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AFC Whispers

Texans may draft kicker for first time ever

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Posted March 17, 2012 @ 5:23 p.m. ET
By PFW staff

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

• The Texans have never drafted a kicker in 10 years of existence. That could change this April, the way we hear it. Houston is in a dire cap situation, and if PK Neil Rackers, an unrestricted free agent whom the club elected not to franchise at a cost of $2.65 million, signs elsewhere, word is the club has an affinity for Texas A&M kicker and Groza Award winner Randy Bullock.
• One area of the Colts that is expected to look dramatically different in 2012 is the offensive line. Indianapolis has already added a pair of players this week, swapping sixth-round picks in exchange for OT Winston Justice and signing former Bengals and Eagles OG Mike McGlynn. Justice is penciled in as the starting right tackle, and McGlynn could challenge for a starting job inside. So, what does the signing of Justice mean for 2011 second-round OT Ben Ijalana? The way we hear it, Ijalana is a candidate to slide inside to right guard, which would give the O-line the extra dose of size and athleticism it was previously lacking.

• Always looking to get a pass rush from the defensive line, the Patriots added former Bengals DE Jonathan Fanene in free agency. We hear he can play all along the line and will be a backup who likely winds up playing a lot. The Patriots released Mike Wright in February, and Fanene will likely fill the role Wright had when healthy. Last season, Fanene had 6½ sacks.

• The Browns have a need at right tackle. They released Tony Pashos, who started 12 games a season ago but played hurt and had offseason foot surgery. There's sentiment the Browns could look to address the position via the draft. The pool of free-agent tackles isn't especially deep, and the club has been hesitant to spend big money in free agency as it is.

• Agent Jeffrey Sperbeck told PFW Friday that "(there) are a couple of interested teams" in Steelers unrestricted free-agent QB Dennis Dixon. Dixon, 27, has three career starts in four NFL seasons.

• The Chiefs are focusing heavily on their offense in free agency, having signed RB Peyton Hillis and TE Kevin Boss. Their top priority is still to add help to their offensive line, and we hear their focus may switch to defense come draft time. Adding a nose tackle and a linebacker will be top priorities for GM Scott Pioli, as will more depth in the secondary.

• Expect new Chargers WR Eddie Royal to make a big impact on special teams. For his career, the ex-Bronco has averaged 24.1 yards per kickoff return and 11.9 yards per punt return. The Chargers were solid on returns in 2011, but adding a player with the speed and versatility of Royal should only help.

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