Andrew Luck now has his first division title since replacing Peyton Manning, and the Indianapolis Colts have had a whole offseason to work Trent Richardson into the offense. Luck goes into his third season after that incredible rally from 28 points down to beat Kansas City in the playoffs. He has Hakeem Nicks as a new target. But Reggie Wayne has to prove he can return from a torn right ACL at age 35. Injuries already are starting to accumulate, with four players lost for the season, including starting left guard Donald Thomas. Coach Chuck Pagano, who patched together the offensive line last season, has a rookie at right guard and a center and left guard going into their second seasons. The Colts will be without last year’s sacks leader Robert Mathis on Sept. 28 when the Titans visit — the end of his four-game suspension.
Tennessee beat out Detroit to hire the man who took Arizona to the Super Bowl. Ken Whisenhunt has made changes throughout the building and hired Ray Horton as his defensive coordinator to improve a team that went 7-9 last season, losing twice in overtime, with two other losses by a combined five points. One of Whisenhunt’s biggest challenges is Jake Locker. The quarterback has missed 14 games as a starter in two seasons, and the Titans didn’t pick up his option for 2015. They bolstered the offensive line by signing right tackle Michael Oher and drafting tackle Taylor Lewan; the Titans have given Locker as many options as they’ve had in years. Dexter McCluster and rookie running back Bishop Sankey replaced Chris Johnson and join receivers Kendall Wright, Nate Washington and Justin Hunter.
The Texans’ Super Bowl dreams disappeared in a stunning 2-14 collapse that tied for the worst record in franchise history. That’s why Bill O’Brien is the other new coach in this division, and he starts off working with a quarterback Tennessee cut in March. Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 62 percent of his passes in Tennessee, but had only two more touchdowns (14) than interceptions (12). How much help Fitzpatrick gets remains to be seen. Back surgery ended Arian Foster’s season after eight games, and both he and receiver Andre Johnson were sidelined most of training camp by injured hamstrings.
Rebuilding Jags, again
The biggest offseason additions were the drafting of Blake Bortles third overall, and the world’s largest video boards in the stadium renovation also featuring pools and cabanas. Bortles will learn behind Chad Henne so the rookie learns the playbook and can make a smooth transition from the spread offense at UCF to a pro system. The Jaguars still need healthy receivers and must settle down an offensive line on which three young players could start. Luke Joeckel, the second overall pick last year, now is at left tackle, with rookie Brandon Linder likely at right guard.
— The Associated Press