A friend of mine used to have a fallback breakup line: “I can’t help how I feel.”
I often use that when a reader might engage me in a debate about an opinion.
Some of those opinions, particularly on the prediction/forecast front, evolve, and I can't help if how I feel now is different than how I felt then based on more evidence.
So here’s one changed feeling or apology per AFC South team based on what I’ve seen and heard through camps and three-fourths of the preseason.
I’ve said over and over that two games is a small sample size for Arian Foster. While his move to the top of the depth chart was based on his performance at the end of last season when he started twice, I also still think it was initially based on hope. But his camp, his preseason, the way the Texans intend to use him, the season-ending injury to Ben Tate and the lack of a huge challenge from Steve Slaton have amounted to the stars aligning. The great game against Dallas can’t get too much weight based on the Cowboys’ weak effort. Still, it doesn’t mean nothing. Increasingly, I like Foster’s chances to be a difference maker for the Texans.
Honestly, I look over their depth chart and I can’t find anyone I feel like I’ve been super down on. I like this team, I think it’s potentially better than last season’s team. Strongside linebacker Philip Wheeler is a guy that I’ve doubted in the past who I think is in position to be better than I thought. Same, perhaps, for Tony Ugoh, though it’s awfully hard to make any sort of offensive line judgment since injuries have scrambled things so much. Once Charlie Johnson is healthy, I still think we could see Ugoh at left guard. I think he’s in the best place he’s been mentally and that it could pay off.
By the latter part of 2009, I was on board with the thinking that Derrick Harvey was turning into a good run-stopping player and in the mold of what most teams like in their left defensive end. Yes, he was definitely overdrafted when the Jaguars traded up to No. 8 overall to get him in 2008. But at that point people were looking to him as a pass rushing star and staple. Now, he’s probably fourth of the four starters. But playing with tackles Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu and opposite Aaron Kampman, Harvey could really be a quality player in a revamped front
I hit the Marc Mariani selection too hard when the Titans spent a seventh-round pick on the receiver out of Montana. Jeff Fisher’s son played at Montana and assistant secondary coach Tim Hauck also played at the school. But Mariani wasn’t a sentimental pick or just a flier who got extra points because of his school and connections. He can play. He drew early praise -- something some veterans struggle to get -- from Mike Heimerdinger at practices. While the Titans would like for Damian Williams to win the return jobs, he’s been not so hot in his two preseason games of work, and it’s possible Mariani could be the guy for the opener against Oakland.