INDIANAPOLIS — With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror, the offseason focus has turned to actually playing some football at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
Most of the Indianapolis Colts' veteran players have been going at it now for about a month, first hitting the weight room and getting in their fair share of huffing and puffing in the first round of Organized Team Activities, and then spending the past couple weeks breaking out the footballs and going over individual and positional drills in Round 2 of OTAs.
This weekend, of course, has been all about the first-year players, who are in town for the annual rookie minicamp. While the team's draft picks and undrafted free agents are, for the most part, guaranteed to advance past this weekend's action, there are dozens of other players participating on a tryout basis who hope to open some eyes and earn an elusive spot on the Colts' offseason roster.
But with so much going on in Indy, it's important to also keep an eye on the action across the rest of the AFC South Division. The Colts haven't had a taste of the divisional title now for a couple seasons, and with a rebuilt roster, hope to get back on top against three other teams that have also spent the past few months retooling their talent at each position.
So, without further ado, let's take a look at the recent major headlines across the rest of the AFC South, courtesy of The Associated Press:Houston Texans
Houston Texans inside linebacker Max Bullough has been suspended without pay for the first four games of next season for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances.
Bullough has spent his three-year career in Houston after he was signed by the Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2014.
The 25-year-old appeared in every game for the Texans last season with three starts. He had 25 tackles last season after finishing with a career-high 30 tackles in 2015.
Bullough is eligible to return to the active roster the Monday after Houston's game against the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 1.
He may participate in Houston's offseason practices and preseason games before his suspension begins.Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars showed more support for quarterback Blake Bortles by exercising the fifth-year option in his rookie contract on May 1.
They had little choice.
Top executive Tom Coughlin, general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Doug Marrone would have been sending mixed signals to Bortles and teammates had they chose to decline the option by the deadline Wednesday. After all, the Jaguars are fully committed to Bortles for next season after deciding not to bring in another QB during free agency or in the draft.
So they needed to pick up the option, which could pay Bortles more than $19 million in 2018. If not, it would be a public sign of uncertainty at the all-important position.
"This is a smart business decision for the team for several reasons," Coughlin said. "It makes sense for us going forward, and it's good for Blake and for the Jaguars."
The 2018 option is guaranteed for injury only, so the Jaguars could decide to cut Bortles if he struggles again in 2017. If Bortles plays well and looks like a long-term solution, the Jaguars would work on an extension to keep Bortles under contract beyond 2018. If not, they'll be in the market for a quarterback in next year's QB-rich draft.
For now, though, they are all in on Bortles. The former UCF standout threw for 3,905 yards, with 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, in his third season. It was a step back after throwing for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2015. He has been sacked a whopping 140 times in three years and has the most turnovers (63) of any player during that span.
The Jaguars decided that Bortles needed more help around him, so they drafted bruising LSU running back Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick, chose massive Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson in the second round (No. 34) and added speedy Oklahoma receiver Dede Westbrook in the fourth (No. 110). They also picked up Miami fullback Marquez Williams with their final pick (No. 240) and made a trade with the Miami Dolphins for left tackle Branden Albert in March. Although Albert is skipping voluntary workouts in an attempt to get Jacksonville to rework his contract, he remains an integral part of the plan for next season.
Bortles, meanwhile, returned to California in March to work on his mechanics in hopes of improving his accuracy and efficiency. He still needs to make better pre-snap reads and post-snap decisions, something the Jaguars will address during organized team activities that begin later this month.
"He came in, he's lean, he's in shape, it seems like he's ready to go," Marrone said. "I'm excited to see him on the field and see him out there throwing."Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans are proceeding with caution when it comes to wide receiver Corey Davis at their rookie minicamp.
They want to make sure the fifth overall pick's surgically repaired ankle is completely healed.
With quarterback Marcus Mariota also recovering from surgery to fix a broken right leg, the Titans are taking no chances with the players expected to lead the passing game.
"He's itching," Titans coach Mike Mularkey said of Davis. "He wants to play, and I know he does. It's hard for me to hold him back, but that's the way it is."
Mularkey said Davis did most of the individual work and a lot of the walk-through Friday morning on the first day of a three-day rookie minicamp. The Titans limited the wide receiver from Western Michigan to individual drills in the afternoon practice with players wearing helmets.
"He's a good looking athlete," Mularkey said. "We're monitoring what we're doing with him right now. We're still making sure that he's recovering from his surgery. He's on schedule, so this was all our plan. He's itching to play and practice. We're going to be smart with him."
The surgery to repair torn ligaments didn't hurt Davis' draft stock as Tennessee made him the first wide receiver drafted this year. He has plenty of proven production as the all-time leading receiver in Football Bowl Subdivision history with 5,285 yards.
A true No. 1 receiver that lasts for more than a season or two is something the Titans have been looking for since their first draft in Tennessee in 1998. That year they passed up Randy Moss for Kevin Dyson, who scored on the Music City Miracle that helped propel the Titans to the 2000 Super Bowl where Dyson was a yard shy of the end zone in a loss to the Rams.
Kenny Britt was the 30th pick overall in 2009 followed by Kendall Wright in 2012 at No. 20. The Titans have drafted physically gifted phenoms in the second round like Tyrone Calico in 2003 and Justin Hunter at No. 34 overall in 2013. Dorial Green-Beckham, 40th overall in 2015, lasted one season before being traded away.
They do have Rishard Matthews back leading the receiving corps after he led the team with 65 catches, and Tajae Sharpe started 10 games as a rookie with 41 catches for 522 yards .
But the Titans are enamored with the 6-foot-3 Davis, size that Mularkey said surprised Mariota when the quarterback met his newest receiver Friday.
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