AFC South Week in Review: The Last Fix Before August

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistJune 15, 2012

Gabbert looks good in minicamp? Shocker.
Gabbert looks good in minicamp? Shocker.Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

For most fans in the AFC South, this was a bittersweet week.

Your team was in action, and there were some great news nuggets and things to talk about.

Now, however, minicamps are largely over or ending soon, and the complexes will go mostly dark until training camps.

Enjoy these last scraps of news while you can get them, dear readers. Players, coaches, executives and even lowly writers are all leaving for vacation soon. There won't be any chatter, much less any cheers as the only sound to keep you company in the sweltering summer weeks to come will be the lonely chirp of crickets wistfully begging for football to return.

Here's my take on the biggest stories of the week.


Maurice Jones-Drew is Holding Out

I haven't dedicated much space to the MJD affair, because I don't consider it to be an issue. Every year, some veteran holds out of OTAs to make a statement on his contract. Very few holdouts ever become serious threats to the season.

Maurice Jones-Drew is 100 percent right to hold out. He is underpaid. His career as a running back is short, and he has every right to make every dime he can while he can. OTAs simply aren't that important, especially for a veteran running back. He's not hurting the team by not showing up.

The Jaguars are also completely right not to cave. They made a brilliant move to lock MoJo up when he was young and cheap. They've earned the right to underpay him now by overpaying him before. He's an aging back and should not be given another contract.

A few years ago, Colts fans freaked out because Robert Mathis and Reggie Wayne did the same thing. Both came to training camp. Both had Pro Bowl seasons. Both wound up with new contracts two years later that were club-friendly.

There are no bad guys. There is no right and wrong. I suspect this will all end with Jones-Drew in camp and unhappy. Come week one, it will be an afterthought, as he defends his rushing title.

This is only a big story because there's nothing else to talk about.


Rick Smith and Gary Kubiak Get Extensions

I've said my peace about both men before. I love Smith and am ambivalent toward Kubiak. I get why the Texans think they had to do this deal now, but I don't think it was prudent.

I see no harm in making a coach earn his next contract. Teams let players play out their deals all the time. They would be wise to let coaches do the same.


 Matt Schaub is Ready to Play

This is the real story of the week in Houston. I believe the Texans can represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, but it's going to depend on the health of Schaub. Hearing that he's ready to go and will open camp healthy and fully participating is outstanding news.

NFL fans got cheated last year when the Texans sagged under the weight of Schaub's injury. The team was an emerging power, and we never got to see just how far they could go. Schaub and Andre Johnson are red-light players when it comes to injuries, so hearing that both men are healthy is wonderful.


Andrew Luck Practices in Indianapolis

Luck drew some breathless reviews, but when I saw him on Wednesday, I felt he was clearly out of synch. He throws a beautiful ball, and it's clear he's mentally on top of what was happening. There were a couple of 'wow' moments, but I wouldn't describe his performance as spectacular.

There were more stories out of Indianapolis about the culture change around the Colts. Frankly, none of that interests me. The Colts were a highly successful franchise. Changing the culture of the locker room seems like a terrible idea to me.

Chuck Pagano needs to put his own stamp on things for sure, but he'd do well to remember this team won a lot of games with a button-down approach.


Blaine Gabbert Looks Good

First of all, props to Alfie Crow for an excellent camp report, but despite his observations, sound though they are, this is another non-story.

People always talk about how good quarterbacks and receivers look in minicamp. There's almost no defense, and many times QBs are throwing against air.

I'm sure Gabbert looked great, and I have no doubt he'll be improved to some degree this year. We won't really know he's better until the preseason starts, though.