Deon Cain

AFC Notes: Bowlen, Shazier, Titans

The family of late Broncos owner Pat Bowlen will receive Bowlen’s Gold Jacket and Hall of Fame ring, as Mike Klis of 9News.com writes. Bowlen was elected to the Hall of Fame in February but passed away in June, making him the first HOFer to die between his election and his induction. Typically, the HOF doesn’t present the jacket and the ring to those enshrined posthumously because it doesn’t want the family to fight over the artifacts or sell them, but the production of the artifacts had already begun before Bowlen passed.

The family will display the items in the front lobby of the Broncos’ UCHealth Center headquarters so that they can be enjoyed by fans.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • David Furones of the South Florida Sun Sentinel explores the relationship between Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier and his high school teammate, trainer, and close friend, Jerome Howard. Howard has been with Shazier throughout his recovery and has assisted him in his efforts to get back to the playing field. The piece is well-worth a read, especially for Steelers fans, as it also details the remarkable progress that Shazier has made. A return to football is still a long way off, but he has already overcome tremendous odds just to be walking again, let alone exercising the way he is.
  • We heard in May that Colts WR Deon Cain was expected to be a full participant in training camp, but Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk says that Cain’s status is still unclear. However, she does hear that Cain should be ready to go at least by the regular season opener, which could a huge boon to Indianapolis’ aerial attack. Cain, a 2018 sixth-rounder, generated a lot of hype before tearing his ACL last August and is highly-regarded by the coaching staff. He is currently the fourth WR on the depth chart.
  • Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com believes linebacker Kamalei Correa will make the Titans‘ roster and will have an impact in 2019, but he is on the bubble and will need to fight for a spot on the club. In the same piece, Wyatt says that he does not expect Tennessee to bring back safety Johnathan Cyprien, although the team said after releasing Cyprien in March that it would like to re-sign him at a cheaper rate.
  • Bills RB Christian Wade was assigned to Buffalo’s roster as part of the league’s international pathway program, which means he is eligible to be the 11th man on the club’s practice squad. But as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk writes, Wade believes he can crack the 53-man roster. That will be a tall order given that veterans LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, and T.J. Yeldon, along with third-round rookie Devin Singletary, are ahead of him on the depth chart. But McCoy and Gore will be free agents after the season, and Yeldon could be a cap casualty by that time, so if Wade impresses, he could be a roster candidate in 2020.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Broncos, Colts, Titans

When Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen was still on the board at No. 4 in the NFL Draft, the Raiders seemed like a solid landing spot after the team finished with just 13 sacks in 2018. Oakland, however, never viewed the pass rusher in play, The Athletic’s Vic Tafur writes.

“I heard that the Raiders weren’t that impressed. I reported pretty early on he wasn’t in play for them at No. 4. I would never question a player’s toughness but there were concerns that he got pushed around a little on some plays at Kentucky and he may not have had enough dog in him for Gruden and Guenther’s liking.”

Oakland, of course, decided to go another way with the pick, surprising many when they tabbed Clemson’s defensive end Clelin Ferrell. Allen, the reigning Bednarik and Nagurski Award winner projected by many to go as high as No. 3, fell a little further and wound up with Jacksonville at No. 7.

While Allen joins a loaded defense in the Jaguars, Ferrell will be looking to fill the void left by All-Pro defensive end Khalil Mack, who recorded just a half-sack fewer than the entire Oakland squad in 2018.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Broncos and Chris Harris have made progress on a potential short-term deal. Though they could give Harris another year, one possibility is to just increase his salary this season with money, not incentives, and let him leave in free agency and the end of the year, ABC 7’s Troy Renck tweets. Harris, of course, is entering the final year of his deal and, in April, requested to either get a new deal or be traded.
  • Colts wide receiver Deon Cain is expected to be a full-go for training camp, the Indianapolis Star’s Zak Keefer tweets. A sixth-round selection in 2018, Cain tore his ACL in the preseason opener and was sidelined for the entire season. Cain generated plenty of buzz before the injury and could add another weapon to an already steady Indy attack.
  • Back to the Raiders, the team has added several noted scouts to its organization, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer writes. Among those to make the trek to the Bay Area include the Patriots’ Dujuan Daniels, the Eagles’ Dwayne Joseph, and the Cowboys’ Walt Juliff and Jim Abrams.
  • The Titans also made some staff changes, Paul Kuharsky tweets. Brandon Taylor moved from national scout to pro scout, Mike Boni was elevated from college scout to national scout, and Casey Callahan moved from pro scout to college scout. He also notes that scouting coordinator Tosi Kazeem no long appears to be with the franchise.

Colts Rookie WR Deon Cain Out For Season

Deon Cain generated buzz in Colts camp this summer, but his season will end after merely one preseason game.

The sixth-round rookie tore an ACL in Indianapolis’ preseason opener Thursday night, Frank Reich said Friday. He’ll miss the rest of this season.

Cain turned heads in camp and was likely going to factor into the Colts’ receiver rotation as a rookie, but instead he’ll have the customary long ACL rehab route ahead. The Colts have the former Clemson cog under contract through 2021, but he’ll only have a chance to make an on-field impact during three of those seasons.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound wideout was a three-year producer for the Tigers, compiling over 700 receiving yards the past two seasons. During Clemson’s national title campaign in 2016, Cain averaged 19.1 yards per catch and scored nine touchdowns. He was not expected to go off the board as late as he did, but the Colts nabbed him in the sixth round.

This does wound a Colts receiving corps that isn’t especially deep. Ryan Grant and Chester Rogers represent T.Y. Hilton‘s most proven supporting-casters. Fifth-round pick Daurice Fountain also factors into this equation.

Colts Sign First-Round Pick Quenton Nelson

The Colts have officially signed the bulk of their draft class. On Friday, the team announced deals with the following picks: 

The Colts wound up with an oversized draft class of eleven players, but they have only two rookies left to sign. Once second round linebacker Darius Leonard and second round guard Braden Smith put pen to paper, they’ll be done.

Nelson was widely regarded as one of the best overall talents in this year’s draft, but the early run on quarterbacks helped guide him to the Colts at No. 6. Frankly, that worked out great for the Colts as they desperately need to protect quarterback Andrew Luck this season. The QB fever allowed Chris Ballard to land this year’s top rated offensive lineman in the draft while adding two 2018 second-round picks and a 2019 second-round choice from the Jets as he moved down from No. 3 to No. 6. It’s too early to grade any team’s draft, but everyone can agree that the Colts did well for themselves in terms of value.

Nelson, a 6’5″, 235-pound lineman, boasts tremendous power and the ability to act as a double team blocker. Many feel that Nelson is one of the best bets to succeed out of this year’s top 10.

He’s so unique because he’s big, but he’s not fat. He’s one of the best run blockers I’ve ever evaluated, but he’s not a liability in pass protection like Mike Iupati is,” one NFC team personnel executive told NFL.com before the draft. “He’s also an alpha who can bring and ass-kicking mindset into your position room.”