AFC South Notes: Colts, Texans, Titans

     

Colts

  • Per the Athletic’s Zak Keefer, Colts GM Chris Ballard told the team before his end of the year press conference there could be quite a bit of roster turnover in 2020: “To sit here and say that we’re not gonna have turnover on the roster, that would’ve been dishonest to them.”
  • The Colts aren’t holding out much hope for a return from retired QB Andrew Luck according to Ballard: “Look, Andrew’s retired… I haven’t talked to him in a few weeks. I think he’s busy being a father. But Andrew’s retired. I think we all need to accept that.” (Stephen Holder)
  • Ballard added the Colts aren’t completely sold on Jacoby Brissett as Indianapolis’ franchise quarterback: “Jacoby did some good things… But our passing game has to improve…. The jury is still out. That’s why we did the short-term deal we did.” (Holder)
  • For now, though, Ballard says the Colts will plan on Brissett being their starter in 2020: “Right now, yes Jacoby is our starting quarterback.” (Mike Wells)
  • Brissett (shoulder) and Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) will not need offseason surgery. (Kevin Bowen)
  • While Indianapolis will explore opportunities to upgrade at quarterback in the draft, Ballard says they won’t force a pick: “One of the biggest mistakes teams make is they force it. You talk yourself into a guy. You set yourself back, four or five years.” (Keefer)
  • Ballard defended the Colts’ decision to stick with K Adam Vinatieri as long as they did despite numerous missed kicks: “I don’t think the only reason we lost some close games was because of Adam Vinatieri.” (Bowen)
  • The Colts plan to re-evaluate Vinatieri at the end of February as he continues his rehab from a knee injury. (George Bremer)
  • Ballard mentioned he thought the lack of veteran leadership on defense played a role in the Colts’ struggles in 2019: “We missed the leadership of a guy like Al Woods, Mike Mitchell… I think I took that for granted…. I have to do a good job of acquiring the right type of veterans.” (Holder)
  • Ballard is hopeful Indianapolis will be able to bring back LT Anthony Castonzo, who is mulling retirement: “Shame the league is just finding out the type of player he is. We’ll be in touch over next few weeks.” (Chappell)
  • Colts DL Tyquan Lewis is a player Ballard says he talked to for a long time after the season: “I need to see more.” (Joel Erickson)
  • Ballard praised Colts RB Marlon Mack for his ability to play through injuries: “Marlon could’ve easily missed more games, but he didn’t, because he fought to get in there.” (Erickson)
  • Though second-round rookie WR Parris Campbell didn’t play much due to injuries, Ballard reiterated the Colts still believe in his ability and will focus on keeping him healthy in 2020: “We’re still encouraged by Parris Campbell.” (Erickson)
  • Adding more explosive wide receivers to the offense is a priority for the Colts this offseason, however. (Bowen)
  • According to Ballard, neither Colts DC Matt Eberflus nor OC Nick Sirianni received any requests to interview for head coaching vacancies. (Holder)

Texans

Texans DE J.J. Watt (shoulder) feels he could play in Houston’s entire AFC Wildcard game on Saturday against the Bills, but the medical staff has a “plan in place” for him. Watt said he felt “really good” in Wednesday’s practice after undergoing tests and game simulations. 

“I think we have a good plan. Today was my first day in pads. I went through a lot of tests. Today was a really good day, I felt really good out there, did a lot of stuff to simulate what’s going to go on in the game,” said Watt, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. 

That plan for the most part involves putting the three-time NFL defensive player of the year in situations where he can maximize his ability and his chances to impact the game. 

“Well, he’s a pretty good pass rusher, so I would like to get some pass-rushing reps out of him. So, you’re looking at third down, two minute and then we’ll see after that,” Texans DC Romeo Crennel said via NFL Media’s Kevin Patra.

Watt hasn’t played in eight games and just returned to practice a couple of weeks ago, so making sure he doesn’t have too much on his plate is a priority for the Texans. 

“Even though he’s been working with the strength and conditioning people, the football condition when you’re playing a big game, your adrenaline gets picked up and you get winded a little bit faster,” Crennel said. “We’ll have to measure that to see how that goes, and then I think that will impact how much he plays. But I don’t think that we want to expose him too much if he’s not able to go at a good level.”

  • Texans HC Bill O’Brien said Watt will play a prominent role Saturday: “He’s playing. He’ll be in there quite a bit.” (Wilson)
  • Texans WR Will Fuller will be a game-time decision. (Aaron Reiss)

Titans

Titans RB Derrick Henry believes that they will have to run the ball successfully throughout the playoffs in order to reach the Super Bowl. 

“I think in the playoffs you have to be able to run the ball to get to the Super Bowl,” Henry said, via Jim Wyatt of the team’s official site. “I think running the ball effectively is the key to winning games in the playoffs.”

Regarding Saturday’s game against the Patriots, Henry said New England’s defense does well scheming for offenses and uses a “variety” of plays. 

They do a really good job scheming,” Henry said. “And they throw a variety of things at you on defense.”

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