AFC South Preseason Capsules
AFC preseason capsules, by divisions:
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (12-6)
OPEN CAMP: July 22, Anderson, Indiana.
LAST YEAR: Colts won first division title without Peyton Manning in nearly two decades, and Andrew Luck rallied them from 28-point deficit to pull off second-greatest playoff comeback in NFL history against Chiefs. But at New England, Luck threw four interceptions in 43-22 blowout that prevented Indy vs. Manning matchup for AFC championship.
CAMP NEEDS: Find starting center, improve along offensive line, solidify pass defense, pass rush, and finding replacement for Bethea in secondary.
EXPECTATIONS: In division that lacks standout quarterbacks and Super Bowl contenders, Luck and Colts stand apart. They made playoffs in 2012, won playoff game last year and appear poised to take next logical step. But to win NFL title, need WR Reggie Wayne to be healthy, Luck to be protected better, and improved defense that will be without NFL sacks champion Robert Mathis for first four games.
TENNESSEE TITANS (7-9)
OPEN CAMP: July 25, Nashville, Tennessee.
LAST YEAR: QB Jake Locker missed nine games, including final seven, and Titans missed playoffs for fifth straight season. Owner/founder Bud Adams died in October, and son-in-law Tommy Smith became president/CEO. Smith fired Mike Munchak in January when coach wouldn't make some staff changes, ending Hall of Fame lineman's 31-year tenure with this franchise as player and coach.
CAMP NEEDS: RB Shonn Greene needs to be healthy after two knee surgeries. Lewan can push both veteran LT Michael Roos or Oher for playing time. WR Justin Hunter must keep developing while keeping some of weight he added. Defensively, pick either Blidi Wreh-Wilson or Coty Sensabaugh as Verner's replacement, settle linebacker starters and rotation transitioning to 3-4 scheme.
EXPECTATIONS: How good Tennessee can be depends on Locker's health. He appears recovered from season-ending Lisfranc injury in right foot, must avoid further injury so Whisenhunt can squeeze most out of new offense - Locker's third in his fourth season. Playoffs among goals, but the Titans must fine-tune new offense and defense in August with three of first four regular-season games on road.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (4-12)
OPEN CAMP: July 25, Jacksonville, Florida.
LAST YEAR: Under general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley, rebuilding Jaguars lost first eight games by double digits. They enjoyed slight turnaround, winning three of four at one point, but ended up with fifth losing record in last six years.
CAMP NEEDS: Get WRs Cecil Shorts III, Lee and Robinson back following offseason injuries and keep them healthy. Develop continuity along revamped offensive line. Get newcomers Beadles, Bryant, Clemons, Gerhart and Watson more comfortable in starting roles. Keep grooming Bortles.
EXPECTATIONS: Despite roster overhaul, Jaguars are probably still another year away from competing for playoffs. Bortles is eventual starter and key to franchise's future success, but might sit out all of 2014 while transitioning from spread offense to pro system.
HOUSTON TEXANS (2-14)
OPEN CAMP: July 25, Houston.
LAST YEAR: Texans entered season with designs on reaching Super Bowl after two straight playoff appearances. They won first two games, but soon quarterback Matt Schaub went through terrible stretch before being benched. Injuries piled up and Houston never won again, tying the worst record in franchise history.
CAMP NEEDS: Clowney missed minicamp after sports hernia surgery and he'll need camp to work on transition from end to OLB. Team must resolve issues with disgruntled WR Andre Johnson, who skipped minicamp. Fitzpatrick, who O'Brien chose as starter in June, needs to settle into new offense. RB Arian Foster must show he can return to form following back surgery.
EXPECTATIONS: Texans should be better, but aren't likely playoff contenders. Return of MLB Brian Cushing to play with Clowney and 2012 Defensive Player of Year J.J. Watt could give Houston dominant defense, but some question Fitzpatrick as answer to team's quarterback problem. If Texans don't get Johnson on field there will be big hole in offense. WR DeAndre Hopkins will have much more pressure to perform in second season.
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