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AFC South teams still aiming to add proper pieces to top Colts

  • By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
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When the lockout is over, it could be a mad dash for talent all over the NFL. With that in mind, we examine the most important things each team must accomplish with a division-by-division breakdown. This is a look at the AFC South.

Houston Texans

Bad deal waiting to happen?
Nnamdi Asomugha arguably is the NFL's best corner, but most teams would be wise not to break the bank for his services when he hits free agency, Bucky Brooks writes. More ...

» Texans plan to pursue Asomugha
» La Canfora: Bucs could make a play
» CB2K: Strong case for Asomugha

Build up the secondary: A year ago, the Texans passed on re-signing corner Dunta Robinson and they paid for it. Now they have to spend even more money to get one of the premiere corners in free agency. The Oakland Raiders' Nnamdi Asomugha might be out of their league, but they must get in the hunt for a cornerback and settle for nothing less than Johnathan Joseph. When that's done, a safety like the San Diego Chargers' Eric Weddle or a strong safety like the Indianapolis Colts' Melvin Bullitt would help. The Texans are only dreaming about a division title if they continue to give up more than two touchdown passes a game to the Colts.

Look for one more 3-4 defensive end: Amobi Okoye isn't a fit in their new 3-4 scheme and could be used to trade for a two-gap defensive end. Cleveland is going to a 4-3 and might have a player to swap. Otherwise, look at the free-agent list.

Count to 11: With the effectiveness of the "11" personnel package (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers) around the NFL, the Texans need another receiver to make it effective. There's no problem with re-signing Jacoby Jones, but they might also like the idea of taking a look at the Arizona Cardinals' Steve Breaston, New Orleans Saints' Lance Moore, or New York Giants' Steve Smith (if he passes a physical). All three have had success in the slot.

Indianapolis Colts

Plug up the middle of the defense: Teams naturally want to run the ball on the Colts, especially in an attempt to keep Peyton Manning off the field. Indianapolis has struggled to be stout inside and bounce the run game outside, where its speed can make plays. The Colts have an excellent movement defense, built to rush the passer. Still, a big inside player on first downs and short-yardage situations would help. A veteran like the Minnesota Vikings' Pat Williams would do the job for a year, and he might love the chance to get a Super Bowl. I like the Giants' Barry Cofield as an upgrade inside over what they already have under contract.

Re-sign two key players: The defense has enough problems without going backwards right now. Granted linebacker Clint Session only played in five games, but he had 38 tackles. Melvin Bullitt only suited up four times, but he helps a secondary that is very thin at safety. Both players should be reasonably priced considering their limited play last year. If the Colts decide to go in a different direction, maybe a linebacker like the Washington Redskins' Rocky McIntosh and a safety like the Buffalo Bills' Donte Whitner would upgrade the defense. In 2010, McIntosh had 110 tackles to go with two sacks, while Whitner was in on 138 stops.

Sign a solid guard: The Colts need two things from their offensive line. One, protect the midline, which is a spot directly behind the center and about seven yards deep. That's where most of Manning's 685 pass plays came from last year. Two, the running game has to get better to balance the offense. This is a good year to sign a guard in free agency and a player like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Davin Joseph, Atlanta Falcons' Justin Blalock or Baltimore Ravens' Marshal Yanda would do wonders for the offensive line. Joseph has given up just 11 sacks in 67 starts.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Sign at least one linebacker: The Jaguars seem to be cleaning house a bit at the position and there could be a change at two of the three spots. Jacksonville faces Tennessee twice a year and knows Titans linebacker Stephen Tulloch as well as anyone in the league. In two games vs. the Jaguars last year, Tulloch had 25 tackles. Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio is a former starting middle linebacker and is aware that a centerpiece like Tulloch would help his defense.

Overhaul the safety position: Peyton Manning knows how to attack safeties. In his last five games against the Jaguars, Manning is 4-1 with 12 touchdown passes. Break down the tight end work -- which is predominantly attacking safeties -- and the numbers point to the problem. In his last three games against the Jaguars, Manning has gone to Dallas Clark or Jacob Tamme 29 times for 21 completions. Players such as the Chargers' Eric Weddle, San Francisco 49ers' Dashon Goldson, Raiders' Michael Huff and Saints' Roman Harper have to be considered.

Sign a top receiver and backup running back: The Jaguars really don't have a No. 1 wideout, which makes it hard to truly evaluate David Garrard. A guy like the Carolina Panthers' Steve Smith -- if he were available -- would take some pressure off the run game and tight end Marcedes Lewis. As for the running back situation, Maurice Jones-Drew is the bell cow, but he's not 100 percent yet. Even if the club lightens Jones-Drew's workload, they will need another back. Not a big-name guy, but a reliable player who could give the team some insurance. If he has receiving skills, all the better. This might be a place where Tiki Barber could get a shot to make a team.

Tennessee Titans

Sign a veteran quarterback: Kerry Collins announced his retirement and Jake Locker is not going to be ready. Vince Young is probably being shown the door as soon as the lockout is over, so the Titans must sign a veteran quarterback who can start for a year or two while Locker learns the pro game. It appears to be a perfect fit for the Seattle Seahawks' Matt Hasselbeck or even the Redskins' Donovan McNabb. The Titans have always valued an established QB and they will pay to get one. The problem with McNabb is he isn't free to sign and his present contract is prohibitive.

Extend CJ2K and re-sign Tulloch: To say Chris Johnson has outplayed his contract is an understatement. He has 5,606 rushing and receiving yards and 38 touchdowns in three seasons and will be 26 years old this September. With all the change in coaches and quarterbacks in Tennessee, the one constant is Johnson and he's worth whatever Adrian Peterson makes with the Vikings. As for Stephen Tulloch, who is a free agent, the Titans probably should have given him the transition tag, but they didn't and now have to compete for his services. The Titans are known as a physical team and they lose some of that identity if they don't re-sign Tulloch.

Prepare to cut ties with Britt: It's sad to say, but Kenny Britt just doesn't get it when it comes to maturity. Even though he is talented, this free-agent period should be used to bring in a solid-citizen receiver with talent. With a new coaching staff and all the players wondering how the Britt situation is going to be handled, the club needs to show him the door the next time he does something wrong. To do that, they need a guy like the Redskins' Santana Moss, Cardinals' Steve Breaston or Vikings' Sidney Rice on the roster.

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