In his latest mailbag, John Clayton of ESPN.com writes that sub defensive packages are now the new normal in the NFL, as teams continue to add more versatile defenders on passing downs in an effort to stop high-powered offenses. Clayton labels the Seahawks as the “gold standard” in the sub department, pointing out that defensive linemen Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, paid $6.5MM and $4.8MM respectively in 2013, only “started” a combined five games, yet were key cogs on the league’s most dominant defense. He lists the Buccaneers, who added Michael Johnson in free agency, and the Texans, who drafted Jadeveon Clowney, as teams who could vastly improve in nickel and dime situations in 2014.
- Safety Jordan Pugh tried out for the Colts today, reports Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. The 26-year-old was a 2010 sixth-round pick by the Panthers, and spent the past two seasons with the Redskins.
- Justin Houston is looking for a contract extension with the Chiefs, and as such, head coach Andy Reid isn’t sure if the pass rusher will be attending minicamp, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. “I don’t know that,” said Reid. “I expect them all to be here and then whoever is here, we’re going to coach them. If they don’t show up, I understand the profession. I’ve been around it a long time and I just move on. That’s how it works. You coach who you have, and you coach them like crazy.”
- Speaking of the Chiefs, Jeffri Chadiha of ESPN.com examines the team’s defense in the wake of Brandon Flowers‘ release, and writes that defensive coordinator Bob Sutton might be part of the reason for Kansas City defensive woes. Sutton, whose scheme might have expedited Flowers’ departure, seemed unwilling to make adjustments in 2013 even when it was apparent his defense was flailing.
- Eagles middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans played 96% of the team’s defensive snaps last season, and defensive coordinator Billy Davis intends to reduce that number, writes Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com. “We want DeMeco for the long haul this season, and so many times when you overwork a veteran — and he takes great care of his body — but it’s a lot of games,” said Davis. “I think we have more depth than we had and more experience and more people who can play versatile roles in the defense. I think it’ll help.”
- We learned earlier today that the Cowboys don’t expect Kyle Orton to show up for the team’s minicamp this week, and ESPN.com’s Calvin Watkins says a team source has confirmed that view (via Twitter).