Corey Graham is happy to be a Raven and Ravens are happy to have him
How they’ll finish: Texans, Colts, Titans, Jaguars
Best newcomer to division: Ed Reed, Texans safety.
You can bet Reed is already looking forward to facing the Ravens, Sept. 22 at M & T Bank Stadium. But for Reed, it’s not just about one game. He turns 35 years old in September, and wants to win another Super Bowl before heading to Canton. Houston has won this division the last two years, and with star players like running back Arian Foster, defensive end J. J. Watt, and wide receiver Andre Johnson, the Texans are the clear division favorite. Reed was brought in to help get the Texans over the top, to make the jump from contenders to champions. If his health holds up, he will help the Texans.
Best newcomer Part 2: Bernard Pollard, Titans safety
There’s a definite ex-Ravens flavor to this division. Pollard was the leading tackler for Baltimore last season, and he has already gotten attention in Tennessee by posting a piece of paper with this message at his locker: “Goal – Super Bowl. Mission – Kill.” Pollard is a hard-hitter who will bring added swagger to the Titans’ defense. Too bad the Titans don’t play the Ravens next season. Seeing Pollard face his former teammates would be interesting.
Biggest disappointment: Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars QB
Entering his third season, Gabbert has yet to prove his worth as a franchise quarterback. He’ll get a fresh start under new head coach Gus Bradley, but that does not guarantee Gabbert’s play will improve dramatically. Too often, he simply looks overwhelmed. Unless they find the right quarterback, the Jaguars are likely years away from being a threat in this division. Best rebirth: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Colts Heyward-Bey never blossomed like the Raiders hoped he would after drafting him No. 7 overall in 2009. Signing with the Colts gives Heyward-Bey a chance to play with quarterback Andrew Luck, who has been raving about Heyward-Bey during minicamps. Heyward-Bey is a product of both the University of Maryland and McDonogh High School in Owings Mills, and remains one of the NFL’s fastest receivers. Playing home games indoors, catching passes from Luck, and playing opposite Reggie Wayne, should give Heyward-Bey every chance to blossom.
Best rookie storyline: DeAndre Hopkins, Texans WR The Texans have been searching for a reliable No. 2 receiver opposite Johnson. Hopkins looks like he will fit the bill. After a strong minicamp, Hopkins looks like a favorite to start, and he has the tools to make big plays. He could be a dangerous difference-maker for the Texans’ offense.