AFC Notes: Colts, Texans, Titans



  • Colts LB Darius Leonard believes he could play against the Browns without practicing this week if necessary. He says the training staff has been cautious with him as he works through a groin injury: “I’m feeling better each day, gotta take it one day at a time.” (George Bremer)
  • Colts WR T.Y. Hilton is fine with his limited production so far as the team has been winning: “I’m a team guy. Whatever they need me to do. When the ball comes my way, I’ll be ready.” (Stephen Holder)
  • The Colts are bringing in DB Stephen Denmark for a workout this week. (Albert Breer)


The Texans face an uncertain future as they’ll be looking for both a head coach and a general manager to lead the team that has no first or second-round pick next year and limited financial flexibility. But the Texans do have a superstar in QB Deshaun Watson and DE J.J. Watt says he should be the next regime’s top priority.

“Deshaun Watson‘s an incredible quarterback,” Watt said via the team website. “He’s the face of this franchise. He’s the future of this team and this city. We have to do whatever we possibly can to make sure that he’s in the best position to have success and to lead this place to success, not only this year, not only next year, but for the next 10 years. Whatever it takes to give him all the tools he needs to be successful in order to be and flourish and build into the best possible version of himself he can be, that’s what we need to do.”

It’s hard not to read Watt’s comments and think of the Texans’ controversial decision to trade WR DeAndre Hopkins this offseason. Former HC Bill O’Brien caught more heat for that than any other move he made during his tenure but it appears team owner Cal McNair was on board with his rationale of not being able to afford a raise for Hopkins along with contracts for LT Laremy Tunsil and Watson.

“We would’ve loved to have Hopkins on our team, but when you have a franchise left tackle, which we re-did his contract, which by the way, he’s playing at a top-five level right now,” McNair said on Sports Radio 610. “The franchise left tackle is a huge piece of the puzzle. We have a franchise quarterback, which is what we’ve been looking for, for years, and what every team is looking for and trying to get. And we have them. And we have a very firm belief that Deshaun is our guy. So we had those two major contracts. As you look across the league, we are paying more than anyone, and it’s not really very close on our roster.

“So when Hopkins wanted to re-do his contract, it just wasn’t something we could do. We did trade him. We moved him. We moved him to a team that had the salary cap room to extend. We moved him to a team that I know the owners. It’s a great ownership. We moved him to a team that has an exciting and fun offense. I think we did a good job placing him in a good place. He’s a talent, talented guy. We would love to have him, but it wasn’t going to fit financially with all the constraints that we have in operating under the salary cap. It just wasn’t possible to do at this time.”

Hopkins didn’t buy McNair’s explanation, tweeting and later deleting a response, per Cody Stoots.

“Since I’am [sic] my own agent I guess I can speak on my clients departure. Kyle [sic] you never responded to my client when he thanked you after his departure. My client never asked for a new deal he asked for a bandaid deal which means a little raise. My client is very happy in AZ btw!”


  • According to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero, the NFL and NFLPA are looking into multiple unauthorized workouts by the Titans. 
  • He adds the facility remains closed and is unlikely to open Friday. Tennessee’s Week 5 game against the Bills remains on the schedule but that could change soon. 
  • NFL executives tell the Athletic’s Mike Sando that it was an open secret the Titans weren’t strictly enforcing mask guidelines at their team facility and it’s implausible the player workouts were conducted without the knowledge of the coaching staff, front office or training staff. 
  • Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, citing multiple sources, reports that the Titans are expected to face some form of penalties from safety protocol violations in relation to their Week 4 game against the Steelers getting postponed. 
  • Robinson’s source indicates that Tennessee’s fines are “not a matter of if, but when and how severe,” and league officials believe the organization violated safety protocols before and during their Week 4 postponement.

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