AFC Notes: Colts, Texans, Titans

     

Colts

New Colts CB Xavier Rhodes struggled a lot at the end of his tenure with the Vikings. But Indianapolis made Rhodes a priority in free agency because it believes their zone-heavy scheme would put Rhodes in a better position to succeed than Minnesota’s man-oriented defense. Rhodes has been happy with the transition so far. 

“It’s so much easier,” Rhodes said via Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star. “I’ll tell you that. . . . This one is more zone, eyes to the quarterback. That’s going to be the main difference for me, is being able to play looking at the quarterback, rather than looking at the man.”

  • The Athletic’s Stephen Holder notes new Colts S Tavon Wilson not only adds depth following some opt-out decisions in Indianapolis’ secondary but he also provides more veteran leadership that the team thought it lacked last year. 
  • Colts DB coach Jonathan Gannon said he had high hopes for CB Marvell Tell before he opted out but plans to pick right back up with the 2019 fifth-round pick in 2021. (Erickson)
  • Colts DL coach Brian Baker said they will move DL Denico Autry from defensive end to defensive tackle as the situation calls for. (George Bremer)
 

Texans

Texans ILBs coach Bobby King said he’s hopeful they’ll be able to sign LB Zach Cunningham to a long-term contract extension. 

“Hopefully, Zach is here for a long time,” said King, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “He’s been good for a while now. The world is just kind of catching up to that. We hope Zach is here for a long time.”

King praised Cunningham’s ability to defend the run and pass. 

He does a lot of things very well,” King said. “He can play the run. He has incredible instincts. He’s good in coverage and he’s a tough guy, which people miss out on a lot.”

  • Texans WR Will Fuller says he’s feeling healthy coming off groin surgery as he goes into the 2020 season. Health is the big question for Fuller: “I’m feeling good. The surgery I had isn’t bothering me at all. If I can play 16 games, the sky is the limit.” (Aaron Wilson)
  • Fuller sees a huge opportunity this year with WR DeAndre Hopkins‘ departure leaving a lot of targets up for grabs: “Obviously with Hop not being here will open up things for everybody. He had a lot of targets. We’ll all be able to get it done and I feel like it will be a great season this year.” (Wilson)
  • Fuller is entering the final year of his contract but he’s not thinking about that: “I always felt like I’m not going to worry about a contract. A contract will come depending on how I play.” (Wilson)

Titans

Titans WR A.J. Brown doesn’t think it is out of the realm of possibility for him to lead the NFL in touchdowns and receiving yards in the upcoming season.

“Why not me? That’s my approach with anything,” Brown said, via Jim Wyatt of TennesseeTitans.com. “Other guys do it, so, why not? I have to be able to go through the entire game and make my routes look the same,” Brown added. “I have to be well-conditioned, and that’s what we preach with the Titans. It’s a key thing with Coach Vrabel. … Looking back at some film, I left some plays out there because I was a little tired. I want to be all-around complete.”

Brown says that he is in better shape both physically and mentally, and is also prepared for the Denver atmosphere in Week 1.

“I am definitely in a better place (physically), and I’m in better shape mentally as well,” Brown said. “Last year I was flying and going places, and I never could really sit still and put in the work. So I had time (this offseason) to get my feet up under me, and I really put in the work to get myself in the best shape possible coming into camp. It is only going to get tougher – we are going to Denver (in Week One), and the air is really thin up there.”

  • Based on what he saw of former Titans RB Dion Lewis last year and what he’s heard about third-round RB Darrynton Evans, Wyatt thinks the rookie is faster, more explosive and will have more big-play ability. 
  • Titans HC Mike Vrabel confirmed DE Vic Beasley has reported to the team: “He is here, which I am excited about. He is in meetings and working through same schedule everyone else is.” (Wyatt)
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