevailing wisdom has been that the Texans need an upgrade inside to play the nose next to Okoye. Kollar sounds pleased with the pool he's already got to choose from, and he could and could get another candidate in the draft.

"We've got quite a few on the inside especially at the nose we should end up having some good competition with Johnson, Cody, Okam and Robinson," he said.

But if one of the ends emerges as a good rusher opposite Williams or the Texans add that guy in the draft, it sure sounds like Smith could be the interior answer on passing downs.

"He's definitely a good inside rusher, I mean he's slippery inside, he uses his hands well," Kollar said. "He ended up playing a lot inside last year on first and second down. He just does a good job, he plays with great leverage, he was able to slip through gaps. He can give you some rush from the inside, that's for sure."

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Houston Texans

  • The Texans have turned into a big-play offense, Megan Manfull reports.
  • "Sometimes a kid comes along that cares so much that almost everyone who knows him is rooting for him." Richard Justice says Tim Bulman is one of them.
  • Dunta Robinson looked better Thursday than he did Wednesday, John McClain writes.

Indianapolis Colts

  • Analyst Cris Collinsworth thinks Peyton Manning-to-Marvin Harrison looks as good as old, says Phil Richards.
  • The Colts are leaning towards activating linebacker Tyjuan Hagler for Sunday, filling the spot they opened for John McCargo before the trade for him fell through, Mike Chappell said.
  • This is the Colts' first trip to Lambeau Field since 2000, according to colts.com.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Tennessee Titans

  • "Some of the things they call these days take away from the intensity of the game," Keith Bulluck said. Jim Wyatt looks at how the rules limit what can be done to quarterbacks.
  • The status of the Titans' two starting receivers is up in the air for Kansas City, says Gary Estwick.
  • Tennessee won't see Chiefs running back Larry Johnson, who's suspended for the game, blogs Wyatt.
  • It's not official yet, but the Titans will likely be part of a throwback movement to mark the 50th anniversary of the AFL, meaning they will dress as the Oilers for a game next year, reports McClain.
  • David Climer takes a look at Vince Young as a second quarterback.
  • Mercury Morris says he wants the Titans to go undefeated, writes Terry McCormick.

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