Greene
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Titans running back Shonn Greene's been at the head of the running back line, and said he's working to knock the rust off after he missed all of the offseason following a cleanup knee surgery.

I think he's looked like what you'd expect him to look like. He's the team's biggest and most physical back, and if he's healthy he should be able to get a tough yard when the Titans need it, running behind a line that's been revamped over the past couple years.

There is a segment of the fan base that wants the team to go a different direction. But in the second season of a three-year deal, I can't see the team giving up on him after just one season. And there is no quality alternative for that role -- the power back who should be a short-yardage resource. (Undrafted rookie Antonio Andrews hasn't had a chance to show much to this point, and I think he's more likely to be a practice squad guy if he impresses.)

It's disappointing that coach Ken Whisenhunt said Greene still needs to trim down.

"I am pleased with where he is at this point," Whisenhunt said on Monday, per John Glennon of The Tennessean. "To have not gotten anything in the spring physically ... he's gotten some reps now and been in there, and that's been important. I'm happy with that. I'm not happy with his weight. He needs to lose some weight. But (him) getting the reps has been good."

Glennon said Whisenhunt is talking about five or 10 pounds. Hopefully the weight melts away quickly.

How much Greene is carrying does not need to be the primary conversation revolving around him for very long.

Jaguars Camp Report: Day 4

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
12:10
AM ET
ST JOHNS, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Jacksonville Jaguars training camp:
  • After an impressive performance by the quarterbacks and receivers on Sunday, the defense rebounded with a strong day in the Jaguars’ practice at Bartram Trail High School. There were two interceptions -- defensive tackle Roy Miller made a diving catch after Chris Clemons deflected Chad Henne's pass and undrafted rookie Rashaad Reynolds snared an errant throw by Stephen Morris and returned it for a TD -- and four pass breakups (including deflections by Clemons and defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks) during 11-on-11. “The other day the offense really came off the ball and did a good job at establishing the line of scrimmage,” coach Gus Bradley said. “The defense came back and said, ‘Alright, not tonight, not tonight.’ They attacked it like that. It went back-and-forth overall, but the defense, I thought, came out really spirited.”
  • Second-year cornerback Demetrius McCray continues to impress while working with the first unit in pace of Alan Ball (ankle). He had another pass breakup in one-on-one drills on Monday. He’s an intriguing player because of his size (6-foot, 185 pounds) and length. If he continues to develop, the Jaguars are going to have an interesting situation after the season. Ball, whom Bradley says may return on Wednesday, has played well as the starter opposite Dwayne Gratz but his contract expires after the season. The team drafted Aaron Colvin in the fourth round despite a torn ACL and the expectation is he would be ready to become the starter in 2015. But McCray may be an option. If neither appears to be ready, the Jaguars may opt to re-sign Ball.
  • Backup tight end Clay Harbor suffered a strained calf and will miss at least several days. He’s the primary backup to Marcedes Lewis and the team’s only flex tight end. He caught 24 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns in his first season with the Jaguars. This will mean more opportunities for undrafted rookies Reggie Jordan, Marcel Jensen, and Brandon Barden. D.J. Tialavea, another undrafted rookie, is out with a quad strain.
  • The Jaguars announced an attendance of 3,239 at Bartram Trail High School, the biggest crowd to watch a training camp practice so far. ... The Jaguars are off on Tuesday and will return to the practice field at 9:55 a.m. ET Wednesday. ... One of the highlights of what was a relatively uneventful practice came during a water break, when Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee tried to hit mascot Jaxson de Ville, who was hanging from the crossbar. He took two playful shots at him but missed both times. ... Here are the QB stats from 11-on-11: Henne was 3-for-8 with an interception; Blake Bortles was 3-for-7; Morris was 3-for-7 with an interception, and Ricky Stanzi was 2-for-2.
ANDERSON, Ind. -- The Indianapolis Colts strolled into training camp last week with a deep group of running backs on their roster.

Several things have happened since then.

Vick Ballard went down with a torn Achilles, then away went Chris Rainey for not following team rules. And, oh yeah, Trent Richardson continues to watch training camp practice from the sidelines.

[+] EnlargeTrent Richardson
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsThe Colts hope running back Trent Richardson can have a bounce-back season.
So the depth the Colts had before?

Gone.

Injuries and immaturity have left the Colts with Ahmad Bradshaw, Dan Herron, Davin Meggett and Zurlon Tipton as the only healthy running backs taking snaps in practice.

"We're one less, so those other guys are going to continue to get work," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "[General manager Ryan Grigson] and I, again, will look at the roster and see what we need to do. He's always looking at the wire and who is on the street, to see if we need to bring in another set of legs."

Richardson could help stop some of the uneasiness that's going through the organization about depth concerns at running back by showing he's ready to have a bounce-back season. Everybody's waiting -- and waiting some more -- to see if that will happen.

Pagano hasn't given a timetable on when Richardson will practice.

"We're not going to push these guys," Pagano said. "We've seen guys go down and we're always going to err on the side of caution, you know that. But they're doing better and they're getting really close and hopefully they'll be back sooner than later."

Losing Rainey means the Colts miss out on having a player who could handle two roles on the roster for them.

Pagano knows it, too.

He spent several minutes less than 48 hours prior to Rainey's release telling a story about watching a DVD of Rainey in high school in Florida with his daughter. Pagano saw Rainey's "athleticism, the burst, the speed" in the video. But Rainey failed to take advantage of the opportunity to be the Colts' third running back and return specialist. He has only himself to blame for his mistakes.

Bradshaw has been a positive so far in training camp. He has been a regular in practice -- even sprinting down field trying to catch cornerback Josh Gordy after an Andrew Luck interception Monday -- and he's not showing any signs of having a problem with his neck, which caused him to miss the final 13 games of the 2013 season.

"He looks fantastic," Pagano said. "He has found the groove to make it. We know how tough Ahmad is. We know how he's wired, so I'm not going to be pulling back on the reins. He's one of those guys we have to protect them from themselves. It will take care of itself. He's not one of those guys that will think about what he went through.

"He's a football player, tough guy, hard nose. Love to see what we can get out of him. We are putting the pads on today for the first time so we will find some other things out."

Bradshaw can continue to look good and impress, but all eyes will remain on Richardson.

Colts Camp Report: Day 5

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
5:15
PM ET
A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Indianapolis Colts training camp:


  • It is not often that the defense will win the battle against quarterback Andrew Luck and the rest of the offense. Monday was one of those days. The defense got the better of Luck and the offense during the two-minute and goal-line drills. The unit picked off Luck three times. “There were some poor decisions by me,” Luck said. “The defense makes you pay when you make bad decisions. I found that out quickly in the NFL. You learn from the mistakes and you don’t want to repeat them in a game. I think on the flip side, offensively we’re putting a lot of pressure on (the defense) to play well as well.” Luck, who is his own worst critic and still a student of the game, used his mistakes to talk to some of his defensive teammates to get their thoughts on why they were able to make a good play on the ball. “If I thought I was fooled I want to ask them about their technique,” Luck said. “It’s fun to pick defensive guys’ brains sometimes. They’ll say, 'Well you tipped me off on that one Andrew because of this.' Ok, now I’ve got to put that in your memory bank and go from there.”
  • The Colts showed their offensive versatility during a red-zone drill when they used a formation that featured receivers Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks lined up out wide on one side and tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener lined up out wide on the other side. With both Allen and Fleener standing 6-foot-3 and 6-6, respectively, the Colts will have a height advantage to throw the ball up high to their tight ends against the smaller defensive backs. Luck tried that once on a play when Fleener was defended by safety Delano Howell. He ended up overthrowing Fleener, as the pass went out of bounds. Still, Luck didn’t have those types of options last season. “Coach told us never to compare seasons to seasons because you end up devaluing someone along the way,” Luck said. “So I’m not going to compare it to whatever I’ve played with in the past with some awesome, awesome dudes. But again, it takes a bunch of guys throughout a season and we know that. So the way the guys are playing now, it should be a lot of fun.”
  • Punter Pat McAfee wants to hopefully add kicking duties to his resume once Adam Vinatieri decides to retire from what will end up being a Hall of Fame career. Don't McAfee's ability discredit to throw the football, either. McAfee has often been an extra passer to receivers during drills early in practice.
  • The Colts were scheduled to have a walk-through Monday morning and then a practice in pads in the afternoon, but Pagano condensed it into one three-hour session in the morning. They had a 30-minute walk-through and then a 2-hour practice. The players will have Tuesday off and resume camp Wednesday morning.

Texans Camp Report: Day 3

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
4:40
PM ET
HOUSTON -- A review of the hot topics coming out of Houston Texans training camp.
  • The Texans were in full pads on Monday for the first time since training camp started. Per NFL rules, Monday, or the third day of practice, was the first time they were allowed to have a padded practice. "I think the acclimation period really helps," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "You kind of ramp it up from shells to pads, from conditioning to shells to pads. I think that helps. These guys went out there and competed. I’m not saying everything was the prettiest brand of football in the world, but I thought these guys got better today."
  • It's often difficult to see the defensive and offensive linemen work because of this year's practice setup, but they worked close to the area of the field where media were allowed Monday and I saw a cool little scene from it. Defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan, a sixth-round pick who missed spring workouts because of shoulder surgery, worked against J.J. Watt on one drill. When the drill finished, Watt stopped Pagan to give him a few tips on hand placement. Watt talked earlier this week about the newness of his being in that veteran role. But he's embracing it.
  • The offensive and defensive lines went one-on-one against each other. There were a few times the defensive player got past the offensive player, only to fall as he passed. Defensive line coach Bill Kollar reminded them they couldn't do much good on the ground like that.
  • Brooks Reed spent all of spring working at inside linebacker. It's a skill he has honed for the past few offseasons. Now that he's in training camp, though, Reed has taken a lot more reps at outside linebacker. "Brooks, you can be rest assured, that he’s going to get a good day's work in," linebackers coach Mike Vrabel said. "He’s going to bring his hard hat and his lunch-pail out and he's going to work for two hours, three hours, however long we're out here, he's going to work and he's going to go back in and study. I appreciate that about him. It's a great example to our whole unit."
  • In addition to Arian Foster, rookie safety Lonnie Ballentine and linebacker Akeem Dent, the veteran the Texans acquired for T.J. Yates, did not practice either. Both suffered some sort of injury during Sunday's practice.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In his practice performance, in his interactions with teammates and in his conversations with the media, Jake Locker is showing growth, I believe.

Locker
In a make-or-break season that tells whether he is the answer for the Tennessee Titans going forward or not, he was asked early on about shooting for a big contract. He is set for life with what he has already made, he said, matter of factly.

And his teammates are talking about him with higher regard.

“In this business you don’t come in and get respect given to you, you have to earn it,” receiver Marc Mariani said. “And he’s done that. We all saw what he went through and the season that he had last year and that injury he came back from. He’s earned the respect of everyone in here.

“I think we’re the type of team, not that we need it, but is looking for that guy to be more vocal and get on his back. And Jake’s the perfect guy, and I have all the faith in the world in that guy and I know he’s going to come through. He’s a warrior.”

Locker isn’t the kind of guy who is going to announce that the Tennessee Titans are his team or hit anyone over the head with any sort of message. But in his low-key, hard-working way and with perseverance through three serious injuries over the past two seasons, he’s gained more respect and command.

“I don’t believe it’s not any one guy’s team, ever,” Locker said. "I think the greatest teams have a lot of guys that are respected in the locker room. And I feel like we have that. We have guys that are respected a lot of different ways in a lot of different positions.

“Since the time I came in here I’ve said I just want to work hard and have the respect of my teammates, so it’s awesome for me to hear that they are feeling that way.”

Head coach Ken Whisenhunt said he’s seen “really good growth” out of Locker.

There is a good deal to sort through at this stage, and Locker's coach likes how he’s doing it so far.

“This is probably, for a quarterback, the toughest time of the year,” Whisenhunt said in a Monday interview with my radio show, The Midday 180 in Nashville. “Really there is no set plan for what we are calling things from. In a weekly game-plan situation you have X number of plays and you know the formations. When you get them on Monday night and start working on them on Tuesday, by Wednesday you have a good idea, we’re running a certain play, what formation it’s going to be run from.

“In this situation, we’re switching guys. We’re putting Kendall (Wright) and Nate (Washington) and Justin (Hunter) in different spots, so when you do that you have to name the formations differently and it’s much harder to get a mental picture of the actual play when you’re doing those mental gymnastics.

“On top of that, he’s got to be able to call the play, understand the protections, be ready to change it. So you don’t expect him to have great command of it, but he’s really working at it and doing a nice job.”
HOUSTON -- The two of them walked off the field together, teammates who were separated for one season.

Now EZ Nwachukwu and Travis Labhart are after the same goal: making an NFL roster, or at least a practice squad, with the Houston Texans.

Labhart signed as an undrafted rookie out of Texas A&M this season, while Nwachukwu did the same last season. Nwachukwu was on the Texans practice squad for all of the 2013 season. Meanwhile, Labhart, once a walk-on in College Station, played in 12 games for the Aggies last season, starting in his final five. By that time Labhart had earned a scholarship, and in his senior season he caught 51 passes for eight touchdowns and 626 yards.

"This opportunity comes around once in a lifetime," Labhart said. "As being a rookie, you learn from veterans. You see Andre (Johnson)... catching Jugs after practice. You just have to wait your turn. For me, I want to make the most of this opportunity. If it means sticking around 30 extra minutes catching passes and trying to figure out what I need to work on. If it’s not catching passes, maybe it is working on routes or timing with quarterbacks."

The receivers are generally the last players to leave the field. Labhart and Nwachukwu have been among the group that has stayed after each of the Texans' morning training camp practices to work with the Jugs machines.

They've been impressive during team drills as well, fighting for catches, avoiding drops and running crisp routes.

"I mean, you know, rookie year I think things are going 1,000 miles per hour," Nwachukwu said. "Having a year under your belt and being able to know what to look for and know how to study film, you can think less and play more."

Nwachukwu believes his route-running is the area that has improved the most since his rookie season. He's paid more attention to being aware of the field, rather than simply running a route without that awareness. In college, on his way to 19 career touchdowns, which tied him for third in Texas A&M history, Nwachukwu could often get away with that.

"Coming from A&M, on some plays you can just go out there and use your athletic ability," Nwachukwu said. "You can win routes. But out here, you know, you’ve got guys like J-Jo (Johnathan Joseph) and K-Jack (Kareem Jackson), and if you do that you’re probably going to be in the sand somewhere. You definitely have to stay on your details and make sure your technique is right."

Making the team won't be easy for either player. The Texans have five receivers with game experience, all of whom have been focused and precise during training camp, ahead of Labhart and Nwachukwu. But one refrain around professional athletes is that they control only what they can. From that standpoint, Labhart and Nwachukwu have looked like they belong.

Titans Camp Report: Day 3

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
2:36
PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tennessee Titans training camp:
  • Late in the pre-practice walk-through when the offense and defense work independent of each other, offensive assistant Luke Steckel, who was running the scout team, shouted that he needed a nickelback. Dexter McCluster, the team’s new veteran running back, was ready and willing and started to head out to play the role. Michael Preston then jumped in and did the job. But McCluster certainly doesn’t think of himself as above it.
  • Wide receiver drills can be a real gauntlet under position coach Shawn Jefferson. Monday’s was a furious pace with one very tough segment. Players change direction running between tightly spaced upside-down garbage cans, needing to get their head around super-fast each time they turned to catch a close-range dart being whistled right at them.
  • The linebackers fared well overall in the one-on-one period against running backs and tight ends. Zach Brown did well to cover Shonn Greene in the flat. Akeem Ayers prevented a completion to McCluster. Moise Fokou laid a big hit on Jackie Battle. Battle recovered and made a catch, but Fokou announced in a game situation that Battle never would have regained a visual connection with his quarterback. Patrick Bailey had a very good coverage snap against Delanie Walker. When the drill moved to pass protection, the linebackers also rushed well. Kamerion Wimbley was particularly good. Rookie running back Bishop Sankey stood out as a positive on offense to me, particularly on one snap when he stood up Colin McCarthy.
  • Cornerback Coty Sensabaugh was the starter Monday, as the Titans continued to rotate him with Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Taylor Lewan continued to get the bulk of the work at left guard, where Andy Levitre is recovering from having his appendix removed.
  • Second offensive line, left to right: Byron Stingily, Eric Olsen, Chris Spencer, Tyler Horn and Jeff Adams.
  • To illustrate something small I’ve written for ESPN The Magazine, I’ve been on the lookout for a Jake Locker-to-McCluster dump-off pass. Perhaps because I needed it, I haven’t seen it. But Charlie Whitehurst has connected with Leon Washington in a second-team version.
  • Linebacker Tig Willard laid the first giant hit of camp in a team period, popping Sankey with a loud and attention-getting run stop. Wesley Woodyard put a good pop on Delanie Walker, separating him from the ball on a pass over the middle. Mike Martin delivered one of several big hits on McCluster.
  • In a one-on-one pass-rush period, Lewan did some nice work, showing strength versus the mammoth Ropati Pitoitua and handling Karl Klug. But Jurrell Casey pretty much flew by Lewan. Sammie Hill tipped Chance Warmack over at one point. Coaches blew the whistle pretty quickly to end each snap.
  • Whitehurst floated a pretty pass over rookie Marqueston Huff into the arms of Marc Mariani, who continues to play well. Whitehurst looks to loft most of his deep stuff on that high arc where a ball can drop in.
  • Taylor Thompson had a lesser day than the first two days, with a drop of a Zach Mettenberger pass with Daimion Stafford in coverage.
  • Veteran receiver Derek Hagan has been solid and looks like he can get into the mix with Mariani and Michael Preston for the fourth and fifth spots in the receiving corps.
  • Nate Washington showed good burst on a pretty reverse and coach Ken Whisenhunt joked they brought the elder statesman out of the archives for the play.
  • Former Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck watched practice and could not talk highly enough about Jackie Battle, who’s working at the front-line fullback. “He played like you are supposed to play on the first day in pads,” Bulluck said.
HOUSTON -- Toward the end of practice, Andre Johnson sat on a trainer's table with a towel draped over his head. Beside him was Houston Texans' running back Arian Foster, wearing the sweats he'd worn all practice. Together they watched a team to which their health is paramount go through a training camp practice.

Johnson
Foster
Foster
Foster and Johnson are dealing with what Texans' coach Bill O'Brien termed as minor injuries. Nobody seems very concerned with either player's injury, which should be good news for the Texans.

"I just got a little tight," Johnson said. "Just a precaution. I'm going to go in and see what's what. ...It's nothing bad. I'm not worried about it."

Johnson injured his right hamstring while making a diving catch from Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. It was a beautiful pass (which isn't always the case with Fitzpatrick's deep balls) and catch while Aloe Blacc's "The Man" blasted from the speakers. Once Johnson hit the ground, cornerback Brandon Harris backed away from him with his arms up in the air. He's not allowed to knock Johnson around and was hilariously trying to show he didn't. Harris was even reluctant to touch him to make him down by contact.

Johnson said afterward that he isn't worried about the injury, but having played football a long time, he's going to make sure to take care of it. He was on his way into the facility to get it looked at just before talking to reporters.

The good news about Johnson is that his on-field rapport with Fitzpatrick seems to be getting better each day -- and that play was a good example of it.

"I definitely felt more comfortable today than I did the past two days," Johnson said. "Hopefully things will get better and better."

Foster did not practice at all on Monday, after only going through half of Sunday's practice. During Sunday's practice, which was open to the public, Foster spent some time having his left hamstring stretched. He then went back into a drill before concluding all activities about an hour before practice ended.

"Those guys have played a lot of football," O'Brien said. "We'll make sure we do a good job of managing them through the season."
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When Jake Locker scans the field and runs through his reads, he’ll be picking from a nice smorgasbord of options.

Of the Titans’ top six pass-catchers right now, no two really look alike. That’s a nice feature to have, that variety.

A run through, in roughly their order of importance and quality:

WR Kendall Wright: An excellent slot guy who’s shifty and fast enough to cause problems. Ken Whisenhunt is likely to line him up outside, too, and to send him on more than just underneath stuff. He was dynamic downfield and can add that to his NFL game.

Backup situation: There is no one else like him on this team, though Dexter McCluster and Leon Washington could do a bit of what Wright does.

[+] EnlargeKendall Wright
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsKendall Wright caught 94 passes for 1,079 yards and two touchdowns last season.
WR Nate Washington: Can line up in all three receiver spots. Lacks top-end size or speed, but makes up for it with reliability and craftiness. He’s going to be where he’s supposed to be and looked to be a Jake Locker favorite when the quarterback was healthy last season.

Backup situation: The Titans don't have another all-around receiver who's proven himself over a long career.

WR Justin Hunter: The blazing downfield X receiver who should be threatening and stretching defenses even when the ball is not coming his way. He had a catch in the camp opener Saturday that is the sort the team hopes he can make with regularity -- climbing over Coty Sensabaugh and collecting a pass on the boundary.

Backup situation: No one else among the receivers has speed in the same range as Hunter.

TE Delanie Walker: A tough and athletic tight end who can muscle his way to success. The Titans feel he gives them mismatch opportunities, as he can outrun a linebacker and overpower a defensive back.

Backup situation: Craig Stevens is a better pass-catcher than he was given a chance to show last season, but he's not in Walker's class. Taylor Thompson should be at least OK in the department, but is no roster lock yet.

RB Dexter McCluster: More quick than fast (though he says he’s both), he’s just 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds. He has played more receiver than running back in his first four years in the league. He’ll get shots to lone up in the slot or to motion there, but he’ll come out of the backfield and give the Titans far better receiver skills than Chris Johnson showed in recent years.

Backup situation: Leon Washington can do some of the same things, but doesn't match McCluster's quickness.

RB Bishop Sankey: Projects to be the Titans best all-around back once he learns the ropes. He’s completely comfortable as a pass-catcher, and while not likely as dynamic as McCluster, defenses will have to account for the possibility of him working as a receiver when he’s on the field.

Backup situation: If he went down, McCluster would likely catch even more passes. And Shonn Greene would be expected to do a bit more in the area.

***

“It’s become a matchup game, and you’re trying to create those mismatches,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We have a number of guys that we feel can do that, and I’m hopeful that we’ll get some guys that step up during camp in those backup roles that we have confidence can do that.

“When you get to the season, it’s more about week to week, what their roles are. If we don’t have somebody, then we’re going to lean more heavily on some of the others that we know what they can do.”

“I’ll give you the perfect example. Wide receiver that we had in San Diego last year, Tutu (Seyi Ajirotutu) wasn’t even on our team at the start of the season. We’re playing Kansas City in a critical game late in the year, on the last play of the game in a 2-minute situation as an X, he catches the touchdown pass. You never would have expected that to win the game, but that’s what this league’s all about. He came in, he showed up, earned more trust from the quarterback, and he made a play for us.”

The Titans are going to throw downfield more, and they will be counting on Hunter to make a big contribution as they expand in that department.

That, in turn, will help create opportunities underneath.

“Wideouts may not be wide open down the field, but we can leak out and still make plays out of the backfield,” McCluster said.

In 2-minute drills, Whisenhunt expects McCluster and the backs to be big contributors as well.

“If you’re efficient with that, a lot of times the back is going to make big chucks for you,” Whisenhunt said. “If the down-the-field throws aren’t there, they are playing off coverage, if you can do that it’s big. It takes discipline. But we’re working at it.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- While camp opened Saturday, it really opens this morning.

The Titans are about the take the field in pads, and Ken Whisenhunt and his staff will see the team hitting in a way they’ve only seen before on film.

“I hope it is a challenge, we need challenges,” Whisenhunt said. “I think the first day in pads, they’ll be fired up for that. ... I think it’s the day where we get to learn a little bit more. I’m hesitant to say that we’re going to be enlightened about our whole team. I think we’ll find out a little bit about some guys.

“But the games are different speed. A week and a half from now, when everybody’s sore and banged up and guys are missing reps and somebody has to shoulder all that, it’s a process. Make no mistake about it, pads are an important part of that.”

Or as defensive coordinator Ray Horton put it: "That’s what football is. If it was in shorts, it’d be basketball.”

While things get more physical for skill players, the biggest difference comes for the linemen.

“We see everyone play full speed for the first time, and this group has never had that as a team,” center Brian Schwenke said. “You get sick of the D-linemen hitting you on pass and you just absorbing it. Now there is no excuse. You can do what you need to do to stop them.”

There will not be any goal line work today, but Whisenhunt said the Titans will get to some this week before they practice with the Falcons in Flowery Branch, Georgia.
Examining the Indianapolis Colts' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
This is the safest position on the roster for the Colts. They plan to always keep a veteran backup if Luck ever goes down with an injury.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

The Colts will have a solid running combination if -- and we’re saying if until proven wrong -- Richardson can bounce back from a poor first season in Indianapolis and Bradshaw and Ballard can stay injury-free. Harvey, who has made the switch from linebacker, has moved head of Stanley Havili to be the team's fullback because Havili is on the physically unable to perform list.

RECEIVERS (5)

The final receiver spot will come down to Rogers and Griff Whalen. If the Colts want to play it safe, Whalen is the guy because he’s familiar with Luck and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, but Rogers has the size and speed the team likes. There’s also the possibility of the Colts keeping six receivers.

TIGHT ENDS (4)

Allen, who missed all but one game in 2013, and Fleener have the potential to be one of the top tight end duos in the league. Doyle and Saunders are both familiar with the system after backing up Fleener in Allen’s absence last season.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

There are plenty of questions surrounding the offensive line outside of tackles Castonzo and Cherilus. The one thing general manager Ryan Grigson wanted with this group is depth. The Colts have plenty of it.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)

Like the offensive line, the Colts want depth on the defensive line so they can constantly rotate in players, so come the fourth quarter they still have fresh legs to get after the opponent. Jones was the key offseason acquisition for the Colts. Chapman showed flashes last season; now he needs to do it every snap that he’s on the field.

LINEBACKERS (10)

All eyes will be on outside linebacker as the Colts look to find a replacement for Mathis, who is suspended for the first four games of the season. Werner gets the first crack at starting in Mathis’ spot. McNary is a player for whom Grigson has high expectations. It’ll be up to defensive coordinator Greg Manusky on how he uses McNary.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (10)

It’s anybody’s guess how the secondary will perform. It’s anybody’s guess who will start alongside Landry at safety. It looked like it would be Howell for most of the offseason, but the Colts signed the veteran Adams in June. Can Toler finally remain healthy? Can Davis live up to his contract? So many questions with no answers at the moment.

SPECIALIST

This only changes if an injury occurs.
Examining the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
General manager David Caldwell has said he likes to keep three quarterbacks, which means all three will have to be on the active roster, because Stanzi is ineligible for the practice squad. Stanzi should start the season as the No. 2 because he’s more ready to play than Bortles, but that will likely flip-flop at some point. Stephen Morris is a practice squad candidate.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

If the Jags elect to keep only four backs, Todman and Johnson likely would battle for the final spot. That is assuming Robinson continues to be very good in camp. He might end up getting more playing time than any of the other backs after Gerhart if he shows he can be a reliable pass-catcher. Johnson has to prove he can pass block and doesn’t have problems with ball security.

RECEVIERS (6)

With Ace Sanders taking a leave of absence for personal issues and then facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, it opens an additional spot. Doss, whom the team signed as a free agent in March, looks like the favorite to get the last spot, edging out undrafted rookie Allen Hurns and former practice-squad player Chad Bumphis. Doss missed most of the organized team activities and minicamp because of a calf injury, allowing Taylor, Bumphis and Hurns to get valuable reps. Doss was not a consistent receiver in his three seasons in Baltimore but he led the NFL in punt return average last season and can step right in for Sanders in that role. I have Taylor beating out Hurns because of his experience, but I can easily see that being flipped if the Jags want to add more size. Hurns is 6-foot-3; Taylor is 6-0.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jensen flashed during OTAs and gets the edge over three other players. He’s a big kid (6-6, 270) who is a raw version of Lewis, one of the league’s best blocking tight ends. Jensen will need a year or two to develop and likely will be used as an extra blocker more than a pass-catcher.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)

Some of the battles for starting jobs along the line are going to be intriguing during camp. Joeckel and Beadles are safe, but every other spot is up for grabs. Even Pasztor, who started 12 games last season, is uncertain because we don’t know how his surgically repaired shoulder will hold up during camp. If it’s fine, then he will win the starting job at right tackle. McClendon and Linder are battling for the right guard spot, and Brewster is going to have to hold off Bowanko and two others to be the starter at center. Bradfield has value because he can play both tackle spots.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

This should be the biggest upgraded position on the roster thanks to the additions of Clemons, Bryant and Hood. Despite public perception, Alualu isn’t on the bubble for two reasons: He played solidly last season, and there really isn’t anyone else on the roster as talented as he is to back up Bryant. The Jags are excited about Smith, who could end up playing more than Davis as the No. 3 LEO (hybrid end/linebacker) by the time the season is over.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Either John Lotulelei or J.T. Thomas, two key special teams players last season, could stick if the Jaguars decide to keep an extra linebacker instead of five cornerbacks, or if Hayes’ surgically repaired knee doesn’t respond well. Reynolds did a solid job subbing for Watson (groin) during OTAs and minicamp at the new OTTO position (replaces strongside linebacker).

CORNERBACKS (5)

The Jags will have to decide whether to keep fourth-year player Mike Harris or Jeremy Harris, a seventh-round pick in 2013 who spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a back injury. The 6-2, 185-pound Jeremy Harris is a better fit for what coach Gus Bradley wants in his cornerbacks than the 5-10, 188-pound Mike Harris, who was a member of former GM Gene Smith’s final draft class. Blackmon has been working inside as well, which also makes Mike Harris expendable. Fourth-round draft pick Aaron Colvin will begin the season on the PUP list and doesn't count against the roster limit.

SAFETIES (4)
Chris Prosinski has seemingly been a bubble player since he was drafted in the fourth round in 2011, but there is too much competition for him to survive this time. I thought Sherrod Martin would have an edge over Young and several other players because of his experience (he started 36 games for Carolina in his first five seasons) but Young has been working with the second unit ahead of Martin. Evans seems to be the name everyone mentions when talking about the first Caldwell draft pick to get cut, but though he might lose his starting job to Guy, he’s likely to stick around at least another year.

SPECIALISTS (3)

These guys should have little or no competition to make the roster.
Examining the Tennessee Titans' roster.

QUARTERBACKS (3)
If all are healthy, Locker starts and Whitehurst is the game-day backup with Mettenberger not dressed, at least at the beginning.

RUNNING BACKS (5)
Battle beats Collin Mooney because he can carry the ball and is a good special teams player. Mooney has not seen first team reps in the first two days of camp. Washington could get some touches, but is on the team to return.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)
Mariani and Preston both making it seems like a long shot to me, but it could happen. I think a receiver who is cut elsewhere at the end of the preseason is signed and on the roster when the season starts.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Walker has said he expects to play on the line more and Stevens is a blocker. Thompson is at a make-or-break point and could easily lose out to someone emerging or an outsider.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8)

A starting caliber tackle is on the bench (Oher or Lewan) and that means Byron Stingily is less needed than backups for the interior such as Spencer and Olsen.

DEFENSIVE LINE (8)

A big fight here is pending with Lavar Edwards having value and Klug being a question at the start of his time in the 3-4. But the Titans are going to have to make tough cuts on the line. Eight defensive linemen on a 3-4 team seems like too much, but GM Ruston Webster has said it could happen.

LINEBACKERS (9)

McCarthy, Gooden and Moise Fokou could be battling for one spot between them. McCarthy is the best football player if he can stay healthy. Year 2 would be early to give up on a third-rounder in Gooden.

CORNERBACK (5)

The fifth spot could be up for debate, though Campbell is over a shoulder problem he’s had for some time and will be removed from the pressure put on him by former coordinator Jerry Gray, who over-touted him. (That said, his first two days have been really bad.)

SAFETY (4)
Khalid Wooten, a corner who got summer work at safety and could be a versatile guy, might beat Stafford. I was tempted to give fourth safety to a player not on the roster.

PUNTER (1)

A solid guy who had a bit of an off year in 2013.

KICKER (1)

He has a huge leg but is completely unproven and comes with a risk. The favorite in a competition with undrafted rookie Travis Coons.

LONG SNAPPER (1)

There has not been much chatter about a position player snapping, but it still surprises me a team would dedicate 1/53rd of the roster to the position.
Examining the Houston Texans' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Fitzpatrick is the starter, and got back the man who will be his favorite target for training camp. He and Andre Johnson spent extra time together Friday night, on the eve of their first practice. Savage isn't ready to start yet, but they didn't draft him expecting that. Keenum is the only quarterback on this roster who was not brought in by new coach Bill O'Brien, but I think he keeps him. Having three quarterbacks prevents you from being forced to start an unprepared rookie in case of injuries. Savage's development is paramount.

RUNNING BACKS/FULLBACKS (4)

Blue, a sixth-round pick, and Brown, a free-agent pickup, will battle during camp to be Foster's backup. That's an important role, given the questions about Foster's health. He's healthy now, but that's always a moving target with running backs, especially those in their late 20s. Prosch, another draft pick, blocked well during the offseason. He'll stick around as the only fullback on the roster.

RECEIVERS (5)

I had second-year player Alan Bonner on the list, but Bonner left camp with an injury on the first day. Tough break for a guy who spent last season on injured reserve. Martin, on the other hand, has played really well in the first few days of camp and is getting a large share of the punt return reps. The receivers as a whole have looked great.

TIGHT ENDS (4)

The Texans kept only three tight ends for most of last season, but they'll need more for this offense.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

The only remaining battle on the offensive line is between Jones and Su'a-Filo at left guard. Drafted with the first pick of the second round, Su'a-Filo has starting-level talent, but he missed most of the offseason. Now he'll have to play catch-up; Jones has a head start. Elsewhere: left tackle Brown, center Myers, right guard Brooks and right tackle Newton. Brooks is on the team's active/non-football injury list, which usually means his injury isn't something that should keep him out long. Clabo is a veteran who was signed just before camp and is now focused on making the team.

DEFENSIVE LINE (5)

This is assuming Pagan, a sixth-round pick, recovers from his injury and does enough to remain on the roster. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now. Pagan had shoulder surgery after college. Powe's speed and size were really impressive during OTAs, as was Crick's athleticism. And, of course, there's Watt.

LINEBACKERS (9)

The Texans added two outside linebackers -- Quentin Groves and Lawrence Sidbury -- after Day 1 of training camp. They could wind up on the next version of the projected roster, but for now I'll wait to see more of them. This will be a much talked-about position because of the addition of Clowney, the first overall draft pick. The Texans get versatility from Reed and Tuggle, who can play both inside and outside, and return Cushing, the heart of this defense who hasn't finished the past two seasons. He's confident he'll stay healthy this season. Bullough could make the team as an undrafted rookie, the only one I have on the list this year. Reed raved about him on Friday.

CORNERBACKS (6)

Jackson suddenly found himself the elder statesman this offseason, with Joseph working to the side as he recovers from offseason surgery. Joseph came back for training camp and is on a program set by trainers for how long. Hal is tentatively on this list, but the seventh-round pick could be usurped during training camp. Bouye was a promising undrafted rookie last season and has drawn compliments from O'Brien. Slot corner is another question mark for the Texans. Jackson has played there some.

SAFETIES (5)

Lewis, who has played in Romeo Crennel's defense before, started next to Swearinger during the offseason and should be competing against Clemons during training camp to be the team's starting free safety.

SPECIALISTS (3)

Bullock's kicking and confidence improved at the end of last season. He's competing with undrafted rookie Chris Boswell to be the Texans' kicker and we'll get a better feel for how he does as training camp progresses.

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