AFC South Weekly Recap: What Did We Learn This Week?

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistMay 25, 2012

Wright is prepping hard for his role as an X factor.
Wright is prepping hard for his role as an X factor.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It's been an interesting week around the AFC South with OTAs in full swing.

Here's what we learned about the Texans, Titans, Jaguars, and Colts, and more importantly, what it means.


Blaine Gabbert is working on fundamentals.

News out of Jacksonville is that Gabbert is doing a lot of footwork drills, and that the coaches are rebuilding certain aspects of his game. While that's obviously needed, I think it speaks to two important points.

1. Gabbert was overdrafted and lacked many of the essential fundamentals to be a top-10 pick. He's talented and has physical ability, but he wasn't nearly as ready as other players in his class.

2. Gabbert received awful coaching last year.

Gabbert has gone from the worst possible position to the best. He no longer has Jack Del Rio and his failed brand of football to hold him back. Now he has a real head coach in Mike Mularkey and every opportunity to improve.

My concern has always been that he was drafted because he looks like a quarterback, not because he is one. If anyone can get him squared away and fundamentally sound, it's Mularkey. Still, I can't help but feel like this kind of work shouldn't be necessary in year two.

We'll be watching this all year.


Kendall Wright is working at the X.

Everyone assumed that Wright would be a slot receiver for the Titans, but they are working him out at the same position that Kenny Britt plays.

While this is simply a way of teaching Wright the offense with Britt coming off the knee injury, it's also wise.

I'm not suggesting the Titans are preparing specifically for Britt to miss time, but they are going to be prepared IF he misses time.

I don't think there's any real chance of the Titans burying Wright on the bench behind Britt, so concerns about the "Randy Moss experience" can be shelved. Instead, if Britt isn't healthy, they have a fall-back plan. Wright is eventually going to be more than a third option at wideout, so it only makes sense to prepare him for that long-term role.

Everyone hopes he doesn't have to be the X receiver in 2012, but if the need arises, they'll be prepared. I think that's smart football.


The Colts dealt away their fullback.

I already covered what I think of Cassius Vaughn, the corner the Colts acquired earlier this week, but what about Chris Gronkowski? Some expected a big year from the fullback. Andrew Luck is coming from a full back-intensive offense at Stanford, and there was a thought that the other Gronk could have a big role in Indianapolis.

I absolutely love the point that Paul Kuharsky made on this. A few months ago, it looked like the Colts were going to run a ground-and-pound offense. This would have been death to hopes of winning any time soon in Indianapolis.

Combined with the selection of two tight ends in the draft, the trade of Gronkowski signals another move away from a run-heavy or even a traditional West Coast Offense.

We don't know a lot about what Bruce Arians will cook up for Andrew Luck, but the odds that it's dynamic improved with the deal this week.


Andre Johnson had a knee procedure.

NFL players have procedures all the time. The older players get, the more "routine surgeries" are required to keep them playing. Andre Johnson's latest scope isn't any big deal in and of itself.

Adding up Johnson's age, injury history and the uncertainty surrounding the rest of the Texans' wideouts certainly gives pause for thought.

The more time I spend looking at the Texans, the more I worry about them. I think most of the South is down, so I still expect them to win the division, but I can see ways in which the season could go sideways.

If Johnson goes down, the offense could crumble. There are a lot of holes on that side of the ball in Houston, and hearing about arthroscopic surgeries, however routine the process, doesn't instill confidence. The Texans are not deep at any offensive position but running back.

This scoped knee isn't going to cost the Texans a playoff spot. What worries me is the next one.