AFC South Preseason Capsules Print
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Monday, 22 July 2013 13:26
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 AFC South preseason team capsules (2012 records in parentheses):
HOUSTON TEXANS (12-4)
OPEN CAMP: July 25
LAST YEAR: Texans opened 11-1 before late-season collapse cost them bye week and home-field advantage in playoffs. AFC South champions beat Cincinnati in wild-card round before falling at Patriots. DE J.J. Watt flourished in second season, piling up 81 tackles and 20 1/2 sacks while swatting down pass after pass to earn Defensive Player of Year honors. Quarterback Matt Schaub was healthy for playoffs after missing Houston's first trip in 2011 season, but many blamed him for Texans' season-ending loss to New England.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: S Ed Reed, rookie WR DeAndre Hopkins.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: OLB Connor Barwin, SS Glover Quin, WR Kevin Walter.
CAMP NEEDS: Linebacker Brian Cushing is expected to be ready after recovering from surgery to repair torn anterior cruciate ligament on Oct. 8. Unit wasn't same last season after his injury. Hopkins will need to get comfortable in offense and fellow rookie D.J. Swearinger, safety taken in second round, has to prove he can fill in for Reed if Reed's unable to play early in season. Reed comes off surgery on partly torn labrum on April 30.
EXPECTATIONS: Texans are no longer content to simply make playoffs. Team has its sights on reaching Super Bowl this season. With stingy defense led by Watt and Cushing, which should get boost with the addition of Reed, and potent offense featuring Arian Foster and Johnson, Houston should be among top teams in 2013.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-5)
OPEN CAMP: July 27
LAST YEAR: Coming off embarrassing 2-14 season, Colts were expected to be worst team in NFL. Things looked even bleaker when head coach Chuck Pagano left after three games to battle leukemia. But Colts rallied behind interim coach Bruce Arians, made historic nine-game improvement and reached playoffs for 11th time in 13 seasons.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: RB Ahmad Bradshaw, OT Gosder Cherilus, DL Ricky Jean Francois, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, S LaRon Landry, OG Donald Thomas, CB Greg Toler, LB Erik Walden, rookie DE-OLB Bjoern Werner.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: WR Austin Collie, DE-OLB Dwight Freeney.
CAMP NEEDS: Find pass rusher to replace Freeney. Settle on starting running back from crowded group. Strengthen offensive line. Add depth at receiver.
EXPECTATIONS: Two-time defending division champion Houston is still AFC South favorite, and Colts face tougher schedule in 2013. But they still have Andrew Luck, a better offensive line and stouter defense - and that could be enough to get them back into AFC playoffs.
TENNESSEE TITANS (6-10)
OPEN CAMP: July 24
LAST YEAR: Titans turned offense over to Jake Locker, who dislocated left non-throwing shoulder making tackle in opener. He missed five games after injuring shoulder again, limiting his growth in first season as starter. They also finished with 16 players on injured reserve, including four starting offensive linemen, while Tennessee allowed franchise-worst 471 points - most in NFL.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: Assistant coach Gregg Williams, LG Andy Levitre, RB Shonn Greene, TE Delanie Walker, S Bernard Pollard, S George Wilson, DT Sammie Hill, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, WR Kevin Walter, rookie RG Chance Warmack.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: TE Jared Cook, QB Matt Hasselbeck.
CAMP NEEDS: Starting offensive line must get on field together. Levitre and RT David Stewart didn't practice this offseason coming off surgeries, LT Michael Roos was limited, too. Locker is starter but must continue improving to keep job. Figuring out if Williams, fresh off one-year NFL suspension for role in Saints' bounty scandal, or defensive coordinator Jerry Gray will be call schemes during games a must.
EXPECTATIONS: Owner Bud Adams spent more than $100 million on free agents for team that hasn't been to playoffs since 2008, last won postseason game in January 2004. Adams turns 91 in January and wants to see that his money turns franchise back into winner.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-14)
OPEN CAMP: July 26
LAST YEAR: Worst season in franchise history prompted firing of general manager Gene Smith and coach Mike Mularkey, and started complete overhaul that is expected to be three-year project. Jaguars hired young GM Dave Caldwell and energetic coach Gus Bradley to lead rebuild. Defense ranked 30th in league and allowed franchise-record 444 points.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: DTs Roy Miller and Sen'Derrick Marks. Three rookies - OT Luke Joeckel, S Johnathan Cyprien and CB Dwayne Gratz - penciled in as starters.
CAMP NEEDS: Settle on starting QB, whether it's former top-10 pick Blaine Gabbert or backup Chad Henne, and find out if RB Maurice Jones-Drew is healthy (foot surgery) and able to run behind offense's new zone-blocking scheme.
EXPECTATIONS: Jaguars expect to be more competitive than last season (not too difficult), but No. 1 item to figure out in 2013 is whether team has franchise QB or needs to draft one next April.
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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
 

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