Colts Rumors

AFC South Notes: Texans, Robinson, Colts

Rumblings about the Texans attempting a last-ditch Jadeveon Clowney trade have cooled down, with the team unlikely to recoup too much value for the three-time Pro Bowler after the franchise tag extension deadline passed (and with Clowney being able to effectively block a trade by virtue of not signing his tender). The last report on Clowney’s return indicated he was expected to report back between the start of next week and the end of the preseason. Clowney also has a grievance rumored, seeking to be tagged as a defensive end ($17.1MM) instead of as an outside linebacker ($15.9MM). But the former No. 1 overall pick should be fighting to ensure the Texans cannot tag him again in 2020, Joel Corry of CBS Sports writes. However, with this prohibition clause having not occurred since 2008 (Albert Haynesworth with the Titans), Corry predicts the sixth-year Texans edge defender will fail on this front and end up being tagged again in 2020.

Here is the latest news from the AFC South, shifting to a player who will draw Clowney blocking assignments this season:

  • Recently deemed iffy for Week 1, Cam Robinson appears a good bet to suit up against the Chiefs in two-plus weeks. The Jaguars‘ left tackle starter took snaps with the first unit in the team’s third preseason game, with Phillip Heilman of The Athletic tweeting Robinson joined the likely starting line of Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, Will Richardson and Jawaan Taylor on Thursday night. Robinson tore one of his ACLs in September of last year and spent the next several months rehabbing.
  • D’Onta Foreman will not have a chance to exact any revenge on the Texans this season, with the now-Colts running back set to miss the season. But the Colts still have him in their plans. A torn biceps will shelve Foreman, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets, but the team will not opt for an injury settlement. The Colts plan to stash the former third-round pick on IR and have him learn their system in time for a hopeful 2020 debut in Indianapolis.
  • While Matt Kalil was recently named the Texans‘ starting left tackle, Wilson adds that Roderick Johnson is “firmly” in the conversation to start against the Saints in Week 1. The Texans have held Kalil out of recent practices for conservation purposes, per Bill O’Brien. Kalil missed all of last season with a knee injury. Encouraging work in games and practices has allowed Johnson, a former Browns fifth-round pick and Texans waiver claim, to improve to the point of being a first-stringer. The Florida State product appears set to receive the first crack if Kalil cannot go, pointing to first-round rookie Tytus Howard staying at left guard.
  • Titans running back David Fluellen underwent knee surgery recently, but Paul Kuharsky (of PaulKuharsky.com) notes the backup is expected to be ready by Week 1. Fluellen is expected to keep his job as Tennessee’s No. 3 back.

Biggest Roster Weakness: AFC South

The 2019 regular season is right around the corner, but every NFL team still has at least one position on its roster that could use improvement. And there’s still plenty of time to address those areas of need! Free agents are readily available on the open market, while preseason trades provide another avenue of player procurement. 19 NFL trades were executed between August 1st and September 1st of 2018, and that number could increase this year.

Let’s take a look at the weakest positional group — and a potential solution — for each NFL club. Today we’ll examine the AFC South:

Houston Texans

  • Weakness: Offensive line. The Texans made a number of notable additions to their offensive line during the offseason, but it’s unclear how much those reinforcements will actually help. New left tackle Matt Kalil is seemingly always injured or ineffective, while first- and second-round rookies Tytus Howard and Max Scharping both come from small schools and could take some time to develop. Houston’s offensive line was one of the NFL’s worst in 2018, ranking 27th in adjusted line yards and dead last in adjusted sack rate, per Football Outsiders.
  • Solution: Sign Ryan Schraeder. Even if Kalil, Howard, and Scharping find success along the Texans’ front five, the club could still have a gaping hole at right tackle. Seantrel Henderson is going unchallenged on the right side, but he hasn’t played more than 47 offensive snaps since the 2015 season. The former seventh-round pick has never been all that productive even when he has been on the field, so Houston could look for a late upgrade. The Texans were reportedly interested in Schraeder in March, but it’s unclear if he ever actually met with the team’s staff. With 73 starts under his belt, Schraeder would bring experience to a Houston offensive line that desperately needs it.

Indianapolis Colts

  • Weakness: Defensive line depth. This almost feels too nit-picky: the Colts have one of the best rosters in the NFL, so it’s difficult to pinpoint a weak area. Indianapolis has a number of interesting pieces along its defensive line, but veteran defensive end Jabaal Sheard could potentially miss regular season action.
  • Solution: Trade for DeMarcus Walker. I don’t think the Colts should necessarily go out and sign a street free agent to take snaps away from their intriguing young defensive line prospects, but trading for Walker would represent a buy-low on an intriguing defender. Walker posted 16 sacks during his final season at Florida State and has flashed during his time with the Broncos, but he simply hasn’t been able to secure any real playing time (121 career defensive snaps). That’s probably not going to change any time soon in Denver, so the Colts could send a late-round pick in exchange for a player who could theoretically line up at outside linebacker, defensive end, or defensive tackle.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Weakness: Inside linebacker to play opposite Myles Jack. Telvin Smith‘s unexpected retirement put the Jaguars in a bind at inside linebacker, and no recent developments have added clarity at the position. Third-round rookie Quincy Williams was expected to fill the void left by Smith’s absence, but he’s dealing with a torn meniscus and will miss the start of the regular season. Free agent addition Jake Ryan, meanwhile, suffered a July setback in his recovery from a torn ACL and hasn’t practiced since.
  • Solution: Trade for Reggie Ragland. Ragland has already been traded once is career, going from Buffalo to Kansas City in 2017 in exchange for a fourth-round pick. Given that he has only one year remaining on his contract, the former second-round pick shouldn’t cost that much to acquire this time around. The Chiefs acquired fellow linebacker Darron Lee from the Jets this offseason to team with Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson, so Ragland could be expendable.

Tennessee Titans

  • Weakness: Offensive line depth. The Titans have some question marks along their offensive line, and those questions begin at left tackle, where Dennis Kelly will start the first four games in place of the suspended Taylor Lewan. Jack Conklin is back at right tackle after suffering a torn ACL in 2018, but right guard is a battle between Kevin Pamphile and rookie Nate Davis. Pamphile is currently listed as the starter on Tennessee’s depth chart, but the veteran was well below-average in two seasons as a Buccaneers starter.
  • Solution: See if Austin Corbett is (already) available. Browns general manager John Dorsey has been more than willing to get rid of players brought in by ex-GM Sashi Brown, but would he trade his own disappointing draft picks? It’s far too early to call Corbett, a 2018 second-rounder, a bust, but his career isn’t progressing as Cleveland had hoped. Expected to take over at right guard after Kevin Zeitler was dealt to the Giants, Corbett has struggled in training camp and the preseason, and journeyman Eric Kush now looks like the favorite to start. Corbett played tackle at Nevada before being shifted to guard in the pros, so he could potentially offer depth at both positions for the Titans.

More posts in this series:

Broncos Claim Tyler Jones, Dadi Nicolas

The Broncos have claimed offensive tackle Tyler Jones (Jets) and linebacker Dadi Nicolas (Colts) off waivers. They’ll take the spots of tight end Bug Howard and cornerback Horace Richardson, who were placed on injured reserve.

[RELATED: Mike Shanahan On Broncos’ Interest, Coaching Plans]

Nicolas, 27 in September, appeared in eleven games as a reserve for the Chiefs in 2016. Since then, he’s been a frequent guest in Pro Football Rumors’ workout roundups and Minor NFL Transactions posts. Jones, a product of N.C. State, went undrafted this year despite having solid foot speed for the offensive line.

Howard, a UNC product, made noise as a senior in 2016 with 53 grabs for 827 yards and eight touchdowns. Since then, he’s made the rounds in the NFL, but has yet to see live action.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/20/19

Today’s minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

  • Signed: OL Erik Magnuson
  • Placed on IR: OL Garrett McGhin (ankle)

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Colts Sign Charcandrick West

Colts placed new running back D’Onta Foreman and wide receiver Daurice Fountain on injured reserve while waiving safety Derrick Kindred, according to a team announcement. To take their spots, the Colts added veteran running back Charcandrick West, safety Kai Nacua, undrafted free agent tailback Marquis Young. 

The nature of Foreman’s injury is not yet known, but it’s a rough break for the former Texans RB as he was looking to reassert himself while getting revenge on his former team twice this season. The 236-pound back took only seven handoffs last season, gaining minus-1 yard. But, as Lamar Miller‘s top backup in 2017, Foreman amassed 327 rushing yards (4.2 per tote) and two touchdowns.

West has been toggled on and off of the Chiefs’ roster as of late and posted negative rushing yards in 2018. However, he’s flashed promise, including the 2015 season in which he ran for 634 yards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chester Rogers Off Colts' Roster Bubble

  • Frank Reich does not want to wait much longer on Andrew Luck‘s recovery. The second-year Colts coach wants to name his Week 1 starter shortly after the team’s third preseason game, and while Luck doing pregame drills before Indianapolis’ second August contest was a positive development, this saga may not wrap up in a week. It’s been the side-to-side movements that have bothered Luck’s ankle and calf injuries most, Mike Wells of ESPN.com notes. But Luck not only did some lateral-movement work before Saturday’s game, Wells adds the 29-year-old passer has done workouts like that in private in recent days. The Colts, who will re-evaluate Luck midweek, are cautiously optimistic he will be available for Week 1.
  • The Colts‘ injury situation at receiver has helped one of their incumbents. Once thought to be a bubble player, Chester Rogers is headed back to Indy’s 53-man roster. The former Ryan Grigson-era draft choice is the Colts’ top return man, Reich said (via the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson, on Twitter). Parris Campbell remains sidelined because of a hamstring injury, Erickson tweets.

“Guarded Optimism” Andrew Luck Will Be Available For Week 1

The Colts have “guarded optimism” that Andrew Luck will be ready for Week 1 of the regular season, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

On Wednesday, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reported Luck’s Week 1 availability was “really in question,” and noted that unless the star quarterback makes a “miraculous recovery,” backup Jacoby Brissett could be under center. However, Garafolo also indicated Indianapolis felt as though it “finally” had a handle on the exact nature of Luck’s injury, which could have led to today’s “optimistic” report.

Luck originally underwent an MRI on his calf in March that revealed a strain, but began to experience ankle trouble in May. Another test Monday revealed Luck could be dealing with some sort of high-ankle issue, though it’s not evident if he’s been diagnosed with a dreaded high-ankle sprain. At the moment, it doesn’t appear Luck is experiencing any Achilles trouble.

Luck won’t play during the preseason, and his absence will give Brissett even more time to prepare for the regular season. Brissett, of course, was the Colts’ full-time starter in 2017 when Luck st out the year with a shoulder injury. In 15 starts, Brissett completed 58.8% of his passes for 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Among the 29 quarterbacks with at least 300 attempts that season, Brissett finished 22nd in adjusted net yards per attempt.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts WR Reece Fountain Fractures Ankle

Colts wideout Reece Fountain suffered a dislocated and fractured ankle during practice today, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Fountain will likely undergo immediate surgery and should be expected to miss the 2019 season.

A fifth-round pick in 2018, Fountain didn’t make it through final cutdowns and was waived just prior to the start of the regular season. The Northern Iowa product was promoted to the Colts’ active roster in December, but played only six total snaps (three offense, three special teams) and didn’t record any statistics.

Fountain was far from a lock to make Indianapolis’ roster this season, as the club boasts receving options such as T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess, Parris Campbell, Chester Rogers, and Deon Cain. The 23-year-old Fountain will likely be placed on injured reserve, but could compete for a role in 2020.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Andrew Luck’s Week 1 Availability “Really In Question”

Colts head coach Frank Reich prefers to make a decision on his Week 1 starting quarterback following his club’s third preseason game, and it may not be Andrew Luck who’s under center. Unless Luck makes a “miraculous recovery,” backup Jacoby Brissett us likely to start for Indianapolis in its season opener, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Additionally, Garafolo reports the Colts “finally” feel as though they have a handle on the exact nature of Luck’s injury. Rather than just a calf or just an ankle issue, it seems as though Luck is dealing with an ailment that’s been caused by “accumulation over time.” What exactly that means for his recovery is unclear, but Indianapolis is now confident it can help its star quarterback heal.

Luck originally underwent an MRI on his calf in March that revealed a strain, but began to experience ankle trouble in May. Another test Monday revealed Luck could be dealing with some sort of high-ankle issue, though it’s not evident if he’s been diagnosed with a dreaded high-ankle sprain. At the moment, it doesn’t appear Luck is experiencing any Achilles trouble.

Luck won’t play during the preseason, and his absence will give Brissett even more time to prepare for the regular season. Brissett, of course, was the Colts’ full-time starter in 2017 when Luck st out the year with a shoulder injury. In 15 starts, Brissett completed 58.8% of his passes for 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Among the 29 quarterbacks with at least 300 attempts that season, Brissett finished 22nd in adjusted net yards per attempt.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.