INDIANAPOLIS — That's a wrap.
With all players officially on a six-week break before the start of training camp — and the start of the 2017 NFL season — the NFL has officially reached its slowest news cycle of the year.
No beginning of free agency. No draft. No offseason workouts. No practices. No games.
While there's still plenty of hard work going on by the coaches and front office personnel at each team facility across the country, now's as good a time as ever to take a look around the AFC South Division to catch up on some of the bigger headlines heading into training camp.
For the Indianapolis Colts, this six-week period is all about recovery.
Quarterback Andrew Luck is yet to begin throwing after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder in January; will he be ready to go for training camp? Projected starting safeties Malik Hooker (hip and labrum) and Clayton Geathers (neck) also went under the knife earlier this year; how much will they be expected to be active participants come late July?
And what about the Colts' AFC South rivals? Let's go around the division to each team website and see what's cookin':Houston Texans
The NFL rookie learning curve is a steep climb but Deshaun Watson is scaling it one day at a time.
The Texans first-round pick has impressed with his work ethic. However, only game reps can prepare him for NFL action. It's why head coach Bill O'Brien loves to recreate situational football scenarios during practice as teachable moments for all players, not just rookies. Whether it's a hurry-up offense with no timeouts left or a game-winning play on fourth down, Watson has enjoyed learning through the simulated high-pressure situations.
"It's always good," Watson said. "Coach OB (Bill O'Brien) does a great job of throwing different things at us at practice, not being really aware of, just kind putting us in uncomfortable positions. They always say get comfortable being uncomfortable, so I think that was a cool thing for us to do."*
Read the rest at HoustonTexans.com.*Jacksonville Jaguars
The offseason is now done, and what's to come matters much more.
Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone made that clear Thursday as minicamp officially closed to mark the end of the veteran, on-field portion of the 2017 offseason program:
Yes, the Jaguars accomplished quite a bit over the last two months.
Yes, there were positives, particularly in the area of gaining strength, gaining conditioning and preparing for the 2017 training camp that is now six weeks away.
"We'll see how we are when they come back," Marrone said early Thursday afternoon after the third of three minicamp practices this week on the practice fields adjacent to EverBank Field.
The Jaguars' offseason program began in late April, with 13 on-field days – 10 organized team activities the last three weeks and this week's minicamp – marking the offseason's highest-profile period. Marrone, who served as interim head coach in the last two games of last season before having the interim tag removed in early January, said in his first offseason as head coach he wanted to establish a "good working environment," meaning that "we knew how to work."
"That was my main thing coming in, knowing 'We've got to start this foundation that way,''' Marrone said. "I think we have made strides in that area and we're going to have to keep that up.' …
"We've got a long way to go, but I think now there's a vision of where we need to get to as far as being in shape, how strong we want to be, how fast we want to practice and how many plays we want to get run."*
Read the rest at Jaguars.com.*Tennessee Titans
Eric Decker has owned a home in the Nashville area since 2012.
The veteran receiver used to joke with his wife about one day playing for the Tennessee Titans, realizing how nice a fit the city and team would be for the family.
It's now a reality. Decker officially signed with the Titans on Monday, after agreeing to terms Sunday night. The former Jets and Broncos receiver brings a veteran presence and some nice credentials to his new team.
"It was kind of a perfect storm," Decker said on Monday. "You only get so many years to play this game, and I wanted to find the right fit. I wanted to come to a place where I can help out, and this is home.
"There were a lot of factors. This is a team on the rise, and I like the coaching staff, the GM, and the philosophy upstairs. I like the quarterback, the locker room and the mentality. When I talked to the GM and the coaches, finding out what they wanted out of me, what my role would be, Tennessee was the best opportunity."
A third-round pick of the Broncos in the 2010 NFL Draft, Decker has 385 career receptions for 5,253 receiving yards and 52 touchdowns in seven seasons. He has three 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his career, including a 1,288-yard season in 2013. He's also turned in 12 100-yard performances.
When the Jets released him last week, it opened up doors elsewhere. Decker said he talked with five or six teams, and had other visits scheduled for this week. But he opted to sign a one-year deal in Tennessee.*
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