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AFC South Whispers

Manuwai key to Jaguars' unstoppable ground game

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By PFW staff

Below are some whispers we've been hearing from around the AFC South:

• The Jaguars have been virtually unstoppable on the ground over the last six weeks, and OLG Vince Manuwai has played a key role in the success. The way we hear it, Manuwai, who has continued to fight his way back after tearing an ACL in Week One in 2008, turned a corner at midseason and has been playing outstanding football in recent weeks.

• Titans head coach Jeff Fisher gave the following take on former Texans rookie DT Malcolm Sheppard, whom the Titans signed off Houston's practice squad leading up to the Week 15 rematch with the Texans: "We really liked him coming out. He is very strong, explosive; he has good feet and (is) a very smart guy — (DL coach Jim Washburn) was extremely impressed with how quickly he picked things up today (Dec. 15). He's one of those effort guys that kind of fits us well." The 6-foot-2, 285-pound Sheppard played collegiately at Arkansas.

• The Colts have always done a nice job plugging holes during the season by signing former Colts players who are familiar with the system. This season is no exception, as the club has gotten big contributions from S Aaron Francisco, LB Tyjuan Hagler and others. Most recently, the Colts brought back RB Dominic Rhodes as an insurance policy in case Donald Brown or Javarris James gets banged up. The club also re-signed 2006 fifth-round pick OT Michael Toudouze. Toudouze already has a good grasp of the offense and provides valuable depth with starting OLT Charlie Johnson (chest) hurting.

• The sense in Tennessee is that Titans rookie QB Rusty Smith, who struggled in his lone start in Week 12 at Houston, has a long way to go in his development at the position, the way we hear it. Chris Simms, who lost the No. 3 QB job to Smith at the beginning of the season, has been the Titans' top backup the past two weeks.

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