AFC South Notes: Colts, Jaguars, Texans, Titans

     

Colts

Colts T.Y. Hilton explained that missing time due to his calf injury has “challenged [him] mentally” but he’s eager to return. 

“It’s challenged me mentally,” Hilton said, via Stephen Holder of The Athletic. “It’s tough. I just want to be out there. I don’t care. I have all offseason (to heal). If I have to go out there at 30 percent, I don’t care. Just put me out there.”

Hilton did, however, say that the team’s medical staff still has not cleared him and is playing it safe.  

“They don’t want to risk it,” Hilton said.

Colts HC Frank Reich said Hilton was willing to play in Week 13 despite being hobbled. 

He was willing to go in there,” Reich said. “I give him credit. He wanted to be on the field. We knew even if we could get him on the field for 20, 30 plays, some of it was just as a decoy, so they would roll the coverage to him or do something like that and give us a chance to run it a little bit better.”

  • Colts TE Eric Ebron said his ankle surgery went well and he’s looking forward to 2020. (Twitter)

Jaguars

Jaguars sixth-round rookie QB Gardner Minshew said his time on the bench was beneficial for him in terms of being able to take a step back and focus on some of the smaller aspects of his game. Minshew now has the final four games of the season to show some growth that Jacksonville hopes to bank on going forward. 

“A lot of times when you’re playing, you have a million different things that you’re having to focus in on and you kind of lose some of the bigger stuff,” Minshew said via Jacksonville.com’s John Reid. “I guess I should say some of the smaller stuff sometimes, but when you’re out of that role, you can kind of step back and see the little details, and it was a really good experience for me.”

Jaguars HC Doug Marrone said he wants the rookie Minshew to improve his ball security after committing five interceptions and seven lost fumbles so far this season. 

I think the first thing is obviously the turnovers,” Marrone said, John Oehser of the team’s official site. “That’s the first thing, the ball security. That’s the one thing that he had a lot of fumbles and we wanted to make sure that we clean that up.”

Marrone added that they’re working on getting Minshew accustomed to learning the different types of coverages he did not face in college. 

We’ve worked hard on it, and just having a better control of, ‘Hey listen, this is what we see, this is where we want to go,’” Marrone said. “We know he can extend plays; we know he can run. Now we just want to get him on the different types of coverages that he might not have seen in college as much.”

  • ESPN’s Bill Barnwell writes the Jaguars will have an interesting conundrum with QB Nick Foles, as his salary makes him prohibitive to cut or trade and he’s lost his starting job. 
  • Barnwell points out Jacksonville could try to trade a draft pick to another team in exchange for them taking on Foles’ salary, though their options are limited there. 

Texans

The Texans invested major resource in their offensive line this offseason in an effort to finally protect QB Deshaun Watson. It took a host of draft picks, including one of the biggest trades in recent NFL history to acquire LT Laremy Tunsil, but it appears Houston accomplished its mission. After being sacked 62 times last season, most in the NFL, Watson has been brought down only 35 times this season. He says he’s starting to trust his line to protect him more. 

“Yeah, for sure,” Watson said via Pro Football Talk. “I mean, me just trusting in my O-line, and me trusting in the passing concepts and just trusting my eyes and my feet, and trusting my instincts that I know when to escape and when I can just stick in even when the pocket seems like it’s pounding on me. Just trusting it and sticking to what I know, and the receivers are going to be where I want them to be, and putting the ball in the right place. Definitely been working hard on that and continue to trust in those guys up front because they’re doing a great job.”

  • Texans first-round OT Tytus Howard underwent successful surgery on his meniscus in his right knee and is anticipated to be ready for the offseason program. (Aaron Wilson)

Titans

Titans QB Ryan Tannehill has been able to jump-start his career in Tennessee after the Dolphins cut the cord and traded him this offseason. Since taking over as the starter, Tannehill leads the NFL in yards per attempt and has maneuvered the Titans into playoff contention with four games left in the season. He’s also put himself in position to be Tennessee’s long-term quarterback, but he’s not focusing on that right now. 

“For me, it’s a head-down process of taking advantage of the week,” Tannehill said via Jim Wyatt of the team’s official website. “I’ve seen how this thing goes, the waves, the ins and outs of the season. So if you start taking a step back at this point, then you’re doing a disservice to your teammates and to yourself of opportunities you could take advantage of this week. So, really just trying to lock in on the Oakland Raiders and do everything I can to prepare for them.”

  • ESPN’s Bill Barnwell believes Tannehill is a strong candidate for the franchise tag. 
  • NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport said it’s hard to see Titans QB Marcus Mariota returning next season in any form or fashion. 
  • Titans second-round rookie WR A.J. Brown was added to the injury report with a calf injury on Thursday. (Wyatt)

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