AFC Notes: Colts, Steelers, Titans

     

Colts

  • NFL Media’s Charley Casserly writes the Colts see second-round WR Michael Pittman and RB Jonathan Taylor as instant-impact players on offense. He adds Indianapolis would also like to get Taylor involved in the passing game. 
  • Casserly says Colts CB Kenny Moore is the team’s No. 1 cover corner, though he’ll move inside to nickel in those packages. Free-agent signing Xavier Rhodes, 2019 second-rounder Rock Ya-Sin and 2019 fifth-rounder Marvell Tell will compete for playing time as the No. 2/outside corner. 
  • Casserly adds the top storyline for the Colts is how much new QB Philip Rivers has left in the tank, with Indianapolis banking on their elite offensive line and running game helping protect Rivers and keep him out of situations where he has to play from behind, which is where most of his mistakes in 2019 came from. 

Steelers

  • ESPN’s Brooke Pryor writes that while losing DT Javon Hargrave is a major loss, bringing back DL Stephon Tuitt from injury should help offset that for the Steelers. 
  • The Steelers haven’t replaced LB Mark Barron and could give more snaps to 2019 first-round LB Devin Bush and veteran LB Vince Williams. Bush added 2019 sixth-round LB Ulysees Gilbert could carve out a role: “It is up to Ulysees to get on the field. I think he is a really good player. He is really talented. I think he has all the intangibles, all the athleticism to get out there and play. It is up to him to put it all together. If it comes down to me and Vince taking all the reps, then I don’t think we have a problem doing that.”
  • The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly thinks Bush is Pittsburgh’s most important player in 2020 as he could shoulder a huge load on defense in just his second year. 
  • Kaboly adds the return of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger could help make Pittsburgh Super Bowl contenders. 
  • Round out the top five most important Steelers in 2020, per Kaboly, are EDGEs T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. Watt and Dupree helped fuel an outstanding defense in 2019 and Smith-Schuster needs to rebound as a No. 1 receiver in a contract year with Roethlisberger after struggling in that role last year. 

Titans

The uncertainty about what the pandemic will do to NFL revenue in 2020 and by extension the 2021 salary cap has caused most teams to clench up their coffers and table most contract negotiations. While the Titans are still working on a new deal for RB Derrick Henry, the uncertainty has left players like TE Jonnu Smith, DL DaQuan Jones and LB Jayon Brown heading into contract years without new deals. Ordinarily, those are the types of players Titans GM Jon Robinson would look to aggressively lock up. 

“I’m a big analogy guy,” Robinson said via Paul Kuharsky. “It’s no different than if I was if I was working for Pepsi or Coke, and I knew that we weren’t going to have as many sales. . . . You wouldn’t go out and buy a new house.

“I don’t know what that’s going to look like. It’s something that we will certainly talk about. You know, we’ve talked to the players and the reps. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now with everything, and I would say certainly with the salary cap too, because we’ve got to be mindful. What you don’t want to do is do something and then you’ve got to undo it or try to unpack it a year two years from now, given the uncertainty of the salary cap.”

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