NFL preview 2012: The AFC South


Running back Arian Foster and the Houston Texans could run away with a division filled with rebuilding and still-growing teams. (Bill Feig/Associated Press)
September 4, 2012

1

HOUSTON TEXANS

The Texans have one of the league’s most potent offenses when healthy, but injuries continue to be a major concern.

Quarterback Matt Schaub is back in the lineup after Albert Haynesworth fell on his right foot in Week 10, causing a variation of a Lisfranc injury that required surgery.

Wide receiver Andre Johnson has missed 12 games over the past two seasons, and running back Arian Foster missed three games last season with a sore hamstring. The defense finished second overall in the NFL last season, its first with Wade Phillips as coordinator. Defensive end Mario Williams is gone, but he played just five games last season for the Texans, who got 111 / 2 sacks from Connor Barwin.

ROOKIE TO WATCH: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina, Rd. 1

2

TENNESSEE TITANS

Second-year Coach Mike Munchak named second-year quarterback Jack Locker the starter over veteran Matt Hasselbeck. Locker is much more mobile, making him a better fit for the offense.

The Titans were second to last in rushing last season, in part because of the preseason holdout of running back Chris Johnson before he signed a four-year deal worth $53.5 million. Johnson admitted he wasn’t in football shape when he reported, but he has indicated he expects a bounce-back season.

Wide receiver Kenny Britt received a one-game suspension from the NFL after his July arrest for driving under the influence. In 2010, he had 775 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 12 games.

ROOKIE TO WATCH: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor, Rd. 1

3

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew ended a 38-day holdout last weekend without a new contract, but said he had no regrets. Jacksonville’s ownership and the front office insisted that the reigning rushing champion honor the final two years of his deal.

That soap opera overshadowed another pressing concern at quarterback, where Blaine Gabbert enters his second season. The 2011 first-round pick (No. 10 overall) struggled last year, throwing 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while starting the final 14 games.

Gabbert was sacked 40 times and finished with a 65.4 passer rating, last among quarterbacks with enough attempts to qualify.

ROOKIE TO WATCH: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State, Rd. 1

4

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

The Colts transitioned into a new era with the arrival of quarterback Andrew Luck. The No. 1 overall pick immediately becomes the offensive centerpiece after Peyton Manning departed for Denver.

Luck looked NFL ready during the preseason, although there is some concern at wide receiver. Five-time Pro Bowl selection Reggie Wayne will be 34 in November; Austin Collie suffered a concussion during the preseason; and deep threat Pierre Garcon is gone.

The Colts gave up nearly 144 yards rushing per game last season, 29th in the NFL. New Coach Chuck Pagano came from the defensively sound Ravens, and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has held the same position with the Chargers and 49ers.

ROOKIE TO WATCH: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford, Rd. 1

More Post previews:

AFC East

AFC North

AFC West

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