How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

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Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky


Slaton 1. Steve Slaton, Texans RB.

A lost fumble early in Buffalo was enough for Gary Kubiak, who promptly decided Slaton could have the rest of the afternoon off because his ball security issues had become too big.

Reliable as a pass protector and a route runner, those qualities won’t mean much if Slaton can’t re-win the coaches’ confidence and earn chances with the ball in his hands.

2. Titans and Jaguars tackling.

Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson are dangerous backs capable of hitting home runs that demoralize a defense. That’s even more the case when MJD chugs out of what appears a sure tackle by Kyle Vanden Bosch or Johnson bounces right off Brian Russell.

The two defenses are sure to hear a lot about sure tackling as they return to work.

Monroe 3. Eugene Monroe, Jaguars LT.

The Jaguars offensive line has been inconsistent and some players have been upset about the musical chairs feel to the lineup. Not all the changes have been dictated by injuries.

Jack Del Rio went with Tra Thomas as the starter in Nashville, and Vanden Bosch had his most productive game and first sack. The Jaguars remain high on Monroe, but shouldn’t he be far enough along at this point that they are reluctant not to play him?


Moats 1. Ryan Moats, Texans RB.

Given 23 carries after the early benching of fumble-prone Slaton, Moats was outstanding in Buffalo. He ran for 126 yards and three fourth-quarter touchdowns.

How Gary Kubiak distributes the carries from here is to be determined, but it would be hard for him not to give Moats a significant opportunity in Indianapolis on Sunday in what qualifies as the franchise's biggest game ever.

2. Colts’ third-down defense.

Indianapolis went into the game against San Francisco allowing opponents to convert 43.5 percent of their third down opportunities, which ranked 27th in the league.

But the 49ers often wound up in third-and-long and managed only two conversions in 12 attempts. That’s 16.6 percent. An improvement they hope to build on Sunday against the team hoping to challenge them atop the AFC South, Houston.

3. Titans offensive line.

A group that had an excellent season in 2008 has not been the same in a follow-up campaign. The Titans O-line helped Vince Young make a successful start, and his mobility helped his blocker too, and punched enough holes for Johnson to set a new single-game rushing mark.

No sacks, 228 ground yards for Johnson and 305 rushing yards overall mean Michael Roos, Eugene Amano, Kevin Mawae, Jake Scott and David Stewart had a good day.