In honor of Tim Graham’s idea to honor Cinco de Mayo with five random thoughts, here are five random thoughts on the AFC South:
1) I wonder how much Pete Metzelaars will carry over Howard Mudd’s thinking about offensive linemen, and how much he will stray from it. Mudd was way down on Tony Ugoh, who may get a whole new second chance after Mudd’s retirement. Metzelaars replaces a legendary assistant, but is going to have leeway to put his stamp on things. Four of five incumbent starters are back, but I feel like only one is absolutely assured of being in the same spot: center Jeff Saturday.
2) There are a lot of great Twitter guys in the AFC South rookie classes, but I think the Texans’ Ben Tate (@BenTateRB) is the early leader for his combination of quality and quantity. He’s shown confidence and a lot of respect at the same time in what I’ve read, reaching out to several NFL guys to introduce himself or connect. If he’s the productive running back the team expects, adding his personality to that is going to make him very popular in Houston very quickly.
3) The ability of the Texans, Titans and Jaguars to close the gap on the Colts could come from new special-teams sparks. I’m anxious to see Trindon Holliday, Damian Williams and Scotty McGee at work. The Colts downplayed their own attempts to address the return spots, by Ray Fisher may be an answer. How those four stack up comparatively could have a correlation to the standings.
4) Titans sixth-round quarterback Rusty Smith could create a lot of buzz in training camp. He’s the fourth guy now, but will wind up third unless he implodes. I saw him in a very limited window at a small, all-rookie practice. But between that and what the Titans have said about him, I expect people who love a drop back, pocket passer with a big arm (I admit I do) are going to fall in love with him. And if or when Vince Young struggles, a faction will emerge that prematurely asks about Smith’s potential to get on the field.
5) Pot Roast’s backside is a concern. Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton had an impressive rookie year and can really stop the run. He’s hard to move, but also has to be able to move. And his backside was huge at Jaguars’ minicamp last weekend. He’s listed at 325. I think they’d like him to be 325. I feel certain he’s well above 325.